Xero Shoes HFS - Women's Review
Cons: Not the lightest, less casual appeal for wearing around town
Manufacturer: Xero Shoes
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Xero Shoes HFS - Women's
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|Pros||Versatile, durable, comfortable||Lightweight, supple, breathable, excellent ground feel, 2mm removable insole, great value||Lightweight, nimble, extremely minimal, moderate price||Lightweight, sock-like fit, simple||Soft and supple uppers, simple design, thin sole, durable materials|
|Cons||Not the lightest, less casual appeal for wearing around town||Less durable, not water resistant||Permeable to water and dust, some may experience friction||Less versatile, too minimalist for untrained feet||Less secure fit for aggressive or uneven terrain|
|Bottom Line||A true all-rounder, these minimalist shoes are highly versatile and comfortable in a variety of settings||This performance racing flat is fun for a variety of workouts and terrain types||This shoe is a truly novel concept that is as close as possible to being barefoot in a closed-toe shoe||This shoe is so light and nimble you'll barely know it's there||This is one of our favorite strict minimalist shoes, and it looks nice enough for casual wear|
|Rating Categories||Xero Shoes HFS - Wo...||Xero Speed Force||Vibram FiveFingers...||Merrell Vapor Glove 5||Softstar Adult DASH...|
|Natural Feel (40%)|
|Specs||Xero Shoes HFS - Wo...||Xero Speed Force||Vibram FiveFingers...||Merrell Vapor Glove 5||Softstar Adult DASH...|
|Style||Barefoot road||Barefoot performance||Barefoot road||Barefoot trail||Barefoot road|
|Weight (per pair)||13.5 oz (size 10)||12 oz (size 10)||8.5 oz (size EU 41)||11 oz (size 10)||12.5 oz (size 9U)|
|Stack Height (mm)||7.5 mm||4.5 mm (2 mm removable insole)||5 mm||6.5 mm||5 mm|
|Heel to Toe drop (mm)||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm|
|Outsole||5.5mm FeelTrue®||4.5 mm FeelTrue||3 mm||Vibram EcoStep||5 mm Vibram OmniFlex|
|Midsole||2mm removable Feel The World® insole||Removable 2 mm insole||2 mm||N/A||N/A|
|Upper Material||Mesh||Mesh||Polyester fabric||Mesh and TPU||Leather|
|Best For||Running, gym, casual||Running, gym, performance||Running, gym||Running, gym||Running, gym, casual|
|Width Options||Regular||Regular, wide||Regular||Regular||Narrow, Regular, Wide|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Xero HFS is a highly versatile running shoe. It performs well on- and off-road, in the gym, and on the field, due to its stable fit, durable design, light and distributed weight, and reliability.
Xero Shoes delivers again with the aptly named, er, abbreviated, HFS. What does it stand for, you ask? Well, Xero has this to say:
Bottom line, these supple and lightweight minimalist shoes make footwear as fun as running around barefoot, with a little more protection from the rough surface below. The zero-drop HFS has a total stack height of 7.5mm, but you can remove the 2mm insole if you want to feel even closer to the ground. These shoes bend and flex easily with your natural foot motions, providing minimal interference while running, walking, hiking, weightlifting, or in your favorite HIIT workout.
The fit is secure but roomy in the HFS, likely due to the Huarache-inspired sandal design. The shoe has a pseudo-strap system which helps these shoes fit so well without feeling tight. This is a critical reason Xero consistently rises to the top of this review — once you have sufficiently strengthened your feet to run in minimalist shoes, your feet then start to splay more as the joints spread out to absorb the impact of your footfall. This means your foot needs space to spread out and often also means your feet will "grow" a little larger over the course of strengthening and transitioning to barefoot running methods. Wild!
The HFS is not the lightest shoe in this review, but it certainly isn't heavy, either. At 13.5 ounces for a size 10, this minimalist shoe is a solid mid-pack competitor. An old backpacking adage says that for every ounce of weight added to your feet (in the form of footwear), it is as if you are adding 6-10 times as much weight to your backpack. Lightweight is a crucial element to enjoying minimalist footwear.
While the HFS may not stand out based on numbers alone in this metric, it does gain some points based on how well the weight is distributed around the foot. We really like the feel of a shoe that has an even balance between the weight of the sole and upper — when shoes have a heavier sole and ultralight uppers, they feel clunky. If you break it down, it makes sense: the sole is the part of the shoe that is furthest away from the fulcrum (your swinging leg). While it would take some seriously precise technology to prove that this results in more energy expended or a slower pace, we certainly noticed that it made our feet feel less nimble.
The HFS sole is designed after the tread of a tire, perhaps conjuring the authentic Huarache sandal (after which the overlaid strap design is designed). This shoe is advertised as a road running shoe that can take on much, much more. We agree. This shoe need not stop where the road ends.
The lug pattern on the HFS sole is our favorite for versatility. It is deep enough to inspire confidence on most trails, and each lug is broad enough that the shoe still gets excellent traction on roads (especially important on smooth, wet surfaces). The rubber is sticky, and with the supple sole, you're sure to get maximal surface area contact on undulating or uneven surfaces. The pattern is designed well to provide grip when accelerating and braking. A notable difference that underlines the versatility of the HFS versus the Xero Shoes Speed Force (another favorite) is that the HFS has lugs all the way to the heel. This ensures performance on all terrain types.
The HFS steals the show in this metric. This shoe certainly has some stand-out qualities (natural feel, notably), but what truly sets it apart is the impeccable balance of all the important attributes of a minimalist shoe. This is our go-to trainer for a variety of athletic endeavors, from mixed road-and-trail runs to hard weight training and HIIT sessions. This is a durable and reliable shoe that simply gets out of your way and allows you to focus on your sport of choice.
One wisdom of minimalist running is to mix up your footwear. This is something we have taken to heart, and though it means more shoes in the entryway, it does allow us to toggle between the lightest, performance-geared shoes and ones with thicker or stiffer soles for runs on particularly rough terrain. Minimalist shoes provide little to no support, so sometimes setting out with just a slightly stiffer sole can blunt rocky terrain enough to minimize foot strain if you've been logging higher mileage. The HFS sits somewhere on the spectrum between a good transition-to-minimalist shoe (usually a thicker, stiffer sole) and your featherweight, barely-there performance shoe. This makes it a good all-rounder to have in your shoe quiver for the long term. It also makes it likely to become a daily driver for your regular activities.
The HFS has a soft and breathable upper made of mesh. This is not typically the most durable material, but Xero added a solid toe rand to add some reinforcement in high-impact areas likely to see the most abrasion on rocks and curbs and anything else you might almost trip over…
Another feature that makes this shoe a solid and reliable adventure partner is the standard-sized shoelaces woven through a mix of fabric loops and reinforced eyelets (which are structurally part of the shoe). Shoes that only have fabric loops for eyelets may achieve a more precise or snug fit, but they get cut by friction from tightening the laces over time. The HFS strikes an excellent balance between secure-yet-spacious fit and durable design.
Given the versatility, durability, and excellent feel, these shoes are an excellent value for the price. They are an ideal all-rounder for most of your activities, and as such, you'll get a lot of mileage and application. The durability adds value as well, as they will hold up to a variety of terrain types.
The Xero HFS is a highly versatile minimalist running shoe. It was our go-to for a variety of activities, from road and trail running to weight lifting and HIIT circuits. This shoe provides a secure fit without feeling restrictive, something that few minimalist shoes achieve (the next best performances are from minimalist shoes with a very snug, sock-like fit). If simplicity and versatility are attributes you seek in your minimalist footwear, we think you'll be echoing the sentiment implicated in the HFS acronym.
— Lyra Pierotti
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