Surely you remember how I'm a minimal shoe (fanatic, obsessee, aficionado) enthusiast. I've been wearing Unshoes Pah Tempe for the past three years or so since they were the only minimal sandals that didn't have a strap or lace between the toes. Early this year I began to have some slight problems with them rubbing a bit where some stitching is. Not a huge deal, but I began to look around and see if there were other options. And Unshoes has changed some things, so I considered a new pair of those. But I also found the brand Xero Shoes. They had a very similar strap design, but a very different sole, though still just as minimal. Since they're located in Broomfield, I decided I'd swing by after a trail run and see if they were any good. Steven, the owner, met me and fitted me with a pair. They were super comfortable. And a bit cheaper than Unshoes (especially without shipping!) So naturally, I bought them.
Initially, I had a little bit of difficulty getting the proper fit. They are infinitely adjustable. The heel strap as well as the continuous strap on the top of the foot. I think they were a tad narrow, or perhaps my foot is weird, or I walk strangely, but my feet had a tendency to twist in the shoes, causing the outside of my heel (mostly on the right) to come up over the side and occasionally the big toe to come over the inside. This was especially problematic as the heels have a sort of bumper, a raised cup to keep the heel in place. I would end up stepping on that fairly regularly. But after a few somewhat helpful (and very prompt) emails, I got that mostly figured out. Until about a month later and 50 or so trail miles when the shoes broke. The straps are attached to the sole by a raised part of the sole that is a hole/slit that the strap is fed through. Though the rubber of the sole is very tough (better than the vibram of the Unshoes, in my opinion), this attachment point is a weak spot. I had to complete my hike to Hanging Lake with a dangling shoe.
Again, they were prompt with responses and I was issued a return label and soon thereafter a replacement pair. Luckily the second pair arrived the day before I was headed to Glacier et al. for a week. Unfortunately, exactly a week after I received the second pair, they broke in the very same spot.
This time I got my money back because it just isn't worth it to me unless they change the design. It's obviously flawed.
I like Xero Shoes. I really do. They're comfortable. Light. Flexible. The sole is super tough. They're local. But they're not so durable for real hiking. Probably fine for playing in the lake, taking walks at the park, etc.
Unshoes have their own small flaws as well, but they've never given up under pressure. So I'll tape that lumpy stitching and keep using them until something else comes along.