My teenage son calls shoes ‘foot prisons’. If you are inclined to agree, you’ll want to check out Xero Shoes. This company has been making minimalistic sandals for several years now, and now has a new sandal and new closed-toed shoe that will appeal to travelers wanting lightweight shoes to pack, backpackers and hikers, and anyone else who likes a natural feel.
We checked out the Umara Z-Trail and the Hana. The Z-Trail is available for both men and women, with a women’s counterpart to the Hana, the Lena, coming out in early 2017.
As the name suggests, these shoes are designed for the trail, whether you like to ‘barefoot’ run or want lightweight camp shoes for trail hiking and backpacking.
My son took these out backpacking after searching for a sandal for camp that was lighter than his beloved Keens.
The Z-Trail weigh practically nothing (around 5 ounces), easily strap to his back during his hike, and when slipped on at the end of the trail day, feel like the opposite of ‘foot prisons’.
The sole is very thin, so if you want a lot of padding, keep looking. But if you just want basic protection for the soles of your feet in a shoe that can be smashed down in a bag, roll up to save room, or be strapped easily to a backpack, the Z-Trail fits the bill.
While thin, the sole of the Z-Trail is pretty darn comfortable, with a heel cup to keep out debris and a zero drop. The shoe gets its name from the Z pattern the straps make across the top of your foot, which are easily adjusted.
We love that the Z-Trail has a 5000 mile sole warranty, Oh, and for those stream crossings…they float. Pick up a pair for $79.99 in three colors.
Xero’s first shoe in their new line of closed-toed shoes, the Hana is a shoe that feels almost like a cross between Toms and moccasins. Like all Xero shoes, the Hana is all about a natural feel.
The wide tow box gives your little piggies plenty of wiggle room, and the zero drop heel helps you walk and stand with good posture.
Like the Z-Trail, the Hana is flexible enough to bend and roll, making them excellent travel shoes…they fit into any luggage configuration without issue.
The soles are thin, like other Xero shoes (in fact, it’s the same sole as with the Z-Trail), giving you that barefoot feeling when you walk.
Again: if you need lots of cushioning or arch support, look elsewhere. These shoes are for people like my son who want as minimal of a shoe as possible.
We think they look great, and my son has worn them everywhere from air travel days to school to the hiking trails behind our house. Pick up the Hana for $79.99 in three colors: a dark chocolate brown, lighter brown, and sand.
For either shoe style, you’ll want to follow Xero’s instructions for sizing. We found them to run small, but it’s easy to get the right size if you measure your foot as they suggest.