Gear Review: The Xero Scrambler Mid is an Ultralight Hiking Shoe for Spring

Now that spring is officially in the air, I’m sure more than a few of you are itching to get back out on the trail. To help you do that, Xero Shoes is launching a whole new line of footwear designed to support an active lifestyle. One of the flagship models coming to the line-up is the new Xero Scrambler Mid, an ultra-lightweight hiking boot that is both stylish and comfortable. But for some, it just might be too lightweight.

Xero Scrambler Mid
Photo Credit: Xero Shoes

A Sneaker for Hiking

For many hikers and backpackers looking to go light and fast on the trail, a trail running shoes is almost always the default footwear option. With the Scrambler Mid, Xero has taken some of our favorite aspects of trail runners and integrated them into a more boot-like design. The result is a lightweight option that is extremely comfortable. So much so, that you may find yourself wearing them off the trail too.

Tipping the scales at 11 ounces (312 grams) per shoe, Xero describes the Scrambler Mid as “the world’s lightest technical hiking boot.” It’s hard to dispute that, especially when you’re holding one of these featherweights in your hand. Somehow, the shoe manages to feel both substantial and minimalist at the same time. But unlike most other minimalist shoes, these actually look like they are made for the trail.

As light as the Scrambler Mids feels in your hands, it is even more noticeably lightweight on your feet. Even straight out of the box, these shoes are easy to slip on and lacing them up reveals a snug, sure fit that isn’t restrictive in any way. Best of all, they feel so good, you’ll wonder if you accidentally grabbed your slippers instead.

Xero Scrambler Mid
Photo Credit: Xero Shoes

Surprising Traction

Xero worked closely with Michelin—yes, that Michelin—when designing these shoes, creating a unique sole designed to provide grip while maintaining a light weight. Dubbed the Fiber Lite sole, this grippy material is very flexible and strong too, keeping hikers nimble on a variety of surfaces.

I especially appreciated the fact that the Scrambler Mid’s soles offer solid lugs to grip the trail, but aren’t overly aggressive. This makes the shoe more versatile, allowing it to effortlessly transition from hiking to relaxing at the campsite. It also makes it a fun choice for running errands around town or even traveling. It’s lightweight, yet adaptable performace, are perfct for gliding through airports, chilling on the plane, and hitting the ground running at a new sdestination.

I put the Scrambler Mid to the test on a veraity of trails and found that it performed best on smooth, easy to follow routes that weren’t overly rocky. I wore them through mud, snow, and slop, as well as dry conditions, and the shoe held its grip well in most cases. It wasn’t quite as strong on technical terrain and I wouldn’t want to wear them scrabling over scree or other difficult obstacles.

Xero Scrambler Mid
Photo Credit: Xero Shoes

A Little Too Light?

For ultralight backpackers and hikers, the Scrambler Mids seem destined to be a hit. They offer a comfortable fit and good traction, in an extremely lightweight and good-looking package. But, these shoes are definitely not for everyone. In fact, some outdoor enthusiasts are likely to find that they are too light for their tastes.

While I am accusomted to testing a wide vareity of footwear, I found that these boots didn’t always provide as much support as I’d like. Their lightweight sole isn’t as protective as heavier models, and without a rock plate I occasionally found myself getting poked in the bottom of the foot by a rock or root. That was a painful reminder of the tradeoffs you make for cutting weight from your shoes. You may feel lighter and more agile on the trail, but there are always compromises to be made.

Even though winter has been unusually mild where I live, it is safe to say that these boots are best used in warmer and dryer weather. While my feet never got overly cold, they were chilly at times—especially if they got a little damp. These boots don’t over waterproofing of any sort, so keep that in mind when you consider where you might use them. That said, the Scrambler Mid is highly breathable, which should be an enormous asset when hikting in spring, summer, and fall or in very hot conditions.

Durable, Comfortable, and Versatile

Despite their minimalist construction, the Scrambler Mid hiking boots are surprisingly tough and resilient. Even though I wore these shoes in some less-than-ideal conditions, they held up very well in terms of durabiltiy. Aside from a bit of mud and dirt, they still look brand new, even with 20+ miles of hiking in them.

As mentioned, one of the standout features of these boots is just how comforable they are on your feet. If you don’t mind the minimal amount of proteciton they provide—or are already accustomed to these style of shoes—you’re going to really enjoy what Xero has created here. Like the company’s other shoes, they offer a more natural fit, an open toebox, and better feel than most other footwear of this kind. Like other minimalist shoes, they won’t be for everyone. But for those who “get it” this is a nice addition to the gear closet.

If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you’ve probably seen me use the word “verstaile” to describe my favorite pieces of gear. That’s because I like items that I can take with me on my travels that can be used in a variety of situations and circumstances, allowing me to travel lighter in the process. That’s exactly what I found with the Scrambler Mids, a boot that does a lot of thing well and is right at home in different environments. While this boot wouldn’t be my first choice for climbing Kilimanjaro or hiking in the Himalaya, it is aboslutely the perfect travel companion for trekking through easy-to-moderate routes, then transferring to an urban setting.

Available Now

The Scrambler Mid hiking boots are part of Xero Shoes’s 2023 spring collection and are available today. Priced at $169.99 (currently discounted to $135.99), this unique and fun footwear brings a viable new option for ultralight hikers and backpackers. For the rest of us, they hold a lot of promise too, provide you recognize and accept their limitations.

For more information, visit the Xero Shoes website.

Kraig Becker