Xero Shoes – Review 2020

If you’re looking for a pair of minimalist shoes for adventuring around the world or to wear exercising in your own backyard, then the Xero Shoes Prios should be on your radar. Xero Shoes come with an optional removable insole that drops from a 2mm cushion to practically nothing. The wrapped straps on the upper layer can be adjusted to form-fit your feet, even wrapping around the entire shoe. These options give wearers the opportunity to make their own choices about how the shoe should fit, something we’re confident everyone appreciates. 

Xero Shoes Prio

So without any further ado, let’s check out its gory details.

Awesome Performance (run all day!)

Whether you use the optional 2 mm insole or not, you will feel every hit of the ground in the Prio. Frankly, these are more aggressive when compared with those other minimal designs when it comes to raw performance, but that’s a good thing for all the runners right?

With the added insole, the Prio is an excellent, genuinely barefoot road-style shoe with zero drop. Again, the Prio doesn’t look like a barefoot shoe, but who cares? It is a delicate balance to strike in a category that can be so nuanced. With that looped lace design, as well as the option to remove the insole, it creates an excellent mix of comfort and accuracy to the stated effort of producing a barefoot trainer.

Aesthetic Appearance (oh-look-at-them!)

There’s something kind of cute about the Xero Shoes. It has a homegrown quality to it and that’s a refreshing break from the more stylized designs.

One thing we can assure you is that Xero Prios look much better in person than they do on your screen. Currently, the Prios are available in six colors and we are really digging a couple of them. The black and white ones look particularly sleek, as do the all-black ones.

But some of the other colorways are just a little bit odd. We’ve seen a gray and yellow pair of the Men’s fit and while they do look slightly better in person than online, they still look a bit colorful for a minimalist pair.

Of course, the Prios are minimalist, so the function is prioritized above fashion. The wide toe box is noticeable, as is the flatness of the shoes. But, mostly, they look like athletic shoes. We’ve got to learn numerous compliments on them.

One final note about style: these shoes offer maximum versatility. They are tennis shoes, gym shoes, sneakers, trainers, runners, whatever you want to call them, but you won’t want to wear them to a cocktail hour or a business meeting (unless you’re a professional runner, work at Xero, or DGAF). But they’ll work for almost everything else, casually strolling around town, working out, and being active in the great outdoors.

Grade A Materials (all vegan!)

First of all, the folks at Xero use all vegan-friendly materials to make this shoe, which is a huge plus for our vegan friends out there.

The upper face has a breathable mesh, which is also a huge plus. We probably don’t need to tell you how important it is for your feet to be able to breathe, particularly on long days out and about or while exercising. All of us have experienced those sweaty feet at times (ours or others) that make the shoes smell like the inside-of-a-locker-room (right?).

The rubber sole is the same 5.5mm rubber sole that Xero uses on its sandals and other athletic shoes. It’s been designed to let your feet “feel the ground” while offering protection against the gross and/or dangerous things on the said ground.

The 2mm insole is also removable. You’ll actually notice a huge difference between having the insole in and out, particularly since this shoe is designed for fitness. Your running and walking form will probably change the more you can “feel the ground.” (For one thing, you’re not going to slam your feet to the pavement quite so hard.)

And the sole is grippy, at least for a tennis shoe. It is tested for hiking along the water-slicked, rocky trails of Acadia National Park without any problems. However, these shoes are not hiking boots and if you’re not comfortable wearing gym shoes hiking then don’t wear these for hiking as well.

They are also tested on slippery sidewalks in a midwest winter and they don’t make you do that awkward arm-flap thing to stay balanced. (That said, the shoes aren’t the best for the cold months because the insoles aren’t insulated, the upper breathes too well, and there’s no water-resistance.) You should be able to navigate those beautiful, yet surprisingly treacherous cobblestone streets of wherever without so much as a close call.

Additionally, there is a 5,000-mile warranty on these soles. As of this review, Xero claims that if you wear through the outsoles within 5,000 miles, they’ll replace them for 60% off the retail price. But we haven’t had a reason to test them on this yet, so your mileage may vary.

The Go-Get-Them Features (you betcha!) 

So on a review of minimalist shoes, we should probably talk about all of the benefits of minimalist shoes, shouldn’t we? Before we get into it, just know that we are humble gear reviewers, we are not foot doctors. We believe in minimalist shoes to be an amazing choice, but do your own research as it pertains to health. In this section, we’ll be primarily focused on the benefits of minimalist shoes as they pertain to travel.

The Prios are flexible, which makes them so much easier to pack than traditional tennis shoes. Their flexibility means you can squish them into whatever leftover nooks or crannies you have in your travel bag. You can even roll them up (but we don’t suggest leaving them rolled up as that may put an undue strain on the materials). This flexibility also allows you to move without restriction, making the shoe oh-so-comfortable.

And they’re lightweight (the women’s size 7 clocks in at 6.4 ounces each). Obviously, if you’re a one-bag traveler, you know how important it is to cut ounces where you can. Even if you’re not a one-bag traveler, you know that lugging a heavy pack or duffle bag is kind of the worst. Plus, you’ll barely feel like you’re wearing shoes when you have them on. Which, again, makes these shoes super comfy.

All minimalist shoes have a wide toe box to let your toes spread out and breathe. And the Prios are no exception. Epic hikes and long travel days may cause your feet to swell—a wider toe box allows this to happen without your toes getting squashed. Plus, wide toe boxes are nice if you have naturally wider feet.

Finally, there is the “Xero-drop” sole. Almost all traditional athletic shoes have some sort of drop from their heel to their toe. The Prios don’t have any drop. There are multiple reasons for this though, people say it helps with your balance and posture and takes the weight off more fragile parts of your foot.

Transitioning to a minimalist shoe can be time-consuming and, if you go too quickly can be a bit painful. Protip: Don’t buy these shoes to run a marathon right away. Seriously, ease into it!

Weight (minimalist or heavy?)

Still much more lightweight than many other conventional trainers, the Prio is by far the heaviest shoe in Xero collection. Regardless of its true barefoot-feel, this shoe is bulky; the design almost reminds us of a skate shoe. At its most minimal, it weighs in at 9.3 ounces per shoe, and that’s two full ounces heavier than the closest competitor. If you include the optional insole, each shoe tips the scale at 9.7 ounces.

But despite its extra weight, we believe other trainers could have been served by having a more robust insole like the one in the Prio. Runners looking for the flexibility to decide before a run whether they want more or less support based on how well they recover might prefer a shoe like this one. It’s low-profile is unforgiving at transferring the feel of the road. While these options mean that this shoe is heavier than most of the pack, it does afford an extra level of comfort.

Durability (they gotta last!)

The Prio differs in a big enough way from other flimsier designs in terms of the amount of material that went into this meatier build. No other contender stands out at having as good durability as Prio. Some competitor shoes have some spots and glances which bump them up, but among the barefoot competitors, Xero Prio does reasonably well.

We really like the wrap-around reflective material built-in with the huarache style straps that secure Xero Prio. It promotes visibility out there on the road in any low light scenario, whether early or late in the day or during overcast, rainy weather.

Value (the real deal!)

Xero Prios cost you 99.94 bucks and are a great price for such versatile minimalist shoes. The price, coupled with the shoe’s performance compared directly to other road trainers, earned it a Top Pick for Road Running. Frankly, not enough companies throw such fun and cool deals at you. Sure, you might never take the insole out of these, but at least you know you can. A lot of shoes out there cost way more than this and are only marginally different, so if you want bang for your buck, these are for you!

Testing (hard & fast)

In our testing, while the tread on the outsoles smoothed out a little bit, they held up much better than we expected. After a rigorous cycle, there were a few other worn places such as small holes in the fabric along with the heels.  But they didn’t become dead. 

Our Final Thoughts

The Xero Shoes Prio is a great shoe to consider for minimalist road running. The options you get for the insole, and the adjustable wrap-around strap are really cool features, whether you use them or not. This is definitely a great product from Xero that we were psyched to review and bestow a Top Pick Award upon.

Michael Holding
 

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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