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Xero Shoes HFS 2 Review | Good for Beginners and Hybrid Workouts?

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The Xero Shoes HFS 2 is built as a continuation of the popular hybrid-focused HFS barefoot shoe. This shoe has a few major construction changes that have created some pretty polarizing feedback.

Let me start by saying that I like the original and beloved HFS but I’m also in the camp that enjoys the HFS 2. The construction changes made to the HF2 don’t necessarily make it outright worse, they just make it different.

I think if you can better understand how these changes have impacted this shoe’s performance then you can better decide if you should go with the OG HFS or opt for the newer HFS 2.

HFS II Xero Shoes Try On Review

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Summary

The Xero Shoes HFS 2 has taken a unique step for this shoe line. Most runners and lifters have come to love the HFS for its minimalist vibe, but with the addition of the new BareForm midsole, it has some diehard fans up in arms.

The HFS 2 is a barefoot shoe designed for hybrid-style workouts that blend running and lifting together. Its lightweight, has decent outsole traction for various workouts, and it breathes well.

Report Card: Get the Quick Facts

Xero Shoes HFS 2

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Pros and Cons
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Stack Height: ~8mm (without insole in)
  • Removable Insole: Yes (comes with 3)
  • Sizing: True to Size for Most, Wide Feet Size Up a Half-Size
  • Width: Medium/Neutral

Quick Performance Stats In This Shoe

  • Max Lifts: 255 lb Walking Lunge, 475 lb Deadlift
  • Max Run: 3-Miles (Tempo Run, Explained Below)
  • Cross-Training: Box Jumps, Sled Pushes/Pulls, Skater Strides
  • Walking Mileage: 50-Miles and Counting!

Pros

  1. Great option for hybrid-focused athletes and lifters who like to blend running and lifting together in singular workout sessions.
  2. The outsole tread is more aggressive in this model so on trails, grass, and turf these shoes have a nice bite and grip to them so traction shouldn’t be an issue.
  3. This model can be a good option for beginners getting into barefoot shoes with its BareFoam midsole and removable insole.

Cons

  1. If you love the original HFS because of its super minimalist feel then you may not resonate with the more built-out HFS 2.
  2. For exceptionally wide feet, the HFS 2 can feel a little snug at times so you may want to pass on this model and go with something wider, especially for EE-width and wider feet.
  3. The upper hasn’t really been updated so it still has its more “dated” look which is stereotypical of Xero Shoes.

Who Should Buy the Xero Shoes HFS 2?

Throughout my testing process, I’ve found a few contexts where I think the Xero Shoes HFS makes a lot of sense.

1. You’re New to Barefoot Shoes for Training

If you’re brand new to barefoot shoes for training and running then I think the Xero Shoes HFS 2 can be a good option to explore. When running in barefoot shoes, you’ll want to acclimate slowly to them.

With thinner soles, your ground impact will be higher in barefoot shoes, and the Xero Shoes HFS 2’s BareFoam sole helps offset some of this impact, which can be great for newbies.

Working Out in the Xero Shoes HFS 2

On top of this, this model features a removable insole with a finished internal construction. This is great because the insole gives you additional comfort then you can remove it as you get more comfortable with this footwear.

2. You Have a Narrow or Medium Foot Width

If you have narrower feet then you’re probably well aware of the fact that some barefoot shoes can feel almost “too wide” when running, walking, and training.

The HFS 2’s width is what I would describe as a medium to slightly wider barefoot shoe so if you want a model that fits a little more sock-like then I think you’ll resonate with this shoe’s fit.

Assessing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 Width

I have an E-width foot and these fit pretty sock-like when wearing thin no-show socks. Granted, I should have gone up a half-size in them, but I do think they’ll fit narrow and medium feet well.

3. You Train On Turf A Lot

The Xero Shoes HFS 2 has a much more aggressive tread than the original HFS which is great for certain contexts like turf workouts. If you’re that hybrid athlete who is always training on turf then these can be a great option.

The forefoot tread bites well for things like sled pushes and pulls and if you’re an athlete who sprints, does plyometrics, and other circuit work on turf then you’ll appreciate this, in my opinion.

Assessing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 Outsole Tread

The more aggressive tread is also nice for runs on grass and gravel where you want a little more bite and aggressiveness. Their tread pattern reminds me of the grip you get with the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Knit FG.

Xero Shoes HFS 2

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Product Image
4.5
Stability
4.5
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.5
Quality
4.6

Best For

  • Running (All Distances)
  • Hybrid Workouts
  • Strength Training
  • Walking

Falls Short

  • For Exceptionally Wide Feet
  • For True Minimalist Lovers

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Xero Shoes HFS 2?

The Xero Shoes HFS 2 user reviews have been pretty mixed, and I’m mostly enjoying them, but I do think there are a couple of contexts where they fall short.

1. You Want Something That’s Super Minimalist

I think a lot of the polarizing opinions on the Xero Shoes HFS 2 revolve around its new sole construction. This shoe is thicker, a little more “beefy” if you will, compared to the original model.

This is nice for certain contexts, however, if you’re someone wanting a barefoot shoe for running and training that has a super thin sole and a ton of ground feel this can be a negative thing.

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Sole Flexibility

If you’re in the camp of wanting as little material as possible in your barefoot shoes for running then I’d suggest sticking with the original HFS or going with something like the Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit.

2. You Have Exceptionally Wide Feet

If you have EE-width or wider feet then you may want to tread lightly when investing in the Xero Shoes HFS 2. This shoe can feel snug at times on my E-width feet and I’m not convinced they’ll work for everyone.

More specifically, if you’ve worn Xero Shoes before and have found them to be snug or narrow then I wouldn’t expect the HFS 2 to feel any different.

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Toe Box Width

That said, if you are concerned about the sizing of this shoe then I’d suggest going up a half-size. Xero Shoes says these run true to size, but I find them to be short regarding length which then cuts into their width.

On the market for new barefoot shoes? Make sure you check out my best barefoot shoes round-up. I have performance categories for commuting, lifting, CrossFit, and much more.

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Gym Performance

Throughout my review process with the HFS 2, I pushed this shoe for lifting, cross-training, short runs, and daily wear. Below are how these shoes performed in all of my tests.

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Lifting

For lifting, the Xero Shoes HFS 2 does a good job and is plenty stable in most lifting contexts, in my opinion. Despite having a bit more sole I don’t think it will hinder the performance of this shoe for most lifters.

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Squats

For example, I thought this shoe did plenty fine for my deadlift and lower body workouts and if you’re a recreational lifter wanting that singular barefoot shoe for strength training you’ll enjoy these.

The flexibility in this shoe is solid and their grip is good on rubber gym floors, wooden platforms, and turf. I think if you’re the lifter that does a lot of their training on turf then you’ll appreciate this shoe even more.

All that said, would this be my go-to pick for someone just wanting a shoe for lifting? No. I would instead go with a barefoot shoe like the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III.

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Deadlifts

Since this shoe does have a bit more stack height and more aggressive looks it also wouldn’t be my pick for powerlifting and I would rather go with shoes like the AVANCUS Apex Power for lifting and deadlift-focused training asks.

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Versatile Training

I’ve enjoyed the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for most of my plyometrics, HIIT workouts, and athletic-focused sessions. This shoe should fit the bill for most power and circuit-focused workouts.

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Jumping

The flexibility of the sole is great for single-leg work and this shoe’s sock-like feel makes them solid for agility work. As mentioned above, I like the aggressive tread and how it feeds well into turf workouts.

When doing box jumps, sprints, and broad jumps, this shoe gave me a lot of bite which was great for propulsion. I also like the upper security you get in this shoe when working front to back.

My only concern with this barefoot shoe for cross-training is its spillover for lateral power exercises. Since this shoe’s stack height is a tiny bit higher I think if you have a wide foot then you may experience a little spillover in this model.

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Versatile Workouts

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Short Runs and Daily Wear

In the context of short runs, I enjoy how the Xero Shoes HFS 2 performs. I’m someone who likes wearing barefoot shoes for sprints, short-tempo runs, and pick-ups.

Fair warning: I don’t wear barefoot shoes for my long runs because they tend to beat me up, so I won’t be the reviewer to look to for long-distance runs in the HFS 2.

Testing the Xero Shoes HFS 2 for Running

For my short running asks, I enjoyed the feel of the HFS 2 and how it has a little more “cushion” compared to other models. It made it easy to wear and I like the more aggressive tread as it gives it more range for outdoor runs.

In the context of walking, the Xero Shoes HFS 2 performs well. It’s lightweight, breathable, and has good flexibility so it hits all of the boxes you want with barefoot shoes for daily wear.

My only complaint about this model in this vertical is that it can feel a little limiting regarding toe box width, so when I walk in my pair I’ll typically go barefoot or I have to wear thin socks to avoid feeling “squeezed” in them.

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Sizing

In the Xero Shoes HFS 2, I think the sizing is going to be pretty variable as opposed to what Xero Shoes recommends. For example, on their site they say this model runs true to size, however, I think that’s going to vary a ton.

For example, I went true to size in this shoe and I found them to run a little short regarding length which then made their toe box feel a little tight when wearing thicker socks.

If I rock thin no-show socks, then the sizing is okay, but I think if you have wide feet then you’ll want to go up a half-size in the Xero Shoes HFS 2.

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Sizing Thoughts

On that note, if you currently wear models like the Xero Shoes Prio, 360, or original HFS, then you’ll want to go with the same size in this model as it feels pretty similar to those shoes, in my opinion.

How to Size the HFS 2 for Different Foot Widths

  • Narrow Feet: True to Size.
  • Medium-Width Feet: True to Size.
  • Wide Feet: Go Up a Half-Size.

If you have additional questions about the Xero Shoes HFS 2’s sizing, drop a comment below and I can help you out accordingly.

Xero Shoes HFS 2 Vs HFS

The Xero Shoes HFS 2 versus HFS is a fun barefoot shoe showdown to have since both models have pretty significantly different “feels” despite being similar in many ways.

I think if you’re on the fence between these two shoes then you’ll want to factor in two variables and these include price and what you want your barefoot shoes to feel like when running and working out.

HFS 2 Vs HFS Similarities

  • Upper: Consistent.
  • Fit: Consistent with their sock-like fits.

HFS 2 Vs HFS Differences

  • Outsole: HFS 2 features a more aggressive reworked tread.
  • Sole: HFS 2 has a BareFoam layer which gives it a higher stack height.

Xero Shoes HFS 2

Which Should You Go With?

  1. If you want to save a little money then opt for the Xero Shoes HFS. They’re a strong model and you can find them on sale now that the HFS 2 is out.
  2. If you want more ground feel then opt for the HFS. This model’s stack height is lower and you’ll feel the ground more with its less aggressive outsole tread as well.
  3. If you like having a little more protection in your shoes for running and training then opt for the HFS 2. It’s more beginner-friendly and gives you more protection in different contexts.

Construction Breakdown

Below are some of the key construction details to know about the Xero Shoes HFS 2 before investing in this shoe.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.5 oz (for my size 10)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Mesh and Synthetic Upper
  • BareFoam Sole
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Padded Mesh Tongue
  • Huarache-Inspired Design
  • 5 Core Eyelets With a 6th for Lace-Lock

If you have additional construction questions about this shoe, drop a comment below and I can help answer whatever you have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Do the Xero Shoes HFS 2 fit true to size?

A:
For narrow and medium-width feet, the Xero Shoes HFS 2 fit true. If you have wide feet, you may want to go up a half-size in this shoe.

Q:
Can you lift in the Xero Shoes HFS 2?

A:
The Xero Shoes HFS 2 work well as a hybrid barefoot shoe for lifting and running. This model will provide plenty of stability for recreational lifters wanting a barefoot shoe for general strength work.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I like the Xero Shoes HFS 2 and I don’t see its updates as necessarily being a total miss. The updates give this model a different feel which I think will be a hit for some.

If you love the original HFS then you may not like the HFS 2’s bulkier sole feeling, however, I think that will be highly individual depending on what you’re after with your barefoot shoes.

If you have additional questions on this review, drop a comment below or reach out to me via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend)!

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

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