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Xero Shoes's Scrambler Mid Hiking Boot Review: Designed to Mimic the Barefoot Feeling

The Scrambler Mid Ultralight is the first collaboration between Xero Shoes and Michelin, and prioritizes foot-first design.

xero scrambler mid
Scott Seiver

Other than during school hours, up until the age of nine, I was almost always barefoot. I loved walking around on the dirt, feeling its warmth and scratchy comfort on my feet. I liked challenging myself to step on gravel, twigs and other impediments and not to feel pain when I did; it rarely worked, but it was a good personal challenge, nonetheless.

These days, I cycle through testing two or three pairs of outdoor-oriented footwear a week; I hardly ever walk barefoot anymore. In the decades between my youth and now, my feet have become soft, and have lost the toughness I treasured in my younger days. So when Xero Shoes approached me with the opportunity to test its brand new mid-weight hiking boot, developed in collaboration with Michelin, my past and present selves were intrigued: maybe this was a way to re-introduce the barefoot feeling back into my life outside.

So, I decided to test the boots out. Here’s what I thought after wearing them a few times.

xero scrambler mid
Xero’s new collaboration hiking boot with Michelin is technical, lightweight and has just the right amount of ruggedness built in.
Scott Seiver

First, a little background

When I got my Xero hiking boots in the mail, this small flyer was included in the box: two friendly, smiling faces looking up at me, thanking me for trying their shoes. These are Steven and Lena, founders of Xero Shoes — which, according to them, they started in a bedroom in 2009. Per the brand’s website, Xero Shoes was founded by the husband-and-wife team after Steven healed his running-induced injuries by way of the Barefoot Running Movement. After he realized it wasn’t practical — or safe — to run through the modern world with no protection, he and his wife started their company — which, by all accounts, had somewhat-instant success.

This was all good fodder for a formerly-barefoot person who missed the feeling of the ground.

Now, onto the boots: the Xero Shoes Scrambler Mid

Xero Shoes Scrambler Mid

  • Outsole: Michelin FiberLite Sole
  • Drop: 0
  • Weight: Men's: 10.2 ounces / Women's: 8 ounces
  • Lugs: 3mm
    xero scrambler mid
    Inspired by mountain bike tires, the 3mm truncated lugs easily gripped rained-out trails, providing stability throughout my hike.
    Scott Seiver

    What I liked about Xero's Scrambler Mid

    The outsole and construction feel grounded

    When I saw the Michelin stamp on the bottom and side of the Scrambler Mid's outsole, I had high expectations regarding its performance; I've walked in Michelin rubber in the past, and have yet to be disappointed. However, it wasn't necessarily the durability or grip of the outsole that had me impressed when I took the boots out for a spin; it was the grounded and high-contact feel of the shoe in general. I was transported to my barefoot-loving past, where I could feel the variations in the trail, but this time, I wasn't impeded by them.

    My feet were comfortable all day

    After five hours straight in the shoes, I had forgotten I had them on. I went straight from the outdoors to my daily life, and if it weren't for the mud I tracked into our Airstream, I would have completely forgotten I had the boots on. I can attribute this to their minimal design and roomy toebox, which allowed for plenty of toe splay and comfort. The flexible collar has just the right amount of padding to protect the ankle, without impeding movement. In my experience and compared to other hiking boots I've tested, Xero's hiking boots run slightly big, but not enough to recommend sizing down: they're roomy, and provide flexibility and space for feet that have been hiking and walking all day.

    xero scrambler mid
    The mesh on the upper felt cheap compared to other materials I’ve tested in the past; this is the one downfall of the boot that was hard to overlook.
    Scott Seiver

    What I didn’t like Xero's new hiking boot

    The upper feels cheap, and a little flimsy

    Nothing's perfect in this world, and Xero's new ultralight hiking boot is no exception. Although I was impressed by the overall comfort and the durability of the outsole, I was less impressed by the materials of the shoe (I'm not alone in my estimation of the brand's material quality, either). The mesh upper felt cheap in my hands, as well as the laces — especially compared to Veja's new hiking shoe, which I tested just prior. The polyester webbing is constructed to promote breathability, but in my opinion the cells of the web aren't tight enough, and leave room for tearing and punctures. I think a more robust upper, like Cordura, may be the fix for this boot.

    Xero's Scrambler Mid: The Verdict

    Based on my overall experience with the Scrambler Mid, I can see myself hiking in it throughout 2023 — and hopefully beyond, if my predictions about the durability of its upper material turn out to be incorrect. By collaborating with Michelin for a durable outsole that still retains the minimal ethos of the brand, Xero lended credibility and performance to its new ultralight hiking boot.

    Based on the materials used, I don't know that I'd pay $170 for another pair. But maybe next time, I'll give one of the brand's iconic sandals a spin... and take the next step forward to full barefoot freedom.

    (The Scrambler Mid is available starting 3/1/2023 for 20 percent off, along with four other Spring '23 styles from the brand.)

    Xero Shoes Scrambler Mid


    Xero Shoes Scrambler Mid (Men's)


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