Vivobarefoot Primus Lite - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, little to no support
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you're searching for the ultimate barefoot experience during training, the Primus Lite is it. This is the lightest shoe in our review bar none and offers the most flexible and breathable shoe our testers have ever worn. Various scientific studies have observed the health benefits that a barefoot lifestyle can have on the body. While we enjoy our health and work every day at CrossFit to become a fitter, healthier version of ourselves, this shoe was a shock to our feet, and we were left feeling uncomfortable at best.
The Vivo Primus Lite isn't our choice for the best CrossFit shoe, but it did humble us with its extreme barefoot experience.
A good weightlifting shoe helps the athlete get into a power position easily and maintain proper posture during a lift; the solid and stable surface allows athletes to generate more power in their lifts. They all have a few distinct features like flat, solid bases, ankle support, and elevated heel to increase ankle range of motion. When looking for a CrossFit shoe that you can lift in, but can still handle the versatility of running, you're going to want some cushion, but not too much, as it can take away your power off the ground in your lifts. While we didn't have any issues when it came to too much cushion, we had an issue on the opposite end of the spectrum. Our testers reported their feet feeling sore and tender after a WOD consisting of box jumps and push presses. It is a bit painful to drive lifts off the ground if you aren't used to barefoot training.
With a lack of experience in barefoot running until this point, our testers' feet were a bit shocked during the first 400m run in the Primus Lite. Three mm of cushion in the midsole, with zero insole, left our feet feeling, well, barefoot - with a thin barrier keeping rocks from completely demolishing them. Running in these shoes felt like running without any foot covering at all. If you are a barefoot aficionado, this is the entire point of a shoe like this. However, if you aren't used to training in this manner, these shoes are going to leave your feet crying for help.
The Vivo Primus Lite is by far the most sensitive training shoe we have ever tested. Earning an exceptionally high score, these babies will let you feel everything beneath your feet. The outsoles of the Primus Lite are extremely thin, and the lack of an insole gives the ultimate barefoot feel during your workout. The proprietary PRO5 material is ultra-thin, and there is just enough there to keep your feet safe from small rocks and debris. If you want a shoe you can feel the ground in, this is it.
Only 3mm of cushioning stands between your feet and the gym floor when wearing these shoes. Vivo provides a barefoot experience, with the smallest amount of foot protection. These shoes do an excellent job of mimicking the experience of barefoot training. The downside we found during our testing was the lack of cushion and shock absorption. There was an adjustment period getting used to the design, and our feet felt extremely sensitive post-workout.
Protection & Durability
When it comes to minimalist training shoes, there is a fine line between adding enough protection and keeping the shoe lightweight. The upper is extremely lightweight and breathable, made of mesh fabric through the toebox, and a thin overlay fabric for the protected portions of the shoe on the toe, mids, and heel.
When looking at different options in CrossFit shoes, we'll bet these are some of the most breathable you will find. The upper of the Primus Lite is constructed with mesh fabric that gave our testers the best airflow throughout the foot out of any shoe we tested. The medial side of the shoe features a less ventilated fabric, but it is still so thin, we had no issues with breathability.
Minimalist shoes and comfort don't necessarily go hand in hand. Although this is one of the most breathable and lightweight shoes we have ever worn for training, the comfort level is low. The midsole of this shoe is a mere 3mm of cushion, and the lack of insole leaves your foot feeling…well, bare. If you are a barefoot enthusiast, the entire point of a shoe like this is for the feel. If your ideal workout consists of you wearing shoes, we recommend looking elsewhere.
These shoes tip the scale when it comes to paying a premium price for a training shoe. Coming in second only to the pricier NOBULL Knit Runner, we're all in on the flexible design and Vivo's idea to repurpose plastic waste by giving it a second life via our shoes.
If you think you're primal enough and can handle the ultimate barefoot experience, take the Vivo Primus for a spin. This is a workout shoe designed for people that are used to training barefoot and a minimal shoe lifestyle. It is incredibly lightweight, flexible, and gives the wearer every sensation that can be felt on the ground. We don't recommend jumping into this shoe if your feet aren't ready.
— Brittany Page