Shamma Warriors and Shamma All-Browns Leather Sandals Review — $85 and $70

Have you ever thought, “Dang, are my feet sexy enough to be on the internet?”

I have.

And although I’m not sure of the answer, here they are: my feet sporting some sweet new sandals—the Shamma Warriors (latest design, nylon straps) and the Shamma All-Browns (classic design, leather straps).

These aren’t just any sandals. They’re minimalist running sandals, designed to keep you as close to barefoot as possible.

I christened mine one early Wednesday morning on a sidewalk up the street from my house. I ran a few uphill interval sprints, and the Warriors lived up to their name.

I do believe they are the next best thing to barefoot.


I was impressed with these from the moment I opened the package. They’re very simple, but each piece is sourced from high-quality materials. The leather feels great, and it makes for an awesome texture to stand on. (Except they got a tad slippery in water.)

Due to the sparse design, they’re very lightweight. If you’re traveling, you can bring these as an extra pair of footwear without an extra thought. That aspect is a big deal for me. They’ll also save you packing a few pairs of socks.

Shamma sandals are constructed with Vibram soles. The Warriors, the thinnest type, are 3mm. You’ll notice in the pictures how easily they bend. I like that. The All-Browns, the medium type, are 7mm, which is still thin compared to most shoes. Shamma also sells a third, thicker type that I didn’t test. Personally, I love the barefoot feel of the Warriors. If you’re planning on heavy (or spiky) terrain, you might go up in thickness. I once hiked the Canadian Rockies in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, and the Warriors feel comparable. You’ll connect with the earth when you notice the nuances of the terrain beneath your feet.

I wore my Warriors at Cobble Beach, OR, which is a bit like a ball pit, only it’s filled with smooth gray stones. It felt like a rough foot massage, which is to say good. My toes splayed in a more natural movement as the ground shifted beneath me.


When I ordered, I found their sizing guide to be perfect, so use that. (And make sure you tell your printer not to shrink the page to fit—another mistake I made.)

After that first early morning sprint, my feet bottoms felt a little raw. Also, on my right foot only, the strap between my toes rubbed a little. After a couple days, my feet broke in the sandals and everything felt great. If these are your first minimalist shoes, plan some extra time (more than a couple days) for getting used to the feel.  Also, if you’re hiking on sand or unstable ground, you’ll likely get things caught between your foot and the sole–huaraches work best on solid terrain. Just something to be aware of.

When they arrive, they’re not assembled, and I made the mistake of trying to lace them intuitively. (I’m a technical writer who knows better than to read the instructions.) That was a mistake, and I had to undo all my work. However, assembling them wrong taught me the benefits of the right way, and I can affirm to you that, yes, it is better. They stay on better, and the straps wrap in a way that feels right. I won’t recreate the steps here, but here’s a link to their lacing guide so you don’t get lost.

One downside on the All-Browns is that the heel strap still slips down, even after a month of adjustments and breaking them in. It’s just hard to make an adjustment in one place and have it flow into three different segments of the leather. This is no big deal if you’re mostly lounging, but if you’re covering ground, it’s annoying to stop and pull the back straps up. The Warriors, with their updated straps, fix the snugness problem. And it’s a cinch to loosen them up when you’re relaxing. In other words, you’ll benefit from Shamma’s latest iteration.

I did wonder whether the straps being on the ground would cause them to wear through, but so far I haven’t put in nearly enough miles to answer that question. So I talked to Josh, the owner, (who’s a genuine person, by the way, as you’ll see in his YouTube videos), and he said that the foot’s pressure is central, not on the sides where the laces are, so it’s mostly a non-issue. Customers occasionally send in their sandals to be resoled, and even fewer for new straps. Basically, you’ll likely wear out the sole first.


As far as looks go, the All-Browns do have the upper hand, what with the leather straps. And as you put them together, you get to trim the leather as the final step. There’s something satisfying about finishing the manufacturing process yourself. I liked that.

My little sister is my style consultant. I trust her expertise and her international fashion experience. She said she’s seen this style of Y-strap mostly on more feminine designs. I told her I’d seen pictures of Jesus wearing a huarache running sandal like this. That’s where the conversation ended. Bottom line is, if you’re male, these may push you toward metro and/or hippie. I’m okay with that. I love the simple design. (Another option is to order an extra SKU from Shamma called Power Straps, which give the sandals a more brawny look and, as a bonus, enhance the sandal performance for more strenuous and lateral activities.)

I think of these like Chacos but more minimal and with zero-drop (which is key)—plus leather for some extra panache. I wear them for outdoor adventures rather than as a fashion statement. Still, the simple design is cool.

But I took all these photos so you can give the final opinion.


I like both these pairs of sandals.

But I know you’re wondering which one I like better. If I could only pick one, I’d go with the Warriors. They’re the more recent design—they’re easier to adjust, and so they fit to your feet better. However, if you care less about utility and more about style, the all-leather straps on the All-Browns look great. They’re still functional, but they won’t stay as attached to your feet as the newer models.

Also, you need to decide which of the three thicknesses to get. Personally, I love the thinnest (the Warriors). But it’s a matter of how barefoot you want to feel. If you prefer to err on the side of caution, go with the middle thickness.

I was also asked why I’d pay $85 for these when flip-flops are so cheap. My answer: There’s no comparison. Shamma sandals are designed with minimalist runners in mind. They protect your foot, stay on tight, and still keep you tuned to the ground. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is an easy investment.

As close to barefoot as possible.


Kendal & Hyde Debut Kickstarter for Leather Sandals

Kendal & Hyde, Kickstarter extraordinaires, have launched another campaign, this time funded in less than ten minutes. This time around it’s handmade sandals, debuting in two styles, a flip flop and a two-strap slipper. The sandals are made by hand in Mexico, and for every sandal purchase, a similar pair is donated to a humanitarian school system in Rwanda.

“Last year we started making boots with soles made from upcycled used car tires. The idea to use upcycled tire rubber for the soles came from a pair of Mexican huarache sandals my father bought me when I was in high school. It was an almost painful process to source and make the tire soles, but the idea was so cool and unique we could not leave it alone until we did it. (You can now buy our Goodyear Welted boots with tire soles from
We got many requests from our boot customers to make a sandal for summer. Good idea. In true Kendal & Hyde Co. fashion, we set out to make a product that will last—introducing our Two Strap Slipper and Flip Flop sandals.

Our midsole is made with a sturdy 3mm thick piece of sole leather—the same material used in boots and leather-soled shoes. It’s strong and durable, but also has a beautiful, refined look when the edges are polished. We layer the sole leather with 5mm of cork that will compress as you wear your sandal, making an impression to match the shape of your foot, for a comfortable custom fit. On top of the cork we add a 2mm thick piece of neoprene for padding.

Our soles are cut from the sidewalls of used car tires, just like the pair of Mexican huarache sandals I had back in high school. Tire rubber is very strong—believe me, it’s crazy hard work cutting up all these tires and turning them into sandal soles. They are not going to wear out anytime soon. “

Right now you can get a pair for $90, expected to ship out at the end of this summer in several waves. If these sandals are built anywhere close to the sturdiness of Kendal & Hydes bags and boots, they will last you many, many summers.

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Cordoba Leather Ladies Hudson Sandal & Mens Holiday Sandal Review – $177 & $179

If I were to count up all the pairs of flip-flops and sandals I’ve worn through over the years, I wouldn’t be surprised if it numbered over fifty. I swear I go through at least two pairs of cheap flip flops each summer. So when I got the chance to review a pair of Cordoba Leather’s handmade leather sandals, I was interested to see if they would stand the test. I received a pair of Ladies’ Hudsons, and my husband received a pair of Men’s Holidays.


Cordoba Leather is a one-man operation out of Lebanon, Ohio. David Somers, the owner, handcrafts each pair of sandals using high end materials and a keen eye for design. Here is a bit of his story, from the Cordoba Leather website:

On a vacation to Florida in September 2011 I met Dan Holiday, an adventurous man who has been making a diverse and impressive amount of leather items for 50 years. Mr. Holiday was very kind in taking me on as an apprentice. I feel very privileged to be able to say I have apprenticed under him. Mr Holiday is by far, most popular for his leather sandals, they are works of beauty. Sandals are what I learned from him first and sandal making is a unique art that I want to be a part of and carry on through the ages. I enjoy making a variety of different leather products but the prize of them all is leather sandals. The leather is thick and challenging to work with but the end result in a pair of sandals is splendiferous. Making something custom for someone that will last is kind of rare, but I enjoy making it a little less rare.

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These sandals aren’t just something you stick in your “Shopping Cart” and buy on a whim. No, these are handcrafted and molded to each foot’s precise specifications, so you have to provide David with tracings of both feet. First you trace the outline of your feet, marking the space between your big toe and second toe. Then you trace underneath your inner arch so he can mold the sandals with the proper curvature. You then trace a quarter on the page as a size guide for when you scan and upload the tracings to the Cordoba Leather website. All in all, the process takes about five minutes from start to finish, and there’s even an instructional video. It’s not a hassle at all, especially once you feel the sandals on your feet. There’s also the option to remove the arch support, if you have fallen arches or prefer a flat sandal.

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My lovely foot tracings. You can see where I traced under my arch and in between my toes. The circle in the middle is a quarter for scale.


The sandals are made entirely with full-grain, vegetable tanned leather, sourced from the USA and Mexico. The sole is made of thick shoe leather, topped with a layer of flexible saddle leather. The arch is molded to the specifications sent in the foot tracing each customer uploads with their order. The loops for the straps are cut into the sole and fastened with solid brass rivets. The two pieces of the sole are glued together, then hammered with solid brass clinching nails. You can see pictures and explanations of the entire construction process here.

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After the sandals are finished, they’re dipped in neatsfoot oil to help condition and preserve the leather. Neatsfoot oil is a yellowish oil that’s made by boiling the feet and lower leg bones of cattle. The oil is then skimmed off, pressed, and purified. Neatsfoot oil is great for conditioning, softening, and preserving leather. Now you don’t need to buy yourself a tub of neatsfoot oil, but I’d definitely recommend investing in a good leather conditioner for these sandals. They arrive soft and conditioned with the neatsfoot oil, but wearing them day after day will definitely dry them out, and you don’t want the leather to crack or become brittle. We’ve reviewed quite a few leather conditioners here at BestLeather, so be sure to browse through our Leather Care tag to see some of our recommendations, because you’ll want to keep these sandals beautiful for years to come.

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When you receive the sandals, which came in a nice linen bag with a note from David, they’re still not quite ready to wear out the door. The strap still needs to be adjusted, tied, and cut to your size. He includes some instructions for doing so, which you can see below. This a simple process and easy to do with kitchen shears.

The straps before I cut them and after I tied them
The straps before I cut them and after I tied them

One I finished cutting the straps and walked around a bit in the sandals, I was absolutely amazed by how comfortable they were. They molded to my feet perfectly and the soft, perfectly-placed straps don’t rub anywhere. The toe strap curls comfortably around my big toe and keeps the sandal feeling snug. They don’t flop around or feel like they’re going to fall off. I’ve actually found that I can slip the ankle strap on and off without having to tie and untie it every time, which is nice for those who are lazy like me. All it takes is a little tightening now and then. I’ve walked long distances in these shoes and they’ve only gotten more comfortable as they form to my feet. Cordoba recommends getting them wet right off the bat to help them mold to your feet even faster.

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The Men’s Holiday sandals don’t have a toe loop, and have a flip-flop style instead.My husband calls them his “Jesus Shoes” and  raves about how comfortable they are.  His sandals are in the “Vintage Brown” color, a beautiful deep brown. They also come in a slightly brighter “Brick Red” like my Ladies’ Hudsons.

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If you’ve never worn shoes with a leather sole before, be prepared to slip around for a bit until the soles scuff up enough to provide traction. I’d recommend NOT wearing them for the first time on a slippery vinyl dock like I did! Just take a walk, scuff them up on the pavement a little, and you’ll be good to go!

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The soles with clinching nails


I was extremely impressed with Cordoba Leather, from start to finish. David guided us through the selection and tracing process and ultimately created us two pairs of gorgeous sandals. For $177, you are getting all leather, handmade sandals made in the USA precisely to your foot’s specifications. It’s not often that you get to be so involved in the creation of a product. I think $177 is a steal for these sandals, especially considering how comfortable and sturdy they are. You and your Ladies’ Hudsons or Men’s Holidays will be taking long walks on the beach for years to come.

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Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals – $148

Summer is officially here, so it’s time to make sure you’ve got all your supplies together for a relaxing day at the beach. If you’re like me, you’ll pack a nice picnic, obsessively slather on 70+ SPF sunscreen, and grab your favorite shorts and sandals. The sandals part, however, is a little complicated. I’ve been checking out a few sandal options, so stay tuned for a couple of upcoming sandal reviews.

Today I’ll be looking at the Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals, in Men’s Brown and Women’s Moc.

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About Waltzing Matilda

“Everything we make is handcrafted in the USA in small micro-factories and meant to last forever. We make a strong effort to use repurposed and recycled materials found during our travels. We don’t compromise. We are creative, adventurous, and humble, and sincerely want to stimulate the senses with our pieces. Every hide is handpicked and has unique features and marks that add to the character and beauty of each product. We hope you love your new piece of art, and that it travels with you for a long time. Please let it age gracefully.” – Waltzing Matilda website

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Waltzing Matilda actually got its start making this very sandal, born out of necessity during a surf trip in Nicaragua. After Mike, the founder, lost his shoes in a torrential rain storm, he crafted a pair of sandals out of an extra travel bag, and thus, the NICA sandal was born. Now, Waltzing Matilda is a full-fledged leather outfitter, making everything from shoes to bags to laptop cases to wine carriers.

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Like all Waltzing Matilda products, the NICA sandal is made by hand in Maine. Featuring Horween leather, the body of the sandal is hand-tacked to a rubber Birkenstock EVA sole. The straps are anchored into the leather at the top and bottom with tacks and the two sections of strap are joined with polyester thread. I’m not entirely sure that this is the best decision when it comes to construction, but it does give the NICA sandal that stitched-together bohemian look that Waltzing Matilda has become famous for. After several months of use, however, I haven’t noticed any give or weakness in that area of the sandal, so take that with a grain of salt.

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I love the way these sandals look. With the hand-tacked nails and unburnished edges, the NICA sandals have a unique look that sets them apart from other leather sandals. They aren’t pretentious or overdone, but definitely look like they are a quality item.

I wasn’t completely sold on the white Birkenstock sole on the Women’s Mocs, but after quite a bit of use, they don’t look as dirty as I expected, and they match well with the lighter leather. The Men’s Brown sandals are a beautiful, rich brown that goes well with any outfit.

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These take some breaking in before they get comfortable. When you first try them on, it feels a bit like wearing a two-by-four on your feet. The piece that goes between your toes is thicker than most sandals and takes some getting used to. But after a couple of wears, the leather breaks in and forms to your feet, making them extremely comfortable for daily wear. These are by far the most comfortable leather flip flops I’ve owned. My husband regularly steals them even though they’re not his size. I think I’ll have to get him his own pair!

The Men’s Brown pair has a leather sole, which can be somewhat slippery if you’re not used to leather soles. It’s probably a good idea to avoid a wipeout by scuffing the soles up a bit before you head outside.

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At $148, the NICA sandals aren’t cheap, but you will get a LOT of use out of them. They’re perfect for a day at the beach, and look nice enough to wear for a casual dinner. They’re light and pack flat so you can take them anywhere. Waltzing Matilda also has several other sandal designs that I’d recommend taking a look at if simple flip flops don’t cut it. There are Roman sandals, Greek Sandals, and a third design they call “My Sandals.” Check ’em out!

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