BackpackGearTest
  Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Xero TerraFlex Trail Shoes > Test Report by Morgan Lypka

Xero Shoes TerraFlex Trail Shoes
TEST SERIES BY MORGAN LYPKA

Initial Report - May 24, 2018
Field Report - July 19, 2018
Long Term Report - September 20, 2018

TESTER INFORMATION
NAME: Morgan Lypka
AGE: 26
GENDER: Female
HEIGHT: 5’4” (1.6 m)
WEIGHT: 110 lb (50 kg)
EMAIL: m DOT lypka AT yahoo.com
City, Province, Country: Kimberley, British Columbia (B.C.), Canada

Backpacking Background: I started backpacking 2 years ago, when I moved to the Rocky Mountains. Most of my backpacking ventures are 1 to 3 days long, typically around Western Canada. I get cold quickly, and handle heat well. My backcountry trips involve hiking, trail running, ski touring and cross-country skiing. I am getting into kayaking, rock climbing and fly fishing. I camp with a lightweight 3-person, 3-season tent and am starting to hammock and winter camp. Decreasing my packed weight in the backcountry is a developing focus of mine (fitting everything was the first).

Initial Report

PRODUCT INFORMATION AND SPECS
Manufacturer: Feel the World, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer’s Website: https://xeroshoes.com
MSRP: $99.99 USD
Listed Weight: 8.2 oz (233 kg) for Women's Size 7
Measured Weight: 6.4 oz (181 g) for Women's Size 6.5 (1 shoe with insole)
Width at widest part: 5 in (13 cm)
Colour Testing: Forest
Additional Colours: Black
Size Testing: Women's 6.5
Sizes Available: Women's 5-11

DESCRIPTION
The TerraFlex trail shoe is designed to be a minimalist trail running and hiking shoe. The soles are designed with lugs for grip and are built with a 3 mm (0.1 in) Barefoam inside the sole. In addition, they have a removable 2 mm (0.1 in) insole. They are also built with a Tough Tek toe bumper at the front of the foot and breathable mesh on the top of the foot.  The shoes have a non-elevated heel, and are foldable. The shoes have reflective straps on the heel and sides of the foot. These straps can also tighten for a more snug fit. The shoes have a more durable solid material just above the rubber sole, which ends overtop of the mesh. There is also a piece of looped fabric on the top of each heel, which can aid in pulling on or off the shoe, or be used to clip the shoes together or to a bag. The shoe laces are weaved and grippy. There is a slight upward curve on the toe end of the shoe.



INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
The shoes came in a box, with a thank you note from the Xero Shoes' founders along with some tips for using the shoes on the reverse side.  I followed their link, xeroshoes.com/getstarted to check out a couple of the tips. There are posts on how to run and walk barefoot, as well as other information and how to's.

I believe I have wide feet, comparatively, so I really appreciate the wide toe box. The shoes slip on fairly easily, I do so without untying them. I'll look for possible wear on the inside heel down the road from this, but don't see any yet. The shoes seem to be very well made. I have worn them for two days straight now, mainly around an office, but don't notice any wear on the lugs or other part of the shoe. There are no tears in the mesh webbing or laces.

Initially when I tried on the shoes, with medium thickness socks, I could feel my toes touch the end a bit more than comfortable for me. I was worried that I had gotten the wrong size (I am typically a size 6, or between a 6 and 6.5, and the website had indicated to size up). However, for the past two days I have been wearing them without socks, and they have been an excellent fit. I will try them with thinner socks for the coming reports. The shoes have been very comfortable for me, and going barefoot in shoes is not something I typically do. I have noticed one spot where there is a bit of rubbing on my left baby toe, but I think this might have stemmed from work boots that I have been wearing as well. One day it took a while for my feet to cool off, but I think that was from going from thick socks outside in warm weather right into the Xero shoes.

This is my second attempt at minimalist shoes, and the other pair that I have has caused me pain in the arch of my foot when I exercise with them on. I haven't yet exercised with these shoes on, so I can't say for sure yet, but with two days of wearing them with light activity the arches of my feet feel great. The shoes make me want to run with them on, because they feel so light weight and I don't even really feel like I have shoes on. I haven't felt that I have to adjust to them yet, but I'll be able to have a better idea after I go for a run in them.


I noticed a couple small pebbles stuck in the arrow ridges on the heel side of the sole of the shoe. I envision this being more of an occurrence from streetwear as smaller gravel is often more present there than on the trails where I run, but I will watch for this and see if it affects performance. It's never fun to get rocks stuck in the soles of your shoes.

SUMMARY
I love these shoes so far! No odor yet, no pressure points but a slight rubbing on my left smaller toes, very lightweight and comfortable. The shoes seem to be very well-built as well. I did notice that my feet weren't breathing so well one day but that was after my feet had come out of heavy socks in 26 C (79 F) weather.
I'm excited to test them trail running and hiking now...

Field Report

TRIPS


Location - Nipika Mountain Resort, Kootenay National Park, B.C.
Activity - Trail race event
Length and Elevation Gain - 10 km (6.2 mi) with 300 m (1000 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 24 C (75 F) and sunny
Trail Consistency - dirt, roots, gravel

Location - Silver Spring Overlook Trail, Elko, B.C.
Activity - Hike
Length and Elevation Gain - 4.3 km (2.7 mi) long with 300 m (1000 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 24 C (75 F) and sunny
Trail Consistency - dirt, gravel, mud

Location - Lois Creek, Kimberley, B.C.
Activity - Trail run
Length and Elevation Gain - 7 km trail run with 300 m (1000 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 22 C (72 F) and overcast
Trail Consistency - dirt, gravel, rocks

Location - Bull River, East Kootenays, B.C.
Activity - Fly fishing
Length and Elevation Gain - 6 km (3.7 mi) with negligible elevation gain
Temperature and Weather - and sunny
Trail Consistency - Rocks, Boulders

Location - Yellowknife Hike around Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada
Activity - Trail run
Length and Elevation Gain - 5 km (3 mi) long with 100 m (330 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 21 C (70 F) and overcast
Trail Consistency - Canadian Shield: rocky shale rolling moss covered hills with evergreen forests

So far, there are no durability issues with the shoes that I can see. I have worn them in dirt, on rocks and boulders, in water, and over roots. I enjoy purposely stepping on sharp natural things such and roots and rocks to massage the soles of my feet as I hike. However, I have noticed that when trail running, sharp natural objects can actually be a little painful underneath my feet as I step onto them so I try to avoid them when trail running.

I decided to wear the shoes in a 10 km (6.2 mi) trail race near the start of the field testing period. I was unsure initially, wondering if I needed more time and distance to adjust, but it went fairly well. I had some inner ankle pain, which I am working on strengthening the soles/arches of my feet to prevent anyways, but I was able to complete the race without too much discomfort. I wore the shoes without socks, and I did feel my feet slipping around a little bit as my feet started to sweat. This meant that on the steep downs, I walked/stepped gingerly, as I didn't feel stable enough in the shoes to run with abandon. I hadn't tightened the shoes immensely, so I attribute a portion of the slipping to that. I wore socks in the shoes after this for other trail trips, thin and thicker merino wool ones, and didn't notice slipping. I still typically wear no socks in the shoes, for hiking and such. I have noticed less slipping with tightening the shoes more. Something that I have noticed though is that the laces do need to be tied twice in order to stay laced up. Typically, I only tie one knot in my laces, but had to stop in the race and on hikes to tie them up twice so this is what I do going forward.


Shoes post Nipika Trail Race

I have packed the shoes into my bag for various flights. It is true that they fold in half, but not exactly readily. If not crammed into a space, they will unfold. I haven't been too tight on space so I have always kept them unfolded for packing. I don't feel that they save too much on space when folded anyways. I wore them through check-in security in the Canadian airports. I understand not every country allows wearing shoes through security, but it's nice to know that they don't trigger the security alarm in Canada, as other shoes made with metal or potentially other material would. This makes my transitions through security easy, and I have found the shoes very comfortable and breathable to wear on the airplanes.

The shoes have very good grip. On the Silver Spring Overlook Trail, it was a bit dusty on part of the hike up. My friend whom I was with was slipping a bit with her new expensive hiking boots. The Xero shoes slipped a little on the dustiest of parts, but much less than my friends hiking boots, and I was happy with the grip they provided. There was also a bit of mud on this hike, and afterwards, I noticed that there was some mud stuck in the bottom of my shoes. This didn't seem to hinder performance however. The only time I haven't felt comfortable/stable with their grip was when I was fly fishing and walking over wet rocks. The shoes aren't intended to be water shoes, so this is understandable.


Shoes post Silver Spring Overlook Hike

Aside from the wet rocks, they were good shoes to wear fly fishing. I decided to step into the creek with them, to allow cool water around my feet. As stated above, not being water shoes, the shoes didn't readily let the water exit from the shoe without me taking off the shoe and dumping them upside down. As a user I wouldn't mind seeing the shoes be more adapted for wet climates or conditions, as it's not rare to have to run through a creek, stream, or puddle. I would not want to see this adaptation however if it compromised the technical ability of the shoe.

Something I have noticed putting on and taking off the shoes is that the insole will often come out when I take out my foot. I haven't yet worn the shoe without the insole, as it's a good fit with it in, so I would prefer that the insole didn't come out so readily. It leaves me needing to adjust the insole fairly frequently. I have not had a problem of the insole moving around when wearing the shoes however, which is great!

In my previous post, I had stated at the very beginning that I was unsure on the size; that the shoes I had ordered might've been too small. The CEO responded to BGT, explaining that for women with wider feet, an option is to select a men's size, adjusting by 1.5 in size. It was awesome to see involvement from the CEO of the company. I checked out the website and was able to find this guidance under the size guide. However, the switch wouldn't work for me as since I'm a 6.5 women's, I would need a size 5 men's, but the smallest they have in men's is 6.5. I currently feel that I have chosen the right size as I have had minimal rubbing on my left baby toe which was an initial problem area, but would be interested in the future to see what a men's added width would feel like, if men's were eventually made in smaller sizes.

After a few trail runs, I don't feel extremely comfortable wearing these shoes during trail races with major changes in elevation and with large rocks/boulders. If not racing, I don't mind taking the extra time to watch my footing around precarious areas. I don't feel confident with ankle stability just yet when I am trying to move faster. Ankle stability is something I am working on, but I do still personally feel that I could more readily roll an ankle in these over my burlier trail runners. This is based on the runs that I have done with these Xero Trail Shoes, having rolled my ankle to the side, without lasting injuries. I have rolled my ankle to the side with my burlier trail runners as well however. I will continue to test these shoes "racing" on various types of trails to see if I can overcome this fear, strengthen my ankles, and "prove" that these shoes don't allow my ankles to role more than my other trail shoes.

I have also tried running with the shoes on pavement, and this I didn't love. I feel a bit more tightness in my calves and along the inside of my ankles when I do. I still prefer my more padded running shoes for the pavement scenario, but this is likely because I still tend to run with a heel strike, so I am getting the most negative (in a good way) feedback, like one of the Xero Shoes blog post indicates. It also just feels like I am slamming my feet into the ground a lot more. This is something I am aiming to work on and improve.

Lastly, I enjoy the look of these shoes. I like that they are smaller and less bulky in appearance than other runners, and I will often wear them in to my office, which follows a smart casual/casual dress code. My friends have commented on how small they are (I have comparably small feet, but these shoes are particularly small). I enjoy that this small package packs as much of a punch as burlier runners.

SUMMARY

I love these shoes. I am already looking at different Xero shoe options as well. They have traveled with me in the air and into the backcountry. I really like their minimalism, in look and in performance. I still have pain running on pavement, but am attributing this to my running technique, and my new-ness to running with a minimalist/zero drop shoe. Also, in retrospect, these are intended for the trail, and not necessarily pavement.

QUICK SHOTS

Very comfortable
Hold water if submerged in water
Very good grip on all types of terrain, except wet terrain
No pain in the soles of my feet
Still need to gain confidence running with them down steep terrain

Long Term Report

Location - Elk Lakes Provincial Park, East Kootenays, B.C.
Activity - Day hiking and trail running, 2 days, 1 night
Length and Elevation Gain - 10 km (6.2 mi) with 200 m (700 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 18 C (65 F) and overcast
Trail Consistency - dirt, roots, mud

Location - Red Lion Trail, Northern Montana, U.S.
Activity - Trail run
Length and Elevation Gain - 5 km (3 mi) long with 300 m (1000 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 22 C (72 F) and sunny
Trail Consistency - dirt, sand and roots

Location - Jaffray, East Kootenays, B.C.

Activity - Hike
Length and Elevation Gain - 3 km (2 mi) roundtrip with 300 m (1000 ft) gain at 1900 m (6200 ft) elevation
Temperature and Weather - 18 C (64 F) and rain, hail, thunderstorms
Trail Consistency - shale and dirt

Location - Fort St. James, B.C.
Activity - Trail Run
Length and Elevation Gain - 5 km (3 mi) long with 150 m (500 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 20 C (68 F) and sunny
Trail Consistency - dirt and roots

Location - Height of the Rockies Provincial Park Wilderness Area, B.C.

Activity - Backpacking and day hiking; 2 nights, 3 days
Weight of Pack - 40 lbs (18 kg) while backpacking, 10 lbs (5 kg) while day hiking
Length and Elevation Gain - 22 km (14 mi) long with 1350 m (4400 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - 6-18 C (43-64 F) and overcast and rainy
Trail Consistency - wet dirt, roots, loose gravel and rocks, some scrambling

The shoes did great on the backpacking trip, even with a steep incline and a heavy load on my back. The inside of my left ankle hurt a little bit going up for the second half. I started with medium thickness wool socks but removed them within 300 m (1000 ft) up and went barefoot in the shoes due to my feet being really warm. I got cold half way up the hike, my fingers started to prickle but my toes stayed toasty. On the start of the return trip of this hike, I stepped in a marsh by accident. That one shoe was soaked through, and it was a chilly day (snow had fallen that previous night and morning). I was wearing medium thickness wool socks, and worried that my toes were going to freeze. Fortunately, they didn't. The shoes have a way of keeping warmth in which I appreciate.

hiking
Hiking up a steep slope of loose gravel, where the shoes proved to have great traction

The shoes have proven to have very good grip, even in the rain and on loose shale, comparatively to other hiking shoes that I have used and that my friends were wearing on some of these trips. I slipped on wet roots in the shoes, which caused me a couple tumbles. I also slipped once on wet grass coming down a steep portion of one of the mountains, but besides this I have found that their grip is impressive. My one concern is when I don't wear socks in the shoes, and the shoes get wet or my feet get too moist, that my feet move around a little bit too much for comfort, especially when coming down steep trails.

Often times the sole has come out or displaced when I take my foot out of the shoe. This is something that doesn't hinder my performance, but is a nuisance. I would like if the sole was somehow more strongly connected or held in place to the shoe. I have also found that the shoes have held smell a little bit. I have run them through the washer twice now, with good results of them coming out clean and in good form. When putting on my shoes, I like to leave them tied up if I can, and pull the back strap to get them onto my feet. The loop at the back of these shoes is unfortunately quite small, hindering the ability to do this. I have quite small fingers, so can kind of get one finger in the loop to pull my shoes on, but I would appreciate if the loop was a tad bigger for this purpose. Another observation that I have stated in my previous report was the shoelaces coming undone; this still happens, even if I tie the bow from under, which is supposed to be the method that holds laces better. The laces are thicker than others that I have, and I wonder if that is a potential cause for why they come undone so often. I don't notice any wear or tear on the shoes at this point.

SUMMARY

These shoes are versatile and durable. They are useful for my main backcountry activities (hiking, trail running, backpacking). The shoes were able to support me with a weighted pack, and provided unbelievable grip on most types of terrain. The few minor things I noticed that bothered me a little bit, but don't hinder my overall love for the shoes, or the comfort they provide, are as follows:
  • sole displaced when removing foot, foot moved around a bit too much when moist with no sock,
  • small loop on back of shoe not super useful for pulling on shoe, and
  • laces come undone too easily.
In summary, I feel most comfortable when wearing them hiking and backpacking - they are now my shoe of choice for these activities, but I think that they could use a bit more support for trail running.

Thank you BackpackGearTest.org and Feel the World, Inc. for the awesome opportunity to trial and fall in love with these shoes. 


Read more reviews of Xero Shoes gear
Read more gear reviews by Morgan Lypka

Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Xero TerraFlex Trail Shoes > Test Report by Morgan Lypka



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson