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Xero Shoes Alpine Review

A comfortable zero drop winter boot for mild winter climates
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Price:  $150 List
Pros:  Zero drop, very light, comfortable
Cons:  Not the warmest, low shaft height, not very supportive
Manufacturer:   Xero Shoes
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2020
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Warmth - 25% 5
  • Water Resistance - 25% 7
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Traction - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Xero Shoes Alpine are the only boots in this review to feature a zero-drop platform, meaning that your heel and toes rest at the same level within the boot, the same way they would if you were barefoot. They have a minimalist feel to them, with a very wide and loose fit in the forefoot, and a sensitive and close to the ground midsole, all of which work to keep you in touch with the surfaces you are walking on. They are also impressively waterproof. That said, they are really quite short for winter boots, so they don't protect well against deep snow. They are also a bit light on insulation compared to many competitors. However, if you love zero drop and minimalist shoes and live in a relatively mild winter climate, these are intriguing boots to check out.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

When we first put on the Xero Shoes Alpine and went out in the snow, the first thought that came to mind was that they feel like house slippers, beefed up a little bit to take on a winter boot appearance. They are that comfortable! While most winter and snow boots are very large, heavy, and so material-heavy that there is a total dissociation with the ground as you "tromp" through the snow, the Alpine leaves you happily in touch with what you are walking over. They don't lift your foot far off the ground with a huge thick midsole, and they are very flexible, so much so that you wouldn't even consider needing to break them in. While we enjoyed wearing them for short snow hikes and for running errands, we also feel that, compared to the competition, they are light on insulation. Their very short shaft height also means that you can't wade into deep snow without expecting to get wet. One nice bonus is how incredibly light these boots are, weighing in at a mere 2.1 lbs. for a size 11. This is far and away the lightest winter boots we've ever worn and makes hiking in them a far more enjoyable experience.

Performance Comparison


The Alpine are small  lightweight  low to the ground zero drop boots with a decidedly minimalist feel. They are comfortable for hiking and doing chores  and feel very much like wearing soft and snuggly waterproof house slippers. However  they aren't the warmest  and they have a low shaft and cuff  making them better for milder winter locations.
The Alpine are small, lightweight, low to the ground zero drop boots with a decidedly minimalist feel. They are comfortable for hiking and doing chores, and feel very much like wearing soft and snuggly waterproof house slippers. However, they aren't the warmest, and they have a low shaft and cuff, making them better for milder winter locations.

Warmth


These boots feature 200g of insulation and are lined on the inside with a comfortable fleece. Xero claims they are rated to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, but we have a hard time believing your feet would feel comfortable for long in temps that cold. We tested them in early winter in Colorado and only dealt with conditions of around 10 degrees, but noticed that they were quite a bit less warm than other larger and thicker boots. A close inspection also reveals that the entire upper booty is completely stitched through, from the outside, through the inner insulation, to the inside of the boot. Wherever there is stitching like this, there is a gap in insulation, minimizing the boot's overall warmth. While the reality is that you can pair them with a good pair of socks, stay active when you are outdoors, and have a great time with warm feet in relatively mild winter climates, these boots are not prepared to tackle the deep northern freezes that many other boots are designed specifically for.

Comparing the warmth of the Alpine on the left with the Bridger on the right  which has consistently been the warmest boot we've tested. They are soaking 5 inches deep in icy slush water  and the bricks are holding them down so they don't float up and shift positions. We checked the temperatures inside the bottoms of the boots every 3 minutes for 12 minutes to see how quickly they lost heat. Unfortunately  the Alpine is not one of the warmest choices you can make  but it does have a nice fleecy lining  as you can see.
Comparing the warmth of the Alpine on the left with the Bridger on the right, which has consistently been the warmest boot we've tested. They are soaking 5 inches deep in icy slush water, and the bricks are holding them down so they don't float up and shift positions. We checked the temperatures inside the bottoms of the boots every 3 minutes for 12 minutes to see how quickly they lost heat. Unfortunately, the Alpine is not one of the warmest choices you can make, but it does have a nice fleecy lining, as you can see.

Water Resistance


The Alpine has a water repellent membrane, and as far as we can tell, it's also coated on the outside with a durable water-resistant (DWR) coating. We stood in a flowing slushy creek for 10 minutes to test this, and our feet stayed dry. It was also impressive to watch how the water flowed right around the boot without seeping in at all. That said, our feet felt a bit clammy on the inside during and after this test. We had to feel around a lot inside the boot to be certain that no water had leaked inside. We also had to be careful not to let the water overtop the notch in the tongue. We measured the effective water entry depth at around 5 inches, which isn't super deep but is actually a bit deeper than the tongue entry point on some other models. That said, the shaft itself is only 7 inches tall, making it one of the shortest boots we have reviewed, and ensuring that your main threat for wet feet while wearing this boot is snow leaking in from the top.

With a waterproof liner built into this boot  water easily runs over the surface with none soaking in. However  you must beware not to overtop them  as the shaft is not very tall compared to most winter boots.
With a waterproof liner built into this boot, water easily runs over the surface with none soaking in. However, you must beware not to overtop them, as the shaft is not very tall compared to most winter boots.

Fit and Comfort


These boots are really comfortable. They have a super spacious fit, which is enhanced by how incredibly flexible the upper material is, allowing your foot to expand or bend as needed. This is a stark contrast to thick leather or rubber boots, which tend to be very stiff. The forefoot of this boot is very wide, with plenty of room for wiggling your toes to keep them warm. It sticks to the classic zero-drop fit, which allows for plenty of forefoot splay. The low to the ground feel is refreshing, especially when hiking, and these boots truly feel similar to minimalist shoes, but in boot form. We recommend ordering your normal size, but the boots feel a tad large, so keep that in mind.

The fit of this boot is exactly like you would expect of a zero drop shoe - very spacious in the forefoot. It rides low to the ground and is extremely flexible  so is really nice for hiking.
The fit of this boot is exactly like you would expect of a zero drop shoe - very spacious in the forefoot. It rides low to the ground and is extremely flexible, so is really nice for hiking.

Ease of Use


The upper of this boot is very flexible, so it is easy to slip on and off. However, it does have long laces that must be done up and tied, so it is nowhere near as convenient to put on and take off as some of the slip-on options. The laces stay crossed at the junction between foot and leg, so you must double them back and loop them through two metal hooks on each side before tying. Due to the flexible upper, it is really easy to cinch these boots way too tight around the ankle if you're not careful. If you do this, hiking is nowhere near as comfortable since the upper material rubs a lot. If you tie them up significantly looser around the ankles, they are, no surprise, far more comfortable to walk in.

Like most winter hiking boots  these need to be laced up  which takes a bit of time and effort compared to slip-ons. The laces need to be doubled back through two metal hooks before being tied  and care needs to be taken to leave them loose enough that they are comfortable for hiking  as they are quite easy to crank down too tight.
Like most winter hiking boots, these need to be laced up, which takes a bit of time and effort compared to slip-ons. The laces need to be doubled back through two metal hooks before being tied, and care needs to be taken to leave them loose enough that they are comfortable for hiking, as they are quite easy to crank down too tight.

Traction


The sole of the Alpine is made with 5.5 mm of Xero's FeelTrue rubber. While we didn't find this rubber compound to be anything all that special compared to others, it's worth pointing out that Xero offers a 5000 mile guarantee, saying that if your sole wears out within this amount of time, they will replace it "for a nominal fee." We don't think there is any winter boot out there that would survive 5000 miles, but we like that Xero stands behind the quality of their products.

The lugs on this boot are arrow-shaped, numerous, and well-spaced, allowing the sole to bite pretty well into soft snow. We were impressed with the traction on slippery, slushy trails, as well as hardpacked snow.

The traction on this shoe doesn't feature special rubber or an insane design  but is impressively grippy nonetheless  as we tested on this icy stream crossing. The traction is more than sufficient for most snowy winter hikes.
The traction on this shoe doesn't feature special rubber or an insane design, but is impressively grippy nonetheless, as we tested on this icy stream crossing. The traction is more than sufficient for most snowy winter hikes.

Value


These boots are not super cheap, retailing for roughly an average price for a winter snow boot. If the zero-drop and minimalist feel are right up your alley, then we think the value is likely pretty good. However, if you simply want the best winter boot you can get and don't care much about the drop, many boots rank higher in our overall ratings and are warmer.

As a winter hiking boot for those who love minimalist and zero drop shoes  the Alpine should serve as a good value. For most who simply want a burly  warm  and waterproof winter boot  there are others that offer much more protection.
As a winter hiking boot for those who love minimalist and zero drop shoes, the Alpine should serve as a good value. For most who simply want a burly, warm, and waterproof winter boot, there are others that offer much more protection.

Conclusion


The Xero Shoes Alpine is a fascinating boot because of how atypical it is. It is outside the norm to have a minimalist, low riding, zero-drop winter boot, and in that way, we found wearing them refreshing and a bit invigorating. However, they also have some serious drawbacks and are not the best option for deep snow and extreme cold.

Wearing the comfortable and low to the ground Alpine while out shoveling the driveway after an early winter snow storm.
Wearing the comfortable and low to the ground Alpine while out shoveling the driveway after an early winter snow storm.

Andy Wellman