|Weight:||Men: 9.2oz | Women: 6.4oz|
|Heel to toe drop:||Men: 0mm | Women: 0mm|
|Arch type:||High arch|
|Strike Pattern:||Forefoot strike|
|Distance:||Daily running | Long distance | Marathon|
|Type:||Low drop | Zero drop|
|Width:||Men: Normal, Wide | Women: Normal, Wide|
|Colorways:||Black, Purple, Grey|
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95 / 100 based on 44 expert reviews
Xero Shoes Prio: So much from a minimalist shoeMore photos
The barefoot and minimalist running movement first caught my attention about ten years ago. It intuitively made sense to me and have struggled with a painful neuroma (an inflamed nerve in my foot), the idea of a wider toebox held particular appeal.
I am also a forefoot striker, so it seemed like a natural fit. I launched into barefoot running with enthusiasm but quickly learned an important lesson. To avoid tight calves (at best) or injury (at worst), you must give this type of running respect.
The brand Xero Shoes
Xero Shoes has advice about this on their website. If you pay attention to your form and look after your feet, they will, in turn, look after you.
When combined with simple foot exercises that help to keep my feet strong and happy, I love minimalist shoes. I am not a purist, but rather rotate my minimalist shoes with more substantial low-drop shoes such as the Saucony Kinvara.
I’ve enjoyed various minimalist shoes, but Merrell's barefoot models have been long-time favorites, to the point where I find it hard to throw worn-out pairs away.
I hadn’t heard of Xero Shoes before but was eager to try the brand’s offering in the minimalist running shoe category. So far, I’ve hiked over thirty miles, run over fifty miles and worked out in the gym at least twenty times wearing the Xero Shoes Prio.
The Xero Shoes Prio
I most appreciate its flexibility, fit and low weight (a women’s size 7 weighs 6.4 ounces, according to Xero Shoes). These characteristics make the Prio the kind of shoe that you can lace up and forget about. In short, I love it.
This zero-drop shoe boasts a wide, high toe box that gives toes room to play without being sloppy. It has the feel of a high-quality shoe built to last.
I followed Xero Shoes’ advice to size up by at least half a size, and the shoe is a near-perfect fit. The strap system allows you to tighten the heel. This is a very nice feature for anyone who, like me, has a narrow heel.
A zero-drop shoe
The straps also allow you to adjust the instep if necessary. The laces themselves are a little long for my liking but do stay tied. I feel very secure in the shoe, whether I’m running downhill on the trails or lifting in the gym.
The mesh upper makes this a breathable shoe. The Prio reminds me of the Merrell Pace Glove or Trail Glove, but feels just a little more substantial, with more padding around the upper. All in all, this is a very comfortable ride.
The Prio is about as attractive as a ‘foot-shaped’ shoe can get, in my opinion. Shoes with a wide toe box may never look as sleek as a more conventional shoe, but it does come in several different colors.
Whether you prefer your shoes to stand out or blend in, you should be able to find an option to satisfy you. The Prio also features large reflective details, which I always appreciate in a running shoe, as anything we can do to improve our safety on the roads is a plus.
Notice the lacing system, which attaches to reflective heel and instep straps for a snug fit. This shoe can also be worn comfortably without socks.
If you prefer an experience that is as close to barefoot as possible, this shoe might not be for you.
But if you like just a little more underfoot, it is a fantastic option. The removable insole provides some additional cushioning. Due to personal preference, I’ve used the insole for the vast majority of my runs.
The removable insole definitely adds a little extra comfort to the ride.
For roads, gyms and non-technical trails, this shoe is great. The sole is a fascinating design that I’d never seen before.
Normally, the tread of a shoe runs to its edge. The Prio sole, in contrast, has a rim, or outline, of smoother material. While I was skeptical about this feature, it’s not at all noticeable when wearing the shoe. I’m curious to know the reasoning behind it.
The Prio has a unique sole that provides sufficient traction in the gym, on roads and easy trails.
The thinness of the sole means that you will feel larger rocks underfoot, but that’s always a trade-off with minimalist shoes. With these things considered, I do not recommend taking the Prio on wet surfaces or technical trails.
The sole allows for a nice level of ground-feel but also offers some protection, which is a tough balance to strike.
Without the insole, the feel underfoot is similar to the Merrell Pace Glove. Add the insole, and it reminds me of the New Balance Minimus shoes I used to run in. However, this shoe has already proved to be more durable than the Minimus. The sole is extremely flexible in all directions.
The Prio leaves your foot free to flex in any direction it wants to. It also packs into a bag or suitcase easily!
- Good ground-feel without sacrificing protection or durability
- Reasonably priced, and even an option (on the Xero Shoes website) to pay in monthly installments
- Customizable, comfortable fit
- Robust construction, yet lightweight
- 5,000-mile sole warranty
- Doesn’t do well on technical trails (but it’s not designed to, so not really a con)
In summary, I am very happy with the Xero Shoes Prio, a straightforward, enjoyable ride. The company stands by its product with an impressive warranty.
Despite the simple look of the shoe, a lot of thought has clearly been put into every little detail. I’ll be excited to watch out for Xero Shoes’ future models.
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
Xero Shoes Prio: An ode to joy for minimalists with maximal comfortMore photos
For the past 3 years since obtaining certification as a Running Technique Specialist in POSE method through the Romanov Institute and reading the minimalist classics, “The Running Revolution” as well as, “Born To Run” I have been alternating minimalist footwear of one kind or another into my quiver of trainers.
I have tried everything from Altra to Vivobarefoot shoes and found that there are very few companies that have stood the test of time to provide a truly functional daily trainer that is flexible and thin enough to provide good proprioception but supportive enough on uneven concrete and gravel to avoid bruising and foot fatigue.
For this reason, I was truly overjoyed to be given the opportunity to try the Xero shoes Prio (a nod to the need for ground feedback) to see for myself how they stack up on the road, track and trail.
Upper & fit
While Xero is a relative neophyte in the running shoe game, they are certainly adept at producing a great upper.
Inspired by their line of sandals, the Prio sports a set of, “huarache style” straps that are connected to an adjustable with the mesh upper to provide a snug and supportive feel through the heel and midfoot.
In principle, they provide a small measure of structure to the shoe to avoid the loose feeling on the heel and midfoot that can lead to sloshing of the foot.
This is extremely important in wide-base, minimal footwear where the formation of hotspots occurs often when wearing the shoe without socks. In practice, the straps do an excellent job of holding the foot to the shoe without creating any restriction on natural foot mechanics.
One can have too much of a good thing, however, as I did notice that the top of my foot became a tad numb initially when wearing the Prio on longer jogs if the laces were pulled too tight.
For those of us with an early start to the day or the night owl logging miles in the moonlight, these straps also come with a reflective coating and in a range of bright colors for safety and visibility, including classic safety yellow.
The mesh material making up a portion of the upper is incredibly soft considering the low price point of the shoe (base listed at MSRP $89.99 but available in some sizes and colorways for as little as $39.99).
It boasts average moisture management principles but does feel heftier after 5 or 6 miles when compared to competitors such as the Vivobarefoot Stealth and the Merrell Bare Access due mostly to the presence of large strips of vegan-friendly overlays at the midfoot in a supplement to the heel and toe caps.
The trade-off is a shoe that retains its shape exceedingly well without any rigid external structure and holds up on runs in the cold without leaving your toes in the deep freeze (as we head into fall, most of my runs have been in sub-freezing temperatures, and I have not noticed much if any discomfort even when sans socks).
The heel of the shoe, while not featuring any restrictive counter or excessive foam padding does well to remain supple yet breathable with a mesh-covered collar. It allows for natural rearfoot movement yet is firm enough to avoid a collapsed rear portion of the shoe such as plagued early models of the Kinvara from Saucony and recent models of the Trail Glove from Merrell.
As a former shoe fitter, the pull tab on the back is especially handy to avoid having to wriggle into the soft heel of the shoe.
In terms of overall fit, the Prio has a unique feel. Much like the Altra Torin's of the past and early versions of the Merrell Trail Glove, the toe box has a modest ceiling, but not uncomfortably so.
Its width is generous enough to allow for anatomically correct foot positioning and toe splay through the gait cycle, but the challenge is finding the proper size length-wise.
Living in the midwest in a place where it is difficult to find support (pun entirely intended) for minimalism in local running and activewear stores, it took some time to be able to find a place to properly fit foot to a shoe.
In general, per the Xero web page, one should go up a half size from their current RUNNING SHOE SIZE. Having tried a few different pairs, the size may vary a bit more from pair to pair, but this seems accurate for my personal needs (I measure on a 10, usually take a 10.5, and feel very comfortable in an 11).
From a feel standpoint in the upper, the Prio is tough to beat, especially for a shoe that costs less than half of some of its competitors.
Midsole & insole cushioning systems
While it feels a bit interesting to discuss cushioning for a shoe from a company that touts ground feel to the utmost, the shoe does have just enough padding to shield newer barefoot enthusiasts and veterans alike from excessive ground reaction force.
The Prio has a sewn-in thin strobe of a breathable mesh nature to mirror the available insole. It is comfortable to wear barefoot without irritation from the stitching but may prove a bit much for those logging most of their miles on hard pavement and gravel roads.
Nonetheless, for those looking to get as close to the ground as possible, at 5.5 mm of total clearance when removing the insole, the Prio is in line or more aggressive than both the Vapor and Trail Glove from Merrell, and just slightly thicker than the Vivobarefoot Primus and most Vibram FiveFingers models.
For those transitioning to a barefoot-like experience from more cushioned minimal models, there is the option of a slim 2 mm insole that has a porous bottom allowing for good moisture management and enough plush feel to take the edge off the unforgiving concrete and gravel on the road.
While most of my runs coming off of a recovery period following my last marathon have been on soft track trails and the treadmill, the Prio feels just as comfortable underfoot for intermediate runs on paved trails and city streets up to 7 miles.
From how they have felt, I would have no reservation taking them farther but simply did not have the stamina with proper mechanics to take them for a longer spin at the end of my training season.
That being said, this comes with a word of caution: if you are not committed to paying good attention to your mechanics and the feel of your stride, then this may not be the class of shoe for you.
While this model is a welcome addition to my shoe rotation as a trainer to help work toward efficiency in my stride if you have a history of injuries such as stress fractures or posterior tibialis tendon irritation it may be better to ease into a shoe like the Prio as a daily trainer.
Outsole & durability
Much like the upper, these materials in the outsole have proved to be very well designed for the long haul. After 72+ miles of use for running, disc golfing, hiking and then two 45+ hour work weeks in a busy physical therapy clinic, the shoe continues to look brand new.
With a 5,000 mile warranty on the TrueFeel rubber sole, I anticipate that the Prio will be a staple in my rotation for the next marathon training cycle and beyond.
Especially in wet conditions (including the first snow of the season), the grip of the outsole performed well with no slippage going over steep downhills on the in-town roads and rolling hills through the narrow track trails near my home. Even when out for a round of disc golf on a rainy mid-day the chevron-shaped lugs in the outsole kept me upright from the tee pad to the fairway with little to no slippage.
It also did well-shedding debris such as sand, leaves, and grass. The only time that I felt unsteady was on a run through technical trails through my local state park when the lugs became more congested with mud. Otherwise, it was as reliable as I could hope for it to be given its design as more of a road shoe.
The one criticism I had was the oddly placed flex points in the midfoot.
For some reason, the second flex point seemed to be slightly offset from the end of the arch of my foot which did cause some occasional awkward feelings under the ball of the foot at midstance. In future models, potentially narrowing the gap between the toe and metatarsal flex points could make for a smoother transition through toe-off.
On the flip side, the level of flexibility in the shoe has been a breath of fresh air in my Physical Therapy practice, especially when attempting to demonstrate dynamic and high-level balance and cadence drills with injured runners and athletes.
The feedback from uneven surfaces felt through the thin sole of the Prio make it an ideal shoe in a rehab setting, but also for activities that would benefit many runners such as yoga, pilates, and Crossfit.
Out of the box, I was not initially sure how to feel about the aesthetics of the Prio. Unlike the Escalante from Altra or even the more understated ST-2 from Topo, the Prio has a very plain feel to it with little patterning, one base color and a small touch of accent coloring in the support bands lining the heel and midfoot of the shoe.
Though wide in the toe box, it has a more streamlined appearance than offerings from Vivobarefoot and Merrell. Additionally, while multiple colorways are theoretically available, a quick glance online or in stores leaves the averagely sized runner at more of a disadvantage when looking to vary up the color in their wardrobe.
Nonetheless, no more than a week into wearing them at my local disc golf course and at my clinic, I received more compliments on the unique style and design of the Prio than I have had in the last two years for any of my other daily trainers.
Fans of minimalism enjoy the low to the ground look and many patients commented on the reflective accents and textured toe caps as striking and attractive in a work shoe. While they may not win any beauty contests in my own estimation, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and has overruled me on this model.
- Ample room in the toe box along with maximum comfort and anti-friction for a minimal/barefoot shoe
- Well above average to excellent durability and grip in dry, wet and even snowy conditions
- Vegan-friendly materials
- Limited 5,000-mile limited sole wear warranty unique to the brand
- Winter weather friendly without sacrificing necessary moisture management for the long run
- At MSRP $89.99 this shoe is well within reasonable pricing compared to other barefoot/minimal models
- Highly flexible and thin sole makes it an ideal cross training shoe for recovery and training days alike
- At 7.6 oz. for a men's size 9, it is a hefty shoe in-class
- While it got some looks from those around me personally, the plain design may turn off some
- The difficulty with sizing and availability of certain color options may be frustrating to the general consumer
For the past few years, especially after transitioning to a different cadence and stride type in my running, I have been varying up the type of shoe that I log my miles in. The Prio stands as one of the better barefoot shoes I have seen not only for comfort on top of the foot but protection and feel in balance underfoot.
For the purpose of review, I’d like to thank Xero Shoes for providing me with a pair of Prio shoes. No additional compensation was provided and the review process objective over the course of a normal life cycle of my daily training shoes.
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
For those that are really spot on with technique--like my husband--he would like this as a trail shoe.
So for all my customers, when they come away from big, chunky shoes, this is the shoe to use barefoot.
- The Xero Shoes Prio is a minimalist running shoe that allows users to have more ground intimacy but with less restraint. Its lightweight upper is engineered with reflective straps which give the wearer visibility during night adventures.
- This vegan-friendly footgear is equipped with the FeelTrue sole for surface traction. It has a non-elevated, low-to-the-ground design called Xero-drop to give wearers balance, proper posture, and agility.
A low-cut, wide-toed running gear for men and women is the Xero Shoes Prio. Its sizing selection consists of half and full sizes. It comes in standard width. The footwear runs small according to Xero Shoe, so purchasers are advised to size up (either a half or full size larger) to get the right fit. Its lace-up closure with reflective straps provides a secure lockdown.
Delivering enough slip resistance on the trail is the shoe’s 5.5-mm FeelTrue rubber outsole. V-shaped lugs engineered at opposing angles populate its surface, enabling runners to plant their feet on unpredictable terrain with the right amount of grip. This outsole configuration is also utilized in the Xero Shoes TerraFlex.
For extra cushioning underfoot, the sandal comes with a 2 mm thick removable insole. It has a cupped heel design to keep the rearfoot centered as much as possible.
The Prio’s low-top upper is made of a lightweight and flexible synthetic material. Its ankle cuff and tongue are adequately padded for additional comfort. For breathability, its sides and forefoot come with perforations. For extra toe protection, on the other hand, its front tip is engineered with a sturdy rand.
Completing the upper of this Xero Shoes running gear is its lacing system. Regular lace holes and fabric loops make up its combination eyelets. The fabric loops, in particular, are integrated with the shoe’s reflective straps.