Xero Shoes Genesis Sandals BareTread Review

By Alin Ciocan | December 12, 2023

Xero Shoes Genesis Sandals

The Xero Shoes Genesis sandals offer the liberating feel of going barefoot with the protection of a minimalist shoe. Weighing only 4 ounces, the sandals feature a flexible 5mm FeelTrue rubber sole for ground feedback.

The adjustable lacing system and soft webbing ensure a custom, secure fit for all-day wear. From hiking dusty trails to strolling city streets, the packable Genesis sandals provide just enough coverage while letting your feet move and flex naturally. Adventure in comfort with these versatile, barefoot-inspired sandals.

Reviewed at $44.99, prices may vary

Barefoot Comfort




Style / Design




Last Updated on December 15, 2023

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Xero Shoes Genesis Sandals Review: Your Gateway to Minimalist Freedom

As an adventurer always seeking to optimize my gear, I’m constantly experimenting with the latest innovations in barefoot footwear. Minimalist shoes promise a more natural experience that strengthens feet and enhances proprioception. However, finding true barefoot magic often requires sacrificing performance and protection.

Xero Shoes Genesis

In my quest to test the leading options in the barefoot universe, the Xero Shoes Genesis Sandals caught my eye. Xero Shoes pioneered the modern huarache-style minimalist shoe.

Their popular Genesis Sandal represents an evolution of those beginnings into an adaptable, do-anything summer adventure sandal.

Pros and Cons


Great value for the price

Good ground feel and flexibility

Contoured footbed

Easy to put on and adjust

Vegan friendly


Lack traction in wet conditions

Minimal protection for feet

Straps may wear out over time

Not as secure as some other sport sandal models

Can take time to adjust to minimalist design


Customizable Fit
I can’t overstate how clutch the adjustable lacing and Achilles strap are for accommodating different feet out of the box. Compared to simple flip flops, Xero Genesis molds better to your distinct contours.

High-Quality Materials
From the molded EVA midsole to the durable sharkskin rubber tread, the Genesis clearly utilizes premium materials that enhance comfort and longevity. It’s a well known fact in the industry that Xero offers a 5000 miles guarantee.

Decent Wet/Dry Traction
The barefoot sole performs admirably across most surfaces outside of slimy wet rock. The tread design trades deep lugs for flexible grip.

Lightweight Packability
Weighing just 4-5 ounces and lacking bulky design elements makes the Xero Genesis wonderfully packable for travel and backcountry trips alike.

Barefoot Dexterity
The thin sole combined with the foot-hugging fit opens dexterity and proprioception similar to actually being barefoot on trails.

For everything you get feature-wise, the Xero Genesis offers tremendous value usually around just $50 depending on size.


Minimal Cushioning
Don’t expect much shock absorption or padding from the thin, flexible 5mm sole. Definitely responds better on dirt than pavement.

Reduced Traction When Wet
While the Genesis performs better than expected around water, traction still falls short of a true water shoe once saturated.

Slap Noise Factor
Yes, the classic huarache slap will inevitably draw some attention and questions when walking around urban areas. Not the best for stealth.

Lack Support for Heavy Loads
The simplicity of straps doesn’t offer much side-to-side stability for tackling challenging terrain with a heavy pack.

Break-In Period
Depending on foot sensitivity, the webbing between toes may cause temporary irritation until skin adapts and strengthens.

This Xero Genesis sandal review will break down exactly who I’d recommend this unique huarache-inspired design for and where it falls short. Because while testing, I found the Genesis stretches the definition of “minimalist sandal” nearly to a lightweight hiking shoe.

Xero Shoes Genesis Overview: Reviving the Ancient Huarache

Xero Shoes launched in 2009 as “Invisible Shoes”, selling kits for customers to make their own huarache-style sandals.

After years of refining materials and construction, Xero Shoes now directly manufactures multiple huarache variations rather than just DIY kits. The Genesis Sandal represents a culmination of that decade of learnings into a feature-packed yet zero-drop barefoot hiker.

Here are the basic specs of this flexible adventure sandal:

  • 5mm FeelTrue rubber sole
  • Adjustable heel strap and lacing
  • Neoprene Achilles strap
  • Lightweight at 4-5 ounces per sandal
  • Packable and quick dry

But what exactly does this translate to for performance? I put them through a gauntlet of testing environments to find out.

Testing Xero Shoes Genesis for Durability: Urban Hikes to Rugged Trails

Minimalist sandals often come with compromise—either low durability or lack of protection. With the Genesis, I was curious just how rugged of adventures one could undertake with barely-there shoes.

To test the durability and protective limits, I wore the Xero Genesis for everything from urban travel to rocky mountain trails. Here’s how the sandals held up to the diverse summer conditions:

High Mile Urban Exploration in the Genesis

First, I wanted to trial the comfort of Xero Genesis for long hours of walkability. I strapped them on for all-day treks through the city during the summer for 20+ miles on steamy pavement over a few days.

summer in the city steets

The barefoot soles prevented my feet from getting too hot while maintaining decent ground manipulation. But more importantly, thanks to the molded EVA midsole and adjustable lacing, my feet avoided sore, tired hotspots during the lengthy slogs.

The only downside was sound—the unique slap of huarache sandals inevitably draws looks in urban settings. So wearers need to accept the conversation-starter factor.

Xero Shoes Genesis on Sandy Beaches and Sea Rocks

What’s more iconic summer footwear than sandals? So I had to know—could the Xero Genesis handle the surf and sand?

xero shoes genesis performed well on the beach

Strolling down the beach, the Genesis delivered. The minimalist design prevented sand overload while the grippy sole flickered away debris collected while hiking to and from the tide lines.

However, once I entered the water, limitations quickly surfaced. Attempting any rock scrambling or climbing using the wet barefoot sole felt sketchy at best. The sandy sharkskin texture failed to inspire sea cliff confidence.

Xero Shoes Genesis has it’s limits

So while perfect for casual beach bumming, don’t expect the Xero Genesis sandals to transform into water adventure shoes. They swim just fine. Just watch slippery surfaces once saturated.

The Genesis on Rocky Trails and Dusty Paths

The true test came pounding the rubber soles on extended backcountry treks across scree fields, desert landscapes, and alpine forests.

Mile after mile, the Xero Genesis straps kept feet locked comfortably in place. The adjustable lacing alleviated swelling pressure during steep descents. Compared to flip flops, the heel strap prevented the slap of unsecured shoes.

Xero Shoes Genesis Soles

Both on and off trail, the flexible sole allowed the feedback and dexterity of being barefoot without puncture threats. I could nimbly scramble boulders and tree roots free of constraints.

In the end, Xero Shoes notes the Genesis works well for marathon distances. And their claim proved spot on for me. The barely-there feel sets them apart from traditional hiking sandals for rugged adventures.

Xero Genesis Sandal Sizing and Fit Experience

Minimalist sandals live or die by their ability to secure firmly to unique foot shapes. We come equipped with all sorts of curvatures that can cause problems for adjustable straps.

Thankfully, the Xero Shoes Genesis Sandals shine when it comes to accommodating variance. Both the stretchy heel strap and adjustable lacing conform well without pinch points.

Official Xero Shoes Video about fitting the sandals

Out of the box I found the sizing accurate to what I’d expect in normal summer shoes. But thewe customizable features then enabled really dialing in the perfect tension.

I appreciated how easy it was loosening and tightening the fit when slipping on and off for creek crossings or removing trail debris. The process only takes seconds once you find your custom lacing pattern.

Thanks to this youtube video I found I managed to get rid of the slapping noise

The only consideration is adjusting to having fabric strapped between the toes. The webbing aims to minimize any irritation points. But depending on foot sensitivity, it may take an initial breaking-in phase.

Ideal Users for the Xero Shoes Genesis Sandal

The Xero Genesis carves out an intriguing niche between a casual barefoot sandal and versatile adventure hiker. Here is a breakdown of which users can maximize the unique blend of minimalism, comfort, and protection:

  • Beginner Barefoot Explorers Want to test the barefoot waters beyond simple flip flops but not ready to commit to full shoes? The Genesis allows conveniently dipping a toe into grounded feel.
  • Backcountry Weekend Adventurers If fastpacking moderate trail distances with light packs, the Genesis provides impressive versatility without burdensome weight.
  • Water Sport Enthusiasts The quick-drying construction and grippy sole serve well for activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing whereMERGE wet conditions are only occasional.
  • Ultralight Thru-Hikers Technical long-distance backpackers may appreciate the barely-there construction for long arduous miles where every ounce matters.
  • Casual Warm Weather Wanderers Going on a cruise, tropical getaway, or car camping trip? The Genesis saves room in luggage with compressible minimalism perfect for leisure travelers.

Final Verdict: Gateway Drug to the Barefoot World

Through all my testing across soggy shorelines to mountain peaks, the Xero Shoes Genesis Sandals impressed with blend of adaptability, toughness, and grounded feel. The crafted-over-years lacing system and molded sole highlight attention to quality and performance.

While purist barefoot enthusiasts may gripe about slight thickness compromising ground feedback, the 5mm sole still transmits texture well for most feet. And in trade enables all-day miles.

For those looking to dip their toes into minimalist footwear, I’d whole-heartedly recommend the Xero Genesis as a gateway sandal. Before committing to full barefoot running shoes, the Genesis allows conveniently testing enhanced proprioception and foot dexterity.

Yet with the rugged durability, you may just find this barely-there huarache replaces all your other summer footwear. I know for my quiver of adventure sandals, the Xero Genesis now anchors the lineup.

Have you tested the Xero Shoes Genesis or other barefoot sandals? Share your experiences and questions below!