The two of us have been running in minimalist footwear for many years now, and the vast majority of the miles we run are in running sandals made by Xero Shoes. Two of our favourite are the simple DIY Xero Shoe, likely the closest you will ever come to running barefoot, and the newest of their sandals the Z-Trek and Z-Trail, which are both a bit more robust for technical running or hiking. There have always been certain circumstances which prevented (or at least made it difficult) to run in sandals. Whether it was training in the cold Canadian winter, extremely muddy training, or some intensely technical trail where we felt we needed a bit more protection for our feet.
Well we’ve been asking (and let’s be realistic, many people have been!) and Xero Shoes has finally released their first performance shoe called the “Prio” and we’re going to share some of our thoughts on them.
We’ve had our Prio’s for about a month now, have put quite a few miles on them including big ascents and descents, muddy runs, rainy runs, outdoor agility cross training workouts, so in our minds, have got a really good feel for their strengths and weaknesses.
The overall FIT
- Stating the obvious, they have a nice wide footbed, a true zero drop sole, and no unnecessary arch support, meaning your feet will feel as comfortable as they are when barefoot. The thing we noticed though, that blew us away, is just how well the shape and fit of these shoes have been designed to give you all the room you need to move freely, but don’t allow your feet to slide around when going up or downhill or running along technical tracks.
Durable but Flexible materials
- You might hear other shoe companies promoting their zero drop shoes with widefoot beds, but let us be the ones to tell you the biggest difference between them and the Prio’s. The other brands shoes are made of rigid materials that will feel like boxes on your feet. Don’t believe us, we’ve been getting holes in our socks wherever our foot toes touch the inside of the shoe. That to us doesn’t seem at all like a shoe that moves WITH your feet. They’re containing them, and therefore restricting them. The Prio’s feel like a kick ass pair of socks because they are so flexible.
- We started wearing the Prio’s during the melting of all the winter snow, meaning it was a time when the trails are muddy and wet. We noticed how breathable the Prio’s were, first when we kept getting out feet wet on the mucky trails, but noticed our feet were drying up faster than we expected. This helped a ton to prevail blisters from forming (even though with how well these shoes fit and flex with us, we’ve never even experienced a hot spot!). However, now that we’re starting to see warmer weather, we’re liking these shoes even more for how cool our feet stay during runs. This was one thing that we HATED about wearing shoes, is how your feet start to burn up and throw off your mindset.
- The Prio’s use the same chevron-like tread on the bottom of the soles as all the Xero Sandals, and we put it to the test during a technical and very muddy 50k race in Washington. Not once did I feel that the Prio wasn’t giving me enough traction. For being an extremely lightweight sole and overall shoe, it’s quite impressive that they have the same level of traction as some of the bulkier trail shoes with “gnarly” treads.
- The price of shoes seem to be rising all the time, so having a performance running shoe for under $100 is almost unbelievable. At only 89.99 (if Xero Shoes isn’t running a sale!) you almost can’t go wrong buying a shoe that will strengthen your feet and look pretty badass! Not to mention your 89.99 will go so much further than other shoes. While other shoe companies are recommending you switch out your shoes every 300-500 miles, Xero Shoes offers a 5,000 mile warranty on their soles! That’s not a typo, a FIVE THOUSAND mile warranty!!! The “price of shoes” no longer has to be a limiting factor to your training.
They are SHOES
- Although this is obvious, and a pathetic topic to label as a “con” the fact that the Prio’s are a performance running SHOE, means they will catch rocks, will keep your feet wet for longer after a water crossing, will have more contact on your feet to possibly cause blisters. This is all comparing them to a running sandal though, and not to any other shoe.
Limited Traction on Extreme Terrain
- Even though I’d rate their traction as pretty stellar, the fact that the treads are “minimalist” in nature, means if you were needing to trek through thick mud or deep snow, you might be better off with something a bit more gnarly on the bottoms.
Who would the Prio Minimalist Shoes be perfect for?
Runners and walkers (obviously!) —> These are top notch running and hiking shoes
Crossfitters or Gym-goers –> With the Prio’s being zero drop they are great for stability during cross training workouts
Travellers –> Lightweight and easily packable, and you can use them for just about anything along your travels.
We probably don’t have to even say it, however, if anyone asked us if we would recommend these, we would tell them we already have! Many of our friends, family, fellow runners, or social media followers have ordered themselves a pair and have told us they’ve been loving them. So if you’re looking for a new shoe, and the Prio’s are sounding like a good fit (get it!) we’d say to give them a try. They really are as awesome as all the review and promotions are saying they are.