In today’s article, we’re going to be answering a question that a lot of Nike Huarache fans ask, “Are Huaraches running shoes?”
Designed by the great Tinker Hatfield, the Nike Huarache has been on Nike’s bestseller list for years and it shows no signs of losing its popularity. But is the Huarache any good for running?
The thing is the answer to this question has changed a little bit in 2023 after the release of the Huarache Runner!
So, right after I answer the question quickly for you, I’m going to review the original Huarache and compare it to the new 2023 Huarache Runner. Then, I’m going to finish things off with a rich FAQ section.
Let’s dive right into it…
Are Huaraches Running Shoes?
The original Huaraches were first designed to be running shoes in the late ’90s. In fact, the first 5000 pairs of Air Huaraches were sold to marathon runners.
But according to today’s standards, the Huaraches do not provide the features needed for pure running purposes, although they are often used for various types of physical activities due to their comfort and style.
The first thing that backs this up is Nike running shoes have RN on the box, training shoes have TR, and sportswear shoes have SW.
So since Huaraches come in a box with SW, that means that Nike considers the Huaraches to be sportswear shoes. They were NOT designed for athletic performance but more for casual wear.
But in 2023, things have changed!
Nike released a new version called the Air Huarache Runner which has given fans of the Huarache who want to do some running in their shoes a glimpse of hope.
According to Nike’s website, unlike the original Huarache, the Huarache Runner is actually “designed for performance running“.
So, is the new Huarache Runner better for running than the original Huarache?
I think yes and here’s why…
The main reason why the Huarache Runner is going to be slightly better than the OGs in terms of running is the midsole material and overall softness of the shoe.
The midsole on the Huarache Runner is softer and squishier compared to the firmer midsole on the original Huaraches. The material on the midsole of the Runner feels almost like Cushlon 2.0 or Nike React.
Doing the durometer test, the foam on the Huarache Runner is about 30-32 whereas the OG has a foam density of about 52. Clearly, the old pair is firmer to the touch compared to the new Runners which are very soft.
So, how much running can you do in your Huaraches?
Although the original Huaraches are not considered running or fitness shoes, you can still run in them but only for really short distances.
However, thanks to the better cushioning and overall midsole feel, you can actually run more distance in the 2023 Huarache Runner but still not to the point where you would feel comfortable and fully supported during those long runs.
The shoes still don’t have a real heel counter and so they won’t provide the needed support and stability in the ankle and heel areas.
The midsole is still not designed for pure running purposes and lacks adequate cushioning and shock absorption. Also, the shoe is heavy and the outsole tends to wear out really quickly on roads or even on the treadmill.
Overall, for real running purposes, you would want to run in lightweight shoes which have the latest technologies that offer better support, better cushioning, better protection, better responsiveness, and a 400 to 500-mile lifespan.
Now let’s compare the new Huarache Runner to the OG Huarache…
Nike Runner vs Original Huarache
In 1991, the original Nike Air Huarache came out and it is one of those shoes that I think deserves more shine in 2023. I think it’s just a really sleek-looking and really comfortable pair of sneakers.
At first glance, I think the 2023 Huarache Runner is definitely kind of like a revised version of the original.
On the Huarache Runner, you do have some suede and leather overlays over top of the side panels of the shoe, a mesh for the toe box section, and then that Huarache-esque sort of liner for the tongue.
You also do have a rubberized section across the heel of the shoe and then also some more mesh on the heel of the shoe with a little Nike logo.
The midsole is very soft and does look very familiar, which definitely lets you know that these are a pair of Huarache sneakers.
The midsole and outsole look pretty much exactly the same as the older version and then overall, it just kind of looks like an updated version of the original Huarache.
However, the midsole on the Runner feels softer than the original Huarache.
The other two differences between the Huarache Runner and the original is something that’s going to be probably the most controversial about both of them and that is the overall tongue as well as the back section around the heel collar of the shoe.
On the Huarache Runner, the tongue still has the Huarache logo and the bottom section of the tongue looks like Huarache.
However, the top section is where they decided to just really change it up completely. On the Runner, the tongue is semi-gusseted, meaning the bottom section towards the toebox is attached while the top part is actually a loose tongue.
Also, as you work your way around the collar of the shoe, you can see that it just has a traditional heel collar and the liner of a regular shoe.
I think Nike did that on purpose to make the Huarache Runner more runnable than the OG.
Personally for myself, I have a tough time putting on the original Huaraches because of the liner which makes it so difficult to get on. So having a detached tongue on the Huarache Runner definitely makes this an easy one to put on.
But obviously, this is going to be the part that I think is going to deter some people that are just die-hard fans of the original fit of the Huarache.
But if you like the overall style and look of the Huarache, I feel like they morphed it and made it a little bit more streamlined and a little bit more modern.
I think that it’s going to be polarizing positive or negative depending on what you like on your Huaraches.
The other part that’s been updated, which may be good or bad, is the plastic strap that gives the shoe a little bit of support for the heel.
On the original, the strap is very prominent with the little dots and the big Nike on the back as well. The strap is actually attached in two different locations in the front and then also in the heel.
On the Huarache Runner, they decided to do a little bit of a mesh window back on the bottom and then the strap is only attached on the front with a little bit of sewing.
In my mind, the new Huarache Runner looks a little less exaggerated than the old one, but I actually don’t mind the new look as well.
I think it looks kind of nice. I do actually prefer the old one though just because it just has that traditional look and feel of the back there.
First of all, I do like the updated Huarache Runner look. Also, the comfortable midsole is a really nice plus as well even though I don’t know technically what the material is.
I personally like the overall fit and feel of the detached tongue better in the Huarache Runner and I like the overall style of the shoe as well.
The $140 price point is a little bit steep, unfortunately, compared to the regular Huaraches which are only about $125.
Given that they retooled the upper completely on these, the $140 price point might make a little bit of sense, but it might be a little bit out of reach for some people.
The other con about the new Huarache Runner is it doesn’t have all of the elements of what makes a Huarache a Huarache.
Overall, I feel like that could be a bit of a miss on the new model, but I really do like what they created and I’m happy that I gave them a try.
The Runner is definitely a comfortable pair of sneakers and it’s cool that they created something with inspiration from the original 1991 and made it look like a retro Runner in its own right for 2023.
The new Runner is reminiscent a little bit of the Huaraches from the past, but again, it’s a completely different feel on feet.
So, if you really like the original Huarache Runs and how they fit, this is not going to be the same as the Huarache Runs just because of the neoprene upper being completely different. Now it’s more like a traditional shoe with a little bit of a stretchy top.
However, I do actually prefer the old Huarache though just because it just has that traditional look and feel of the back there.
Nike Huarache Review
The history of the Huarache is particularly important because they almost never got made!
It basically took a Nike employee going rogue ordering a run of these at factory level and then just rocking up a running event and selling them. They were crazy popular and they sold out within a couple of days.
It evidently paid off and here we are 32 years later looking at a re-release and probably the 1000th different version of this shoe.
We’re going to take a proper look at aesthetics, the all-important fit, construction, comfort, and all that good stuff as well.
Aesthetically, this is clearly a retro-futuristic shoe. It’s got a certain chunkiness which is definitely associated with shoes of the 90s.
Thankfully, that look is kind of in right now and you’ve got shoes like the Nike Dunk being extremely popular, and more and more people are moving away from skinny jeans and things like that. Of course, those wider pants do suit a slightly chunkier shoe a little bit better.
The combination of that bootie cage construction and the two-color neoprene gives them a very different look and a real feeling of depth though where a traditional leather or pleather sports shoe is almost peeled away to reveal something more futuristic underneath.
Still No Swoosh
You’ll notice that there’s actually no room for a lateral swoosh on this, which is pretty unusual for a Nike shoe but the norm for Huaraches.
Instead, the only branding, apart from on the outsole, is a Nike text to the back on that heel clip and there is a special Huarache logo which is on the tongue. Although that tongue stamp is bigger than I’d like, it’s pretty inoffensive overall branding-wise.
Getting the Huaraches on feet definitely did help sell me on them. The neoprene bootie is key to that inspired-by-water-ski bindings apparently. It’s comfy, stretchy, and it encloses the foot very nicely.
However, neoprene alone doesn’t really have much structure or support so that is why we’ve got that leather upper and the traditional lacing system.
Collectively, those things provide a fairly locked-in fit that’s supported by that standout heel strip which is designed to help provide the kind of support that you would expect from a typical sneaker.
While this is a little bit less structured than a Nike Air Force 1 or something like that, I do find there is a teeny tiny bit of heel slippage.
The shoe does provide a certain amount of stability and I was actually quite surprised at how pliable that plastic clip is.
I was expecting a kind of hard rigid thing, but it’s actually really soft. Considering the pressure you’re likely to put on there, it’s definitely a good thing that is not a rigid plastic cage.
Fit & Sizing
I got the Huarache in my usual size. Although I don’t mind that overall snug feeling, I do feel like the toe box on these is fairly narrow, particularly with that shape that does push your foot forwards to the front of the shoe.
Ironically, wearing the shoe a bit tighter helps stop that because it keeps your foot further back a little bit. But I think going a half size up would have provided that little bit of extra room that I think would have been quite helpful.
I definitely consider going half a size up in the Nike Huarache unless your feet are incredibly narrow.
Let’s take a look at the outsole and the midsole…
Midsole & Outsole
Being an Air shoe, there is of course an Air unit in the midsole although it’s not Air Max and so that is not visible.
There’s a massive amount of cushioning in the Air Huarache. It’s not just for show but the shape of that midsole does reflect the fact that there is an incredible amount of cushioning back at the heel.
The raised heel almost feels like it’s pushing you forward, which definitely makes sense considering this was originally designed as a running shoe.
Underfoot, it feels like you’re sinking into a really thick squashy layer, which is pretty comfortable for walking around all day.
Overall, these features make this feel like a surprisingly comfortable shoe and I’d be very happy wearing these standing or walking around all day.
I also have to admit I prefer the overall silhouette of the Mowabb. It’s more protective and it’s more boot-like.
The Huaraches certainly do have a retro element, particularly in a colorway like this one which is harking back to the OG Huarache days of 32 years ago but not so much that they’re very obviously kind of retro.
I think the black colorway of the Huarache gives it a totally different look and feel and really brings that technical aspect of these far more to the forefront. I think that makes them very easy to rock as part of an urban techwear outfit.
Ultimately, the athleisure look and the performance element is still quite clear on these. I think it makes sense to match that up with appropriate types of clothing that are similarly designed at some kind of level for athletics or just being outdoors doing stuff.
The Huaraches are bold-looking, comfy, and fit with current fashion trends. They’re pretty readily available as well and there’s a decent chance to express some of your own personal style thanks to the variation in silhouettes from the very stealthy-looking all-black to the more outlandish and more obviously retro things like this version.
Nike Huarache FAQs
What are Nike huaraches used for?
Nike Huarache shoes are primarily known for their stylish design and comfortable fit. They were originally introduced as running shoes but have become popular as lifestyle sneakers.
People wear Nike Huaraches for various activities like casual wear, walking, light workouts, and everyday use due to their comfort, unique design, and versatility.
While they might be suitable for some forms of exercise, they are not typically considered performance-oriented running shoes. However, the new Huarache Runner seems to be better than the OGs in terms of running.
Is it okay to run in huaraches?
The original Nike Huaraches are not designed as specialized running shoes, but some people might find the new Huarache Runners suitable for light jogging or casual running.
However, for more serious running or higher-intensity workouts, it’s generally recommended to use shoes specifically designed for running, as they provide better support, cushioning, and stability.
Are huaraches good for standing all day?
Nike Huaraches can be comfortable for standing all day due to their cushioning and fit, but it’s important to note that they were not specifically designed as work or standing shoes.
If you require footwear for prolonged standing, you might want to consider shoes that are designed for comfort and support during extended periods of standing.
Why are Nike huaraches so expensive?
Nike Huaraches can be relatively expensive due to various factors, including brand reputation, design, materials used, manufacturing processes, and marketing. Nike is a well-known and respected brand, and products carrying their name often come with a premium price tag.
Additionally, the unique design and materials used in Huaraches, such as the neoprene bootie construction, can contribute to their cost.
Limited editions, collaborations, and special releases can also drive up the price of certain Huarache models. Keep in mind that pricing can vary based on factors such as location, availability, and the specific model of Huaraches you’re looking at.
Why are Nike Huarache so tight?
Nike Huaraches are designed with a snug and tight fit as part of their unique design. The neoprene bootie construction used in Huaraches is intended to provide a sock-like fit that wraps around the foot for a secure and comfortable feel.
This design element is a defining characteristic of Huaraches and contributes to their distinctive look and feel. However, some individuals might find this tight fit uncomfortable, so it’s important to try on the shoes and determine if they are suitable for your foot shape and preferences.
Has Nike stopped making huaraches?
No. Nike did not discontinue the production of Huarache shoes. In fact, they’ve just released the new 2023 Nike Huarache Runner.
Can you wear Nike Huaraches with jeans?
Yes, Nike Huaraches are a versatile and stylish sneaker option that pairs well with casual outfits and they pair perfectly with slim-fitting jeans. The unique design of Huaraches can add a fashionable touch to your overall look.
So there you have it. If anyone asks you are Huaraches running shoes? Are they good for running and performance purposes? Now you know the answer.
See you on the next one 🙂