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Vivobarefoot Primus Lite - Women's Review

These shoes are not for the faint of heart; they deliver a brutally honest barefoot experience.
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Price:  $140 List | $140.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Made of recycled plastic waste, ultimate barefoot experience, lightweight
Cons:  Expensive, little to no support
Manufacturer:   Vivo
By Brittany Page ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 11, 2019
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43
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 11
  • Weightlifting - 20% 3
  • Running - 20% 4
  • Support - 10% 2
  • Sensitivity - 5% 10
  • Protection and Durability - 10% 4
  • Gymnastics - 20% 4
  • Breathability - 5% 10
  • Comfort - 10% 5

Our Verdict

If you are a fan of barefoot running and training, you know exactly what to expect with an ultra-minimalist shoe like this. If you are not, exercise caution, as your feet are going to need some time to get adjusted. A good way to take the test before pulling the trigger on purchasing these is to go for a shoeless run on flat ground or try a few bodyweight movements like squatting and lunging. If your feet feel groovy, you will love the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite. For the rest of us out there, show your feet some love and give them a little cushion.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Made of recycled plastic waste, ultimate barefoot experience, lightweightExtremely versatile, durable, comfortable, good for runningVersatile, comfortable, light feelingIncredibly comfortable, will tackle everything you find in a CrossFit workout, can wear outside of the gymGood shoe for lifting and a general CrossFit shoe, great for rope climbs
Cons Expensive, little to no supportUpper material bunches when tightly laced, heavyNot the best for really heavy liftsNever wanting to take them off, fun patterns will cost you a little extra, sell out quicklyBreathability, squeaking nose
Bottom Line These shoes are not for the faint of heart; they deliver a brutally honest barefoot experience.Ditch the bag of specialized shoes and get yourself an all-around; these are our new favorite.The CrossFit Speed TR is a great choice for your everyday CrossFit needs and comes at an excellent price!If you want to avoid a bag full of specialized shoes and go for one all around shoe, then search no further; these shoes are amazing.An improvement over the previous version; the main difference being the flexible soles, which offer higher performance during runs.
Rating Categories barefoot Primus Lite Reebok Nano 9 - Women's Reebok CrossFit Speed TR NOBULL Trainers - Women's Nike Metcon 4 - Women's
Weightlifting (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Running (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
Support (10%)
10
0
2
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
Sensitivity (5%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Protection And Durability (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Gymnastics (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
Breathability (5%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Comfort (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
Specs barefoot Primus Lite Reebok Nano 9 -... Reebok CrossFit... NOBULL Trainers -... Nike Metcon 4 -...
Upper Breathable Recycled PET Mesh Flexweave Monomesh and hotmelt overlay SuperFabric 3D print
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Weight (Measured) (One size 5.5 shoe) (Ounces) 4.875 9.125 8 oz 7.875 7.375
Heel to toe drop (mm) 0mm 4mm 3 mm 4mm 4mm
Length (cm) / Fit 24cm / large 25cm / normal 23.5cm 25cm

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.

Performance Comparison


The Vivo Primus Lite isn't our choice for the best CrossFit shoe, but it did humble us with its extreme barefoot experience.

Weightlifting


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.

These will take some getting used to. Our heels and balls of our feet were sore after sets of back squats.
These will take some getting used to. Our heels and balls of our feet were sore after sets of back squats.

Running


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 entire point of this shoe  running in these felt like running without any foot covering at all. Our feet weren't accustomed to this at the start  but we came to enjoy runs in this after a few weeks of getting used to.
The entire point of this shoe, running in these felt like running without any foot covering at all. Our feet weren't accustomed to this at the start, but we came to enjoy runs in this after a few weeks of getting used to.

Sensitivity


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.

The thinnest shoe we have tested by far. Roll it up and put them in your pockets if you want after your WOD.
The thinnest shoe we have tested by far. Roll it up and put them in your pockets if you want after your WOD.

Support


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.

Only 3mm of "cushioning" stands between your feet and the gym floor.
Only 3mm of "cushioning" stands between your feet and the gym floor.

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.

Although light and thin  we saw no signs of wear during our rope climb testing.
Although light and thin, we saw no signs of wear during our rope climb testing.

Breathability


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.

Scoring a perfect 10 on breathability  these shoes will leave your toes feeling fresh and free during your workout.
Scoring a perfect 10 on breathability, these shoes will leave your toes feeling fresh and free during your workout.

Comfort


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

If you are a barefoot aficionado and want a CrossFit shoe that gives you the most minimal coverage during training  we can't recommend these enough. If you can run without shoes  or train on a hard  flat surface through a workout without pain  you're going to love the Primus Lite.
If you are a barefoot aficionado and want a CrossFit shoe that gives you the most minimal coverage during training, we can't recommend these enough. If you can run without shoes, or train on a hard, flat surface through a workout without pain, you're going to love the Primus Lite.


Brittany Page