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Born Primitive Savage 1 Review | Great for Lifting and CrossFit?

Born Primitive Savage 1 Training Shoes Review

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The Born Primitive Savage 1 is the first cross-training shoe to debut from Born Primitive. This model has been built to be a “Jack-of-all-trades” style training shoe for lifting, CrossFit, and cross-training.

As an athlete on the never-ending quest of finding cross-training shoes, I was super excited to put the Savage 1 to the test. I was most curious how this shoe would compare to its longer-standing peers.

Myself and my community have enjoyed this shoe for a wide range of reasons. But in general, it’s the width and midsole density that win athletes over with this model, and I’ll dive deeper into these below.

Show Me the Pros & Cons

Logo

Pros

  • Good durability for CrossFit WODs
  • Wide Toe Box Is Great for Toe Splay
  • Dense Midsole and Lower Stack Height

Cons

  • Not the Best for Running
  • May Be Too Wide for Narrow Feet
  • Lower Material At Midfoot Folds At Times

Savage 1 Specs to Know

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Width: Medium to Wide
  • Comparable To Nano 2.0: Read My Review

Performance Assessments

  • Heavier Lifts: 4.8/5 (485 lb deadlift, 265 lb walking lunge)
  • Cross-Training: 4.5/5
  • CrossFit: 4.7/5
  • Running: 4.1/5

Born Primitive Savage 1

$130

Born Primitive Savage 1 Product Shot
4.8
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.8
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • Strength Training
  • CrossFit
  • Cross-Training
  • “Minimalist” Trainer Lovers
  • Wide(r) Feet

Falls Short

  • For Running

Born Primitive Savage 1 On Feet

Born Primitive Savage 1 Summary

Overall, I’ve quickly become a fan of the Born Primitive Savage 1. I didn’t know what to expect heading into this shoe but have been pleasantly surprised by this shoe’s consistency and simplicity.

I think if you’re an athlete and lifter who resonated with some of the OG CrossFit and cross-training shoes, then you’ll enjoy how the Savage 1 performs and feels on the foot.

These won’t be the plushest training shoes, so you may want to pass on them if you want a training shoe with more running potential. However, that’s only one of the few knocks that I have on this model. The width, flatness, and density are all fantastic and have given me a nice nostalgic feeling when training in this shoe.

Bottom Line: The Born Primitive Savage 1 isn’t what I would call a revolutionary training shoe. Instead, I’d call them consistent, and if you loved older training shoes like the Reebok Nano 2.0 then you’ll resonate with this shoe.

Who Should Buy the Born Primitive Savage 1?

After multiple training sessions, I’ve broken down a few contexts and types of athletes that will likely really resonate with the Born Primitive Savage 1’s performance.

1. You Like More “Minimalist-Feeling” Training Shoes

If you’ve been longing for more training shoe options like the Reebok Nano 2.0 and early Nike Metcons then I think you’ll enjoy and resonate with the Savage 1’s construction.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Review

This shoe feels refined and like some of the older and early cross-training shoes from Nike, Reebok, and even Inov-8. As someone who often gravitates towards “less is more” style training shoes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this about the Savage 1.

At times, shoes like the Nike Metcon 9 and Reebok Nano X3 feel overengineered, so it’s nice to have another model on the market that feels like the earlier days of cross-training shoes.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Flexibility

In the context of feeling “minimalist,” I’m alluding to this shoe’s upper construction being relatively simple and it has a lower stack height with a dense midsole and grippy outsole.

2. You Want a Training Shoe That’s Good for Lifting and CrossFit

The specially formulated EVA foam midsole in this model feels in the context of its density for heavy lifting. If you’re someone who wants a training shoe that has a lifting bias with its midsole then you’ll enjoy this feature.

This model’s midsole feels stable under heavy lifts and has enough responsiveness to make it comfortable for jump rope, box jumps, and other plyometrics.

Trying the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Lifting

The flexibility of this model’s sole is also nice in the context of it giving you good articulation for exercises like split squats and lunges. I’ve enjoyed using this shoe for my strength-focused leg days and hybrid-style workout days.

I also like how this shoe has performed for various WODs. This model feels durable in the context of CrossFit workouts and I think its versatility is on point for this training style.

3. You Want a Training Shoe With a Wider Toe Box

Another context in which I think the Born Primitive Savage 1 will excel for others is with its anatomical toe box. This shoe’s toe box is more than enough for my E-width foot and I think it will work for a wide range of foot anatomies.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Toe Box Width

I also like that the midfoot doesn’t have a super aggressive taper like some models that feature a wider toe box, but a pretty narrow midfoot. Outside of its toe box shape and to add to this shoe’s sizing, the TPU overlays and knit upper also give this shoe a comfortable fit.

There’s enough room in this shoe’s upper to work for thicker feet and for those who may want to use their own insoles in this model. All that said, this shoe’s fit is a nice change of pace when compared to other training shoes.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Born Primitive Savage 1?

Overall, there haven’t been a ton of training settings where I think the Born Primitive Savage 1 will be a total miss. That said, there are a couple of niche scenarios that come to mind.

1. You Need a Training Shoe That’s More Runnable (Plush)

If you’re into hybrid workouts and you want a training shoe for a couple of miles pre or post-workout, then I don’t know if you’ll resonate with the Born Primitive Savage 1’s denser midsole.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Midsole Compression

This shoe’s density definitely gives it a firmer feel, and while they work fine for short bouts of running and plyometrics, for runs longer than a mile I could see others finding this shoe uncomfortable.

On top of this, if you’re a heel striker whatsoever, then I think you’ll definitely notice how dense this shoe can feel at times regarding how forgiving the midsole is.

2. You Have Narrow Feet and Like Low-Profile Uppers

If you have exceptionally narrow feet, then you may be in the small population that won’t resonate with this shoe’s width and fit. In your context, you might find yourself sliding around the toe box in this shoe.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Upper

While I think this will be a pretty occurrence, it’s definitely worth mentioning for my narrow-footed friends. For example, if you typically resonate with the fit of shoes like the Nike Metcon 8 and RAD ONE, then you might find the Savage 1 too spacious.

Performance Assessment

To break down the performance of the Born Primitive Savage 1, I tried to test this shoe across multiple training verticals. I’ll discuss this shoe’s performance for lifting, CrossFit, versatile training, short runs, and daily wear.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Lifting and CrossFit

In the context of lifting, I’ve really enjoyed how the Born Primitive Savage 1 has performed. For squats and deadlifts, this shoe instantly gave me Reebok Nano 2 and Inov-8 F-Lite 235 V3 vibes.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Deadlifts

This model’s midsole didn’t compress when deadlifting over 400 lbs in them, and there’s enough snappiness with the EVA in this shoe to make them feel solid for clean & jerks and dynamic lifts.

The flexibility of this shoe’s sole is also a nice perk for giving you good articulation for lower body exercises. I like to rotate between barefoot shoes and training shoes for their flexibility and the fact that the Savage 1 delivered in this vertical is a subtle and nice perk.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Leg Day

When it comes to CrossFit, I’ve also found the Born Primitive Savage 1 to be a strong performer. This shoe has a nice versatility that’s aligned well with most of the WODs that I’ve programmed in them.

For rope climbs, I haven’t had any breakdown issues yet with this model and its TPU overlays have also helped protect this shoe’s toe box from breakdown when doing burpee box jumpovers.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for CrossFit and Rope Climbs

If you’ve historically enjoyed the older Metcon and Nanos for CrossFit, then I think you’ll welcome the Born Primitive Savage 1 with open arms. My only concern with this shoe for certain WODs is its runnability, but I don’t think that should deter you completely from this shoe.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Versatile Workouts

In the context of versatile workouts that include things like HIIT, plyometrics, and agility-focused training, this model has done a pretty good job. Will this be the training shoe for only HIIT and classes? Not necessarily, but for most, I think they’ll suffice.

For example, if you’re like me and sprinkle in HIIT and conditioning sessions throughout your week of training, then this shoe should excel and be just fine. I don’t think its density will be enough of a turnoff in this training context.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for HIIT

On top of that, since the forefoot’s midsole is designed to be a little more responsive and flexible, I like how this shoe has felt for conditioning sessions where I’m doing things like dumbbell snatches and jump rope.

The rubber outsole in this shoe has also been great regarding traction. This model feels grippy for multi-directional work and I have yet to experience slip issues with this shoe when training on different surfaces.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Jump Rope

The outsole of this model also reminds me of the Dynamic fascia band that’s used in some of the Inov-8 trainers. I think this feature helps contribute to this shoe’s overall “minimalist” feel when doing versatile training.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Short Runs and Daily Wear

For short runs, the Born Primitive Savage 1 should work just fine if you’re tackling runs that are anywhere from 400 meters to 1 mile. I found this shoe to have a stronger bias for short intervals where you’ll be more on the forefoot.

The midsole through the midfoot into the forefoot feels decent for this running context. To add context here, I’ll typically do interval work with barefoot shoes, too, so I enjoyed the snappiness and ground feel of this shoe’s forefoot midsole.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 Midsole Responsiveness

As mentioned above, I wouldn’t use this model for runs longer than a mile. I think in this running setting you’ll want something a little more comfortable and niche for that training ask.

For daily wear, this shoe is okay but it’s not necessarily my favorite trainer for all-day wear. Will they work? Yes, and I’ve worn them for 3-4-mile walks with the dog.

Born Primitive Savage 1 On Feet

The wider toe box and decently breathable upper construction give them an okay appeal for day-to-day use, however, I think you’ll get more out of these shoes if you save them for the gym.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Sizing

The Born Primitive Savage 1 should fit true to size for most lifters and athletes. This model’s length runs true and they have a wider width and anatomical shape through their toe box.

For additional fitment information, I have an E-width fit by most company’s standards and I found that I had plenty of room in this shoe. No matter what sock thickness I wore I’ve never felt limited while training in this model.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Sizing and Fit

For medium and wide feet, I think you’ll enjoy the overall fit of the Savage 1. I also think this could work for those with flatter feet as they don’t have a super aggressive taper or arch through their sole.

I mentioned this above, but the only type of foot that I think this shoe may be a miss on is a super narrow foot that has a lower volume.

  • Born Primitive Savage 1 Sizing Thoughts: True to size for most.

Born Primitive Savage 1 Sizing and Fit Assessment

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Born Primitive Savage 1, drop a comment below and I can help you size this shoe accordingly.

Construction Details

The construction of the Born Primitive Savage 1 is rather simplistic in nature and I think that’s one of the many strengths of this shoe. Below are the key construction features to note about this model.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 11.20 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Knit Upper Construction
  • Mesh Tongue
  • Full Rubber Outsole
  • Dual Density Footbed and Midsole
  • TPU Toe Box Overlays
  • TPU Heel Cup
  • 5 Core Eyelets With a 6th for Lace-Lock

If you have additional construction questions about the Born Primitive Savage 1, drop a comment below and I can help provide additional context for you.

Final Verdict

If you’re on the fence about the Born Primitive Savage 1, I’d say send it. They’re a good shoe and continually get high remarks from my YouTube community, too, so it’s not only me who tends to enjoy them.

They’re not going to be the best hybrid training shoe as they do run dense, but if you keep that in mind and primarily want them for lifting and CrossFit, I think you’ll be happy with these.

If you have additional questions about the Born Primitive Savage 1, drop a comment below or reach out to me via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

14 thoughts on “Born Primitive Savage 1 Review | Great for Lifting and CrossFit?”

  1. Jake – reporting back to you on the BP shoes. The 10s work great on my wide feet. I’m usning my own inserts with solid heel cups to help with lifting. The shoes worked fine on the Quarterfinal rope climbs over the weekend, good stability with squatting and deadlifts. No issues with dubs, etc. Good shoes. I have not tried running but expect I’ll have the same marginal results you reported above. I also replaced the laces with solid round laces to help with pulling them tight. Thanks for the tips.

    Dave

  2. Hey Jake, great comprehensive review of the BP Savage 1. I can’t find any info on whether or not the insoles are removable on these. Thanks!

  3. Jake – your article above convinced me to give these a try. I’ve got a very wide foot at M9.5 length (4 3/8″ which equates to 4E) with a normal size heal. These will be a bit tight at 95mm, but probably workable. I rarely find a shoe that fits my width. I do like the heel drop on these and general purpose use as you describe above. I’ll keep you posted on how they work out once they arrive

    Dave

      1. Jake – the 9.5 size was not quite long enough so I return these for 10s. Also, the width is not bad. I’m looking for a recommendation a thinner athletic sock so I can have even more room inside the shoe. Any recommendations on that?

        thanks – Dave

        1. Hey Dave! Sorry the delay here, took a few days off of content because I’ve been feeling a little burnt out.

          I think the 10s once broken in should feel like money, but def keep me posted. So I love the Motee and Zconia socks from Amazon. They’re low-profile, cheap, and breathe pretty well! Good enough quality to justify the price point!

          1. Jake – no worries – thanks for the response. 10s just showed up and will definitely work. I’ll report back after I break them in. Again, my foot is crazy wide, so if these work for me, that should work for anyone EE or wider. Will invest in those socks you mentioned.

            v/r

            Dave

      1. The rationale voice in my heads is saying, “No, probably not,” but the shoe addict is saying, “Def a solid pair to own and have in rotation!” Can’t go wrong either way, tbh

    1. How do you feel these compare to the Haze trainers?

      I’m looking for a trainer that is more minimalist and wide-toe box oriented that can support all kinds of athletic activities from lifting to team or court sports to short runs.

      1. These will give you a little more room regarding upper volume and I think they’re a bit more durable. Not as daily wear-friendly, but in the context of most folks’ asks that shouldn’t be the biggest deal, tbh.

        I’d give them a try. I love both models, but if you’re iffy on the Haze and their lower-profile sizing then the Born Prim would be worth a go, imo!

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