How Do You Adjust an Earth Runner?

Earthrunners are the most custom fit shoe I’ve ever seen without going to an actual cobbler.   Because the EarthRunner straps (called “laces”) are continuous, they are fully adjustable from tip to tip.   After wearing my original pair of Earthrunner Elementals for four years (and counting!), I can promise you’ll want to learn about how to dial in each adjustment point to get the most out of the shoe.

earth runners elemental barefoot running sandals being worn by a barefoot runner standing on a trail

My Earth Runner Elementals were wearable out of the package, however, the toe strap came too tight for my liking.   I went through the four steps of the adjustment process:

  1. Toe-plug rotation
  2. Top-of-foot strap
  3. Back-of-heel strap
  4. Top-of-ankle strap

If you’re a video person, jump ahead.

Otherwise, here’s how:

1. Toe-plug rotation

If the strap is causing discomfort in either your big toe or second toe, grasp the strap at the footbed and rotate it away from the hot spot.   If this doesn’t work, later in the process I’ll suggest a different positioning for ankle strap.

front half of an earthrunner elemental barefoot running sandal

2. Top-of-foot strap

If this needs to be shorter, follow it from the toe plug back to the point where the strap enters the footbed and pull excess through from underneath the footbed.   If you need the strap to be longer, push excess up from underneath the footbed.

the first anchor point for adjusting an earthrunner barefoot running sandal

Here’s the first place the strap passes through the footbed, and the first adjustment point you want to work with when adjusting the fit for any Earthrunners.

3. back-of-heel strap

Before you start, push the buckle as close to the footbed as possible.   If you need the back of heel strap tighter (assuming you’ve got the top-of-foot strap the way you want it), push excess down through the footbed on the inner arch side of the sandal.   If you need it looser (again, assuming you already have the top-of-foot strap dialed in), pull excess up through the footbed on the inner arch side of the sandal.

second adjustment point of earth runners vegan minimalist running shoes

Second and final footbed adjustment point to get your perfect, Earthrunners custom fit.

4. top-of-ankle strap

This one is easy!   After you’ve done 1, 2 and 3 above, your Earth Runners should now function like a less-custom sandal.   The ankle strap can be tightened by pulling the excess through the buckle and loosened by pushing the tail end of the strap back toward the foot.

If your ankle strap has come out of the buckle and unwrapped from the top-of-foot strap, make sure to wrap it once around the top-of-foot strap before feeding it through the buckle.

earth runner ankle strap comparison - one correct and one incorrect - on blue background

Pictured left is a correct ankle strap placement – passing under the top of foot strap before going to the buckle. Pictured right, you see a heel strap going straight to the buckle, which will probably cause most wearers undue stress on the second toe.

If you’re a person who tried a toe plug adjustment and you’re still getting toe pain, try reversing the way the ankle strap wraps around the top-of-foot strap.   If it goes over the top-of-foot strap before wrapping around, trying passing it under and then wrapping instead.   If it goes under the top-of-foot strap before wrapping, try laying it over and then wrapping.   For me, the most comfortable position is ankle strap UNDER top-of-foot strap before wrapping.

earth runners sandals with different ankle strap twists on green grass background

Look closely and you’ll see both ankle straps pass under the top-of-foot strap.   However the strap on the left side of the photo goes under the strap and straight to the buckle with no twist.   The strap on the right side of the photo goes under the top-of-foot strap and then rotates toward the wearer in a half twist before passing through the buckle.   Way more comfortable!

Once you’ve got the ankle strap where you want it, you don’t have to open and close the buckle anymore.   I just slide my heel strap down to remove the sandals and slide it back up to lock them in place.

If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this video:

If your sandals don’t yet feel dreamy check out Earth Runners’ FAQ on how to adjust the straps (aka “laces”).   They cover what to do if your foot is sitting too far forward or back in the sandal, sliding in the footbed when on inclines, or if the heel strap is falling off your heel.

All this custom fit fiddling felt tedious to me, but also totally worth it.   Future you will thank you!

Happy Adventuring! ♣

You might also like:
What I Think About Earth Runners Elemental Sandals
Why I Still Run Barefoot, Despite No Scientific Proof of Benefits