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Xero Shoes HFS - Women's Review

A true all-rounder, these minimalist shoes are highly versatile and comfortable in a variety of settings
Xero Shoes HFS - Women's
Photo: Xero Shoes
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $115 List | $114.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Versatile, durable, comfortable
Cons:  Not the lightest, less casual appeal for wearing around town
Manufacturer:   Xero Shoes
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 20, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Natural Feel - 40% 8
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Xero HFS minimalist shoe is a model of versatile footwear. These shoes are durable enough for rough trails, comfortable enough for everyday wear, secure enough for gym and agility sports, and fun enough to keep us motivated to get out in them again and again. Reasonably priced, the HFS are an obvious choice as a daily driver. They provide a good blend of minimalist features with a removable 2mm insole if you want to feel more underfoot. We found these to be the most versatile in our entire lineup, making them an excellent consideration for those who don't like to own a whole quiver of shoes.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $114.99 at Amazon$104.99 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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$79.95 at Backcountry
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$140 List
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Pros Versatile, durable, comfortableLightweight, supple, breathable, excellent ground feel, 2mm removable insole, great valueLightweight, nimble, extremely minimal, moderate priceLightweight, sock-like fit, simpleSoft and supple uppers, simple design, thin sole, durable materials
Cons Not the lightest, less casual appeal for wearing around townLess durable, not water resistantPermeable to water and dust, some may experience frictionLess versatile, too minimalist for untrained feetLess 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 settingsThis performance racing flat is fun for a variety of workouts and terrain typesThis shoe is a truly novel concept that is as close as possible to being barefoot in a closed-toe shoeThis shoe is so light and nimble you'll barely know it's thereThis is one of our favorite strict minimalist shoes, and it looks nice enough for casual wear
Rating Categories Xero Shoes HFS - Wo... Speed Force FiveFingers KSO EVO Vapor Glove 5 Softstar Adult DASH...
Natural Feel (40%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Weight (20%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Versatility (15%)
8.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
6.0
4.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Xero Shoes HFS - Wo... Speed Force FiveFingers KSO EVO 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.

Performance Comparison


The Xero HFS, ready for action.
The Xero HFS, ready for action.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Natural Feel


Xero Shoes delivers again with the aptly named, er, abbreviated, HFS. What does it stand for, you ask? Well, Xero has this to say:

Well, it could be for the “Highly Flexible Sole” that lets your foot move naturally, or the face you’ll make when you put it on — “Happy Face Shoe” — or the way you run in it with a “High Frequency Stride”, or what you exclaim when you put it on and feel the comfort and light weight: “Holy _ _!”

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!

Rotating and flexing the Xero HFS is easy due to the supple and soft...
Rotating and flexing the Xero HFS is easy due to the supple and soft sole.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Weight


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 Xero HFS are not the lightest pair of shoes in this review, but...
The Xero HFS are not the lightest pair of shoes in this review, but they felt light on our feet.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Traction


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 lug pattern on the Xero HFS made them hold up well off road as...
The lug pattern on the Xero HFS made them hold up well off road as well as on road.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Versatility


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 Xero HFS is up for anything!
The Xero HFS is up for anything!
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Durability


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.

The toe rand ensures these shoes hold up well to rough terrain.
The toe rand ensures these shoes hold up well to rough terrain.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Off on our next adventure in the Xero HFS.
Off on our next adventure in the Xero HFS.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Lyra Pierotti