Lets keep a short story short: I really like the minimal padding, small heel-toe drop, tread, and fit of these shoes. I think they can be used for the most rugged of long hikes, with proper preparation. Unfortunately the mesh upper is just not durable for me.
I demand a lot out of shoes, and these haven’t seen that much use. In high summer they’d look like this in less than a month. I don’t see the upper lasting long enough to wear the tread down, even though I headed to the basement after taking these photos and coated the side with shoe goo.
All in all rather disappointing, but not unexpected. To be fair, every shoe save the Crossleather has died a premature death since I moved to Montana and started beating on shoes off trail and in the water so often. It’s useful to recall the images in this post: both pairs of Crossleathers are still functional (albeit with increasing bare tread). If you don’t kill shoes like I do, or care to spend more money on them, then the XCountry will deliver enjoyable performance for a fleeting time period.
It would be interesting to see how something like the XCountry would hold up with a big factory rand.
By contrast, some ultralight pieces of gear turn out to bomber, in spite of appearances. Dirty Girl gaiters are one.
These particular gaiters have been under heavy use (90% of the trips written about here that didn’t involve ski boots) since September of 2009. They tore, for the first and only time, on some deadfall last spring, necessitating the spandura patch. Other than that and a lot of fuzzing, the only significant wear can be seen in the fact that they fit a bit looser than they did when new. All in all remarkable for something so light and simple. I’ve thought about looking at different options, but in the end that just seems silly when these work so well.