Xero Shoes H-Trail Review – Perfected Sandal Design?

Explore the Xero Shoes H-Trail sandals review, highlighting their secure toe post design, tailored fit adjustments, and true-to-size comfort. The balance between barefoot feel and durability makes them ideal for everyday wear and light hiking—a blend of comfort, protection, and freedom.

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When I first saw the H-Trail, I was super excited. The toe post design is the best option for a sandal, especially if you want a solid choice for hiking and running. 

Even though Xero Shoes has similar designs like the Aqua Cloud and the DIY kit, there was no option for the serious hiker or someone who wanted a little more protection. That’s what the H-Trail brings. 

So, does it all satisfy my expectations? Let’s find out!

Highlights

  • The toe post upgrade effectively minimizes forefoot sliding, enhancing the sandal’s stability and comfort.
  • Straps require a tighter adjustment for a precise fit, making it challenging for individuals with shallower or thinner feet.
  • A true-to-size fit for average to wide feet, but it is recommended that those with narrow feet size down for optimal fit.
  • Maintains a good barefoot feel with an 8mm stack height, offering flexibility and protection for light activities.
  • Improved durability over previous models by redesigning strap attachments, addressing a common weak point in earlier designs.

Fit

The toe post upgrade is a game-changer for a secure footbed. I’m so happy to see another sandal design from Xero Shoes with a toe post! This new feature significantly reduces the sliding of the forefoot across the sandal base, a common issue in the Z-Trail/Trek. The material used is soft, and I’ve had no problem with it rubbing between my toes at all. 

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Strap adjustments require patience and time. Like many other sandals, adjusting the straps on the Xero Shoes H-Trail is a tough task. Because of the variety of adjustments, it takes time to learn how each of them affects the fit and feel of the shoe, but after a while, you’ll get the hang of it.

The strap’s softness and stretchiness demand a tighter pull for a precise fit. Although the straps on the H-Trail are soft and somewhat stretchy, providing a comfortable embrace around your foot, they come with a caveat. You’ll need to pull these straps tighter than usual to achieve a precise fit. However, there’s not much excess to play with, so achieving a snug fit might be problematic for those with shallower or thinner feet.

xero shoes h trail style

Most of you should stick true-to-size, but those with narrow feet can ½ size down. Regarding sizing, the H-Trail runs true to size for those with average to wide feet, providing a comfortable and accommodating fit. However, it’s advisable to go half a size down for individuals with narrow or shallow feet precisely for the reason mentioned above. 

The footbed’s tapered toe design may not suit all toe splay profiles. As always with Xero Shoes, the H-Trail footbed tapers at the edges where the big toe and little toe rest. For me, it’s not enough to cause an issue, but if you have a wide toe splay, you may want to explore alternatives like Earth Runners, which may offer a more accommodating toe splay area.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Xero Shoes H-Trail

Feel

When it comes to feel, it’s a mixed bag. 

And it all comes down to the situations in which you want to use the sandals. 

  • Casual around town? 
  • The occasional hike? 
  • Running in the sandal? 

With an 8mm stack height, the sole remains flexible enough to consider it a barefoot style but still maintains enough protection from sharp rocks and roots.

But if you’re looking to take this sandal running, you may find it sloppy unless you only run in a straight line. 

xero shoes h trail flexibility

The straps are secure and comfortable, but they have little structure to stop your foot from sliding. As I said previously, the toe post is a great design because it prevents your foot from sliding around. That’s great for the forefoot, but I found my heel slipped from side to side a fair bit. And that’s all due to the flexibility of the straps. Because of this, I wouldn’t take the sandal running on many trails. Only mellow trails for this one. 

The H-Trail maintains a relatively good barefoot feel for an 8mm stack height. With a thin outsole with 3mm lugs and an extra 3mm layer of foam over the top, neither of the materials makes the sandal stiff. This means the sandal flexes well with your foot! If you want a balance of protection vs. minimal feel, the H-Trail could do the job for you. 

xero shoes h trail heel strap

You must be comfortable “feeling” the ground but not scared of “feeling” the ground. Again, the 8mm sole does a good job at blunting the spikey stuff on the ground, but for those not used to minimal shoes/sandals, you’ll want to spend some time working into a sandal like this. Firstly, it’ll take some time to re-sensitize your feet to the ground. However, minimal sandals are also tough on the feet. As long as you slowly introduce them into your rotation, you’ll get the benefits of minimal sandals without the injuries. 

I’m not sure if this is a “feel” thing but….

When you sweat in these sandals, the foam takes on the smell. That’s similar to any shoe/sandal when you wear them barefoot. The easy solution is to quickly wash them off after you’ve finished. The good thing is, they dry nice and quick because there’s very little material to them. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Xero Shoes H-Trail

Durability

Here come the big questions for Xero Shoes. 

I’ve known many people to be annoyed at Xero Shoes for their sandal range’s poor durability. And whereas I’ve not had any such issues, they do exist. 

Xero Shoes have moved away from a design where the straps thread through a loop in the outsole. And that’s likely a really good thing! This was the biggest weak point for the Genesis and the Z-Trails/Treks. Over time, the loop in the outsole became weak and could snap. Other factors could be at play here, too, such as whether you leave them in the sun. Are you constantly in and out of water? But overall, I believe the H-Trail design is an improvement. 

xero shoes h trail durable outsole

The 3mm lugs are numerous and evenly spaced, meaning they shouldn’t wear through too quickly. I’m not expecting the outsole to break any records, but the design is a good upgrade from other Xero Shoes lineup options. There’s no exposed foam like we see from the Z-Trail and Z-Trek, which is a big positive! Will it hit the 5000-mile outsole guarantee? I don’t think so. But that’s also a tall order for any adventure sandal. 

The strapping material is tough, but the seams could be the weak point. I have no doubt the straps are solid for life. They feel like paracord material, which is more than strong enough. But the connection between the straps to the sides of the foot is a faux suede-like material. Each strap is stitched to this connector piece, and therein lies the problem. Is this stitching strong enough? I’m not entirely sure. I think this could be the weak point. But that shouldn’t scare you off; I have no evidence that this is an issue yet.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Xero Shoes H-Trail

Conclusion

As I said at the start of this review, The H-Trail is a mixed bag. 

I had high hopes when I first saw the design. It’s tried and tested, and I’ve had good experiences with Xero Shoes in the past. 

They work well as a casual option for a gentle hike, but I know I’ll reach for a different sandal for running and serious hikes. 

So who is this for? 

Someone with a larger, wider foot wants a sandal that is great for everyday use and may hit the trails occasionally. 

And what if you want something more serious for hiking and running? 

Look to Earth Runners instead!

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Xero Shoes H-Trail

Nick
Nick

Nick is a UESCA-certified ultramarathon coach and avid barefoot runner, having over 5 years of experience in barefoot training and has competed in multiple ultra marathons wearing barefoot shoes. Starting his journey in the running industry over 10 years ago in New Zealand, Nick evolved from a running shoe salesperson to a passionate advocate for the transformative power of barefoot running. He believes in its potential to enhance running experiences for all and combines his unique insights from both personal achievements and professional coaching to guide and inspire the running community."

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