Xero Z-Trail EV - Women's Review
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Xero Z-Trail EV - Women's
|Price||$79.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Good traction, secure without being tight, very lightweight, great for wide feet||Easy to adjust, superior traction, more stability than other minimal designs, great arch support, lighter and thinner than other Chacos||Outstanding traction, unparalleled stability, many colors and patterns, durable, robust arch support||Easy to adjust, excellent traction, robust arch support, lots of colors and patterns||Easy velcro adjustments, many color option, zero drop and flat footbed, good stability and traction, fairly lightweight|
|Cons||Limited colors, can fatigue foot if not used to barefoot walking, thin sole lets debris in easily, loose fit isn't everyone's favorite||Fewer color options, no half sizes||Adjustment process requires time and patience, bulkier and heavier than most, no half sizes||Heavier and bulkier than most, less secure than version with toe loop, no half sizes||Straps can be scratchy, not accommodating to wide feet, no arch support, no half sizes|
|Bottom Line||If you'd prefer to walk everywhere barefoot but need a sandal to get you across pokey surfaces and into shops, this is the shoe for you||These adventure sandals can't be beaten, with their combination of minimal straps, maximal stability and traction, and a stylish cute vibe||These tried and true adventure sandals are second to none when it comes to easily handling adventures||An easier to adjust adventure sandal you can even wear socks with, though its less secure without the classic Chaco toe loop||For the casual adventurer and traveler who needs an adventure ready sandal that won't break the bank|
|Rating Categories||Xero Z-Trail EV - W...||Chaco Bodhi - Women's||Chaco Z/Cloud 2 - W...||Chaco Z/1 Classic -...||Teva Original Unive...|
|Specs||Xero Z-Trail EV - W...||Chaco Bodhi - Women's||Chaco Z/Cloud 2 - W...||Chaco Z/1 Classic -...||Teva Original Unive...|
|Weight (per pair)||8.0 oz||14.1 oz||18.2 oz||19.9 oz||11.1 oz|
|Sole Material||FeelTrue rubber||ChacoGrip rubber||Non-marking ChacoGrip||ChacoGrip rubber||Rubber|
|Upper Material||Polyester||Polyester jacquard webbing||Polyester jacquard webbing||Polyester jacquard webbing||REPREVE recycled polyester webbing|
|Footbed Material||BareFoam||LUVSEAT PU||LUVSEAT PU||LUVSEAT PU||EVA|
|Midsole Material||TrailFoam||Women's specific LUVSEAT dual-density PU||Women's specific LUVSEAT dual-density PU||Women's specific LUVSEAT PU midsole||Molded EVA|
|Width Options||Medium||Medium||Medium, Wide||Medium, Wide||Medium|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Xero Z-Trail EV is an adventure sandal that maintains barefoot mobility and sensation. Packed into an ultrathin sole are a FeelTrue rubber bottom and tread, a BareFoam footbed, and a TrailFoam midsole. The straps are made of polyester, and the size 8 we tested weighed just 8.0 ounces. It comes in just one width with a wide toe box and a handful of colors.
If you love walking around barefoot, you'll love the feeling of wearing the Z-Trail EV. Though they have the appearance of a full-strap sandal, these impressively minimalist shoes preserve most of the barefoot experience. Their thin and lightweight soles allow you to feel some of the ground beneath your feet while protecting you from the sharpest objects. The anchors for the straps are angled outward and hold everything slightly away from your feet. This lets you pull the straps securely tight without causing any rubbing, even when the straps are wet.
The Z-Trail is great for folks with wide feet, as they are designed with a wide toe box to allow natural toe splay as you walk, run, or hike. The flexible soles don't stop your feet from bending, either. The only hindrance to comfort while wearing these sandals is for folks who aren't used to walking barefoot. Because most modern shoes have a thick heel and a narrow fit, many of us have underdeveloped foot muscles, and walking around barefoot all day can be tiring. If you're after a supportive shoe or even just a little arch support, these are not for you. But for our testers who are avid barefoot enthusiasts, the Z-Trail is one of the most comfortable sandals we've tested.
Though they're not as robust as some of the beefy adventure sandals that we tested, the Z-Trail EV still provides impressive traction, particularly on dry surfaces. The soles have large lugs that excel at climbing hills and clambering over rocks. Because they're so thin, the feet can still wrap around objects a bit, adding an extra layer of traction that no other sandal can match.
The interior footbed of the Z-Trail is rather smooth, with a slight matte texture. When dry, this is both comfortable and gives plenty of traction for your feet. However, it becomes less stable and more slippery once wet. These aren't the sandals we'd choose for a river trip or a muddy rainforest hike, but exploring dry forests and arid deserts is right up their alley.
The fit of the Z-Trail is highly versatile, providing stability on just about anyone's foot. With the strap fully tightened, they stay securely affixed to the feet without ever feeling too tight. While our testers loved this feeling, if you require a tight shoe or sandal to feel stable on uneven terrain, these probably won't do the trick. For us, they managed to feel secure and stable while remaining loose enough to maintain comfort and the feeling of being barefoot.
The Z-Trail EV is also exceptionally lightweight and almost feels like you're not wearing shoes at all. This gives them great balance and allows you to retain a natural, barefoot-inspired gait. The only arena in which the Z-Trail feels less stable is when they're wet. Because there's still so much room for the feet to move within the shoe, water can cause slippage between the foot and the footbed.
The Z-Trail are exceedingly simple to adjust. They are fully adjustable, with a long velcro strip across the heel strap and a slider buckle that controls the full strap over the top of the foot. We've heard different strategies for daily wear of the Z-Trail, with some folks preferring to adjust the Z strap and use the velcro over the heel to slip easily in and out, while others do the opposite.
The wide toe box of the Z-Trail helps them to fit a wide range of foot shapes and sizes. Our only concern with the adjustability of these easy sandals is the rubber band for containing the strap's tail. The elasticity makes things simple, but we worry about durability over years of use and abuse in harsh UV rays, hot conditions, and changing temperatures.
The versatility of the Z-Trail depends more on your feet than the sandal. If you're accustomed to long days walking around with bare feet, you may enjoy hard hikes and trail runs in these shoes. Their lack of support isn't for everyone, though, and in that regard, they are less versatile than many others we tested. Regardless, these are great for casually wearing around town, even if you're not a barefoot aficionado, and they easily accommodate a thick pair of socks for cool evenings.
If you are rocking the socks and sandals look, these may not get you many style points — depending on your audience. But worn barefoot, as intended, they are actually rather stylistically versatile. Their available colors aren't as gaudy as some others and easily match many outfits. We happily wore the Z-Trail with sundresses and jeans and never felt mismatched.
Should You Buy the Xero Z-Trail EV?
If you're a barefoot enthusiast looking to tackle trails without sacrificing foot mobility, the Xero Z-Trail is an ideal sandal. It's also a great choice for anyone seeking a lightweight camp shoe after a long day of hiking or a casual zero-drop sandal to wear around town all summer. However, they're not a good choice for people who need foot and arch support or if you need serious durability for years of hardcore exploring.
What Other Sandals Should You Consider?
If you like the idea of a minimalist sandal but need a little more support for your adventure, check out the Bedrock Cairn 3D Pro II. If you also want arch support and excellent in-water traction, the Chaco Bodhi may be right up your alley. If you're just after a casual full-strap sandal for infrequent use, the budget-friendly Teva Original Universal is another decent choice. But if you crave the feeling of foot freedom, we think the Xero Z-Trail EV is the sandal for you.
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