Xero Shoes (formerly Invisible Shoes) has been very busy this year. This summer at Outdoor Retailer they unveiled some cool new products, some we can tell you about, and some we can't just yet. Here is a taste of what we can be expecting from these guys over the coming months...
The Sensori Line
With the current Xero Shoes flagship sandals line, you have some work to do before you can get the shoes on your feet. After picking your sole thickness (the 4mm Connect or 6mm Contact), and size/length, you are responsible to punch the toe hole in the correct location using the supplied hole punch, and then knot and thread the lace in one of the myriad of configurations available. Once you have worn the sandals for a little while, you can trim the sole to match your specific foot shape as required.
The Xero Shoes Sensori line has eliminated most of the DIY process by completely assembling the sandal for you. You buy it off the rack, put it on your foot, and away you go. As with the current line, once you are certain of the fit you can trim the excess material to match the shape of your foot.
To optimally place the toe hole, Xero Shoes used all the customers foot tracings they have collected over the years and averaged out the best spot for each size. They claim that their toe strap placement will work for the vast majority (95%+) of the population.
In addition to removing the DIY process, they have also eliminated the knot. Instead of threading the lace through the hole and tying a knot on the underside of the sole, they have designed a flexible plastic post for attaching the lace between the toes. The post is inserted through the toe hole from the bottom and then the lace is threaded through an eyelet on the top of the post.
Changes in the lacing system don't stop there. The new Sensori lacing system now uses two pieces of lace rather than one. This two-part system has allowed Xero shoes to create an adjustable tensioning system across the back of the sandal for adjusting the fit. The design of the new lacing system is such that all sections of lace are now doubled-up to provide more comfort and support. Across the back of the achilles (where there are four strands of lace), a soft silicone tube has been added for added comfort and grip.
The Sensori line will also be bringing subtle changes to the sole design. On the sides of the sole, the holes for threading the lace are now upturned instead of flat. More significantly is the addition of a short molded heel cup across the back of the shoe. The heel cup is designed to help keep debris out, prevent the foot from sliding, and add a splash of color.
The first model in the Sensori line will be called the Sensori Venture. The Venture will have a 5.25mm FeelTrue rubber outsole (with the same dual-chevron tread as the current Xero shoes soles), weighs 5.4oz in a mens size 9, and will retail for $39.95. It will be available in an array of color combinations. ETA for this model is still unknown.
My thoughts: On paper, I think the design upgrades look great. About the only item that seems a bit superflous is the molded heel cup. While I agree it adds a splash of color, whether or not it contributes anything to preventing debris or foot sliding remains to be seen. Either way, I don't see it hurting anything so I am not too concerned. I currently have a pair of the Sensori's on test, so stay tuned for a future review.
The +One Line
The exciting changes don't end with sandals. Xero shoes is going to be introducing a line of tabi booties for use with their sandals (well, OK, go ahead and use them with any sandal you like :-), or on their own for indoor activity. You can of course also use them as socks in regular footwear as well - maybe in your tabi shoes?.
The new line, dubbed +One will start with two models: the +One Trail and the +One Toes-ty.
The +One Trail is a lightweight, thin warm-weather tabi for protecting your feet from getting cut and scratched while on trails. Although not claimed, I would also imagine they also help to keep biting insects off as well.
The +One Toes-ty is designed to help you take your huarache sandals into cold weather. It is constructed out of a 2mm water resistant polyester mesh with a bamboo fleece liner. The bottom has embedded silicone grippies for extra traction.
The expected release date and pricing for the +One line has still not been released.
My thoughts: It's about time! Limitations I have experienced with sandals in the past have included: lack of bug protection, protecting the foot from scratching in thick bush, and cold weather. It looks like Xero shoes is attempting to address all of those with the introduction of the +One series. I am looking very forward to trying these out. Good work guys!