Z-Trek Sandals - Xero Shoes | Barefoot Sandal Review
The Xero Shoes Z-Treks are a great lightweight option if you're looking into barefoot sandals. They're very comfortable and easy to wear.
Xero Shoes make a couple of different barefoot sandals specially designed for hiking, the Z-Trek and the Z-Trails. Both were particularly popular with the community in our annual Golden Toe awards, so I wanted to try them myself and review them for you. In this review, I'll be discussing the Z-Treks.
When I bought these sandals, I was looking for primarily a camp shoe when backpacking that could double up for stream crossings when needed. Since they weigh 187 grams, a little on the heavier side for just camp shoes, that dual purpose was important to me when I don't fancy going completely barefoot. Let's jump into the review…
Tech spec 🤓
Stack height: 6mm
Heel-to-toe drop: 0mm (zero drop)
Actual weight: 186 grams
Stability and Motion control technologies: None
Toe spacer compatible: Yes
Materials: Sole = Rubber, Straps = Recycled Nylon
Overall thoughts 🤔
Xero Shoes typically take a different design for their straps than the other popular barefoot sandals (like Luna, Shamma and Earth Runners). Instead of going between your toes, there's a velcro strap that goes over the top of your toes holding them in place.
When I first got my hands on the Z-Treks the straps were a little tight but they were quick to break in once I adjusted the straps to fit my feet. The adjustment process was straightforward and it didn't take long to dial them in. I love how easy it is to slide these sandals on and off once you have them configured, especially compared to some other brands.
On a fair few occasions, I've gone for a swim whilst wearing my Z-Treks and I was surprised by how comfortable it was. There was no 'flapping' around in the water. I think that's due to Xero's unique design of the straps on these sandals.
A downside of the velcro straps is debris has gotten into the velcro and it's lost some of its sticking power. That's nothing a pair of tweezers can't sort out but something to keep in mind.The soles on the Xero Z-Treks are thin, coming in at only 6mm. This makes them super flexible and lightweight (187 grams) compared to any traditional option.
As you can imagine, at 6mm the ground feel on these is fantastic. You can feel everything underneath your feet whilst still feeling protected enough to step with confidence. With that in mind, if you're not comfortable walking through a bit of gravel, are new to barefoot shoes or are slowly transitioning, these sandals are probably not for you.
All barefoot sandals that are this thin will promote you to walk in a more barefoot style, reducing your ability to heel-strike and shortening your overall stride. This can cause soreness in the feet and calves if you're not used to it. Personally, having used barefoot footwear for a long-time, there wasn't much adjustment needed for me.
<div class="heading-small">Did you know...</div>
<div class="_callout-text-wrapper"><p>Xero has a thicker soled model (10mm thick) called the Z-Trail that is likely a better option if the Z-Treks seem a bit too 'barefoot' for you.</p></div>
The base of the Z-Trek soles has a unique 'V' design grip pattern on the rubber bottom. It surprised me how just how grippy they were. Interestingly, some of the other Z-Trek reviews mentioned that they were slippery underfoot when walking in wet terrain like streams and rocks. However, I found the opposite. I felt secure in my step, never having the sandals sliding out from under me.
The top of the sole, where the foot sits, is a textured grid pattern that makes the sandal very grippy underfoot. Again, some reviews mention the inside of the sandal being slippery when wet. And again, I didn't find this beyond what you'd expect from a rubber sole. Perhaps they didn't configure their straps properly? There is also a raised cup on the heel that does a great job at keeping debris out when on the move whilst providing a more secure fit.
The Z-Treks fit large. Xero Shoes have a template you can print out on their website to get the perfect fit. Something to remember is the heel cup I mentioned earlier. Allow a little extra space on the template for that.
That’s what I did and my sandals fit perfectly.
Xero Shoes have a 5000-mile warranty on their soles. I'm not sure how you're supposed to track that. From my own experience, Xero's customer service is top-notch and are very generous in taking care of you.
The Z-Treks come in at a very reasonable $59.99, a lower cost than most of the other big barefoot sandal makers.
The bottom line...
Would I spend the money on buying the same pair again?: Absolutely, yes.
What the community has to say 💬
I have fallen in love with these sandals! I love the barefoot feel - you get all sorts of interesting alien sensations on your feet as you walk on different surfaces. It's amazing how counterintuitive it is to actually feel things on your feet! Feet are "there," they have nerves for a reason, they're supposed to feel stuff, but these days you'd think they aren't even connected to the ground!
First run on them yesterday at 4 miles. 7 miles today. Both mostly on gravel and feels good. I did get one spot near my left ankle bone rubbed a tad raw. I'm thinking I might try some chamois butter or Vaseline on that spot next run. At this point I'm thinking I'll be running in nothing else, though!