What We’re Testing Now: A Hiking Boot Made for the Desert

The Erem Xerocole Expedition is dialed for sandy adventures.

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The desert can be rough on footwear: Sand gets in odd and uncomfortable places, cactus spines pierce uppers, and wild temperature swings result in both sweat and cold toes. But the Xerocole Expedition, from the new desert-specific brand Erem, is designed to handle those conditions. 

On hikes near Moab, Utah and in Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, the Xerocole lived up to its billing. This boot has a tough, full-grain leather and cotton canvas upper  that fended off prickly pear spines, and the beefy, proprietary rubber outsole inspired confidence as I scrambled over slickrock. Plus, a 7.3-inch cuff height protected my ankles and did an impressive job of keeping sand out, even when I was wearing shorts. 

The big ding so far: The Xerocole definitely requires more break-in time than I’m used to with modern hiking boots, even leather ones. My first hike in it—an 8-mile, 90°F day in southwestern Colorado, with a lightweight pack—brought a fair amount of foot soreness, but the leather has since shown signs of loosening up. 

While you may be able to press it into service elsewhere, the Xerocole is going to work best for hikers who love the desert. Its minimal interior padding, moisture-wicking tencel/cotton-blend lining, and breathable cotton sections on the upper limit overheating. The boot isn’t waterproof, but the untreated upper should hold off limited splashes from potholes. 

Erem debuted this fall, and the Xerocole Expedition is its first offering (it also comes in a mid-cut model). I’m excited to see what the brand has in store, and how the boot will fare on hikes to come.

$200; Available Soon