• November 29, 2021

Xero Shoes’ Z-Trail Sandals Are the Best Shoes I’ve Worn, and They’re Hardly Shoes at All

While I had already tried a few barefoot shoes, I wasn’t sold on the idea until I tried the $80 Z-Trails. Every other “barefoot” design I had tried felt too much like a regular shoe. Then Xero sent me a pair of the sandals to test for a barefoot shoes buying guide I’m working on. I distinctly remember putting them on and going outside to walk around the yard for a bit. I remember following my kids around the yard, and when they headed into the brambles at the back of the house, I hesitated. I thought I wasn’t wearing shoes. Then I looked at my feet, and surprise, I was wearing shoes. I plowed right into the brambles. Twenty minutes later, I was on the Xero Shoes website buying myself three pairs. Since that day, I have worn next to nothing else on my feet.

Barefoot shoe advocates would probably prefer I extol the science behind the benefits of barefoot shoes rather than sounding like a hippie chasing childhood memories down flower strewn trails, but you can discover that yourself by starting with the links I put at the top of this piece. I will also say that an increasing body of evidence shows that, while comfortable shoes make life easy on our feet, they make life much harder on the rest of our body. Balance and coordination decline over time, injuries become more likely.

More compelling to me, the Z-Trails are the type of shoes people have worn for most of human history. The materials may be new, but the design is very nearly as old as human feet. Put on these sandals and you will walk like your ancestors. Their tactility creates a positive feedback loop between your feet and your brain. You step on a rock, your brain tells your muscles to adjust. Your balance improves, you stumble less. Your feet grow tougher too.

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Photograph: Xero Shoes

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