The first time I went to Sta. Ines for a bike ride, I was wearing a Vans Old Skool. It worked well and I had no issues about it. For some reason, people noticed and gave comments (with the shoe brand even messaging me a day after I posted the pictures, but that’s a different and exciting story to tell some other time).
Then I got a message from the owner of Tapak Outdoors, inviting me to visit their shop in Marikina because they wanted me to try their sandals. They saw my post and gave me footwear that I could wear for my next river bike adventure.
And it just happened that I’m going to Sta. Ines in Tanay the next day with Kha Cycling Club. It was perfect that I got to try their “Tapak Nuwang,” a Tarahumara-inspired sandal that has a clip for easy adjustments.
If I have to be honest, I’m really not a sandals-type of person, though I own a couple of pairs. When going outdoors, I prefer flip flops or I just wear closed shoes. I have never tried exposing my feet during my bike rides, except for that one time when we went to La Union for a quick morning ride.
The footwear worn by the Tarahumaras, an indigenous tribe in North America, is something new to me — the strap circles around the ankle and goes all the way in between the big and the second toes. I’m used to having those usual sandals that ties your feet from the sides.
It was surprisingly comfortable and it survived the whole day of rough cycling and walking along the river, stones and mud. I have to admit that I was afraid that the straps would snap (I brought extra slippers) but it was very durable. All throughout, it felt like I was barefoot — except that there was something protecting my soles from the ground.
The base of Tapak Outdoors is made out of rubber that was unused for tires. Instead of throwing it away, Tapak Outdoors collects the materials to turn into a footwear. Since I’m into sustainability and upcycling, that caught my attention.
Everything is made local and I should say that it’s worth it. It can easily be stored and it needs less maintenance. Check Tapak Outdoors on Facebook or visit its headquarters: 2D M. A. Roxas Street, Calumpang, Marikina City.
Photos by Jilson Tiu