The Xero Shoes Prio. The mainstay of the Xero Shoes lineup. But has it stood up to the test of time?
If you’re looking for your first minimal shoe, or you’re looking for a cheap entry into the barefoot shoe market, the Prio could be for you.
Coming in at just under $90, it’s less than other minimal shoes and $50-70 cheap than other running shoes on the market.
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(45-day exchange period)
So are you getting value for money? Let’s find out.
Psssttt: If you’re new to barefoot running – Start Here.
Will it fit?
The Prio’s are wider than traditional shoes but not as wide as other barefoot shoes. Xero Shoes will be fine for anyone with a regular to narrow foot. They’ll even work if you got a relatively deep foot. But if your feet are strongly fan-shaped, meaning your forefoot is much wider than the mid-foot, you may find the forefoot too small.
A thick ankle cushion offers a comfortable fit but can get hot. Many shoes have swayed towards a thinner, more precise upper these days. But the Prio sticks with the thick ankle cushion and heavy materials. That’s good for fit as it’ll likely be very comfortable for most. But if you live in a hot area, your feet may overheat.
The sandal-inspired lacing works again. Like other shoes in the Xero Shoes line, the lacing is inspired by sandal designs, with straps emanating from the sole and tied with a lace. I’ve never had any issues with this lace design, and it allows you to get a great lockdown, and perfect heel lock, even without a lace lock. Yes, this is still possible.
I stayed true to size, and it felt just right. You may know that Xero Shoes has issues with its sizing. Well, the Prio is not one of those shoes. I’m pretty confident that 95% of you will stick true to size. The length is perfect. Again, just be mindful if you have a super wide forefoot/toes.
There’s plenty of depth in the toe box. And I love it! You’re free to wiggle your toes all you want without the worry of catching your nails. It’s natural for your toes to move around when you’re walking/running, so you’ll need a little wiggle room, and Xero Shoes always gives it.
If you’ve read my Xero Shoes HFS review, you know I love lightweight, supple shoes. The Prios are a little different.
The sole is more minimal than I expected but will take some time to wear in. After trying out the Terraflex II, the Prios trail brother, I expected the sole to be a little more cushioned. To my surprise, I could still feel the ground under me perfectly! I think the rubber will soften further over time and provide a closer barefoot experience. But if you want the true barefoot king, check out the HFS.
Because of the thick upper, there’s a bit of stiffness inhibiting all-around foot movement. I understand this is to ensure the shoes last long enough, but it depends on what you look for in a shoe. Do you want durability, or do you want barefoot movement? That’s a choice you have to make.
The lockdown was good enough that I would even take these on trails. When you’re looking for trail shoes, lockdown (how secure you feel in a shoe) is key because you don’t want your foot sliding in the shoe. Because of the sandal-like straps and solid upper, the Prio will surely keep your foot in place, which even makes me believe it’d be a good gym/court shoe.
Tie once and forget. Because the lacing system is great and the upper is solid, there’s no worry of your shoes wiggling loose. The first time I tied mine, they were perfect, and I’ve never had to adjust them since.
(45-day exchange period)
I expect this is the Xero Shoes Prio’s ace card.
With the 5000-mile sole guarantee, Xero Shoes are confident about longevity. All Xero Shoes have the 5000-mile sole guarantee, but I don’t think they can all achieve this. I’m hedging my bets that the Prios can, though. The sole is “just” thick enough to give longevity but also not take away from the barefoot feel.
The upper is old school, but that likely means it’s built to last. I’m sure you’ve heard people say they made them better back in the day. Well, I think this screams true for the Prio. The chunky material and stitch may scream the 90s, but it’s a tried and tested technology. It’s not this modern lightweight knit that will break on the first snag.
If I were pushed to say which area would break down first, it’d be the ankle cushion. Often the ankle sees a little more wear due to small amounts of movement in the heel. Because a thin material sits over a spongy cushion, the movement will likely eat through the top layer before anything else fails. I could say when, but I’m betting it’ll be a while.
I think we’ve got a winner when putting price and expected durability together. Considering most shoes are more expensive than the Prio, it’s already a winner. But because I’m projecting good longevity for the Prio, it’s a win-win! If you’re searching for value for money, you’ve found your shoe!
If you’ve read my reviews before, you might know that I like to perform a quick gait analysis of myself running in the shoes. I feel it gives another dimension to help you and me make better shoe-buying decisions.
To perform the analysis, I use University grade measurement pods to estimate ground reaction force, peak impact force, pronation angle/speed, and much more.
I ran on a relatively flat 5-mile road at a 5:18 min/km pace to gather the data.
For the result to make sense, I’ll be comparing the following shoes.
Xero Shoes Prio (you know all about this one!)
Xero Shoes HFS (Super minimal flexible road shoe)
Altra Escalante (24mm of cushion but still zero-drop)
First up; we’re going to look at Impact forces. This is the force exerted in a vertical direction when my foot first contacts the ground.
|Shoe||Xero Shoes Prio||Xero Shoes HFS||Altra Escalante 3|
|Impact Force (G)||8||8.3||7.4|
Here, we can see the less the cushion, the higher the impact force. This seems to hold true across most of the shoes I test.
So here, we could say that cushion affects how hard we hit the ground, but this reading is only the initial impact. Not the forces applied throughout the whole stride.
Ground Reaction Force
Peak ground reaction force (GRF) is the maximum force exerted into the body during the stride. The higher the number, the greater the stress on the body.
|Shoe||Xero Shoes Prio||Xero Shoes HFS||Altra Escalante 3.0|
|Peak Ground Reaction Force (multiple of body weight)||2.9||2.8||3|
The highly cushioned shoe scores the highest….. Did you expect that?
This is consistent throughout testing and many studies. Cushioned shoes cause you to land heavier! That could be due to overstriding or your muscles and connective tissue failing to correct well enough.
That’s why I’m adamant that barefoot training is for everyone! If you can teach your body to land and turn over efficiently, you have the potential to reduce injuries!
What these figures don’t tell you, though, is how much effort your muscles are exerting. Barefoot running is challenging; it will stress muscles you’re not used to. So building up too fast is a sure way of becoming injured. So don’t be that person!
The Xero Shoes Prio comes in at a price point you can’t complain at. It ties that price with durability, which is a win-win in most eyes.
The only reason I’d advise you to look at other shoes is if you’re looking for the closest to barefoot as possible OR you have an overly wide forefoot.
If you’re looking for your first pair of minimal shoes, you can go far wrong with the Prio’s, and if you want your kids to jump on the minimal train (and you should), there are kids Prio’s too!
(45-day exchange period)