Xero Shoes Mesa Trail II Review

By Alin Ciocan | December 20, 2023

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail 2 barefoot shoe

The Mesa Trail II retains the same minimalist design principles but makes noticeable improvements in materials, construction quality, fit, weight and aesthetics compared to the well-regarded original Mesa Trail model.

Underfoot, an updated sticky rubber compound with deeper lugs ensures reliable traction across loose dirt, jagged rocks and undulating terrain. A moisture-wicking liner brings extra comfort on sweat-inducing inclines while durable welded overlays shield from abrasive elements, complementing the vegan construction with ethical craftsmanship built to last.
Let’s put it to the test!

Barefoot Comfort




Style / Design




Last Updated on December 26, 2023

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Xero Shoes Mesa Trail II Review: Dialed-In Minimalist Trail Companion

As an avid barefoot runner logging over 500 miles a year, I’ve tested my share of “minimal” trail shoes claiming to offer ground feel while still providing protection. But too often overly-cushioned midsoles isolate sensation while questionable traction invites danger on rocky descents.

So when Xero Shoes launched the Mesa Trail 2 as an upgrade to their popular performance huarache-style shoe, I was eager to put its grip, comfort and ruggedness to the test across diverse topography.

  • Barefoot runners seeking enhanced traction over the original
  • Protective zero-drop trainer for transitioning technique
  • Racing rugged ultras with confidence on gnarly terrain
  • Hardcore minimalist hikers prioritizing every ounce

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail 2 Overview

Weighing a mere 221g (7.8oz) for a size 9 and around 8.2 oz in my men’s size 10, the Xero Mesa Trail 2 disappears once laced up. Underfoot, a 5mm layer of Xero’s proprietary FeelTrue rubber shields feet from abrasion while enabling flex critical for balance and agility.

Strategic rubberized welds defend high-wear zones for durability. Meanwhile, proprietary TrailFoam technology subtly absorbs vibration without dampening critical sensory feedback. This innovative combination empowers performance for traversing diverse landscapes and gradients confidently.

xero shoes mesa trail 2 front

Mesa Trail 2 Features:

  • 5mm FeelTrue Rubber Outsole
  • 3D Lug Pattern for Multi-Directional Traction
  • Moisture-Wicking Lining
  • Toe Bumper Protection
  • Vegan Construction
  • Custom Fit with Adjustable Straps
  • Auto-Adjusting Ankle Cuff

Sizing Tip:

The Mesa Trail II runs more true to size, while the original Mesa Trail runs small/narrow. Multiple friends state that the Mesa Trail II fits as expected for most feet, while the Mesa Trail original model tended to fit small and run narrow.

Pros and Cons


Very lightweight at just 7.8 oz for a men’s size 9

More durable upper with protective welded overlays

Adjustable straps enable dialed-in fit

Moisture-wicking liner keeps feet drier

True-to-size fit unlike original Mesa Trail. Improved comfort


The Lugs can break or wear down (although Xero does offer a 5000 miles warranty)

Doesn’t provide much warmth for people adventuring in colder climates

The rubber outsole lacks traction in muddy or wet conditions. Can be slippery when wet

Dialed-In Traction Tames Tricky Terrain

Right out of the box toe-testing the enhanced rubber compound, I could tell the reformulated grip equips the Mesa Trail 2 to chomp chunky terrain. An aggressive 3D lug arrangement extends versatility tackling steep, rocky ascents and controlling velocity on irregular declines.

xero shoes mesa trail 2 soles

Multiple 10+ mile runs across packed dirt paths, gravel fire roads and jagged boulder fields verify the upgrade as Xero’s stickiest outsole yet. Though as a heads up, several stream crossings proved slick on algae-covered surfaces.

For snow runs I recommend swapping the low-profile build with Xero’s winter-specific Denver Boot or Alpine Boot for added insulation and deeper lugs. But from crunchy leaves to sandy washes, the Mesa Trail 2 dominated nearly all warm weather adventures with aplomb.

Protective Construction Withstands Brutal Beating

Over 200 miles in, dragging shoes through dense thickets, the Mesa Trail 2 continues surprising with resilience. Strategically welded rubber reinforcements defend heel, toes and lace eyelets from abrasion damage.

Meanwhile, a gusseted tongue prevents dust and debris from compromising the antimicrobial liner’s moisture-wicking performance. This extra shielding brings peace of mind pushing pace longer without breakdown compromising natural motion.

xero shoes mesa trail 2 side

For the reasonable $120 sticker price, I’m thoroughly impressed by how the Mesa Trail 2 withstands abrasive punishment mile after mile while maintaining top-notch performance. Kudos to Xero’s craftsmanship team!

Enhanced Trail Feel Connects To Terrain

A common complaint I had regarding the original Mesa Trail centered around sizing inconsistencies and rigid midsole platforms limiting terrain feedback. Xero addresses both aspects brilliantly with the Mesa Trail 2.

wearing the xero shoes mesa trail in the grass

By extending the toe box and adjusting lasts, the Mesa Trail 2 accommodates wider feet while still securing lockdown for narrower shapes thanks to the customizable strap system. Underfoot, injected shock-absorbing TrailFoam combines with sidewall flex grooves for forgiving landings without sacrificing critical ground contact.

The result? Trails feel fresher. Mt body adjusts dynamically to changes in grade and surprises hidden by overgrowth. I’m more focused responding to challenges, making split-decisions about positioning quicker thanks to unfiltered sensory information.

As cities expand and wild spaces shrink, minimalist shoes like the Mesa Trail 2 serve to safely reconnect us with environments at nature’s pace. I’ll happily accept some soreness from that authentic interaction improving balance and personal limits testing over monotonous mileage in ultra-plush kicks.

Value: Performance Justifies Price Tag

Factoring in materials, ethical manufacturing standards, and the 5000-mile sole warranty, the $120 MSRP proves fair for the category. Despite adding durable protective elements absent on the first Mesa Trail, Xero Shoes maintains reasonable consumer pricing well below competitors.

For comparison, Vivobarefoot’s Primus Trail II FG runs $175 with a less grippy outsole and lower performance score. Meanwhile, BeLenka’s TrailWalker 2.0 costs $179

Simply put – nothing in class offers better value blending enhanced materials supporting natural bio-mechanics with versatile everyday lifestyle wear appeal. As the ideal quiver-of-one travel companion, the Mesa Trail 2 merits every penny.

XerO SHOES Mesa Trail 2 shoe lugs closeup

Ideal Uses

From daily training to race day, the Mesa Trail 2 serves as well off-road as it travels thanks to the packable lightweight design.

I recommend the Mesa Trail 2 for:

  • Ultrarunners needing grip over 100+ miles
  • Obstacle course racers traversing slippery surfaces
  • Minimalist hikers aiming to shed Every. Ounce. Possible.
  • Cross-training cadets running unpredictable terrain
  • Travelers requiring versatile performance + easy packability

Final Verdict

Xero Shoes managed to address nearly all my gripes about the Mesa Trail original with its thoughtful update. By honing durability, fit, cushioning, and traction elements through an innovative minimalist lens, the Mesa Trail 2 feels expressly crafted for my feet, priorities and adventures without sacrificing sensation or foot health like traditional trail runners.

From rocky ridges to redwood forest floors, the Mesa Trail 2 now resides at my door ready for every early morning escape. No matter the challenge or distance ahead, I set out confident with durable protection encouraging dynamic natural motion mile after glorious gritty mile thanks to Xero Shoes’ design engineering efforts.

Overall Rating: 🟊🟊🟊🟊🟊 (4.8/ 5 Stars)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What sets the Xero Mesa Trail II apart as the best minimalist trail shoe?

A: The Xero Mesa Trail II excels with its flexible sole and breathable mesh, providing lightweight comfort and trail-gripping security. Its 3.5mm lugs and sidewall welding offer a perfect combination of grip and ground feel for unparalleled confidence on various trail surfaces.

Q: Can I return the Mesa Trail II if it doesn’t fit well?

A: Yes, Xero Shoes provides a free exchange program within 45 days of purchase, making it easy to get a different size. Be sure to check the product description for specifics on returns, including shipping policies.

Q: Are the Mesa Trail II shoes suitable for climbing and more technical terrain?

A: Absolutely, the Mesa Trail II’s flexible sole and protective welded components, including the robust toe cap, are designed to tackle challenging terrains, giving you flex and feel without compromising on protection.

Q: How does the “zero drop” feature of the Mesa Trail II benefit my running?

A: A non-elevated “zero drop” sole encourages a natural midfoot strike, which can improve posture and reduce strain, aligning with the principles of minimalist footwear like Vibram Five Fingers and others.

Q: Is the Mesa Trail II breathable enough for hot climate countries?

A: Yes, the breathable mesh upper is designed for ventilation, though for extremely hot climates like Brazil, South Africa, or Indonesia, it’s always recommended to try and ensure the shoe is tightened properly to prevent sliding and to enhance the breathable features.