Do you think you could walk 40 miles barefoot?
What about over rocky ground and in snow?
Barefoot living may be the most natural way for your feet to move, but there are some obvious problems with never wearing shoes.
Enter minimalist footwear, which gets as close as possible to a naked foot posture, but with protection from rocks, thorns, splinters, and the elements.
I couldn’t wait to give these boots a try!
My husband and I were each sent a pair of Xero Shoes’ new 2021 hiking boots to try out and we’ve taken them on over 40 miles of test hikes. How’s that for running a product through its paces!?
Kris is testing the men’s Xcursion Fusion, and I have the women’s Daylite Hiker Fusion. You can check them both out here.
We tested them out in the snow and they worked great as minimalist snow boots (far better than my big clunky snow boots usually did!) but we wanted to really run these through the wringer, so we went to Sedona, Arizona to make sure we got some miles on these guys.
Over the course of four and a half days, these hiking boots covered over 33 miles and 8000 vertical feet!
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.
See All the Pictures of Our Trip Here!
Can’t see the video? Watch my Xero Shoes Hiking Boots Review here on YouTube!
Xero Shoes Hiking Boots Review
My husband Kris was wondering if the Xero Shoes hiking boots have fewer treads on the bottom than other hiking boots since they bend a lot.
We actually chatted with some other hikers who were saying how grateful they were for their new hiking boots because they felt they were really gripping the stone. I asked them if I could compare the bottoms of our shoes with theirs and see how many treads there were.
They were about the same, if not exactly the same number and spacing of treads!
When we climbed Cathedral Rock (starting at 6 AM to see the sunrise!) it was what I think of as serious rock climbing, 60-70% of the time on all fours!
I have never been so nervous about height, falling, and my muscles were shaking at the top – how was I going to get down??? I thought there’s literally NO WAY I’m going to get back down each challenge we climbed.
But I trusted my boots, my grip, and myself, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought.
Xero vs. “normal” hiking boots: Even!
The Wide Toe Box
If you’ve ever done some hiking in the mountains, you know that as you come downhill your toes are squishing up into the front of your shoes. I don’t think any shoe can avoid that.
I really appreciated the wide toe box of the minimalist style footwear of the Xero hiking boots. At least as my toes are banging against the front of my boots a little bit, they’re not being smushed into a narrowing toe box.
My toes definitely did not hurt at all throughout this entire experience.
Xero vs. “normal” boots or shoes: a point for Xero!
The Flexible Sole
What makes minimalist shoes stand out from other shoes, particularly thick, sturdy hiking boots, is the BEND.
Xero’s boots clearly can bend right in half, and watching someone walk in them is radically different than the “clomp, clomp” of your average stiff boots.
I often have trouble with anything that’s too stiff, my feet fatiguing on the top by the end of the day. So I definitely appreciate the flexibility of minimalist hiking boots.
Xero vs. “normal” boots or shoes: my opinion goes to Xero!
Xero Xcursion Fusion Hiking Boots: Is Waterproof Necessary?
By the end of our second day hiking, we started seeing some potential problems.
Kris was wearing the waterproof boots, and he did notice that they were a little moist. It wasn’t a hot day at all, it was kind of chilly.
When he was researching hiking shoes a couple of years ago, he read in reviews that if you get waterproof hiking shoes, you just have to deal with the fact that if water can’t get in, moisture can’t get out, so you’re probably going to be a little more sweaty.
Our recommendation is to think about how often you might come into contact with water or snow.
If you really need the waterproof, go with the excursion fusion. If you’re not sure you really need the waterproof, you might want to go with the Daylite Hiker Fusion because I definitely did not experience that sweaty, moist sock issue.
Xero vs. “normal” hiking boots: Even! All waterproof boots/shoes cause sweat.
Paleovalley Meat Sticks
It can be hard to find healthy snacks that you can take with you on the go. When I want the convenience of a jerky stick, but want a healthy, protein packed snack option, I grab Paleovalley meat sticks. Paleovalley ingredients have these high standards that you can feel good about:
- 100% Grass Fed Beef & 100% Pasture Raised Turkey
- Never given antibiotics or hormones
- Gluten free, soy free, dairy free
- 0 grams of sugar*
- Contains no artificial nitrates or nitrites
- Naturally fermented and contain gut-friendly probiotics!
*With the exception of Teriyaki, which contains 2 grams of sugar from Organic Honey.
These beef sticks and turkey sticks taste delicious! My favorite is the Jalapeño but my kids love Summer Sausage.
Use this link to get 15% off your order at Paleovalley. Read my Paleovalley Review to learn more!
Do Minimalist Hiking Boots Cause Sore Feet?
Kris did end up with a little blister on the inside of his foot and the balls of his feet were getting sore. He said he doesn’t remember his feet getting sore like this on other long hikes he’s done.
We theorized that maybe it has to do with minimalist shoes having a thinner sole. It may a good idea to train your feet in minimalist shoes before you go for a 40-mile hike. Learn from our mistake!
I had one little sore spot on the arch of my foot, but when I woke up the next day I couldn’t feel that at all. My theory is that I bruised it a bit when I was hopping around on logs and rocks, intentionally feeling the terrain with my arch and giving myself little foot massages through the thin soles of my Xero Shoes.
On one day of our hike, Kris decided to wear his regular non-minimalist hiking boots to see if the balls of his feet were sore with them. They did not get quite so sore and he did not get any blisters.
Kris tends to walk more on the balls of his feet and slam them into the crown of his shoes, whereas I am more of a heel-toe walker. I suspect his sore feet were caused by a combination of how he walks and not being used to minimalist shoes.
Minimalist shoes are made to allow a natural gait without affecting how you walk by cushioning and supporting your feet unnaturally. It’s fairly common to have some initial soreness as your feet adapt your gait and build strength in weakened muscles.
Xero vs. “normal” hiking boots: Your call, but may be a point to “normal”
How do Minimalist Shoes Look?
If you love to go against the flow like me, you’re probably a great fit for minimalist shoes because you understand that they don’t have to look like everyone else’s shoes.
As I mentioned in our winter review, the only thing that that neither of us loves is looking down at our feet.
They’re wider in the toe bed, and you can visually see that width compared to everyone else’s shoes…but I’m pretty used to not being like everyone else. 🙂
Do Minimalist Boots Last?
One final note is that I can’t speak on longevity. I’m starting to see a little tiny bit of wear on my boots, a little tiny bit of the rubber toe is pulling back.
It’s something I will watch and I will definitely come back to update if I think it’s anything that would cause me to avoid purchasing these. It still looks fine, they act fine and they’re not about to start leaking.
Xero Shoes does have a two-year warranty, so keep that in mind!
Surprising Benefit of Minimalist Boots When Flying
They’re so light that we were able to put all our shoes and boots into one suitcase with all our clothes and souvenirs and we kept it under 40 pounds for our flight.
That never would have happened with traditional boots. They’re so heavy!
Point to minimalist shoes for saving us money!
Xero Shoes Hiking Boot Review: Bottom Line
The bottom line is there definitely are some pros and cons.
Wearing minimal shoes takes a little practice. Your feet might have to get used to it before you go on really long 5-10 mile a day hikes.
It’s possible that my husband got some blisters and sore feet from them, (or maybe he just walks weirdly?)
Overall I puffy heart loved the Xero hiking boots. They’re like a warm hug. They kept my feet safe and stable all the way through 33 miles and 8000 vertical feet of hiking.
The crazy thing is that I put my slippers on when I got home and two days later I was walking through my kitchen and tweaked my knee! I really think it’s because the slippers aren’t secure on my feet.
The hiking boots definitely gave me a sense of security up and down all sorts of mountains, and I continued to wear them as my day-to-day shoes in cold weather until we finally saw warmer temps here in Michigan.
Then I switched to the Aqua X Sport water shoes from Xero, which I wear daily as my “tennies” and enjoyed all winter as indoor shoes! (By the way, do other people say “tennies” short for tennis shoes? Or are they sneakers? Running shoes? What DO people call the shoes you just wear every day out for a walk or to the store?)
Kitchen Stewardship® gives a hearty two thumbs up to the women’s Daylite Hiker Fusion.
We give a tentative one-and-a-half thumbs up to the men’s Xcursion Fusion simply because my husband had a few problems, but I would still heartily recommend the brand overall and we’ve loved the shoes.