When I received two pairs of Xero brand hiking boots as a free review sample, I was both terrified and excited.
I was terrified because they’re not supposed to be minimalist snow boots…but I live in Michigan…and it was February.
But I was also really excited because for the last year, I’ve been reading about minimalist shoes. I knew that although my blog is Kitchen Stewardship, doing a shoe review still fits because minimalist shoes are designed to be as natural as possible. And that’s what we’re all about at Kitchen Stewardship®, treating our bodies in as natural a way as possible!
PLUS my contributing writer Mary Voogt wrote a great post about how having your feet in the right kind of shoes and being barefoot as much as possible is as natural as it gets.
Now is probably a good time to mention that I am proud to be a Xero Shoes affiliate and may receive compensation for referring to the Xero Shoes brand.
Our Minimalist Snow Boots Review
Can’t see the video? Watch our minimalist snow boots review here on YouTube.
Minimalist Boots Put to the Test: Can They Handle Snow
I was so nervous about getting cold on a long hike that my husband and I took test walks in the neighborhood. After 10-15 minutes, my feet weren’t getting cold with wool socks. So I thought we can do this. Let’s go big and hike!
So there we were out on a 10-degree day, going out on a trail to see how our Xero hiking boots worked as minimalist snow boots. That’s cold!
My husband picked the trail, and I thought we were going on a one-hour hike, which turned out to be five and a half miles and two hours! Yikes!
I wore my wool socks over regular socks and tons of layers, but I was a little nervous about my feet getting wet as well as cold.
My husband has the Xcursion Fusion which are waterproof, I have the Daylite Hiker Fusion, not waterproof.
However, even though we had to step off the trail a number of times to get out of the way of these huge Fat Tire bikes, my feet never got wet!
Two hours of hiking later, and my feet weren’t cold either! I was super impressed.
My legs were sore, but that’s because I don’t usually walk two hours in the snow.
Benefits of Minimalist Boots
I’m loving the phrase lately that “there is no bad weather, just the wrong clothing.” I’ve gotten outside more of this winter than any other winter just because I know that it’s so good for me to breathe the fresh air, to receive the sunlight, and to get my body moving.
However, when I went on our long walks in the neighborhood with a friend wearing my big clunky winter boots, I noticed that the tops of my feet would be sore and painful the rest of that day and even into the next day. I think it is because I have to work with my toes to keep those big boots from sliding around. They have such thick soles!
I’m happy to report that after two hours in the Xero Daylite Hiker, I didn’t feel that. These boots have a lot of upsides:
- I love that these boots feel like a warm hug to me. It’s almost as if there’s nothing there. That’s kind of the point of minimalist shoes. 🙂
- I love being able to feel each crunch of the snow through the sole. There’s just over a centimeter of material between your foot and the ground, only 11mm.
- Zero drop heel-to-toe: If you look at your normal tennis shoes, you’ll notice that the heel is taller than the front which causes your body to shift forward ever so slightly. That is what impacts your posture. The point of minimalist shoes is to be as close to barefoot as possible, but yet protecting you from the snow, so there’s zero rise between the toe and heel.
- Wide toe bed: Minimalist shoes allow your toes to spread out naturally, which is very important for foot health as we age.
RELATED: Benefits of minimalist shoes for kids.
My One Negative on the Xero Daylite Hiker Fusion
You know I run things through the gauntlet. I give the most brutal reviews I can with as many negatives as possible, because I want you to feel like you have tried a product on for size before you ever order it.
My MD told me that my foot shape is already headed toward bunions when I get older, that stinks. So it’s extra important for me to be able to spread out my toes and not wear narrow-toed shoes or boots.
As I was walking I would wiggle my toes and think about that aspect of minimal shoes. I love feeling healthy.
However, that leads me to the one negative drawback that I see with the Xero hiking boots. Because they have a wide toe bed when you look down they’re kind of…well…wide.
They don’t look like what you expect, what we’ve been trained by culture to expect feet to look like. My husband pointed that out right away as “not his favorite” even as a guy. “They look a little wide,” he said, “just different.”
As a woman, especially if I wear leggings or tight jeans, they feel like they make my feet look big. They look awesome from the side though, so I’m hoping that most people other than my own eyeballs see them from the side, and it’s no big deal!
If you live a natural living, crunchy lifestyle already, you’re going to be really good at going against the culture and not worrying about the aesthetics. 😉
So that probably won’t be a deal-breaker for you — but I’d love to hear what you think about the photos and video visuals.
The Final Verdict on Our Xero Hiking Boots
Bottom line: I’m a fan!
I wear my Xero boots all the time when going for walks and after 3+ months of wear, they’re doing great.
But I did not come at these boots from a place of neutrality: I have to confess that I really wanted to love these boots.
I wanted to love them because I’ve read so much about them and I was excited to try minimalist shoes. I wanted to see how they felt. And I just have a passion for feeling healthy and doing the right thing.
So admittedly, that may have psychologically impacted what I genuinely think about the shoes because I came in feeling positive. #honesty
I’d rather approach something feeling cynical right? Now, that’s where my husband will come in.
I’m so glad my husband can play the cynical role because he did not expect to like these shoes. He saw them. He thought they looked odd. He said, I don’t know, Katie, I have hiking boots. I really like them, they’re really nice.
I said we have to try them. This is our job, right?
Here’s his honest review:
Starting from a place of skepticism. He said, Well, I actually can’t say they’re any worse at all than the high-quality hiking boots I already own and love.
Now, that sounds like a pretty bad review. But think about it. He was skeptical coming in and he put them right up there with the other hiking boots he already loves and didn’t have anything negative to say!
That’s actually a pretty good review!
And speaking of other high-quality hiking boots, you’re not going to spend much more if any more for these minimalist barefoot-style shoes from Xero compared to other good high-quality hiking boots. So that’s a huge plus.
You know I only promote products that I use myself and that I firmly believe in, you wouldn’t believe how many sample products we have around here that you’ve never seen because they don’t make the cut. #yikes
I’m a huge fan of these Xero hiking boots, both the Xcursion Fusion and Daylite Hiker Fusion (just remember to make your choice based on whether the waterproof quality is a need for you).
Most of all, I hope you’ll do more research on how minimalist shoes might be the right choice for you to be as natural as possible.
Our cool discovery is that the Xero hiking boots DO work AS minimalist snow boots while supporting your feet as naturally as possible. Win!
I hope this review has helped you understand the pros and cons, the ins and outs of these surprisingly great minimalist snow boots.