Xero Shoes Mesa Trail Review: The trail shoe with barefoot roots

I’m a minimal shoe fan, and if you’re looking at a Xero Shoes Mesa Trail shoe review, then I’m guessing you are too. Or at least you’re curious. 

I’ve been rocking the Mesa Trails for 100km now, and I’m really happy to say, they are just what I was looking for. 

If you’re looking for an aggressive, minimal, and flexible trail shoe, then you’ll probably want to get a pair too.

Let’s get down to the details. 

Throughout this article, you will find links to the Xero Shoes website. These are affiliate links, and it’s the only way that Illness To Ultra is alive today. If you’re interested in the Xero Shoes products, please consider using the links as it helps me bring more content in the future, and costs you nothing! Thanks!

Standout Features

  • A minimal shoe flexing naturally with your foot 
  • Zero-drop
  • A wide toe box allowing your toes to splay
  • 5mm rubber outsole with 3.5mm lugs
  • A removable 3mm insole
  • Strategically placed overlays for protection and durability
  • Super lightweight (M9.5 8.5oz each)
  • Vegan Materials
  • 5000-mile sole warranty

The Fit and Feel

Here’s the important one. How do they fit? 

Go ½ a size larger! Xero Shoes suggests you buy ½ a size larger than your normal shoe size. And that’s the way it played out for me. My usual size is US 9, and a US 9 ½ in Xero Shoes Mesa Trail turned out to be a perfect fit for me. 

After getting the sizing right, you will immediately feel the airy toe box, which gives your toes plenty of space and allows you to flex and extend those toes all you want!

Moving up the shoe, the lacing system is based loosely on a traditional Huarache sandal . If you’ve ever worn any Xero sandals, you’ll be familiar with the strap system, and you’ll notice similar straps across the Mesa trail. 

The straps are placed under the outer layer of the shoe protecting them from any abrasions. The straps are then looped into a lacing system creating a tight lock for your foot. 

There is a good depth to the shoe, which could be a positive or negative depending on your feet. If you happen to have shallow, less voluminous feet, there could be a little bunching in the lacing area. Personally, I’ve found the lacing lockdown to be okay and I would say I have a fairly average foot depth.

Lastly, the ankle opening is relatively large, and I had to utilize a lace lock to get a good ankle hold. 

The lightly cushioned cuff and heal mean that there is no rubbing or discomfort when running. 

On the Run

After lacing up and taking your first few strides, you’ll immediately notice how light these shoes are. The lightweight upper allows for adequate airflow, adding to that barefoot feeling.

Underfoot, the super flexible sole offers a balance of ground feel and protection, which most minimal runners want. 

The 3mm insole is removable which is great for those who love to be closer to the ground. If you are running on well-maintained muddy tracks, removing the insole could be ideal, but I’d suggest keeping it in for those rocky mountain trails. 

The arrow lug design may look familiar to many. That’s because the design works, and many other brands use it too. The arrow lug design allows for perfect grip over many different conditions whether you’re running in wet, muddy, or dry conditions. 

I have noticed a considerable amount of wear on the outer lugs, which is partially due to my gait, but at the same time, the sole is soft and less durable than other trail shoes  out there. So make sure you keep off the tarmac as much as possible if you’re doing a road trail split run. 

With that being said, the softer rubber soles boosts confidence when running over exposed rocks. You can focus less on foot placement and more on the enjoyment of dancing down the trail! 


Coming in at $119.99 RRP, the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail shoes are on the cheaper end of the trail shoe market price. A trend that tends to be true across much of the Xero Shoes shoe range. 

To make the price even sweeter, the 5000-mile sole guarantee means that you can be confident that the shoe should last. I’ll keep you posted.

I also find that the lack of cushioning in minimal shoes, in comparison to traditional shoes means that my trail running shoes last much longer. Another reason to go minimal! And bonus points for a great price range. 

Xero Shoes Trail, Road & Casual Shoes

Xero shoes have all the bases covered when you’re looking for minimal shoes. I like Xero shoes because they provide the best minimal feel but still in an affordable range. Add the 5000-mile sole guarantee and you’re on to a winner.

Personally, the Mesa Trail’s are my go-to trail shoes and the Hana’s are my only casual shoes!


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Nick helps aspiring runners learn how to take a healthful approach to their training and races so they don’t crash and burn before they achieve their goals.
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