The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Luna Leadville Pacer Review

A barefoot inspired running sandal that will please minimalists but may leave others wanting more.
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Price:  $90 List
Pros:  Lightweight, adjustable
Cons:  Not stable, poor wet traction, minimal comfort
Manufacturer:   Luna Sandals
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 24, 2019
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Traction - 25% 7
  • Stability - 20% 4
  • Adjustability - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Luna Leadville Pacer is a barefoot-inspired running sandal for the pure minimalist adventurer. While this model has a following within the trail running community, we think it will leave other hikers, climbers, and adventurers wishing for more. Our testers appreciated the Vibram soles and the adjustable strap design, but we struggled with the thin soles and slippery footbeds on wet or uneven terrain. While these sandals certainly fill a minimalist niche, we think that most general outdoor users would likely prefer something a bit more substantial. Our Editors' Choice Award Winner Bedrock Cairn Adventure isn't as lightweight but earned much higher scores in our comfort and stability ratings.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $90 List$105.00 at REI$81.16 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$104.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$99.95 at Amazon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, adjustableLightweight, versatile, excellent tractionComfortable, rugged, grippy on variable surfacesExtremely supportive, insanely durable, dependable stabilitySolid construction, comfortable and adjustable, good traction, weigh less than typical Chacos
Cons Not stable, poor wet traction, minimal comfortNot best for high archesSofter footbed means less stabilityHeavy, requires break-in period for learning adjustmentAdjustment can be tedious
Bottom Line A barefoot inspired running sandal that will please minimalists but may leave others wanting more.The Cairn is a well designed minimalist sandal that is ultra-resilient and ready for the long haul.Tough to go wrong with a Chaco classic; especially when it's geared for comfort.This all-around workhorse comes from a pedigree of high-performance in rugged conditions; you can't go wrong with Chaco.With solid all-around performance, this sandal was one of the most dependable models we tested.
Rating Categories Luna Leadville Pacer Bedrock Cairn Adventure Chaco Z/Cloud Chaco Z/1 Classic Chaco Z/Volv 2
Comfort (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Traction (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Stability (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Adjustability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Versatility (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Specs Luna Leadville Pacer Bedrock Cairn... Chaco Z/Cloud Chaco Z/1 Classic Chaco Z/Volv 2
Weight (in lbs per pair) 0.64 lbs (size 10) 1.10 lbs (size 10) 2.05 lbs (size 12) 2.29 lbs (size 12) 1.65 lbs (size 10)
Available Widths Medium Medium Medium, Wide Medium, Wide Medium
Footbed Material MGT (Monkey Grip Technology) Granite Grip rubber LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU
Strap Materials Webbing Webbing Webbing Webbing Webbing
Midsole Material MGT Rubber LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU LuvSeat PU
Sole Material Vibram Vibram MegaGrip ChacoGrip rubber ChacoGrip rubber Non-marking EcoTread

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Leadville Pacer is one of the lightest sandals we've ever tested, tipping that scales at 0.64 lbs (10.2 oz) per pair in size 10. Made for barefoot inspired trail running, this model has thin soles with excellent trail feel, but starts to struggle when the terrain gets steeper or the conditions become wet. Our testers were pleased with the overall build and design of these sandals, and enjoyed the feel on flatter terrain, but noted that they couldn't keep up with the heftier competitors when the conditions became more rugged.

Performance Comparison


The Leadville Pacer keeps you light on your feet!
The Leadville Pacer keeps you light on your feet!

Comfort


Comfort is a relative term when it comes to barefoot-inspired footwear, as the purpose of this type of shoe is to mimic barefoot running as closely as possible, with just a minimal amount of material to protect your feet from the ground. The Leadville Pacer certainly accomplishes this, with very thin soles and excellent trail feel. While they definitely aren't as comfortable in a traditional sense as some of the thicker cushioned models, they certainly achieve the desired goal of mimicking barefoot movement.

For anyone not already accustomed to such minimalist footwear, we definitely would recommend a gradual transition period to allow your feet, ankle, and leg muscles to adjust to the new stimulus. For anyone looking to try minimalist inspired footwear with a little more comfort and support, we recommend our Top Pick for Ultralight Touring Xero Z-Trail.

This sandal provides great feel and feedback from the ground surface.
This sandal provides great feel and feedback from the ground surface.

Traction


With their Vibram soles, these shoes scored near the middle of the pack in our traction ratings with dependable dry traction. However, when conditions got wet, muddy, or sandy, the shallow treads became overwhelmed and the footbeds became slippery, quickly turning the traction from good to poor. With such a minimal design, this made it tough to move efficiently on sloped or uneven terrain.

For a similarly designed model with a bit more aggressive traction, we recommend our Editors' Choice Award Winner Bedrock Cairn Adventure with their Vibram MegaGrip soles. The Cairn also has better stability and more comfort, without adding too much weight or sacrificing too much ground feel.

The Vibram soles offer good dry traction but were limited by the shallow tread design.
The Vibram soles offer good dry traction but were limited by the shallow tread design.

Stability


With its thin sole and thong style forefoot attachment, we were interested to see how this particular model would hold up as we took on more rugged terrain. While we appreciate the feel of the ground beneath our feet with the Vibram soles, we were disappointed that the straps and footbed struggled to hold our feet steady on steeper uphill, downhill, or sidehill slopes, especially when wet. While we were more satisfied with the dry traction, the poor wet traction and slippery footbed stood out to us in our rating, as feet often will get wet, sweaty, or dusty when running or hiking.

We found our feet were a bit more stable in the similarly lightweight Xero Z-Trail because of the more extensive webbing system, as well as in the Bedrock Cairn Adventure.

Our feet didn't feel so stable in these sandals on rocky and uneven terrain.
Our feet didn't feel so stable in these sandals on rocky and uneven terrain.

Adjustability


The Leadville received a respectable score in our adjustability ratings, behind only the Cairn Adventure. Our testers really enjoyed the ease of the adjustable velcro ankle strap, as well as the potential adjustability of the forefoot straps. We also appreciated how there are many ways to customize your fit by moving or sliding some of the straps around, and how on-the-fly adjustments are typically quick and easy.

The only downside to the extensive adjustability is that some testers sometimes found it difficult to determine exactly where an adjustment needed to be made in order to address a particular fit issue. We expect that this minor issue would work itself out with a more extensive use of the product.

The Leadville Pacer was easy to adjust on-the-go.
The Leadville Pacer was easy to adjust on-the-go.

Versatility


These sandals scored near the bottom of our lineup for the versatility ratings. While we could see these being a reasonable sandal to wear hiking or around town, we think that these guys are best appreciated within their intended niche of barefoot-inspired trail running. They were developed for that purpose, have a popular following in that demographic, and would excel with the right user under the right conditions. Trying to turn these into a rugged hiking or climbing sandal will have some limitations.

These sandals work well on flatter ground but struggled when things got steeper or uneven.
These sandals work well on flatter ground but struggled when things got steeper or uneven.

Best Applications


The best application for the Leadville Pacer is barefoot-inspired trail running. They would be best suited for experienced trail runners who already have experience in minimalist footwear who are looking for one of the thinnest and lightest options out there. While they would make a reasonable all-around option, they struggle when our testers put them up against more rugged terrain.

The strap system was comfortable and easily adjustable.
The strap system was comfortable and easily adjustable.

Value


With a list price of $90, this model falls near the middle of our lineup. If used for their intended purpose of trail running, we could see them lasting for a long time. Because of their minimalist design, there aren't many parts or materials to wear out. If you are a minimalist trail runner looking to go lighter, these could be an intriguing option.

The Leadville Pacer is the lightest sandal we have tested to date.
The Leadville Pacer is the lightest sandal we have tested to date.

Conclusion


The Luna Leadville Pacer is a barefoot-inspired running sandal that takes minimalism to the extreme. With just a thin rubber sole between you and the ground, these offer unbelievable trail feel. For users looking for an all-around rugged hiking and adventure shoe, you will likely run into limitations with this model. But as the lightest product in our test, it will give experienced barefoot runners an intriguing option.


Nick Bruckbauer