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Earth Runners Adventure Sandals Review

Earth Runners Adventure Sandals
Earth Runners Adventure Sandals

There was a moment a few weekends ago when I was hiking in Boulder Canyon with my Earth Runners Adventure Sandals when my brain experienced a glitch in the matrix. I’m not sure what set it off, but there was something so primitive in that moment of being out in the woods, on a dirt and rocky trail, with these huarache-style sandals that made me feel at one with everything around me. 

When I sat with that feeling and began to process it, what I felt was this sense of connection with the dust and rocks underneath my feet. It wasn’t an unusual feeling. If you’ve noticed any trend in the types of shoes I cover for reviews, they are all minimalist. And I’ve had minimal sandals before. But these sandals by Earth Runners were so rugged and earthy and made in a more primitive style that things just clicked—or glitched—and it felt great.

It makes sense that I experienced what I experienced. A part of Earth Runners mission is to help people connect with their primal side. They are a minimalist sandal company that offer customizable sandal options for every foot and every activity.

Since getting a pair of their Circadian Adventure Sandals it’s been an interesting journey to get where I’m at with them. I chose a model that had a thicker and—at least out-of-the-box—less flexible lace. 

I’m so used to getting a pair of shoes, putting them on, and getting after life. But with these, they needed time, and love, and attention. 

Earth Runners Adventure Sandals
Earth Runners Adventure Sandals

It took me a while to get it. I adjusted the tightness of the laces. I pivoted the anchor lace that went between my first two toes. Part of the issue I was experiencing was that the lace was putting pressure on my second metatarsal which I had fractured 9 years ago.

With continued use, the laces loosened to a point where these sandals have become my go-to. As long as the weather isn’t too cold you’ll find me in them—on the trail, at the office, at home. 

They’re amazing. The only thing I’d caution against is jumping in too fast and falling out of love with them. Go in knowing that it’s going to take some time.

But it’ll be well worth it.

Xero Shoes Fall 2020 New Release Reviews

Xero Shoes Fall 2020 Lineup
Xero Shoes Fall 2020 Lineup

Xero Shoes is a Colorado-based minimalist shoe company. They believe in the natural ability in feet; that they are meant to bend, flex, move freely and feel. They have a wide selection of incredibly light shoes and sandals built with this “foot-first” mission.

All of their shoes have the same DNA:

  • A wide toe box that lets your toes spread and relax
  • Zero-drop, non-elevated heel for proper posture
  • Flexible soles so that your feet bend and flex naturally
  • Natural feel through their thin soles; allowing your feet and brain to regularly communicate

I’ve been wearing various pairs of shoes—mostly in their running and hiking categories—and couldn’t have been more happy about testing out their Fall 2020 lineup.

APTOS

Xero Shoes Aptos
Xero Shoes Aptos

First up is the Xero Shoes Aptos. For Fall 2020, this shoes is part of their casual lineup, and right out of the gate I love it. 

It still retains the classic Xero Shoes design with these mid-point straps. While in this shoe they aren’t as functional as other products (mainly because of the lack of laces), the shoe fits well.

The shoe I tested is a 10.5 Mens. Normally with Xero Shoes products I’m a size 11. Because of the lack of laces, I scaled down to make sure I had a room to flex and feel, but without having my foot move around too much.

The look of these are amazing. They look a lot like the classic Vans slip-on. These have become a staple for me in the office mainly because it allows me to be little bit more dressy, but while still being able to wear a minimalist shoe.

The top is super sleek with it’s hemp upper. It’s great to pair with a pair of jeans or something a little less casual.

Xero Shoes sells these in men and women sizes in two colors: black and navy.

ALPINE

Xero Shoes Alpine
Xero Shoes Alpine

Xero Shoes is also releasing a snow-friendly, waterproof, insulated boot: The Apline. It has polyester insulation, heat-reflective insoles, and a fully seam-sealed lining to get you warm and dry.

While I was testing them in August without any snow available for a deeper test, I tried them out in two different scenarios.

  • Ice Bucket Challenge. I filled a bucket with ice and stepped into it with the boot on. The beauty of the heat-reflective insole is that it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. While there was some cold that seeped through, my foot was still extremely comfortable. I left it in for 45 minutes and while a lot of ice melted, the inside of the shoe was dry.
  • Snowshoeing. This is always the question I have for minimalist winter boots: can I snowshoe in them? The extent of this test of just strapping a pair of snowshoes on. While it was successful and I didn’t have any issues with the boot slipping out while walking around my yard, it’s fair to say that this test was incomplete.

I can’t wait for Winter to come so that I can test these more fully and will post a follow-up review after our first significant snowfall.

The Alpine I tested was a size 11 Mens. It’s fit is loose, but that’s good. When I test this further in the winter, I’ll be pairing it with thicker socks and for snowshoeing it’ll be good to have some extra room in them.

HANA

Xero Shoes Leather Hana
Xero Shoes Leather Hana

Four years ago when I first discovered Xero Shoes, the Hana was one of my first purchases and I still have that original shoe. Even though it’s been fairly beat up it’s still a slick shoe to wear into the office.

For Fall 2020, Xero Shoes is adding to their original model’s lineup a Hana with a leather upper. Even with the leather upgrade, the Hana retains its original slipper-like feel and true to Xero Shoes design it retains the functional, huarache-inspired heel strap for a more secure fit.

While the original Hana was a classy shoe for wearing out around town or in the office, the leather definitely helps the shoe step up the classiness an extra notch. Stylish, comfortable, minimalist shoes for work wear or more formal engagements has always been challenging. While there are more brands on the market trying to deliver this function, they typically run into the same issues: they are either too expensive, too weird-looking, or don’t have enough form to them and after a few wears look trashy.

These on the other hand are pretty damn awesome. I’ve played around a bit with different outfits and they worked well whether I was pairing them with a suit jacket or a short-sleeved button up.

The Hana I tested was a size 11 Mens. It felt true to size.

OSWEGO

Xero Shoes Oswego
Xero Shoes Oswego

Oswego is new for Xero Shoes this fall. And out of everything I’ve tested, my favorite. It stands out as a performance-shoe, but with a style that you could easily take from the trail to Main Street.

The bottoms have the same grippy pattern on the sole as their Speed Force shoe, but the uppers have a cool polyester knit upper.

My first impression was how close they look to All Birds. I remember when All Birds came out and Googling whether they were minimalist and being disappointed when I found out that they weren’t. The Birds were stylish and cool, but now with the Oswego, I can easily give that brand the bird when sporting these.

These shoes, because of their nature, have been the most heavily tested. Because of the grippy sole I’ve taken them for runs, flipped tires in the backyard in them, and cycled to the office in them. They work well in all scenarios. Can you think of another shoe that you could bike to work in, go for a run in, and shoe up to an executive meeting in? I can’t.

The Oswego that I tested was a size 11 Mens. I felt it was true to size.

When they launch they will come in an assortment of colors for both Men and Women.

PHOENIX

Xero Shoes Leather and Knit Phoenix
Xero Shoes Leather and Knit Phoenix

We also tested out two versions of the Phoenix: a classy women’s flat in both knit and full-grain leather.

My wife has naturally wide feet that make shoe-buying hard, which is why she gravitates towards minimalist brands, but with that comes another, more serious challenge: finding cute shoes.

Any time she needs to buy more dressy shoes, it’s a struggle finding anything wide enough. Most women’s “wide” shoes on the market just aren’t that wide. 

With the Phoenix, right off the bat, she noticed the 8 Wide’s sole was wider than the widest dress shoe in her closet. My wife also thought the design of the shoe was “super cute” with the lines and texture on a corner top of the shoe. For sizing, she usually wears an 8W, and these were a perfect fit. 

My wife found the knit version of the Phoenix to be great for wide feet. She has a wide toe box, and her feet were actually wider than this shoe. But, because the knit version has some stretch to it, it felt really comfortable and she has been getting a lot of wear out of this pair. It cleans easily and can be dressed up or down. 

The leather Phoenix was a bit less forgiving for wide feet. The leather is thick and didn’t stretch as much as she’d hoped, so it was a bit of a squeeze for her at first. She found that after some wear, the leather had more give and was more comfortable. She found the leather to be more dressy than the knit. 

She said Xero shoes did really well with this design and she’s excited to have shoes that are both comfortable and dressy. 

Lems Version 2 of the Trailhead is versatile and stylish

Lems Trailhead

I am a big fan of companies that listen to feedback from their customers and use it to actually make changes to products! That’s exactly what Lems did when outdoor enthusiasts let them know that their women’s Trailhead shoes were not quite perfect yet. 

I reviewed the first version of Lems Trailhead back in June. I enjoyed the shoe but did find it to be a bit narrow. A lot of Lems loyalists also found the shoes to be narrow, as well as stiff with its rock plate.

So, Lems took the shoes back to the drawing board. They redesigned them to make adjustments where needed while maintaining the functionality that attracted me to this shoe in the first place. The alterations range from practically non-noticeable removal of the bunion area overlay to ahhhhh-inspiring increases in toe box width (read the full list of changes HERE).  

One difference from the original Lems Trailhead design is that the lacing system. It used to have two loops, but Lems reduced it to one to release pressure on the top of the foot. I noticed that with this change, the tongue has a bit more tendency to shift to the side. By paying a bit of attention when lacing up, I can ensure it stays where it should.

They also widened the toebox, but if you have wide feet, these may still be too narrow for you. Even with the increased width in the toe box this shoe is narrower than others in Lems product line.

Flexibility has increased from the first design to the second with the removal of the rock plate. There is adequate tread and cushioning on both of the designs to provide comfort while trekking. The biggest difference is your foot feels more of the impact and terrain with the newer version. I would limit this shoe’s use to walking around town or for day hikes where the added flexibility increases comfort. I appreciate rock plates in my shoes for backpacking to minimize foot fatigue on longer multi-day hikes.

These shoes have become the workhorse of my footwear. They are comfortable for the mundane mile-long walk to school with the kids in the morning, and stylish enough for travel to far-off places where we are on our feet exploring all day long.

I recently took them on a four-mile hike in the foothills of Boulder, Colo. I was pleased with their grip on the sandstone boulders we climbed over. The onyx color does have a tendency to show dust after hikes. But, I can are easily restore them with a quick wipe down. They also pair as easily with leggings as they do jeans or even a casual dress.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio truly ‘goes green’

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Download on the Apple App StoreDownload on the Google Play Store

The hot trend in footwear over the last couple of years has been tied to the sustainability movement. Brand after brand are announcing new sustainable measures they are taking to help save the planet. You can now buy shoes made from plastic, ocean plastic, recycled shoes, or even from biomass.

But try as they might, I’m a big believer that the only sustainable shoe is a minimalist shoe. 

Over 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced annually. Because traditional shoes have a six to nine month, or 250-350 mile lifespan, it’s estimated that 300 million pairs ending up in landfills after they have been worn out.

Minimalist shoe brands, like Vivobarefoot, have always had a special place in my heart. One of the first reviews we published was of their Primus SG trail-running shoe. I’ve had them for almost a year, putting over 1,000 miles on them on trails, including 50K, 55K, and 50-mile ultramarathons. And they’re still holding up. Sure the lugs have worn down, but they are still my go-to shoe for trail running. I’ll probably continue wearing them until my toes start poking out of the bottom.

But that’s the difference between a minimalist shoe versus a modern shoe. When a modern shoe breaks down, it’s in the cushion and the arch support. Your feet are weaker in them, and they pick up on the discomfort a heckuva lot faster. With minimalist shoes, there’s next to nothing between you and the ground, and your feet are stronger. So, when it comes to wear and tear, the deciding factor to buy a new pair is usually how visible your toes are or the attractiveness of the next new thing.

The Next New Thing

Vivobarefoot is committed to sustainability. By 2020, their goal is to have 90 percent of their shoe materials made from sustainable material.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

In July, Vivobarefoot sent me a pair of their Primus Lite II Bio, their most sustainably-made shoe, to review. At first glance, it’s not my typical style–it’s green. Not a cool, dark forest green like the Primus SG, but a bright green that lets your feet stand out wherever you are walking. They aren’t the type of shoes an introvert like myself typically wears because they are conversation starters. But it does allow me to geek out a bit, because these shoes have a pretty awesome story.

The Construction

Vivobarefoot first started making shoes with bio-based materials in 2017, when they created the Ultra Bloom, a shoe moulded from algae-based foam. They had discovered that the algae choking the world’s waterways could be repurposed into a foam material.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

As chemical waste seeps into waterways, an algae forms. The algae releases toxins in the air that are harmful to humans and animals. It also depletes oxygen from the water and blocks sunlight, which negatively impacts marine ecosystems. By repurposing this algae, for every show they make, Vivobarefoot recirculates 57 gallons of clean water back into natural habitats and prevents the equivalent of 40 balloons full of CO2 being released into the Earth’s atmosphere.

But they didn’t stop there.

With the Primus Lite II Bio, they use a corn-based biopolymer made of yellow dent field corn called Susterra Propanediol. This material is made from glucose from field corn and is petroleum free and non-toxic. It also uses 52 percent less energy than other petroleum-based materials and causes 32 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

So, you’re literally “going green” when you wear these shoes.

The Wear and Feel

Just like every other pair of Vivobarefoot shoes I’ve opened, it was easy to fall in love with them. These shoes quickly became my go-to shoes during the summer. I’d wear them to the office, on bike rides, running errands—essentially anytime that I didn’t want to wear sandals.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

When packing for a week-long conference in Boston, I debated over which shoes I should pack, but ultimately decided to go all-in and just pack the Primus Lite II Bio.

I was happy I did. Boston is an amazingly-walkable city. From the time I landed at the airport till the time I left, I didn’t step foot in another vehicle (with the exception of a water taxi). At the conference I was on my feet a lot as well. Through it all, my feet were surprisingly comfortable. The materials breathed well, and there wasn’t a day where I got home and had to unpeel sweaty socks off my feet.

They are also part of Vivobarefoot’s active line, and while testing them, I have taken them on runs on the road, concrete sidewalks, and lightly graveled paths. They’ve held up well, allowing for ample ground-feel as any true minimalist shoe should. These were size 11, and with Vivobarefoot, I’ve found that they fit comfortably snug on the side while leaving plenty of room in the toe-box. Even with the extra room, I’ve never felt my foot slide in the shoe or have blisters form due to too much movement.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

And the green coloring is surprisingly easy to style with your wardrobe and very modern looking.

Conclusion

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love these shoes. It’s awesome to wear something that has such a strong sustainability message. I’m excited to see how Vivobarefoot continues to embrace their sustainability message and how it affects their lineup of shoes.

Please note that Vivobarefoot is an affiliate to Huck Adventures, and at no additional cost to you, Huck earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the links above. We appreciate your support!

Download on the Apple App StoreDownload on the Google Play Store

Xero Shoes Prio – Product Review

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

Two years ago, I had worn through another pair of minimalist shoes. I had only owned them for three months and my mileage wasn’t anywhere near where it is today. Also, I was living in Kansas City. Most of the terrain I was running on was pavement and sidewalks.

I needed another pair of minimalist shoes for running—ones that wouldn’t wear through. A big piece of why I ran in minimalist shoes was because of sustainability. In theory, and what should be practice, I should be able to run in minimalist shoes for two to three times the mileage modern shoes would get.

I was on the hunt.

Luckily, Steven Sashen of Xero Shoes was an internet marketing whiz and started serving me prospecting and retargeting ads based on my search queries. It was the first time I had heard of Xero Shoes, even though I was familiar with Steven’s first foray in minimalist footwear.

We had actually crossed paths on the internet several years earlier. Steven had started a company creating DIY huarache sandals called Invisible Shoes. His DIY kits were what had inspired me to visit a local cobbler with instructions to cut 4mm Vibram rubber into the shape of my feet.

Xero Shoes Prio

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

The particular shoes I kept seeing were the Xero Shoes Prio. They are a “performance” shoe made for running, cross fit training, or for everyday use. They are lightweight and flexible, allowing feet to flex, bend, and move naturally. 

The Sole

The Prio uses Xero Shoes’ 5.5mm FeelTrue rubber sole that’s featured on many of their products. One of the things that caught my eye, given my challenges with other minimalist shoes, was their 5,000 mile warranty. If you wear down the sole to 1mm at the heel or ball of the sole, they will replace the product at 60 percent off MSRP, plus shipping. Which is an amazing offer. Challenge accepted. 

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

I’ve logged over 500 miles on my Xero Shoes Prio and the soles have held up great. Only 4,500 more to go.

Traction on the sole has held up as well. The bottom of the shoe is covered with arrows pointing forward and backwards to provide traction whether you are moving uphill or downhill. They are deep enough to provide traction on gravel trails, but not enough for more technical terrain. 

The Build

The shoe is constructed with vegan-friendly materials. Even after running 500 miles in them, they’ve held up great.

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

The exterior has a huarache-inspired design—a nice throwback to Invisible Shoes—that is a functional part of the design, letting the wearer adjust for a more-perfect fit. It also has an adjustable instep strap so you can lock your foot in place while letting your toes move freely.

Conclusion

The Xero Shoes Prio was an amazing entry point into Xero Shoes. Since that first purchase, I’ve bought five different products. The sole is one of the most durable in the industry, and I’ve enjoyed every run in them.

Please note that Xero Shoes is an affiliate to Huck Adventures, and at no additional cost to you, Huck earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the links above. We appreciate your support!