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Xero Shoes Scrambler Low Review: Feel The Trail
By Matthew Klein

While there are plenty of minimal running shoes still left in some capacity from Xero shoes, Vivobarefoot, Merrell and Inov8, serious minimal trail running shoes are scarce. The benefits that come from flexible minimal shoes can be challenging on rocky and technical terrain were some degree of protection and grip are often needed. Enter the Xero Shoes Scrambler Low: a rugged minimal trail running shoe for those wanting to go offroad with traction and protection that maintains flexibility and excellent ground feel. 

Xero Shoes Scrambler Low
Price: $149.95 at Xero Shoes
Weight: 9.2 oz, 260 g (men's size 9), 7.4 oz, 210 g  (women's size 7)
Stack Height: ~15 mm / ~15 mm 
Drop: 0 mm
Classification: Minimal Trail Running Shoe


The Xero Scrambler Low is a rugged minimal trail running shoe for those who want an anatomic fitting and flexible ride with solid grip and durability for the trail. A full-length Michelin sole provides both traction and protection on a variety of trail surfaces. The upper fits anatomic but is tough enough to handle off-roading. The ride is flexible but has a surprising amount of midsole for a minimal trail running shoe. This makes the Scrambler Low an excellent option for those who want a minimal ride on the trail that still has good traction and durability for whatever comes your way.

: Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG, Merrell Trail Glove 7


The Xero Scrambler Low fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The width is wider in the forefoot and fairly normal in the midfoot/heel. The forefoot is anatomic with flexible toe guard surrounding it. It is just wide enough to allow toe splay without being sloppy. The volume is fairly normal with a little extra height and stretch from the mesh up top. The midfoot features a non-gusseted tongue with additional overlay reinforcements on the medial and lateral sides. I did not have to lace lock this shoe (something I have continued to not have to do and have been surprised about with Xero shoes) but did have to tighten down the laces for this shoe to remain secure on uneven terrain. The heel fits normally width-wise with no heel counter but similar external reinforcement like the midfoot. There is mild heel collar cushioning and a decent pull tab. The upper security was good once I tightened down the laces. The mesh is moderately thick, providing decent but not overwhelming protection. It really shined in its ability to get out of the way and make me forget about it. The slightly wider fit in the forefoot did cause some sliding back and forth on uneven terrain but was not a problem farther back after tightening the laces. You could run sockless in this shoe but I chose not to. The inner mesh is fine, but a little scratchy on the skin and I did get some debris in the shoe that I worried would cause blisters with longer miles. So I would suggest socks with this otherwise fine, anatomic upper.

Extra Fit Thoughts, Content Manager Bach Pham: The Xero Scrambler fit true to size in my US men's size 9.5. The fit is generous in the forefoot, comfortable in the midfoot, and secure in the heel. The laces do a good job of locking down and the upper is extremely breathable. There's no heel counter, but heel does a good job of hugging and keep you locked in. I found the Scrambler solid and confident for runs, and particularly comfortable as a minimal walking shoe - it may be my favorite walking shoe of 2023 and an excellent hiking option for those looking for light option that can tackle most non-muddy conditions. A warning: it being minimal and extremely flexible, if you are sensitive to that and have arch issues, there is a ton of flexibility here. Expect a bit more flex around the arch than your typical shoe!


The Xero Scrambler is a minimal shoe with a surprising amount of traction and protection underfoot for this shoe type. Approximately 15 mm of Michelin rubber and insole sit between your feet and the ground including the 3mm lugs. The Michelin sole provides both a solid amount of traction on dirt as well as plenty of protection for a minimal shoe. Given the somewhat thinner sole, while this shoe works great for soft/moderate dirt trails with occasional rocks, gravel trails and sharp rocks where a little tough. For those wanting a little more between their foot and the ground compared to more traditional shoes, the Scrambler does provide some space (~12 mm). The lugs and flexibility of the sole makes the Scrambler Low an excellent choice for a variety of mild to moderate dry terrain. On normal dirt, hard-packed dirt, mild mud and mild/fine gravel, the Scrambler is great at allowing your foot to quickly adapt. In deep mud or soft sand this shoe can be a bit of a challenge and your feet will have to work hard to stabilize or get through them.

As expected with a minimal shoe, the Scrambler Low is flexible in all directions. This makes it feel somewhat lighter than its 9.2 oz listed weight (men's size 9). Purpose wise it works for me as an all-day walking shoe and as a minimal training tool. I personally do not have the lower body strength/mobility required to do longer efforts in this shoe and max out around 2-3 miles. For those more accustomed to extremely minimal shoes, this will seem highly cushioned comparatively and may work for long distances (obviously not compared to traditional and maximal stack height trail shoes). I did find these heavier than expected at 9.9 oz for my men's size 10, causing me to keep them for easy miles rather than anything uptempo. Some could use this as a trail racing shoe but I personally find it best for easy efforts for foot/ankle strengthening. The outsole traction does grip well on both road and normal dirt. The lugs have remained intact despite a large amount of road use and like all Xero shoes I have barely any wear on the outsole after 20 miles. The Michelin sole will hold up for many miles, helped by the fact that there is less to break down in the first place.


The Xero Scrambler is a minimal shoe without any traditional methods of stability. There are mild sidewalls in the heel and midfoot, which may help keep the foot on the platform rather than provide true stability. The heel is also slightly stiffer than the forefoot, providing a tiny bit of structure at the rearfoot compared to the rest of the shoe. The sole is wider with a midfoot that does not taper. Thus your foot is able to sit on the platform rather than hang over it. However, this is a natural shoe with a high level of flexibility that will let your foot do what it wants to. If you are sensitive to stability methods these will be great but if you need some type of guidance this will not be the shoe for you. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Balancing Adaptability with Protection on Trail
By Matthew Klein

Footwear across the industry are increasing in stack height. People seem to like more cushioning as they associate with more protection. One of the challenges of having an extremely high stack height is that the sole also needs to be incredibly wide to balance out the tall platform. If a high stack height shoe does not have a wide base, it is often unstable. This can be a problem for trail running as the surfaces are generally softer, less stable, and require increased lower extremity agility and reactivity to the changing terrain. Those running in maximal shoes do tend to land harder, with higher impact peaks and loading rates (Hannigan & Pollard, 2019). This MAY suggest that proprioception is impaired in taller shoes compared to minimal shoes, where people tend to shorten their stride, land softer and are usually able to react quicker (we do NOT have a ton of evidence for this yet in trail running). However, with the improved adaptability does come decreased protection in minimal shoes. Those who run in these may not move as fast as those with newer maximal running shoes that often weigh the same (or less) as some of the minimal shoes (for example, the Saucony Endorphin Rift weighs almost 1.5 ounces less than the Scrambler in my size 10). Minimalist runners also have to spend more time focusing on shock absorption and terrain adaptability, whereby speed will likely be sacrificed. However, in situations where adaptability is the most important thing (extremely aggressive terrain with steep or even sheer climbing), the minimal shoe may have the advantage given the better ability to adapt and adjust to terrain at greater rates. 

The point of this is not that one is better than the other in all situations. Shoes are tools that can have different purposes. For me personally, my normal, faster and longer trail runs are done in more maximal shoes given that it is the market norm AND I respond well to them. However, I know I need to spend some time in less shoe to increase my foot strength and work on agility/terrain adaptability. This is NOT something I do a ton of the time, but use it sparingly as a tool to improve these abilities. I still have the ability to run and function with minimal shoes, so it will be something I continue to use for strengthening purposes. One is not better than the other for everyone. If anything, I would encourage those spending a ton of time in one to occasionally take a break and spend time in another IF your finances and biomechanics allow. Our bodies do well with a variety of stimuli, which means it is ok to use a variety of tools. In fact, as we have discussed often here, one of the few things that actually decreases injury risk is training in a variety of shoes (Malisoux et al., 2015). So if your body allows it, this may be beneficial not only from an injury perspective but potentially for training purposes as well. 


Hannigan, J., & Pollard, C. (2019). A 6-week transition to maximal running shoes does not change running biomechanics. The American Journal of Sports Medicine47(4), 968-973.

Malisoux, L., Ramesh, J., Mann, R., Seil, R., Urhausen, A., & Theisen, D. (2015). Can parallel use of different running shoes decrease running‐related injury risk?. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports25(1), 110-115.


I have really enjoyed my time in the Xero Scrambler both for all-day wear, hiking and for shorter trail runs on mild to moderate terrain. They perform as I expect a minimal trail shoe to perform although provided a little more protection than I would have expected. The upper and sole have remained consistent over my extensive use of these shoes (multiple hike and weeks of all-day use in addition to my 20 miles) so durability is excellent as always for Xero. My only recommendation is to bring the weight down. 9.2 oz is quite heavy for a minimal shoe, although I do understand some of the trade off for the sole durability and rubber. I completely understand it is normal for trail shoes to weigh more. However, my size 10 wear 9.9 ounces, compared to 9.3 oz in my pair of Saucony Endorphin Edge and 8.8 oz for my pair of Endorphin Rift. $150 is expensive for a minimal trail shoe with this little foam. Granted, these will last forever, but I want to encourage Xero to start looking at alternative foams that can maintain the durability they have with lower weight. A large portion of efficiency comes from higher weight. If you are trading cushioning for a more minimal ride, the least you can get is lightness. Outside of that, this is a solid minimal choice for someone who wants a rugged and flexible trail/hiking shoe. 


The Xero Scrambler Low is for those who want an anatomic, minimal but surprisingly rugged and durability trail shoe with a decent amount of protection balance with flexibility. An anatomic forefoot is paired with solid upper that is easily secured by tightening the laces. Those with normal to slightly wider feet will do best given the fit. The sole has lugs that do well on hard-packed and soft dirt, with the relative nimbleness to avoid rocks. It is a little expensive for being on the heavier side, but Xero continues to deliver extremely high levels of durability both in the upper and sole. I do want to challenge Xero to begin experimenting with new foams to keep the weight minimal as prices and performance across the industry continue to increase. Minimal shoes should have the benefit of both lightness and flexibility. It is far lighter than most trail/hiking shoes out there right now, but that may change. Thus, like the athletes that Xero supports, I also encourage them to keep pushing forward. 


Fit: A- (Anatomic, tough upper that needs a little extra lace tightening at the midfoot)
B (Good traction for soft and hard pack dirt. More protection than expected although still tough for thick gravel. Best for easier efforts as runs a little heavy for a minimal shoe)
Stability: N/A (Not applicable as this is a barefoot/minimalist shoe)
DPT/Footwear Science: B- (Far heavier than necessary for a shoe of this weight. However, durability and surprising amount of protection for something this flexibility somewhat makes up for it. )
Personal: B+ (Heavier than I would prefer for something so minimal but does a great job hiking and performing non-running activities. I don't have the ankle strength for longer runs in these but can still appreciate them. 
Overall: B/B+ 


Xero Shoes Scrambler Low Review
Price: $149.95 at Xero Shoes

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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  Xero Shoes 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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