Xero Shoes Z Trek Sandals Long Term Review

By Alin Ciocan | December 11, 2023

Zero Shoes Z Trek Product Photo

Xero Shoes Z-Trek Review: Unmatched Value in Minimalist Footwear

Long-Standing Excellence: Proven over years, Z-Treks offer durability and comfort that often surpass pricier alternatives.

Cost-Effective Quality: Exceptional value in a market filled with expensive options.

Barefoot Feel: A blend of minimalism and practicality for the discerning adventurer.

The Verdict: Are Z-Treks the hidden gem in your outdoor gear collection? We delve into why these sandals are more than just a smart choice – they’re a wise investment for your adventurous lifestyle.

Reviewed at $59.99

Barefoot Comfort




Style / Design




Last Updated on December 12, 2023

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Xero Shoes Z-Trek Sandals Review: The Ultimate Barefoot Adventure Footwear?

When searching for the ultimate minimalist sandals for adventures like hiking, water sports, or travel, the Xero Shoes Z-Trek often tops the charts. With a lightweight profile, barefoot-style feel, and rugged build, they seem to promise sandal nirvana underfoot. But do the popular Z-Treks really deliver on expectations over the long haul?

Xero Shoes Z Trek Sandals on the river

I took a pair of men’s Z-Treks on a long deathmarch across unpredictable terrain in all conditions to find out if their hype holds up. The bruises and calluses were well worth it to provide this no-fluff, “warts and all” review.

By the end, you’ll know precisely how these much-loved barefoot sandals stack up for blazing trails in comfort, going with the flow over slippery river rocks, and even surviving unexpected minefields in your path. Let’s hit the ground running and dig in!

Pros and Cons


Excellent ground feel that makes you feel barefoot

Secure and adjustable fit to customize tension on different parts of the foot

Lightweight at around 5-7 ounces per sandal

Durable construction with 5,000 mile warranty

Versatile for hiking, water sports, everyday wear, etc.


Minimal cushioning means feeling rocks/sticks through thin soles

Firm sole takes some adjustment coming from traditional sandals

Sizing only in whole sizes may not fit some feet perfectly

Heel strap can cause rubbing for some people

Slippery when wet

Overview of the Xero Shoes Z-Trek Minimalist Sandals

Before diving headfirst into the gritty details, here’s a quick primer on what sets the popular Xero Shoes Z-Trek sandals apart from the ever-growing crowd of barefoot and minimalist footwear options:

  • Barefoot-style design brings the natural feel of hiking or walking directly on terrain underfoot, while providing protection from abrasions or punctures
z trek sandals red

Sole Thickness

  • The FeelTrue rubber sole measures 5.5mm in thickness.


  • Men’s size 42 EU: 210 grams (7.4 oz) each.
  • Men’s size 9 US: 204 grams (7.2 oz) each.
  • Women’s size 7 US: 5.6 oz each.


  • Straps are constructed from smooth, tubular rPET recycled nylon.
  • Rustproof nylon hardware is used.
  • The sole is made of FeelTrue rubber.


  • The sandals tend to run about half a size large.
  • They are available in whole sizes only.

Other Details

Xero Shoes applies the same focus on foot-strengthening minimalist design found in their running shoes to these all-terrain outdoor Z-Trek sandal adventurers. The idea is to enable a liberating barefoot hike across all environments, with just enough protection from abrasive surfaces and unexpected poking hazards.

z trek

Z-Treks artfully balances this minimalist approach with adjustability for comfort, making them a preferred choice for longtime fans of natural movement footwear. The promise is clear:

adventure unlimited with the empowering sensation of bare soles embracing the earth

But does this enticing vision translate into a magical experience out on craggy trails, across slippery stream crossings, or catching an errant tree branch? Let’s break down how they delivered on expectations over two years navigating the best…and worst.

Z-Trek Comfort and Fit for All-Day Wear

The comfort you expect over long hours trekking deep into adventure can make or break the experience. Luckily the Z-Trek design makes smart choices to avoid blisters or hot spots during miles of unpredictable conditions underfoot:

Secure Fit That Holds Through the Rigors of Adventure

Two fully adjustable straps across the top and heel lock feet in place:

  • Heel strap tensions over the ankle with heavy-duty velcro to keep the rearfoot from slipping while allowing Achilles motion
  • Instep strap uses velcro as well for total control of snugness over the midfoot to prevent excess motion or friction
Xero Shoes Z Trek Sandal fit chart

I put the tension through its paces scrambling up sheer rock faces, plowing full speed down loose declines, and fording ice-cold rivers requiring every last ounce of grip. The adjustable locks remained sturdy with zero issues of slippage over gnarly terrain.

Getting The Right Fit

If you are looking for a long-term sandal, the straps can sometimes falter over the years if not cared for properly. Xero are typically very good at helping.

Two issues can occur with the Z Trek in the long run

  1. The Velcro might wear off and lose it’s grip
  2. Some of the loops can break

These are issues only observed over the years, nothing to worry about. The reason I am mentioning this is because you can completely avoid this by following the instructions in the video!

Z Trek Loop Issue

The adjustability shines for active use in adventures, though the velcro straps lack the supple feel and polish for casual everyday wear around town. The durability focus shows through.

Roomy Toe Box Enables Natural Splay

Despite the secure fit, the Z-Treks avoid squishing toes thanks to a smoothly contoured front:

The extra wiggle room compared to snug hiking boots or trail runners enables full natural toe splay while walking. Feet strengthen by grasping terrain without abrasion even when kicking off unexpected inclines.

A key hallmark of quality minimalist footwear, the toe box design perfectly balances protection, comfort, and feedback.

Thick Enough Sole for Most Terrain with Ample Ground Feel

Underfoot, the proprietary FeelTrue® rubber sole measures 5.5mm thick. This keeps pointy rocks or stray roots from poking too sharply, while retaining useful terrain detail:

Z Trek Sole

The balance works beautifully for flowing barefoot-style over most natural surfaces. I relished springy moss, crackly leaves underfoot, and the massage of river-smoothed stones.

Yet the ground feel also impressed with enough protection for all-day wear across 15 miles of desert landscape littered with thorny scrub without a single poke. Though those seeking the ultimate in proprioceptive feedback may want an even thinner sole like the 4mm on Vivobarefoot sandals.

Z-Trek Versatility: At Home From the Trails to Daily Life

The best travel kit earns its keep by thriving across environments far and wide. Luckily the dialed-in Z-Trek design travels well from adrenaline pumping adventure to casual downtime:

Selling PointHikingWater SportsTravelDaily Wear
Barefoot FeelIdealExcellentGreatExcellent
All-Day ComfortGood*Good*GreatGood*
Stylish LooksFunctionalFunctionalFunctionalPlain

* Arch support lack limits very high mileage days

The lightweight profile and bare soles feel born for the trail, singing over natural surfaces while providing protection against abrasions. Secure fit and traction manage well on most dry hikes outside of sheer granite faces.

They excel for water play like wading creeks, film-like drainage while swimming keeps them comfy even out of water for hours, though slippery algae remains tricky.

As urban travel sandals they happily go sightseeing for miles thanks to well-designed contours hugging feet fairly comfortably, just don’t expect serious cushioning for relentless city concrete.

And the simple strap design fits right in wearing casually around beaches, cabins, or boats thanks to footprint-free flexibility. Though styling runs on the basic side for craft brew hangs or date nights.

In all cases, the barely-there pack weight fits perfectly into luggage corners or daypacks without worry while enhancing adventures.

Xero Shoes Z Trek Pack lightly

For well-seasoned minimalist enthusiasts who rack up yearly mileage outdoors across the board, I struggle to find a better quiver-of-one versatile sandal than the Z-Trek for maximizing freedom underfoot everywhere.

Final Verdict: Who Should Buy the Xero Shoe Z-Trek Minimalist Sandals?

Over hundreds of miles through sun, rain, dirt, rocks, rivers and bushwhacking brush, the Xero Shoes Z-Trek sandals continually impressed me. They fully deliver the promise of lightweight barefoot-style freedom meeting go-anywhere durability.

The thoughtful balance of ground feel, comfort features, impressive traction, and battle-tested build quality confidently make these a long-term investment for:

  • Dedicated barefoot and minimalist shoe fans seeking a warm weather adventure sandal
  • Hikers or trail runners looking for a flexible camp or water crossing shoe
  • Outdoor athletes in need of a lightweight hiking/approach shoe for summer
  • Water sports lovers wanting a grippy hiking sandal hybrid for land and river
  • Ultralight backpackers and travelers seeking multipurpose summer footwear

The strap system offers a snugness advantage for active pursuits compared to slides or flip flops, while packing flat and weighing next to nothing. Impressive versatility at this quality for just $59.99.

xero shoes z trek in cabin

While they fall short of maximal cushion or traction for hardcore all-day trekking deep in the backcountry over jagged peaks, the Z-Treks artfully balance barefoot freedom, security, medium distances, and across environments better than any sandal I’ve tested.

If you crave ear-to-ear grin inducing adventures flowing freely under sunny skies just like bare feet hiking across forest floors or wading curling creeks, the Xero Shoes Z-Trek delivers this in spades. They unlock freedom and dynamics to rediscover childlike joy trotting trails once more. Perfect for the born adventurer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine the right size for Xero Shoes Z Trek Sandals?

Xero Shoes provides printable templates on their website to ensure you get the correct fit. Simply print the templates and follow the guidelines to find your perfect size.

What level of cushioning can I expect from the Z Trek Sandals?

The Z Trek Sandals feature a thin, 5.5mm sole that provides minimal cushioning, allowing you to feel every bump beneath your feet, in line with the barefoot shoe philosophy.

Do the Z Trek Sandals have a heel cup?

The sandals are designed with a curved heel cup to keep your heel in place while offering comfort and stability during wear.

How long does it take to get used to wearing the Z Trek Sandals?

It varies for each person, but it typically takes a few weeks of use to get accustomed to the unique feel of these barefoot sandals.

Can I use the Z Trek Sandals for running?

Yes, many individuals use these as running sandals, as they provide protection against sharp objects while still maintaining a flat sole for a barefoot feel.

Are the Z Trek Sandals suitable for wide feet?

Yes, the Z Trek Sandals work great for wide feet, especially with the adjustable straps that can accommodate different foot widths.

Will the Z Trek Sandals work well for someone looking to transition to minimalist footwear?

Absolutely, the Z Trek Sandals are a popular go-to option for individuals seeking to transition to minimalist or barefoot shoes for the first time.

Can I make my own DIY sandals similar to the Z Trek with Xero Shoes?

Xero Shoes provides printable templates and guides for DIY sandal making, allowing you to create your own custom sandals similar to the Z Trek model.

Are the Z Trek Sandals suitable for providing protection during outdoor activities?

Yes, the Z Trek Sandals are designed to offer protection against sharp objects, making them ideal for various outdoor activities such as hiking and trail running.