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

 

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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!

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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!

Review: Xero Shoes Takes On The Mainstream With The Amuri Z-Trek

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

AmuriZTrek
Since appearing on the show Shark Tank 2 years ago, Xero Shoes have been working hard to bring their unique sandals to a larger, more mainstream audience. They came out running, with the launch of not one, but 2 new huarache-style sandals – the Amuri Venture and Amuri Cloud. These represented a major departure from their original, simple designs, and were heartily embraced by the mainstream and barefoot running communities.

Now in 2015, on the back of increasing success, the pressure has been on to come up with more new and innovative designs, and this they have done with their latest offering, the Amuri Z-Trek Sport Sandal.

Overview

Unlike all of their previous models, the Z-T2015-08-22 14.23.05rek has a more mainstream-recognisable, postless sandal style. This departure from the huarache style is a big surprise, and has opened up the market to include those of us who don’t like the rubbing and chafing often caused by sandals that split the toes.

Not ones to simply copy existing footwear, Xero Shoes have done some significant tinkering with the Z-Trek, that sets it apart from other, similar sandals.

2015-08-22 14.22.56The first difference is the near weightlessness of the Z-Trek. Unlike the thick slab of rubber featuring in most postless sandals, the Z-Trek has a sole that is just 5.5mm thick. Going this thin is something that most manufacturers have avoided as it has the tendency to increase ‘sandal slap’, and make the shoes clumsy to wear.

This is where the second feature of the Z-Trek comes into play. One look at the strapping system and it’s clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone into it. In practice, the clever use of fixed and adjustable straps significantly reduces slapping, and helps maintain the sandal’s shape when running or walking.

2015-08-22 14.23.28-1Unlike with their huarache style sandals, the Z-Trek has a custom shaped sole, which allows the straps to be threaded in without contacting the ground. This makes for a nice, clean interface between the straps and the sole, which reduces wear and is aesthetically pleasing.

There are 2 straps that form the upper of the sandal, which are permanently stitched to the sole. A sturdy plastic buckle and Velcro heel strap, however, allow for a surprisingly large ability to tighten and adjust them so that they fit just right.

Though the adjustment of the straps can take a little bit of time initially, once they have been correctly fitted, the sandals are extremely easy to take on and off, by either pushing down the heel strap, or using the quick release feature of the main buckle.

Performance

2015-08-22 14.22.37In terms of performance, the Amuri Z-Trek fits roughly in between the Venture and Cloud. They are rugged enough for trail work, but comfy enough for day-to-day walking.

On the trails, the Z-Treks fare quite well. The chevron grip system allows for solid foot placement when running on flats and uphill, and the reverse pattern on the heel does a surprisingly good job of helping stability on the downhills.

The heel cup has a slight tendency to collect a small amount of debris on the trail, which can require the odd shake or a quick finger scrape to clear out. At first I questioned whether it was needed or not, but it does seem to add to the structural integrity of the sole, and I suspect that this was why it was added.

As with the other Xero Shoes sandals, a lot of the performance and comfort gains of the shoes are gleaned when correctly adjusting the straps. This can take a few goes, and some adjustments are needed when conditions change, especially in the wet. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do, and once done, the solid strapping system doesn’t slip and loosen, even when running.

Conclusion

The Amuri Z-Trek is a very strong effort for a first attempt at a postless sandal. There has been a lot of thought put into the design and appearance of the sandals, and they seem to have a good chance of getting picked up by more mainstream shoppers.

I look forward to seeing how these sandals evolve over time, as there is still a little wiggle-room in terms of ease of adjustment, and possibly with initial fitting. I’d really love to see more Xero Shoes in the shops where these hurdles could be easily overcome by retail staff.

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!

Xeroshoes Amuri Cloud Launches Today

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Well, today’s the day!

As many of you who follow my Twitter and/or Facebook accounts may already know, Xeroshoes have been hinting at the release of a brand new shoe. After much speculation, it’s finally been released, and is on sale now.

It’s called the Amuri Cloud, and is a thinner, lighter, prettier version of the Sensori Venture (now renamed as the ‘Amuri’ Venture).

Have a look at the launch video and tell me these don’t look fantastic:

I can’t wait to review them! (shoes are on their way, so watch this space)

In the meantime, if you’re quick, you can grab a pair at 20% off by following this link

Just a heads-up: Beginning Barefoot is a Xeroshoes affiliate, but we’d still link to these shoes even if we weren’t! Don’t worry, it won’t cost you any more, and buy via our site helps keep the great barefoot running articles coming!

What Ever Happened to Invisible Shoes?

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Invisible ShoesjpgOne of my first ever shoe reviews on this site was for the ultra-minimal running sandal “Invisible Shoes“. Back in the day, this start-up was trying to change the world, one shoe at a time, by selling DIY sandal kits with incredibly thin soles. What ever happened to these guys?

A Brief History

Back in 2009, sprinter Steven Sashen and his wife Lena had the crazy idea of bringing a high-tech version of the centuries-old running sandal, the huarache, to market. Steven had become a recent barefoot convert, and was looking for a way to help people find out about and begin to enjoy it as well. Having heard about the Tarahumara in Mexico, and their amazing sandals, made of old tyres and rope,  he found a terrific vehicle to do this.

Xero-Shoes - Promo

Not long afterwards, with a lot of R&D, and testing, the Invisible Shoe was born. It featured a simple nylon rope tying system atop a very thin, very flexible, and very durable Vibram sole. They were inexpensive, comfortable, and soon became a favourite within the barefoot running community. One of the big reasons for their popularity was the availability of a DIY kit that let you build your own shoes for a few bucks (you can still get them!)

XeroShoesLogo

Fast-forward a couple years, and Invisible Shoes took a major step forward. Due to the ever-growing popularity of the DIY huaraches, Invisible Shoe as a company decided to expand. They changed their name to Xero Shoes and began to update their existing line and launch new products, such as coloured soles and accessories. This culminated in the February 2013 appearance of Steven and Lena on the television series The Shark Tank.

Though they didn’t get the funding they were after, the exposure from appearing on the show was a turning point for the company. It wasn’t long before they announced a new product, the Sensori Venture, which has turned this small company into an up-and-coming competitor of even the big shoe companies.

So Why Am I Telling You This?

The minimal shoe revolution, which has in many ways boosted the barefoot running revolution, was largely started as a backlash to shoe companies selling us over-engineered, over-priced shoes. The original idea was to go back to basics and wear less shoe, allowing your feet to move as they were designed.

There are some incredible new shoes on the market, and I’ve reviewed many of them, but on average, these shoes are over a hundred dollars a pair, and here in Australia, finding a decent pair for less than $200 is getting harder and harder.

sensori-venture-4-colors

Xero Shoes, in contrast, have always done the right thing by barefooters. Of the truly viable and durable minimal shoes out there, theirs are by far the cheapest, with their priciest shoes coming in at less than $40! I still run in my original 4mm Connects that I paid $20 for 2 years ago.

On top of this, Xero Shoes have always been big supporters of the barefoot running community. This year, they’ll be sponsoring the Barefoot Runners Society’s International Barefoot Running Day (May 4th, 2014).

Full Disclosure

Invisible Shoes/Xero Shoes have been a favourite of Beginning Barefoot since the beginning. Steven was the first prominent barefooter I ever interviewed, and we have collaborated several times in the past with giveaways and contests.

We have been a part of their affiliate program for years, and yes, we do get a small commission on sales referred from this site. Despite this, I still think that Xero Shoes are the perfect first shoe for anyone interested in trying minimal shoes/running sandals out for the first time. Our affiliate status is merely a reflection of this.

More To Come

Xero Shoes is an exciting, young company that is doing great things for barefoot/minimal running. We’ll be reviewing many of their products in detail this year, so if you’re interested in finding out more about Xero Shoes, be sure to click the follow button, or find us on Facebook and Twitter!