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XEROSHOES interview with owner Steven Sashen

Xeroshoes has taken the shoe world by storm with their wide range of minimalist shoes that help their customers Feel the World®. Our feet didn’t evolve to be crammed into tight shoes. They’re meant to move, flex and bend—and that’s how Xeroshoes were designed.

At Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, we had a chance to talk to Steven Sashen, the founder, visionary and CEO of Xeroshoes to talk about their current line of shoes, the minimalist movement, and then curious appendages at the end of our legs.

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OR Winter 2018 – Trail-Running Favorite Things

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018 kicked off with an invigorating keynote about the future of retail and e-commerce in the outdoor industry. It showed a bright future; one that’s filled with curious minds, critical thinkers, and inspiring creators.

At the Winter Market, we saw several brands that were leading that mission by creating products that in turn are creating impactful cultural moments. Here are some of our favorite things showcased at Outdoor Retailer; products that showcased their brand’s originality, inspiration and creativity.

GoLite ReGreen Windshell

The ReGreen Windshell, which won the Innovation Award at Winter Market, was created from recycled and repurposed green bottles. The jacket is printed using a paper-printing process and waterless dyes. It is also coated in a Organotex Eco-DWR, a fluorocarbon-free, biodegradable, water-repellent technology.

The jacket was inspired after GoLite partnered with a recycling plant in Taiwan. Officials at the plant told GoLite that green plastic bottles aren’t able to be recycled. Because the bottles are green, they can’t be dyed and manufacturers aren’t interested. In their product design, GoLite embraced the bottles’ color, leading to a more eco-friendly product. Each ReGreen Windshell is made from 20 plastic bottles and weighs only 1.6 ounces, which is amazing for this type of product!

Personally, I love the color of this jacket, along with the overall feel of it. I was a little jealous of the team working the booth who were sporting the jacket in the rather chilly convention center.

The ReGreen Windshell will debut in Spring 2019 along with several other pieces in a performance-based lineup, which is just in time for some trail runs in the foothills around Boulder.

Vivobarefoot Made from Plants Lineup

Another standout at the show was Vivobarefoot, who won the Best in Show award at Outdoor Retailer. At the summer show, Vivobarefoot displayed a larger product lineup. This time around, they only focused on their shoes made from plant-based materials, which is truly innovative!

When you look at modern shoe manufacturing, over 20 billion pairs are made each year. A majority of those manufacturing materials produce large amounts of carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change The current lineup of Vivobarefoot’s bio shoes are 40-50% plants. For every five pairs of bio shoes, one gallon of gasoline in CO2 emissions is saved.

What also separates Vivobarefoot from other modern shoe makers is that their shoes are minimalist: zero-drop (e.g. 0mm drop from heel to toe) and foot-shaped so your feet can move naturally like feet. I’m a huge believer in the minimalist movement. Our feet were made to move freely and to feel. Vivobarefoot’s design helps us get back to our evolutionary roots and help us feel the world and be more connected to the Earth.

The other thing that I love about Vivobarefoot is that they also carry kids shoes that have the same form and function as the rest of the product line. If you ever watch a toddler walk or run barefoot, the way they move is the way we should all be moving (albiet, with a little more coordination). Their stride is touching the ground with the mid- to forefoot. No heel strikes. No elongated stride.

Their line of bio shoes are going to be amazing when they hit the market. Their Primus Trail Bio’s build will be perfect for the Rocky Mountain foothills is Spring as I’m running through snow melt and mud. I am definitely looking forward to giving these a try.

Sunday Afternoon Hats


When I moved to Boulder from the midwest, I realized how important it was to have a hat anytime you’re outdoors. There’s a certain degree of protection sunscreen can provide, but a hat, more than anything else, keeps the sun off your face. But with the right hat, you can also look really cool.

There was a point last Spring where I was hiking up Mount Sanitas and I passed someone wearing a trucker hat with an amazing painting of a mountain printed on it. I couldn’t get it out of my head, until I saw Sunday Afternoon Hats at Outdoor Retailer in July. I picked up a couple hats and they easily became part of my rotation of headwear during my weekly runs.

It was great seeing them again at the Winter Market and was really happy we had a chance to talk to them about their company as they celebrated their 25th year of business. We were also able to get a peek at their full lineup of trucker hats and there are some sweet designs in the market.

They are also getting ready to launch a new [redacted] that has some awesome features for runners: [redacted], [redacted] and some really amazing [redacted]. You’ll just have to wait till Spring 2019 to find out.

You can never have too many hats for a sunny day, even though my wife might disagree.

G.Y.S.T.


One of my favorite people to have met at Outdoor Retailer was Dominique Aris, founder and design director of G.Y.S.T. Sporting Goods. We were able to bond over the cold Minnesota winters, but he also took time out of his day to show us some his products.

Once or twice a week, I do a 10-11 mile commute into Boulder for work. Usually I’m doing it with a laptop bag strapped to my back with a change of work clothes and running clothes, lunch, and a few other necessities crammed into it. Whenever I’m transitioning from commuter clothes to work clothes or into running clothes for a lunchtime run, I’m slightly irritated by that dance we do when we’re in a bathroom trying to change while also trying to avoid putting our bare feet on the dirty ground.

Dominique set out to fix that by creating a functional bag system that makes changing clothes before and after exercising easier. The design allows you to fold out a changing mat to stand on; whether that’s in your office’s bathroom, on the beach removing a wetsuit, or changing out of your snow gear.

He also had a functional diaper bag that would have made traveling with a baby so much easier.

Knog – Front Light

I do a lot of night running. One of the biggest challenge when you’re running on the street is being seen. During Outdoor Retailer, I had a chance to play around with these little, cool functional lights from Knog. They’re small, but they clip to your shirt or running vest and provide a sense of “Hey, I’m here! Look out!”

They’re rechargeable and output around 40 lumens. It’s not enough to light a trail, but it’s enough for when you’re running before nightfall or in an area where there’s just enough light to see where you’re going.

I’m excited to take these outside for running, but they’re also going to be super handy for camping.

There was a lot more we saw and you’ll have to head over to our YouTube page to see some more in-depth conversations with these brands. Keep an eye out on our blog for more updates, as well.

My Minimalist Journey – Vibram FiveFinger V-Trail Review

In 2009, I was introduced to the barefoot movement by a Kansas City based barefoot runner—Barefoot Ted or Barefoot Ned, I can’t remember. It was the same year that Born to Run by Christopher McDougall was published. After my first barefoot running session and feeling those sensations of grass and squishing mud—sensations that I don’t think I felt since I was a child—I ran out and picked up the book, devouring it over the course of a week.

Between runs in modern running shoes, I would try to run barefoot, a little bit at a time. After a particularly scorching summer day on sidewalks, I realized that urban Kansas City wasn’t the best place to embrace the movement. But the core idea of the movement was in the back of my head: how can I get back to a place where my feet were behaving naturally and how can I get more connected with the surfaces I was running on.

Almost a year later, in 2010, I had a running injury that caused me severe pain in my achilles tendon. It didn’t matter what pair of shoes I tried, the modern rigid structure of various brands caused me to almost stop running.

That was when I was first introduced to Vibram FiveFingers. They were preparing for their launch of their Bikilas line, and it was love at first sight.

Prior to their launch, I decided to make my own pair of huarache sandals, so that I could continue running. Imagine the shock of the local cobbler when I came in with instructions to cut 4mm Vibram rubber into the shape of my feet.

After another month, the Bikilas were launched, and I made my first purchase of Vibram FiveFingers. Over the years, I owned two different releases of Bikilas, Spyridon for trail-running, TrekSport, and the V-Run. I would wear them running, on dates with the wife, and to work. There was something magical about those shoes that kept me going back to them.

This past year, I moved to Boulder, Colorado, and was introduced to winter and mountain running. The Spyridon became my go-to for snowy runs up Bear Mountain or on some of the more technical trails in Boulder.

But then Vibram sent me a pair of their FiveFinger V-Trail to review.

The update to their trail-running line up was immediately evident. One of the main differences was in the shape of the heel cup. There was more padding, which made pulling the shoe on and off a lot easier, but also provided more protection which is key in more technical terrain.

The fit is really comfortable too. I felt secure in them, but as I ran over rocks and tree roots, it was the right sense of protection but still having the sense of connection and ground feel. Going up Mount Sanitas in Boulder felt amazing. On the uphill climb, I felt more stable and secure, and was able to push myself harder. Because of the way FiveFingers fit—essentially like a glove for your feet—I was able to grip, dig in with my toes, and push myself up boulders a lot quicker. On the downhill of that particular run I felt more in control, finding myself in an almost meditative pattern over familiar terrain.

I also took the opportunity to take them on a 15-mile trail loop called Dirty Bismark. There isn’t a lot of elevation gain and the trail wasn’t too technical, so it became a speed game—seeing how fast I could go in the shoes before I felt worn out.

But that’s the magical thing about minimalist running: when you do it long enough, you start training your body to use all the bones and muscles in your foot; you’re not just more connected to the ground, your connecting deeper with yourself.

For the fit, if you’re new to Vibram FiveFingers, it definitely something to try out in store, if you have the opportunity. With the various pairs I own—bought over the course of eight years—sizes range from 41-44. If you’re ordering from their site, Vibram’s sizing guide for their FiveFinger line is very handy. You also need to consider whether you’ll be active in them with socks or without, since that will impact sizing. For myself, I go both ways. Usually if I am heading out on short runs, I’ll wear them without socks, but for longer runs, I’ll toss on a pair of Injinji trail socks.

When I headed up Mt Bierstadt and Mt Evans this summer, I ran/hiked in the V-Trail and Injinji combination. It was the perfect shoe for the more technical aspects of Sawtooth Ridge, providing a sense of stability where some of my other minimalist footwear choices wouldn’t. Even though the route was around 12 miles with 4,500 foot in elevation gain, my feet didn’t feel tired—everything else did, but my feet felt great.

All in all, since picking up the Vibram FiveFinger V-Trail, I have put around 200 miles on them and couldn’t be happier. For the mileage, you can’t see any wear and tear. This is another great thing about FiveFingers and minimalist shoes in general—you don’t tear through them as quickly as other shoes. Typical, modern running shoes have a shelf life, depending on the brand, of around 250-500 miles. There’s still FiveFinger shoes in my collection that are 5 years old, with over 500 miles on them that I still wear. With my FiveFingers, the only ones I’ve retired are the ones wear I’ve completely worn through the outsole.

If you’re part of the minimalist movement, you should definitely pick up a pair of the V-Trail and hit some trails with them. If you’re new to minimalism, please keep in mind that transitioning from modern running shoes to minimalist takes time. It took me four months of running in my Bikilas to run a 10K comfortably; you build a little bit at a time, strengthening muscles and bones that haven’t been used in a long time. In this article, you’re only seeing a small slice of my minimalist journey. I started eight years ago, but didn’t start running in minimalist shoes full time until four years ago. I’ll share some additional details in future posts.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions about the V-Trail or any other minimalist shoes. You can reach me at jnelson@huckadventures.com or if you’re in Boulder, feel free to look up one of my upcoming trail running adventures as part of Huck Adventures.