5 (actually 6) reasons he keeps giving his money to Xero Shoes and that time he met Scott Jurek
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Wait, did I say 5? 6 reasons! Ha! The following are the 6 reasons I keep giving my money to Xero Shoes*:
Barefoot Feel / Minimal
Ran by an awesome couple based out of Colorado
Continuing reading below for my reasons for each item, especially if you're looking for a new pair of athletic shoes (plus, a new video below!):
This was the most important requirement when I was initially looking for huarache style sandals back in 2014. Another famous brand used leather and at the time didn't carry a vegan option (though now do and admittedly it's quite popular). However, I am more than happy that landed me on Xero Shoes. Yes, not all of their shoes are vegan, but I stay away from those styles. Would I like it if they were 100% vegan, sure, but at least appreciate and enjoy the styles that ARE vegan.
Overall, a lot of their sandals come in at or below similar products. Their running shoes run around what I'd pay for a pair of road or trail shoes, or less actually. So overall I know it's worth the money spent. Plus, Xero Shoes seems to always run discount offers on their latest styles when initially launched (a great time to pick up a pair). This is also about the time their start running sales and discounts on older models, which can be picked up in some cases for a steal of a deal!
Check out Xero's clearance page here: https://xeroshoes.com/shop/product-category/clearance/
They also have ongoing $100 (USD) giveaways based on various actions performed that count towards entries: https://xeroshoes.com/win100/
3. Customer Service
Legends! Honesty, I'd suggest just scrolling down to the My History with Xero Shoes section and read through the numerous interactions with their awesome support team. In short, they'll do just about anything to resolve an issue either through a fluke manufacturing issue or just regular wear and tear. Yes, I've worn through multiple pairs of the Xero Clouds but they've stood by their 5,000 mile sole warranty each time and replaced my sandals. Not to mention the numerous toe loops my wife (she also has the Xero Clouds) and I have gone through, because we wear the Xero Clouds everywhere and for a wide range of activities (for example, hiking, running, kayaking, waling around town, walking everywhere really, ha!). I've become a bit of a pro in changing the toe loops out and re-stringing the Xero Cloud Sandals. Seriously, it's not that bad. Xero has a great video on their site, via YouTube, of how to do it:
Support also pointed out trying the "Double Loop," which I setup on both my wife's and my Xero Cloud sandals. The "Double Loop" is literally double-looping the laces on either side of the sandals just above where they loop through the sandals themselves. Per support, "this allows the heel strap to sit higher on the heel, and perhaps adjust the placement of the sandal on your foot to help minimize rubbing." To which, it definitely helped situate the back of the laces higher on my heel and almost eliminated needing to bend over periodically to tighten them (which really wasn't that often). See the photo below, from their support team, on how the Double Loop looks:
So again, this helped keep the back strap from falling down the heel or sitting too low on the heel.
Their fleet of sandals and shoes should speak for itself, ha! I was at first a bit taken back as to why they would go after making a closed toe shoe, this was back when they had sandals as their only offering. Though upon seeing the different models and why and what they were for, it made a lot of sense. Plus, personally speaking, I would've kept wearing my Xero Cloud's (or Xero Venture's before going to the Cloud's) year round if it wasn't for the snow during the winter (to which Steven Sashen went so far to prove at is Colorado home that you can shovel the snow on his drive with the sandals on - check Xero's site for more info on this one). Enter me purchasing the Xero Hana. It has been an amazing minimal shoe that can do it all, a great all arounder: walking about around town, hikes with the family, runs (on road, beach, through water - granted they don't drain well and collect sand due to the canvas upper, trail, etc.), and so on.
5. Barefoot Feel / Minimal
Again, the sandals and shoes speak for themselves, but the feeling of them on your feet is magical. Yes, you'll feel a lot more and yes the occasional pokey rock may get you BUT the flexibility allows for really gripping the ground and not just walking, running, etc. on top of it. This actually provides realtime feedback when walking or running and allows you to more easily adjust accordingly, so as not to just go pounding over an area. In short, you really feel lighter on your feet almost like being barefoot but without the fear of destroying your feet. Now if you're new to this, then my best piece of advice is take it slow and know your limitations. This way you don't end up pushing yourself too hard or too far too soon and regretting it later or worse case injuring yourself. That all said, they're amazing under feet and can't see myself going back to a traditional shoes anytime soon (granted I do still have a pair of La Sportiva Helios but I foresee them getting less use as I have the Xero Mesa Trails on the way).
6. Ran by an awesome couple based out of Colorado (U.S.)
I just liked the idea of them as a U.S. based company that started by a couple (Steven and Lena) out of an extra room at their house. Now it's a bigger company (but small compared to the other shoe titans). They're is also something endearing about Steven Sashen. It was something that came across in the videos I remember watching on YouTube, where he'd enthusiastically talk about his Xero sandals (and now entire fleet of shoes, ha!). And it wasn't done in a slick salesman kind of way, it was a genuine "I'm really excited about my sandals and want you to know about them and be excited too!" - and excited I was, ha! He also does video series on YouTube and through the Xero Shoes blog on barefoot running in general and other technique and tips, so a true coach and mentor to really help people through converting to either an all out barefoot approach or a super minimal one (obviously with the hope of using their shoes and sandals).
*Full Disclosure: I recently got accepted into the Xero Shoes Affiliate Program - woohoo! So yes, there will be some affiliate links below. That said, I've been a Xero Shoes customers for well over 6 years, see my history with Xero Shoes below, and not sure why I didn't sign up sooner because I love spreading the word of this shoe brand. Affiliate link: https://xeroshoes.com/go/BRENT
My History with Xero Shoes
I've loved Xero Shoes for years. Since 2014 actually, when I really got into the huarache style sandals and barefoot running (literally and technique wise) after reading both Scott Jurek's Eat & Run (and yes, I met him [pictured above], got to run with him as part of a group run, got my copy of the booked signed, and saw his presentation at a Cleveland, OH vegan event ) and Christopher McDougall's Born to Run.
The thing that landed me on Xero Shoes way back when was: Their sandals were vegan.
My wife and I at the time had recently gone plant based, whole food vegan. So we were also keen to buy vegan as well. There were of course other huarache style sandals, actually one particular brand founded by someone in Born to Run. However that brand didn't have a vegan sandal option at the time. So after additional online searching, I eventually came across Xero Shoes and my intrigue was piqued. It also helped that they were at the Cleveland Marathon 2014 expo, which I was running, and was able to try on some of the sandals. I then had my thoughts narrowed down to the Sensori Venture and Amuri Clouds. I was already leaning towards the Venture and trying them on confirmed that notion. Specifically, I liked the solid sole under foot, where the Cloud is a mix of solid sole and softer material (really comfortable sandals which we'll come back to later).
Outline of the following sections:
...as well as the pairs of Xero Shoes (italicized below) I have, currently, and/or will own:
The adVenture Begins - My first pair of sandals: Sensori Venture
Disaster Strikes! - Trading in the Ventures for the Clouds
Floating on Clouds - My next 2 (1 current) pair(s) of sandals: Amuri Cloud
Oh hey, Hana! - Closed toe shoe added to the mix: Hana
The (Mesa) Trail Calls - New pair of trail shoes? Why not, ha!: Mesa Trail
1. The adVenture Begins
I didn't go for them that day, but it wasn't long after that I bought a pair of Sensori Venture (Ready-to-Wear Men’s Barefoot Sandals) with Lime Green laces online at the Xero Shoes website. The adventure really did begin. It wasn't long after getting them in the mail that I took them out on a trail run with my wife and our dog. The only issue I ran into were two:
My feet slide sideways along the sole when they were wet/damp and running on a sideways sloped trail.
The second was, they have a habit of catching rocks right under the middle of the foot. Not a great feeling, ha! However, I've not mastered the rock clearing skill while running (if this is even a skill worth claiming, ha). In short, when your foot just finishes the push off phase and is behind you, before it comes back squeeze your toes and turn your foot to the side. What this does is opens up the middle of the sandal away from your foot and the turning of the foot drops the rock to the ground. It may take a few trys or a stop to get the hard caught rocks, but for the most part allows you to carry on running (hiking, walking, etc.) without a lost step.
Other than those two issues, they felt great!
Now I if you're not familiar with a huarache style sandal, it basically has ropes, strings, something that wraps around the foot in a specific way to secure the sole to your foot. Xero Shoes is great because it minimizes the overall road involved and they've improved the tightening system for quicker tightening and loosening.
2. Disaster Strikes!
About 3 months later, I was putting on the left Venture sandal and all of sudden the laces became very loose. Sure enough the rubber piece, that holds the left side of the laces on to that sandal, had split and the laces came free (see the following photo):
I inspected the right side on that sandal, as well as the same spots on my right sandal, and all those rubber areas (where the laces are held on to the sides of the sandals) had begun to crack. Not good!
Fear not! Enter: Xero Shoes Customer Support
Seriously the best Customer Support I've ever work with, and I've let them know. I really am not just saying this to spur more customers. Just givings kudos when kudos are due.
Back to the Ventures, so Customer Support turned around a response about a day later. They let me know that there can be the rare manufacturing defects and they were going to stand behind their product and make this right. To that they said they would ship out a replacement pair. They also mentioned their Amuri Clouds (which were relatively new at the time and as mentioned above I had considered initially) were available and could be a replacement for my sandals. Also mentioning the Cloud had a double-reinforced ankle loops - to which I was sold on! So I chose to get the Cloud's as my replacement pair.
3. Floating on Clouds
If you wear your FeelTrue® outsoles (or FeelTrue® section of Z-Trail) down to less than 1mm thick at the ball or heel of the foot (not an edge), we’ll replace them with the same product for the following price: 60% off MSRP (full, non-sale, listed, retail price) for the product, plus shipping.
And yes, I've put this to the test, multiple times. I've actually worn through two pairs of Cloud's and am currently on my third pair. I've also had to replace the toe loop multiple times (on mine and my wife's Cloud's - yes, I finally talked her into a pair and she loves them!).
Now, you're probably wondering why I would lead with all the things that have gone wrong?
Because it's the customer service and they stand behind their products. I also love these sandals, ha! The Clouds are my go to sandal (shoe) for from the Spring through the Fall, and occassionally in the winter. Mostly they're my everyday shoe for walks and around town. Though I also love the ground feel of them when going on hikes with my family or the occasionally run. I will admit I've experience rubbing under my toes when running in them. That aside, they're also great for kayaking, wearing when crossing streams or in the water in general, riding a bicycle, really you name it, these sandals can do it!
Hence, why I've worn through sooo many pairs, ha!
4. Oh hey, Hana!
I've already touched on this shoe elsewhere but the Xero Hana was the next Xero Shoe acquisition of mine. I really wanted a year round shoe and my go to around town shoes were at their end of life. So I got to looking and landing myself on the Xero Hana. They came in black, which is the color I was after, and were vegan, like many of their other shoes. I've put these things through the ringer. I've gone far beyond walks around town to taking them on runs. They've actually become one of my go to road running shoes, along with another brand's trail shoe. So they're recommended mens runners despite not not looking like athletic shoes, at least from my perspective. I've also taken them out on trail runs, family hikes on varied terrain, and even running on sandy beaches and through the breaking ocean waves. I will admit they don't drain well and collect sand due to the canvas upper, but that upper can take a lot of punishment.
My initial pair of Hana's even got to the point of where the sole was starting to separate from the upper at the big toe. I wasn't sure what could be done about it. However in the end I reached out to the awesome Xero Shoes Support Team, who jumped in to help and actually offered me a new pair of the latest Hana's. The latest Hana's sport an updated styling and improved (in my opinion) material used through out the shoe. They also come with some water resistance. Granted can't speak to the finishing used regarding environmentally friendly or not (hoping it is).
Below are my first pair of Hana's, and yes they got sun and saltwater bleached (ha!) from the beach running during our month in Bali. The state of them should speak for themselves as to how much I love them!
5. The (Mesa) Trail Calls
Not going to lie, I held out on the Xero Terraflex. I really liked the idea of them having come out with a trail specific shoe/trail trainers, BUT I had my reservations:
Well did it drain if wet or fully submerged (for example, after crossing a stream)?
How well did the lugs work with regard to traction on various surfaces?
I've since done some research and YouTube video watching of those that purchased the shoes, and for the most part people seem to love them. They mentioned that laces could be better and if I recall correctly issues with the insole moving around or coming out.
Anyway, I didn't end up going with them, but sure enough Xero Shoes then comes out with the Mesa Trail. I was immediately drawn to this style, as it appeared they telepathically listened to my concerns over and hesitations regarding the Terraflex. Chances are they had real world testers teasing out and providing feedback, on top of the Terraflex feedback. Side note: I actually applied for Xero's tester program but was living in Australia at the time and they needed people stateside (U.S. based). I was a bit bummed, of course, because I was the perfect shoe size they were looking for but anyways, I digress.
Back to the Mesa Trails...
Again, it appeared Xero Shoes listened to the feedback, which is honestly another selling point of theirs, that they listen to their customers. It really does show in the latest iterations of their shoes and sandals! The main points below are what I noticed and sold me on the Mesa Trails. Actually sold me on asking for for my birthday this year. Which I believe the package arrived but not quite my birthday yet, so have yet to test them out. Yes, I knew a family member was getting for me, ha! :)
The Mesa has (what appears to be) an improved and varied lug system, for traction, on the bottom of the shoe. The Xero Terraflex had a more standard lug pattern, similar to their sandals (like the Xero Cloud mentioned above) or other shoes (like the Xero Hana also above), but with bigger and more spread apart lugs. To which, I know this pattern works on other big shoe brands that one of my best friends and fellow trail runner wears. However the Terraflex just didn't quite have me sold on the traction front (check out Xero Terraflex's product page for photos: https://xeroshoes.com/shop/terraflex/terraflex-men/). Until I saw the redesigned bottom of the Mesa Trail and it really changed that feeling, and again sold me on that almost alone. Now, I still have yet to test mine (currently awaiting them as a birthday present and yes I know I'm getting them - surprise, ha!).
The upper of the Mesa Trail didn't seem as thick and hiking shoe-ish, compared to the Xero Terraflex, just by looking at photos online and in various videos (on their site and customer reviews on YouTube). So to me they looked like they would drain well on rainy days or after being fully submerged crossing a stream or river. This has yet to be personally tested at the time of writing this article, as it's not quite my birthday (ha!). The Xero Shoes' website even notes the "breathable, mesh upper gets rid of the weight and keeps you cool" and that it has a wicking lining (not as important to me but good and cool to know): https://xeroshoes.com/go/BRENT/04658c88
The bottom of the Xero Mesa Trail sole is also has a more varied bottom of what appears to be different materials and how it's layed out compared (again) to the Xero Terraflex. To which, I should have noted above that the Xero Cloud tends to be a bit slippery when encountering certain wet surfaces (for example, metal drain covers or metal coverings for construction and not always but some wet rocks). Based on pictures online, I could see there were various sections broken up by color on the bottom of the sole. I also checked out a few YouTube videos by customers, that had purchased and tested the Xero Mesa, what their thoughts were and how grippy it was - to that they said it was very grippy, so a win in my book!
Check out the Mesa Trail here! https://xeroshoes.com/go/BRENT/04658c88
Xero Shoes - Mesa Trails They’re the latest trail running shoe offered from Xero Shoes, and I’ve finally been getting out in them a bit lately!
Even in the neighborhood, I like to run on the grass and non-paved surfaces. And we have a nice park nearby, so I figured, why not bust out the trail shoes?
My Review: They’re definitely grippy! I had been wearing my Xero Shoe Hana’s for runs, which have a standard grip pattern on the bottom. Now, switching to the Mesa’s, my feet just plant solidly into the round with each footfall. Their grip is more of a lug style, which is so much better on the trails. I’ve also been taking them on our family hikes, and they have been amazing there as well. I walked through a few streams in them, and they drained really well. Though I have to be honest, I think my previous shoe, the ol’ trust LaSportiva Helios (v1.0) drained just as well, and the material of the Mesa’s seemed to hold onto the water for longer. Anyway, once I’m running at 100% capacity again, I’ll need to test them more thoroughly. I’d be interested to feel them out running after a river crossing versus hiking. Overall, I love Xero Shoes as a company. And these shoes don’t disappoint.
Oops, I had a fall in my Mesa Trail's! Tune in below for more:
Wait, Xero Shoes are at REI?!
Finally, don't have a go-to local running store? Did you also know that some Xero Shoes styles are available at REI? Plus you get a $10 XeroShoes.com Gift Certificate if you buy them at REI. A real win-win! Read more at the following page : https://xeroshoes.com/go/BRENT/409ca2ff
Happy Running! ✌🏻😊