3 best Xero Shoes hiking sandals

Based on reviews from 49 experts and 2,476 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to Xero Shoes hiking sandals. Updated May 2019.

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The thin soles and strings of Xero Shoes hiking sandals may not seem much to others, but barefoot hiking fans have other things to say. Steven Sashen, a sprinter in high school, wore shoes when he got back to sprinting after a 30-year hiatus. After two years, he noticed that he was so prone to injuries during competitions. He decided to put an end to this by joining a local barefoot running club. As he ran barefoot, he noticed changes in his gait and the injuries abated. However, he is also well aware that there are surfaces that not everyone could walk on barefoot, so he decided to develop his own modern huarache-style sandals through Born To Run.

As more and more runners noticed the huaraches he wore, he got the idea of doing business out of it. While Lena, his then-fiancée (now wife), wasn't so keen with the thought, Steven persevered and built a website for a start. For three months, they worked on Invisible Shoes, bringing in former Nike and Reebok designers to help design the FeelTrue outsoles they are known for.

Since then, the couple brought comfortable huarache sandals to young and old runners and hikers in 85 countries around the world. From Invisible Shoes, they changed their name to Xero Shoes, and while they have introduced a couple of shoe models, they remain best known for their huaraches. But what are these anyway?

Huaraches are sandals of pre-Columbian origin and are believed to be related to the cactle or cactli which is of Nahuatl origin. The term huarache is derived from the Purepecha language and translates as sandal. While the designs vary greatly, this footwear type is best known for its simplicity. Traditionally, these are handmade sandals made of woven string and thin wooden soles, but the more modern versions use old rubber car tires and synthetic materials. 

Why people love Xero Shoes hiking sandals

best Xero Shoes hiking sandals

Best Xero Shoes hiking sandals - October 2018

One look at Xero Shoes hiking sandals and the hiker who got used to chunky and stiff hiking boots would feel that it won’t last a mile in any trail. The proprietary FeelTrue outsoles are specially designed for people who are into barefoot running. They are actually just four millimeters and 6 millimeters thick, but they give a comfortable grip and reliable traction. 

Xero Shoes is one of the companies that make barefoot or minimalist footwear. This means that Xero Shoes hiking sandals give wearers the experience of walking around without any footwear. Campaigners of barefoot walking believe that this helps them feel the earth better while reducing the tension on the feet.

Because Xero Shoes hiking sandals have extremely thin soles, they are also very lightweight and can even be folded. This draws a lot of hikers to take them on hiking trips since they will consume very little space and their weight won’t be a burden at all.

Finally, to keep skeptics from thinking their frail look makes it a no-match even to the most accessible trails, the company also offers a 5,000-mile sole warranty to every Xero Shoes hiking sandals and other footwear. While its owners Steven and Lena cannot guarantee a specific timeframe or distance, they set their cards on the 5,000-mile guarantee as this is how far they've gone wearing their footwear to the full.

Benefits of wearing Xero Shoes hiking sandals

Minimalist footwear enthusiasts who own a pair of Xero Shoes hiking sandals can enumerate different benefits that they have experienced. Here, are some aspects of this footwear option that you can consider if you are looking to score an excellent pair of barefoot sandals:

Comfort and fit

The foot is designed to feel the earth, bend and flex properly, and work as it is intended. For the minds behind Xero Shoes, this could be achieved by going around barefoot. However, as the world is full of rough and pointy surfaces that could poke and prick the skin, wearing some layer of protection is necessary. They introduced Xero Shoes hiking sandals which give hikers the best of both worlds.

Fitting Xero Shoes hiking sandals entails an understanding of how the sizing works. Most of the models are said to run small, so the makers recommend getting a half size larger than usual. A printable template also comes to aid buyers in determining their sizes. 

Durability

Others who are skeptical of the thin soles of Xero Shoes hiking sandals may have doubts in the durability department. In order to create the for-barefoot rubber soles, they teamed up with Vibram. The result was what’s known as Vibram Cherry material, first offered in the brand’s DIY sandals.

People behind the company trust the reliability of their chosen sole materials. So Xero Shoes hiking sandals come with a 5,000-mile sole warranty. Steven and Lena cannot determine the exact lifespan of each pair. They tested their product and found out that after 5,000 miles, their pairs still held up pretty well. They are confident that their followers will experience the same thing.

Support

Before there were ready-to-wear Xero Shoes hiking sandals, the company started rather boldly with a do-it-yourself kit. With the development of the company’s proprietary FeelTrue rubber sole, they eventually ventured into the creation of ready-to-wear sandals. It also didn't take long for the company to introduce a line of sports sandals that can be used on hiking trips.

The minimalist sandals allow the feet to move, bend and flex as they should. Xero Shoes hiking sandals offer enough coverage to protect the feet from pointy and rough surfaces, but they are not restricting or stiff, so the feet can really feel the ground.

Traction

Xero Shoes hiking sandals can offer wearers the traction they need to tackle easy to moderate trails. To enable the user to walk comfortably on muddy or slippery trails, the sandals come equipped with dependable soles. Traditional hikers would pick a chunky hiking shoe or hiking boot, but fans of Xero Shoes products are happy with their sandals. Steven even shared how he conquered a 14,000-foot mountain with just Xero Shoes hiking sandals to protect his feet.

Protection

Non-sandal fans are almost always skeptical about the protection that this open footwear can offer them. Like all other options in the market, Xero Shoes hiking sandals also provide a considerable amount of protection against rough and pointy surfaces. However, since these are open, wearers could not expect it to thoroughly protect them from grazes, scratches, or stings should they choose to wear them in trails where there are bushes and critters.

Design

Xero Shoes hiking sandals come in traditional Z-strap designs. Apparently, unlike boots and shoes, that are closed, Xero Shoes’ offerings use straps to secure the footwear. Aside from the noticeably thinner sole compared to its counterparts, Xeros can offer the same benefits as its counterparts.

What makes quality Xero Shoes hiking sandals

Ultra flexible and thin are two adjectives that best describe good quality Xero Shoes hiking sandals. They may look simple but behind them are different materials and technologies that contribute to their functionality and comfort.

Materials used

A sandal’s build quality relies on the kind of materials picked to create them. Xero Shoes hiking sandals may look simple, but they are also packed with different materials and technologies that make hiking with them more natural and more comfortable.

Basically, Xero Shoes hiking sandals are composed of the sole and strap. In select offerings, the sole is divided into three parts: BareFoam, TrailFoam, and FeelTrue rubber layer. All of these work together so the foot is cradled comfortably while the outsole is providing traction on the trail.

The straps of the hiking line are wider than those used in the do-it-yourself sandals. The "Z" lines, for instance, feature a continuous strap that can be tightened at the lateral side. These are secured by a Velcro strap.

Technologies used

Xero Shoes hiking sandals are reinforced by different technologies that work together with materials to deliver the support and trail performance expected of them.

On top of the list of technologies is the FeelLite sole which is comprised of three layers namely, BareFoam top layer, TrailFoam mid layer, and FeelTrue rubber bottom layer. The sole is characteristically flexible so it can be rolled, squeezed, and twisted. However, there is no need to worry about how it can protect the wearer as the 10 mm thick, zero-drop sole comfortably cradles the feet well.

Another type of sole used in Xero Shoes hiking sandals is the FeelTrue outsole which is 5.5 mm thick. This is dubbed as the outsole for barefoot sandals since they are so thin that it gives total freedom and barefoot feel to wearers. Xero developed this together with former lead designers from Nike and Reebok.

Price

Xero Shoes hiking sandals are all the rage among barefoot hikers. Aside from their comfort features, one of the things that wearers love about them is the price. For only $60 to $80, they can already enjoy these sandals to conquer trails or as camp footgear.

Availability

Xero Shoes is a Colorado-based company, and their office is ready to offer different products to everyone looking for a comfortable pair of hiking sandals. There are also other stores around the United States to check products and order from. An online store is also in place for everyone who can’t physically check these stores. As a whole, Xero Shoes cater to fans from 85 countries all over the world.

Xero Shoes hiking sandals FAQs

Is it right to hike with Xero Shoes hiking sandals?

Barefoot running is not for everyone, but those who are campaigning for it are happy with the freedom of feeling the earth beneath their feet and some supposed health benefits due to the natural movement of the foot give them. However, it will take some getting used to which is why hiking with a pair of Xero Shoes hiking sandals may be a good way to start. The thin soles can still give you the connection you need but with added protection against rough and pointy surfaces.

How should Xero Shoes hiking sandals fit?

Finding a great fitting pair of Xero Shoes hiking sandals should not cause such a headache. The most significant considerations should be how comfortable the feet feel in these sandals. 

If you are looking for Xero Shoes hiking sandals, make sure that your toes splay comfortably, with just the right amount of sole to protect them. Xero started with a do-it-yourself sandal kit where wearers could trim the soles and place the straps where they are most comfortable. Their ready-to-wear hikers, on the other hand, are offered in different widths and lengths to accommodate various foot shapes and sizes.

Also, make sure that the fit is snug but comfortable. There should be enough tightness around the ankle area to secure the sandals. Go for a pair that feels like you are not wearing anything at all on your feet.

If you are shopping online, you can also get the correct Xero Shoes hiking sandals by following two simple steps:

  1. Identify the model you want to buy and choose your usual shoe size on the charts provided by the maker.
  2. Print the size template and compare it to your foot. Make sure that the print template is at 100 percent so you will get the actual size.

How do I know which pair of Xero Shoes hiking sandals would best fit me?

You may check the fit information for different models of Xero Shoes hiking sandals as provided by the company which can also shed light on where they are best used. Here is some handy information you can consider:

  • The Venture, Cloud, and Z-Trek lines have very thin and flexible soles. Wearers must pick the snuggest fit if they prefer these styles.
  • The Z-Trail line offers thicker than usual soles. Customers can get a roomier fit for this style.

Are Xero Shoes hiking sandals also covered by warranty?

If there is one thing that followers of Xero Shoes are most pleased with, it is the prompt and satisfactory customer service. The company offers 12 months guarantee against factory defect. Return policies are in place, and the team of Steven and Lena have been earning praises for going the extra mile when it comes to attending to the replacement and repair needs of clients.

But if there is anything that makes Xero Shoes hiking sandals truly special, it would be the 5,000 miles sole warranty they come with. This warranty covers products with FeelTrue outsoles. The company offers to replace them with the same product if they get down to less than 1mm thick at the heel or ball of the feet for 60 percent less than the MSRP.

3 best Xero Shoes hiking sandals

  1. Xero Shoes Genesis
  2. Xero Shoes Z-Trail
  3. Xero Shoes Z-Trek
Author
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Paul Ronto

Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.

paul@runrepeat.com
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