It’s winter, the trails are covered in snow and the sidewalks hide patches of ice everywhere, what are you going to do? If you are like most people you’ll stay inside and grind out your miles on a torturous mill of boredom. But fear not, you can now make safety your number one priority and still put in your miles outside by getting “the best grip on the planet” (even on ice) with the Xero 5 by VJ shoes.
Studded – The Xero 5 has 20 carbon-carbide, star tip spikes, to dig into ice and keep you from falling on your ass while running on slick surfaces. In addition to the studs the lugs are deep enough to keep you from getting stuck in slush and mud. The lugs are spaced in such a way that they release any mud quickly.
Poron Mid-sole – The stack height of 19/11mm gives you a close to the ground feel while the Poron cushioning maintains a medium-soft ride. The mid-sole also has a great amount of flexibility so you can feel nimble on your feet.
You aren’t going to be able to wear these at most OCRs, except the Abominable Snow Race or other local winter races, but they are great for getting out when conditions are slick so you can keep your training on point. I’ve ran in fresh snow, packed snow, Ice after thaws and refreezing, as well as slick sidewalks and the grip on the Xero 5 has been great through it all.
The only condition I’ve found where the Xero 5 didn’t provide me with enough grip was just after an episode of freezing rain when the temps were in the teens so the ice was hard and smooth as glass covered with a fine layer of snow. Other low temp times where the ice had some texture, the grip was more than adequate. Sometimes you can feel a couple studs slip but other studs grab quickly.
In the interest of you the reader I decided to risk breaking my face and test the grip by running up and down a sledding hill that had been smoothed down by the joyous sliding of countless children. It was a scary fast descent down the perilous hill but I managed to keep from busting my ass. The climb up had a few little slips but my feet never skidded completely out from under me.
The Xero 5 is able to run on concrete, as long as you don’t mind listening to your entire gait cycle. The studs do not make sidewalk running slicker, as you might think, they grab onto the texture of the sidewalk extremely well. You will wear out the studs a lot faster but they will keep you upright on an early morning run before your neighbors shovel their walks.
After 50 miles on ice and snow with about 3 miles on pavement the only wear on the shoe is a small crease along the toe-guard. The metal studs are just as grippy and the rubber seems almost new still.
- Very Flexible
- Excellent grip on Ice and slush
- Not Waterproof
- Laces are too short for a traditional heel-lock
- 8mm drop (my preference is +/- 2mm of 4mm)
The biggest failure of this shoe is its lack of waterproofing. It does have a water-resistant membrane which helps keep the shoe from becoming completely water logged. Still, while running through ankle deep snow and hitting slush patches the shoe does absorb some water and a cold wet foot in freezing to near freezing temps is not fun. I’m not a fan of shoes with over 6mm of drop but the low stack height of this shoe makes the 8mm drop not too noticeable.
The best part of this shoe is obviously the grip, which does everything that you can reasonably expect it to do. Where this shoe really excels is in the flexibility, and low stack height. It has great ground feel while also having enough cushion and responsiveness.
The Xero 5 is a great shoe to add to your winter running gear. I prefer it to my other studded shoe the Icebug Pytho 3, which has my preferred 4mm drop. The Xero 5 is much more flexible, lighter and has a lower stack height. It is also just plain more comfortable, and it feels faster too. The Xero 5 fits true to size and will give you excellent grip through almost all winter conditions. They are kind of a pricey shoe but should last you through multiple winters and as of the time of publishing you can get $30.00 off with code ORMXero when you buy from VJ Shoes USA, which makes them a normal priced shoe. The Xero 5 even at regular price has a lower price point than most other spiked/studded winter shoes. Honestly, I’d pay just about anything to keep myself outside and off that damn treadmill.