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Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit

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The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III versus Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit is a question that I’m asked fairly routinely on YouTube and review content. Both of these models deliver a high level of versatility for the active individual.

In addition, Vivobarefoot doesn’t always clarify which of its barefoot shoes works best for certain contexts, so it makes sense why many are on the fence between the Primus Lite Knit and Primus Lite III.

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit both perform well in the gym, and their clean appearances add to their versatility, especially for daily wear. So, where do their differences lie?

In this Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III versus Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit comparison, I’ll cover the key performance, construction, durability, and sizing differences to know about these shoes.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit

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Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Vs Primus Lite Knit Performance

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit are both described as shoes for active lifestyles, so to break down their performance, I’ll cover how these shoes perform in various categories.

I’ll discuss their performance for lifting, versatile training, short runs, and daily wear. This way, you can better cross-reference their performance with your specific needs since these models have higher price points.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Vs Primus Lite Knit for Lifting

In the context of lifting, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit and Primus Lite III are both strong performers. These shoes deliver a nice minimalist feel with their Active Sole construction and both deliver a high level of ground feedback.

For things like heavy deadlifts and RDLs, I like the performance of both models and whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter pushing heavy weight, they should deliver for you. I’ve deadlifted well over 500 lbs in both models without slip issues, too.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit for Deadlifting

Outside of their Active Sole constructions, I like that both of these shoes deliver a comparable amount of width through the toe box and midfoot. I don’t think most will need to be concerned with the width of these models in the context of strength training.

Another two similarities between these shoes are their overall breathability and outsole traction. The mesh in the Primus Lite III breathes well in hotter settings and the knit upper in the Primus Lite Knit does a good job, too.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii lifting

On both models, you can expect a similar level of traction from their flatter hexagon tread. On wood platforms and rubber gym floors, this outsole tread does a pretty good job.

That being said, neither model is that great for heavier dynamic strength work on turf as their outsoles don’t really bite enough. If you need a Vivobarefoot model for turf-focused strength work, I’d suggest exploring the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Knit FG.

While these shoes have similar lifting characteristics, one key difference to consider for certain lifting contexts is their performance for dynamic exercises.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit for HIIT

For exercises like clean & jerks or snatches, I’d suggest passing on the Primus Lite Knit and reaching for the Primus Lite III. The knit upper in the Primus Lite Knit can be a little prone to spillover during the foot turnover and catching phase of these movements.

Winner: Tie, but if you want a shoe that has a slightly more well-rounded performance for all types of lifting, then I’d suggest going with the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii

Primus Lite III

Pros: Versatile, Breathable
Cons: Pricey
Weight: 8.8 oz
Size/Fit: True to Size/Wider Width
Offset: 0mm
Lifting Threshold: ~500+ lbs
Mileage Threshold: <3 Miles
Price: $160
TF2 Rating: 4.8
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Product Shot

Primus Lite Knit

Pros: Versatile, Appearance
Cons: Pricey, Upper Security
Weight: 8.85 oz
Size/Fit: True to Size, Run a Bit Long
Offset: 0mm
Lifting Threshold: ~500+ lbs
Mileage Threshold: <3 miles
Price: $170
TF2 Rating: 4.6

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Vs Primus Lite Knit for Versatile Training

For versatile training including things like HIIT workouts, athletic-style sessions, and plyometrics, both of these shoes work pretty well. I do think there’s a clear winner between these models for versatile training, but there are also multiple similarities to like.

For example, both of these shoes have lightweight feels to them which gives them a nice athletic and wispy feeling. Their breathability is also great for longer and warmer sessions, so whether you’re in a hot gym or outdoors, neither model should run too hot.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for versatility

In addition, both models have a nice degree of articulation so for lower-threshold plyometrics like box jumps, rotational ball slams, and pogos you get a nice level of ground feedback with these shoes due to the flexibility through their soles.

If we look at differences, one area where the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit can start to fall short of versatile training is with more advanced plyometrics, which is a pretty specific ask.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit for Jumping

To add context, the Primus Lite Knit runs a tad long and they don’t have the best lateral support, so when doing broad jumps and weighted skater strides, I did notice a little sliding in this model and a bit of spillover.

The Primus Lite III doesn’t have this same issue and I think if you’re an athlete wanting a “safe bet” option for versatile training, then the Primus Lite III may be a better call as its upper will give you a bit more security.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for versatile training

Winner: Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III. Don’t get me wrong, the Primus Lite Knit works well for versatile training, but if you’re really pushing this vertical hard then you may that model’s upper security falls a bit short.

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 Vs Primus Lite Knit for Short Runs and Daily Wear

In the context of short runs, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit can both be strong options. Since these models have multiple similarities their performance is nearly identical for sprints and short runs.

Their Active Soles, breathable uppers, and removable insoles are all perks to these shoes’ performances for running. If I had to choose one of these models, though, I’d probably go with the Primus Lite III and that’s for one reason.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for running

Since the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit runs a little long I don’t necessarily enjoy the excess room at the end of my shoe’s toe box. I think if your foot aligns with the Primus Lite Knit’s sizing then it becomes a much more comfortable and viable running option.

For daily wear, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both of these shoes and that’s for two key reasons. First, these shoes both have clean appearances that make them great for pairing with different outfits in different contexts.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Fit and Sizing

Second, they have comfortable fits and decent levels of breathability for warmer seasons and all-day wear. Plus, you can remove their insoles to give yourself a nice degree of variability with the cushion that you get with both models.

Like running, though, if you made me choose one pair for daily wear, I would probably reach for the Primus Lite Knit because it’s an easier shoe to slip on and off which is great for occasions where you don’t feel like messing with laces.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for Men

Winner: For running, both shoes work well. For daily wear, the Primus Lite Knit takes a slight edge because it’s easier to slip on and off so its ease of use takes the win. Plus, it looks great.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit

$170

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Product Shot
4.6
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Casual Cross-Training
  • Short Runs
  • Daily Wear
  • Wide Feet

Falls Short

  • Serious Athletic Training Sessions
  • Multi-Directional Exercises

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Vs Primus Lite Knit Construction

There are a lot of similarities that exist between the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III and Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit’s construction and I think that’s why there are often so many questions about which model to go with.

Below, I’ll break down all of the key construction areas that you should know between these shoes. Hopefully, this also makes this section more digestible and easy to read.

Sole

The outsole and soles of these shoes are pretty much identical. The Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit are both built with and feature Vivobarefoot’s signature Active Sole.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Sole Construction

The Active Sole thickness comes in at 4mm and both of these shoes have a low-profile hexagon tread that smooths at the medial midfoot and lateral toe box. This tread does a pretty good job with traction on most surfaces but can fall short on turf.

Upper

The Primus Lite III is built with a mesh upper that features textile and synthetic overlays around the toe box, heel, and midfoot. The midfoot’s material is a little more rigid and supportive on the medial side which is great for additional lateral support.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Upper Construction

The Primus Lite Knit’s upper is built with a lightweight breathable knit that extends from the toe to the heel. There are light synthetic overlays that run from the medial toe box to the midfoot in this model. This shoe also features a bootie-style construction.

Lacing System and Tongue

Another difference between these models is their lacing systems. The Primus Lite III features a traditional tongue and lacing system with four core eyelets with an additional fifth eyelet for lace-locking. The tongue is built with a lightweight mesh and it has an additional loop for security.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Lacing

The Primus Lite Lite is built with a bootie-style construction and it has five core eyelets that utilize a double eyelet lacing system. The tongue of this model is built with an extended layer of stretchy knit material.

Weight, Heel-to-Toe Drop, and Insole

The weight, heel-to-toe drop, and insoles are all pretty similar with these two shoes as well. Since both of these models are iterations of the Primus line, there are core elements are pretty consistent. Both shoes feature a thin insole built with recycled material.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Insole

  • Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Weight and Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8.85 (for my size 10 model), 0mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Weight and Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8.85 (for my size 10 model), 0mm Heel-to-Toe Drop

If you have additional questions about the constructions of the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit, drop a comment below.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Vs Primus Lite Knit Sizing

When it comes to the sizing of the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit and Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, I think most individuals should be safe going true to size in these models. Now, that being said, there are a lot of caveats with these shoes and their sizing.

For starters, both of these models tend to run a little long and if you’re in-between sizes, then I’d suggest sizing down. Unless you have notably wide feet at a half-size, sizing down should be the safe call for most.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Try On Review

Additionally, if you’re not in-between sizes and have a narrow or neutral-width foot, and find that you regularly have a bunch of room at the end of your shoe’s toe boxes, then sizing down also might be the call.

For a personal anecdote, I’m traditionally a 10 in shoes and my foot length comes out to 10.65 inches which comes out to 26.8 cm. Based on Vivobarefoot’s sizing guide, I’m in between a 9 and a 10, so I often have to go back and forth on sizing.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Toe Box Width

Typically, though, I will go 10 for review purposes to share context on sizing differences. To add to this, the length doesn’t bother me as much in the Primus Lite III compared to the Primus Lite Knit and I think that has to do with the upper securities of both of these shoes.

  • Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Sizing Thoughts: Narrow/Neutral-Width Feet, Size Down. Wide Feet, Stay True to Size.
  • Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Sizing Thoughts: Narrow/Neutral-Width Feet, Size Down. Wide Feet, Stay True to Size.

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit, drop a comment below or reach out to me and I can try to help you out accordingly.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Vs Primus Lite Knit Durability

The durability of the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit will be fairly similar for the most part. Since both of these shoes utilize similar sole constructions, their breakdown is typically at the same rate.

Generally speaking, if you’re using one of these models every single day for all-day wear, then their Active Soles will typically last 6-8 months, conservatively — this can vary, too. If you’re rotating your shoes, then this timeline will often be longer.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Price

In addition, this timeline can be sped up on certain occasions when you’re doing a lot of high-volume walking and daily wear on concrete. The hexagon tread can fade faster in this context and the 4mm thickness can deplete a little.

Outside of sole durability, the only other durability aspect to keep an eye on is with the boot of the Primus Lite Knit. Since this shoe features a bootie-style construction with a lightweight knit, its boot can stretch out over time.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii active sole

For example, the boot of my Geo Racer Knit started to show signs of stretching after about 6ish months, so I’d say expect a similar timeline on the Primus Lite Knit if they’re your core shoe.

I think if you want to get the most out of these shoes regarding their durability, then you’ll want to rotate them here and there with other models. This should prolong their sole and upper lifespan, especially for those training hard in them.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Boot

If you have additional durability notes and experiences on one of these models or both, drop a comment below and let me know how long your pair has lasted in addition to how you typically wear them.

Price Comparison

For the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, you can expect to pay around $160 USD, and for the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit, you can expect a price point of $170 USD.

Compared to other barefoot shoes, these models have higher and more premium prices. That being said, I’d highly suggest searching for coupons if you’re planning to invest in these shoes, or any Vivobarefoot models, at that.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii shoe review

For those directly on the fence between the Primus Lite III and Primus Lite Knit and only want to spend on one pair of shoes, then I’d suggest going with the Primus Lite III if your main goal is training.

If your performance need is primarily daily wear with a bit of training, then I’d suggest going with the Primus Lite Knit for its slip-on abilities. For performance-focused contexts, go Primus Lite III, and for more casual biased use, go Primus Lite Knit.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III vs Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Barefoot Shoes

I also think you’ll get more out of your investment if you can rotate your footwear a bit. For example, wearing your Vivobarefoot pair a few days per week and then swapping in another model to prolong both shoes’ lifespans.

For anyone wanting to drop closer to $100 USD for their shoes, I’d suggest checking out the Tolos Archetype 1.0 and Xero Shoes Prio, and if you want to spend less than $50 USD, check out the WHITIN Trail Runner.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii

Primus Lite III

Pros: Versatile, Breathable
Cons: Pricey
Weight: 8.8 oz
Size/Fit: True to Size/Wider Width
Offset: 0mm
Lifting Threshold: ~500+ lbs
Mileage Threshold: <3 Miles
Price: $160
TF2 Rating: 4.8
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit Product Shot

Primus Lite Knit

Pros: Versatile, Appearance
Cons: Pricey, Upper Security
Weight: 8.85 oz
Size/Fit: True to Size, Run a Bit Long
Offset: 0mm
Lifting Threshold: ~500+ lbs
Mileage Threshold: <3 miles
Price: $170
TF2 Rating: 4.6

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
How do I clean my Vivobarefoot shoes?

A:
To clean your Vivobarefoot shoes, use a spot-clean technique. Take a damp washcloth with a light soap and hand scrub areas that need a little attention. Place them in a dry area and remove their insoles to thoroughly dry them.

Q:
Are the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III good for lifting?

A:
The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III works exceptionally well for lifting. This shoe's Active Sole has a stack height of 4mm and this model features a removable insole to give you additional closeness and feedback from the ground.

Q:
Can you run in the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit?

A:
The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit should work well for short runs, sprints, and even mid-range runs. If you want to use this model for high-volume running, I'd suggest doing so on a track to get a little more durability out of this shoe's sole.

Takeaway Thoughts

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III versus Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit is a popular barefoot shoe showdown that I’m regularly answering questions on.

Since both of these shoes perform pretty well in the gym and have good-looking appearances, it can be tough to differentiate which shoe would be best for your individual needs and wants.

If you have additional questions or if you’re still not sure if you should go with the Primus Lite III or Primus Lite Knit, drop a comment below and I can help you out accordingly, or reach out to me personally 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.

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