Toetem Alpha BlackBear: Best Barefoot Huarache Trail Sandals

April 11, 2024Barefoot huarache sandal with an extra-wide hemp/leather upper and 5–14mm Vibram trail sole.

Hello, my name’s Andrew and these are the Toetem Alpha BlackBear, a lightweight barefoot huarache sandal with an extra-wide toebox, soft straps, and a rugged Vibram tread for hiking and trail running.


Last summer I reviewed the Monk Sandals Ruivo, which are my all-time favorite barefoot sandals for casual, because of the extra-wide toebox, comfortable leather footbed, and durable Vibram sole.

But the cross strap wasn’t as secure for faster runs and hikes, so I asked Toetem for a pair of their Alpha BlackBear’s to test and with the smooth upper fabric and angled shape, all handcrafted in the USA…

They’re kind of like cozy bear skin rug for your feet with a battle-ready tread for hardcore adventures.

Toetem Alpha Blackbear Barefoot Sandals Review Features Showcase Desk


Because the Alpha BlackBear’s have an extra-wide leather or hemp toebox that’s squared at the front to accommodate multiple foot shapes, along with a huarache thong for support, soft straps to prevent rubbing, and velcro strips for easy adjustment.


Underneath you’ve got a thin 5mm zero-drop sole that’s highly flexible in all directions, as well as a semi-aggressive Vibram tread for mixed terrain that can be upgraded to 8mm or 14mm for extra grip on rocky and wet terrain.


While most of the barefoot sandals I’ve tested use the same 5mm Vibram sole, I’ve noticed that different footbed materials can make a big difference in performance.


So heading out for a walk the zig-zag tread was plenty durable for cruising along pavement, but the leather felt slightly softer than pure rubber or synthetic and there wasn’t a single place anywhere on the Alpha BlackBear’s that rubbed on my feet, unlike the harder posts on my Shamma Warriors, which required a bit of DIY padding.


Switching over to trails the BlackBear’s leather was smoother than the suede upper of my Monk Ruivo’s, which helped them drain water and dry more quickly, although they did get a little slippery when I got the uppers completely soaked.

Powering up hills the 5mm Vibram tread was tough and grippy enough to handle pretty much everything except slippery hills and large jagged rocks, and the leather had some great temperature regulation for both cool and hot days.

Trail Running

For faster trail runs the Alpha BlackBear’s heel straps created an solid lockdown, while the huarache thong was more effective for side-to-side stability than a cross strap, and the extra-wide slanted toebox was perfect for toe splay without compromising agility whatsoever.

That said, even though the 5mm Vibram sole was fine for gravel and some short detours on pavement, I did find it to be too thick for longer road runs.


Overall the Toetem Alpha BlackBear is an excellent option for anyone who wants a lightweight barefoot trail sandal with a high-quality huarache strap system and versatile sole for mixed terrain.


Because the leather upper is wide and temperature regulating, the straps are super soft for all-day adventures, and the multiple Vibram tread options are tough yet flexible and grippy enough to work for hiking and trail running on soft and firm ground.

However, the BlackBear’s toe thong is not quite as comfortable as a cross strap for casual, the leather footbed can get slippery on wet terrain, and even the 5mm sole can feel like overkill for longer road milage.


In terms of similar barefoot trail sandals…

  • Shamma Warriors: wide toebox, water-resistant rubber or leather upper, high-security strap system, and 5mm Vibram sole for technical hiking and trail running on mixed terrain.
  • Monk Ruivo: extra-wide toebox, suede leather upper, minimal cross strap, and 5mm Vibram sole for casual hiking and trail running on mixed terrain.
  • DLD Perception: custom toebox, grippy synthetic upper, wide huarache straps, and medium thick 7mm Vibram sole for hiking and trail running on rougher terrain.
  • Resources

    If you’d like to support the channel you can shop with the referral links above/below and even get 10% off Toetem when you pay with Bitcoin, but you can also browse and filter more products at my website or watch my Zero-Drop Transition video to learn more about barefooting.

    Finally, if you have a question about the Toetem Alpha BlackBear, or about barefoot shoes in general, let me know in the comments.

    Thanks for reading, catch ya next time. Peace!

    Andrew Folts

    Andrew is a writer/filmmaker who creates video guides and reviews for a community of 25K+ creative rebels on YouTube.