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Xero Shoes Speed Force Review | Good Sock-Like Barefoot Shoes?

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The Xero Shoes Speed Force is a barefoot running shoe designed for both serious and casual running. As someone who enjoys blending barefoot running into my training blocks, I was excited to test out the Xero Shoes Speed Force.

For my testing, I used the Xero Shoes Speed Force for some hybrid-style training. I used the Speed Force as a tool for recovery runs and to expose my feet to different training environments while also using them for some heavier strength work.

As a whole, the Speed Force was a strong barefoot shoe and I like its sock-like fit and feel. However, there are a few cons that come along with this model, which I’ll discuss below.

In this Xero Shoes Speed Force review, I’m going to discuss a variety of topics to help you decide if this is a good barefoot shoe for your training wants and needs.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Review

On the market for new barefoot shoes? Make sure you check out my Best Barefoot Shoes round-up. This article features my top picks for cost-efficiency, lifting, CrossFit, and more.

Who Should Invest In the Xero Shoes Speed Force?

The Xero Shoes Speed Force could be a good fit for anyone that wants a barefoot shoe for primarily running, but also like to blend in some lifting. This model is marketed as a race and running-focused shoe, but it also works well for hybrid-style training sessions.

The 4mm FeelTrue sole in the Speed Force gives you a ton of ground feel in this model and if you want something that is super minimalist for running and lifting, then this shoe could be worth exploring.

In addition, the Speed Force fits more like a no-show sock, which could be a good or bad thing for you based on your fit preferences. If you like the snugger-fitting barefoot shoe, then you’ll enjoy this.

Conversely, if you want maximal width in your toe box, then you’ll want to explore different Xero models. Overall, the Speed Force is a pretty good running and hybrid-style training barefoot shoe.

Xero Shoes Speed Force


Xero Shoes Speed Force

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

Xero Shoes Speed Force Pros

Over the course of my testing and review process, I’ve found multiple aspects to like and enjoy about the Xero Shoes Speed Force.

  1. Form-Fitting Barefoot Shoe
  2. Can Be a Pretty Good Hybrid Barefoot Shoe
  3. Good Model for Running With a Very Minimalist Feel

The first aspect to like about the Xero Shoes Speed Force is that they feel very sock-like on the feet. I compare their fit to something like a no-show sock and I personally like when shoes have this style of fit. They feel similar to the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3 on the feet.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Try On Review

While I know this fit style isn’t for everyone, if you like barefoot shoes that hug the foot a little better then this will definitely be a pro of this model for you. I think this pro will be most relevant for those that feel like barefoot shoes typically feel “floppy” on their feet.

Another perk of the Xero Shoes Speed Force is that it can be a solid hybrid barefoot shoe for lifters and athletes that want a model for lifting and running, especially for those that like shoes with a sock-like as mentioned in my first pro.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Hybrid Performance

For running, this shoe’s arrow-like tread does a good job at gripping treadmills, roads, and even light dirt trails pretty well (I’d avoid trails with a lot of rocks and gravel). The 4.5mm FeelTrue sole blended with the thin 3mm removable insole gives this shoe a high level of ground feel.

For lifting, I like that you can take the insole in this model and get close to the floor for things like unilateral leg work where you want to feel the ground and for deadlifts where you want to limit as much range of motion as possible.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Insole Construction

The final pro with the Speed Force and this point piggybacks on my pro above, is that this shoe is very minimalist with its fit and feel. If you’re someone who wants as little material as possible to separate your foot from the ground, then the Speed Force can be a good shoe to explore.

This model is highly maneuverable and its lightweight mesh and synthetic upper help feed into this performance attribute. That being said, I like the ground feel with this shoe and my only gripe with this shoe is that I wish its appearance was better.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Construction

Xero Shoes Speed Force Cons

Despite enjoying the Xero Shoes Speed Force and their performance, for the most part, there are a few cons that are worth noting about this model before investing.

  1. Cost Could Be Better for What It Is
  2. May Not Be the Best Model for Beginners
  3. Long-Term Durability Could Be An Issue

The first drawback to the Xero Shoes Speed Force is their price point. For the Xero Shoes Speed Force, you can expect to pay $109 USD. This price point isn’t outlandish like a few other barefoot shoes on the market (*looks at Vivobarefoot*), but it could be better.

The construction in the Speed Force is super minimalist, which is yes, a good thing, but I feel like if this model was priced around $89 USD — similar to the Xero Shoes Prio — then it would be a perfectly fair price for this shoe and its construction and performance.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Insole and Upper

Another potential drawback to the Xero Shoes Speed Force is that they may not be the best performance-focused barefoot shoe for beginners. If you’re trying to transition to using barefoot shoes more for your training, then you need to approach the topic of acclimation with strategy.

The thin 4.5mm FeelTrue sole and thin foam removable insole in the Speed Force is great for a high degree of ground feedback, but they can also feel uncomfortable for beginners who may need a little more cushion to ease into this style of footwear.

Plus, this model is a bit more specific in nature in regard to how it’s intended to be used, so if you’re a beginner looking into barefoot shoes for the first time, then you may want to explore models that have slightly thicker soles and insoles to give you a bit more comfort or invest in separate insoles.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Construction and Mobility

The last drawback with the Xero Shoes Speed Force is that the huarache straps on the side of the shoe can run into durability issues from time to time. I have yet to experience this personally, but I’ve spoken with a few athletes in the TF2 community who have had their Speed Force breakdown after 4-6 months of dedicated wear.

I think this component can be highly variable based on how you typically train. For example, if you’re doing things like running, heavy sled pushes, and extensive plyometrics where you’re putting a lot of stress into the huarache straps, then you might experience this happening at a faster rate than someone just wearing these shoes for running and lifting.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Long Term Durability

Xero Shoes Speed Force Performance

To discuss the performance of the Xero Shoes Speed Force, I’m going to break down how this shoe performs in a variety of training contexts in that I’ve utilized this model.

This way, if you’re on the market for a new barefoot shoe, you can hopefully cross-reference my testing with how you plan to use this shoe to decide if it’s a good fit for you before investing.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Performance Overview

Using Xero Shoes Speed Force for Lifting

For lifting, the Xero Shoes Speed Force is a pretty good barefoot shoe. While it’s not necessarily designed for strictly lifting, if you plan to lift here and there in this model, then I think it will perform pretty well for lifting contexts.

The 4.5mm FeelTrue sole is great for giving you a high level of maneuverability and the 3mm removable insole is a nice added touch for giving you variability in regard to the “cushion” and the level of ground feel that you get with this model.

Testing the Xero Shoes Speed Force for Lifting

Personally, I’ve been liking the Speed Force best for my strength-focused days where I’m doing free weight and machine work. For these lifting contexts, this shoe has been an overall solid model.

My only gripes with this shoe for lifting is that the toe box could be a little wider. I think if you’re primarily buying this model for running with lifting on the side, then this shoe will be a better fit for you versus buying them strictly for lifting as there are better barefoot shoes for lifting on the market.

Testing the Xero Shoes Speed Force for Working Out

Using Xero Shoes Speed Force for Versatile Training

For versatile training, the Xero Shoes Speed Force is a barefoot shoe that I’d describe as performing in the middle of the pack. It’s not the best on the market for this style of training, but as a running-focused model, it can hold its own.

The sole’s arrow-like tread pattern grips different surfaces well and if you’re planning to tackle your workouts on grass, turf, or rubber gym floors, I don’t think you’ll have an issue with this shoe’s traction.

Testing the Xero Shoes Speed Force for HIIT Workouts

I also like how lightweight this shoe is. If you like training in this context with just socks, but can’t do so in your gym, then this would be a good barefoot shoe to give you a similar feel without annoying your gym’s staff.

The only complaint that I have with this shoe’s performance versatile training is that the durability is somewhat of a concern for lateral explosive work and for things like heavy sled pushes that can stress the huarache straps.

Testing the Xero Shoes Speed Force for Versatile Training

Using Xero Shoes Speed Force for Running

In the context of running and to be transparent, my longest run to date in this model has been 2-miles. With my current training block and with the other shoe reviews I do, I have to limit my barefoot shoe mileage for body durability purposes so I’ll do shorter runs sprinkled into my training more often.

For running, I like the Xero Shoes Speed Force’s performance and I think they’ll be a strong model for runners that are keen to have two distinct characteristics in their barefoot running shoes.

Testing the Xero Shoes Speed Force for Running

First, I think if you like and want something super minimalist and virtually sock-like, then you’ll really resonate with this model. This shoe is slightly thinner through the toe box compared to other barefoot shoes so they’ll work best with neutral and narrow-width feet.

Second, I think this shoe will also be a really good option for those that primarily tackle runs on roads, treadmills, and grass. This will not be the best barefoot shoe for trail running. If you trail run often, then you’ll likely want a model with a bit more protection.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Sole Construction

Again, if you’re running longer distances in barefoot shoes, please note that my mileage exposure is capped in this model to short and more frequent runs, so I’d suggest blending this review with other reviews to get a full picture of this shoe’s running performance.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Sizing

Sizing can be a little interesting for the Xero Shoes Speed Force. Some have reported that these fit true to size while others, along with Xero Shoes’ site, have suggested going up a half size.

I went with my normal size for continuity purposes in review and thought that the fit was fine for the Xero Shoes Speed Force. However, it’s important to note that I do like it when shoes are a bit more form-fitting.

Xero Shoes Speed Force On Feet Sizing

I think if you normally have space at the end of your shoe’s toe box and like form-fitting shoes, then you should be safe going true to size in the Speed Force. Conversely, if you typically have limited room in your toe boxes and want to play it safe, then going up a half size would be a good strategy call.

  • Xero Shoes Speed Force Sizing Thoughts: Go true to size if you like a snugger fit, go up a half size if you like more room in your toe box and want to play it safe.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Sizing and Fit

If you have additional Xero Shoes Speed Force sizing and fit questions or how their fit compares to other models, drop a comment below.

Construction Details

The construction of the Xero Shoes Speed Force is pretty minimalist in nature. Below are some of the most important construction details that influence performance and durability with the Speed Force. 

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 6.2 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes (with finished internal construction)
  • 4.5mm FeelTrue Sole
  • Arrow Tread Pattern
  • Huarache-Inspired Design
  • Mesh and Synthetic Upper
  • Removable 3mm Insole

If you have additional questions about the Xero Shoes Speed Force’s construction, drop a comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How should Xero Shoes fit?

With barefoot shoes, I always suggest having anywhere from .3-.6 inches of room at the end of the toe box. This range will usually be good to ensure you have plenty of room to spread and move the toes while also not running into heel slip issues.

Are Xero Shoes Speed Force good for running?

The Xero Shoes Speed Force is a good model to explore if you're wanting a shoe to replicate barefoot running. This shoe is lightweight and super minimalist so it will replicate a barefoot running style closely and can be used for a variety of mileages.

Are Xero Shoes Speed Force good for lifting?

The Xero Shoes Speed Force works well for hybrid training. The 4.5mm FeelTrue sole in this model gets you really close to the ground so when doing things like deadlifts or active foot exercises, you'll get a lot of ground feedback from these shoes.

Takeaway Thoughts

The Xero Shoes Speed Force is a pretty good barefoot shoe for the running-focused athlete that wants a super minimalist shoe for training. This model’s sock-like fit can also be a perk for athletes that love this style of fit in their shoes.

My main gripes with this model are that it may not be the best model for true barefoot shoe beginners and the price point can be a little for some in regard to what these shoes have to offer.

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