Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Review – A casual shoe made for road running?

Have you ever thrown on a pair of Vivo’s and thought, “These are a bit stiff and uncomfortable”? If so, then this review is for you. The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit sports a complete knit upper designed for comfort and style. 

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  • Weight: 8.6 oz/ 246 g
  • Stack Height: 6.5mm + 3mm insole
  • Bootie like upper
  • Order 1/2 size smaller
  • Wide Toebox, fitted upper
  • Super flexible

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Primus Lite Knit

(free returns)

But the big question is – 

Is this a stylish shoe that can perform during a running training block, or is it better placed for casual treadmill runners? 

We’ll find out in this review where I’ll talk about the fit, feel, and durability of the Primus Lite Knit and help decide where you should buy or look elsewhere for a new speedy, stylish runner. 

How does the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Fit?

Does it fit true to size?

Move down ½ a size to find the perfect fit. ½ a size isn’t huge; it amounts to around 3.5mm, but it can make a difference with an upper material like this. Because of the knit design, you want the upper to be snug because the lacing cannot provide a solid lockdown as it usually does with stiffer uppers. 

My standard size US9, and I would love a US8.5, but they don’t make ½ sizes. That means if your standard size is a ½ size, round down to the nearest whole size, and I think it’ll be a perfect fit. Whereas if you usually wear a round number like me (US9), you don’t have the option of a US8.5.

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Is the toe box wide?

I love the squared-off toe box around the big toe. If you have a natural toe splay, your big toe will point forward or even towards your center line. Conventional toe boxes often taper in at the big toe, constricting an optimal big toe motion. Looking down at Vivobarefoot shoes, it’s obvious that this is not the case. The toe box is nicely squared off at the big toe. 

Vivobarefoot shoes taper aggressively on the little toe. This is where your foot shape comes into it. If you don’t have a large toe splay on the little toe, or it’s turned in like me, the toe box will work fine. But if you have a wide fan-like shape to your toes, you may want to look to another brand like Lems or Softstars. 

Does the bootie design affect the fit?

If you have a shallow foot, you may see bunching over the top of your foot. Using tongues on shoes is a clever design technique that prevents material bunching, without which can lead to discomfort and hot spots. However, Vivobarefoot has opted for a tongueless design and a stretchy upper! This is fine if your foot fills the shoe, but if you have shallow feet, it may be worth considering the standard Prmius Lite, as it provides a much snugger fit over the top of the foot.

The material around the cuff is more stretchy than your socks. I am sure that you have socks that tend to bunch up, which are probably made of 100% cotton. However, you may also have socks that do not bunch up because they contain a material like elastane that provides some stretch. That is precisely what these shoe liners have. Therefore, Vivo has tried to prevent any bunching that may cause discomfort.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit heel

What is the heel lock like?

It’s awesome. But it might not work for everyone. 

The dish of the heel sits far back and has an aggressive angle up towards the achilles. Your heel has a large cup to sit in, which is great if your foot is snug towards the back of the shoe. But if you have sizing issues like I do, you may find that your heel rubs slightly. I’ve seen reports of this elsewhere, too. I have not developed a blister yet, although I haven’t pushed the shoe past 10km or 2 hours in a day. 

It’s less about the heel and more about the midfoot fit. As discussed above, you won’t find a good lockdown if you have bunching and too much room over the midfoot. And with that, you’ll fail to get a perfect heel lock. That’s fine if it’s a casual everyday shoe, but not if you’re looking for your next marathon shoe.

Does the Knit offer a more comfortable fit than the standard Primus Lite?

The Knit may be the solution if Vivos haven’t fit in the past because they’re too tight. I found the Knit to be more forgiving around the midfoot and heel, which is vital for those who experience pressure points with the narrower base of the standard Primus line.

The Primus Lite Knit has more depth than the standard Primus Lite. I’d mostly attribute this to the forgiving knit material, but I also want to say the toe box and the forefoot feel more roomy. That could be because it’s a 2023 model, and the design has changed slightly. But if you’ve had issues with depth in Vivo shoes, I can confirm that the Knit models are much more accommodating. 

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Primus Lite Knit

(free returns)

How does the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit feel on a run?

I like the feel of the relaxed upper and flexible outsole, but in some running conditions, you need a more structured upper to keep your foot firmly in place on the shoe’s base.

For me, the Primus Lite Knit is perfectly placed as a causal shoe with the occasional 5km and gym work, but not for the seasoned runner. 

Are the shoes flexible?

If you’re looking for a ground feel with some protection, the Primus Lite Knit does the job. There’s only 4mm of rubber under your foot! Add the insole (optional) to that, and it’s around 6-7mm in stack height. Keeping the shoe flexible in every direction you can think of. 

The knit upper allows the shoe to flex more than the standard Primus Lite. I noticed a crease point forming at the forefoot when reviewing the standard Primus shoe, which was caused by the stiffer upper materials. However, the Knit material used in this version offers greater flexibility throughout the shoe. For me, this creates a more “natural” barefoot feel.

Does the lockdown provide security?

While the knit upper is comfortable, your foot can slip inside the shoe. Laces are one thing, but if the material you’re pulling around your foot is stretchy, you’ll never achieve a secure fit. This was most notable when picking up speed and taking corners quickly. 

Light gym work may be ok but don’t expect these to be good on the court. Because the shoe lacks lateral security, I wouldn’t suggest these shoes for court sports like tennis or squash. You’ll end up slipping around inside the shoe way too much. 

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit flexibility

Is there too much ground feel on rough terrain?

If you’re likely to hit the trails, use another shoe. While you can run on some soft dirt trails, gravel may be rough on the feet. If you’re doing any trail running, look to the Primus Trail range. 

Most of you will be fine on city streets. If you’re used to barefoot shoes, you’ll enjoy the minimal feeling of the Primus Lite Knit. But if you’re new to this, be sure to build up to barefoot slowly. Just take these out on a 15-minute walk and build from there. 

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit outsole

Does the tread provide enough grip in the wet?

I was surprised at how much traction I had on wet pavement. The wet British streets are a perfect test for a shoe outsole, and I took them out for a ride while visiting my home country. And I’m happy to say the grip was pretty decent! I never felt unnerved when corning (other than movement inside the shoe!)

Considering this shoe is more for casual and short runs, the grip is more than perfect.

Can I run without the insole?

The insole is fully removable and drops you an extra 2-3mm closer to the ground. I would love this, but it’s only an option for those with deep feet that fill out the shoe. Rather than being a decision about feel, having the insole in or out is more a decision of fit. 

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Primus Lite Knit

(free returns)

How durable are the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit?

How long will the outsole last?

I have over 500km on my standard Primus Lite shoes, and while they are showing wear, I think I could get another 500km. The durability looks promising because of this experience with the older outsoles, which seem the same as the one used on the Primus Knit. 

With Vivobarefoot’s unwavering focus on promoting a sustainable future, I hope they use only the most long-lasting materials. This feeling is more a matter of trust. Trust that the environmental message they’re pushing is true, and they do care about the footprint they leave (nice pun, eh!). 

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit tongue

Can I repair the shoe?

Sadly, Vivobarefoot does not offer repairs on the Primus line. But many of their other casual models can be returned for repairs and sprucing up. However, they do have a recycling program once you’ve finished with the shoes. 

Once you can’t repair or don’t need them anymore, send us your old Vivos and we’ll make they sure they’re given a second life, or if they’re really well-loved, we’ll store them until we launch our recycling solution.

If a lace snaps or you want replacement insoles, contact Vivobarefoot directly; they’ll sort you out. Vivo mention that “Laces and insoles can be replaced.” So, if you’re unfortunate enough to need replacements, at least you know there are options. 

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit heels

Will the knit upper rip?

In a word, yes. But a shoe made for the urban street is unlikely to meet thorny bushes. Because the upper martial is 100% knit, there’s a chance it could rip. Just be mindful when hiking in the woods or bushwacking through the back garden. Throw some wellies on instead.

Because the material is so stretchy, you’ll find less wear. You may find it loosens over time, but it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with holes in the upper. That’s because you’re not fighting against stiff materials; instead, it stretches with you. You’ll only see wear if there’s anywhere causing friction. 

Glue problems with the outsole connection

In the past, I’ve seen the outsole become unstuck, particularly around the forefoot bend. Because the materials in the knit are much more flexible, less pressure will go through this area, meaning it’s less likely to come unstuck. 

As with any manufacturing issue, contact Vivobarefoot directly. I say this because 1) you may find they can help you, and 2) they need the feedback! When enough people start giving this feedback, they’ll change the design and avoid the problems in the future! 

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Primus Lite Knit

(free returns)

Conclusion

When I first got my hands on the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit, I hoped to find a forgiving and flexible shoe perfect for barefoot running training. But instead, I found a loose casual sneaker. 

I love the feel. And if it were ½ a size smaller, the fit would be great, but the lack of half sizes means it’s a no-go for me.

But if your standard size is a ½ size, round down, and you’ll have a decent casual shoe you could take for the occasional workout. 

So, who is the Primus Lite Knit for?

Those who have had fit issues in the Primus lineup in the past and need a little more give in the upper. 

Those who want a stylish shoe that’s comfortable for every day, too. 

Those who run the occasional 5km run but are not looking to set a PB.

Who should avoid the Primus Lite Knit?

Those who want the maximum barefoot feel in a lightweight package

Those who want a precision fit with good lateral stability.

Those who want a little extra cushion underfoot

Amazon.com

Primus Lite Knit

(free returns)

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Nick
Nick

Nick is a UESCA-certified ultramarathon coach and avid barefoot runner, having over 5 years of experience in barefoot training and has competed in multiple ultra marathons wearing barefoot shoes. Starting his journey in the running industry over 10 years ago in New Zealand, Nick evolved from a running shoe salesperson to a passionate advocate for the transformative power of barefoot running. He believes in its potential to enhance running experiences for all and combines his unique insights from both personal achievements and professional coaching to guide and inspire the running community."

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