Shoe Review: XeroShoes HFS Minimalist Lightweight Road Running

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Review Summary:

​One of the best, most versatile general and athletic use truly minimalist shoes on the market, at a very reasonable price point.

Pros

  • True minimalist design with 5.5MM outsole that includes a 5000-mile warranty, and a 2MM removable insole.
  • New vehicle tire inspired tread pattern.
  • Reflective trim for enhanced safety at night.
  • Attractive, flexible, light with some extra toe protection and a breathable upper mesh designed for sock free use.
  • Uppers have enough material to help keep feet warm in sub-freezing temperatures, yet are light and breathable for hot summer days.

Cons

  • I typically need to double knot the laces to prevent them from coming loose. If there were a way to improve the laces, that might be nice. I’d give this model a 10, but that wouldn’t leave room for improvements.
Specs  
Use Road Running shoe designed for paved surfaces
Weight 6.8 oz per shoe for a men’s size 9
Materials “Vegan Friendly” Rubber and fabric
Water Not waterproof. Dries faster than the similar Xero Prio model
Widths available One standard width. Xero Shoes are designed with a generous forefoot area to handle most foot widths.
Season All-season use. I like my shoes sized and laced loosely, which will usually allow for a heavier weight sock for sub-freezing temperatures. By removing the insole, you can ‘create more space” to add a heavier weight winter sock.

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Detailed review:

(Skip to video review)

Xero Shoes was founded on selling simple huarache kit sandals roughly ten years ago, so they started with the least foot protection and built their lineup from a paradigm where everything is functional with the least impact on the natural motion. All other Xero Shoes and sandals have a functional strap on the sides for tension adjustments. The HFS is an exception, the pattern of stripes on the HFS are a nod to the huarache lacing appearance and are reflective. For my use, the heel area has been stable enough via the regular laces on top. The huarache style pattern is a wise nod to their history and style. HFS means Happy Face Shoes, or High-Frequency Stride. Or whatever you prefer, holy Flippin Shinola!

XeroShoes HFS rolled for review

The HFS is the first shoe I’ve ever worn for an entire 100-mile foot race! Typically, people know me as “the sandal guy”. My “HFS 100 mile run” was not planned and I wore toe socks due to many hours of sub-freezing temperatures for that run over Mother’s Day weekend. I had sandals in my drop bags to wear for the warmer mid-day temps, but my feet were so comfortable and my pace strong enough that I opted to leave the HFS’s on for the full distance, which was mostly blacktop bike trail with occasional opportunities to run on gravel, dirt or grass. I’ve found the HFS very nice for trail running as well. The heavy lugs on many trail racing shoes can inspire a false sense of security, so as an ultra runner focused on injury-free running, I prefer to keep a safe pace and recover quickly for the next race. Nominal tread patterns work for me on rugged trails, especially if I add trekking poles for a safety assist.

The insoles are easily removed for cleaning or to get more feedback from the terrain. It feels like the outsole rubber on the HFS is a bit softer than other Xero models, but I’m not sure if that means the rubber may wear down faster. I find this shoe to be super comfortable and keep the laces extra loose so the running experience feels a bit like running in sandals. All Xero footwear is truly minimal. All are zero drops from heel to toe, no arch support, wide forefoot areas, thin and flexible outsoles, and lightweight.

XeroShoes insoles are easily removed for cleaning
XeroShoes HFS outsole

Ultramarathon runner Randy Kreill runs a 100 mile with XeroShoes HFS, a Minimalist Road Running Shoe, and survived to tell about it!

A 100 mile race with XeroShoes HFS!

Minimalist AVR Score: 9.8

Parameter Score Details
Wight 9.9 Very light
Wide toe box 9.7 Wide and flexible
Heel to Toe drop 10 No drop at all
Stack Height 9.2 5.5MM outsole and a 2MM removable insole
Sole flexibility 9.7 Very flexible
Foot grip 9.7 Effective lacing system for getting your custom fit
Support 10 No feel of any support, very flexible materials
Cushion 10 A plush “ride” for such a minimalist running shoe
Flat sole 10 No arch support and zero drop from heel to toe

Other parameters: 9.8

Parameter Score Details %
Does it do what it supposed to do? 9.8 Yes and it does much more 50%
Overall comfort in use: 9.9 Very comfortable materials 10%
Durability and quality of materials: 9.9 Run a 100 mile ultramarathon and much more 20%
Surface grip: 9.7 Very good traction 10%
Temperature isolation 9.9 Well ventilated for year round use 10%