(2024) Ultimate Xero shoes buyers guide – my favourite barefoot shoes selected

James

I’ve had the fortunate ability to have used and tested many of Xero’s barefoot shoes now over the years. Here in this ultimate Xero shoes buying guide, I’ll go over my top picks and help you find out which one you should get.

Xero makes it a bit confusing with the quantity of models they sell, many of which appear marginally different. Lets hop into it.

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Some of my top picks

Here’s a little cheat sheet to narrow down your choices based off activity. Each section will narrow it down further!

Just click whichever calls to you most to see my personal thoughts.

Gym & runningHiking & outdoorCasual & daily
Best running shoeOutdoor sports Most comfortable
Best gym/trainer Best for hiking Style & formal
Best trail running Wet/muddy trails Best winter boot
Best all-rounder Best winter hiking Best all-around

Note: There are some repeat items on the list because, well, they work the best!

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Best barefoot running shoe

Xero HFS II

For anything on consistent, hard terrain, I opt for the Xero HFS II. Lightweight, durable, and comfortable, the long miles are certainly better with the HFS II.

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Excellent and decent looking running shoes!

With that in mind, they’re also capable for light trail running with the shallow, high-quantity tread they have, however look to the next section for the best Xero shoe for trail running instead!

They also have the appearance of a regular running shoe more than most other barefoot shoes do – a nice feature if aesthetics are something on your mind.

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A good mount of grip for light off-road duties!

The HFS II are highly versatile and can do many tasks from gym to crossfit to trail running to road running and is a sort of jack of all trades. That being said they aren’t so great for more intense hiking, trails, or dirty work due to their minimal tread.

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Best barefoot trail running shoe

Xero Scramber Low

Lightweight, tough, and with enough tread to assist with rough roots and slippery terrain – the Xero Scrambler Low is their most robust running-oriented shoe which can hold up the the trials of the trail. The chunkiest sole while remaining lightweight and tough, the Scrambler Low is in my opinion a better version of the Mesa Trail II overall.

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Xero Scrambler Low in its natural habitat

When trail running that’s exactly what you look for – to retain the connection with the floor and enhance your proprioception.

One issue is certainly to do with small grit, grout, and gravel slipping into the shoes if in deep foresty terrain, however that’s a factor among all low-top trail runners anyways. Trail running gaiters can absolutely help with that, and unlike the Mesa Trail II, the Scrambler Low has a heel loop where you can attach one.

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A bit more bite on the tread!

Otherwise, a well-priced versatile trail runner which doubles as a good running and hiking shoe too! Highly adaptable to many situations and overall a fantastic do-it-all shoe!

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Best all-around performance shoe

Xero Mesa Trail II

Deserving another spot on the best Xero shoes list – the Mesa Trail II is really just so versatile. All-around performance to me means able to stand up to a wide variety of tasks – from trail running to lounging, walking around to lifting.

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A lightweight trail companion

It does everything well, but does it do everything masterfully? Well, true to the jack-of-all-trades trope, the Mesa Trail II does excellent at many things, but isn’t the best in any particular section.

Trail running, hiking, jogging, cycling, lifting – it does pretty good in pretty much everything, however, if you’re looking for a specialist shoe to max out in a particular section, then keep reading on. At a feathery 7.8oz, it’s a very light shoe!

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A very tough tread with ample bite

If you really had to buy just one shoe, I’d probably go for this one. It will be able to perform in the widest variety of tasks and terrains, that’s why it wins the all-around spot!

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Best barefoot shoe for the gym

Xero Forza Trainer

A little more stability, a little more structure, and a bit more of that well-needed lockdown – the Xero Forza trainer are certainly the go-to from their lineup for gym sessions and lifting.

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The Forza Trainer where it should be – under a barbell!

For deadlifts, squats, power cleans, or any other movement, the additional stability/lockdown is well appreciated – no one likes squirming around in their soles with 200 lbs on their back!

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Lockdown strap and more secure fit!

Too, they do just fine for running and cardio based activities – even if I prefer the Xero HFS II for that. Still, as the overall best crossfit and lifting barefoot shoe, I would say the Xero Forza trainer is the way to go.

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Best outdoor sports barefoot shoe

Xero Mesa Trail II

Very similar in DNA to the Xero Scrambler Low , the Mesa Trail II takes the win here because while I actually find the Xero Scrambler Low to be the better shoe, it’s the Mesa Trail II is just a bit longer lasting and the milder tread matches better for more sports and activities.

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A lightweight trail companion

It really depends on which sports or activities you’re going to be doing – tennis or running you’re better served by the HFS II, where for mountain biking the Mesa Trail or Ridgeway works better.

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Best barefoot hiking shoe

Xero Ridgeway Mesh Low

It was a close call between the Scrambler Low and Ridgeway, but the Xero Ridgeway takes a priority here due to the slightly tougher build. It’s marginal, but the sole is stronger and will last longer – important when doing those multi-day adventures and trying to keep a pair of shoes for longer.

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The ideal shoe to get dirty

At just 10.6oz for the Ridgeway (and 9.3oz for the Scrambler Low) they’re still plenty light and will last a good chunk of time. They also look better, too!

They are compatible with trail gaiters if you forsee yourself in deep scree/gravel or overgrown bush from time to time. However if that’s a frequent occurrence, I would look at the next section on the Best Barefoot Hiking Boot for added features there.

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A long-lasting tread with a good but not overbearing bite

Overall a great hiking shoe for light to moderately technical terrain, however I would look a bit further if you forsee yourself on gnarly or highly challenging routes.

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Best barefoot hiking boot

Xero Scrambler Mid II

The absolute best barefoot hiking book which Xero has to offer – these are a great upgrade to the Scrambler Low and they add that well-appreciated ankle covering to prevent dirt, grime, and loose rock from getting down the side of your shoe.

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An ideal low-cut hiking boot

Some protection to the ankles from getting scuffed up by boulder fields, scrambling in deep scree, and low-hanging branches, the Xero Scrambler Mid II is about as comprehensive a barefoot hiking shoe can get.

At 11.7oz, they’re only 2.3oz heavier than their Scrambler Low brothers.

Adequate amounts of traction from the Michelin sole, I wouldn’t hesitate to take these up some gnarly summits. However, they’re a bit too toasty and thick for trail running, hot weather, or where agility is paramount. Though, gnarly conditions are where these shine. Opt for the

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The closest thing to a contemporary hiking boot, but barefoot!

It’s a tight call between the Scrambler Mid II WP and Ridgeway – both are waterproof mid/high-top barefoot hiking boots to assist with preventing water and grime from getting inside.

if you’re encountering lots of wet, muddy, gross trails!

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Best hybrid barefoot shoe

Xero Ridgeway Mesh Low

Cruising around town, hitting the trails, going into town for a beer? The style, form, and function of the Ridgeway Mesh Low really work great for everything.

They have that feeling, style, and relaxed nature which really makes them a great do-it-all sort of shoe. Another sort of jack of all trades in a way – they can do anything pretty well, and camouflage themselves better than most other barefoot shoes do.

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The ideal shoe to get dirty

To add to that, they certainly have good performance off-road and can do light-medium difficulty hikes without a hitch. A good choice for sure!

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Best waterproof barefoot shoe

Xero Mesa Trail WP

In terms of shoe, the Mesa Trail WP with its waterproof lining, seam-sealed inner bootie, and gusseted tongue. Trail and road running in these is a heck of a lot better since you wont get swamp foot so quickly.

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Same as the Mesa Trail, just protected from the elements!

Great for days of light spitting rain, dewy mornings, light snow, or if you need just a bit more thermal insulation. With all that in mind, water can still get down your ankle if it’s raining hard.

Therefor, for hiking or walking along profusely wet and muddy paths, I would recommend looking for a barefoot boot instead, conveniently located in the next section! 😉

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Xero shoes sales up to 40% off

Best waterproof barefoot boot

Xero Scrambler Mid II WP

It’s a tight call between the Scrambler Mid II WP and Ridgeway – both are waterproof mid/high-top barefoot hiking boots to assist with preventing water and grime from getting inside.

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An ideal low-cut hiking boot

The Scrambler Mid II WP being 12.2oz and the Ridgeway at 13oz, the difference there is primarily in durability, grip, materials, and aesthetics. Make your choice based off a bit lighter and agile with contemporary styling, or a bit tougher and old-school looking with leather and canvas materials.

The Sole on the Scrambler Mid II WP is certainly a bit grippier, while on the Ridgeway is longer-lasting.

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That classic hiking boot aesthetic and plenty of tread!

The Xero XCursion Fusion is also a consideration, however they’re even heavier at 13.7oz and take their genetics from the Xero Mesa Trail II DNA. I prefer the other pairs.

I wouldn’t wear any of these shoes on warm or dry days at all though due to the heavily sacrificed ventilation – your feet will get pretty sweaty! For me it’s a tight call between the two, but I take the lighter, grippier Scrambler Mid II WP.

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Xero shoes sales up to 40% off

Most comfortable barefoot shoe

Xero Nexus Knit

The go-to for everything casual and city. For the classic sneaker which prioritises comfort, aesthetics, and airy feel, the Nexus Knit are certainly the way to go.

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A high-quality casual day shoe

Not to say they’re not capable of light activity – they’re plenty light and able to propel you on the pavement or courts. But, I find the durability and lockdown not to be so great, so if you’re looking to do sports or activities I would instead recommend otherwise. At 9.2oz they’re not the lightest either.

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Still plenty good for light exercise

With that in mind, the classic feel, look, and sensations from the Nexus Knit make them an excellent, highly comfortable do-everything shoe.

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Most stylish and formal barefoot shoes

Xero Glenn

A casual minimalist delight – subdued elegance and casual tone – the Xero Glenn give off a sort of refined yet relaxed aura.

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Great with some chinos or jeans!

Appearance of a typical Oxford, made of leather, and with a more natural-appearing footbed, they fit right in for the workplace or an afternoon in town with your friends.

Especially in places which may see more rainfall or cooler weather, the water-repellent leather fares better than knit uppers. On the other hand, they don’t breathe as well and aren’t what I would use for any serious activities.

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Minimal tread, minimalist fashion

Sophisticated, minimalist, and effective – definitely pick the Xero Glenn as the go-to office barefoot shoe.

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Xero shoes sales up to 40% off

Best winter barefoot boot

Xero Alpine

If the name didn’t give it away, the Xero Alpine is best suited for conditions in sub-zero and frigid places. With 200g of insulation totalling 14.5oz each, they’re certainly not the lightest of the bunch, but actually quite feathery still compared to typical hiking boots.

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Keep those toes nice and toasty!

I wouldn’t quite recommend these for anything warmer than snow conditions, because, well, they’re hot! Really, they keep that warmth in, but you’ll get very sweaty feet in no time if you take these out during summertime. Not recommended!

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Deep tread and a tough construction

Otherwise, great for wintery cold conditions, and work good with microspikes when treading over icy and slippery conditions.

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Xero shoes sales up to 40% off

Best all-around casual barefoot shoe

Xero Dillon Canvas Slip-On

A tight choice between the Xero Dillon and the Xero Kona, the Dillon really has the Vans-type aesthetic and feeling. Slip-ons are seriously awesome (no more laces, yay!) and the very reasonable pricetag makes it almost a no-brainer.

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A classic slip-on

The Xero Kona is better suited to that beach-lifestyle vibe, and while they’re excellent and also well-priced, there’s something about the Dillon Canvas with the iconic aesthetic that makes it hard to beat.

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The closest thing to barefoot Vans

Now, by no means are these activewear shoes I’d use for anything beyond skateboarding and popping by the park, but that’s not their strong suit – it’s in being easy, cool, comfortable, and practical.

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How to size for barefoot shoes

I have detailed instructions in my how to size Vivobarefoot shoes guide linked there – much of the information can apply to sizing Xero shoes too.

Sizing barefoot shoes can be tricky and it’s a good idea to size up at first! Your feet will naturally spread out and even ‘grow’ after a while since your foot is no longer tightly confined by awkward and incorrect design.

  1. Get a tape measure/ruler, take off your socks.
  2. Place your heel against the wall, put your weight on your foot.
  3. Carefully mark down the exact length.
  4. For width, place foot against wall – ankle bone touching (or almost touching) wall.
  5. Place tape measure/ruler under foot, record widest part of foot.
  6. Repeat with other foot, note down all measurements.

With a measuring tape, my feet measure 28cm x 10cm. This is length by width at the widest pat (5th metatarsal).

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1 size too small can really suck!

Refer to the official Xero shoes sizing guide

I came from wearing Nike Free 5.0 shoes and Adidas Hyperboost type garbage, so below I’ve included my direct conversion from those and how my shoes fit.

Conclusion

Anyways, those are my top picks for the best Xero shoes around. I’ve personally tested and used all of these and you have my honest opinions here.

Yes, lots of repeat items on the list, but really, many of them feel marginally different, and to me a performance-ready shoe beats a performance-casual hybrid due to durability, stability, and so forth.

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Xero shoes sales up to 40% off

If I had to recommend just 3, I would say go for the HFS II for gym & running, Mesa Trail II for hiking and trails, and the Scrambler for more demanding hiking/scrambling.

Check out my complimentary Ultimate Vivobarefoot Buyers Guide, or my 8 Best Barefoot Shoes Ever list to help find the right pair for you! Any questions feel free to drop a comment below 🙂

Consider donating a coffee-amount of coins via PayPal at bottom of this site if my article helped you 🙂

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