An increasing number of people want to run barefoot or go minimal. If you have been running with heavily cushioned shoes, these barefoot sandals will demand from you a will to adjust your running form and sacrifice pace and comfort in the short term.
In the long term, you can regain your pace. You will run better and have fewer injuries. If you are going to start running from scratch, these sandals offer a good ‘grounding’. You get a good ground connection and your get grounding in good running economy.
The Genesis look utterly simple. Just a thin footbed above 5mm outsole and laces for holding them on your feet.
They are zero drop and have zero cushioning. You learn to use your God-given cushioned feet. So you won’t be able to pound the pavement unless you are willing to say ‘ouch’ every step.
Genesis differs from Venture sandals in two main aspects.
The heel cups are no more and the laces a bit more elastic. The toe posts are easy on toes and unless you are in for a more than 3 hour run in wet conditions, you don’t need much extra care.
How do you feel them?
The Genesis is easy to put on. Slide your foot in and pull heel strap on your heels. To remove them, pull the heel straps and pull out your feet. That’s all.
When you wear them for the first time they do feel strange. When you walk, your feet make a slapping sound. A reminder that you are walking! When you run and if your form is good the sandal makes themselves mostly inaudible.
You get good ground feel – a must for anything that promises barefoot experience minus the risks of cuts or blisters. Small stones and sharp protrusions from road or rubble do make their presence felt.
The sandals themselves hold up well even in rains. They don’t slip. However, if you haven’t tightened the laces well enough your foot may slip in them. If you are prone to blisters you need some protection like applying petroleum jelly at friction spots (like toe posts and ankle hole area) or on tape areas on your soles like the big toes.
The toe end of the footbed is prone to flop under your feet. The toe post or lace loop at toe post can get snapped due to this. This happens when you are not careful about lifting your ankles. This can happen when you are sluggish or tired.
Until you get used to running with a good form, the Xero Genesis won’t be high on the comfort scale. But believe me, once you go there, you won’t like to go back to shoes.
How they wear out
If you run light on your feet, the soles will last long. In any case, the soles have 5000 miles warranty from Xero! The company will give 60% off in case your sandal soles are quite worn out.
Check out mine below after 200 km of road running.
On paved roads, the sandals allow you to do your long slow runs once you get used to them. I have been doing 30+ km runs in them regularly. They are very light, have zero heel to toe drop, and are flexible.
However, if you run up and down steep ascents and descents like I run on a winding road with 900 meters ascent in just 8.5 km (and same descent) to a mountain fort, you won’t be very sure that your foot won’t slip inside your sandals. This gets worse in rains!
The elastic laces are not adequate in these conditions. I had to improvise and add velcro straps around the lace near ankles and going over the top of the foot to ensure that foot stays firmly in place.
I need these straps for tempo and intervals too. In effect, I use extra velcro straps all the time with my pair of Genesis.
I have used these sandals on trails with some hard rock and small stones! I had to mind where my foot falls. You do that on trails anyway.
But in the case of these sandals, you have less protection so you need more attentive landing. What I have found, however, that the laces do snap as a result of extreme pulls on them on trails. It is a good idea to stock on spare laces, toe posts, and heel straps etc. I could repair mine using these accessories.
In wet conditions, the sandals give good grip on roads. Your foot may slip inside them, as I wrote above and you will need extra protection. In cold weather, I use toe socks (normal or winter wear type) to prevent feet from getting numb.
Genesis is true to size in length, but I would prefer them to be wider at toes. If your feet slip on footbed, you risk getting your little toe over the edge of the outsole and get cut. I would order 1/2 size up.
If you are looking for near barefoot running experience in normal conditions (paved road, dry, warm weather) the Xero Shoes Genesis at the $40 to $50 are good!
In extreme conditions (wet, steep ascents and descents, or speed work) you may have some of the issues as I have written about.
Updates to Xero Shoes Genesis
- The Xero Shoes Genesis is a barefoot-inspired, versatile hiker that nicely blends minimalism and performance. Its lightness primarily comes from its simplistic sole construction.
- This latex-free, vegan-friendly gear is one of Xero Shoes’ trim-able footwear. By simply using a pair of scissors, users can customize the sandal’s shape to their preference.
Size and fit
The Genesis from Xero Shoes is a fairly true-to-size hiking sandal for men and women. It comes in standard width and sizes. Its elastic straps with tension adjustment system provides a precise lockdown. Its sole can be trimmed to match the foot shape of the wearer. The Genesis also has a setup that allows users to cut the ends of the laces to their preferred length.
For surface traction, the Genesis uses the FeelTrue rubber outsole. This 5-mm, component features V-shaped lugs, positioned in such a way that helps users gain slip and skid resistance, whether they are going up steep inclines or down slippery slopes.
The sandal features a contoured footbed that holds the foot in place. It is engineered with a grippy surface to prevent underfoot slippage.
Sturdy yet flexible rope-like straps constitute the upper of the Xero Shoes Genesis. Its Achilles strap is engineered with a silicone grip to keep the heel comfortably centered. Its toe loop is soft yet resilient, resembling those found in regular flip-flops minus the bulk. Its ankle holes (seen on each side) are elevated to keep the straps from touching the ground, ultimately preventing abrasions on the laces.