I bought these sandals on May 5th, 2017. This review is written on September 4th, 2017.
I’ve been wearing these sandals every day. On an average week that includes cycling or walking (~4km) to work, walking around the city, walking in the office to get coffee, and hiking on the weekends. I run in Lunas as well, but I don’t run often - perhaps a couple of times per month, for about 5-10km. I did some multi-day backpacking trips in these sandals as well. The single worst thing I’ve done in them is probably foot breaking on a longboard - but only once, since you can just feel the tread disappearing.
I guess most of the “wear and tear” happens during my hikes. A typical hike would include a day pack and 5-8 hours of walking up and down coastal mountains near Vancouver.
Overall, I love these sandals. They are some of the most comfortable footwear I’ve had the pleasure of wearing. That goes for all of the uses I’ve put them through, but they’re especially great while hiking. The tread is quite sticky, and I’ve never felt that they weren’t “enough of a shoe” on any of my hikes. With their current tread (see below) are a bit slippery on really loose and steep surfaces. Soles “molded” after a few weeks, hugging my feet a little bit. Lack of a toe box really helps on long slogs down fire roads, or just on any prolonged downhill sections. In my “regular” hiking shoes, or in VFFs, something would inevitably start to rub, or my toes would hit fronts of the shoe over and over again, to great discomfort. Not so in these sandals - or most other similar ones, I imagine - which is a huge plus. While backpacking, after a few long days of walking through mountains with an overnight pack, I would overuse my ankles to the point of needing a good few days of rest to fully recover. Currently I’m chalking this up to “my feet aren’t strong enough”. Normally I would go on multi-day trips in my regular Merrel Moab hiking boots, and so this is new territory for me.
Lunas came with ankle straps, they call them “tech straps” - you attach them around your ankles for added support. I personally don’t find them very useful, and almost never wear them. Sandals work just as well without these straps on my feet.
These sandals get a lot of attention on the trails. I’m used to people looking at my feet while hiking, since often I’d be either wearing my Fivefingers or going barefoot, and Lunas are no different.
They were not very comfortable at the start - specifically the front strap did irritate me for a couple of weeks. Also, for my taste they’re a tad too thick. However, now that they’ve worn down quite a bit, I find them nicer to walk in.
I often get these sandals wet on the trails - cooling down my feet in a creek (so nice!), crossing muddy sections, etc. They’re not great while wet - comfortable enough to keep going, but my feet do slide around a bit, and I look forward to the moment they dry out (which happens in about 10 minutes on a hot day). Add in a steep trail with a heavy pack on my back, and that sliding starts to become a consideration. I can feel the extra stress on the straps as my feet move while walking up or down, which makes me worried that something might tear or break. There’s no sign of that, but I’ve read stories about Lunas breaking mid-hike. On longer hikes and multi-day trips I always take my VFFs as a backup option.
Wear and tear
Frankly, I’m disappointed. I’ve only had these Lunas for four months, and looking at their tread I don’t think they will last another summer. It’s a tricky design constraint - soles need to be soft enough to be comfortable, to mold to your feet, and to offer a “minimalist” feel, but they also must be durable. It’s hard to say if Luna did a good job combining these two requirements - or rather, if these Vibram soles were the right choice. Other than “tread”, there’s not much to these sandals. Footbed started to peel off a bit (see photos below). The straps and the buckles are as good as new and feel pretty bulletproof - they’re also basic nylon straps, similar to my climbing slings; I don’t anticipate much happening to them.
Daily wear gotchas
Sandals are great for wearing around the city. However, one thing didn’t occur to me four months ago - there’s a lot of dirt in the cities! Vancouver looks and feels clean, but my feet are still dirty at the end of the day. That’s not something I had to be very conscious of before. Sandals need to be washed thoroughly about once a week, otherwise, bad smell starts to become a problem. They’re certainly a bit more fussy than my other shoes in this regard.
Overall these Lunas are very comfortable sandals, I love the idea of them, but given their current condition I’m projecting that they’re going to be poor value at ~$120CAD. I anticipate retiring them sometime in spring or early summer of 2018, which is about a year after purchasing (I’m not planning to wear them on the cold and rainy winter days). In the meantime, I’m going to look into building similar sandals myself.
For comparison, my 7 or 8 year old hiking fivefingers are still going strong, and I bought them for about the same price. My 5 year old Merrel Moabs goretex boots, which I use in all four seasons, are going strong as well. Both of these shoes are much more complicated, as well. Of course, there’s a matter of “economies of scale”, and various other things at play here - a popular book that we’ve all read, some good marketing…
Regardless, paying so much money for a piece of rubber and some nylon straps feels a bit ridiculous if the whole thing won’t actually last more than a year. The whole affair strikes me as irresponsible. Companies should strive to make products that last as long as possible, and to reduce their impact. Sandals that you can wear for one-and-a-half hiking season are no better than disposable, non-repairable garbage sneakers that are sold in your local mall. Perhaps their minimalism is their saving grace - less material will eventually end up in the landfill.
Here is what my Monos look like after four months of daily wear:
As you can see, the tread is not doing well. Extra wear on the left sandal is from a single longboard ride, stopping a couple of times via a “foot brake”. Little holes are from aggressive, spiky pedals on my mountain bike.
For reference, here is what Luna Mono 2.0 sandals look like when they are brand new (random internet image):