Xero Shoes are super popular among people who prefer to take a more minimalist approach to their footwear choices. But are Xero Shoes good for backpacking?
Xero Shoes can be good for backpacking, but it depends on what model shoes you buy and what kinds of trekking you like to do. The company’s purpose-built hiking boots are a nice option for backpackers, but they don’t offer as much ankle support or underfoot cushion as models from other top companies. If you enjoy lightweight backpacking, however, hiking boots from Xero Shoes are a solid choice.
Footwear for backpacking is a complex topic because everyone has different opinions surrounding what you should wear on your feet in the mountains. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of Xero Shoes for backpacking so you can decide if they’re the right option for your needs.
Best Xero Shoes for Backpacking
You can use Xero Shoes for backpacking, however, not all of the company’s shoes are equally well-suited for the mountains.
Xero Shoes’ purpose-built hiking boots, like the Xcursion Fusion and the Daylite Hiker Fusion, are all potentially great options for backcountry travel. These lightweight mid-top hiking boots have high-traction outsoles and they offer a good amount of protection for your feet, so they’re a nice option for hiking on rugged terrain.
Of course, Xero Shoes don’t have as much ankle support or cushioning underfoot as some other hiking boots from top brands like La Sportiva, Vasque, and Merrill. But if you like shoes that are minimalist in style and that have zero heel drop, Xero Shoes are definitely worth considering.
That said, not all Xero Shoes are created equal and they’re not all ideal for use on the trail.
The company’s road walking and running shoes don’t provide the traction or ankle support that many folks need for hiking. If you like low-top hiking shoes anyway, you could check out Xero Shoes’ lightweight trail running shoes, instead. But the company’s regular road running shoes probably won’t cut it for backcountry outings.
Are Xero Sandals Good for Hiking?
Xero Shoes’ sandals, like the Z-Trek and the Naboso Trail, are popular choices among people who like lightweight and durable open-toed footwear. But while some people use them for hiking in the mountains, doing so isn’t recommended for most trekkers.
The issue with Xero sandals is that they don’t provide any protection for your toes and the upper parts of your feet. They also don’t offer any ankle support and they have relatively little cushioning underfoot. As a result, most people find that Xero sandals are not comfortable for hiking.
That being said, there is a small but mighty contingent of trekkers out there who only hike or trail run in Xero sandals.
These folks are okay with getting their feet a little dirty and scratched up as they hike and they also don’t care too much about ankle protection or underfoot cushioning. While we can’t necessarily recommend that everyone go out and hike in Xero sandals, some people really enjoy doing so, and that’s okay, too.
If you’re interested in switching to a minimalist sandal like what you can get from Xero Shoes, be sure to take things slow to give your feet time to acclimate to a new kind of footwear. Start out on smaller, less challenging hikes and work your way up slowly from there. That way you can decide if hiking in sandals is really the best choice for your personal trekking style.
Are Xero Shoes Water Resistant?
Some Xero Shoes are water resistant, though it really depends on what model you buy. A few of the most popular water-resistant and waterproof Xero Shoe models include:
However, most Xero Shoes are not water resistant or waterproof. This includes the bulk of the company’s trail and road running shoes. Instead of being water-resistant, most Xero Shoes are designed to be quick-drying, so they’re best used in relatively warm climates where you don’t mind getting your feet wet during your adventures.
How Long Do Xero Sandals Last?
It’s impossible to quantify how long Xero sandals will last as the lifetime of your shoes will depend on how often you use them and in what environments. Most people find that they can use their Xero sandals for at least a few years without needing to replace them.
But if you do manage to wear out your Xero Shoes, the company has an awesome 5,000-mile sole warranty in place to help you get a new pair of shoes at a reasonable price.
As of the time of writing, Xero Shoes will give you 60% off of the full, non-sale retail price of a new pair of shoes if you manage to wear out the FeelTrue outsoles on your sandals, shoes, or boots. To qualify for this warranty, you need to wear down your outsoles to less than 1 mm thick at the heel or ball of the foot.
This means that, if you do manage to wear out the soles of your Xero Shoes, the company will help you get a new pair at a good price. It’s impractical to expect that any pair of shoes will last forever, so what Xero Shoes offers with its 5,000-mile sole warranty is pretty darn awesome.
Also, Xero Shoes also offers a guarantee against any manufacturing defects in its footwear for up to 24 months after the original date of purchase. Although this isn’t exactly a “lifetime warranty,” it’s a solid deal when compared to what you can get from other hiking shoe manufacturers.
Xero Shoes For Backpacking: Yay or Nay?
There’s a lot to love about Xero Shoes if you’re someone who appreciates lightweight, minimalist footwear for running, walking, and everyday use. Xero Shoes can even be a nice choice for backpacking so long as you know what you’re getting yourself into.
The company’s line-up of purpose-built hiking boots offers a good amount of foot protection and traction, so they might work for some backpackers. But they don’t provide as much ankle support or underfoot cushion as you can get elsewhere. As a result, Xero Shoes aren’t the best option for people who prefer a more heavy-duty hiking boot.
At the end of the day, there’s no one hiking boot—be that from Xero Shoes or another manufacturer—that will work for all backpackers. If you generally like zero-drop, minimalist footwear, a pair of Xero Shoes could be good for you on the trail. Otherwise, you might want to look elsewhere for your backpacking boots.
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.