Even if you’re new to barefoot-style shoes, consider adding Xero’s newest offerings to your closet.
If your feet always hurt after a day in dress shoes or sneakers, you may have looked into barefoot-style shoes: Low-to-the-ground shoes that promise to improve your gait and posture, and give your feet a much-deserved break from tight and restrictive shoes.
Xero Shoes are one of the biggest names in barefoot-style shoes, so I decided to give them a try. In this Xero Shoes review, I’ll break down the pros and cons of this style of shoe, as well as how well Xero Shoes lives up to the promises made by barefoot-style shoes in general.
For enthusiasts of barefoot-style shoes, Xero offers a wide range of styles and shoe types that’s sure to delight. But even if it’s your first time trying this style of shoe, they’re a very good introduction to the barefoot lifestyle.
- Xero shoes offer excellent freedom of movement
- More styles to choose from than many other barefoot brands
- Sleek and attractive styling compared to other brands
- If you’ve never worn barefoot-style shoes, they take a while to get used to
- It may take more than one try to get the right sizing for these shoes
- Styling isn’t everybody’s cup of tea
About Xero Shoes
Founded in 2009 in Boulder, Colorado, Xero Shoes was created with two missions in mind: Being respectful stewards of the environment and our planet, and creating shoes that help people to move more naturally.
They’ve accomplished these dual goals by using ethically-sourced and sustainable materials, and crafting an impressive lineup of barefoot-style shoes that give your feet more room to move more naturally.
What I Tried
Let’s look at each of them in greater depth:
Of the two styles, I was most excited to try on the Kona. That’s because of all the slip-on shoes I’ve ever tried, I’ve still not found my “Goldilocks pair” — the one that offers just the right balance of a perfect fit, attractive style, and excellent comfort.
I’m happy to report that the Kona from Xero Shoes comes really, really close to that goal. It has this “barely there” feel that I’ve always wanted out of slip-ons, where it’s just enough coverage to be fuller than a sandal, but not so snug as to feel uncomfortable.
They’re extremely easy to slip on and off, and keep their shape really well wear after wear.
I ordered the Kona in the same size as my usual shoe (an 11), and they fit just right. The toe box is wide enough to feel roomy, but not so wide as to look like a clown’s shoe. They’re comfortable both with and without socks, which is a big plus for me.
Lastly, the Kona just looks really nice. It comes in one very neutral color scheme that pairs well with almost all of my casual outfits. Overall, I find myself reaching for these shoes very regularly now that I have a pair, and I recommend them highly.
I was definitely more skeptical of the Ridgeway, since traditionally I’ve worn hiking boots that have quite a bit of padding and a tighter overall fit. Could a barefoot, zero-drop, minimally-padded hiker really do the trick?
Well, I’m torn on that one. According to the Xero Shoes fit guide, the Ridgeway should fit true to size — so I ordered my usual size 11.
In that size, I like almost everything about the boot. They really do look good when you’re wearing them, as opposed to a few other barefoot hikers I’ve tried that have such a wide toe box that they look silly.
And the waterproofing held up through a Cincinnati thunderstorm and plenty of splashing around in puddles, so that’s good to go.
My only criticism here is that the Ridgeway didn’t perform well for me on downhill descents.
This might be a fit issue, but my toes were just barely bumping up against the front of the boot, even with the laces tied down snugly.
For a longer hike, I know that this would leave my feet hurting pretty badly at the end of the day.
So in the end, rather than wearing these as a dedicated pair of hiking boots — I don’t think I’ll ever stray away from my pairs with heavier padding — I really like these boots as a stylish pair of around-the-town activewear boots.
Before we go, here are the answers to some of the most common Xero Shoes questions I’ve heard guys asking around the internet.
Are Xero Shoes good for your feet?
Independent research on the benefits of minimalist, barefoot-style shoes has shown that they can strengthen the tendons and muscles of your feet. For most people, it seems that they will help with the overall health of your feet over time.
Are Xero Shoes made in China?
Xero Shoes are made in China, and the company states that they are made “responsibly, ethically, and fairly”.
Do Xero Shoes really last 5000 miles?
Xero Shoes’ founder had a pair that lasted over 5000 miles, and that’s why the brand offers a 5000 mile warranty on their soles.
Final Verdict: Good, But Not For Everyone
Overall, just from the two pairs of Xero Shoes that I’ve tried, I can say that I think the brand is doing a lot of things right. Their shoes are stylish and comfortable, and they have a broad enough variety to choose from that there’s a Xero shoe for everyone.
If you’re already a barefoot shoe fan, order away — but keep in mind that if you’re new to the style, they will take some getting used to.
Have you tried barefoot shoes? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!