Skip to content
Home » Barefoot Shoes

Xero Shoes Kelso Review | Beginner-Friendly Casual Barefoot Shoes?

That Fit Friend is supported by its readers. I [Jake Boly] run this site myself and buy the gear I review. If you purchase through my site, I may earn commissions on sales, read more here!

The Xero Shoes Kelso is a barefoot shoe designed to tackle daily wear with a classic-style look. As someone who regularly rotates between training shoes and barefoot shoes for daily wear and working out, I was excited to put the Xero Shoes Kelso to the test.

It took about a week for me to appreciate the Xero Shoes Kelso’s construction and performance, but once I understood their market fit I really enjoyed this model. For daily wear and barefoot beginners, I think the Xero Shoes Kelso is a good model to look into.

Despite liking the Kelso for the most part, there are a couple of cons to note about this shoe, which I’ll discuss below.

Who Should Invest In the Xero Shoes Kelso?

The Xero Shoes Kelso is a good barefoot shoe to look at if you’re wanting a shoe for casual wear and you like their “classic” tennis shoe look. This model was built to work for activities like tennis, walking, and wearing out and about on a daily basis.

I think this model can also work really well for barefoot shoe beginners that don’t plan to lift and run a lot in their shoes. This shoe features a 6mm FeelTrue sole and 3mm thick removable insole so it provides a nice variance in regard to its fit and feel.

Xero Shoes Kelso Review

On that note, you can technically work out in the Kelso casually, but I’d suggest looking into more performance-focused Xero Shoes if you plan to train in the Kelso a lot.

With the slightly thicker sole compared to other Xero Shoes and its removable insole, I could see the Kelo being a really good option for someone that wants to integrate barefoot shoes more into their daily life but want to acclimate slowly.

Xero Shoes Kelso


Xero Shoes Kelso

Best For

  • Casual Wear
  • Long Walks
  • Barefoot Shoe Beginners
  • Casual Workouts

Falls Short

  • For Serious Training/Working Out
  • For Appearance (Depending on Colorway)

Xero Shoes Kelso Pros

It took me a minute to appreciate the Xero Shoes Kelso, but once this model clicked, I found multiple things to like about this shoe.

  1. Great Beginner-Friendly Barefoot Shoe
  2. Good Toe Box Width for Promoting Barefoot Feel
  3. Durable Construction and Sole

The first thing to like about the Xero Shoes Kelso is that I think it can be a really good barefoot shoe to look into for beginners. If you’re new to barefoot shoes, then you’ll want to acclimate to them slowly to avoid sore feet.

Xero Shoes Kelso Try On

The blend of the 6mm FeelTrue sole and 3mm removable insole in this model gives it a nice level of comfort. Plus, you can remove the insole as you start to acclimate more and ease yourself into wearing barefoot shoes more regularly.

I also like that you can do some casual workouts in this model. For someone who wants to experiment with barefoot shoes in the gym and wear them on a daily wear basis, I think the Xero Shoes Kelso can be a good option to explore.

Xero Shoes Kelso Insole

Another aspect to like is the width of this shoe’s toe box. If you have wide feet or want more width in your shoe’s toe box for toe splay, then this model is a good option to look into.

Not all barefoot shoes are created equal when it comes to toe box width — here’s looking to you, Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3 (this model runs somewhat narrow in the toe box). That being said, I don’t think you’ll have to stress or worry about width in the Xero Shoes Kelso.

Xero Shoes Kelso Width and Toe Box

The last aspect to like about the Xero Shoes Kelso is the durability of the upper and sole. This model’s full-grain leather and suede upper feel pretty durable and I think if you’re wearing this model primarily for daily wear contexts, then this shoe should last you a while.

I also like the tongue construction in this model and that there are additional lateral and medial support layers to really lock down the straps with the huarache-inspired design.

Xero Shoes Kelso Upper and Tongue

Xero Shoes Kelso Cons

As a whole, I like the Xero Shoes Kelso, but there are a couple of cons that I have with this model.

  1. This Shoe Can Feel Clunky At Times
  2. Some Colorways Are Lackluster

The first drawback to the Xero Shoes Kelso is that they can feel a little clunky at times. This model is built with a full-grain leather upper with suede layers that surround the toe and heel so this model runs pretty hot and they’re not my favorite for going barefoot in.

While I get the “classic” look of these materials and enjoy them for the most part, this model does have a slightly heavier build, especially when you compare it to other Xero Shoes.

Xero Shoes Kelso Sizing Review

I noticed this most when I got this model a little wet one day. The suede and leather held water for a bit, which is stereotypical for these materials in shoes, so I’m not faulting the shoe for that. However, I would suggest trying to limit wearing these in the rain or wetter settings if you can.

Another drawback to the Xero Shoes Kelso is that their colorways are not consistent, in my opinion. For example, the white colorway looks fantastic and I think those shoes and that colorway can be worn in a variety of settings with different outfits.

Xero Shoes Kelso Try On Review

The black and white colorway, however, leaves little to be desired. While I think some will love the “classic” black leather look, it’s a miss for me and I found it somewhat hard to style due to it not flowing well with different outfits.

Plus, I think the black and white colorway can be a little harder to style with shorts. Do note, that maybe this is just me and my lack of style, but it’s a point that I wanted to bring up nonetheless.

Performance and Styling

To break down the Xero Shoes Kelso’s performance, I’m going to discuss how this model performs for daily wear and casual workouts. I’ll also discuss how I like to style this model and where I think it fits best in regard to daily wear settings.

Xero Shoes Kelso Performance Overview

Xero Shoes Kelso for Working Out and Daily Wear

In the context of working out, the Kelso does a pretty good job for more casual strength work. It reminds me of the Xero Shoes Prio, but with a slightly heavier fit and feel and the Kelso has a slightly more “cushioned” feel, relatively speaking.

The outsole provides you with adequate traction in the gym and when tackling lunges and split squats with this model I had no issues with slippage. When deadlifting, this model provided ample stability and I like the width for toe splay and the removable insole to get you even closer to the ground.

Xero Shoes Kelso flexibiliy for working out

In the context of working out, I think the Kelso could be a good casual workout shoe for anyone that wants to wear them for daily wear, then to the gym without bringing extra shoes. They’re not the best for performance, but they can work if you want them as a hybrid daily wear/workout shoe.

On a daily wear basis, I like the Kelso for the most part and there are two aspects that I really enjoy with this shoe in this context. The first is the 6mm FeelTrue sole used in this model.

Xero Shoes Kelso Fit and Style

Compared to other Xero Shoes, this sole is a bit thicker than its peers. The difference isn’t crazy, but even a sole thickness difference of .5-1mm can make a difference in feel with barefoot shoes, especially for barefoot shoe beginners, in my opinion.

The second aspect that I like is the removable insole and the upper construction. These two aspects help make this model even better for daily wear because they should last you a while and the insole adds a nice variance in comfort.

Xero Shoes Kelso Styling

The only thing that I don’t like about the Xero Shoes Kelso for daily wear is that their colorway options are hit or miss. While I like the white colorway, the black/white colorway is somewhat a miss and I’m not the biggest fan of the shiny black upper.

Xero Shoes Kelso Sizing

For the Xero Shoes Kelso, you should be safe going true to size. This model’s length fits true and this shoe’s toe box should be wide enough for most foot widths.

  • Xero Shoes Kelso Sizing Thoughts: Go true to size.

Xero Shoes Kelso Sizing and Fit

If you have additional sizing and fit questions for the Xero Shoes Kelso or how they compare to other models, drop a comment below.

Xero Shoes Kelso Vs Xero Shoes Prio

If you’re new to Xero Shoes or if you’re considering one of their models for daily wear, then you’ve likely considered the question, “Should I go with the Xero Shoes Kelso or Xero Shoes Prio?”

Xero Shoes Kelso Vs Xero Shoes Prio

Both of these models can work well for daily wear, so I wanted to compare them and discuss three of their major differences below. The first difference is their construction and how that relates to their fit and feel.

The Xero Shoes Prio features a mesh and suede upper with a 5.5mm thick FeelTrue sole and a 3mm thick removable insole. The Kelso has a full-grain leather and suede upper with a 6mm thick FeelTrue sole and a 3mm thick removable insole.

Xero Shoes Kelso Vs Xero Shoes Prio Performance

These seem similar, but there is a slight difference in each model’s fit and feel. For example, the Kelso feels like it has a bit more cushion compared to the Prio and it also has a heavier upper construction which gives them a “denser” feel while the Prio is more lightweight.

Another difference to note about each of these shoes is their sole construction and tread pattern. The Kelso features an arrow tread pattern and the sole has a smoother tread pattern which gives them a comfortable ride for daily wear and long walks.

Xero Shoes Kelso Vs Xero Shoes Prio Durability

The Prio also features an arrow tread patterning, but it features deeper ridges which give this model a bit more traction. If you plan to wear your barefoot shoes on grass, gravel, or dirt, then this could be something worth considering.

The final major difference between these shoes is their performance in the gym and when running. If you’re wanting a daily wear shoe that also performs really well in different training settings, then you’ll want to look into the Xero Shoes Prio.

xero shoes prio lifting performance review

Conversely, if your main goal is comfort for daily wear, then the Kelso could be a good option to explore. I think this model can be dressed up better compared to the Prio depending on the colorway you go with and your style tastes.

Winner: Go Prio for training with a side of daily wear. Go Kelso if you like the classic look and want them for daily wear.

Xero Shoes Prio


Xero Shoes Prio

Best For

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

Falls Short

  • For Dedicated Barefoot Runners

Construction Details

Below, I’m going to discuss some of the biggest construction callouts for the Xero Shoes Kelso. These are the construction features that I think most influence this shoe’s performance and durability.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight:
  • Removable Insole: Yes

Xero Shoes Kelso Construction Close-Up

The Xero Shoes Kelso features a full-grain leather that extends from the forefoot to the heel. There are pinholes on the forefoot, lateral, and medial sides of the shoe to assist with breathability.

Xero Shoes Kelso Upper Construction

There are suede overlays around the toe box, heel, and lacing system with additional side strips to help lock down the huarache-inspired straps on the sides of the shoe.

Xero Shoes Kelso Design

The tongue is built with a thicker breathable mesh and has an additional loop to help provide additional tongue security. There are five core eyelets on this shoe.

Xero Shoes Kelso tongue Construction

This shoe has a 3mm thick removable insole that is built with perforated foam and the internal construction of this shoe is finished so you can wear them or without the insole.

Xero Shoes Kelso Insole Construction

The sole of this shoe is built with a 6mm thick FeelTrue rubber. The outsole tread is built with a consistent arrow tread pattern with forefoot, midfoot, and heel grooves for mobility.

Xero Shoes Kelso FeelTrue Sole Construction

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you work out in the Xero Shoes Kelso?

You can do casual strength workouts in the Xero Shoes Kelso and even some light running. If your goal is serious training, then I'd suggest looking into more performance-focused barefoot shoes.

Is the Xero Shoes Kelso good for barefoot shoe beginners?

I personally think the Xero Shoes Kelso can be a great barefoot shoe for beginners that want to start wearing barefoot shoes more regularly on a daily wear basis. They have a comfortable fit and feel to help you acclimate to this style of footwear.

Takeaway Thoughts

I’ve enjoyed testing and reviewing the Xero Shoes Kelso and it took a week or so to understand this model, but I can see where it fits into the market. For casual wear, the Xero Shoes Kelso does a good job and I also think this can be a good beginner-friendly barefoot shoe.

This model’s fit and feel are a little more forgiving than other barefoot shoes, so if you’re getting into barefoot shoes more for daily wear, then this could be a good model to help you acclimate to the change in feeling.

If you have additional questions on the Xero Shoes Kelso, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via 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.

6 thoughts on “Xero Shoes Kelso Review | Beginner-Friendly Casual Barefoot Shoes?”

    1. I haven’t ran into that issue yet, but I’d also check out reviews on their product page to seek that info out. I’m only one data point but haven’t experienced that!

  1. I’m looking into getting the kelso. I’ve had the Prio for two years and I love the fit. Have you noticed a difference in the width of the toe box between the two? Based on the picture the Kelso looks a smidge narrower.

  2. My least liked Xeroshoes I own is the Prio All-day. Combining leather with foam padding inside the upper makes the shoe feel hot and bulky. On cold, windy nights when I want to keep my feet warm I prefer the Toronto high top canvas shoe. The All-day isn’t uncomfortable or bad really. I just always choose other shoes every time.

    I bought the Zelen on release, but passed on Kelso guessing it would be similar to the Prio All-day.

    1. Feel that, John. I really like the Zelen and you made the right call on the Kelso, IMO, especially based on the context you just laid out. The Kelso’s biggest flaw is its clunky material + design and the leather on the black colorway runs pretty dang hot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *