Erem Xerocole Expedition Desert Hiking Boot Review

Erem Xerocole Expedition Overview

Hiking in the desert is tough. More than tough — desert hiking can be gritty, scratchy, prickly, bitey — you get the gist. When you’re trekking along a cactus-laden trail or roughing it in the sagebrush and snake-infested backcountry, you need a reliable pair of boots that offers unquestionable durability and performance.

Desert Hiking erem

Tough desert trails require tough desert-ready footwear. Photo Credit: Brian Chorski

The Erem Xerocole Expedition boots excel at desert hiking in all its forms. The recycled rubber soles have grip that’ll have you scaling Moab rocks like a mountain goat, the full-grain leather uppers will ward off the ankle-high cholla cacti of the Mojave, and the breathable Tencel fabric is sure to keep your feet sweat-free while you traverse the hottest stretches of the Arizona Trail. We recommend the Erem Xerocole Expedition boots for the adventurous Day Hiker, Car Camper, and Wilderness Backpacker.

Erem Xerocole Expedition Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Soles
  • Uppers
4.9

Summary

The Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots are stellar desert hiking boots for sandy trails, brushy off-trail bushwhacking, and mountainous rock hopping. Their wholly sustainable design is unprecedented and may push the footwear industry in an entirely new eco-positive direction.

Ereme Xerocole Expeditiong Desert Hiking Boots

Meet the Erem Xerocole Expedition desert hiking boots.

See the Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots for men

See the Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots for women

Read the full Xerocole Expedition review below.

Erem Xerocole Expedition Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 26.5 oz. per boot Durability and protection need to come from somewhere. Erem considered those desert-focused priorities in the design yet still made a relatively lightweight high-top hiking boot.
Category Heavyweight (22+ oz. per boot) We categorize boots into three classes. The Xerocole Expedition are high-top heavyweights, but they’re on the lighter end of the range.
General Fit Slightly Oversized These boots are designed with a roomier fit to allow for foot swelling (common when desert hiking). If you have narrow feet, order a size down.
Upper Full-grain Leather Full-grain leather is rugged and will last a long time. These uppers are vegetable-tanned, meaning they’re good for the environment, too.
Interior Lining Tencel Lyocell Sustainable material that offers excellent breathability and sweat-wicking.
Outsole Eco-rubber A solid sole comprised of soft rubber that provides top-tier traction.
Insole Removeable cork A removable, shock-absorbing cork insole that molds to your feet over time for long-lasting comfort and support.
Sizes Available 7-13 for Men, 6-11 for Women, with half sizes A decent amount of sizes for both genders.
Manufacturer Warranty Lifetime Covers material defects and workmanship.
Retail Price $219.99 High-quality construction, materials, and actual sustainability come at a price. If you’re a seasoned desert explorer — you know it’s worth it.

See the Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots for men

See the Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots for women

Gear Review of the Erem Xerocole Expedition Desert Hiking Boots

Origins: Easing You In

Erem Footwear, as a company, wears its heart and soul on its sleeve — and it’s a sunbleached sleeve that’s been scraped by more than a few cactus spines. The brand was born from the desert, and that is where its focus lies.

Erem Boots

Blends right in with the terrain, doesn’t it?

Though Erem prides itself on its commitment to crafting quality footwear for desert expeditions, the brand does more than draw inspiration from arid landscapes. In fact, Erem has committed to planting one million cactus pear in the fight against climate change. This effort is poised to bring life to the desert where it struggles to take root and to replace the wasteful cotton and almond crops that take more from the desert than they give back in return.

Planting Cactus Pear with Erem

Planting prickly pear in honor of Erem’s 1-million cactus pear initiative! Photo Credit: Brian Chorski

Biocircular Design

From sole to cuff, the Erem Xerocole Expedition boots were designed to return to nature when their usefulness has been extinguished. Biocircular is a term coined by Erem that encapsulates how its products achieve this new standard of sustainability.

Erem Xerocole Expedition boots

Lacing up for the next adventure in Erem’s biocircular boots. Photo Credit: Brian Chorski

Every component of every product has a proven path back to nature — that means no nylon, polyester, or plastics as is the norm with other brands. No poisonous glues, no harmful chrome-tanned leather — none of it. When set in the right conditions after many years of hard use, these boots can be completely broken down by nature in months and returned to the soil from whence they came, all except the brass components, which can be melted down and reforged into something new.

Plus, Erem has a Reboot and Reuse program in place where you can send in your damaged or worn boots to be repaired. Or, if the damage is too great, Erem will find ways to reuse or biodegrade the materials so that none of it ends up in a landfill. Erem says that returning used products in this manner will get you a discount on your next purchase.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

I’ve taken the Erem Xerocole Expedition boots out on several hikes in the desert sands and can attest to the effectiveness of their thoughtful design.

Early morning exploring just outside Joshua Tree. Photo Credit: Brian Chorski

During one of my hikes outside of Joshua Tree National Park, I was excited to spot a wild coyote and was eagerly on the lookout for early-morning signs of bighorn sheep. In my excitement, I had forgotten all about the boots on my feet, which, in my opinion, is about as high of praise as you can give a hiking boot. At this moment, I realized that I had been skipping along the trail and hopping onto numerous rocks and boulders in pure dawn-in-the-desert-bliss.

If these boots were uncomfortable or had started to rub me in the wrong way, I would immediately have been taken out of the moment and certainly would not have been skipping in joy. And the fact that I was haphazardly leaping from rock to rock is a sure sign that I had full confidence in the traction that these boots provide. Didn’t slip once!

That’s when you know that you’ve landed your feet in a good pair of hiking boots — when you forget that they’re on your feet.

Xerocole Expedition

Solid protection against tough terrain. Super grip. Extra large bootstraps for easy adjustments.

Digging Deeper

In getting to the nitty-gritty details, it’s important to know that Erem considers performance and sustainability to be two sides of the same coin. Every component of these boots has been designed with both in mind.

Xerocole Boots

Putting that bootstrap to work! Photo Credit: Brian Chorski

For the uppers, the reverse full-grain leather is 2mm thick all around, providing protection from sharp rocks, long cactus spines, and snake bites. It’s the type of protection you need out in the desert and mountains.

Recyclable and reuseable brass hardware has been fitted as eyelets and lace hooks rather than the plastics you commonly see in footwear. Not only is this more sustainable, but it is leagues more durable.

The soft eco-rubber soles provide unbeatable grip with their 6mm textured lugs, and they’re also made with 70% recycled materials. What’s more, a biodegradability accelerator has been added to the rubber so that biodegradation can take place within years or even months after you’re done using the shoes rather than the centuries it would take for an EVA sole to break down. Of course, this doesn’t mean the soles will wear out faster when you’re using them, quite the opposite, actually — but given the right conditions, the natural rubber can return to the earth relatively quickly.

Erem Xerocole sole

High performance and totally sustainable.

Once again, every component has been fine-tuned for both performance and sustainability. Everything from the supportive cork insoles to the linen threading and Tencel canvas fabric achieves both characteristics without compromise. The Erem Xerocole Expedition is a marvel of design and of commitment to an ideal.

Comfort 4.5 stars

These boots are roomy and lined with breathable Tencel fabric. After a few lacing adjustments, you’re sure to find the fit that’s right for you. The cork insole may cause concern in some at first — it’s much more rigid than the EVA insoles many hikers have become accustomed to — but over the long-term, the cork will reshape and contour to your foot for an incredibly comfortable and customized feel. If it’s not your thing, though, the insoles are removable, so you can always replace them with another favorite.

Durability 5 stars

Everything about the Xerocole Expedition shouts durability. The materials are top-notch, and everything has been stitched together with linen rather than glued. As such, the vibrant desert sun won’t be melting these apart. They’re going to last.

Soles 5 stars

Remarkably grippy and quite robust. There are no layers to the outsole that can come apart — it’s one solid chunk of rubber. The 6mm lugs are plenty deep for desert trekking, and the soft rubber grabs onto rocks and dirt better than any hard plastic bottom could ever hope to do.

Uppers 5 stars

Erem utilizes a unique beer-based vegetable tanning process for the leather they use in these boots. The result is a soft and durable upper that’s completely safe for the environment in every aspect, from the sourcing to the manufacturing and the eventual biodegradation. These leathers protect your feet well while the Tencel fabric along the forefoot provides all the ventilation your feet need.

Fit

Fit is subjective, but here are the facts: The Erem Xerocole boots are roomy by design — this is to allow for your feet to swell during arduous desert hikes, and it leaves plenty of space for your favorite wool hiking socks. If you have wide or full feet, Erem suggests you order true to your normal size, but if you have narrow feet, you should order one full size down from what you typically wear.

Erem Prickly Pear

Notice the above-the-heel cutout for enhanced ventilation and flexibility. Photo Credit: Brian Chorski

Grievances

No real grievances here, other than the fact that you have to wear-in these boots a bit (especially the cork footbed) in order to achieve the true comfort and fit that you want and expect from the boots. That said, this is a widely discussed topic in the world of hiking boots — you pretty much have to wear them all in.

Final Word

There are multiple reasons to buy the Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots. They excel at desert hiking, from sandy trails to brushy off-trail bushwhacking to mountainous rock hopping, but they’re also entirely biocircular in their design. Purchasing a pair of Xerocole Expeditions not only sustains the environment, but it improves it. That makes these Erem boots worth more than their weight in gold.

See the Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots for men

See the Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots for women

Where to Buy Erem Xerocole Expedition Boots

We tested the men’s Xerocole Expedition boots. There is also a women’s version as well as mid-height models. You can see all versions of the Xerocole, as well as Erem’s other footwear products, at eremlife.com.

Erem Footwear

See the full Erem Footwear lineup. Photo Credit: Brian Chorski

Arthur McMahon — Lead Editor

Arthur is Lead Editor of Backpackers.com. He loves to walk. It's as simple as that. He believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. Follow his personal adventures and stories at betterhiker.com and on Instagram.

Backpackers.com Review Policy: We do not accept payments from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review.

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