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Home » 5 Best Xero Shoes In 2023 | Picks for Lifting, CrossFit, Running, and More

5 Best Xero Shoes In 2023 | Picks for Lifting, CrossFit, Running, and More

Over the last decade, Xero Shoes have steadily grown in popularity and are a common go-to amongst barefoot shoe lovers. With multiple barefoot shoe models on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to find the best Xero Shoes.

For example, there are nuances that exist between every pair of Xero Shoes, and knowing each shoe’s differences can help you find the best barefoot shoes for your needs.

Whether you’re looking into Xero Shoes for lifting, cross-training, running, and really, any other form of training, there’s more than likely a pair of Xero Shoes that will match your training and workout needs well.

In this best Xero Shoes breakdown, I’m going to cover some of my favorite Xero Shoes for lifting, CrossFit, running, walking, and cross-training. As always, every pair of Xero Shoes featured in this article have been hand-tested by me.

Best Xero Shoes for Working Out, Running, and Walking

If you’re new to barefoot shoes, make sure you check out my barefoot shoes guide. This guide helps contextualize this style of footwear and explain how to ease into this style of footwear.

Best Xero Shoes for Lifting

When it comes to Xero Shoes for lifting, I’m most concerned with three key performance elements. First, I’m interested in a shoe’s stability and connection with the ground for heavy sessions.

Second, I’m concerned with a shoe’s grip and traction on different floors and surfaces like machines. Third and lastly, I’m interested in a shoe’s articulation and how well it moves with the foot for lifting.

Top Pick: Xero Shoes Speed Force

The Xero Shoes Speed Force is taking my top pick as the best Xero Shoes for lifting. Note, that a lot of Xero Shoes work well for lifting such as the 360, Zelen, HFS, and Prio, but the Speed force is taking the edge here for two key reasons.

Testing the Xero Shoes Speed Force for Lifting

First, the feel that you get with the Speed Force is great for lifting and heavy strength sessions. This model features a 4.5mm thick FeelTrue rubber sole which puts the stack height of this model slightly lower than other Xero Shoes.

Second, this model has a nice level of breathability for different lifting settings and the outsole has a nice level of traction. The arrow tread patterning on this shoe grips different surfaces really well and you shouldn’t have slip issues in this model.

Testing the Xero Shoes Speed Force for Working Out

For lighting, the Speed Force may seem like a controversial pick, especially with more “lifting-focused” models like the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer. However, I haven’t been that impressed with that barefoot shoe, and sometimes tried and true shoes are still the best call.

  • Best For: Heavy Lifting, Short Runs/Sprints, and Barbell Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 6.2 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for Narrower Feet, Neutral/Wide Feet Size Up a Half to Full Size.
  • Read My ReviewXero Shoes Speed Force Review
  • Runner-Up Pick: Xero Shoes 360 Review

Xero Shoes Speed Force

$109.99

Xero Shoes Speed Force
4.4
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.5
Durability
4.4

Best For

  • Running (all distances, goals dependent!)
  • Lifting and Hybrid Training
  • Walking and Casual Daily Wear

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Beginner Barefoot Shoe Wearers
  • For Long-Term Durability

Best Xero Shoes for CrossFit

When it comes to using barefoot shoes for CrossFit, it’s important to note that this style of footwear is still in its infancy stage for this context of training, in my opinion, so they may have some areas where they fall short for CrossFit.

For example, while there are multiple barefoot shoes that can work for CrossFit, they could still use improvements for things in WODs like rope climbs and wall slide during handstand push-ups.

Top Pick: Xero Shoes 360

The Xero Shoes 360 is earning my top pick as the best Xero Shoes model for CrossFit. Of all the Xero Shoes designed for training, the 360 is purposely built with construction features designed for CrossFit.

crossfit shoes and rope climbs

For example, this model features rubber ribs around the toe box for additional abrasion resistance. I like this feature and it does an adequate job of prolonging the 360’s lifespan for things like rope climbs.

On top of its upper construction, I also like the 360’s sole construction. The sole in this model does a good job with traction and gives you a nice stable base to train on. You get good ground feedback with this shoe’s minimalist sole.

Testing the Xero Shoes 360 for Lifting

My only gripe with the 360 for CrossFit is that it be better regarding its heel construction for all slide during handstand push-ups, and it would be cool to see Xero Shoes update this model’s upper construction to improve its midfoot and appearance.

Xero Shoes 360

$119.99

Xero Shoes 360
4.5
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Heavy Lifting
  • Functional Fitness Workouts
  • Short Runs and Sprints
  • Daily Wear

Falls Short

  • For Long-Term Durability

Best Xero Shoes for Cross-Training

When exploring barefoot shoes for cross-training, you’ll want to look into models that can do a little bit of everything. For cross-training specifically, I like to test a barefoot shoe’s ability to perform in hybrid settings.

For example, I’ll test shoes for things like lifting, running, and jumping, and assess how a shoe performs in all of those contexts. This way if you like to blend different training modalities into one session, you can have confidence in the shoe you’re wearing.

Top Pick: Xero Shoes Zelen

The Xero Shoes Zelen is my top pick as the best Xero Shoes model for cross-training. While models like the Prio, 360, HFS, and Speed Force also work for cross-training, the Zelen takes the edge for me for three key reasons.

Me Training In the Xero Shoes Zelen Barefoot Shoes

First, the Xero Shoes Zelen is a strong shoe for anyone that prioritizes hybrid training on a weekly basis. This shoe is stable and comfortable for lifting and it works really well for short to mid-range runs.

Second, the upper on the Xero Shoes Zelen is also a perk of this model for cross-training. The upper on this shoe breathes well, has a nice clean appearance to it, and its durability is overall pretty strong for the varied demands of most cross-training workouts. 

Me jump roping in the Xero Shoes Zelen

The third and last reason why I like the Zelen for cross-training is due to its sole construction and removable insole. This shoe’s outsole tread grips really well and feels lightweight and the removable insole gives you a nice level of variability regarding comfort.

Xero Shoes Zelen

$129.99

Xero Shoes Zelen
4.7
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Short and Mid-Range Runs
  • Outdoor Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Environmental-Conscious Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Colder Months

Best Xero Shoes for Running

When reviewing and testing barefoot shoes for running, I’m paying close attention to a shoe’s ground feedback and articulation, breathability, and traction.

All three of these construction features will play an important role in short, mid-range, and long-distance runs. Whether you’re new to barefoot shoes for running or a weathered pro, finding models with these features is important.

Top Pick: Xero Shoes HFS

The Xero Shoes HFS is bringing home my top pick as the best Xero Shoes model for running. Note, the Xero Shoes Zelen and Speed Force can also be great options for running and you can’t go wrong with either of these models for working on running.

xero shoes hfs for running review

I like the Xero Shoes HFS best for running for two key reasons. First, this shoe is super lightweight and its upper does a good job with both breathability and durability. For running, I think the HFS should be a shoe that lasts a while for you.

Second, this model’s sole does a good job with traction for both running and lifting. If you’re wanting a barefoot shoe primarily for running, but also plan to lift in the same model, then the HFS (much like the Zelen) can be a great hybrid barefoot shoe.

Xero Shoes HFS (1)

Another perk of the Xero Shoes HFS is that it has a fairly cost-efficient price point. The HFS comes in at a price of $109.99 USD and it’s a model that is often on sale so you can typically find them for less.

Xero Shoes HFS

$109.99

Xero Shoes HFS
4.6
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.4

Best For

  • Heavy Training
  • Lower Body Sessions
  • Shorter/Mid-Range Runs
  • Agility Workouts

Falls Short

  • For Heel Strike Driven Running
  • For Maximal Cost-Efficiency

Best Xero Shoes for Walking and Daily Wear

If you’re exploring Xero Shoes for walking and daily wear, then you’ll want to find models that deliver consistent performance, comfort, and durability. When testing for these contexts, I’m most concerned with a shoe’s overall consistency.

I also factor in a shoe’s price as shoes for daily wear will typically break down a little faster than performance-only shoes. Finding a good daily wear pair of barefoot shoes for a good price is high up on my priorities for this section.

Top Pick: Xero Shoes Prio

The Xero Shoes Prio is my top Xero Shoes model for walking and daily wear. I like the Xero Shoes Prio for a few reasons and I often reference this model as being a good beginner-friendly barefoot shoe and is a good first model to invest in.

Xero Shoes Prio Budget Friendly

The first thing to like about the Xero Shoes Prio is its price point of $89.99 USD. This shoe has a good barrier to entry regarding its price and delivers a pretty strong construction for its more budget-friendly price.

I also like that the Prio’s upper construction tends to do a good job regarding durability and when using them for walking and daily wear, they should last a while. The sole of the Prio is also pretty durable for this performance ask as well.

xero shoes prio lifting performance review

Outside of walking and daily wear, the Prio is also a barefoot shoe that you can use for training and light running. If you’re wanting to spend $100 USD or less on a barefoot shoe that can do a little bit of everything, the Prio can be a good option to explore.

Xero Shoes Prio

$89.99

Xero Shoes Prio
4.7
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.7

Best For

  • Heavy Barbell Work
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Casual Runs
  • Barefoot Shoe Newbies
  • Cost Efficiency

Falls Short

  • For Dedicated Barefoot Runners

If you’re still confused about which Xero Shoes would be best for your training contexts and needs, drop a comment below and I can try to help you out accordingly, or check out my individual Xero Shoes reviews for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
How do you clean Xero Shoes?

A:
To clean your Xero Shoes, I'd suggest using a spot-cleaning technique. Washing machines and dryers can break down shoes faster, even minimalist shoes like Xero Shoes.

Q:
Are Xero Shoes wide?

A:
Compared to other barefoot shoes, I'd describe Xero Shoes as a middle-of-the-road barefoot shoe regarding width. The width of Xero Shoes should work for most foot anatomies.

Q:
Are Xero Shoes zero drop?

A:
Yes, Xero Shoes are zero-drop shoes, meaning they have 0mm heel-to-toe drops and flat shoes.

Q:
Do Xero Shoes have removable insoles?

A:
If you want to remove the insole or use your own custom insole, then you should be fine doing so in most Xero Shoes. A majority of Xero Shoes come with removable insoles and finished internal constructions.

Takeaway Thoughts

There are a lot of different Xero Shoes on the market and every pair is subtly different than its peers. Whether you’re wanting a barefoot shoe for running, lifting, or CrossFit, there’s likely a Xero Shoes model for you.

As someone who’s constantly varying their training and testing different Xero Shoes, the above are some of my favorite picks for different training contexts.

If you have additional questions about the Xero Shoes featured in this round-up and which would be best for your needs, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

I personally test every product featured on That Fit Friend using a regimen of training tests that I’ve developed over years of testing training gear. I buy the gear I test and may earn commissions on sales made through links on my site.

nv-author-image

Jake Boly

I've been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I've trained hundreds of clients, written thousands of articles, reviewed over 100+ pairs of training shoes, and have produced a large list of training videos. I live and breathe fitness and training gear, and I think it's important that reviewers walk the walk with the gear they're testing. As for my educational background, I have my Masters in Sports Science, Bachelors in Exercise Science, and have my CSCS.

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