Ah, where to start? People ran for thousands of years without shoes, or with minimal soles, and only in the past few decades have we started running with arch supports, medial posts, and the high, cushioned soles of modern shoes. These have caused us to adopt a running style where we strike the ground with our heel first, causing jarring impact on the body. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if this gave us a huge performance boost, but even after all these years there is simply no proof that heel striking does us any good. Running barefoot, or in minimal footwear, forces you to strike the ground with the ball or middle of your foot, forcing you to make full use of your natural biomechanical apparatus for reducing the impact on the body. But we are not barefoot evangelists and we recommend anyone to do their own research and form their own conclusions. Some reading material we can recommend are the inspirational modern classic 'Born to Run' by Christopher McDougall and the down-to-earth, potentially habit changing 'Barefoot' by Katy Bowman. And we highly recommend getting some real-life coaching when you're ready to start running 'barefoot'. Chi-running teaches a very compatible running technique, or see if you can sign up for a Natural Running clinic somewhere close by.
That depends on what kind of footwear you're running in at the moment and your style of running. If you're already used to running in minimal shoes like Vibram Fivefingers or Vivobarefoot shoes then transitioning will be easy. If you're used to running on thick-soled shoes at the moment then you should take your time transitioning to minimal footwear like sandals. Start by walking on them often, which will actually feel chunky compared to running because walking involves more of a heel-strike. Then start running small stretches with a lot of walking in between. Running heel first can be a hard habit to break, and running barefoot heel first, you are much more likely to injure yourself. So take it easy and expect to take up to a year to get from your first careful kilometer to any sort of ultrarun distance. A well-worth investment because your running technique will enable you to tackle distances you never thought possible.
The strap is quite wide and made of a very smooth material. It folds and forms to fit nicely between your big toe and second toe. So you get a large and non-rigid contact area, which is actually very comfortable, even more so than a rigid rubber thong on your flip-flops.
No, this might look like a problem when you look at your sandals flat from the box. But when you put them on the soles wrap around your feet, and the straps end up off the ground. It wouldn't matter if they did get a lot of ground contact though. The tubular webbing is very durable and easily outlasts the rest of the sandal.
No need to worry about that. First of all, the material it's made of is also used in mechanical gears, bushings and bearings because of its inherent low-friction properties. It is very slippery and exceptionally tough. But more importantly, when you start wearing the sandals they will form to your feet, and the plug will raise off the ground slightly in the recess between your toes.
If they were just ordinary sandals we would agree, but they are not. They are made to train for, and run multiple ultraruns a season. They need to be very durable and very comfortable at the same time. We use high-quality materials for the sole, footbed and strap, and the glue that account for the largest part of the costs. The gluing process is largely done by hand, the sewing of the strap is handwork and so is the final assembly and lacing. This sewing isn't done in some sweatshop overseas; we employ local professionals and pay them well. And we need to add taxes and shipping costs and reserve some margin for growing our business and our product line-up. Also know that you are buying the sandals directly from us. You are not paying provisions for distributors or retailers. We hope you see that at the end of the day you are actually getting good value for money.