Xero Shoes Review – The best barefoot brand for all situations?

If you’ve looked around the Barefoot Run Review site, you’ll notice several Xero Shoes Reviews. Being one of the biggest barefoot shoe brands, they’ve got a lot of options for road running, trail running, and everything in between. 

But is it the right shoe brand for you? 

That mostly depends on the shape of your feet and the type of shoe you’re looking for. Not everyone will be an ideal fit for Xero Shoes, but you won’t know until you try them –or read through this Xero Shoes review! 

In this post, I’ll introduce the standard features across the Xero Shoes lineup and dive into the specifics of some of the best models they offer. 

By the end of the review, you’ll know which exact model is for you or if you need to look to another brand. 

Affiliate Disclosure: By clicking through the links on this page and purchasing the products, you’ll be helping me out. This is done because I receive a kickback from the sellers at no extra cost to you! Thank you so much for supporting us!

What if you could build a more sustainable running experience by making simple tweaks that result in faster times and bigger distances…

Fit

Xero Shoes is a Boulder, Colorado-based barefoot-inspired brand. 

In a nutshell, Xero Shoes pride themselves on being flexible, low to the ground, and, more importantly, shaped like a foot! 

Many shoes on the market are designed for style and give little thought to foot mobility and function. Not Xero Shoes! 

Xero Shoes Prio toe box

Toebox

A classic example of a minimal shoe is a wide-toe box. 

When a foot is allowed to perform naturally, the toes splay and help form a wide base to balance upon.

But if the feet and toes are squished into a narrow toebox, as you’d see in brands like Nike and Hoka, the foot cannot perform this essential movement. 

Xero Shoes have a wider toe box than conventional shoes, but they’re not the widest on the market. 

Brands such as Vivobarefoot, Soft Stars, and Freet boast wider toe boxes for those who have been working on widening their toe splay or have a naturally wide forefoot. 

But for 80-90% of us, Xero Shoes are wide enough. 

Standard ToeboxMedium Wide Toebox
Forza RunnerPrio
Speed force IIHFS II
Prio NeoTerraflex II
Mesa Trail II
Zelen
360
Scrambler Low

Which minimal running shoe is for you?

Take a quick 5-question quiz to identify the perfect minimal running shoe for your feet! You'll get both road and trail options based on your answers!


Xero Shoes HFS midfoot

Midfoot

If you look down at your foot from above, is the area behind the knuckle the same width, wider, or narrower?

The midfoot is often an area of the foot that causes us to prefer one brand over another. 

Many European brands tend to run narrow through this area (others call that a race fit or precision fit), whereas it’s common for North American brands to be more accommodating. 

Choosing wide options, if available, can help in this area too. 

For Xero Shoes, the midfoot width is one of their major selling points. 

Models such as the Prio and Terraflex are some of the wider midfoot models from Xero Shoes, whereas the Forza Runner and Speed Force tend to fit slightly narrower. 

But on the whole, Xero shoes are much more forgiving in the midfoot than many brands. 

Medium Width MidfootWide Midfoot
Forza RunnerPrio
360Terraflex II
Speed force IIMesa Trail II
Prio NeoZelen
HFS IIScrambler Low
Xero Shoes Forza Runner

Depth

Have you ever thought about the height of your foot? 

Most do not, but if you’ve ever had that feeling where you slip on a shoe and it feels very tight across the top of your foot, you’ve likely got a deeper foot. 

The opposite can also be true! 

You likely have a shallow foot if you find the upper of your shoes bunching up when you pull your shoelaces tight. 

Generally, I’d say all Xero Shoe models fit deeper, with the exception of the Zelen, Forza Runner, and 360, which are all more moderate.

If you need more depth, there is always an option to take the insole out to gain another 2-3mm. 

On the other hand, I often switch out the insoles for an Altra pair because 1) they’re slightly higher quality, and 2) it adds another 1-2mm under the foot to reduce the depth for my feet.

But if you have shallow feet, I’d suggest looking at a different brand, such as Vivobarefoot, for a better fit and overall feel. 

Medium DepthHigh Depth
Forza RunnerPrio
360Terraflex II
Speed force IIMesa Trail II
ZelenPrio Neo
HFS IIScrambler Low
Xero shoes Prio Neo midfoot

Lacing/Strap System

The lacing system is a unique aspect across most of the Xero Shoes models. 

Most of the shoes they produce do have traditional lace, but those laces often wrap into straps that wrap around the whole foot and secure into the sole and heel. 

This system is inspired by the huarache sandals that you’d find the Tarahumara tribe running in, made famous in the best-selling book, “Born to Run”.

In practice, the strapping works well and perfectly locks your foot down to the sole, but it also results in an excellent heel lock. 

I’m glad they’ve continued using the tried and tested system throughout their range. 

Durability

Often you hear mixed reviews when it comes to the durability of Xero Shoes. And to be honest, I’ve had similar experiences. 

I once had a pair of Terraflex II that padded out and exposed a painful ridge around the heel of the shoe within 400km. (This was immediately fixed when I notified the Xero Shoes team).

But on the other hand, I’ve had the HFS and the Mesa Trail going for 1000’s of km, and they’re still going! 

So I can’t give a hard and fast answer to the durability; sometimes, it comes down to personal wear patterns. 

But I can vouch for the customer support that Xero Shoes has given me. 

Xero Shoes 360 outosle

Their website states a 5000-mile guarantee. But be warned that the warranty is on the outsole only, and you’ll get a replacement pair for 60% of the RRP. 

Still, that’s not bad if you get a shoe anywhere near that distance! 

I once ran a pair of Mesa Trails thin, and I’d only put ~1000km on them. I reached out to Xero Shoes, and because I mentioned the upper had an issue, too, they decided to replace the pair for free! That pair is now 1200km and still going strong. 

Xero Shoes Prio Neo

Also, I feel the quality has been increasing with the more recent releases. 

The Prio Neo was released this year, and although the fit wasn’t perfect for me, the quality was 100 times better than the original Prio. 

No more heavy stitching, no more chunky materials. Just a couple of solid materials with welded overlays which will likely last much longer. 

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail II Whole shoe

And with the new Mesa Trail II, the trail protection has been increased along with a stiffer, more protective outsole to make it an absolute trail smasher, no matter how rocky. I proved this statement to be true in my recent 50km race on the steep and rocky Andorran trails. 

I’d still say it’s a mixed bag, but if you find any issues, just contact customer support. From the experience I’ve had, they’re only happy to help. 

Xero Shoes Models

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail II hero

XeroShoes.com – (45-day exchange period)

Mesa Trail II

Type: Trail

Width: Average

Stack height: ~6 mm + 3.5mm lugs + 3.5mm removable insole

Weight: 8.2oz / 232g

Best trail shoe for ground feel and protection. Read the full Review

masszymes review

XeroShoes.com – (45-day exchange period)

Speed Force II

Type: Road

Width: Average

Stack height: 4.5mm + 3.5mm insole

Weight: 6.5 oz / 184 g

The most minimal shoe Xero Shoes has to offer! Read the full Review

masszymes review

XeroShoes.com – (45-day exchange period)

HFS II

Type: Road

Width: Narrow

Stack height: ~6mm + 3.5mm insole

Weight: 8.3 oz/ 235 g

A great option for the new to barefoot. Durable. Read the full Review

Xero Shoes Forza Runner Hero

XeroShoes.com – (45-day exchange period)

Forza Runner

Type: Road

Width: Average

Stack height: 4-5mm + 3.5mm removable insole

Weight: 7.2oz / 204g

Lightweight, minimal, luxury bootie upper. Read the full Review

Xero Shoes Prio Hero

XeroShoes.com – (45-day exchange period)

Prio

Type: Road

Width: Average

Stack height: 7.5 mm rubber outsole + 3mm removable insole

Weight: 7.6oz / 215g

Cheap and durable entry-level road running shoes. Read the full Review

Xero Shoes Prio Neo Hero

XeroShoes.com – (45-day exchange period)

Prio Neo

Type: Road

Width: Average, narrow midfoot

Stack height: ~5mm + 3.5mm insole

Weight: 9.6 oz/ 272 g

A great all-round shoe for our narrower-foot friends. Read the full Review

Xero Shoes Zelen Hero

XeroShoes.com – (45-day exchange period)

Zelen

Type: Road

Width: Average

Stack height: 5 mm rubber outsole + 3.5mm removable insole

Weight: 7.8oz/ 210g

A great court and casual shoe and eco-friendly. Read the full Review

Conclusion

Personally, I really like the Xero Shoes Brand. 

The Mesa Trail II and the HFS are my go-to running shoes for comfort, fit, and performance. 

Although the brand may have some quality control issues every now and then, it’s still worth sticking with them because customer support has always tried to make things right for me. 

Lastly, the prices are consistently lower than other big barefoot brands, such as Vivobarefoot. Making the decision a win all around.

The biggest decider is…..Do they fit you? 

Forza runner feature image
Forza runner feature image
Forza runner feature image

Prio Neo

Forza runner feature image

Forza Runner

Forza runner feature image
Forza runner feature image

Scrambler Low

Forza runner feature image

Prio

Forza runner feature image

Zelen

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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2 Comments

  1. Xero tends to work for a lot of foot shapes, although admittedly, not everyone. I have found some brands with other interesting options recently, but Xeros have been a staple of my wardrobe since I went minimalist about 2 years ago, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    As for the durability, I have not had issues with any shoes or boots (I have Xeros for everything from winter boots to hiking to gym shoes and daily wear); but the sandals are where I’ve seen some variances in quality and design. Sandals with the “trail foam” break down much more quickly than expected. To be fair, I wore them a lot and wasn’t easy on them….but I only got about a summer out of both the Veracruz and the Z-Trail EV sandals. The rubber tread on the outsole looks like it could last another year or two, but just a few months was enough to break down the trail foam on both pairs. The Aqua Cloud was uncomfortable immediately and the foam in the footbed started to break down and wear in only a few uses. If you have a wider or flatter foot like I do, you can also feel where the foam and rubber meet, and as the foam compresses, the edge of the rubber starts with to feel like a hard ridge beneath your foot.

    Now that I’m more accustomed to thinner footwear, I have been wearing the Z-Trek sandals (which don’t have the trail foam) a lot more. My first pair is almost through it’s second summer and still going strong. I got 2 more pairs because the price is right and that gives me the option for different colors and/or to keep some around for a while if this model gets discontinued at some point. I’m not generally fond of having a toe post or thong between my toes, but given my luck with the Z-Treks, I am considering trying the Genesis sandals next summer if there’s a pair on sale before then.

    • Thanks for you insight! It’ll surely help others too!

      I’m the same as you, for the most part Xero Shoes work great. I’ve had great experiences in Mesa Trails, and the HFS. Although I’ve not loved their sandals, other than the genesis (they last ages considering their price and minimal sole).

      Do you own only of their shoes, or do you only use their sandals? If not, what barefoot shoe brand do you like?

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