The Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot ($149.99, 14.9 oz / 422 g each) is a flexible, lightweight (for a snowboot) insulated, waterproof, zero-drop footwear option for minimalist shoe lovers who still want warm feet in cold and snowy conditions.
The Alpine Snow Boot will look familiar to anyone who’s encountered Xero Shoes in the past. The huarache-inspired straps, zero-drop construction, lightly-lugged outsole, and minimalist mid-sole are all standard Xero Shoes features. But unlike the Mesa Trail (a Xero Shoes trail runner I reviewed here), the Alpine Snow Boot is insulated, waterproof, and high-topped.
This feature-set caught my eye because I just can’t do the whole trail-runner-and-waterproof-sock thing in the wintertime. My feet get too cold. On the other hand, I hate clunky, stiff winter boots just as much as any self-respecting lightweight backpacker does. So I was excited to test The Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot this season because it seemed to offer a compromise—combining warmth and protection from the elements with the dialed-in-fit, flexibility, durability, and spacious toe-box I’ve come to expect from the Xero Shoes.
Features and Specifications
- weight: 14.9 oz / 422 g (each)
- wide toe-box
- 5.5 mm chevron-patterned outsole
- synthetic upper
- removable 2 mm heat-reflective insole
- 200 g polyester insulation
- water-resistant membrane
- seam-sealed inner bootie
- vegan-friendly materials
- MSRP: $149.99
Fit and Comfort
- The wide toe-box of the Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot is especially important for me in the winter so I can wear thick socks and still have room to move my toes.
- Even though it is technically a high-top boot, it has the flexibility and comfort of a trail runner.
- I’m a fan of the huarache inspired strap system that Xero Shoes employs. It just seems to fit my feet well.
Warmth and Waterproofness
- The waterproof membrane and inner lining of the Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot kept my feet dry during extended, multi-day hikes and backpacking trips in the snow.
- It remained waterproof in more slushy, splashy conditions (e.g., when warming conditions on trail caused slush puddles)
- The 200 g polyester insulation (which is “rated” to -25 F / -32 C) and heat-reflective insole kept my feet warm in ranges from 15 F (-9 C) to 45 F (7 C).
Traction and Lugs
- I have concerns about the Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot’s traction. Xero Shoes uses a 5.5 mm chevron-patterned outsole here, and it just doesn’t handle slick, icy conditions as well as I’d like.
- I slipped more than once in transitional areas between snow and ice, and the shoe is particularly bad at handling icy rock.
- I have roughly 100 miles (161 km) on the Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot. So far the synthetic uppers are holding up against sharp, crusty snow well. I don’t see any noticeable wear on the fabric or separation of the bonded elements.
Ideal Use Cases
- Snowshoeing with ultralight snowshoes
- Winter hiking while wearing traction devices
The warmth, waterproofness, flexibility, fit, comfort, and (comparatively) low weight of the Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot have vaulted it to the top of my list when it comes to snowshoeing and winter hiking/backpacking when I know I’ll be wearing traction spikes. My feet are prone to blisters and cold while snowshoeing, and the Xero Shoes Alpine Snow Boot addresses both these issues.
Less than Ideal Use Cases
- Hiking on slick, icy surfaces
- Hiking on steep, hard-packed snow
If you think you’ll be scrambling over ice-slicked granite, look elsewhere. The short lugs and minimalist outer sole are great for comfort and a low center of gravity while wearing snowshoes and traction spikes but are a liability in other commonly encountered winter conditions.
Where to Buy
DISCLOSURE (Updated November 7, 2019)
- Product(s) discussed in this article may have been purchased by the author(s) from a retailer or direct from a manufacturer, or by Backpacking Light for the author. The purchase price may have been discounted as a result of our industry professional status with the seller. However, these discounts came with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review. Backpacking Light does not accept compensation or donated/discounted products in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage.
- Some (but not all) of the links in this article may be “affiliate” links. If you click on one of these links and visit one of our affiliate partners (usually a retailer site), and subsequently place an order with that retailer, we receive a small commission. These commissions help us provide authors with honoraria, fund our editorial projects, podcasts, instructional webinars, and more, and we appreciate it a lot! Thank you for supporting Backpacking Light!
- Read about our approach to journalistic integrity, product reviews, and affiliate marketing here.