The Xero Shoes Prio turned out to be a great shoe overall. They can go between the gym, the road, and anywhere in-between without skipping a beat. The Prio can be purchased on Amazon, Men's Prio* or Women's Prio*, or if you would rather, you can purchase directly from Xero Shoes*.
The Prio is a great fit for my feet. I've always found traditional running shoes to be extremely narrow, even in "wide" sizes. It's obvious that the Prio was made to be foot-shaped. There is plenty of room for your toes to splay naturally while running. The only caveat is that if you have extremely wide feet, you may still find the Prio to be a little narrow. My feet are usually an EE width, and I find the Prio just right. Make sure you use the sizing chart available from Xero Shoes. It will go a long way to making sure you get a good fit. Xero Shoes has recently updated their sizing recommendations, and they now recommend you purchase your normal size in the Prio.
There isn't much to say here. The Prio is extremely flexible and lightweight. I wouldn't say it is the most flexible sole I've ever found in a minimalist shoe, but I feel that it strikes a great balance of flexibility, ground feel, foot protection, and durability. It also isn't the lightest running shoe available, but, again, I feel that it strikes a great balance of weight and durability.
No animals were harmed in the making of these shoes!
This is where I find the Prio really stands out among not only minimalist shoes, but running shoes in general. The Huarache-inspired straps that run through the heel and instep allow you to get a somewhat custom fit. I prefer to have my heel and instep cinched down pretty tight, but I still have the benefit of allowing my toes to splay naturally. On the other hand, you could cinch the heel, but keep your instep loose and less restrictive if you wanted. It took me a while to find the fit I enjoyed the most, so don't be afraid to play around with it. I also appreciate the reflective nature of the straps. It is helpful for those early morning or after dark runs.
Again, not much to say here. Try the Prio out both ways. I prefer to keep the insole in the shoe, as I like a little more cushioning. However, some people want as much ground feel as possible. For those people, it's just a matter of taking out the insole.
The Prio is extremely comfortable to wear without socks; however, it could be a little more breathable. I'm not able to wear them without socks due to my feet sweating a little too much in them, but, if that isn't an issue for you, I do not think there would be any problem wearing them without socks.
The Xero Shoes FeelTrue® sole comes with a 5,000-mile warranty on all of Xero Shoe's shoes. However, it only covers the heel and ball of the foot. It does not cover any edge wear. They also offer a 12-month warranty against any manufacturing defects. I have had to use this once previously, and I can attest that Xero Shoes will stand behind their products. The only real downside to this warranty is that the sole can be kind of slappy when running. This is due to the high density of the rubber used. I think the trade-off is worth it. It's nice to know that I can just keep on running in these shoes until the upper gives out.
Now that that's out of the way, onto the actual design of the shoe. Obviously, this will vary from person to person, but I find the design of the shoe to be outstanding. The Prio consists of a mesh upper with strategically placed pieces of faux leather, mainly in high-stress areas. It is, in my opinion, just a great looking shoe. I currently own a pair of yellow Prios and a pair of red Prios. They both are nice looking, but there is no hiding that they are athletic shoes. If you are looking for something that will blend in a little better, the new black and white color option looks really nice! I don't own a pair of that color yet, but it is high on my wish list. You will be hard-pressed to find a more "normal" looking minimalist shoe than the Prio, or any of Xero Shoe's shoe offerings for that matter. They are out there, but a lot of minimal shoes don't shy away from looking different. Other low-key minimalist shoes that I'm aware of are from Vivobarefoot, Lems, and Merrell.
I find the Prios performance to be outstanding. To be fair, I do not have a lot to compare it to. I've only been running seriously for a year or so, and the vast majority of that has been in the Prio. It is worth noting that if you are coming from a traditional running shoe, there is no cushioning or bounce. You won't get much assistance from the shoe to keep propelling you forward. It's on you to use your body the way it was meant to be used to keep moving forward.
If you have never run in minimalist footwear, make sure you are transitioning correctly. Xero Shoes has an article about their preferred way to transition to minimal footwear and some running form tips. Having said that, one thing I did notice is that for long runs, the Prio could be just a hair lighter. I wear a men's US 12, and I definitely notice the shoe on my longer runs. It seems to be a trade-off for increased durability. However, I'm hopeful that Xero Shoes will come out with a sleeker, lighter race shoe in the near future. (UPDATE: Xero Shoes has released a lighter race shoe, the Speed Force! I'll be purchasing a pair. Expect a review once I put them through their paces.)
I'm currently on my second (and third) pair of Prios. My first pair, which I am basing this review on, lasted me just about a year and a half before giving out. I believe they would have lasted even longer, but I made a mistake by prying them off with my other foot instead of taking them off with my hands. I went to go take a shoe off, and they split at the heel.
They are still structurally sound for the most part. I still use them for yard work or any other duties where my shoes might take a beating, but I wouldn't trust them for running. Keep in mind that during this year and a half, this one pair of Prios were my only shoe other than my dress shoes for work. So, they put in a lot of work over that time. Considering that I am still getting use out of them now almost two years later, I would say that the durability is excellent. At least as far as athletic shoes are concerned. After the mishap with my first pair of Prios, I now have two pairs. One pair for running and one pair for gym/casual use.
Comfort is another subjective category, just like the design. I find the Prios to be extremely comfortable. They didn't require any break-in period. It did take me a while to find a lacing that I liked, but the shoe was never uncomfortable. Just because they didn't require a break-in to be comfortable, they will still break-in after a while, but this just elevates an already comfortable shoe. Some minimalist shoe purists will probably say that the Prio has too much padding, while others that aren't accustomed to a minimalist shoe will likely feel that the Prio is too minimal.
In my opinion, the Prio strikes an excellent balance for most people. There is quite a bit of padding on the upper when compared to other minimalist shoes, but I don't feel that it takes away from the barefoot feel, and it likely adds to the durability of the shoe. On the other hand, there is no getting around the fact that this is a minimal shoe. If you have never worn this style of shoe before, take it easy, and understand that there will be a transition period where they might not feel like the most comfortable shoe ever. Especially the first time you step on a rock. However, once you go through that transition, I think you will be more than happy with the Prio.
The Prio is a great shoe! Despite a few small nitpicks, I would have no problem recommending this shoe to anyone considering minimal footwear or anyone that is already into minimal footwear. It is a nice looking shoe, with a great mix of comfort, performance, and durability. Not to mention the 5,000 mile sole warranty! If you would like to purchase the Prio, you can get it from Amazon, Men's Prio* or Women's Prio*, or directly from Xero Shoes*.