Gear

Trail Tested: Xero Shoes TerraFlex

Trail Runner's comprehensive review of choice running gear by our professional testers.

Xero Terraflex Minimalist Running Shoe

Weight: 8.2 oz (men’s size 7)

MSRP: $100

First Impressions

What stands out with the Terraflex is its pure simplicity—there are no excessive contraptions built into these shoes. They are light, agile and extremely flexible.

Fit

The shoe is comfortable off the bat; I didn’t experience hotspots, chafing or blisters (which usually appear on my pinky toe during long runs). They are exceptionally light and sleek while providing ample room in the toe box. This model stands out because the toes are free to spread out into their natural state, but the shoe lacks the clunkiness that is typically associated with wide toe boxes—sweetness!

They feel a bit like wearing slippers in that there are not any hard curves or shape to them—they are there to do their job, nothing more. The fanciest feature is an adjustable heel strap feature that mimics huaraches by keeping the heel in place if tightened, reducing any unwanted movement or blistering, a huge plus in my book. The fit runs small, so go up a half size.

Features and Function

To use the heel-strap feature, pull the straps on the side of the shoe to your liking, then tighten with the laces. 

The tread is not overly aggressive, but great for all sorts of terrain. They performed well over snow, mud, rocky terrain and dirt roads.

Many minimalist or barefoot-style shoes are so thin that you may feel like your feet have been put through a meat grinder after a long run on technical trails. The Terraflex gives enough protection, without relying on unwanted cushion or support.

For minimalist-shoe fans, the Terraflex is a versatile all-arounder for rocky, muddy, snowy or smooth trails. In icy conditions, simply strap on MICROspikes. They also perform well on roads, since the lugs are not aggressive. 

Drawbacks

The laces are super fat and annoying to tie, but they don’t untie by themselves very easily, so it’s a tradeoff. 

Do not expect tons of ankle or arch support with this shoe. If you need more ankle support, look into Xero’s Daylite Hiker. For more arch support, insoles are an option.

These would not be my first pick for highly technical or off-trail adventure running, as these endeavors may require more all-around support.

The Terraflex are not waterproof, but are breathable.

The fit runs small, so go up a half size.

Final Thought

The company has pretty sweet warranty policies: If you wear your FeelTrue® outsoles (or FeelTrue® section of Z-Trail) down to less than 1mm thick at the ball or heel of the foot (not an edge), they’ll replace them with the same product for 60% off MSRP (full, non-sale, listed, retail price) for the product, plus shipping. Xero Shoes are also guaranteed against manufacturer defects for 12 months from the date of purchase.

That saves you money and cuts down on environmental impacts. Xero replacements? I like that. 

 

—Jacky Thompson has been running for nine years. When she isn’t rock climbing, running, foraging or frolicking outside in some way, she can be found practicing yoga, playing music and creating culinary and herbal concoctions.

Jacky Thompson is the intern at Trail Runner magazine.