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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Xero Shoes DayLite Hikers > Test Report by Steven M Kidd

March 04, 2018



NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Arrington, Tennessee
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover from 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.



Xero DayLite Hiker

Manufacturer: Feel The World, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $109.99
Listed Weight: 10.2 oz (289 g) Based on a Men's Size 9 - US
Measured Weight: 11.5 oz (326 g) Measured a Men's Size 10.5 - US
Colors Available: Black, Mesquite (Brown), Black & Yellow {Testing the latter}

The Xero DayLite Hiker are a light weight hiking boot designed to all natural movement of the foot and a design that many refer to as a 'barefoot' style footwear. They have a zero-drop, which means the heel is not elevated above the toes. For comparison, many hiking shoes/boots or running shoes offer anywhere from an 8 - 12 mm (0.3 - 0.4 in) drop. With both day hikers and casual wearers in mind they offer a large toe box to allow the foots digits to spread within the boot. The DayLite is designed to be lightweight and to allow the wearer to feel the earth as they walk it. Even with this lightweight minimalist styling, they offer as "5,000 mile sole warranty".

The upper fabric is designed with a highly water mesh and a protective toe bumper called Tough Tech. They have a 'huarache-inspired' heel strap. A quick web search taught me that these are a Hispanic styled sandal from pre-Colombian days. They also have adjustable instep straps to allow for varying tension.

The boot tread is a dual-chevron style designed for grip and the sockliner, or insole if removable should the wearer desire and even 'more barefoot' feeling. Finally, the website states the boots are vegan friendly.

I rarely copy directly from a manufacturer website to explain product specifications, but the following quote clearly sums up the DayLite Hikers in my opinion: "Most hikes don't need a big, heavy, technical hiking boot. And most hiking boots don't let your foot bend, move, flex and feel the world… until the DayLite Hiker". Xero has clearly developed a lightweight boot designed with the minimalist in mind.


The DayLite Hikers arrived just one day in advance of a planned 32 mi (52 km) backpacking trip I had planned! I was so excited, I tore into the shipping bag...opened the box and quickly snapped a few images for the test series before trying them on. I slid my foot into the right boot, kicked my heel to the floor for a snug fit...and immediately realized they were too snug! I was so disappointed. The boots obviously won't make this next outing, but I look forward to getting the correct size and getting them on the trail!

Interestingly enough, I followed the steps on the manufacturer's website to find the correct sizing using a sheet of paper, a pencil and a measuring tape to give me the correct size. Doing so yielded a Size 9.5 US. I immediately balked, as I tend to wear a size 10.5 US or larger in every piece of footwear I own, save cowboy boots which I downsize to a 10 US. I re-measured and it was still suggesting a 9.5. I have an extremely wide forefoot, to the manner that my bothers always called me duck-foot, and although the Xero boots are designed with a wide toe box I still decided to order my traditional size. Therefore, I was surprised when they were still too snug and short. They were a little snug in the toe box, but clearly short in the length. There was no room for expansion or swelling on the ups-and-downs of the trail. I usually prefer about a half a thumbnails length and these did not offer that. Once I acquire the correct size, I'll be sure to follow up on the fit in the Field Report.
Notice Both Set of Straps for Adjusting Tension

For purposes of the Initial Review, I still put them on and walked around on the carpet to capture the essence of how the boots feel. The first thing I notices was the ankle support. I originally thought of it as very stiff! After walking around for a minute or so, I realized they certainly weren't as stiff as a pair of full grain leather hiking boots, but for a pair of zero drop barefoot style shoes I found them to be beefy. I've owed over a half dozen pair of zero drop shoes, both barefoot style and supportive, but never have I had a pair in a boot. After a few minutes, I realized it was the combination of the barefoot styling with the superior ankle support that I found awkward. I hope the odd feeling dissipates with time, and I expect it will because when I first started wearing barefoot style shoes they in themselves were extremely odd feeling to me!

As mentioned above, the boots have adjustable heel straps to allow for varying tension. This is accomplished by tightening the fourth eyelet with the laces. A strap is attached at the Achilles and makes a V-shape by passing through another rubber eyelet on the sole and back up to the aforementioned location. Pulling the laces snug at that fourth eyelet allows for a noticeable snugness around the heel.

A similar strap on the instep allows for similar tensioning in the forefoot. This is done using an inverted V-shaped strap on the instep and forefoot. This strap is tightened via the second eyelet; again by tightening the laces.

The boots definitely are flat! It is a feeling I am naive to in a boot. To explain the flexibility, I can easily bend them in half, sole-to-sole with minimal pressure. I certainly expect to feel the earth beneath me while hiking in these boots, but I hope they are not so minimal that when hiking long days with a 20+ lb (9 kg) pack that a stones and rocks don't leave the bottom of foot bruised or sore! Barefoot style shoes are designed to strengthen the foot, allow for natural movement and offer increased stability. I just want to ensure they are stable enough!

The soles have chevron styling, but no lugs. They are designed for grip, but only time will tell how they handle slick rocks or boulders on the trail. Like the rest of the boot, the tread appears minimal.


Dual-Chevron Tread

Overall, I'm impressed with these boots. They appear well made and the design is well thought out. The ability to adjust the tension or tightness on the foot in two separate areas should allow me to customize the fit that meets my individual needs. I can foresee myself adjusting them differently based on my style of hiking and the load I'm carrying. For instance, a tighter instep on climbs and a more secure heel on descents.

I'm a little bummed I won't be testing them as early as this weekend, but I do look forward to acquiring the proper size and getting on the trail with them soon! They are definitely designed with the barefoot style enthusiast in mind! I started wearing this style of shoe around five years ago and truly believe they are not only comfortable, but have also improved my foot strength and stability. That stated, I run an average of 20+ mi (32 km) a week and I do not use them for this activity. My shins simply cannot handle them...and trust me I have tried!

I'm optimistic in their comfort, but cautiously question how they will handle under the load of a pack on long trail days. A bruised sole is miserable on a long hike, and I'm hoping I never experience this during this test series. I fully expect to feel the ground beneath me, but don't want to crawl into camp in pain. Only trail time will answer this and other questions like the tread grip.



6-10 December 2017; Suwanee River, Florida. This was a 5-day/4-night kayaking trip from river mile marker 113 - 76 (Dowling Park River Camp to a Branford exit). We spent evenings at Lafayette Blue Springs, Peacock Slough and Adams Tract. The first two days were wet and rainy with high temperatures around 45 F (7 C), but it felt much cooler on the river. A massive cold front came through on the third evening that dumped a ton of water on us while dropping snow all over the south. It dried up and even became sunny by the final day, but the clear weather brought a low of 29 F (-2 C) that final evening. Our plan to paddle in short sleeve shirts and swim trunks did not occur! Rather, we spent most days in waterproof-warm attire!
Suwannee River, Peacock Slough River Camp


The boots arrived just before a planned 4-day hike in October, but based on the website sizing suggestions, and even ignoring those suggestions and upsizing to my normal boot size, the original pair were entirely too small. I connected with customer service and they quickly sent out an RMA to return the first pair and suggested I size up to an 11 US. I sent the first pair back promptly but it took nearly two weeks for them to process return shipping on the replacement pair. The customer service department was very friendly and helpful, just a little slow in my opinion. Based on that, I missed out on nearly a month of testing during this portion of the test series.

When they did arrive, the week of Thanksgiving, I happened to be on vacation and wore them almost exclusively that week. I noticed they actually go very well with athletic pants and 'appear' a little more like an athletic boot than a hiking boot. I can verify the stiff feeling in the ankle was negligible after minimal wear and I don't even notice that any longer. There is a small patch of woods behind my home and the neighborhood boys and my son wanted to hang in hammocks nearly every day of break that they could get out there. They needed a little help setting them up and taking them down and on one of my many trips out there I stepped on a large rock about 2-3 in (5-8 cm) in diameter and immediately noticed the feel on my heel. It concerned me how that would feel on the trail for sure! I mentioned that concern in the Initial Review and noticed it in the backyard! I certainly would not want to have a bruised heel in the middle of a long hike.

Save running around the house and to town in them, the first opportunity I had to seriously test the DayLite Hikers was on a kayaking trip to the Suwannee River. I found them to be ideal camp shoes for this purpose! They aren't waterproof, but are highly water resistant and I took note of this. Not only were we paddling up to river camps and going back and forth to our kayaks, but also the first several days it was extremely rainy. I did not stand in water by any means, but running around on sandy beaches and back-and-forth between screen houses in the pouring rain; never once did they soak through!

They were certainly sandy and dirty on the outside, but dry on the inside. In addition, the ankle height and the material allowed zero (pun intended) sand to enter the boot! I can assure the reader that although I'm not sure how many rocky trails I'll hit with these shoes, they will definitely be a go-to item in my kayaking kit for hanging out after I got off the water!


Overall, I am happy with these Xero boots. I am still a little concerned about regular trail use with them, and the sizing issue did cut into my key testing to allow for a completely accurate response at this point. I will certainly address the trail comfort prior to the end of the Long Term Report. However, for daily use and for river use I find them ideal! Specifically due to the water resistant nature of them. To date they have held up well, showing minimal signs of wear...even though I treated them rough on the river. My buddies all claimed the color to be a little flamboyant unless I were a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but that did not bother me really.



Chilling at Camp
27 January 2018: Radnor Lake, Brentwood, Tennessee. This was a day hike at a local conservation area with trails and wildlife. I carried a daypack with lunch and hydration and hiked just over 6 mi (10 km). The weather was partly sunny and temperatures were around 40 F (4.5 C).

18 - 19 February 2018: Cumberland State Park, Crossville, Tennessee. This was an overnight hike staying at the backcountry site on the Overnight Trail. Between that and hitting two other trails in the area I hiked just over 10.5 mi (17 km) Temperatures were around 45 F (7 C) in the day and dropped to freezing at night.

2 - 4 March 2018: J. Percy Priest Lake, near Nashville, Tennessee. This was a three-day and two-night kayaking trip on a local reservoir. We had planned a river trip, but extensive rains over the last two weeks made that unsafe, so we headed to the lake, which happened to be at full summer pond levels due to the recent weather. It went down about 6 ft (2 m) over the three days as they let water out of the dam. Currents were interesting! We paddled approximately 20 mi (32 km) over the course of the three days and spent the nights on islands maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was bright and sunny every day and clear and starry every evening! Daytime temperatures averaged around 55 F (13 C) and first evening dropped to 30 F (-1 C), but the second evening I only measured 35 F (2 C). However, my damp kayak seat was frost covered down at the shoreline on that morning. I suppose it was just a little warmer up on the wooded island. Winds ranged from 10 - 14 mph (16 - 22.5 kph), so between that and the quirky currents it was definitely exercise!


I like the shoes, but I believe their name best states their use! They are DayLite Hikers and not designed to carry heavy loads on the trail. I signed up to test them, so I took them on several hikes both with and without weight. When truly backpacking I bruised my feet and did not find them comfortable or suitable. Even the day hike put me in some areas that I could feel the tenderness in my feet.
Poole Knobs Island

For running around town or kayaking, they are ideal! Around town, they allow my feet to be more natural and build strength. I like that my feet didn't get too cold around freezing like some other barefoot style shoes I own tend to do. Since they repel water, I wore them when it was damp out as well and the high ankles worked perfectly.

Where they truly impressed me was on the kayaking trips. They are not so bulky that I cannot pack them underneath and they work perfectly in camp. I can walk around damp beaches and keep my feet dry so long as I do not swamp my foot. The high tops keep pebbles and other scree out of them and they are simply comfortable. That's where I primarily see myself using them in the future.


While, although not for backpacking, I did enjoy the shoes and I will keep them in my gear kit. Primarily for camp use while on kayaking trips. They didn't offer enough traction and I even slipped on a rock or two while backpacking in them and my feet were sore after using them for this purpose.

I also love to wear them around town, to kids sporting events and the like while wearing athletic pants. They just are not designed for backpacking in my opinion.

This concludes my report on the Xero DayLite Hikers. I would also like to thank both and Feel the World, Inc. for allowing me to test the boots.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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