XeroShoes Do It Again With The New Prio

They’re here, They’re finally here! 

Ever since I saw my first glimpse of the new XeroShoes Prio, I knew I had to have them. Their sleek design and barefoot pedigree made them shoes to be sought after, and now, here I sit, with the box open on my lap, and I have to say – I’m not disappointed.

I expected the Prio to be light, and they are. I expected them to be flexible, and they are. I expected them to be breathable, comfortable, and affordable. Tick, tick, tick.

What I didn’t expect was that these shoes would be so much better than the competition.

Here’s a company that has been around since the beginning of the minimalist/barefoot running movement. They started with a very basic, DIY sandal, with a sole that was designed to be lighter than a car tyre. Basically it was a slight modernisation of the Huarache sandals famously described in the barefoot running classic Born to Run.

Fast forward a little less than a decade, and this tiny operation has grown up and is now producing shoes that other companies would charge upwards of $400 for (I’m looking at you Vivobarefoot).

 

Designed by barefoot runners, for barefoot runners, the Prio is an engineering marvel. It still follows the basic design of a huarache sandal, with the strapping cradling the shoe in a familiar crisscross pattern. But within that layer of strapping is now a lightweight mesh upper, which provides comfort and protection while still allowing maximum airflow across the foot. Most minimalist shoes these days have mesh uppers, but somehow, the Prio manages to get it just right, to the point where it’s easy to forget that the mesh is even there.

The protective covering doesn’t just stop at the upper however. Underfoot, there is a soft, yet thin fabric layer, covering the wafer-thin FeelTrue rubber sole. Unlike its sister shoe, the Hana, this soft inner sole features hidden stitching, which makes them more aesthetically appealing, and much more comfortable, even without the optional insole which is included in the box.

To top it all off, the Prio features one of the nicest toe boxes on the market. It is spacious enough for a full range of motion, even for wider feet, but doesn’t have the “clown shoe” effect that many wide-box shoes have.

With all of the new features in the Prio, it’s also comforting to see many of the building blocks that make XeroShoes sandals and shoes so great. The simple, yet effective grip underfoot, and the sensible lacing system make for a shoe that can be taken anywhere – off-road or on the streets.

Performance-wise, I can’t fault these shoes. I admit, I haven’t done much running in them yet (damn you, Cyclone Debbie), but the few K’s I’ve clocked up have been very pleasant, both at running and walking pace. I was very surprised at how much of a marked difference they made in running as compared to the Hana, which until now has been my go-to walking shoe.

When running in the Prio, you can literally feel the breeze blowing across your feet, and the ground underfoot, but with the security of knowing you’re not going to come to harm by the occasional rogue thorn or sharp rock.

As you can probably tell, the Prio has done more than impress, and is hands down the best minimalist shoe I have worn to date. I’m hoping they wear out soon so that I can buy another pair!

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank XeroShoes for providing us with sample shoes for testing. to purchase your own pair, and show your support, please visit their site at xeroshoes.com

 

Barefoot shoes: The new Xeroshoes Ipari Hana reviewed

Xeroshoes Ipari Hana

Xeroshoes Ipari Hana

It’s hard to know where the Xeroshoes team find the time to develop, test, and bring to market such a wide variety of well-crafted, thoughtfully designed, and beautiful shoes, but I’m glad they do!

It seems like just yesterday they announced the release of my favourite running sandal, the Umara Z-Trail, but now they’ve created something completely new, and very surprising from a company that has until now specialised in sandals.

I’m referring of course, to the brand new Ipari Hana, which makes its debut TODAY!

2016-10-18-09-57-50I was fortunate enough to receive a sneak peak pair to try out, and am glad I did, because these are going to fly off the shelf. Want to know why? Keep reading.

Let’s start with the construction. The Ipari Hana have a great base to start out on, as they feature the unparalleled Xeroshoes “FeelTrue” rubber soles. This makes them super-flexible and at very thin 5.5 mm, provide excellent ground feel.

Moving up, we have the insole. I’ve had a play with them both with and without insoles, and even though the insoles are technically removable, the Hanas are and are intended to be worn with them in, and are much more comfortable this way. They’ve very thin though, so there is not a major difference in ground feel with them in.

2016-10-18-09-57-37

2016-10-18-09-57-28

Next we 2016-10-18-09-57-00have the uppers. At first glance, they look like they are made of a single layer of canvas material, but on closer inspection, we can see that they are also partially lined with leather (suede?). This touch really makes the Hana feel like a proper shoe, and greatly improves the comfort factor. The leather is soft against your feet, flexible, and durable.

The Hana is intended as a casual shoe, and unfortunately isn’t waterproof, but you can’t have everything, and most minimal shoes fall into this category these days. I haven’t tried it yet on my Hanas, but I’ll likely use the tried and true Scotch Guard trick (ie: spraying them with Scotch Guard) and bump up the water resistance a little.

2016-10-18-09-58-20Finally on to my favourite bit. I don’t have a word for it, as I’ve never seen it before, but the bit of material that the laces thread through is GENIUS. I don’t know how such a simple structure can make such a big difference, but for those of us who wear shoes without socks, this is a godsend. (If you know what this bit is called, please let me know in the comments!)

What it manages to do is move the tightening action to the top of the foot, instead of the outside of the foot. This is a very subtle difference, but is IMHO a killer feature that would (read: will) guarantee I’ll be looking out for tihs feature in future shoe purchases.

On to performance. These aren’t running shoes (unfortunately), but rather sit very nicely in the day-to-day shoe category. I’ve worn mine mostly for trips to the shops and walking the dog, and the best praise I can give them is that straight out of the box they’ve felt like an old pair of shoes. What I mean by this is that they’re not stiff and don’t feel like they need to be worn in. This being said, they have begun to stretch a tiny bit, which is  to be expected wit canvas/leather, but this has only improved the comfort.

On2016-10-18-09-58-48e downside for now, is that the Ipari Hana are only available in Men’s sizes. But don’t worry ladies, there is a women’s version due for release shortly (shh don’t tell anyone I told you).

There’s not much else to say about the Ipari Hana apart from WOW. For a first full shoe, Xeroshoes have done a brilliant job. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

If you’re interested in getting a pair, act fast, and use this link to get your pair discounted to $64.99 USD during the release period (before they sell out!). 

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank the team at Xeroshoes for letting us road test their latest products. Please show your support by visiting their site and browsing their amazing products!

XeroShoes Umara Z-Trail: Yes, You Do Need Another Pair Of Sandals

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Z-TrekThe barefoot running community is abuzz with excitement over the launch of the new XeroShoes Umara Z-Trail. But do you really need another pair of sandals? In this case, the answer is definitely a resounding ‘Yes’!

The past few years have given us some tremendous minimal footwear, so excitement over the launch of another sandal may seem surprising. The reason for it, however, is that finally XeroShoes have cracked the code and managed to produce the holy grail of minimal sandals.

Featuring a 3-layer sole that caters for abrasion, flexibility, and comfort, the Umara Z-Trail has all of the important areas covered. Add to this that they’re lightweight, expertly constructed, with a sensible, and very adjustable strapping system, and you have an amazing pair of sandals. Oh, and did I mention that they come with the XeroShoes 5000 miles guarantee?

“But”, you might be saying, “I’ve already got a pair of XeroShoes, why would I need another pair?”.  The answer to this is simple. The Z-Trails are better. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the XeroShoes family are excellent, but they each tend to be best used in one particular area.

For example, XeroShoes’ previous release was the Z-Trek. Like the Z-Trail, it’s a postless sandal that is very light. It differs in that is uses a performance sole, which, although ideal for running, and walking on relatively smooth surfaces, can be unfomfortable after many miles on a rough trail.

Ztrail_new

The case is similar for the Amuri Cloud, which is XeroShoes’ other ‘comfy’ sandal (it also uses a BareFoam layer on the footbed). It’s a very comfortable sandal, but uses a rope-based, huarache tying system. Huaraches are great, and are very adjustable, but the thick straps of the Z-Trail give the wearer just that extra little bit more width to spread out any rubbing.

And of course, we could compare them to other brands, but really, nothing compares in terms of weight and flexibility. Lunas and Shammas are great, but they are much heavier and use a 10+mm sole. Really, the Z-Trails are in a class all their own.

On top of all this, the Z-Trail are a relatively inexpensive sandal, which brings me to my final point. The Z-Trail officially launches today! And thanks to all of the early interest, the price has been reduced during the launch period, so now is an excellent time to grab a pair for yourself.

I would love to hear what you think of these sandals, so please comment back if you decide to buy a pair (or tell us why you didn’t buy them!).

 

 

XeroShoes Umara Z-Trail Preview!

Video

Stop the Press! XeroShoes have just announced the release of the new Umara Z-Trail sandal. I was lucky enough to get a preview pair and OMG, they’re awesome.

As a special treat for Beginning Barefoot fans, I’ve put together a short review video so you can see what they’re all about.

In a nutshell:

  • They’re very lightweight
  • The new soles are durable, comfortable, and flexible!
  • They Float!
  • They’re the best sandals XeroShoes yet!

The Z-Trails launch officially on March 11th, but if you’re quick, you can take a sneak peek and enter to win a pair of your own!

Under The Lems: We Review The Primal2

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

lems-logoIt’s been a while since we did a shoe review. Mainly this is because, by and large we’d seen them all up to this point: sandals, boots, running shoes, trail shoes, and even earthing sandals.

But the one type of shoe we haven’t really explored in depth is simple casual walking shoes. One of the main reasons for this was that of the few that I had tried, nothing really called out to me. I tend to avoid doing reviews of shoes that I don’t like, since it’s far more fun to test out the good ones.

2015-06-13 11.59.10Well, I’ve finally found the good ones – Lems’ Primal 2!

The Primal2 is a lovely, lightweight, flexible walking shoe with a comfortable foot-shaped sole. It’s not waterproof, but has a great breathable upper, which allows you to wear them all day without getting sweaty, uncomfortable feet.

primal2-rolled

Construction

The Primal 2 features an 8mm, air-injected rubber outsole, which is at the same time lightweight and durable, and comes in various colours depending on the style you choose. Despite it’s durable feeling, it is also highly flexible.
Primal2_4The soles include thin 1mm insoles, which are just simple fabric boards, and an optional 3mm removable footbed which adds a nice level of comfort. I normally toss the removable ones, but in this case they really seem to add to the comfort of the shoe, which I’ve been really enjoying.

So with a total drop of 9mm (or 12mm with footbed), these shoes come in at the higher end of the minimal scale, but it has been put to good use, with the extra height really adding to the sense of quality construction that the Primal2 convey without taking away the minimalist feel of the shoe.

2015-06-13 11.58.28Above the soles, there is a microfiber/open weave upper, which again, is lightweight and airy. The mesh construction allows plenty of air to circulate the foot, and with a properly designed toe box, this makes the shoes comfortable to wear in the warmest of conditions.

In all the reviews I’ve done over the years, I don’t remember ever mentioning a shoe’s tongue. They generally go without being noticed, but on the Primal2, they are padded and nicely fitted, which really lends the shoes a comfortable, slipper-like feel.

The only thing I can nitpick on the construction side of things with the Primal2 is the lacing. I’ve found them just a bit too short, and prone to coming undone. After a couple of weeks, I’ve just ended up tying the ends together in a knot and leaving the lacing loose to allow me to take them on and off easily. Surprisingly, this hasn’t caused any extra foot movement and, with them being tied like this when the arrived in the box, I wonder if this is the ‘correct’ way to wear them anyways.

Performance

2015-06-13 11.58.25My Primal2’s have come at the perfect time, with winter creeping up slowly here in Australia. I wouldn’t call them winter shoes necessarily, but they have been welcome on my poor cold soles on those early morning runs to the mailbox to get the newspaper.

I’m actually surprised at how much I’ve been wearing them. I usually will kick any shoes off at the door if I’m wearing them to the shops, etc, but with the Lems, I’m finding myself wearing them nearly all day long. I think this is due to a combination of their light weight, great airflow, and comfortable fit.

All in all, I’m really impressed with the quality and thought that have gone into the Primal2. They have definitely taken up residence on my usually bare feet, and I expect them to stay there for some time yet. I’m looking forward to seeing how they fare in the long run, but I have high hopes.

 

How about you? Have you tried out Lems shoes before? What did you think? Wed love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

 

Beginning barefoot would like to thank Lems shoes for providing shoes for testing purposes. If you liked this review, please show your support to them by purchasing a pair from their website, or following them on Twitter (@LemsShoes), or Facebook.

Review – Shamma Mountain Goats

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

ShammaLogoCompetition in the running sandal arena is steadily becoming more intense, with a lot of new companies coming on board with offerings ranging from the ultra thin to the ultra comfortable.

Some companies, however are pushing to the head of the pack with shoes that bring the best of all features together to create incredible footwear. One of these companies is Shamma Sandals.
Shamma3One of the many companies that sprung up in the post Born To Run craze, Shamma has been steadily adding to its range of comfortable sandals, slowly eating into the trail running area, held for several years by Luna.

With their latest offering, The Mountain Goat, Shamma have moved to take even more ground by delving feet first into the lucrative hiking and trail running market.

Construction

The Mountain Goats are sturdily built, featuring an 11m thick Vibram sole. This can be topped with either, black goatskin, yellow sheep skin, or for a saving of about 1mm, no top at all. For a sole that’s on the thick side, these sandals are surprisingly light at ~170g (6oz).

Shamma2

Strapped to the ample footbed is the remarkable Shamma lacing system. It comprises one continuous strap, huarache-style. Where it differs from other strapping systems out there is the placement of the buckles, the lack of a toe-post (a good thing IMO), and the super-comfortable leather heel strap.

Shamma4The shoes arrive effectively untied, so that you can lace to fit your foot comfortably. I really like this approach, but was a little surprised at how tricky the initial setup was. I won’t deny that I had to have a few looks at the lacing instructions (check out the Shamma lacing page here if you need help) before I got it right. In the end though, I found myself literally sighing at the comfort of the fit, and lack of any irritating rubbing.

Performance

The Mountain Goats use a fairly common aggressive tread, which can be seen on several other Vibram-soled sandals. It’s a really grippy design that holds well on the trails. Past experience with this tread have shown that they do wear down pretty quickly if used on the roads, however this can be mitigated by keeping them as dedicated trail shoes.

Shamma5My first trail run in my new Mountain Goats ended up being a wet one, and I’m happy to report that they performed admirably. Leaving them to dry in a sunny spot afterwards left them in pristine condition, with no bad smells (another big plus for a minimal shoe!).

The lacing system held up well under running conditions, with only one minor adjustment being needed to tighten them up a bit at the beginning of the run. Once they were dialed in, however, the lacing held its position well, and kept my foot firmly planted on the footbed. So far I haven’t had any blisters, most notably on my heel, which was nicely protected by the leather heel strap.

Impressions

Overall, I’m very pleased with my new Mountain Goats and with summer coming on, am extremely happy to have a new go-to trail shoe. I’m finding myself wearing them around town a fair bit, which is taking a bit of a toll on the tread, but that’s my own fault, since I know better. I’m really looking forward to doing some long runs in them, as I think they will work well as a long distance trail shoe.

Ultimately I think that if you’re in the market for a nice set of trail running sandals, you could do a lot worse than to invest in a pair of Shammas.

Have you tried Shammas before? What were your impressions? Let us know in the comments!
Beginning Barefoot would like to thanks Shamma Sandals for providing sample shoes for testing. if you’re interested in purchasing a pair of your own, please visit their website (shammasandals.com), and don’f forget to follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Review: Xero Shoes Amuri Cloud vs Amuri Venture

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

XeroShoesLogoMinimal shoes have come a long way since the publication of the now famous (or infamous) book Born to Run. They are now available in most mainstream shoe stores, and come in a huge variety of shapes, styles, weights and designs.

Despite the huge selection of shoes available, there are precious few that combine function, style, and a low price tag. With their new line of premium huarache-style sandals, Xero Shoes are aiming for the trifecta.

Xero Shoes was one of the first companies to capitalise on the barefoot/minimalist running boom, and their experience in this niche industry has been put to good use. Their first shoes were very simple huarache sandals that could be assembled at home. The latest offerings come ready-assembled and include several new features that vastly improve their looks and performance.

Cloud vs Venture

The first of the new sandals, now called the Amuri Venture (formerly the Sensori Venture), in many ways resembles the original shoes. It is made of durable FeelTrue rubber soles and nylon cords, however, they now also sport a nicely shaped heel cup, a flexible toe post, a well designed lacing system, and improved anchoring on the sides.

The second is the Amuri Cloud, a new offering from Xero Shoes. It is essentially the same shoe as the Venture, with the exception that the sole is scooped out and a 3mm BareFoam pad has been inserted. This small amount of cushioning is intended to provide added comfort, while keeping the sole thin and light.

Before discussing how the shoes performed, let’s take a look at some of the features that make the new Xero Shoes sandals unique.

Features

Venture1The Amuri Cloud and Venture have many features in common:

1. New Lacing System
2. Toe Post
3. Ankle Mounting Points
4. Silicone Heel Pad
5. A variety of colours

 

Apart from this, the two models differ in several key ways:

Amuri Cloud:Cloud2
1. Uses a 3mm BareFoam insert, inset into the 6mm FeelTrue rubber soles
– Improved Comfort
– Reduces Weight
– Increased Flexibility

Venture:Venture2
1. 5mm FeelTrue sole
2. Better ground transmission
3. Available in camouflage

Performance

As you can see, both shoes sport very similar specs, however performance-wise, the small differences make these sandals feel like totally different animals.

Amuri Cloud:

The first thing I noticed when slipping on my Amuri Clouds was that for the first time ever, I was wearing sandals that felt comfortable! Believe me, this came as a real shock, as I wear sandals nearly every day, and hadn’t realised I was in any way uncomfortable before.

Cloud3

The layer of BareFoam on the forefoot section of the shoes may be thin, but it really is all you need to take the edges off gravel and give you the sensation of walking on a cloud (see what I did there?).

I found that prolonged walking in the Clouds was very comfortable, and not a problem at all. I did experience a bit of rubbing initially on the polyurethane toe post, however after a day or two, I completely stopped noticing it.

Normally in sandals, my feet do tend to get a bit tired after several hours. With the Clouds, however, this was not a problem, and I’ve spent many hours in them without the slightest soreness on my soles.

Running in the Amuri Clouds, while still a pleasant experience, was for me less enjoyable than I had hoped. One thing I love about running in sandals is that the (usually) hard rubber underfoot transmits sensations from the ground fairly effectively.

Adding the foam layer dulls this sensation a bit, which I’ve found a bit off-putting. I had assumed that with less rubber underfoot, that the groundfeel would be more pronounced, but the BareFoam does a surprisingly good job of smoothing out the ride. For experienced barefooters, this may not be ideal, but for those transitioning, or looking for a more comfortable experience, this is a real plus.

I also found that with the thinner rubber underfoot, there was a slightly higher tendency for flapping. I needed to make sure that I tightened my lacing a bit before running to minimise this. With slightly tighter lacing, it was no longer a problem.

On this point, I have to commend the Xero Shoes team for putting together a clever lacing system. It’s very easy to tweak and fine-tune, and switching from walking to running modes on the Clouds is fairly trivial.

Amuri Venture:

Venture3Trying on the Ventures after wearing the Clouds for a couple weeks felt like strapping a pair of planks to my feet. The rubber feels so much harder. This is definitely not a bad thing, however, as the thicker, harder feeling rubber give the sandals a much more solid feel.

I found the Ventures to be a big improvement over the older-style Connect series. The new lacing systems, as mentioned above, is excellent and well thought-out.

I use a slip-on/slip-off tying method for my Connect sandals, which causes my heel to be a little more free-moving than with traditional huarache tying. The addition of a heel scoop to the Ventures allows for a slip-on tying method without the heel movement. A big improvement in my books.

Walking in the Ventures is fine, with the sandals staying comfortably on my feet. They are nice and thin, which allows for good ground feel, but when walking, I found that the Clouds were far superior.

Where the Ventures come into their own is with running. I strapped these on, and just wanted to keep running and running. They have a brilliant combination of thin, yet rigid rubber, which is somehow still flexible enough to allow excellent foot movement. The lacing system is solid and flexible at the same time, allowing me to tweak the fit slightly to sit right on my uneven feet.

On top of all this, they of course have all the features tha make running in sandals so much fun: they’re lightweight, airy, and inexpensive.

I normally do my sandal running in Luna Sandals, and may still do so for rougher trials, but for everyday running and light, local trails, I think it will be hard to find a sandal that will beat the Venture.

Conclusions

When the Amuri Cloud was first released, I was shown a preview where Steven Sashen, the company’s founder, said that they were to be a comfortable ‘everyday’ sandal, where the Venture would remain a solid trail sandal.

I couldn’t agree more. I’m quite happy wearing my  Clouds pretty much everywhere, and have no qualms taking them for the odd run. At the same time, when I know I’m going to head out the door and hit the trails, I’ve been looking first to my Ventures lately.

VennAll in all, I think that the new line of sandals on offer from Xero Shoes are a huge improvement over the original DIY kits (which are still awesome IMHO), and bring the company a huge step towards the mainstream. I look forward to the day that I see a pair in stores here in Australia!

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank Xero Shoes and Stepping Out Footwear for providing sandals for review. Please show your support by purchasing a pair for yourself at xeroshoes.com!