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Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Review (2024 Update)

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The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is best known for its performance in the gym and on a daily wear basis. After reviewing countless Vivobarefoot models, I wanted to know how Vivobarefoot’s self-proclaimed “hero trainer” compared.

Thus far, I’ve been pleasantly pleased with the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III and how it performs throughout all of my tests. I’m a strength coach who trains in a hybrid fashion so I’m constantly pushing a shoe’s limits for strength work and running.

On top of my own self-indulgent interests, this is one of the most requested barefoot shoes on my YouTube channel and I’ve built a comprehensive list of pros and cons for this shoe below.

Author’s Note: If you want to save 10% and support That Fit Friend then you can use my code “JBOLY“. I also use this code when buying models for review purposes.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Summary

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed training and wearing my Primus Lite III. To be honest, this was the first barefoot shoe that I truly fell in love with in the gym, and has since led me on a further exploration of barefoot shoes for training.

The Primus Lite III’s low stack height and highly flexible Active sole help it stand out in the gym. This model provides a lot of ground feel for deadlifts and squats, and I’ve enjoyed it when deadlifting well over 500 lbs.

Outside of the gym, I also like that this shoe has a casual appearance and vibe. It’s a good barefoot shoe for dressing up and it works exceptionally well in warmer months with its breathable mesh upper.

Pros

  1. The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is one of my favorite barefoot shoes when it comes to being well-rounded.
  2. This model will work best for athletes and lifters who plan to blend strength training with versatile and athletic-style workouts.
  3. The width of this shoe’s forefoot and midfoot is really solid and it should align well with most foot anatomies.

Cons

  1. This shoe, like most Vivobarefoot shoes, can be a little pricey, so for budget shoppers, these may be a miss.
  2. The breathable mesh upper won’t give you the most warmth for colder weather wear.
  3. If you go with the white colorway, be warned, that they can fade and turn a little yellow from sweat. My white model looks a little more like cream these days.

Specs to Know

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 oz (size 10 men’s)
  • Stack Height: 5mm
  • Width: Wide
  • Sizing: True to size for most
  • My Max Squat In This Shoe: 405 lbs
  • My Max Deadlift In This Shoe: 550 lbs

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

$160

vivobarefoot primus lite 3
4.8
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.8

Best For

  • Heavy Weight Training
  • Daily Wear
  • Casual Workouts
  • Lighter Runs and Athletic Training

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Longer Barefoot-Style Running Workouts

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Performance

My Training Experience Breakdown With the Primus Lite III

My Lifting Experience In the Primus Lite III

I’d give this shoe a 9/10 when it comes to its performance for lifting. The minimalist sole is great for giving you ground feedback and articulation, and the ample width is nice for accommodating toe splay.

Here are some of the lifting tests I did with them with my thoughts.

  • 245 lb power and hang clean complex: Good toe box flexibility
  • 550 lb deadlifts: Solid for both conventional and sumo deadlifts.
  • 85 lb rear-foot elevated split squats: Nice ground feedback.
  • 450 lb leg press: Decent outsole grip and traction.

My Versatile Training Experience In the Primus Lite III

For versatile workouts, I’d give this shoe a strong 8/10. The upper is secure enough for most versatile workout demands and the mesh breathes well to keep the feet cool during longer sessions.

Here are some of the lifting tests I did with them with my thoughts.

  • Box jumps: Lightweight and flexible.
  • Jump rope: A little sliding in the forefoot, but overall, good.
  • Skater strides: Pretty good security.
  • Sled pushes: Okay, but the outsole could be more grippy.

Lifting

In the context of lifting, I’m a big fan of the Primus Lite III. The shoe has ample width, which helps promote toe splay and gripping the floor when training, so for exercises like deadlifts and lunges, you can really feel and interact with the ground under the feet.

On top of this, I enjoy that you can remove the insole. If you’re like me and love training barefoot, but can’t necessarily do so in your gym, then this is a great model for replicating a similar feeling and limiting the overall material that separates the foot from the ground.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii lifting

The upper in this model also complements lifting settings well due to its slightly more breathable and durable nature. If you’re concerned about the durability in the gym with this model, I think you should be safe and it will last you a while if you plan to just train in your shoe.

Agility, Plyometrics, and HIIT

This model will work decently for more versatile training; however, I’d stress that you’re acclimated to this footwear style in these training settings. The lightweight build of this shoe makes it a joy to wear for longer sessions and it breathes really well.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for versatile training

In addition, the full rubber sole with its wider build promotes full toe splay and contact with the ground which is awesome for things like box jumps and other unilateral bounding movements where we need greater surface area to promote our balance.

Shorter Runs and Daily Wear

For shorter runs, this model works fairly well. I’d suggest using it primarily for indoor training so it will last longer especially if you consider the price point high. The Active Sole is super thin which is great for feeling the ground and providing a ton of proprioceptive feedback if you are barefoot-style running.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for running

On a daily basis, this is one of my favorite barefoot shoes on the market. The clean and simplistic design of the model looks casual and not overly like a gym or barefoot shoe.

It’s no secret that a majority of barefoot shoes are not the most aesthetically pleasing but I think this model does a good job at working around this.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Pros (expanded)

Across all of my tests, I’ve really enjoyed training in and wearing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, and I have a few pros to note about this model.

  1. Great for Lifting, Removable Insole
  2. Super Lightweight
  3. Wide Build and Toe Box
  4. Made With Recycled Materials

The first aspect to like about the Primus Lite III is that it’s a solid choice for the resistance-training-focused individual. This model Vivobarefoot’s signature Active Sole, provides this model with a highly maneuverable sole and close-to-the-ground feeling. The Active Sole is 4mm in thickness.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii upper

If you’re like me and really love feeling the ground under the feet when training, then you can also remove the insole in this model to get even closer. I enjoy this aspect for things like deadlifts and biasing my weight in the foot to drive specific training adaptations.

Another pro that I like about the Primus Lite III is its overall weight. My size 10/43 EU model has a weight of 8.85 ounces which gives them a very minimalist feel on the feet and I almost forget I have them on at times when wearing them all day.

Vivobarefoot used fewer materials in this model compared to previous iterations which also contributes to the weight of this shoe. If you want something super lightweight that feels like nothing on the foot, then the Primus Lite III is a good model to explore.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii shoe review

Similar to other Vivobarefoot shoes, the Primus Lite III delivers an anatomically shaped wider construction to account for all foot widths. The toe box is super wide in this model so even those with wider and flatter feet should find it relatively easy to splay the toes and grip the floor in this shoe.

The final aspect that I really like about the Primus Lite III is that it’s constructed with recycled materials. On top of making this shoe with recycled materials, Vivobarefoot also uses recycled plastic bags and planet-friendly boxes to deliver this model. I think all of this is a really cool initiative because so many shoes and materials end up in landfills every year.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the wide range of performance contexts where the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III excels. This shoe works well for strength workouts, and versatile training sessions, and they look good for daily wear.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Cons (expanded)

Despite liking the Primus Lite III as a whole, there are a couple of cons and drawbacks to be cognizant of before investing.

  1. Higher Price Point
  2. No Half Sizes
  3. Odd Stock Laces

The first drawback to the Primus Lite III is its price point. This shoe costs between $145.00 – $150.00 USD which is far from cost-efficient. If you’re on the market for a barefoot shoe that has a slightly more budget-friendly price, then I’d highly suggest checking out some of the Xero Shoes models.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii price

I recently compared the Xero Shoes 360 versus the Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit. This comparison should also provide an idea of how these company’s barefoot shoes compare to one another.

Another drawback to the Primus Lite III is that they do not come in half sizes. This can make it tough for those with half sizes to find a pair that fits them really well and doesn’t have heel slippage.

Since this model features a low-profile boot, some have reported heel slip issues when the sizing of this model doesn’t align with their foot size. If you’re a half size, then I’d suggest sizing down first to ensure you don’t have slippage issues, and if you find them to be too tight, then opt for the larger size.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii laces

The last drawback is the laces provided with this model. If you’re not a fan of tightening your shoes a ton or if you physically can’t, then you may feel limited in regard to the lace length provided with the stock laces on this model. I noticed mine come undone here and there when training due to this aspect.

It’s not the biggest deal, but you may want to buy longer laces after you receive this model and test the lacing system.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Sizing

For the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, most should be safe going true-to-size in this model. However, it’s worth noting that this model does not half sizes, so if you are in-between size, then you should make a calculated choice to avoid any heel slippage issues due to the low-profile design.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii sizing

If you’re a half size, then I’d suggest going down the size below you, then scaling from there. This will provide you with a better means of ensuring the shoe won’t slip and if it is too tight and you have to instead go up a half size, then at least then you’ll know for future models how to size accordingly.

Price

For the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, you can expect to pay around $160 USD. Personally, I find this price point to be fairly high, however, I do really like this model and think it’s worth it for anyone that wants them for training or daily wear.

For example, if you’re wanting a singular barefoot shoe for a little bit of everything, then I think this price point can be more justified. Plus, this is one of Vivobarefoot’s strongest shoes for varied gym workouts.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii insole

Regarding durability, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III should last you a while. The only areas that I can see being problematic for heavy daily usage include the sole tread fading and colorways getting dirty.

Who should buy the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III?

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is an awesome barefoot shoe for recreational training and daily wear. This model provides a nice blend of versatility, stability, and breathability, which makes it a great barefoot shoe pick in a variety of settings.

Whether you’re training heavily or casually, the Primus Lite III should stand up to the task well. On top of this model being a strong performer in the gym and on a daily basis, the Primus Lite III also utilizes recycled materials and has fewer overall materials compared to previous models.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for versatility

Personally, I love this feature for long-term sustainability and being more conscious of our changing environment and planet. I also like that this model looks more casual despite being a training-focused barefoot shoe.

Construction Details

One of my favorite parts of the Primus Lite III is its construction. This model features a simplistic and clean design with fewer materials than most of the shoes on the market.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii detailed shoe review

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 oz (size 10 model)
  • Full Rubber Active Sole (4mm thick)
  • Removable Insole Made From Recycled Foam
  • Mesh Upper
  • Five Eyelets (fifth for lace-lock)

If you have further questions about this shoe, feel free to ask below in the comments or reach out to me personally.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Does the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III fit true to size?

A:
Yes. However, that's for individuals who are not half sizes. This shoe does not come in half sizes, so if you find yourself in the middle of sizes, then I'd suggest first sizing down and trying the shoe, then sizing up if you find that to be too tight.

Q:
Can I run in the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III?

A:
Yes. This model's rubber outsole provides adequate traction on tracks, treadmills, and asphalt. I do think this model will last longer if you limit your running use in them to indoor sessions.

Q:
Can I lift in the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III?

A:
Absolutely. Plus, with the removable insole, you can get super close to the ground in this model which is a huge perk for those that purposefully bias how they displace force into the ground through the feet.

Takeaway Thoughts

Throughout all of my testing, I’ve really enjoyed wearing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III. This shoe has performed well and has a fairly aesthetic and clean look for daily wear. My only real gripes are the price point and shorter laces, but outside of those, I think this model is a good fit for a variety of individuals.

If you have any questions about this shoe or if it’s a good fit for you, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly).

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.

21 thoughts on “Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Review (2024 Update)”

  1. These have been my all time favorite training shoes. I didn’t realize how crammed my feet have been in shoes Ive worn my entire life. I have the knit version which I do think lacks some stability but still love them.

  2. This shoe boasts a comfortable toebox and excellent grip, but its durability leaves something to be desired. If you’re seeking an everyday shoe, this may not be the best option for you.

  3. Hi Jake, I’m a big fan of the Primus Lite III for everyday wear but find them a bit too thin for long distance (5+ mile) walks. That said I don’t really like the alternatives! Might you know / be able to recommend any companies that create custom insoles for Vivobarefoot (I tried a few from amazon but the insole toe box is too narrow and my forefoot keeps expanding off the insole!)? I’m pretty sure just 2mm thicker would do the trick based upon my other shoes! Thanks in advance for any recommendations you may be able to make!

    1. I don’t know any companies off the top of my head that make insoles specifically for Vivobarefoot models, unfortunately, and I tread lightly recommending random insole companies due to their widths likely not working for most Vivo models. Have you considered models like the Motus/Trail Knit? They have slightly thicker soles!

  4. Hey Jake! I was researching for a wide toe box shoes for weight training and found your page with some good infos! Would you recommend any other wide toe box / barefoot shoes for beginners to use in the gym for training?

    1. Hey! Thanks for checking out my content. I’d also look into the Tolos Archetype 1.0 and Xero Shoes Prio/Zelen! These will have lower price points compared to the Vivobarefoot models in the event you don’t want to drop a ton of money.

  5. I’m considering purchasing a pair of Vivo’s mainly for low impact training as I am currently do my training barefoot in the garden (grass) and want something for warmth as the weather declines to the colder months but also would need traction on likely wet grass but also use in the gym for similar activities (once my fitness has got back to that level for a once a week circuit training type thing).
    would the Primus Lite suit, do you have any knowledge of their Primus trail shoes? or the Decon maybe…
    I’ve got a friends discount to use at vivo’s.

  6. Hey Jake,

    Great website! So true to what I am experiencing with vivo. Would like to compare the lite iii to geo racer knit.

    My primus lite iii (for strength workout) is definitely half a size too big (i wear eur 43). they are looser and i’ve caught my toenails doing burpees several times. So i’m looking to size down. I do have a Geo court iii as well for daily wear, which are too warm for my country (365 summer) which i’m looking to return.

    Wondering if i should keep the lite iii for daily wear and get the geo racer for my strength work in the gym + short runs. Would you say the geo racer performs better for strength work and weights?

    If not, I would just return both shoes, and size down my lite iii on my next purchase. Thanks!

    1. Thank you and sorry for missing this comment!

      The Geo Racer isn’t too bad for strength work and that could be a good move. My only concern there is that the knit upper may be too loose for agility/burpee work where you want that upper to give you more security. I think if you did that or sized down your Primus you’d be happy either way!

  7. I bought a pair of Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III shoes and really love them however unfortunately the soles are already worn smooth on both shoes on the heel and toe area in only 2 months and the netting is also coming away. I walk 4-5 days a week on the footpath, I am 5 foot high and weigh 58kg. I feel this is not ideal or affordable to keep replacing this shoe every 2 months at a price of AUD $200. Just wondering had anyone else had a similar experience?

    1. Hey Sue! I’d reach out to Vivobarefoot ASAP and share this with them. They’re pretty good about replacing shoes based on this context, IMO, so you might be able to have them replaced for free. The newer Primus soles are proving to be super variable which is frustrating for some to say the least.

  8. First off, just discovered your site and love your reviews, as well as your movement focused articles as well. it’s all excellent!

    I have been interested in transitioning to barefoot style footwear for my training as my trainer and my physical therapist think it would be great for my feet and knees. They both rock these Vivos which is how I stumbled upon this article. I am also using some Correct Toes spacers to help work on correcting some developing bunions and building back more of my natural toe spread.

    I’m definitely looking for a toe box that really gives my toes space to spread out and help me root into the ground. It seems like you thought the width and toe box of this shoe were really good, but I was just curious if you had any other recommendations to check out as well. thanks so much

    1. Hey, Dean! Thanks for checking out the content. Outside of the Primus Lite III, you may also want to look into the Tolos Archetype 1.0. That model and the Primus Lite III are my two favorite options for training and lifting atm and they both look good (Tolos is a little cheaper, btw)! Shout if you have additional questions!

  9. I was looking at your three Xero shoes review (HFS, Prio and 360) and this model as well. I mostly focus on lifting, some running and some functional workouts but what attracted me to the Primus was that it also looks good. You mentioned that the 360 would do well in the functional aspect so I was wondering if I can use the Primus for workouts that the 360 excel in. Thanks!

    1. To an extent! A lot of my lifter/coach friends rock their Primus Lite III for more athletic-style training. They’ll work for most contexts IMO, however, their long-term upper durability could take a hit if you’re doing a ton of exercises that cause abrasion (rope climbs/burpees/etcs.). If you’ll primarily be lifting in them, jumping, and doing work within those realms, then they should suffice well!

  10. Hi! I am considering buying the white Primus Lite’s as you did — I was wondering if you’ve found them easy to wash/keep clean given that they’re white? Can they be put in a washing machine? Thanks!

    1. Hey! Pretty easy, IMO — I never put them into the washing machine (or any shoes for that matter!), I spot clean them with a washcloth, soft soap, and lukewarm water.

  11. Is this Primus Lite III model as wide as the RA I or II? or Stealth I or II ?

    So far these are the only recent models that give me the width I need and toe box room I need to fit comfortably.
    (I generally buy my Vivobarefoot shoes one size bigger to get the room my foot requires..)

    Thanks

    1. Hey Jerry — I haven’t had the chance to try those two models yet, so I can’t speak to them definitely, but from looking at/comparing photos it looks like the Primus might be a tiny bit more narrow through the toe box when looking at the points of maximal width!

      Sorry I’m not more help here — I’ll try to get those models added to the queue!

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