Monday, 11 June 2018

Preliminary review - Xero Terraflex hiking shoe

This is a preliminary review of the Xero TerraFlex running/hiking shoe, an American brand. For some time I, in common with other hikers and backpackers, swore by Inov-8 Terrocs and similar Inov-8 lightweight mesh shoes. They were so comfortable and, of course, did not have a waterproof lining so water came in and quite quickly drained out. Inexplicably, the Terroc was discontinued in its popular form a few years ago. No other shoe by Inov-8 or other manufacturer seems to have taken its place yet.

The TerraFlex is an interesting shoe. For a start, and most importantly, it is a zero drop shoe. What this means is that the heel isn’t raised at all so it is as if you are walking barefoot with the heel of the foot on the same level as the sole. This takes some getting used to. What is more, the shoe can be worn with no inner sole and is perfectly comfortable and just like walking barefoot in that a foot on its own has no real cushioning. However, the shoes come with optional thin inner soles which just slip in to the shoes and actually make quite a difference.

The shoes are extremely light. My UK size 8.5 (US 9) weigh 9oz each, compared to a Terroc at 13oz. That’s quite a difference and it feels it on the foot. They are so flexible and you would be forgiven if you thought they would be flimsy but they are not.

The uppers are mainly a woven fabric, not mesh, and actually appear more substantial than mesh. The soles, which incorporate a toe bumper, have a raised chevron pattern for grip.

Are they comfortable? In a word, yes, and straight from the box. In fact, they are very comfortable. The toe box is quite wide which enables the foot to spread with absolutely no pinching. The laces are round section (not flat) and I had to swap them for flat laces in order to easily use the shoes with gaiters that need to be clipped on to the laces but that was no problem.

So far, I have only used the shoes for walking in dry weather with some quite steep ascent and descent and I found that they gripped well. I wore them for a warm, dry day from Edale up on to Kinder Scout, via Grindsbrook Clough, over to Kinder Downfall and back to Edale via Jacob's Ladder. I couldn't fault them. I have yet to try them in mud. I have also been wearing them for general use around town, etc.

Sizing is an important issue with these shoes. They run small. I would normally wear a size 7.5 UK size in this type of shoe but I needed a 8.5 UK size. This is particularly relevant as they are only available online (from and are only available in the UK in whole US sizes although half sizes are a available from Xero in the USA but there would be carriage and import charges.

They retail at £79.95 which is a very reasonable price for this type of shoe. The soles, rather amazingly, are guaranteed for 5,000 miles and will be replaced by Xero if the sole or ball of the heel (but not edges) wear down to less than 1mm. If they do, Xero will replace them for the same model at 60% off full retail price plus shipping. My question at this early stage is whether the uppers will last that long or whether the soles would detach from the uppers. Only time will tell. I will post a long term review when I have properly put the shoes through their paces. I had hoped to wear them for the second half of my Great English Walk in April but they didn't arrive in time. This was because they came from the US. I believe that orders placed with the UK site will be delivered quickly.

Xero Shoes provided me with these shoes for review purposes and do not require them to be returned. I am under no obligation to post a positive review.

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