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Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Review | Great Minimalist Shoe for Trail Runs and Hikes?

The Xero Shoes Mesa Trail shoes are barefoot shoes designed for tackling trail runs, hikes, and daily wear. As a Denver, Colorado native, I wanted to know if the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail model would be a good option for my trail runs and hikes. As I dive deeper into barefoot shoes, I wanted to test the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail for my trail runs and hikes.

Something that I think is interesting about the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is that it has a hidden 3mm TrailFoam within it. Personally, I really liked this construction aspect because it makes this model a bit more user-friendly for hikes that have rocks, gravel, and other rough terrains.

As a whole, I like the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail for trail running and hiking, but there are a couple of occasions in which I think this model falls short which we’ll dive into below. In this Xero Shoes Mesa Trail review, we’re going to cover a variety of topics to help you decide if this model is worth investing in.

Who Should Invest In the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail?

I think the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is ideal for two populations. First, if you’re an avid trail runner who loves minimalist-style shoes, then I think you’ll really enjoy this model. It’s lightweight, has 3.5mm thick lugs for light technical terrains, and has enough material to protect the foot from sharper objects that can sneak up on you during runs and hikes.

The second population is the barefoot shoe beginner that wants to experiment with this model for more casual hikes and trail runs. If you’re trying to acclimate to minimalist shoes, then I think the Mesa Trail is a pretty good option to go with. This model features a 3mm TrailFoam layer which provides a nice light cushion for additional acclimation comfort.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail


xero shoes mesa trail

Best For

  • Trail Running
  • Light and Semi-Technical Terrain
  • Casual Outdoor Wear
  • Light to Moderate Hikes

Falls Short

  • For Highly Technical Terrain
  • For Super Muddy Hikes and Trails


Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Pros

Over the course of my testing with the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail, I’ve found three key pros that I really like.

  1. Durable Upper Construction
  2. Maneuverable Sole With 3.5mm Lugs
  3. Great for Hikes, Runs, and Daily Wear

The first aspect to like about the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is its upper construction. This model features a huarache-inspired design with a layered breathable mesh upper. Throughout the toe and midfoot there are additional layers of material to protect the shoe from early breakdown.

I recently wore these on a few hikes and class 3 rock scrambles and purposely drug my feet at certain parts to test abrasion resistance. Thus far, I’ve yet to have issues with material ripping, and mind you, I was purposely digging my feet into rocks and gravel to test the mesh’s ability to resist ripping and breaking down.

Must Read: Xero Shoes 360 vs HFS vs Prio | Which Is Best for Training?

xero shoes mesa trail upper

The second pro of this model is how maneuverable the 5mm FeelTrue rubber sole is along with its 3.5mm lugs. If you want a shoe that’s highly responsive and allows you to feel all of the obstacles that you can run into on your adventures but also not kill your feet, then I think you’ll like the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail.

The sole moves well and when you blend its maneuverability with the 3.5mm lugs, you’re left with a model that is awesome for light and some semi-technical terrains. You get a lot of ground feedback and the lugs help prevent sliding on looser terrain surfaces when at flatter and lower inclines.

Suggested Read: 6 Best Barefoot Shoes In 2021 | Best Picks for Lifting, CrossFit, and More!

xero shoes mesa trail hiking

The final aspect to like about the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is that it can be worn in multiple settings. Sometimes when you look into barefoot trail shoes, you can be a little capped in regard to the settings they work best with. In the Mesa Trail’s case, this model can be worn for trail runs, hikes, and daily wear.

Its overall appearance actually reminds me of the Xero Shoes HFS which is also another model that I would classify as a “hybrid” in respect to how you can wear and use it on a daily basis.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Cons

Despite enjoying my Xero Shoes Mesa Trail model, there are a couple of cons worth noting about this model.

  1. Sizing Is Off
  2. Lugs Lack Traction On Technical Trails

The first potential drawback is the sizing with the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail. Similar to other Xero Shoes, the Mesa Trail’s size is a little all over the place. For most individuals, I’d suggest going up a half size in your Mesa Trail model and this is also what Xero Shoes recommends on their site.

xero shoes mesa trail size

I got a size 10 for continuity purposes and to see just how tight this model is if you don’t size up. If you don’t size up, then expect to feel the sizing issue with respect to this shoe’s length. I can wear a 10 in this model and it’s not incredibly uncomfortable, but I definitely feel a bit limited with the toe box’s length and width.

Another drawback to this model is that it’s not going to be your best for more technical terrains especially when running, walking, and hiking on steeper inclines. The 3.5mm lugs do an okay job on lighter terrains, but the moment you hit thicker gravel or dirt, then you may experience some slippage.

Suggest Review: Need a trail shoe for technical terrain? Check out our La Sportiva Mutant review.

xero shoes mesa trail tread

Personally, I didn’t feel the most trusting of this model’s lugs when heading down fairly steep dirt and gravel-ridden inclines. Now, if you’re on lighter terrain that’s primarily compact, then I think you’ll be fine on most inclines, but note that this can quickly shift once the terrain is a bit looser in nature.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Performance

To discuss the performance of the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail, we’re going to discuss how this performs in a few different contexts. This helps paint the full picture of this model’s performance and who it’s best for.

Versatility on the Trail

The Xero Shoes Mesa Trail excels for the activities that it’s designed to tackle. If you’re wanting a shoe for trail runs in the warmer months or for more casual hikes, then I think you’ll enjoy the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail model. I like the lightweight build of this model because it feels almost like a sock on the foot and it’s incredibly easy to pack.

If you use the Mesa Trail for training sessions where you know the terrain won’t be too loose, then you’ll get a lot of versatility with this shoe and how it performs. I also really like the 3mm TrailFoam that comes with this model which I think helps to add this model’s versatility in regard to who can benefit from this shoe.

xero shoes mesa trail for hikes

If you’re newer to barefoot shoes, then you’re going to want to ease into this style of footwear as you may find trails uncomfortable with super-thin barefoot shoes.

The TrueFoam blended with the removable 2mm insole in this model gives you enough cushion to protect the feet, but also still expose your foot to the environment you’re navigating so you can acclimate to sharper ridges, rocks, and other terrains.

Traction On Trails and Runs

The overall traction of the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is solid for light and some semi-technical terrain. I like the versatility of the sole blended with the 3.5mm lugs. Your foot can easily navigate around the surfaces you’re treading on and the arrow-shaped lugs do a fairly good job at digging into compact trail surfaces and lighter gravel.

Personally, I’ve found this model to work best on larger rocks when scrambling and on dirt trails. If you’re tackling flats, then the lug patterning should provide you with enough traction even if the terrain is a bit loose, but on steep inclines, this model may fall a little short for helping to prevent slippage.

xero shoes mesa trail versatility

For more technical trails and hikes, you may want to look into models that have thicker lug patterns as they may provide you with more grip. In addition, if you’re tackling trail runs in the colder months, then I think this model will work if it’s a light snow layer, but I’d cap its use to that.

The breathability and low-profile design of this model are going to be a warmth issue and the tread patterning may not be the best option for ice and thicker snow.

Stability, Durability, Comfort

Since the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is a barefoot shoe, you’re going to get a fair amount of stability naturally. However, it’s important that with barefoot shoes you’ll want to acclimate to them slowly as they’ll have a different impact on your balance movement mechanics as a whole. Without the additional cushion and higher drop, how you navigate trails and hikes will be slightly different than a thicker midsole trail running or hiking shoe.

xero shoes mesa trail performance

From a top-down level, the durability of the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail is overall pretty good. The Mesa Trail’s upper construction has additional layers covering high friction points such as the toe and midfoot. In addition, this model also comes with Xero Shoes 5,000 mile sole warranty.

Compared to other barefoot shoes, I do like the Mesa Trail’s comfort. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but the hidden 3mm TrailFoam mixed with this model’s insole does provide you with a bit more cushion for your ride.

Even on sheer rocky surfaces, this model doesn’t feel incredibly uncomfortable which I think speaks volumes for this model’s performance in various settings and overall comfort.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Sizing

As mentioned above, it’s super important to nail your correct sizing with the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail. I’d strongly suggest sizing up a half size in this model and if you often feel cramped in your true-to-size shoes, then you may want to go up a full size.

xero shoes mesa trail sizing

If you have any questions about the sizing on the sizing with the Mesa Trail, drop a comment below and I can help direct you accordingly!

Price Breakdown

For the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail, you can expect to pay $119.99. I think that price point is really fair, but that’s dependent on what you plan to use this shoe with and what your expectations are.

If you want a minimalist shoe for daily wear and hikes and trail runs that have less technical terrain, then the price point is pretty on the money. This shoe delivers consistent performance and is fairly durable across the board. For my friends on the market for a more technical-focused shoe, then you may want to look into barefoot shoes with more aggressive lugs.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail


xero shoes mesa trail

Best For

  • Trail Running
  • Light and Semi-Technical Terrain
  • Casual Outdoor Wear
  • Light to Moderate Hikes

Falls Short

  • For Highly Technical Terrain
  • For Super Muddy Hikes and Trails


Construction Details

Below, I’ve provided some of the key construction aspects that come with the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail. This model is once again very similar to the Xero Shoes HFS when it comes to its upper construction design.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8 oz (size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • 5mm Thick FeelTrue Rubber Sole
  • 3mm TrailFoam Built-In
  • Mesh Upper Construction
  • Huarache-Inspired Skeleton/Design
  • 3.5mm Lugs

If you have any questions about the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail in regard to its construction on trails and hikes, drop your questions below.

Xero Shoes Mesa Trail FAQs

Interested in anything specific about the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail shoes? Below are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive about this model.

1. Does the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail have a removable insole?

Yes. Similar to other Xero Shoes models, the Mesa Trail comes with a 2mm thick removable insole. The internal portion of the shoe is finished so if you can closer to the ground in this model without worrying about the shoe’s internal durability.

2. Can I use the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail on technical terrain?

The Xero Shoes Mesa Trail may work on some looser and more technical terrains if you’re not on an incline. The moment you start heading up steeper grades and inclines with looser terrain you may be a little prone to slippage with this model.

3. Can I use the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail to lift?

Yes, you can lift in the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail. You’ll likely notice the lugs on this model when lifting, but I don’t think it will be to a point in which your performance will be hindered.

Final Thoughts

The Xero Shoes Mesa Trail excels as a minimalist trail running and hiking shoe for lighter terrain adventures. This model is lightweight, comfortable, and fairly durable for abrasion resistance. I personally enjoy this model most for my casual hikes with the dogs and flatter trail runs.

If you have any questions about the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail, drop a comment below or reach out to me via Instagram (@jake_boly).

I independently buy and hand-test everything recommended on That Fit Friend. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission. Read more here.

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

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.

7 thoughts on “Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Review | Great Minimalist Shoe for Trail Runs and Hikes?”

  1. Hi Jake,
    Thanks for this detailed review. Most of my runs are on the road and a few on trails. About 70% on road and 30% on trail. If I have to buy one shoe, should I go for HFS or Mesa trail. The trails I run are either basic or semi technical.
    Can I use HFS on these trails or can I use mesa trail for road runners.
    I am currently running with Nike free run 5.0 and have run basic trails with these too.
    Highly appreciate your recommendatio.
    P.S. I use a size 7 dress shoe that’s a snug fit and a size 8 Nike free run which is comfortable. What size would you suggest I go with ?


    1. Hey! I think the HFS would be the better call between these two based on your context! A size 7.5 would be a good happy medium, IMO, but sizing can be tough. However, that would be my suggestion!

  2. Hello,
    I am thinking about getting the Mesa Trail and reading your review comforts me in that choice.
    Just one thing, about sizing.
    I run with Nike Pegasus 36 in US10 (EU44). Also Nike Air Force 1 US44. Vans slip on US44.
    What size would you think I should choose for the MESA ?
    Kind regards.

    1. Hey Alexandre! IMO, I’d say go true to size in this model. I wear a 10 as well in those models and the Mesa fits decently well going TTS. Plus, a snugger fit can often be better for tail shoes to prevent sliding + debris getting into the shoes.

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