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Xero Z-Trail EV - Women's Review

Our tester's pick for best Camp Sandals, this shoe is comfortable and versatile
Xero Z-Trail EV - Women's
Photo: Xero
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $80 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Ultralight, comfortable, stylish, great for camping
Cons:  Thin sole not comfortable over varying terrain, minimal adjustability, becomes unstable hiking downhill or when wet
Manufacturer:   Xero Shoes
By Miya Tsudome ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 30, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 14
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Traction - 20% 7
  • Adjustability - 20% 7
  • Stability - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 6
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

An almost impossibly lightweight and immediately comfortable shoe, the Xero Z-Trail EV gets our Top Pick for Camp Sandals. Whether you take them along for the occasional creek crossing, or have them ready to change into at camp after a long day hiking in boots, you'll barely notice them in your pack and they'll be worth every ounce. Not only are they great in the backcountry, but they look good around town too. A slim and stylish fit makes them a great shoe to wear biking to the closest brewery in your best casual outfit. This minimalist sandal is a fantastic option to add to your warm-weather wardrobe.

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$105 List
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Pros Ultralight, comfortable, stylish, great for campingComfortable, versatile, lightweight, fits many foot typesStable and supportive, stylish, durableGreat traction, stable, stylishComfortable, good traction, stylish
Cons Thin sole not comfortable over varying terrain, minimal adjustability, becomes unstable hiking downhill or when wetNot as cushioned as other models, can't be worn with socksAnnoying to adjust, uncomfortable for the flat-footed, heavyShort straps, difficult to adjust, can't be worn with socksVery floppy sole, not suitable for rugged use
Bottom Line Our tester's pick for best Camp Sandals, this shoe is comfortable and versatileThis is a minimalist workhorse sandal that can take on nearly anythingWhether you're hiking or rafting or hanging out, this classic design plays well for the long haulThis pared-down sandal delivers the performance wearers expect from a classic Chaco, but with less weight and bulkThis classic option can't hack it on super rugged terrain, but it's a great value pick for casual outdoor use
Rating Categories Xero Z-Trail EV - W... Bedrock Cairn Adven... Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Chaco Z/Volv X2 - W... Teva Original Unive...
Comfort (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Traction (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Adjustability (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Stability (15%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Versatility (15%)
6.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Style (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Xero Z-Trail EV - W... Bedrock Cairn Adven... Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Chaco Z/Volv X2 - W... Teva Original Unive...
Weight (pounds per pair) 0.60 lbs (size 9) 1.06 lbs (size 9/10) 1.44 lbs (size 9) 1.23 lbs (size 10) 0.73 lbs (size 10)
Footbed Material BareFoam Granite Grip LUVSEAT PU with textured grooves LUVSEAT PU with textured grooves EVA
Midsole Material TrailFoam Cairn Vibram Women's specific LUVSEAT dual-density PU Women's specific LUVSEAT PU midsole EVA
Sole Material FeelLite rubber Vibram XS Trek Regolith Non-marking ChacoGrip Non-marking EcoTread rubber compound (25% recycled) Rubber
Upper Material Polyester Polyester and nylon webbing Polyester jacquard webbing Polyester jacquard webbing REPREVE recycled polyester webbing
Width Options Medium Medium Medium, Wide Medium Medium

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Xero Z-Trail EV gets high marks in many of our testing categories. Our testers were very impressed with how comfortable they were right out of the box, appreciated the simple adjustability, and gave high praise for the sandal's versatility and style. While this shoe is not our first choice for all-day, rugged hiking and is not quite as stable as some of the other models we tested, it's a fantastic option for wearing around camp, going on light hikes, and transitioning easily from trail to town.

Performance Comparison


The Z-Trail EV from Xero is an ultralight, comfortable and stylish...
The Z-Trail EV from Xero is an ultralight, comfortable and stylish minimalist sandal.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Comfort


Though they don't look like much right out of the box, essentially made of a few thin layers of foam with webbing straps, our testers were pleasantly surprised how well they slipped right on and immediately felt comfortable. The texture of the upper layer is soft and supple. The light, Z-pattern webbing straps aren't sharp at all and rest comfortably over your foot, and there is a slight heel cup to keep your heel in place. Even after weeks of wear, our testers experienced no rubbing or chaffing and developed no hot spots or blisters from these soft sandals.


This "barefoot" design really allows you to feel what's underneath your foot, which is desirable to some but not all. Because these sandals are a mere 10 millimeters thick, you will still feel sharp rocks or sticks under your foot which, to the unaccustomed, will be uncomfortable. It's also worth considering the potential adjustment period for minimalist shoes such as these, especially if you are used to more supportive footwear. If you have arch-support needs or prefer more cushioning for long walks on the pavement around town, you might want to look elsewhere.

With a buttery soft footbed, these shoes are our pick for slipping...
With a buttery soft footbed, these shoes are our pick for slipping into after a long day of hiking... wear them with socks to get cozy by the fire, or not. Your choice.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

We also loved being able to wear socks with these sandals, which might not gain you the most style points but is definitely a plus for when you're getting camp set up at night, and it starts to get chilly.

Traction


The lugs of the updated EV model are deeper than its predecessor, providing better traction over uneven and slippery surfaces. We were impressed how well this shoe fared, gripping well to granite slabs, soft trails, and moderate amounts of scree. The Xero does not quite match up with the traction of some of the other sandals we tested that have deeper lugs and Vibram rubber, but for a minimalist, lightweight sandal, these do better than expected in this category.



This shoe loses points in this category, however, because of its smooth footbed that makes the shoe a bit slippery underfoot. When it gets wet, it becomes a challenge to keep your foot in place, and there are better options if you are looking for a sturdy creek-crossing or water activity-specific shoe.

These sandals have decent traction for being such a minimalist shoe.
These sandals have decent traction for being such a minimalist shoe.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Adjustability


The Xero is minimalist in many ways, including adjustability. This, however, is not a bad thing, as the simple Z-pattern webbing is a breeze to cinch tight with a mere pull of the strap. This webbing is redirected through a piece of rubber at the toe bed, allowing you to pull it tighter around the front of your foot if so desired.


The back of the foot is supported by a heel strap that cinches closed with velcro. All of the straps are soft and comfortable against the skin and never feel like they are digging into your foot.

The z-strap pulls closed via one cinching buckle point.
The z-strap pulls closed via one cinching buckle point.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Stability


To assess the stability of this sandal, we took it on all different types of trail, from scree to talus to dirt, uphill, and downhill, and noted how well our feet stayed in place. We assessed whether there was a gap between the foot and the footbed and how much the foot tended to slide forward when walking downhill.


This shoe did moderately well in this category but cannot stand up to the heavier and beefier models out there that offer more support. When walking downhill, our feet tended to slide forward no matter how much we adjusted the strap, and the soft material of the footbed made our feet tend to slide slightly when encountering rough terrain. However, this barefoot, minimalist design also has its strengths. Because the shoe is so thin and flexible, you can really feel the changing terrain underneath you which encourages better balance and allows you to really grip the rocks or slopes or trails you encounter.

The single z-strap doesn't allow for a super tight fit, and the...
The single z-strap doesn't allow for a super tight fit, and the footbed gets pretty slippery when wet giving the shoe some instability.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Versatility


While this is not the shoe you would want to wear on rough and technical hikes or backpacking, it is a fantastic shoe for light hikes, easy creek-crossings, to wear around camp, and to waltz into town for a beer when you're done. We love this shoe for its versatility. It performs well enough to meet simple needs in the backcountry, is supremely comfortable for lounging around camp with a pair of socks after a long day in boots, and even looks good enough to pair with some jeans to run errands in town.


It is not our first choice for a versatile technical sandal that can handle hiking with a backpack, spending a lot of time in a river, rough creek-crossings, or running, mostly due to the slippery footbed, tendency for the foot to slide forward in the straps, and thin sole that will unfortunately not be the most durable in the long run.

Go on a light hike, or slip these on afterwards. These sandals are...
Go on a light hike, or slip these on afterwards. These sandals are versatile because of their good performance at a light weight, but are not up to more intense or rugged activities.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Style


There are a lot of functional adventure sandals out there that are truly "function over form," but we like that the Xero is simple enough that you won't get strange looks if you walk into a bar wearing them.


One might even say they are actually quite nice looking, with their selection of earth-tone colors and demure and minimalist look. You could easily wear these sandals with a sundress, shorts, or jeans, and tuck your old flip-flops away for good.

Whether you slip these on with a pair of socks while resting between...
Whether you slip these on with a pair of socks while resting between bouldering burns, or wear them out on the town, they'll pair nicely with most outfits and styles (in our opinion).
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Value


It can be hard to justify buying a sandal that is made with only a few pieces of foam and some webbing for a high price. And if you're looking for a burly, outdoor sandal to last you years of hiking, this is probably not your best bet. But the Xero isn't made for burly pursuits that will wear its thin sole out faster than you can say, "I should've bought Chacos." This sandal's value lies in its incredible lightweight to be carried along easily on your longest thru-hike, deployed for quick and dirty creek crossings, and pulled out each night at camp to relax in. This is our favorite camp shoe we've come across, and we will use it time and time again as such, and for that reason, we find it worth the cost.

Conclusion


If you're looking to enter the "barefoot" revolution, the Xero Z-Trail EV may be the perfect gateway drug. Light, comfortable, and supple with decent traction and versatility, this shoe surprised us on many fronts. But a simple sandal can only do so much, and it's best not to have too high expectations from footwear that is best used in more lightweight activities and casual settings. If this is what you're looking for, the Xero will be a great companion for your next camping adventure.

These lightweight sandals are our pick for best camp sandal.
These lightweight sandals are our pick for best camp sandal.
Photo: Miya Tsudome

Miya Tsudome