GoLite XT80 ReviewFebruary 17, 2014
A medium-low volume, low-heeled ultralight hiker/approach shoe/“cross-trainer” for fast and light travel in the mountains.
- Very lightweight
- Innovative design
- Sticky soles
- Comfortable, even without socks
- Not particularly laterally protective or supportive
- Minimal heel counter
- Not everyone is going to like the low heel position
The GoLite XT80 has an interesting design and an innovative approach. GoLite calls it engineered for outdoor cross-training/fast hiking and approach. As far as fast hiking and approach go, if you’re looking for a highly flexible minimalist shoe that has a sticky sole and a low heel this could be your shoe. The minimalist low-heel might not work for everyone but it’s reminiscent of “barefoot sport shoes,” albeit with better traction and protection. They’re still not as protective as most conventional hikers.
Support and Stability
The XT80’s highly flexible sole and upper don’t provide much conventional support, though the arch support is good. The heel counter in particular is very soft, owing to a lack of plastic reinforcement. That said, the low heel and sticky sole are very stable on trails and rocks. The concept of minimalist footwear is based on having (or developing) strong legs and feet and having a good feel for the ground. In more technical territory the XT80 begins to approach climbing shoe functionality, though with limitations since it’s made with a thicker sole and room in the toe box.
Protection & Comfort
These are very comfortable shoes, lined with neoprene that makes them quite comfy sockless. The uppers aren’t particularly protective, though the sole does a decent job. The footbed has a “Precise Fit System” that purportedly allows adjustment of the forefoot for narrow, medium or wide widths, but it’s really just a gimmick for taking up volume underfoot by putting in foam inserts. It made little difference in the width of the shoe.
Taking the XT80s into the high country was very interesting. It took a while to get used to the low heel and flexibility, but once I did I found that it was a great walking experience, and the light weight was a pleasure. These shoes aren’t at their best when carrying much of a load though, where there just isn’t enough support or protection for my tastes. They were great on easier rock, with really nice traction and feel for the surface.
There’s EVA foam in the sole, which doesn’t always last a long time, but other than that the leather upper and neoprene should prove to be very durable.