XERO SHOES NEW Z-TREK SANDALS REVIEW

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by paulbeales, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. paulbeales

    paulbeales
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    To coincide with their launch next week, Steven Sashen kindly sent me a pair of Xero Shoes' new Z-Trek sandals for me to review.

    IMG_7303.jpg

    It was love at first sight when I opened the package last week, and I could tell straight away that I was going to like them, as there is no strap to go between my toes - which I have never got along with on any make of sandal!

    The straps are wide and soft. The front strap fits snugly across your foot just behind the toes. Where the front strap connects to the sides of the sole, the sole curves upwards slightly and 'hugs' the front of your foot. Note - some people with wide feet might find this a little too narrow, especially when running (see below.)

    The front strap is adjusted by sliding the strap through the hole in the sole. I found that this needs to be done without your foot in the sandal, as the small piece of rubber that holds the strap looks quite vunerable, and I was very nervous about pulling the strap through with my feet in place.
    IMG_7312.JPG
    Once you have the front strap set correctly, it is very quick and easy to slide your foot into the sandal, adjust the buckle across the front of your foot and then fasten the Velcro straps around your heel.

    My first outing in these was our routine Saturday afternoon shopping expedition to the local supermarket. I found them extremely comfortable to walk in and drive in. The fit was perfect for my feet. (The front of the sole can be trimmed if it is too long - but I think it could spoil the smartness of the sandals if you did.)

    We did a lot of walking around town after the supermarket. I didn't have to make any adjustments to the straps all day and I am happy to say that these sandals stay where you put them! (That's a first for me with sandals, as I normally find them slipping all over the place.) I didn't feel underdressed or out-of-place anywhere wearing these sandals, including the restaurant that we had dinner in that evening.

    Yesterday, I took the sandals on my regular Saturday morning 5K run around our local bird reserve at Newport Wetlands. The paths there are mostly grit, with some stretches of muddy woodland track, and rough hardcore.

    On the first section of smooth path, I found the sandals to be quite 'slappy' on the ground. Not as bad as I have encountered with other makes, but still enough to be annoying.

    After a while of trying to change my form to avoid this, I decided that the straps should maybe be tighter. After taking them off to adjust the front strap (see above) and tightening up the front buckle and rear Velcro much more tighter, the 'slappiness' was a lot better. Not silent, like in bare feet obviously, but entirely tolerable. (I suppose I should note here that this may be just bad form on my part, and I did note that with the straps much tighter, there was a good 1/2" to 3/4" (12mm to 15mm) of spare sole projecting beyond my toes!)

    With tighter straps and in silent running mode, I found the sandals very light and pleasant to run in, with very little slippage on the muddy sections. I did feel the occasional suction as the mud gripped the sole, as you often get with sandals, but nothing to be concerned about, and I was able to run at a nice jaunty speed.

    IMG_7334.JPG

    IMG_7333.JPG

    At the end of the run my legs felt great. (I often get aching calves when I run in some sandals.) I am sorry to have to say however, that my feet didn't feel quite so good. I had hot spots on both of my heels and a blister on my second toe on my right foot. I always seem to get blisters on my toes when I run in sandals (and when I run in bare feet on long runs - over 10K.) I think I must have a habit of subconciously gripping the sole of sandals to stop them slipping (or the ground in bare feet when my legs are tired.)

    So, I have to say ... unfortunately ... the Z-Treks will not be my go-to shoes for running.

    BUT ... BUT ... after I got home, and put them in the wash along with my sports kit, I am VERY happy to say that they came up a treat and look like brand new again, so these super-cool looking sandals WILL definitely be my go-to shoes for ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE when I am not running, including the office - when the weather has warmed up a bit!
    IMG_7329.JPG
    I love them Steven! Thank you. These sandals are perfect for displaying my tattoo, and I will be wearing them EVERYWHERE that bare feet are not acceptable or possible.

    For more information on the product launch next week, please visit:

    http://www.xeroshoes.com/go/BarefootRunnersSoc/a8dd0b34

    Paul
    .
     
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  2. Chrissi1

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    thank you Paul for your review
     
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  3. Steven Sashen

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    I know that some people hate it when I say this, but here goes anyway:

    Both "slapping" and blisters have the same cause. In short, a form-related issue.

    And BOTH can be the perfect "training aid" to help improve form.

    That is, once you experiment to discover how to reduce/eliminate sound (as much as possible... since you can't ignore the physics of two objects coming into contact with each other), and eliminate the friction that is always the cause of blisters, you'll probably discover that your running has improved.

    Check out my "blister story" at www.xeroshoes.com/blister

    And info about "slapping" at www.xeroshoes.com/slap

    From where you got your blister, and the fact that you're getting slapping noises, I'd bet $100 that you're doing one or both of these 2 things:

    1) Overstriding a bit
    2) "Landing" on the ground and applying braking forces (almost always the case with overstriding) rather than having your foot moving backwards at the same speed you're moving forward.

    Sometimes people say to me "Well, I don't have problems when I'm barefoot." Which can be true. AND, from the research I did with the former head of Biomechanics and Engineering for the US Olympic Committee, I can tell you that most people change their gait when they switch between barefoot and ANY footwear. I've seen well-known barefoot runners put on a pair of VFFs and go from forefoot landing to heel striking... and not know they were doing it.

    Do with all that what you will ;-)
     
  4. Barefoot TJ

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    So true, so true.
     
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  5. paulbeales

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    That's some impressive after-sales service Steven! Thanks

    I guess I owe you (and myself) some further form practice, and an update on running in your sandals in a few weeks ;)
    .
     
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  6. OneBiteAtATime

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    They look super cool!! BTW, what did you do to your third toenail on the left, amigo?
     
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  7. paulbeales

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    I love them OBAAT. I just need to learn to run in them :)

    I stubbed my toe on a lump of frozen mud in my VFFs about 3 weeks ago :(
    .
     
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  8. kalipyjamas

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    Thanks for the review Paul - I was super excited to see these new sandals from Xero.........I have a couple of pairs of the xero huaraches and I love them as a casual shoe but have never quite clicked with them on long runs 20km +. I love the ground feel I get thought with the 4mm. I played around in sockwas over the winter as they kept my tootsies warm and have just fallen in love with my new Unshoes Pah Tempe for the EXACT reason = NO Toe thing............ it has been sooooo hot this summer to run in anything less than skin or a sandal would be yuck.....might have to get a pair of the new Xeros for next summer ...............although I have to say the Unshoes ROCK!!
     

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  9. Smogz

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    I ordered a pair on volley as soon I saw the headline.
     
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  10. paulbeales

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    Following excellent advice from the man himself, I promised Steven Sashen that I would give the Z-Treks another test run, and take a look at my running form.

    This morning I went for a leisurely 5K run in the Spring sunshine - with specific intentions of not breaking any speed records, and concentrating on not overstriding and pulling up rather than stomping down.

    At 1K, I could still feel hot spots forming under my middle toes though, and so I took a close look at how I was landing. I noticed that my toes were kind of trying to grip the sole of the sandal, rather than spreading out as I landed, and also that my (slightly hammer) middle toe was sliding sideways on the sole before I lifted off.

    So I tried relaxing my leg and feet muscles and raising my toes off the sole as I landed.

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1426971632.361540.jpg

    That seemed to do the trick, and though I didn't break any speed records, it was thenceforth a very relaxing and enjoyable run. It does feel liberating to run in sandals, and they do have a definite feelgood factor over closed shoes due to their openness and excellent ground feel.

    It is interesting to think that running in sandals can actually highlight lapses in your running form that you sometimes don't notice in closed shoes. (I have had a similar problem running in bare feet, but only on long runs.)

    I am definitely going to keep the Z-Treks at the front of the shoe rack and use them for running as well as casual. I still really love the comfortable strap over the toes instead of between (even if it does have a slight tendency to squeeze my little toe.)

    The Z-Trek are still the most comfortable sandals I have ever worn, and I would definitely recommend anyone to try them - especially when they come with free running advice from the owner of the company! :)
    .
     
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  11. Hobbit

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    Hi Paul
    On the picture the sole seems to be somewhat longer than the tips of your toes. Did you also try to slip your feet a bit more forward in the sandals (that would ask for changing the tension of all the straps, I suppose) ? There is a possibility that your little toe would feel less squeezed in by the strap over the toes. (I don't know, just an idea...)
     
  12. paulbeales

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    Hi Hobbit,

    Yes, I mentioned that in my first review. Unfortunately, the tighter you do the straps, the further forward the sandals sit. If I used these just for running I would probably trim the front of the soles
    .
     
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  13. Ginger Ninja

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    I thought I'd add my thoughts on the z-trek here. I've had them about a week and they are so close to being the perfect minimalist sandals.

    The strapping material is very soft and comfortable and I haven't had any rubbing issues so far.

    The sole rubber is excellent; thin, hard and durable. I'm not a big fan of other brands as the soles are too thick and spongy for my taste.

    I also like how you can really cinch down around the heel and top of the ankle to secure the sandal, but leave the top of the foot and the strap over the toes loose and comfortable.

    Unfortunately there are some criticisms as well.

    The shape of the front of the sole is quite strange. The longest part of the sole is where the second and third toe sit. This is probably great for people with Morton's toe but a bit dangerous for everyone else. I think I have a pretty average shaped foot and my big toe is right up to the end of the sole, but there is a lot of dead space in front of my other toes. As Hobbit commented on in Paul's picture.

    So much that I trimmed the excess off last night. The widest part of the trimmed off rubber being about 18mm thick, which I think would have been a bit of a trip hazard when going up stairs or walking/running over rocky terrain.

    They now look a bit dorky as due to the design you can't trim all the way round the front of the foot as you would cut through the toe strap slot, so they are a bit blunt ended.

    As mentioned by Paul, the strap over the toes does make the pinky toe feel a little restrained, but there's not a lot you can do about it design wise.

    Another minor problem is the loops to hold the straps, one of them broke as I applied a little to much upwards force when cinching the strap. The material needs to be slightly elasticised.

    I think I'll be using these sandals quite extensively for running and hiking, and they're definitely a step in the right direction in the design of minimalist sandals.
     
  14. Smogz

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    Yes me too. They are great. I will not be wearing them much for running but a lot for everything else during summer.
     
  15. metalbarefooter

    metalbarefooter
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    I'm not crazy about the strap over the toes on these. Especially the 5th toe seems to be squeezed against the others and you don't get the splay like with previous models. What are your thoughts on this?
     

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