Xero Alpine: Waterproof Barefoot Boots For Winter Hiking

January 9, 2024Winter barefoot boot with 9mm sole, wide toebox, waterproof upper, and aggressive tread.

Hello, my name’s Andrew, and these are the Xero Alpine, a winter barefoot boot with a waterproof upper, fleece insulation, and aggressive tread for cold weather hiking.

Xero Alpine Features Showcase Desk

Features

Back in November I did a first impressions review of the Xero Alpine, and it seemed like a solid winter barefoot boot, but only problem was we hadn’t gotten hardly any winter yet in upstate New York.

However, this week we finally got a snow storm, so I could properly test the Alpine’s, and essentially these boots are like what the Night King would wear if he transitioned to zero-drop and gave up world domination in order to start a snowshoeing club.

Upper/Inner

Because the Alpine’s have a wide, foot-shaped toebox with a waterproof vegan upper, side notch for flexibility, support straps for a secure fit, lace hooks for quick release, and wraparound reinforcement panels to prevent tear-outs.

Inside you’ve got some fleece lining to keep the cold out, along with 200g of insulation and a removable heat-reflective insole for extra warmth.

Sole/Tread

Underneath the Alpine has a 5.5mm sole with lots of vertical flex and a small amount horizontally, plus an aggressive 3.5mm tread for traction and wider lugs in the front and back for durability.

Testing

Despite the Xero Alpine’s thicker 9mm sole, it’s still incredibly light, weighing in at 455 grams, which is less than half the weight of a traditional snow boot.

Walking

So they worked well for shoveling snow, and my feet stayed warm with only a thin layer of socks, although I did have to pull my pant legs down over the cuff to prevent snow from coming in around my ankles.

Heading out for a walk, the Alpine’s definitely had less ground feel, but because of the flatter lugs in front and back, they felt better suited to roads than more aggressive barefoot boots, like my Vivobarefoot Tracker Winter SG’s.

Hiking

Trudging into deep snow and crusty ice the Alpine’s stiffer sole was actually nice, because it created a more stable platform for my foot unlike thinner barefoot boots, which can turn your arches into plantar fasciitis origami.

The flatter lugs also gave me a bit more traction hiking across slippery boardwalks, and the waterproofing was for real, because I was able to stand in a frozen pond without any leakage.

Going up and down steep, slippery hills the hybrid tread gripped well on mud and slush, but the fully aggressive lugs of my Tracker Winter’s had a slight advantage.

Snowshoeing

Also, I found the Xero Alpine’s to be the best winter barefoot boots I’ve tested for snowshoes, because they’re light enough to feel agile, but the thicker sole prevents your arches from sinking into the unsupportive fabric base, and the structured upper allows you to tighten your straps without crushing your feet.

Surprisingly, my feet stayed warm down below thirty, but for near-zero conditions I swapped out the stock insert for a wool insole and layered a pair of Injinji merino wool toe socks with some thicker Smartwool’s.

Conclusion

Overall the Xero Alpine is a great option for anyone who wants some hardcore grip and support for trekking on unstable terrain without having to settle for the clunkiness of a traditional snow boot.

Pros/Cons

Because the vegan upper is wide and waterproof, the fleece lining provides a wide temperature range, and the hybrid tread is highly versatile for wintery roads, trails, and snowshoeing.

However, the toebox isn’t roomy enough for extra-wide feet, the thicker sole feels like overkill on firm ground, and without stitching you’ll want to towel the Alpine’s off after each use and keep them away from hot, dry air to prevent the glue from deteriorating.

Alternatives

In terms of similar barefoot winter boots…

  • Vivobarefoot Tracker Winter SG: wide waterproof leather upper, lightweight wool insulation, and an aggressive 9.5mm tread for trekking on soft ground.
  • Softstar Switchback: wide or optional extra-wide toebox, water-resistant leather upper, lightweight wool insulation, and flexible 9.5mm Vibram tread for hiking and running on mixed terrain.
  • BeLenka Winter Boot: extra-wide waterproof leather upper, thick wool insulation, and a soft yet aggressive 8mm tread for casual hiking.
  • Resources

    If you’d like to support the channel, you can shop with the referral links above/below, compare products on barefootwear.org, or watch my Zero-Drop Transition video to learn more about barefooting.

    Finally, if you have a question about the Xero Alpine, or about barefoot shoes in general, let me know in the comments.

    Thanks for reading, catch ya next time. Peace!

    Andrew Folts

    Andrew is a writer/filmmaker who creates video guides and reviews for a community of 25K+ creative rebels on YouTube.