JUMP TO SUMMARY
In the world of natural foot health and minimalist footwear, Xero is a true pioneer and a company that remains committed to the core values that underpin its varied offerings. In the greater barefoot shoe sphere, it’s proven challenging for many manufacturers to incorporate foot-healthy principles and design features into a rugged hiking shoe, but Xero has taken a heroic crack at it with the Xcursion Fusion. In assessing this minimalist hiking boot, we took the Xcursion Fusion on desert rambles, alpine scrambles, and challenging outings where creek crossings and snowfields really put them to the test. In this Xero Xcursion Fusion boot review, we'll take a closer look at how this boot performs on a variety of terrain, and we'll also highlight the Xcursion Fusion's most notable features, explore what activities it may work best for, and discuss how it pairs with other helpful footgear, among other topics.
Read on for our full review of the intrepid Xero Xcursion Fusion!
Before we get rolling with this Xero Xcursion Fusion boot review, though, an important caveat: In this article, we are reviewing the men's version of this boot, which is what we recommend all users purchase (to ensure maximum toe box width). More info about men's vs. women's models and sizing suggestions for all will appear later in this article.
What Are the Key Attributes of the Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot?
As mentioned above, the Xero Xcursion Fusion impressively melds features that allow your foot to function in a natural way with more conventional hiking boot design inclusions that help protect your foot from backcountry batterings and safeguard it from serious water infiltration. In our opinion, the key attributes of the Xcursion Fusion, among many possible contenders, are the following:
Outsole: A good outsole is integral to the effectiveness of any hiking shoe or boot, and Xero went with a time-tested sole material and tread pattern for the Xcursion Fusion. The 10 mm FeelTrue rubber outsole of this lightweight yet durable boot includes 3.5 mm dual-direction, chevron-patterned lugs that offer you, the wearer, solid traction without sacrificing significant ground feel. Forward-facing beneath the forefoot, these lugs allow you to dig in and propel yourself up the trail with grace and ease. Under the heel, these lugs are reversed, which helps with speed control on the descents. Finally, the flexible nature of the Xcursion Fusion's rubber outsole ensures that it's your foot that's doing the work, not the boot, an important outcome for all those looking to build a stronger, more resilient foot.
Upper: A sturdy yet pliable upper is another important consideration when it comes to a good hiking boot, and the Xero Xcursion Fusion does not disappoint in this regard. The Xcursion Fusion incorporates a tough-as-nails ballistic mesh upper that's reinforced with Xero’s distinctive huarache-inspired tension straps, which are themselves tucked behind the sleek welded upper. These functional straps, along with the Xcursion Fusion's built-in speed hooks, help keep the boot's upper snug around your foot, regardless of your unique foot shape. While the mesh is breathable, this boot sports a seam-sealed waterproof inner bootie and an additional water-resistant membrane behind the outer mesh—both of which, along with the Xcursion Fusion's gusseted tongue, are ideal for high-octane outings where a moisture barrier is integral to comfort. Finally, surrounding the toe box is a protective toe cap that helps you avoid the worst impacts of stubs and scrapes.
Foot-Friendly Design: All Xero shoes, boots, and sandals incorporate a foot-friendly design, and this is certainly true of the Xcursion Fusion as well. The Xcursion Fusion's generous toe box is wide enough to accommodate natural toe splay in most sets of feet, and the total stack height of this minimalist everyday boot is a relatively grounded 12 mm (10 mm without the optional 2 mm insole), which is enough to protect your foot while still permitting good tactile sensation. The zero-drop platform built into the Xcursion Fusion provides foot and ankle stability, helps enable natural arch support, and provides your foot with a level plane upon which to operate. And its lightweight overall nature—each Xero Xcursion Fusion boot weighs about 13 oz.—promotes a healthier and more natural gait. When considered collectively, all these foot-friendly design features make the Xcursion Fusion one of the healthiest hiking footwear options available on the market.
With its durable, high-traction outsole, breathable yet waterproof upper, and foot-healthy in-shoe environment, the Xero Xcursion Fusion is a high-performance boot that's ideal for a variety of rugged outdoor pursuits. It's easy to don, light in the pack, and ready for adventures of all kinds, and it encourages your foot to become more robust with each and every footfall. With this boot's most notable attributes now listed and described, let's turn our attention to the various activities that the surprisingly versatile Xero Xcursion Fusion may be suitable for.
What Activities Is the Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot Suitable For?
Lauded as a minimalist hiking boot, the Xero Xcursion Fusion certainly does excel in this realm and for this purpose. Whether you're venturing forth on a multi-week expedition in the backcountry, fastpacking your way through an epic outdoor adventure, exploring a rugged coastal or mountain trail on your next overseas trip, or setting out on a gentle day-hike at your local state or provincial park, the Xcursion Fusion will help you achieve your goals and allow your feet to feel great while doing so. Indeed, the Xcursion Fusion works well for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, including backpackers, trekkers, birdwatchers, geocachers, cavers, canyoneers, orienteers, wildlife and nature photographers, mushroom hunters, and campers, to name just a few types of outdoor lovers among many who will find this boot to be more than up to the task.
While it's clear that the Xcursion Fusion works great for a variety of trail-based activities, we actually think this boot is appropriate for an even wider range of uses and situations. Because traditional hiking boots tend to be stiff and clunky, users typically lace them up at the trailhead and then kick them off as soon as possible after getting back to the car. Because minimalist boots like the Xcursion Fusion are comfortable on and off the trail, though, we think you'll find yourself lacing them up for non-hiking activities such as working in the yard, heading to the grocery store on rainy days, or journeying to the ski slopes. You could even wear them for a night out without worrying about friends noticing you’re sporting hiking boots. So, for these purposes and more, the Xero Xcursion Fusion is a great choice, thanks to its unique combination of comfort, breathability, versatility, and waterproofness.
SHOP XERO XCURSION FUSION BOOTS
Is the Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot Good on Different Trail Surfaces?
In our testing of the Xero Xcursion Fusion, we put this boot to work on a variety of natural surfaces to assess its performance and traction capabilities. From exposed roots and rocks of dusty mountainside trails to jagged and vertiginous scree fields to slick stone slabs and muddy mountain meadows, the Xcursion Fusion held its ground and kept our wear-tester striding forward with dry and invigorated feet—and with foot form and function well preserved. The unique ratio of stack height to lug height present in the Xcursion Fusion puts this minimalist walking boot in what we'd call the “Goldilocks zone” for outsole construction: Not too thick so as to blunt ground feel, but not too thin so as to expose the sole to thrashings on punishing terrain; just somewhere nicely in-between—and with great grip to boot! The Xero Xcursion Fusion, then, is a rare boot that you can confidently wear on natural surfaces ranging from rough and rubbly, such as the aa of a Hawaiian lava flow, to soft and spongy, like the muskeg or peat bogs found in parts of Alaska or Western Canada.
Is the Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot a Good Work Boot?
If you work outside and need a durable, waterproof, and foot-healthy boot, you might find the Xero Xcursion Fusion to be a great match for your needs. For those whose occupation is farming, gardening, or surveying, or for any other sort of outdoor work in which encounters with wet environments are common (e.g., guiding tours, walking dogs, performing geological field work, etc.), this accommodating boot can serve your foot well, keeping it dry, cool, and comfortable. With great traction and a sole that won't buckle when it meets the business end of a shovel, the Xcursion Fusion can also be an excellent option for labor jobs where safety is paramount. While this boot doesn't possess a steel toe, it is more protective overall than other minimalist footwear, and it has ample padding built into the upper to help reduce the risk of foot and ankle scrapes or dings. One other important thing to mention is that, though this boot works well in damp outdoor conditions, it struggles a bit with wet, ultra-slick surfaces (smooth concrete, specifically), so it may not be the best option for warehouse jobs.
Does the Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot Have Good Ankle Support?
It's a long-held belief in the hiking and outdoor communities that a good hiking boot ought to possess a rigid upper that incorporates brace-like ankle support. The misconception here is that rigidity will somehow help prevent ankle sprains and other injuries. The truth is, though, that no amount or type of upper material can really immobilize the ankle, and even if it could, this is not something to be desired or sought. What protects the ankle from inversion sprains is not a wall of stiff material surrounding the ankle but rather strong and healthy tendons and ligaments that cross the ankle joint. Your foot and lower leg need to be free to function as nature intended in order to protect your body when on the move and to be able to flex, bend, and articulate as much as is required by the activity you're performing.
It's been our experience that the best way to prevent ankle sprains is to develop foot and lower leg strength through the act of wearing footwear, like the Xero Xcursion Fusion, that allows your foot to become strong and resilient on its own. Footwear that puts your entire foot on a level plane and close to the ground and that allows your toes to splay naturally creates a much more stable base of support that can help you prevent ankle rolls. This foot configuration, which is easily achieved inside the accommodating and zero-drop Xcursion Fusion, enables natural arch support, prevents excessive pronation, and promotes the healthy functioning of all the tissues, joints, and structures of your lower leg. It can take some time to build up this lower limb fortitude, but most wearers of this boot will begin noticing beneficial changes in this regard soon after adopting it.
Also, footwear that places only a minimum amount of material between your foot and the ground (for basic protection of your sole) lowers your foot's center of gravity, which has the beneficial effect of reducing your likelihood of an ankle sprain. A thinner and more flexible outsole, such as the one possessed by the Xcursion Fusion, also permits your foot to feel the ground better, and this feedback to your brain allows you to make timely and appropriate microadjustments that ultimately minimize errant footfalls and injury. With all of the above in mind, then, it's quite clear that the Xero Xcursion Fusion does indeed have good “ankle support,” just not ankle support the way that most people would (mistakenly, we believe) define it. If you're looking for a walking boot that will naturally fortify your foot and ankle, then the Xcursion Fusion may just be the boot for you.
SHOP XERO XCURSION FUSION BOOTS
Is the Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot Compatible With Other Footgear?
One important measure of how foot-healthy a given shoe or boot is is how well it pairs with other footgear that you can use to rehabilitate your feet and achieve optimal foot health. Chief among the cast of supporting footgear you can employ to target these goals is Correct Toes, a medical-grade silicone toe spacing device that slots between your toes and is intended to be worn in a weight-bearing situation, either on your bare toes, over a pair of toe socks, or within a pair of shoes or boots with a sufficiently wide (and anatomically shaped) toe box. We have found that the toe box of the Xero Xcursion Fusion is Correct Toes compatible for most sets of feet, something you can confirm by performing the Shoe Liner Test. Individuals with wider-than-average feet may need to remove the included (optional) insole to open up more space for the forefoot or deploy the FootFitter Shoe Stretcher to create some additional room around the first and fifth toes.
SHOP CORRECT TOES
Along with Correct Toes, other footgear that we've found to work well in combination with the Xero Xcursion Fusion includes Injinji toe socks, Pedag metatarsal pads, and Naboso proprioceptive insoles. You can use these items concurrently with your Xcursion Fusion boots to accomplish a variety of foot health goals, such as improving toe splay and balance (in the case of the toe socks) and restoring a proper balance between the toe flexor and extensor tendons (in the case of the metatarsal pads). Using this minimalist casual boot in conjunction with Naboso insoles can help heighten your posture, agility, and general foot and body awareness. In addition to the footgear we've mentioned here, we've also found that a number of other items can play an important supporting role when it comes to building robust foot form and function. Such footgear includes the full suite of BlackBoard training tools, Zensah compression sleeves, and the Naboso Neuro Ball.
SHOP OTHER HELPFUL FOOTGEAR
What Size Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot Should I Choose?
Xero suggests ordering a half-size up from your normal US shoe size in the Xcursion Fusion, as this boot tends to run a bit small. We followed these guidelines for testing, and we found Xero's sizing recommendation to be perfectly accurate. When our tester paired this boot with Correct Toes, he had an ideal amount of space out in front of his toes. Without Correct Toes, the fit was comfortable but not too roomy. Some users may find that this boot initially feels a little tight throughout the midfoot, but the malleable upper easily conforms to your foot over time. For almost all users, we’re confident that a half-size up is the way to go. If you plan to wear this boot in combination with a thick wool sock in cooler conditions, though, you might consider ordering a full size up from your typical US shoe size so that you can be sure you'll have all the space you need to comfortably accommodate your foot. Going up a full size has the added benefit of providing your foot with even more space to lengthen out, which is a common phenomenon following the adoption of flat, wide, and flexible footwear such as the Xero Xcursion Fusion.
How Do Men’s vs. Women’s Versions of the Xero Xcursion Fusion Compare?
In our experience with the Xero Xcursion Fusion, we have found that the men's version of this boot offers users a relatively wider toe box than the women's version. And, so, for this reason—to achieve maximum toe box width and ensure that this boot is compatible with other helpful footgear, especially Correct Toes toe spacers—we recommend that both men and women order the men's version in this model. Because Xero recommends going a half-size up in the Xcursion Fusion, women interested in this boot can simply adjust the sizing down by one full size to determine their comparable size in the men's version. So, for example, if you normally wear a women's US size 8 shoe, consider ordering a 7 in the men's Xero Xcursion Fusion instead. Apart from differences in the relative toe box width and the available colorways, all design elements of the men’s and women’s Xero Xcursion Fusion boot are the same.
SHOP XERO XCURSION FUSION BOOTS
Is the Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot Durable?
Durability is, of course, a huge factor when selecting a pair of hiking or walking boots. After wearing the Xero Xcursion Fusion for an entire summer of hiking, our tester vouched for their durability and found these boots to be sturdier and longer-lasting than a shoe it’s often compared to—the Altra Lone Peak. Because these minimalist boots conform to your foot (and the ground), they tend to suffer less abuse than clunkier, stiffer boots do while hiking. As with most minimalist footwear, users should exercise care and caution when traversing precarious terrain to help minimize the chance of missteps that may cause damage to the boot. Even when our tester snagged these boots on brush, roots, and rocks, though, they didn’t sustain any significant damage. The lugs did exhibit a bit of wear over the course of the summer, but our tester reports that he won’t be shopping for new hiking boots anytime soon. With its waterproof nature and surprising warmth, our tester is confident that the Xcursion Fusion will hold up well in the colder months too.
Are There Any Additional Considerations for This Boot?
It's tough to find serious fault with a boot like the Xero Xcursion Fusion that incorporates so many thoughtful design features and considerations and is manufactured with foot form and function in mind. Still, as with pretty much any shoe or boot, there may be room for improvement here or, at least, there are things that make the Xcursion Fusion more or less desirable depending on your unique foot shape, your lower leg musculoskeletal health status, and your intended use of the boot going forward. With that in mind, then, here are a few aspects of the Xcursion Fusion that you may want to ponder before making a purchase and hitting the dusty trail:
Toe Box Width & Shape: As already mentioned in this review, we've found that the toe box of the Xcursion Fusion is wide enough to accommodate natural toe splay in most sets of feet. However, some people, especially those who have wider feet or toes or those who have a more “square” foot shape, may find this boot to encroach a bit on the toes, especially the first and fifth toes. For these folks, a slightly wider and more anatomical toe box (i.e., a toe box that more closely mimics the natural anatomy and alignment of the foot and toes) would be helpful, and few users overall, we think, would complain about some additional room for the forefoot and toes.
Adaptation Time: If you’re transitioning to minimalist shoes for the first time, we’d recommend wearing these boots around town or your home before taking them on a serious hike. Anytime you’re doing athletic activities in minimalist footwear, you want to make sure you’ve developed the foot strength to be able to do so without problems arising. Conventional shoes are known to weaken the feet, so we always recommend a step-wise transition to minimalist footwear. This means wearing them for a short period of time at first, and then gradually increasing wear-time as your foot adapts to the increased work load it's expected to bear.
Packability: The Xcursion Fusion is most certainly a minimalist boot, and though its sole is quite lean and flexible, this boot does possess a relatively “bulky” upper that may make stowing it in your pack or luggage a bit more challenging. Undoubtedly, many users will appreciate the more substantial, padded upper for its protective effects, especially when it comes to preventing scrapes and abrasions from a variety of trail features. But others may find that it occupies perhaps more than its fair share of space in any container that houses it. Of course, this only really matters if space in your pack or suitcase is a premium. For those who live near a trailhead or can drive to it, the packability of this boot is a nonissue.
It's important to consider the above points when deciding whether or not the Xero Xcursion Fusion may be right for you. It's also important to consider what kind of experience you're looking for from a walking or hiking boot. For those interested in building foot strength and resilience while exploring the great outdoors, the Xcursion Fusion is a really solid choice. For those who want a cushier ride and who are less concerned about ground feel and natural foot function, another shoe or boot may be a better option. Regardless, the Xero Xcursion Fusion is a boot that appeals to a large number of potential wearers and offers the possibility of a completely new hiking experience to those just entering the world of minimalist footwear.
Xero Xcursion Fusion Boot Review: In Summary
As a minimalist hiking boot, the Xero Xcursion Fusion is hard to top. This gallant, zero-drop boot works great for a wide range of activities, and it truly excels off the beaten path. With excellent grip, waterproofness, and barefoot comfort, the Xcursion Fusion can take you to the trail and back with ease. The primary benefit of hiking in a minimalist boot is the foot and lower leg strengthening it promotes while you’re active, and in this regard, the Xcursion Fusion delivers. Thanks to the Xcursion Fusion's thoughtful design and unobtrusive nature, your foot is free to interface with the ground, sense subtleties in its surface, and function naturally as you explore the landscape. Overall, we highly recommend this lightweight yet protective boot for year-round hiking, casual wear, and a range of work tasks and environments. At just 13 ounces per boot, the Xero Xcursion Fusion makes for a great companion for your various outdoor adventures and is built to excel wherever you decide to take it.
The Xero Xcursion Fusion scores 4.4 (out of 5) on the NFAR scale, which puts it in the “excellent” range for foot-healthiness.
SHOP XERO XCURSION FUSION BOOTS