EarthRunners Review – Primal Running Sandals

Four Six Seven! years into wearing my first pair of EarthRunner Primals (and 11 14 years into being a barefoot runner), I’ve got a lot to say about these barefoot running sandals.

earth runners primal vegan minimalist running shoes on blue background pictured for earth runners review

I took dutiful notes for the first 90 days of wear, AND I’m back four six seven years later with updates!  And now a discount code!

Earthrunners Primal Review contains:

– –Pros
– –Cons
– –Are Earth Runners Worth It?
– –Earth Runners Sizing
– –How Do You Adjust an Earth Runner?
– –Are Sandals Good For Running?
– –What Makes Them Vegan Minimalist Running Shoes
– –Earth Runners Discount Code
– –Other Shoes I Wear


While there are a few things I don’t love about the EarthRunner Primals, here’s why I’m looking forward to buying my next pair:

Earthrunner Primal Pros – Running Sandals Review

    • No Smell – Earthrunners Primal Review
      Before I became a barefoot runner my sport sandals were Chacos, which get rank.  My five fingers only survive a few weeks before needing a trip through the washing machine.  To my amazement, my EarthRunners were stinky only one time in the first three months owning them. I thought it was the beginning of the end, but the smell faded the next day.  Four years on?  Still weren’t stinky!  Seven years in?  I soak and scrub them now about once a season to keep smell from building up, but I used to have to do this monthly with my Chacos.  Earthrunners get a huge vote from me in this department.
    • Best Tread Wear I’ve Ever Seen
      Seven years ago, at the end of my first 30 days of use, there was noticeable tread wear.  I worried.  At the end of 90 days, a dime-sized patch of tread on the ball of my foot was worn flat.  With disappointment, I figured choosing the thinnest-soled Primals over the thicker Circadians or Alphas meant I wouldn’t get a long-lasting shoe.  But wait…
tread of the earthrunners elemental barefoot running sandal after 90 days

My Earthrunners Primal tread wear after 90 days. I worried these barefoot running sandals wouldn’t last a year.  I needn’t have worried.

Four Six SEVEN (!?!?!) years later, I can’t believe the tread is still going strong!  My usual wear spot isn’t even dangerously thin yet.  My usual  wear spot is finally dangerously thin… but I’m pretty sure the shoes will make the summer the shoes made a sixth summer and are still going strong headed into their 7th.  WILD.  Will I maybe even get eight years out of my very first pair of Primals?! barefoot running sandals.

earth runners primal vegan minimalist running shoes tread after four years

This is what I expected these running sandals to look like after one year.  This is the wear after four years!

Importantly, I haven’t lost traction, despite the wear.  I’m still climbing up slippery river banks, balancing on smooth logs, and hiking up steep terrain without issues.

    • Best Strap Wear I’ve Ever Seen
      At first glance, I worried about strap wear where they were in regular contact with the ground.  Especially because my Chaco straps eventually disintegrated.  90 days in, the wear was minimal.  4 years in… the wear was still minimal!  I adjusted one of the straps on a hike and was shocked to discover that despite some cosmetic fraying, the strap’s integrity remained.  Six Seven years in – still no problems!
earthrunners primal barefoot running sandals strap wear

The sandal at the top of the photo is the one I adjusted the other day, revealing four years of wear. Shockingly, it’s all aesthetic. – no structural damage whatsoever. Unbelievable!


    • Great Ground Feel – Earthrunners Primal Review
      I chose the Primals (vs. EarthRunners Circadians or Alphas) specifically because they had the thinnest sole.  Ground feel is really important to me. Not being traumatically stabbed in the foot by rocks is also important to me.  Thanks to my original barefoot running shoes (Vibram Five Fingers), I am intimately familiar with the pain of the aforementioned stabbing. The EarthRunner Primals are just thick enough to prevent sudden, temporarily-debilitating rock stabbing pain, but thin enough to still have great ground feel.
    • No Rock Trapping– Earthrunners Primal Review
      With my Five Fingers, my runs are regularly interrupted by the need to fish rocks out from between my toes.  Not so with the Earth Runners!
small colored pebbles, which are easy to navigate in barefoot running sandals

I’d happily walk through these pebbles in my Earthrunners.  Doing so in my Five Fingers would be a daunting proposition.

While my EarthRunner Primal sandals pick up rocks as frequently as my Chacos and other sandals, I love how quickly they shake out.  In four seven years, I’ve never even had to loosen a strap to get a rock to shake free.  If I tread intentionally, I can usually avoid any rocks at all.

  • Shoe Bliss– Earthrunners Primal Review
    After several months of lazily slipping into borrowed flip flops – which I knew were not great for my feet – a single stride in my Earthrunners allowed me to FEEL how not great the flip flops were.  In addition, the Earthrunners are so light, I don’t feel like I’m wearing a shoe.
  • Sexy!  Earthrunners Primal Review
    I get so many compliments on these shoes.  People are constantly asking me where I got them.  I wear them with dresses, which is not something my other minimalist/barefoot shoes lend themselves to.
  • Great Strap Placement  Earthrunners Primal Review
    When I first unboxed my EarthRunner Primals and turned them over in my hands, I worried immediately that having the straps so near my arch might be awkward.  However, I quickly found the placement is perfect and really comfortable.
  • Ridiculously Good for Your Health?
    Earth Runners come with conductive thread and a copper toe plug that theoretically restore pre-modern health.  If you’ve heard about problems human-made electromagnetic frequencies are alleged to cause, you might understand how being electrically connected to the earth via the copper toe plug and conductive threads in the straps can keep you from missing biochemical reactions result in health problems.  Not sure if this actually helps me, but it certainly hasn’t hurt!.

Earthrunners Primal Cons– Running Sandals Review

  • Not Exactly Slip-on – Earthrunners Primal Review
    I would love to wear only shoes I don’t have to secure in place.  So far, I haven’t found a single minimalist shoe that offers this option. Wearing my Earthrunners like a flipflop (without the heel strap) for too long stresses my arches and the muscles around the toe strap.  At first, I found dutifully securing the heel strap each time tedious.  (Not as tedious as I find wiggling into Vibram Five Fingers!)  Four Seven years into wearing them, pulling the Primals heel strap into place is quick, second nature.  I wear them like flip flops to dash out to the car or trash without noticeable stress.
  • Early Foldovers – Earthrunners Primal Review
    After two weeks, I had my first fold-over – a jarring experience where my sloppy stride meant catching the front edge of the sole on carpet, causing the front part of the shoe to fold back on itself.  It happened about once a week for the first few months. Eventually, as promised by the Earthrunners Rep with whom I shared this complaint, my gait pattern improved, and I was no longer suddenly tripping across my living room.  Until I came to update this review, I forgot that ever happened!  The rep said foldover occurrences seem to decrease as the sandal molds to your foot over time and advised me to make sure the sandals were snug.
  • River Monster Panic – Earthrunners Primal Review
    This is almost just a jest: the tail end of my straps are long enough (my fault – you’re meant to cut off any excess once you dial in your perfect fit) that when I’m stream walking, they float around and can feel like bits of flotsam in the water.  I don’t like the feel of anything in the water – leaves, seaweed, jellyfish, etc. – so this sensation always brings a moment of panic. Bottom line: I never step on the straps, and I could easily cut them shorter.
    a river like this would make my untrimmed straps swirl and feel like river creatures.
  • Unboxing Scarcity – Earthrunners PrimalReview
    If you’re like a friend of mine who seems to enjoy shopping for and obtaining new gear more than actually having the gear, Earth Runners might leave you wanting.  It’s a wallet pro, but emotional con that I’ll probably only get to buy a new pair three times in two decades.

Are Earth Runners Worth It?

The lack of smell alone bumps them to the top of my minimalist/”barefoot” shoe pile.  I love how lightweight they are, the way they fit my foot, the great ground-feel, and the lowest rock-in-shoe drama of any shoe I’ve ever owned – minimalist or otherwise.

The excellent materials construction I find a little mind blowing.  I definitely did not expect the tread and straps to still be going strong four SEVEN FREAKING YEARS after wear – including lots of time in the sandy (read: strap-eating) desert.

sonoran desert landscape, which my earthrunners elemental sandals survived and make them worthy of an earthrunners discount code

Four Seven years ago, I might still have been complaining about having to participate getting the shoe on my foot, because our hyper-custom culture has made me soft.  It’s second-nature now.  The foldovers disappeared.  And I’m not creek walking enough to overcome the laziness barrier that would keep me from customizing the shoe strap length.

So for me – are Earth Runners worth it?  Absolutely.  They look good, feel good and are well made.  If you prioritize your wallet over the emotional high of obtaining new things, Earth Runners might be the shoe for you, too.

Earth Runners Sizing-‘

The precision of Earth Runners sizing kind of blows my mind.

Sure, you can just order whatever size you usually order.  But you can also print out the exact sandal footbed with toe plug markings to see exactly how the shoe will fit your foot.  Amazing.  And if you’re still not sure?  You can send in pictures of your foot on the print out, and they’ll give you advice!

earth runners sizing chart to look at before using your earth runners discount code

This is just a picture to make your eyes and brain feel nice while reading. Be sure to use a template from the Earthrunners actual website to determine your sizing!

Is the Earth Runners sizing true?  I think yes.  I wear a 9 and can bump up (never down) to a 9.5… very occasionally a 10. The 9 fit my foot exactly. The difference between each .5 sizing increment is 4mm or 1/8 of an inch.

How Do You Adjust an Earth Runner?

It’s incredibly rare to be able to get such a super-custom fit in a shoe.  The EarthRunner straps are continuous and fully adjustable from tip to tip. If you want the shoe to be 1000% perfect for you, set aside a few sit and fiddle sessions to dial in the details and get the most out of your purchase.

If you already own your Earth Runners, see “How Do You Adjust an Earthrunner” article for more details. If you’re trying to make a buying decision, just mentally prepare for a four part adjustment process – dialing in the toe-plug, then the top-of-foot strap, then the back-of-heel strap, and finally the top-of-ankle strap.

My EarthRunner Primals were wearable out of the package, so I took a few weeks to get around to customizing them.  I was even happier once I got around to dialing them in!

Are Sandals Good for Running? Primal

I was interested in the EarthRunners running sandals primarily as an alternative to the other barefoot shoe I was using.  In this department, I am satisfied.

Initially I had to fiddle with the straps on multiple occasions to get a good fit that didn’t cause muscle fatigue in at least one part of my foot when I went on long runs.

They are more “slappy” than my five-fingers, although part of that is lack of awareness and intention on my part.  My ability to reduce the slap with strategic foot placement becomes obvious when I run with my nephew and we coach each other.

silhouette of person running wondering are sandals good for running? and where can I get an earth runners discount code?

Ultimately, while I’m not ready to permanently toss my five-fingers, I really enjoy the light feel of running in the EarthRunners.  In the winter I run in Lems Primal 2s.

Vegan Minimalist Running Shoes

Maybe you don’t care that Earthrunners are vegan, barefoot sandals but are curious what “vegan footwear” even means.  I was!

earthrunner primal running sandals with a barefoot runner wearing pink toenail polish after using her earth runners discount code

Wait… is nail polish vegan?  Probably not?

A shoe is NOT vegan when it uses leather or glues and dyes derived from animal parts.  Or when the synthetic materials, glues, and dyes have been tested on animals.  It’s getting easier and easier these days to make vegan shoes.  Earthrunners has been on the vegan bandwagon since the beginning.

How I Came to Write an Earthrunners Review

I got tagged by a relative in an EarthRunners APB on Facebook.  The company was looking for bloggers who care about barefoot running to test their huarache-inspired running sandals. 1 I say no to almost every partnership opportunity that crosses my radar.  Here’s why.  You can rest easy knowing that I didn’t get paid to write this.  While I did get free shoes worth 15% of what I charge on the rare occasion that I’m willing to write a sponsored post, here’s how you know my review is unaffected: my commentary is not 100% positive.  As per my policy, I sent EarthRunners my talking points with my standard “Here’s what I think.  I’ll publish all of it or none of it.  What do you choose?”  They replied, “I think you make fair points and I’d say it’s good to publish.”  They had one rebuttal, which I included here – the bit about the foldovers.

I’m a travel and lifestyle blogger!  I care SO much about barefoot running!

(Read: Why I Still Run Barefoot, Despite No Scientific Proof of Benefits)

Every athletic thing I do happens barefoot or wearing barefoot shoes!

EarthRunners said they’d be happy to send me a pair of shoes to review. I picked the thinnest of their three vibram soles – the 7.5mm Primals – and was off to the races.

Earth Runners Discount Code

In August of 2020 (while researching an article), I noticed Earth Runners discount codes sprinkled about the internet.  Surely they’d let us have one, too, hey?  I asked, they did!

Use halftheclothes for 10% off of any purchase.

barefoot runner wearing earthrunners elemental running sandals on blue background ready to use earthrunners discount code

Other Shoes I Wear

All spring and summer you’ll find me in my EarthRunner Primals , except when I have to wear closed-toed shoes for teaching.  Then it’s Lems Primal 2s, which I also use for running in the winter.  In snow and freezing temps, you’ll find me in Xero Alpines.  At the gym, on the river, and sometimes on the trails I’m in Vibram Five Fingers.  And every chance I get I wear nothing to run on grass or sand!

Happy Running, Happy Travels!  ♣

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1 I say no to almost every partnership opportunity that crosses my radar.  Here’s why.  You can rest easy knowing that I didn’t get paid to write this.  While I did get free shoes worth 15% of what I charge on the rare occasion that I’m willing to write a sponsored post, here’s how you know my review is unaffected: my commentary is not 100% positive.  As per my policy, I sent EarthRunners my talking points with my standard “Here’s what I think.  I’ll publish all of it or none of it.  What do you choose?”  They replied, “I think you make fair points and I’d say it’s good to publish.”  They had one rebuttal, which I included here – the bit about the foldovers.