I’ve not hidden the fact that the original Xero Shoes HFS is one of my favorite barefoot shoes. It’s minimal, flexible, and locks onto the foot perfectly. So, when I heard there would be an HFS II, I was worried things would change.
To be honest, it is a different shoe now. In my mind, the HFS II now takes on the role of the old-school Xero Shoes Prio, just more refined. Does this mean I still love the trajectory of this model? Find out below!
I’ll dig into the shoe’s fit, feel, and durability to help you decide if the HFS II could work for you, and if not, suggest some other options to try out.
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Weight Mens US9: 8.3oz/ 235g
Stack Height: ~6mm + 3mm insole
Sizing: Order 1/2 to full size larger
Durable • Light cushioning • Great lockdown
Stiffer than previous model • Narrow fit
It “feels” narrower than older Xero Shoes models, and it’s not as deep. Now, that’s good for some of us who could never fit into Xero Shoes in the past due to fit.
Choose at least ½ larger than your standard size. In true Xero Shoes fashion, the sizing seems slightly off for me. I moved up ½ a size, but to be truthful, I would need a full size larger if it were more full-time shoe.
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The overlays around the shoe are stiffer than any other Xero Shoes model I’ve seen. That makes the fit less forgiving. If you’re in between sizes, choose the large one.
The HFS II is narrower than models like the Prio or the original HFS. Technically, it may be the same width as the original HFS, but as I mentioned above, the stiffer materials make it less forgiving, making it “feel” tighter. For me, it feels more like a Vivobarefoot shoe than a Xero Shoes model.
I had to take out the insole to gain some more depth. Xero Shoes are usually deeper than other barefoot brands. But in a recent trend in newer models, the HFS II is a little shallow. If you’ve ever tried Xero Shoes in the past and found them too baggy, maybe try the HFS II; it could work for you now.
The big toe area could be too sloppy for some. Many barefoot runners have wider toe splays than conventional shoe wearers. That means we need more room in the big toe and little toe areas. I found the slope around the big toe too aggressive and restrictive for big toe mobility. This will be fine for most people and will fit those with Morton’s toe (longer second toe), but if you have a wider toe splay, just go a full size larger than your standard sizing.
Use the second eyelet to get a perfect lockdown. Xero Shoes always creates shoes with great lockdown. The mixture of straps and lacing, plus the softer wrap-around heel, are great for locking the foot in place. And if you have any slippage, remember the second eyelet is available for a lace lock to give you that extra lockdown assurance.
Here’s where the HFS II differs from its predecessor.
It’s not quite the ultimate barefoot feel you used to get from the original model.
The sole is stiffer and taller. And the upper carries on with the stiffer theme.
The sole has gained a few extra mm, but it is still minimal. I personally prefer a more barefoot feel, but some want that additional protection. The extra few mm of sole adds that protection, trading off for a little more sole stiffness.
The ground feel is reduced and feels more like the Prio now. Because the sole is thicker, you feel less underfoot. It feels more like the Prio now, which is great for some, not others.
The upper is stiffer all around, creating a more locked-down feel. Even though the design looks very similar to the original HFS, the overlay and upper materials are more rigid. You get a good fit with that, but it hinders flexibility and moves away from that true barefoot feel.
It may feel more familiar for those transitioning from a conventional shoe. The tighter fit and stiffer materials may make you feel more at home if you’re coming from a Nike, New Balance, or any other conventional brand. Nicely locked in. This makes it a good shoe for those dipping into barefoot for the first time.
The tongue and heel are softer, avoiding any pressure points. Thanks to the minimal amount of padding used throughout the shoe, I’ve had no issues with the tongue or heel rubbing.
The benefit of this stiffer, thicker stack height is a positive for durability.
A redesigned outsole seems like it’ll hold up for more miles. If I were to guess, I believe durability concerns drove the switch of the outsole. My original HFS, while still going strong, only has 400km on it, but it shows signs of wear. If Xero Shoes were to stick to their 5000-mile outsole guarantee, the sole had to be more resilient, hence the change. I think it’s more likely to get to that 5000 miles now.
Previous weak spots around the forefoot crease point have been reinforced. The forefoot used to be very thin and vulnerable. Over time, the repetitive creasing of the thin material usually ends in a hole, affecting the shoe’s performance. Now the thicker material means it’s last a little bit longer.
The outer layer of the upper seems similar to the predecessor, but there’s a thicker inner liner. Identical to the forefoot, the inner liner appears to be tougher and thicker in general. This will likely translate to a longer last shoe.
While this update may not be great for those who loved the original HFS, it’s geared toward those transitioning into barefoot shoes or those looking to upgrade from the Prio.
There have been noticeable improvements in durability, and now, we’re likely looking at a shoe that will at least try and last the Xero Shoes 5000-mile guarantee!
And for those like me who love the older, flexible feel, we now have a similar shoe in the Speed Force II.
If you’re new to barefoot and looking for your first barefoot shoe with a tiny bit of protection
- Try the Xero Shoes HFS II
If your forefoot and toes are splayed wide
- Try the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III
If you’re looking for the maximum barefoot feel
- Try the Xero Shoes Speed Force II
If you’re looking for a bit more cushion
- Try the Lems Primal 2