Since the publication of the book, ‘Born to Run’ (Born to Run: The hidden tribe, the Ultra-runners and the greatest race the world has never seen) by Christopher McDougall in 2009 there has been growing interest in ‘barefoot running’.
Inspired by the Tarahumara group of people in Mexico who wear shoes fashioned from disused car tyres and take part in an annual race across the desert. A fascination developed with minimalist shoes.
Xero is a brand that make a range of shoes that promote a natural fit, feel and range of motion.
This, the XERO Meta Trail is a shoe with a model inspired by the book, Born to Run.
Xero Mesa Trail – Impression:
I must admit that I’ve never really worn minimalist or barefoot shoes. Or have I? As a track runner in the 80s and 90s I wore spikes that were really quite minimalist and road racing shoes that often didn’t offer much in the way of cushioning at all!
But back then, minimalism as a shoe trend wasn’t invented, it was often the case, particularly with competition shoes that lighter was better.
Fast forward a few years and now everything has to be categorised, so we have minimalist and maximalist shoes.
The Xero Mesa Trail could be described as a shoe without cushioning. It’s simply an upper with a sole, as simple as that.
It’s comfortable, lightweight and flexible. There really is nothing to dislike as there’s not a lot here!
Perhaps it’s important to point out that the marks I’ve given this shoe are a little bit lower simply because there’s not a lot to mark.
The design is simple and the ride will be totally personal simply because it’s only your feet that are providing the ride.
Xero Mesa Trail – Tech:
In terms of technology, the shoe features very little in the traditional sense of what we have become used to from running brands. There are no super-foams or carbon plates here!
Instead, the shoe has many features that aim to promote a natural fit, feel and range of motion.
The Natural FIT shape offers a wider toe box to allow the feet to splay and naturally stabilise.
The zero-drop, Natural MOTION design aims to create a balance feel of the ground and again promote a more natural gait.
The 5.5mm thick FeelTrue rubber sole allows you to feel the ground. The studs offer 3.5mm of traction and with a 3.5mm removeable inner-sole, the shoe really is minimalist.
The shoes are Vegan friendly as well as having a 5000mile/2-year warranty!
Xero Mesa Trail – Test:
Unlike other shoes I try, with the Xero Mesa Trail I had a few specific sessions in mind first.
Due to the minimalist nature, I tend to think that simply jogging and some strides on a good grass surface are the best way to proceed.
With this in mind, I ventured to my local cricket club and ran a few laps of the perimeter. The soft surface and minimalist nature of the shoe are perfect for encouraging a gentle midfoot gait and really does take a lot of the stress out of your stride.
The flexible feel of the shoe means it disappears around the foot and you actually feel like you are running barefoot.
For my first run, I probably covered only around 2 miles in total and it’s important to bear this in mind when starting to use this type of footwear.
The trail grip of this shoe works well on a good, grass surface but should equally be happy on light gravel and forest paths. I’d stay clear of anything too technical or demanding, mainly due to the very light and unstructured design.
Following runs took on a similar structure, a gentle jog warm-up followed by my weekly stride session, bounding and dynamic exercises.
Should you wish for an even more minimalist experience, the removable insole reduces the stack of the shoe by 3.5mm. The construction of the shoe allows this and is neatly finished should you wish to take up this option.
Xero Mesa Trail – Conclusion:
If you are used to minimalist footwear then the Xero Mesa Trail is a great option and thanks to the 5000-mile warranty it’s excellent value.
For those wanting to try minimalist footwear, again the Xero Mesa Trail is a good option. I’d say trail shoes are always a slightly better way to proceed purely based on the fact they’ll encourage you away from the roads and onto a more forgiving surface.
Running on the trails also makes us tend to concentrate a little on the surface we are running which in turn leads to a more considered and careful foot placement.
The natural plantar flex of the foot when landing midfoot simply works better with a minimalist shoe.
The Xero Mesa Trail is a lightweight, well-made and durable option that makes a good choice for those wanting to experience barefoot shoes for the first time or experienced barefoot runners that simply want a great value shoe.