Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Review

By Alin Ciocan | December 19, 2023

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Product photo

The Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is a minimalist trail running shoe that’s also versatile for casual wear. It’s lightweight, with a men’s size 9 weighing about 7.6 ounces.
The shoe features a breathable mesh upper and moisture-wicking lining for comfort. As many of the Xero models are, It is inspired by Huarache with adjustable midfoot and instep straps for a secure fit and a rugged sole with 3.5mm lugs for traction on trails.
The wide toe box allows for natural toe movement, and the zero-drop design aids in maintaining proper posture. The sole includes a 3mm TrailFoam™ layer for some cushioning, and you can remove the insole for a closer-to-barefoot feel. It’s vegan-friendly and comes with the well known 5,000-mile sole warranty.

Original Price $119.99, was on clearance for $47.99 – currently sold out in the US

Barefoot Comfort




Style / Design




Last Updated on December 22, 2023

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Known for pioneering the minimalist shoe industry over a decade ago, Xero Shoes stays true to its ethos promoting foot strength and freedom of motion with the Mesa Trail while adding just enough underfoot protection for logging trail miles. Weighing only 7.6oz for a men’s size 9, this surprisingly lightweight trail runner still manages to grip technical terrain impressively well thanks to its claw-like multi-directional lugs. Stripping away all but the essential components needed for a secure barefoot ride, the Mesa Trail fully immerses your feet into the trail experience.

Top Features:

  • Barely-there thin and flexible 5mm FeelTrue rubber sole
  • Foot-shaped toe box with wide forefoot
  • Adjustable midfoot and heel straps
  • Vegan construction and materials
  • 3.5mm aggressive lug pattern
xero shoes mesa trail with box

I put those features to the test over tens of miles on paved paths, dirt trails, gravel tracks, grassy fields and muddy single-track. Here’s how the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail stacks up as a uniquely barefoot-inspired trail runner.

xero shoes Mesa Trail mud tracks hike

These shoes are very breathable and they also dry pretty fast.

Pros and Cons


The shoe uses vegan-friendly materials, appealing to environmentally conscious and ethically minded consumers.

The wide toe box and zero-drop design allow for natural toe splay and movement, promoting better foot health and balance.

The mesh upper ensures good air flow, keeping feet cooler and reducing sweat, which is beneficial for long durations of wear.

At approximately 7.6 ounces for a men’s size 9, it’s quite light, reducing foot fatigue during long runs or hikes.

Aggressive lug pattern provides good traction on trails


The original Mesa Trail tends to run small and narrow, which can be a problem for runners with wider feet or those who prefer more room.

Some users have reported durability issues, particularly with the upper mesh and stitching over extended use.

Fewer color options than Mesa Trail 2

Lacks protective welded overlays of Mesa Trail 2 upper

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Fit & Comfort

Slipping past the wide entry the Mesa Trail cradles the feet smoothly. With snugger dimensional allowances than the updated Mesa Trail 2, I recommend sizing up a half or full size to allow toe wiggle room. I’m normally an US size 10 but I heard these run small so I went for a 10.5 and that ended up fitting like a glove.

Xero Shoes mesa trail size

Two stretchy straps across the midfoot and instep secure lockdown adjustable to your preferences.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail barefoot shoes seen from the top

That security comes at the expense of long-haul cushioning however. Without prominent padding, I felt every pointy rock and root underfoot, especially on more technical trail sections.

Appreciating a barefoot style run, I welcome such sensory feedback engaging dynamic balance muscles otherwise dormant in maximally-cushioned shoes. However over distances approaching 10+ miles, some may yearn for softer landings.

Traction & Grip

The Mesa Trail sole utilizes Xero Shoes’ proprietary FeelTrue rubber compound, poured to a pliable 5mm thickness. Combined with aggressive 3.5mm lugs multi-directionally spaced under the heel and forefoot, it sticks reliably cruising uphill and bombing downhill on packed soil, gravel, and jagged surfaces.

xero shoes mesa trail sole with good grip with multidirectional lugs
Pretty decent grip

However, an unexpected mid-run rain shower slickened the trail, nearly causing me to slip multiple times where the Mesa Trail struggled finding purchase on wet tree roots and muddy runoff streams. Outsole traction could prove more adaptable to variable conditions, but performs admirably in dry or lightly dampened settings.

Performance & Durability

Weighing scarcely more than a pair of socks at 7.6oz per shoe, the Mesa Trail sets the benchmark for traveling lightly and swiftly where every ounce counts on extended trail adventures. The responsive flexible construction connects nerve endings in the feet to terrain, reacting quickly maneuvering over and past obstacles.

Mesa Trail in foot

Stitched-on rubber protects high-wear areas around the heel and toe cap. But abrasive surfaces inevitably leave signs of deterioration on the featherlight mesh upper materials over time. And while Xero Shoes offers a 5000-mile sole warranty, the lightweight say-less-do-more persona of the Mesa Trail makes me hesitant to recommit another 100+ miles approaching that mileage mark.

Xero Shoes mesa trail  front of the shoe close up

Mesa Trail Ideal Uses

The Xero Shoes Mesa Trail best suits:

  • New barefoot/minimalist runners seeking trail shoes strengthening intrinsic foot muscles while providing protection
  • Experienced barefoot aficionados appreciating extreme ground feel
  • Lightpackers and minimalist hikers valuing every ounce on extended thru hikes
  • Trail runners seeking grippy performance in dry conditions under 50 miles weekly

Is Mesa Trail worth it?

Retaining Xero Shoes’ core minimalist DNA, the Mesa Trail provides an authentic barefoot trail running experience – connecting fully to sensory feedback underfoot while still protecting feet from abrasive elements.

Despite minor traction limitations in wet conditions, it epitomizes the intrinsic joy of low-profile natural running. For that barefoot blissful ride, I happily accept the Mesa Trail’s quirky fit and lack of plush comfort for logging daily training miles.

So does it live up to expectations? For foot-strengthening performance allowing dynamic natural motion on trails, the Mesa Trail delivers dynamic value at a reasonable price – earning its reputation as an icon of the minimalist shoe revolution!

However, if you are reading this and consider buying it, I recommend going with the Mesa Trail 2 instead. You get a lot more for your money with the second model unless you can find the Mesa Trail original highly discounted as it has been previously at $47.99.

Mesa Trail Barefoot Shoes FAQ

Q: What makes the Mesa Trail shoe a great option for barefoot running?

A: The Mesa Trail shoe offers a barefoot style experience with its zero-drop design, promoting natural gait and foot placement. Its thin stack height enhances the feel of the ground, making it a true minimalist trail runner.

Q: How does the lacing system in the Mesa Trail shoe compare to traditional footwear?

A: The Mesa Trail features a huarache-inspired lacing system that provides a secure fit while allowing natural movement of the foot, unlike typical lacing systems in conventional footwear.

Q: Is the Mesa Trail shoe true to size compared to other brands like Altra or Lems?

A: The Mesa Trail runs small. However, It provides a comfortable fit similar to other minimalist brands like Altra, Lems, and Vivobarefoot.

Q: Can the Mesa Trail shoe be considered a viable alternative to maximalist shoes?

A: Absolutely. The Mesa Trail is a great option for those transitioning from maximalist to minimalist shoes, offering essential foot protection while maintaining a barefoot feel.

Q: Are the Mesa Trail shoes suitable for activities other than running, like hiking?

A: Yes, the Mesa Trail shoes are versatile and can be used as barefoot hiking shoes. Their tread and 3.5 mm lugs offer excellent traction for various terrains.

Q: How does the Mesa Trail shoe support ankle stability compared to traditional running shoes?

A: While the Mesa Trail shoe provides good lateral support, its low stack height and zero-drop design require a period of adaptation to avoid issues like rolling an ankle, especially for those used to more cushioned shoes.

Q: Can wearing the Mesa Trail shoe help improve my running form?

A: Yes, the Mesa Trail shoe encourages proper foot placement and a natural running gait, which can lead to improvements in running form over time.

Q: Is the Mesa Trail shoe a good option for someone with larger feet, like a size 14?

A: Yes, the Mesa Trail shoe comes in a range of sizes and is designed to accommodate larger foot sizes comfortably.

Q: What makes the Mesa Trail a better option than traditional sandals for trail running?

A: Unlike typical sandals, the Mesa Trail provides a secure fit, ample protection, and traction, making it a better option for trail running.