Best Huaraches Reviewed & Rated
Huaraches are traditional sandals worn by indigenous North Americans, mainly Mexicans, during the Pre-Columbian era. Prior to this term, they used to go by their earlier names; Warachi and Kwarachi (roughly meaning “sandals” in their original Pure’pecha language). They are only considered true and authentic if they’re “home-made.” Usually flat-heeled, made with leather and open-toed, they can have either rubber or leather soles. Often handmade, it takes a while to get a pair to work around your foot, but it's well worth the effort. Comfortable, breathable and lightweight, these are a great option for those looking for a great pair of casual sandals to wear in hot weather.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 10 hrs of research
- Volcom Kali
- Frye Brea
- Earth Origins Nellie
- Brand X Pachuco
- Crocs Isabella
- Plaka Palm Leaf
- Deer Stags Bamboo 2
- SoftSpots Tatianna
- Naturalizer Wendy
- SoftSpots Tela
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Huaraches
1. Volcom Kali
If you’re in the market for a super budget-friendly option, the Volcom Kali is perfect for a quick look to suit your needs. Synthetic leather uppers help make it easy to care for, and thong style sandal with strappy upper coverage make it indicative of huarache styling. Adjustability can be found in the buckle strap closure to help keep it firmly in place, while support and traction help keep you walking in comfort.Read more
Most of these sandals you encounter have some sort of strappy leather styling to it, and the Volcom Kali maintains that in the form of a slip on thong sandal. Five straps interweave the uppers with one in braided detail for some flair and texture. A buckle closure on one of these helps strap you down to the sandal for the best fit, and allows some adjustability should you prefer.
The Volcom Kali also keeps comfort in their sandal with support, cushion, and traction. A rubber textured sole allows for grip on slippery surfaces and in the rain, while a supportive arch can be found within the footbed to give structure and padding. Spongey footsteps await you when wearing the Volcom Kali, and with options for basic black or brown, you can find one to pair with many kinds of outfits.
2. Frye Brea
Sheepskin Leather Upper
Combining the upper of a traditional huarache with the comfort features of an athletic sneaker, the Brea by Frye is a great choice who prefer high quality leather in their footwear, as well as a stylish design that works well on most occasions, including some offices as well. It comes in tan, black and white, all great options for matching with most of your outfits. Being made with natural leather, it will need some extra care, but it'll be well worth it - not just because of the comfort it offers, but also its durability.Read more
The leather used in the Brea is vegetable tanned sheepskin leather that's one of the softest types of leather used in garments and footwear. It's highly comfortable, extremely breathable, and suitable even for barefoot wear despite hot weather conditions. The leather lining prevents rubbing and blistering, making these comfy out of the box.
The outsole on the Brea is made with rubber, with a tread pattern on the bottom that resembles crepe soles. This means these won't let you slip, even on highly polished or wet surfaces, and will provide some protection if you happen to find yourself in the middle of a summer shower. Do note, however, that if you plan on wearing these near water, the upper needs to be adequately protected and conditioned to ensure its health and durability.
3. Earth Origins Nellie
Comfort & Cushion
If you’re in search of something slightly simpler than our colorful number one option, the Earth Origins Nellie is a wonderful option to consider. Soft leather strappy toe box and heel straps help hold you into the sandal while leaving a great foot feel from a plush insole and footbed. With additional support in the sandal’s structure, this slip-on sandal will have you walking miles in comfort and style.Read more
This easy slip on style sandal has a plush footbed with perforations, which will help to not only keep your feet cool, but help pad them in plush cushion with every step. Cushioned arch support also provides some structural stability, great for those with flat arches, or prefer added support. Airy and lightweight, this breathable sandal will have you walking the extra mile out on the town!
Interwoven straps that make the Earth Origins Nellie, and mad from burnished calf leather, but also keep an adjustable and firm fit with the elastic goring found along the sides. A small toe cap provides some protection against debris getting into the shoe, or from the occasional toe stubs. Rubber outsole is texture for proper traction, even on slippery surfaces.
4. Brand X Pachuco
Heel Straps May Not Stay In Place
Sizing May Run Small
Ronn Simpson took his degree in Spanish, his inspiration from the "huaracheros" (huarache crafters) in Mexico, and started off as a street vendor in 1972's Oakland. These are arguably the closest thing you will find to a traditional model on the market. Brand X boasts authenticity in spades; ensuring that your day will be brightened by a nice pair of handcrafted sandals.Read more
Done in Mexico, this process is a natural and non-chemical process that gives the leather vibrant colors and keeps the moisture off. It also helps the leather to comfortably mold to the shape of your feet. Being able to walk comfortably in these shoes is also important. The color of these midsoles matches beautifully with the leather straps and the rest of the footwear.
Since they're hand-crafted and sold in a small shop (instead of being mass-produced and sold at a big-box store), you would expect a high price tag. However, these huaraches are at the low end of the price range. You won’t regret the purchase at such a reasonable price.
5. Crocs Isabella
Soft TPU Upper
Floral Cutout Pattern
No Half Sizes
The Crocs Isabella Jelly Flat is ultra-lightweight and comfortable wearing. It features a girlie style and cute peep-toe design, while its flower cutout patterned upper will look great with any outfit. These jellies are super-comfy thanks to a Croslite foam-cushioned footbed and soft TPU translucent upper.Read more
These aren’t just any old jelly shoes; they provide a similar level of comfort to the infamously foot-friendly Crocs Clogs. The Isabella features a Croslite foam-cushion footbed that will keep your feet feeling great and prevent foot fatigue.
Crafted with a supple transparent TPU upper and featuring a floral cutout pattern, these jelly shoes are a girl's best friend. They’re available in a variety of colors such as coral, black, blue jean, bronze, and turquoise, so you’ll be able to pair them well with any outfit. The Isabella has a low 1.75-inch heel and the shaft measures 1.7-inches from the arch.
6. Plaka Palm Leaf
Can Cause Sweat
One of the most stylish and colorful huarache sandals, the Plaka Palm Leaf boasts of handmade braided rope crafted carefully for comfort and a stylish appeal. Toe loop and heel strap help to hold you firmly to the sandal, and a braided criss cross design flatters the shape of the foot. A rubber sole helps to add grip and traction, and the materials used to craft the sandal make it waterproof, so it’s ideal for beaches or water activities!Read more
The charm of the Plaka Palm Leaf sandal lies with the beautifully crafted and interwoven rope straps. Criss-crossing patterns of braids help keep you in the sandal and accentuate the natural beauty of the foot. Ropes have some stretch to them for a bit of adjustability. The Palm Leaf is available in so many amazing colors and color combinations that you are certain to find one you can fall in love with!
Along with its open-air feel and design, these sandals are made of materials that help make it waterproof, making it a great option for beaches, pools, vacation spots, or water activities in general. A grippy rubber sole adds to the traction at the base of the flat, and some comfort is found in the cushy footbed.
7. Deer Stags Bamboo 2
Business & Casual Appropriate
The Deer Stags Bamboo 2 is a closed heel and toe loafer slip on, with interwoven leather to grace the uppers and heel cup, giving it that huarache feel and look. In the business since the 1930’s Deer Stags values quality in their products, and it shows in the Bamboo 2. Adjustable fit can be found with a hook and loop closure, and it’s classy style make it versatile for wearing to the office, at summer casual events, or vacation.Read more
The Deer Stags Bamboo 2 is available in black and brown hues, or a mix of the two, interwoven and keeps a rich shiny look. Buffalo leather uppers are woven in and out to make a full coverage upper and include a protective toe cap to help against stubs and debris. Heel cup consists of a solid leather along with woven detail, demonstrating the quality construction of this shoe.
As a versatile shoe, it’s also quite comfortable, and can be worn at the office for business events or on the go customer meetings, as well as weekend casual stroll along the avenue. A textured rubber sole allows for grip and traction, so you can walk confidently without worrying about slippage. An adjustable fit is found with the side hook and loop closure that wraps across the top of the foot, letting you get the perfect strap in feel you need. Breathable with its woven design, it’s a great all-around shoe for summertime.
8. SoftSpots Tatianna
Made With Leather
Choice Of Colors
Straps May Tear
The people who run SoftSpots and created the Tatianna Ankle Strap Huaraches know that a balance of comfort, function, and style can be achieved. They also know that there's nothing wrong with adding a little zest, and simple elegance, to any outfit. The Tatianna is meant to have that elegant balance.Read more
SoftSpots' patented insole technology allows for comfortable walking from the moment you put on your shoes to the end of the day when you take them off. The distribution of cushioning allows for comfort where and when it is needed.
The elaborate weaving and design of the leather straps are reminiscent of ancient huaraches. The Tatianna also features a closed-toe design for that is appropriate for work.
9. Naturalizer Wendy
Synthetic Rubber Soles
Sole Ma Peel
Caleres, Inc. is based in St. Louis, Missouri. They started out in 1927 during the decade of "cultural shifts and progressive thinking." With Naturalizer as their headline product, Caleres continues to make women's shoes that are unpretentious, "beautifully fit," backed by research by the company's "Style And Trend" experts, and comfortable to wear throughout the day. Their "Wendy Huarache Sandals" can be considered true to their origins.Read more
Any pair of shoes with the word "huarache" in it should be made of leather. That's one of the main criteria for the shoes to be considered true huaraches. The leather straps are on the Wendys are elaborately woven throughout the sandals and have a nice decorative front on them.
The leather also comes in several decorative colors; giving you a choice of what to match your "clothing style of the day" with. There are even several different shades of brown; one of them with blue, yellow, and red straps if you want to be more Earthy or "natural."
They are not as pricey as other shoes in the list, falling in the low-range. These sandals will be worth every penny if what you want are closest to the original sandals worn many many years ago. They are elaborately woven and stylish and will become a favorite sandal.
10. SoftSpots Tela
Choice Of Colors
All Day Comfort
Straps May Break
The SoftSpots’ Tela is an open-toed version of the Tatianna huarache sandals, above. The Tela is built for long walks on hot summer days with the same care you'd expect from SoftSpots. Though it may not be appropriate for work, it certainly is welcome on the beach, running errands or doing whatever your busy life demands.Read more
Leather's durability and ease in use like weaving is the reason that most of these sandals use this material. The Tela shows off its intriguing design with the weaving of leather straps and the pattern at the center. Being able to walk comfortably in today's open-air huaraches is, without doubt, the most important trait. SoftSpots continues to emphasize comfort on the Tela.
These cute sandals are in the mid-range price-wise. For the price, you will be getting a comfortable, fashionable little sandal that will go well with many outfits in your closet and will suit many different occasions.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When we looked to create a list of the best huaraches, we felt it was important that each of the shoes we picked for the list met the following criteria in terms of their style:
Shoes that went too far from the original or could not be said to be a creative interpretation of the original, were nixed as there were no elements which could rightfully be attributed to the building of the original shoe.
Setting aside the aesthetic design of the shoe for a moment, our next criteria deals with the quality of the material used. The original huaraches used leather soles and leather strapping that were later updated to vulcanized rubber soles and leather strapping; we’ll start therefore with leather and rubber:
When choosing a huarache, or any shoes, you should look for the very best quality materials that you can afford - for comfort and for durability. Remember that the longer you can use them, the more value you achieve for your hard-earned money.
Traditional huaraches are a hard-working, long-lasting shoe. There’s no reason yours should not last as long as they can either. The longer your shoe lasts, the more value you achieve for your money as well. A number of factors determine how long a huarache will last, including how you care for them, the material quality, and build quality of the shoe. Here are some tips on what to look for and how to care for your huaraches:
Good quality material - see our criteria above for material tips.
Good quality builds - look for shoes that are sewn together with solid stitching preferably as these shoes tend to last longer and can be repaired more easily. Many will be cemented (glued) together so look for faults in the cementing. Read reviews to help you determine where the shoes wear most frequently and whether or not the straps come apart. People are great about telling you when and where shoes they’ve purchased are faulty.
Forming leather straps - forming leather straps to your feet, like traditional huaraches, will help them fit better and last longer. Real leather straps can be formed by either wetting the shoe and then wearing them as they dry or massaging leather cream into the straps and then wearing them until they dry. These options work well for shoes that are slightly tight on your foot.
Weatherproofing - leathers, canvas and other natural materials can be treated for water and stain resistance to help them live longer. Ensure you use a product that is recommended for your shoe and your type of leather and repeat the coating as appropriate with wear.
Repair - if you’ve invested in a good pair and the straps have finally begun to give way after years of use, it may be worth repairing leather strapping that has worn through. Check with a cobbler in your local area to determine whether and how strapping can be replaced. Plastic straps normally cannot be replaced or repaired.
Avoid direct sunlight - your shoes can handle quite a bit of sun but leaving them exposed to UV radiation for long periods will dry out the leather straps too much, making them brittle and breakable. When you’re not wearing them, be sure to store them away from direct sunlight.
Regardless of the size you’re wearing one of the key aspects when it comes to footwear is its comfort. Comfort determines how much time you can spend wearing a design, how much distance you can cover, how long you can stand for, walk for, work, dance, exercise for. While the appearance, the quality and the durability of design are also important, nothing can beat comfort when it comes to actual wearability.
Achieving that perfect level of comfort is not an easy feat. It requires trial and error, testing, innovation, and a careful combination of traditional construction methods and the latest technologies. Different brands deliver comfort in different ways - through special systems, through the materials, the footbeds, the overall construction of the shoe and many more.
Fortunately, we can sort all of those into a few categories, to make it easier for us to describe each one. So, let’s begin:
Technologies: Where there are world-renowned footwear brands, there is also an abundance of carefully planned and conceptualized comfort systems that cater to every customer’s need. Or most customers’ needs. In this list, we encounter quite a few of them: the Naturalizer N5 system, the Skechers Air Cooled Memory Foam insole, the OrthoLite footbed in the Clarks Ashland, the HPO2Flex of the Hush Puppies Chaste - all of these and more are outstanding innovations that are not often seen, and most unique to the specific brand (with the exception of the OrthoLite footbed).
Each of these technologies includes a set of features to help with a particular problem you may be having while walking. This problem can be that you require a bit more cushioning, or arch support, or would like a moisture-wicking experience, or perhaps even motion control the New Balance Rollbar technology can provide.
If you’re keen on having a shoe with any of these advanced features, take a bit of time to study them, and carefully consider if they would work for you. Remember that, even though systems like these are useful to have, and may even make a big difference in the way you approach footwear, they don’t necessarily agree with everyone. Each person is different, and each pair of feet is different, and it is quite alright if you discover that these fancy hi-tech options don’t work for you.
Footbeds: What you can look at, instead of - or together with - a comfort technology, is what the footbed of the design is like. Extra padding in this area helps with absorbing impact from your steps; instead of that impact traveling up to your joints and causing damage in the long term, it gets distributed throughout the footbed and minimizes the pressure put on your ankles, knees, hips and even lower back.
A step further are footbeds which have contours to them. These molds in the footbed correspond to the shape of your foot sole - or should, at least - and gently support it as you walk, providing you with stability and comfort like no other.
Molded footbeds can also have arch support in them, which is probably the ultimate comfort experience. This reduces tiredness in your feet at the end of the day and also helps you avoid medical conditions such as flatfoot and overpronation.
Materials: While we will expand more on how materials affect the overall design, here we will briefly discuss why they matter for comfort.
Materials are the ones which surround the foot, essentially, and because of that they should be soft and malleable, but still firm enough to provide security within the design. They should have the ability to take on the shape of your foot, like genuine leather and suede do, for example, for that sock-like fit. They should also be lightweight, and not cause any chafing or blisters, such as canvas, or mesh materials.
If, by any chance, the design you’re trying on feels stiff, unyielding and is even digging into your skin somewhere - there is a chance that these issues will resolve themselves with a little breaking in. But there is also a chance that they will get worse the longer you wear the shoe for. Choose wisely when you’re shopping, and opt for materials which you know are reliable, and which will provide you with enough support as you go about your days.
The price of a shoe can sometimes be a deal breaker. That’s part of the reason why footwear manufacturers invest time and energy into creating cost-effective technologies to incorporate into their shoes to make them durable, long-lived, versatile, and inexpensive.
Durability & Longevity
Footwear, usually, lasts more than a few months, because shoes that are going to fall apart after a few months of use aren’t worth the investment of more than a few dollars. Leather and synthetic overlays can be used to make the shoes more durable without sacrificing flexibility. Firm leather or synthetic uppers provide durability and support.
Great footwear can be used for more than one activity. Walking and running shoes, for example, can be used in some casual sports. Stylish athletic footwear could be used in informal work environments. Sandals can be used in casual and semi-formal settings. The more situations you can use the shoe in, the more value it offers for the price.
Good footwear is easy to maintain and clean. They don’t require a lot of expensive shoe treatments or time-consuming upkeep. Shoes that need a lot of effort, time and money to maintain, don’t sell as well as shoes which are easier and cost less to keep.
As mentioned earlier, removable inserts in footwear make it customizable, but that’s not the only bonus to removable inserts. Removable inserts increase the longevity of the shoe, which is why some come with removable inserts.
A hefty price tag can be a deal-breaker for people on a budget. That’s why many can be found in the low-to-middle price range. They’re affordable, and if they are priced a little higher than others, then they offer many features to make the footwear worth the extra investment.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Most huaraches are made from leather materials, so they do need a little extra care than simply cleaning with soap and water.
Shoe protectant sprays help against water or liquid stains from setting into the leather, and if possible, leather conditioner can be applied every 3-6 months to help keep the leather supple and prevent cracking.
These fun styled sandals are made for summer and heat! Pair them with your favorite shorts or skirts for a casual setting, or date night at the latest summer hot spot. Adding in boho inspired pieces to go with huaraches will give your ensemble a relaxed, but elegant flowy feel!
Other Factors to Consider
Typically worn by farmers in countryside communities, they would eventually gain in popularity among some religious orders like the Catholic Church’s Franciscan Friars, and also in the 1960s with hippies and the baby boomer generation. Some huarache wearers saw them last for 10 to 20 years. It can difficult to find a pair that would fit properly since they were handmade without standard sizing. Even now, it takes a while to get a handmade pair to work around your foot but often well worth the effort. (A good tip is to massage the leather with your hand. Another is to wet them and walk around in them for a day.)
The 10 huaraches in our list are varied and each is great in its own way, from fashion sandals, to casual, to business wear. You will find something that suits every taste and sensibility. You can’t go wrong with the shoes on this list.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What does “huarache” mean?
“Huarache” comes from the Purépecha language term kwarachi, which means “sandals.” (Purépecha, also known as Tarascan, is a small language family spoken by a quarter million indigenous people in the Mexican state highlands of Michoacán.)
q: How is “huarache” pronounced?
The correct pronunciation of the word is “Wa-Ra-Jei.” Not everybody is skilled in or familiar with the original South and Central American languages. So it’s also pronounced “Ha-Ra-Chei,” “Her-A-Gi,” or a mixture of the two quoted phrases.
q: How and where did huaraches start?
Farmers and indigenous people wore this in the Pre-Columbian era of Mexico. Specifically the agricultural areas in Yucatan, Michoacan, Jalisco, and Guanajuato.
q: Are they minimalist shoes or sandals?
There is a certain type created by the Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons, where straps made by leather or some other material were used to tie to the ankles; as opposed to using leather uppers. However; not all huaraches are made for running.
q: What’s up with Nikes and their “huaraches?”
It seems like the people over at Nike had done some research on the name. Their Air Huarache running shoes are "known for their stability, and shape with tread for strenuous terrain." Very much like the foot-hugging huaraches originally used in the outlying areas of Mexico.
q: Are ones made from synthetic materials still huaraches?
Being hand-made, using leather (strapped) uppers, and using rubber outsoles; that’s the general rules behind what makes a pair authentic. However; the second general rule is to make sure that anything based on the original design is not poorly made.