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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Xero Z Trail Sandals > Test Report by Marina Batzke

XERO Z-TRAIL
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 10, 2017

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 57
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Xero Shoes - Feel the World, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://xeroshoes.com
MSRP: US$79.99
Listed Weight: One Women's size 7 sandal averages 4.3 oz (122 g)
Measured Weight: One of my size 8 sandals weighs 4.2 oz (119 g)
Other details: Available in Men's full sizes from 6 - 14 and Women's full sizes from 5 - 10
Available women's color combinations are:
Black/ Multi-Black; Black/ Multi-Brown; Charcoal/ Multi-Green; Coal Black/ Charcoal/ Black; Coal Black/ Coffee/ Mocha; Coal Black/ Charcoal/ Red Pepper.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Xero Z-Trail sandals are described as lightweight, comfortable, protecting, versatile, well fitting sport sandals, ideal to switch into at the end of a long day hiking in boots, great to put on for stream crossings, to wear while canoeing or similar water craft sports, for yoga or even jogging.

My pair of Xero Z-Trail sandals arrived in a postal envelope. Each sole upper was protected by a layer of white foam, cut to the size of the sole shape. Interleaved between the two sandals was a piece of tissue paper. One shoe had a round tag attached that is describing Xero shoes and their features, contact info and these sandals' barcode and size. My Women's size 8 Z-Trail sandals are in the good-looking color combination of Coal Black/ Charcoal/ Red Pepper.
IMAGE 1
My good-looking red Z-Trail
IMAGE 2
Compare the Box of Matches to the sole thickness





One Women's size 8 sandal measures 10 in (254 mm) in length, 4 in (102 mm) width at its widest front and 3 in (76 mm) heel width. The sole is 0.39 in (10 mm) thin. The sandal has an elevated heel cup: sole + cup combined measure 1 in (25 mm).

The Z-Trail sandal has two 0.59 in (15 mm) wide straps of red tubular webbing: because it is tubular, the webbing straps have no stiff or scratchy edges that could irritate the skin. The back strap goes from heel inner to heel outer. The back strap has a hook-and-loop end for proper adjustment of the heel strap.

The front strap zig-zags from the big toe area to the sandal outside area, goes through a black rubber loop, crosses over the top of the foot to the heel inner side, then cuts across to the heel outer and the strap end loops through a hard-plastic clasp.

The Z-Trail FeelLite sole consists of three rubber layers with their trademarked names:
BareFoam on top is the grey colored, micro square patterned surface that my foot rests on.
TrailFoam is the red middle layer and absorbs force and protects the foot.
FeelTrue at the bottom is red and black and shows the rubber grip pods. This sole grip pattern has lots of V-shaped pods at 0.08 in (2 mm) depth.
IMAGE 3
The BareFoam sole surface
IMAGE 4
The FeelTrue sole grip pattern

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Xero Shoes has a very thorough explanation on their website to help buyers find the right sandal size. Before buyers pick the size, they shall click VIEW SIZE GUIDE and a new page pops up pointing out that sandals fit differently than shoes. So buyers shall not simply select their typical shoe size for this sandal purchase but instead follow three steps. First Xero gives clear instructions how to measure the length of the bare foot. Then for those measured inches / millimeters, a Women's size is indicated. Next, buyers shall print out a Template at 100% scale and step onto the foot outline shown on that page. If the foot extends beyond the template border, the buyer should try the procedure for one size up. If the template outline is too narrow, the female buyer could look at the men's sandal templates. If there is more than 0.25 in (6 mm) space between template border and foot, a smaller size might be better. Xero additionally provides a movie that explains in detail how to perform this measurement process.

WARRANTY
5,000 mile sole warranty! If the FeelTrue soles of Xero Shoes wear down to less than 0.04 in (1 mm) at the ball or heel of the foot before I have put 5000 mi (8050 km) on them, Xero Shoes will replace them at 60% off MSRP (full, non-sale, listed, retail price) plus shipping charges.
Xero Shoes also has a 12 month protection against manufacturer's defects from the date of purchase.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS
I can wash the Z-Trail sandals with soap and water. Under no circumstances shall the shoes get exposed to extreme heat (e.g., inside a heated car) and direct sunshine, such as on the dashboard of a car. This could deform the TrailFoam rubber layer of the sole. This would also not be covered by their above-mentioned warranty.

TRYING IT OUT

At first I struggled a bit putting the Z-Trail sandals on, not knowing if I should use the front strap with its clasp or the back strap with the hook-and-loop closure for proper fitting. I watched the several movies that they have on their website and got a somewhat better idea.

At first the heel of my foot kept stepping onto the elevated heel cup. I therefore loosened the front strap more, thereby allowing my foot to move slightly further to the front of the sandal. Since then, the heel cup has not bothered me any more.

SUMMARY

Lightweight sandal
Great color combination
Soft fabric webbing


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Mission Creek Car Camp, Southern California, USA
April 2017
2 day/ 1 night car camp with 7 miles (11 km) day hikes
Elevation: 2500 ft (760 m)
Temperature: 61 - 90 F (16 - 32 C)
Aspect: pleasant evening temperature but scorpions

Lone Warrior Point, Southern California, USA
April 2017
2 day/ 1 night backpack 15 miles (24 km)
Elevation: 5800 - 8700 ft (1800 - 2650 m)
Temperature: 42 - 68 F (6 - 20 C)
Aspect: cold evening in camp

Yosemite National Park, California, USA
May 2017
3 day/ 2 night car camp with 10 miles (16 km) day hikes
Elevation: 4000 - 6000 ft (1200 - 1830 m)
Temperature: 40 - 70 F (4 - 21 C)
Aspect: cold evenings in camp

Arizona, USA
May 2017
7 day vacation with day hikes and Grand Canyon rim-to-rim 24 miles (39 km)
Elevation: 2500 - 9000 ft (760 - 2740 m)
Temperature: 50 - 90 F (10 - 32 C)
Aspect: cool to warm evenings

Cooper Canyon Trail Camp, Southern California, USA
June 2017
2 day/ 1 night backpack 9 miles (15 km)
Elevation: 5700 - 6300 ft (1700 - 1900 m)
Temperature: 60 - 90 F (16 - 32 C)
Aspect: pond at Cooper Canyon Falls; mosquitoes in the evening

Yosemite National Park, California, USA
July 2017
4 day/ 3 night backpack 19 miles (31 km)
Elevation: 4400 - 7200 ft (1340 - 2200 m)
Temperature: 60 - 90 F (16 - 32 C)
Aspect: cooling creeks in our camps; mosquitoes in the evenings

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I wore the Xero Z-trail sandals for the first time on the evening of our Mission Creek Car Camp. We sat in a circle chatting in the dark, when we noticed a group of people with blacklight flashlights walk by our campground. We noticed how they were looking at something closely and when we approached them, they explained that the blacklight makes scorpions brightly visible in the dark. Their group leader pointed out several scorpions on the ground that brightly illuminated under the blacklight shine. I darted back to my tent and put my sturdy leather hiking boots back on ... I no longer wanted to keep my sandal-and-sock protected feet on the ground, now realizing how many scorpions were around.

Throughout the test period, I have attached the Xero Z-trail sandals to the outside of my backpack while hiking. I loop one of the pack's outside straps through the sandals' straps and they stay put. After I have settled into camp, I switch from my sturdy leather boots into the Xero Z-trail sandals.
IMAGE 1
waiting for dinner to get ready

In April and May, I wore the sandals with socks. Especially on the Lone Warrior Point and the May Yosemite trips, it was really cold in the evenings in camp. On the first night of the May Yosemite trip, I got really cold toes while sitting in camp. Before I turned in for the night, I did jumping jacks and tried to warm up but I felt that all throughout the night, my toes stayed cold while resting inside my sleeping bag. So the second evening, I did not wear the sandals but stayed in my leather hiking boots while lounging in camp. In June and July, the evening camp temperatures were warm and I started wearing the sandals without socks.
IMAGE 2
Cooper Canyon Falls pond

On my June and July trips, I wore the Xero Z-Trail sandals as water shoes. Both the Cooper Canyon backpacking trip and the 4 days Yosemite had hot temperatures. It was really pleasant to switch from sturdy leather boots to the sandals and cool down in the refreshing water of Cooper Canyon Falls pond and the Yosemite National Park creeks in camp after the miles of hiking. Unfortunately, on each of those backpacking trips we also encountered a lot of mosquitoes in camp. So each evening when the mosquitoes were most aggressive, I put on my hiking boots again while lounging in camp to protect my feet against mosquito bites.

During the initial uses, it took me a number of strap pulls: firm here, loose there, tug here, pull there ... until I had a good fit. I am little surprised that this good fit is a rather loose setting of the straps (not tight on my skin). Now that I have found the right fit for the Xero Z-trail sandals on my feet, I no longer need to adjust their straps. I always slide into and out of the sandals by opening the back hook-and-loop strap. The Xero Z-trail shoes continue to look good after these in-camp uses plus the water usage. I have gotten compliments on the nice sandals on my feet on several trips. The gray and fire red color combination looks really good. The red sandal fabric straps dry within a few hours of sunny warmth.

SUMMARY

THINGS I LIKE:
lightweight
very comfortable to walk in
easy on and easy off
nice color combination gray/red

THINGS I DON'T LIKE:
nothing really


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Little Jimmy Campground, Southern California, USA
July 2017
2 day/ 1 night backpack 6 miles (10 km)
Elevation: 6700 - 7500 ft (2040 - 2285 m)
Temperature: 65 - 80 F (18 - 27 C)
Aspect: my warmest evening in camp this summer: sandals with no socks

Marion Mountain, San Jacinto State Park, USA
July 2017
3 day/ 2 night backpack 14 miles (22.5 km)
Elevation: 4700 - 10320 ft (1430 - 3145 m)
Temperature: 51 - 65 F (11 - 18 C)
Aspect: mosquitoes while we filtered water near a creek

San Jacinto Peak, Southern California, USA
August 2017
2 day/ 1 night backpack 11 miles (17.7 km)
Elevation: 8500 - 10830 ft (2590 - 3300 m)
Temperature: 50 - 74 F (10 - 23 C)
Aspect: we stayed close to camp; not much walking in sandals

Bicycle Trip with sightseeing south of Munich, Germany
August 2017 - sunny, no rain
7 days with hotel overnight stays
Elevation: 1700 - 9700 ft (515 - 2950 m)
Temperature: 50 - 90 F (10 - 32 C)
Aspect: evening walks from hotel to town centers and restaurants

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During my recent backpacking outings, I have used the Xero Z-Trail sandals as my camp shoes. Once we arrived in camp, I switched from sturdy leather boots into the lightweight Z-Trail sandals. Yet throughout the entire test period, I could not make myself wear the sandals for actual hiking with a pack on. I feel best protected in leather boots with lug soles. Our trails are always rocky, with roots and other tricky uneven surfaces. The Marion Mountain outing had large portions off-trail.

I have frequently put socks on in the evening when we encountered pestering mosquitoes.
IMAGE 1
wearing socks against mosquitoes

I love the fire red fabric color of my Z-Trails. They look so nice that I have gotten complimented on my good-looking sandals on many occasions. I have worn the sandals to the office during the hot summer months. During our recent bicycle tour in Southern Germany, I wore the sandals in the evening when we walked through the small Bavarian towns looking for a nice restaurant or beer garden. The sandals are extremely comfortable to wear and I feel my feet do not get tired, even when walking on asphalt or concrete pavement for an hour or two.

My Xero Z-Trail sandals still look great. On a few occasions, I have taken them into the shower and washed dust and dirt off and brushed a bit over the footbed to maintain their good looks. I have re-adjusted the red fabric straps twice over the months but usually, I just open the hook-and-loop in the back to slide my foot in or out of the sandals and the fabric straps pretty much maintain their fit. I wear the sandals rather loose; not with a tight strap to my feet. The straps and fabric are still in good shape. The straps have exactly the right length for my shoe size/ feet.

SUMMARY

PROS:
lightweight
very comfortable to walk in, even on pavement
easy on and easy off
nice color combination gray/red
durable

THINGS I DON'T LIKE:
not applicable

I will continue to use the Xero Z-Trail sandals as camp shoes because they are so lightweight and easy to carry backpacking. And I will continue to wear them in town, e.g., to the office or when on a beach walk.

Thank you very much to Xero Shoes - Feel the World, Inc. and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this lightweight and good-looking pair of sandals.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Footwear > Sandals > Xero Z Trail Sandals > Test Report by Marina Batzke



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