Luna Leadville Pacer (Mountain Review)

  During my trail series '30+ Days in the Olympic National Park' I upgraded my footwear. I started the adventure with a wilderness modified version of the now discontinued ATS Sandals.  Even tho they were fully broke in and comfortable as hell.  My foot tended to slide around on the well used footbed; so an upgrade was needed.

  The Luna Craft Monkeys that handed me this product, personally assured me that the upgrade well worth it.  Monkey Grip Technology (MGT) would be used on-top the Leadville sole that I already loved.

  They made this change to help with the annoying sliding around of the foot issue when ascending or descending on the trail.  Traditional Huarache designs have trouble holding your foot to the surface on the sandals when fully saturated with water or mud.  This problem may be annoying to some; such as myself.

  My upgrade would also include the newest version of the ATS Lacing System.  Luna is always making small tweaks to their designs based on customer feedback.  That is what I love about most cottage manufactures.

  I put on around 200 backpacking trail miles on various terrains wearing this product.  Including rocky trials, mud, scree and even snow.

Did you know? Luna has 2017 Minimalist Sandals?

luna sandals leadville
During a rain storm; this sloppy trail will put the MGT Footbed to the test.

Break-in Period

  Like all Huaraches; an amount of time is needed for the soling and laces to be most comfortable.  Just how long varies by each person.  For me 7 days of wear was needed before enough body oil and friction broke-in the laces.

 Over a 100 miles of walking was needed to have the soling start wrapping around the bottom of my foot the way I like.  This helps keep small rocks out of the space between your foot and the sandals.

  After time of just casual wear will help eliminate the flipper like feel when wearing a new sandal.   I would suggest you wear them around in an urban environment before bringing them on the trail.

  Once the sandal has reached this period.  You will have trouble even feeling that your wearing any footwear at all.

Ground Feel

  I personally like to feel every little rock, root, the cold and even the heat that comes through the ground.  Those things enhance my wilderness experience.  Most of the small objects I walked across could not be felt because of the 9 mm of soling used in this sandal.  The thickness also insulated the cold and heat from the surface of my foot.

However when it came to off trail Scree travel and rocky trials; I was happy to have a bit more of rubber under my foot.  Also after around 10 miles of each day; the thickness does help foot fatigue.

  So I learned after this summer having a little more protection under my foot has its benefits.  This has changed the way I will plan for future trips when considering various terrain and distances.

luna sandals review
Off Trail Travel near Cameron Pass in the Olympic National Park

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Sitting around enjoying the views

MGT Footbed

  It is my opinion that this material is the best thing to happen in the sandal world to date.  It performed well in mud, snow and dust.  Shining the most while fully saturated with water.  So for that reason I got it wet every chance I got in every little stream or river crossing.

  My foot stayed on the sandal long as I kept the dust and body oil build up off its surface.  Keeping the footbed clean helps also with the uncomfortable feeling of the laces getting jammed between your toes while descending a steep grade.

  Not getting hot while in direct sunlight for extended periods I found a unique feature. So the bottoms of my feet stayed relativity cool  all summer.

Wilderness Care

  I used the footwear for multiple weeks in the wilderness.  Because of this some extra care was needed to keep the sandals and feet in there best performance.

  Soaking feet while wearing footwear in available water sources. Then scrubbing sandals with your fingers as frequent as needed.   A rock was also used on the bottom of the feet to remove dirt from skin.

  A mild biodegradable backpacking soap was also used to clean the sandals; as well as my skin.  This helped insure that my footbed would grip better while ascending and descending.

  Doing this would also help keep any odor that can be trapped in the laces.  Nobody wants stinky feet.

luna sandals hiking
Soaking my feet in the Quinault River while wearing Luna's - doing this will help in cleaning of footwear and skin.

ATS Laces 

  In the last year the All Terrain Lacing System has evolved.  Changes like the webbing used between the toes, length of the elasticized heal section, different buckle, smaller buckle lope (attaches buckle to laces) , MGT added on a small section under the laces to keep buckle in place and Logo placement on two places.

  Doing this was change for the good. The old versions would cause my skin discomfort between my toes.  I now wear them almost full time; even in an urban environment.  Chances are if you see me around; they will be on my feet.

  I will be curious to see how the webbing holds up in the long term.  Previously with the older versions suffered stress breaks in between the toes caused by friction.  So far showing no signs of wear or break points.

luna sandals laces
MGT under the laces to help with the buckle slipping issue  - this is the same material used on the footbed

Nuwool Toe Socks for wet environments

Leadville Pacer Sole 

  What can I say about the tread pattern used in this sole besides for all positive things.  In face I feel that it should be used on all minimal footwear.  Grips the snow well  and cleans well from mud build up every time you pick up your foot.  No longer being faced with the issue of clogged tread patterns like with previous footwear worn.

Tip: Try not to use this tread on the pavement.  Tread will bald were ever your foot frequents the ground.  I try to keep one pair just for off road use only.


  • Quick Drying
  • Light
  • Primitive feeling
  • Sharp rock protection
  • Breathable
  • Cat like grip


  • Kick stepping on hard snow
  • Rock Scrambling
  • Steep sidehilling
  • Ground feel

luna sandals backpacking
Used in crossing the Bailey Range Traverse in the Olympic National Park - Found great use out of the 9 mm sole when traveling on miles of off trail scree. 

I would suggest the Luna Sandal Pacer to anyone looking for an even balance between ground feel and great traction on all surfaces. Give them a try!

Did you know? Luna Sandals are on Amazon!

Updated in June 2015 by Barefoot Jake

Disclaimer: Footwear provided free of charge. Article also contains affiliate links in partnership with Luna Sandals.