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Xtep 160x 3.0 PRO Review: A True Dark Horse
By Senior Contributor David Salas and Chief Editor/Founder Matthew Klein

During the super shoe race amongst companies, Xtep is rarely brought up. They have been in the shadows to some degree with the development of a performance shoe that can stack up with some of the big players. The 160X PRO 3.0 certainly closes the gap quite a bit. Similar to other super shoes it uses a full-length PEBA-based midsole and carbon plate. The shoe carries a tad more weight but has a lot of responsiveness to show for it. The term "super shoe" gets thrown around far more than it should, but the Xtep 160x 3.0 PRO is actually deserving of that title as a incredibly bouncy shoe worth noticing.

Xtep 160X 3.0 PRO
Price: unknown, currently only available in Eastern markets
Weight: 7.6 oz, 216 g (men's size 8), Women's Specs Not Provided
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: Not Provided (4mm Estimated)
Classification: Super Distance Racing Shoe


Matt: The Xtep160x 3.0 Pro is an extremely bouncy, maximal stack height super racing shoe for those wanting top performance over longer distances. A huge stack height of PEBA-based foam, called XTEP ACE, provides a soft and bouncy ride. A curved plate balances out the softness, providing stiffness through the shoe. It also serves to create wings around the heel, attempting to stabilize the rearfoot with such a soft midsole. A wider forefoot but lower volume fit will work well for those with normal-width feet wanting a secure fit when the laces are secured. A great half/full marathon racer and potential super trainer for some, the Xtep160x 3.0 Pro is one of the few shoes recently that deserves the title "Super Shoe."

David: The Xtep 160X 3.0 Pro is a quiet super shoe on the market that I think deserves to be talked about. The shoe does use a PEBA based midsole in combination with a carbon plate that wings out in certain sections to give a chalice like hold throughout the gait cycle. It is a little bit heavier than some of the other shoes, but still carries solid responsiveness and enjoyment.

SIMILAR SHOES: Nike Alphafly Next%


Matt: The 160x 3.0 Pro fits me true to size in my men's US size 10. The upper is a thin, low-flexibility, ripstop mesh/slightly plastic-like material. The fit initially felt short as the toe box upper is low volume and initially put a large amount of pressure on the tops of my toes. This has never translated to any actual problems on the run, but was concerning at first. The easiest fix for this was to use super thin socks (Drymax). Others who are often between sizes may want to consider sizing a half size down.  The forefoot width is actually on the wider side for a racing shoe and again the lower volume helps with security. The midfoot is normal in width and I had to tighten down the laces to get a secure fit. The tongue is thin and not gusseted, but is secured by the laces. The heel is normal to slightly snug with a flexible heel counter and a large amount of padding. I had no issue with the counter and those with heel issues should only approach with mild caution. There are additional external heel counters on the medial and lateral side of the heel which add to the solid lockdown in the rearfoot. The upper is light and comfortable but is best with socks. Given some time and the right pair of socks, the fit provides ample width with decent security and gets out of the way when you want to run. 

David: The Xtep upper is very lightweight and locks down well throughout. It does fit true to size in my men's 9.5, though does run a little bit on the long side. The other dimensions are spot on and make the length issue nearly negligible. The width in the heel and midfoot is normal to slightly narrow and lock down really well like a true performance shoe. The volume is also slightly snug, but not so much that it is encroaching. The toe box is normal width to perhaps slightly wide for a racing shoe. The material of the upper is more on the synthetic end and reminds me to some degree of Vapor Weave or the translucent mesh used in the Skechers Speed Elite. The tongue is thin but still lightly padded and allows for good lockdown. There is a heel counter with mild to moderate flexibility and a small bit of external heel counter as well. Overall, the shape is held pretty well and provided no irritation. To be honest, this is one of my favorite race uppers outside of the length issue. 


Matt: The 160x 3.0 Pro is a maximal super distance racing/training shoe. A huge amount of PEBA foam sits underfoot, providing an incredibly bouncy ride. We do not have stack height measurements, but it would not surprise me if the stack height was 40mm/36mm (not confirmed). The drop feels quite low and I estimate it sits around 4mm. The forefoot feels bulbous and almost like there is one big lug up front (think Newton). It feels great to land farther forward as it provides a snappy and bouncy ride (forefoot strikers will enjoy this shoe). The heel is softer, but is still bouncy. Landing hard at the rearfoot almost makes the shoe feel zero drop and getting over the forefoot can be a little tough. Thus, those who land farther forward or transition quickly may do better in this shoe. It reminds me quite a bit of the Nike Alphafly Next% 1 with the foam being just a hair firmer (but still extremely bouncy).

The curved plate is quite stiff in this shoe, which combined with the aggressive rocker makes this shoe feel better at uptempo paces. Slower paces make that forefoot "bump"/"lug" feeling come out more and it is only when you run faster does this go away. The huge amount of bouncy PEBA underfoot combined with the slightly higher weight (8.8 oz for my men's size 10) make the 160x 3.0 Pro optimal for uptempo long runs, tempos and distance races. The volume of the shoe and the compliance of the foam make it better for consistent paces, but the foam rebounds a little too slow for extremely fast efforts. I have used this shoe for tempo runs, hill repeats and kilometer intervals and while it performs well on all of them, I would prefer the 160x 3.0 for faster efforts. The Pro makes a far better half marathon and marathon racer given the huge stack height, bouncy midsole material, and rockered ride.

Another reason this shoe works for longer efforts is the fantastic durability for a racing shoe. The outsole has remained intact after 30 hard miles with the exception of some mild dirt. The foam has continued to break in and has become more bouncy with time. I expect a large number of miles out of this shoe and some people may be able to use this as a super trainer if they like a stiffer ride.

David: The Xtep160x Pro 3.0 certainly rides like a new-generation racing shoe. The shoe uses a PEBA based midsole through the full length of the shoe and has a lot cushion and bounce throughout the ride. The Plate fans out in the rear foot and gives you a little bit of a bucket hold embedded in the midsole. The heel is beveled with a pretty large angle and seems to transition pretty well through initial contact. The midfoot platform is a little bit narrow but I did not have any problems with it per se. The upper security in that region and the large cutout in the midline of the outsole/midsole in the midfoot made you feel pretty centered. The forefoot has a good amount of toe spring and keeps you feel like you are rolling forward. The midsole has quite a bit of bounce to it as well. The plate does feel offset a little bit higher than some other shoes giving you a dropping sensation going into the forefoot. For me I responded pretty well to this, but some may have some calf sensitivity.

The one thing I do notice is the weight. In my men's 9.5 the shoe weighs about 8.6 ounces and is heavier than every other racing shoe I have in this category. The responsiveness does seem to make up for this in some regards though. The most similar ride I can compare to would be a hybrid between the Nike Alphafly Next% and the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2. It has a lot of bounce like the former and solid rolling motion of the latter. The shoe is definitely a dark horse racing shoe on the market if you don't mind a little extra weight. 


Matt: The Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro is a neutral racing shoe. There are some solid methods of guidance in the rearfoot, but the midfoot is quite narrow. Combined with the bouncy and soft midsole, those looking to run in this shoe will need solid hip and midfoot stability. The heel features a great combination of external heel counters, midsole sidewalls and elevations of the carbon plate around the heel. This balances out the narrow sole width in the heel, but not at the midfoot. The forefoot is decently stable thanks to mild sidewalls, a wider shape and the stiffness of the plate limiting torsional rigidity. For such a bouncy racing shoe, the heel has decent guidance and the forefoot is decently stable. This is still a neutral shoe and will require runners to work on their stability, particularly at their hips.

David: Being a PEBA-based super shoe there will be some inherent instability throughout the layout of this shoe. They do a pretty good job in some sections to make this shoe feel a little more secure on foot. The upper lockdown is actually quite good throughout and makes you feel secure and confident on the platform with minimal stretch. The plate design in the rearfoot also gives you a pretty decent sensation of support. That definitely helps with having that really soft rolling section on the heel. The heel counters don't feel like they do too much on the stability end in this model, especially with how good the lockdown is elsewhere. The outsole traction is pretty good underfoot and pretty trusty overall. The foam definitely is soft and doesn't give the most confidence off road, but it is doable. The midfoot platform didn't give me any trouble, but I do know some that are sensitive to narrow platforms in that region may feel a little off. I do think it is better in this model compared to other previous Xtep shoes I have tried. There's pretty good stability for a super shoe, but still some inherent instabilities. 


I think one thing that makes the design of the Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro unique is how they molded their plate and integrated it with the midsole. The shoe uses a similar spoon shaping as other shoes, but with a twist. They have the heel of the plate higher in the midsole and it moves lower as you move more anteriorly/forward in the shoe. The scooping feeling is definitely there because of this design. The thing they do that is a little unique is that they have the plate in the rearfoot fan out flush to slightly wider than the foam both medially and laterally. This gives you a small sense of security in that region. The heel of this shoe is a tiny bit narrow with a really soft rounded PEBA base. It makes great for a bouncy landing and transition, but not the most stable when you are standing or running in it if there is not secondary reinforcement. The fanning out of the plate makes you feel a little more centered and structured in the heel.

Lin et al (2022) did a systematic review looking at varying shoe components in different regions of the shoe and the impacts of injury, plantar pressure, and calcaneal movement and velocity. In the rearfoot they found having sole flaring of 15 degrees and a heel stabilizer did show to have some improvements with initial calcaneal eversion velocity and security through the rearfoot (Lin et al. 2022). It was noted however that through the full gait cycle the full arc of motion may still remain the same in the foot and ankle regardless of the features, as well as individual differences in responses to said features. No shoe will be perfect for everybody, though it is nice to see some more unique designs that take things like rearfoot stabilization or flaring into account.


Lin, S., Song, Y., Cen, X., Balint, K., Fekete, G., & Sun, D. (2022). The Implications of Sports Biomechanics Studies on the Research and Development of Running Shoes: A Systematic Review. Bioengineering, 9. 497.


Matt: I have really enjoyed the Xtep 160x Pro 3.0 as a workout shoe for a variety of efforts. However, for me to use this as a long-distance racing shoe, the midfoot would need more width. This is important with a stack height that tall and foam that soft. I applaud Xtep for carving some geometry into the sole and trying to stabilize the heel. All the methods do offset some of the wobbliness at the ankle but the hip will still need to work to control motion due to the softer foam. The only other thing would be to see if a little more volume in the upper could be added to the forefoot. This may take pressure off the toes but should not be done at the expense of causing any creasing. Outside of those suggestions I really like this shoe!

David: My main recommendations for the Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro are the weight and surprisingly in the upper. I think it locks down really well but I think they can save some weight perhaps taking the external heel counter out, or even less of the internal one. The lockdown throughout is really good and I am not sure those structures are really necessary. That could help bring some of the weight down. Otherwise the foam and ride are really fun. 


Matt: The Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro is a true distance racing super shoe with a lower drop, high stack height and incredibly bouncy ride.  The fit will work best for those with normal width feet wanting a little more room in the forefoot and a low riding upper. The ride is bouncy with a bulbous forefoot that will work for those that land farther forward or who transition quickly through their stride. The responsiveness of the shoe lends itself best as a longer effort, uptempo, marathon/half marathon racing shoe due to it working best at consistent paces. The Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro is a huge step forward for Xtep and a shoe worth paying attention to. 

David: The Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro is a new generation racing for someone that is looking to have a softer bouncy ride with a fast-moving rocker. The ride of the XTEP is really fun throughout, providing that fast rolling sensation from the rocker and the big bounce in the forefoot from the PEBA midsole. The shoe carries a little bit more weight compared to other racing shoes, though it might be able to make up the stagger with the responsiveness and fast geometry. I think the best fit for racing distances will be half marathon to full marathon. 


Fit: B+ (Solid lockdown once you tighten the laces. Wider forefoot and slightly snug midfoot/heel. Pressure on toes from low volume upper)
A- (Bouncy, softer and fun transition. Great for longer efforts, tempo runs and distance races)
Stability: B [Neutral]  (Locked in heel and stable forefoot, but narrow midfoot and sole combined with soft and bouncy foam make this a neutral shoe)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+/A- (Although the midfoot could be wider, Xtep did a great job creating a true super shoe with the midsole material, plate design and geometry. Solid attempts to stabilize such a soft shoe, but still need slightly wider midfoot)
Personal: A- (One of my top racing shoes this year. Wish the midfoot was a bit more stable, but the 160x 3.0 Pro has been my go-to shoe for workouts recently)
Overall: B+/A-

Fit: A- (Great lockdown throughout, though still runs long by a decent margin)
A- (Very fun and fast transitions, softer and bouncier feel, great responsiveness at toe off, though a little heavy)
Stability: B (Upper lockdown and security is great, traction is pretty good, though the really high up and soft midsole on a slightly more narrow platform does make things a little dicey if off of the road. Otherwise pretty good.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (It is fun to see companies playing with plate designs and how it integrates with these new foam materials, unique plate shaping with pretty solid integration)
Personal: A- (Quietly one of my favorite road racing shoes this year, though still on the heavier end)
Overall: B+/A-


The Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro is currently only available in Eastern markets. We have been told the Western website is in development, but have no indication a launch date for the updated site.

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at XTEP for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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