Review by Jaymon Hotz aka the Supehero
I am very happy with my Achilles running sandals. The break in period was a bit long but once my feet adapted the turned out to be an exceptional supplement to my barefoot running. Some of my favorite features of the Achilles are; the ground feel, fit and stability of the split toe design; the textured floor and the very durable waterproof construction. Some of the trade offs for those features are a more complicated fastening system, propensity to rub raw spots ,on the top and sides of the foot, until a sufficient period of breaking in and a tendency to mix dust and sweat inside the shoe making dirty streaks across the foot.
Being a sandal wearer, already, I appreciate the the split toe design that allows for more grip, feed back and control. Being a sandal wearer I also had the patience to give my feet time to adjust to the rubbing and wearing the split toe design brings. It took about a week of casual wearing for my feet to acclimate. The split toe design lets me tighten the fastener in the back until my big toe is snugly pushed up against the front of the shoe. This would cause soreness and toenail issues in most shoes but the smooth molded rubber of the Achilles receives the toe perfectly giving you a secure tight fit that does not inhibit foot splay. I really like the feel and utility of this design.
The strap across the back of foot does make putting the Achilles on a bit complicated. I find I have to sit down to put the shoe on and then position the strap. This is a bit of trouble when you are in the middle of a run.
Most of my running is barefoot. Barefoot running has given me an appreciation of the beneficial effects of running on a textured surface. The most important benefit for me it that it stimulates my feet to develop thicker skin that can more quickly replace the skin that wears away when I run barefoot. The Achilles has a texture pattern on the floor of the shoe. This keeps your foot from slipping in a way that may cause blisters and stimulates the foot to develop that same thicker skin that barefoot running gives you. This texture may be uncomfortable until you adjust to it so give yourself time some break in time.
I really like the simplicity of this shoes construction. It is single piece of molded plastic with an attached floor. Everything flexes and moves together very well. It is very light at 7 ounces for my 12 inch foot. This design is waterproof and therefore easily washed so run through the mud all you want. Being a sandal and waterproof this shoe will streak the top and sides of you feet with a mix of sweat, dust, oil and worn away skin during any run over three miles. I am used to dirty feet but it may be more of a put off if you are used to new running shoes and clean socks.
The styling of the Achilles is bold and attention getting. If you are a barefoot runner you are probable used to attention. It you are new to running or used to conventional shoes the styling might be a detraction for you. Keep in mind that the design is functional and you pay a price in functionality when you go with more conventional looking minimalist shoes.
Being a high mile barefoot runner I find the Achilles running sandal to be a very efficient and functional design. They are light, rugged, durable, provide good road feel and foot protection. For me running in Achilles is a great supplement to running barefoot when my feet start wearing a little thin.