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Xero Shoes HFS Review | Best Hybrid Barefoot Training Shoe?

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The Xero Shoes HFS model has quickly grown as one of my go-to training and daily shoes. If you’re unfamiliar with Xero Shoes, they’re a company that produces minimalist shoes to provide you with a barefoot-esque feeling. The Xero Shoes HFS model is one of their running and training hybrid models.

I’ve always been a fan of barefoot lifting and training and the Xero Shoes HFS model scratches my itch and love for this style of training while also protecting my feet.

As a powerlifter, ground contact and feedback are something that I’m constantly trying to gauge when deadlifting, so I wanted to know, how good is the Xero Shoes HFS model for training as a whole especially compared to the Xero Shoes Prio.

Who Should Buy the Xero Shoes HFS?

The Xero Shoes HFS shoe is perfect for anyone who wants a barefoot and minimalist shoe that can tackle a variety of tasks. These shoes have a wide toe box for promoting toe splay and minimalist construction. Their overall stack height sits at just 5.5mm and you can remove the 2mm insole to feel even closer to the ground.

If you’re new to barefoot running or want a barefoot-style shoe for lifting, I think you’ll like the Xero Shoes HFS. They’re lightweight, maneuverable, and provide a fair amount of durability across the board.

Xero Shoes HFS


Xero Shoes HFS

Best For

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

Falls Short

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

Xero Shoes HFS Pros

Over the course of training and testing the Xero Shoes HFS, I’ve found four major pros that I really like about this model.

  1. Ground Connection
  2. Lightweight Build
  3. Comfortable and Durable Upper

The first pro is the overall ground connection you get with the Xero Shoes HFS. They have a rubber sole with a stack height of 5.5mm which is already incredibly low, but you can also remove the 2mm insole to get even closer to the ground. Personally, I felt super grounded at all times and it’s super easy to maintain a tripod foot position in every setting.

Xero Shoes HFS Insole

In addition, the wider toe box is also a welcomed perk of this model’s ability to promote ground contact. If you have wider feet or love having a ton of toe box room, then you’ll really enjoy this aspect. This was a major plus for deadlifting and unilateral lower body training where I want maximal ground contact.

Another pro is how lightweight this model is. Note, it’s not Xero Shoes’ lightest barefoot training shoe, that would be the Speed Force model, but compared to other top cross-training shoes on the market, this model is very light. The weight of my size 10 model is about 7 oz and this weight goes down further when removing the insole.

Xero Shoes HFS Upper

The third pro that I didn’t start appreciating until I was a few sessions into wearing these is their overall comfort and upper construction. The upper construction entails a breathable mesh and synthetic leather around the toe and heel for durability purposes. I also really like that you can slip these on without unlacing them every single time if you want to.

Xero Shoes HFS Cons

The cons that come with the Xero Shoes HFS are fairly minimal but worth noting nonetheless.

  1. Not Comfortable for Heel Strike Runners
  2. Could Be Problematic for Overpronators

The first drawback to the Xero Shoes HFS, and most barefoot-style training shoes, is that they’re not going to be the best bet for those who heel strike when running. If you’re a heel striker, then you’ll likely want to explore shoes that have a bit more material to accommodate the strike force of your foot when moving through your gait pattern.

Heel strikers can still use these, but I’d highly suggest working on adapting a forefoot strike when rocking these and acclimating to them accordingly. Basically, if you’re a heel striker, avoid going straight to long-distance use in this model.

Xero Shoes HFS Outsole

Another drawback is that this may not provide enough mid-foot support for overpronators. When you’re constantly overpronating, you’ll want a shoe that can accommodate the medial rolling of the foot that you have. Before investing, remember that this shoe is designed to replicate barefoot-style movement, so it may be limited with support.

A positive is that you can take the insole out and put in your own insert, but even then you may find that you’re limited with the amount of support you receive. If you want to try them with your inserts, it might be worth grabbing a pair, seeing how the inserts feel without scuffing the tread and if they don’t work, returning them.

Xero Shoes HFS Performance

To test the Xero Shoes HFS, I performed a variety of activities to assess their ability to accommodate multiple training styles.

Xero Shoes HFS Performance


The Xero Shoes HFS has excelled across the board in lifting sessions. I’ve worn these for heavy pulls and handfuls of lower-body days and I’ve been continuously impressed with their performance. For deadlifts, they keep you low to the ground and the ability to take out the 2mm insole is a subtle bonus.

For lower body sessions, and more specifically unilateral leg work like lunges and split squats, the flexibility in this shoe is the star player. This aspect allows your toes to move freely, bend, and grip the floor, and the rubber tread also does a good job at promoting traction.

Agility and Plyometrics

For agility work and plyometrics, I think the best part about the HFS is their lightweight construction. They feel like a sock on the foot and you can almost forget you have them on from time to time. Their overall flexibility is a perk for plyometrics and agility work where you need to be on your toes.

Xero Shoes HFS Tread

The only drawback that I could see folks having with this model and this style of training is that they’re not the most forgiving. Since they’re barefoot shoes if you don’t have good take-off and landing mechanics, then you might think these are uncomfortable due to them lacking the ability to mitigate ground contact force.

Day-to-Day and Running

On a day-to-day basis, I personally really like the Xero Shoes HFS. They’re easy to get on and off and the additional toe box room makes them a pleasure to wear for longer durations. What I will say though is that you may need to acclimate to them when wearing them for longer periods of time if you’re used to wearing shoes with more support.

For running, this model performs well especially for those who forefoot and mid-strike with higher stride rates. Basically, the type of running mechanics that feed really well into barefoot-style shoes.

If you’re new to barefoot shoes with running, then I’d suggest acclimating slowly to them and ramping up the intensity of your running sessions per your readiness. This is what I’ve been doing and started with .5 miles and am now up to 2 miles with relative comfort.

Xero Shoes HFS Sizing

The sizing for Xero Shoes is a little odd and they recommend that you size up .5 size to ensure your shoes fit properly. In all of my reviews, I order size 10s which fit well for me in most models.

For the sake of continuity, I got 10s in the Xero Shoes HFS despite them recommending to size up slightly. Check out where my big toe is in this model below.

Xero Shoes HFS Sizing

Overall, the 10s fit fairly well and I don’t feel limited by any means in this shoe. However, I do think most would benefit from sticking with Xero Shoes’ recommendation and going up a half size.

While the 10s work for me, I don’t want you to assume that your normal true-to-size will work perfectly. I’d suggest going with Xero Shoes’ advice and scaling up a half size.


When looking at the Xero Shoes HFS, they seem fairly simple in design, but there are a few subtle details that are worth mentioning. Below is a rundown of some of the Xero Shoes HFS biggest construction callouts.

  • 5.5mm FeelTrue® Rubber Outsole
  • Wide Toe Box Construction
  •  Mesh and Synthetic Leather Upper
  • Huarache-Inspired Upper Construction
  • 2mm Removable Insole

Xero Shoes HFS Construction

If you have any questions about this shoe’s construction, feel free to drop a comment below or to reach out to me personally.

Takeaway Thoughts

I really like training in the Xero Shoes HFS and I think if you’re looking for a barefoot training shoe to get into this style of footwear, then this model is a good choice. It does a fairly good job at providing enough to protect the foot, but also not overdo so you can still get a lot of feedback from the ground.

If you have any questions about the Xero Shoes HFS model, hit me in the comments below or shoot me a DM on Instagram (@jake_boly)!

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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