When I first saw the offerings from Xero Shoes, I knew I had to check them out. A number of years ago I was researching barefoot running and barefoot/minimalist style shoes. I found a sandal that the founder of Xero Shoes created and was immediately intrigued. Fast forward to today, and the company has expanded with many models of sandals, shoes, and hikers.
I got the chance to check out a pair of their Daylight Hikers, and let me say upfront: I love them! They are exactly what I had been looking for years ago.
Constructed of a light, breathable fabric these hikers are amazingly comfortable right out of the box. They needed no break in period, and are so lightweight as to hardly be noticeable when worn.
You can tighten or loosen the “huarache-inspired” heel strap to give a bit more (or less) support around your heel, which can hold your foot in place better.
And like the Prio, the DayLite Hiker has independently adjustable instep straps. You can tighten the laces going through those “inverted V” straps to cinch the boot around your instep. This can also help keep your foot secure. Securing your instep (but not TOO much) can actually let your toes relax even more… experiment with the tension of these straps and see what you experience.
Like most minimalist shoes, these have a zero drop, meaning the heel is not higher than the toe of the shoe. The sole is a perfect thickness; thin and very pliable (you can roll this shoe up into a cylinder shape) yet just thick enough to give some comfort. It comes with a removable insole, and the company recommends leaving the insole in if walking on hard surfaces or removing if walking on softer ground. The tread is a chevron pattern that I found provided ample traction on both hard surfaces (namely linoleum, hardwoods, and asphalt) as well as damp natural ground (dirt, rock outcroppings, and tree roots).
The upper is made of a breathable fabric that kept my feet cool. It too is pliable and not rigid, allowing your foot and ankle the mobility it needs to react naturally to irregular surfaces such as rocky trails. It is not waterproof but will dry quickly. From what I can tell, it is pretty abrasion resistant and is securely attached to the sole.
The laces are chunky, but hold well. I suspected that they would come undone during the course of my 5 mile hike, But they held fast. The contrasting color adds good style to the overall look of the shoe.
The toe box is roomy and allows for your toes to splay naturally as if you were barefoot. It is sized appropriately; unlike some barefoot offerings that have a toe box resembling that of clown shoes, the Daylite Hikers toe box provides the room you need with the look you want.
I wore these shoes at home, while out running errands, and on a 5 mile woodland hike over varied terrain and they remained very comfortable, cool, had no hot spots, and proved functional.
These shoes are equally at home in daily wear as they are out on the trail. In one picture, you can see them compared side by side to my LL Bean low-rise hikers that I’ve had for the past couple years. The LL Bean shoes are also very good, but are much heavier and “clunkier” than the Daylite Hiker offering. They also don’t breathe as well.
If you are interested in barefoot or minimalist footwear and athletic pursuits, or even minimalist footwear for everyday wear, I highly suggest checking out Xero Shoes. If you are looking for a pair of minimalist hiking shoes like I was years ago, you can’t go wrong with the Daylight Hiker.
- Great protection with a highly water-resistant ballistic mesh upper with Tough Tech toe bumper
- LIGHT — Only 10.2 ounces (each) for a Men’s Size 9
- Huarache-inspired heel strap to hold your foot securely
- Adjustable instep straps for perfect tension
- Dual-chevron tread for great grip
- Thin and flexible 6mm FeelTrue® sole
- Removable sockliner (insole) if you want a “more barefoot” feeling
- Vegan-friendly materials