A Review of the Xero Prio
The Xero Prio is Xero’s first performance running shoe after a long line of successful running and hiking sandals that Xero has been making since 2009. The founders of the Xero brand saw a need in the market after the release of “Born to Run” a book which focused on the lifestyles of some of the most amazing ultra-runners in the world, the Tarahumara people. People from this tribe grew up running long distances in hot, rugged conditions, usually in only a pair of sandals. The Prio is a closed shoe, designed for runners or active people who need a minimalist shoe that will move with their natural foot motion. With minimal cushioning the Prio is designed to enhance a runners already good form and foot strength naturally, while also protecting from anything underfoot.
The outsole of this new Xero performance shoe is a great combination of durability for the road and some grip for the trail. The wave tread made from Xero’s FeelTrue rubber has some nice gaps between the tread for providing traction. There are 2 major flex grooves in the outsole that really help the outsole move with the foot and adapt to the terrain. The Prio doesn’t have any lugs, which increases it’s durability and comfort, but it still provides good grip on the trail and road, making it a great dual purpose shoe.
There isn’t a ton of midsole material in this shoe, just enough to provide a little impact protection and cradle the foot. While there isn’t a ton of cushioning, the shoe does have a nice natural feeling to it, great for runners who want a minimalist feeling while still having enough cushion to protect them on their runs. There isn’t much arch support, great for a allowing the foot to flex and move naturally throughout the stride. The outsole and midsole work together to provide nice ground feedback and a responsive feeling shoe.
The upper is built of thick mesh material with very minimal synthetic leather overlays. The flexible mesh upper is great for giving the shoe a nice roomy feeling, especially in the toe box, which is very wide. The synthetic overlays wrap around the base of the shoe and comes up around the toe box area, for added protection and durability. This shoe has very little shape to it to optimize natural foot movement. The thing that does give the shoe some structure and locks the foot in place is the lacing system and the reflective nylon strips that cinch the midfoot in place. This lacing system is very effective. My first thought was that because I have a very small foot there would be some incidents of my foot slipping because it is so roomy, but my foot stayed securely in place on road and on light trail whether I was going uphill, downhill or running on the flat. The heel cup also wraps tightly to the foot, further enhancing the fit.
One of the features I love about the Prio is how flexible it is. It’s designed with Flex grooves that give it great flexibility from heel to toe but it is also very flexible laterally. When your foot flexes throughout the stride, so does this shoe, great for providing traction, encouraging natural foot movement and enhancing the fit of the Prio.
At just over 6oz a shoe for women, the Prio is very lightweight. Except for the superior traction and the nice protective outsole, you can’t even notice this shoe underfoot. The shoe is great at locking in your foot, making for a nice secure fit that moves with you. If you are a runner that likes a lot of movement and comfort in a shoe, this is a great choice. There isn’t a ton of cushion, ideal for runners with excellent foot strength or active people looking to improve their foot strength.
The outsole design and good flexibility make this a great shoe for a ton of activities. The high abrasion rubber stands up to regular road use, while the flexibility and traction could be okay for very light, flat trail. The lightweight flexibility make this a great cross training shoe too, for activities such as calisthenics, slacklining or just getting out for a stroll. I really like the minimal feeling of the Prio, even if you don’t have much foot strength, just wearing this shoe for everyday activities can help to build foot strength that will ward off injuries.
With only 5.5mm of material between your foot and the ground, this shoe has a very low minimal looking profile. As this shoe has just been brought to market there are two color variations for men and two for women, all strike a good balance between flashy and conservative. The synthetic leather overlays enhance the look of the Prio, giving it an expensive look, while still making it a vegan friendly shoe. There is reflective strips on the midfoot lock down system, which look flashy but are also functional while running at night or in low light conditions. The primary goal of the Xero brand is to have a natural shoe with a wide fit, as such, the shoe does have a round shape to it compared to traditional running shoes and looks similar to a skating shoe.
Xero’s goal is to make a performance shoe that allows the foot to move naturally without support features and there is little arch support in this shoe. Instead this shoe supports neutral foot movement by being wide and roomy. With it’s wide toe box, this type of design really allows a runner’s toes to splay, this is great for traction and supporting a natural stride where runners get the most out of their toe off.
Currently the Prio retails at just under 90 USD per pair, a great price for any running shoe but especially for a shoe as durable and versatile as this one. Designers have done a great job of making a lightweight, durable shoe that doesn’t inhibit but instead supports a runner’s natural stride.
This is an versatile minimalist performance shoe that is great for moving with a runner’s natural foot motion. The fit is wide and the toe box even wider allowing for a good neutral running shoe. The lacing system is really good at locking in the midfoot, it works well with the heel cup to provide a good secure fit without compromising movement of the foot. This is a great shoe for anyone who needs protection and versatility in a shoe while valuing natural running movement and using inherent foot strength to propel themselves on those long runs.