Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals Review

Xero Shoes Z-Trail Hiking Sandals Review

Xero Shoes’ Z-Trail Sandal is a thin, light, flexible trail sandal for men and women, great for followers of the “barefoot” and zero-drop shoe movements, and anyone who doesn’t want to carry extra weight but would like to bring camp shoes or river crossing footwear on their trip. They’re also great for water sports and even float! Some people even use them for hiking and backpacking, but I prefer wearing mids for hiking in New Hampshire’s mountains for extra protection against rocks and roots and the extra warmth they provide my toes and feet on cold days.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight:
    • Men’s: 11.2 oz
    • Women’s: 8.7 oz
  • Footwear Closure: Strap
  • Upper: Polyester Webbing
  • Toe Coverage: Open
  • Vegan: Yes

The Xero Z-Trail Sandals are made with several layers of foam and polyester webbing. The webbing is set up in a Z pattern allows adjusting the tension over your foot. The tubular webbing is comfortable with no sharp edges. Heel cups help keep your heels in place and prevent excessive pronation while providing side protection. There is a hook and loop closure that allows adjustment behind the heel. It’s all very simple to use and easily adjustable.

The webbing on the Z-Trail sandals can accommodate socks
The webbing on the Z-Trail sandals can accommodate socks

For me, these replace a pair of Tevas that weigh almost a pound. Keep in mind that even though these are Xero Shoes’ thickest sandals, they are still thin (3/8″). You will feel sticks and rocks through the soles. So if you don’t like feeling the ground at all, these may not be for you. The bottom has a chevron tread pattern in grippy rubber which also has good abrasion resistance. The tread is pretty good and much better than the cheap Croc knock offs that I used to bring as camp shoes on backpacking trips.

While thin, three layers of foam help protect and cushion your feet
While thin, three layers of foam help protect and cushion your feet

As a water crossing shoe, they are light and easy to carry just in case you need them. They easily stuff in a back or side mesh pocket on your pack, or you can hang them from a carabiner on the outside of your pack to dry. Although they are thin, they are preferable to being barefoot, and they will stay on your feet much better than a slip-on like a flip flop or Croc. I just use them as stream crossing and camp shoes, so I really can’t comment on the long term durability or comfort when wearing them to run or for extended periods.

Xero Shoes has several sandal models. Some have either a toe holder or a toe loop while the Xero Z-Trail and Xero Z-Trek have webbing that crosses your whole foot. I like wearing socks with camp sandals because they help protect my feet from the environment a little bit. One thing I really like about these Z-Trail sandals is that they can accommodate socks.

Raised edges help keep your heels in place and provide additional protection
Raised edges help keep your heels in place and provide additional protection

Sizing

The Z-Trail runs true to size, however, the sizing doesn’t match regular shoe sizes and you need to measure your feet to figure out the size you need. If you plan to wear these sandals with socks, you probably want to measure with the socks you intend to wear. You can also email [email protected] and they’ll send you templates that you can print out to see which size fits your foot best.

Z-Trail Sizing

Guarantee

Xero guarantees the soles of these sandals for 5000 miles, although it pays to read the fine print. If you do manage to wear down to 1mm thick at the heel or the ball of the foot (not an edge), they’ll replace them with the same product but give you a 60% discount. Er…um. In other words, you’ll pay manufacturer cost and shipping. They do however guarantee the sandals against manufacturer defects for 24 months from the date of purchase with proof of purchase.

Comparable Stream Crossing/Camp Sandals

Make / Model Mens Womens Price
Xero Z-Trail Yes Yes $80
Xero Z-Trek Yes Yes $60
Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure Sandals Yes Yes $110
Teva Hurricane XLT2 Sandals Yes Yes $70
Teva Terra Fi Lite Yes Yes $100
Chaco Z/1 Sandals Yes Yes $105
Keen Clearwater CNX Sandals Yes Yes $110
Merrell Choprock Shandal Water Shoes Yes Yes $110

Recommendation

If you are looking for a really lightweight, compact camp shoe that can double as a river crossing shoe, I can recommend the Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals. They pack flat in your backpack and they’re very lightweight. They dry quickly and can be worn with socks, making them a great sandal for stream crossings or in camp.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product

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About the author

Wanda Rice has been backpacking since the late 1980’s. She has climbed the New Hampshire 48, the New Hampshire 48 in winter, the New England 67 and is working on the New England Hundred Highest and the Four-Season 48. Wanda also teaches for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Mountain Leadership School, the AMC New Hampshire Chapter Spring and Winter Schools as well as the AMC NH Winter Hiking Series. She leads day and overnight trips for AMC NH year-round and loves mentoring new leaders. She is a gear junkie, a self-proclaimed Queen of Gear Hacks and loves sharing her tips and tricks with others. Wanda lives in southern NH and is looking forward to moving closer to the mountains in the next few years.

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