XeroShoes Jessie Sandal - Gear Review

For those of you who have been followers of this blog or past clients of mine, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of a natural, zero drop shoe.  When I was given the opportunity to try out the XeroShoes Jessie Sandal this summer, I was super excited about the opportunity!   Here is my unbiased review of the shoe: 

Disclaimer: I received this shoe in exchange for writing the review.  All opinions are unbiased and are my own.  

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The first thing I noticed about this shoe, obviously, was the design. It's so incredibly different from any sandal I've seen before.  With only a toe loop for your big toe and an ankle strap, it's definitely eye-catching.  This super simple, casual shoe didn't just make me take notice.  The first time I wore it to work (At the AT Lodge - a hiker hostel) every single hiker and even my boss took notice and asked about the shoe.  The first question everyone asked was if I could walk in it!  With the unique design, they look like they'd flop right off your foot.  The answer is that not only could I walk in them, my feet were able to splay naturally and stay right in place just as if I were walking barefoot.  I also only experienced one "toe catch" of the unstrapped side of the shoe, but it was when I was getting into my car and quite honestly I catch my regular sandals there too.  

The first time I wore this shoe it was while walking my dog on pavement here in town.  I immediately noticed the barefoot feel of the 5.5 mm Feel True rubber sole underfoot.  If you've never walked in a barefoot shoe before it can be a unique sensory experience!  The sole is just thick enough to where you won't feel uncomfortable, but minimal enough to really let your foot flex.  The adjustable elastic heel and instep strap is super soft and isn't invasive feeling or scratchy either.  The soft toe loop doesn't feel tight. Other than feeling the sole on the bottom of the foot, I didn't even notice the shoes.  It's not easy to notice a sandal that only weighs 4.8 ounces (mine is a Women's size 7). 

Yep - totally wore socks with sandals. I'm not ashamed!

Yep - totally wore socks with sandals. I'm not ashamed!

Walking on pavement can only give you so much of an example though, so on my day off I took a trip up to the north end of Baxter State Park for a little bit of R&R.  I thought with the ankle strap this shoe would be perfect for both easy walking and a little time out on the water.  Anyone who has tried to go swimming in a lake or pond in the upper part of New England can tell you that our soil is rocky.  It's always tough getting into or out of the water if you're barefoot or wearing a sandal.  The ankle strap really helped me feel confident I wouldn't lose a shoe to the rocks and it was perfect.  Since a little portaging was necessary with the canoe, I also got to use it out on the trail.  I wasn't sure what to expect being that I've never really done a barefoot style shoe before, but it wasn't terrible! It felt a lot more stable than I expected, even with wet feet.  Anyone who does any amount of backpacking can tell you that you sometimes get a long hike to your water source at camp.  Doing it in a camp shoe can sometimes be a real pain.  I would definitely make this a strong contender for a camp shoe on a backpacking trip in the future due to their secure feel.  


To recap my thoughts on the shoe: 
-Stable with the ankle strap
-Unique, eye-catching design

-Wearing them all day made my feet and Achilles tendons tired (more than likely because I don't wear a barefoot shoe all the time!)
-Adjustment period for a barefoot and zero drop (or would it be Xero Drop?!) shoe can take a while for newbies


In short, I'd recommend the XeroShoes Jessie Sandal to any outdoorsy chick who likes to have something eye-catching and fun to wear as a multipurpose shoe.  At only $44.99 MSRP with a 5,000 mile sole warranty, you'll really get your money's worth from this sandal. 

Have you ever tried a barefoot sandal before?  How do you feel about a minimal shoe?



Beating the Summer Heat on a Hike

Even though we're looking at Back-to-School times here in the south, it seems the relentless summer heat just won't give us a break!  The Dog Days of summer started here back in early June and are continuing well into mid-August.  You know the heat has been terrible when the weather reports we are getting a "break" from the heat when the heat index is below 100 (but still above 90!)  Other than for work, I've been trying to stay indoors as much as I can this summer, but when I'm out for a run or hiking at low elevation I still need a way to keep cool.  Here are my favorite ways to beat the heat during summer time. 


Stay at High Elevations

Where I live, the high elevation hiking runs consistently 10-12 degrees cooler than it does in the nearest town with a weather forecast.  Is it going to be 95 in the valley today? Chances are it will barely hit 75 up high with the gentle breeze!  A bonus for me is the fact that high elevation in the Smokies also means hiking on the Appalachian Trail and that means views for miles and miles on clear, sunny days.  It also means hiking in the overcast fog on not-so-clear days.  Either way, both options are beautiful and MUCH cooler. 

Where I live, high elevations mean boreal forest, fog, and sunshine breaking through!

Where I live, high elevations mean boreal forest, fog, and sunshine breaking through!

Reduce Your Mileage

Can't get away from the heat no matter how high up you go?  Reduce your miles!  Just because you CAN hike 22 miles at a time doesn't mean you HAVE TO!  Starting a hike in the morning and doing shorter miles to get done before the peak of the summer heat helps you stay a little cooler - not to mention beat the crowds at whatever your destination may be.  

Get Up Earlier

If you've ever looked at sunrise hiking photos on Instagram with envy this is your chance to emulate what you've been coveting - start super early in the morning (in the dark by headlamp or flashlight!) and hike up to a vista or waterfall for a sunrise viewing!  Not only will you really beat the heat, you'll be finished before most people are even arriving at the trailhead.  You'll have done more before noon than most people do all day long on hot summer days!

Get Wet

Waterfall hikes are always popular in summer months, but you don't have to hike to a waterfall to get wet on trail.  Taking a hike with several stream crossings or river fords will give you an opportunity to jump in and cool off.  Bonus points if you get your hair/hat wet or drape a wet bandana around your neck for the next mile or so.  Keeping cool has never been easier

Looks like a great spot for a swim break to me!

Looks like a great spot for a swim break to me!


Dehydration in the summertime - the most common trail injury I see as a guide.  Not only can the direct sunlight dehydrate you, so can the humidity.  In the Smokies, a temperate rain forest, dehydration can set in VERY quickly.  As a guide, I usually have 3-4 electrolyte options on me at all times, including salt tablets, Nuun hydration, Honey Stinger Chews, Fuel 100 Electrobites (code SPRINKLES will save you 25% at checkout!), and Enduropacks electrolyte spray in my backpack most, if not every, of the time I hit the trails.  If you're out on a hot day it is super important to check in with your hydration status.  Feeling thirsty?  You're already well on your way to dehydration!  With 75% of Americans in a constant state of dehydration it's hard to convince people to drink water.  Make sure you're carrying at least 32 ounces of water on a half-day of hiking and 64 ounces for a full day.  It also never hurts to pick up a cheap and reliable water filter (I recommend and use the Sawyer Mini).  

There you have it - my favorite ways to beat the summer heat on a hike.  What would you add? How do you stay cool in the Dog Days of summer?