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It used to be that Reebok and Inov-8 dominated the CrossFit market with the best CrossFit shoes. Then, Nike stepped into the game with the now-revered Metcon training shoes. NOBULL then skyrocketed to popularity with their durable SuperFabric trainers; TYR entered the arena with their CXT-1 Trainers; and R.A.D. dropped the RAD One trainer, now popular for its wave-like aesthetic.
More and more CrossFit shoes continue to saturate the market, form new brands and long-standing brands alike. One of the newest cross-trainers available comes from Born Primitive, a long-loved apparel brand among CrossFitters.
I got to try the new Born Primitive Savage 1 Trainer, and in my Born Primitive shoe review, I’ll recount my experience and detail the positives and negatives of these new trainers.
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Sneakerhead, but the CrossFit Kind
Over the last decade or so, I’ve owned more CrossFit and cross-training shoes than you’d probably care to know about. I started CrossFit when the Reebok Nanos were on iteration No. 3 and I’ve used almost every new release since then. I tried my hand (er, feet) at the Nike Metcons, didn’t like them, and ultimately landed on NOBULL Trainers as my go-to. I’ve also tried the TYR CXT-1 Trainers, Xero training shoes, and dozens of other options. Suffice it to say, I’m more than familiar with the cross-training shoe market.
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Born Primitive Savage Training Shoes
- Training shoes from Born Primitive
- Minimal midsole
- 4-mm heel-to-toe drop
- Flat, stable base
- Wide toe box
Pros & Cons
- Stable for lifting weights
- Wide toe box
- Flat sole
- 4-mm heel-to-toe-drop
- Tongue and laces are short
- Upper might not be durable over time
Before You Buy
- The midsole is very compact and minimal, with just a 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drop. If you prefer more cushion or heel elevation, this probably isn’t the shoe for you.
- Born Primitive offers discounts through GovX for military, veterans, healthcare workers, and first responders.
A Quick Look at the Born Primitive Training Shoes
The Born Primitive Savage 1 Training Shoe is a new arrival from CrossFit cult brand Born Primitive. This is the first footwear launch from this brand, but Born Primitive is no stranger to manufacturing quality apparel. In the game since 2014, the company earned its favorable status among CrossFitters by producing high-quality sports bras, squat-proof leggings, and other workout clothes.
Born Primitive Savage 1 Training Shoes Specs
|Heel to Toe Drop||4 mm|
|Size Range||W 5 to 11 (with half sizes); M 8 to 15 (with half sizes)|
|Midsole||Compounded EVA foam|
|Outsole||Horizontal and vertical rubber tread pattern|
Are the Born Primitive Shoes Worth It?
At $130 per pair, the Savage 1 Training Shoes fall at an average price point—a bit below the average, in fact—when comparing them to other cross-training shoes. The Reebok Nanos, for instance, cost $140; Nike Metcons cost $150; and NOBULL Trainers cost $130 to $160.
To be frank, after wearing these shoes for several workouts, I can’t say there is much that differentiates them from the top contenders on the market. The design is virtually the same: wide toe box, tapered body, slightly extended heel clip, targeted reinforcement, dense midsole.
That’s not to say they’re bad shoes—they performed mostly well during my testing—but I’m unable to tease out anything super special about them. But because they’re a little less expensive than the other top players, they’re definitely worth considering. Ultimately, I rated them with 3 out of 5 points for the value category, because I feel that the value is expectable and on par with other shoes in this category.
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- CrossFit workouts
- Lifting weights
- HIIT workouts
Not recommended for:
- Long walks
- Running (at all)
Wearing the Born Primitive Training Shoes
I took the Born Primitive shoes through two intense CrossFit workouts that included a variety of cardio modalities, bodyweight and gymnastics movements, plyometric movements, and weighted movements.
One of the workouts was a 10-minute deadlift and burpee EMOM followed by a ladder workout that included front-rack walking lunges, toes-to-bar, and box jump overs. The other workout included an Olympic weightlifting build (work up to a heavy two-rep power clean) followed by a 12-minute AMRAP of 15 calories on the Rogue Echo Bike, 10 thrusters, and 8 burpees over the bar.
I also wore the shoes for several weight training sessions in my apartment complex gym, which I truly think is where they shone. The dual-density midsole, as Born Primitive calls it, provides minimal cushioning but fantastic stability, and I really enjoyed wearing these for leg days and deadlifts.
Additionally, I decided to take the shoes for a few walks to see how they felt. The verdict? These are definitely not the best walking shoes. (That’s not what they were designed for, of course, but it’s nice when training shoes have that extra element of versatility.)
Ultimately, CrossFit and general weight training are the training styles supported by these shoes.
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Born Primitive Shoes: Construction and Materials
So far, these seem pretty durable, but I’m unsure of how they’ll hold up compared to other CrossFit or cross-training shoes, because the upper is largely fabric. It’s a relatively tough woven textile (compared to, say, a running shoe), but it’s nothing like the super-tight knit textile of Nike Metcons or the plastic-like upper of NOBULL Trainers. The knit is just a bit wider, which I think leaves room for snags over time.
There’s a toe overlay that extends past the base of the big toe and pinky toe (the widest part of most people’s feet), which definitely helps. There is no rope guard or medial wrap, so I wouldn’t recommend wearing these for rope climbs. Between the knit upper and lack of medial rope rape, I rated the shoes with 3.5 out of 5 points for construction and durability.
The weight per shoe isn’t disclosed on the Born Primitive website, but they feel similar in weight to my other cross-training shoes. They feel slightly lighter than my NOBULL Trainer+ shoes, which weigh about 13 ounces. You definitely won’t have a problem with these being too heavy.
The upper is a woven knit textile with TPU overlays on areas subject to high levels of abrasion. The knit pattern allows for breathability and flexibility, but I worry about long-term durability, especially if you’re performing a lot of rope climbs, burpees, or other movements during which shoes take a lot of abuse.
One thing I love about the Savage 1 trainers is the flexibility of the forefoot. The knit fabric flexes with your foot, making the shoes very pliable for movements that require a lot of movement in the foot, like walking lunges.
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These are flat and wide, making them great for lifting heavy weights. They feature a 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drop, which is pretty standard among CrossFit shoes because it promotes stability but also provides a little bit of help with barbell receiving positions due to the slightly elevated heel. Out of all the workouts I did in these shoes, they excelled during weight room workouts, particularly on squat and deadlift days.
For me, these shoes are just OK in terms of comfort and ergonomics. The tongue is too short, which really bothers me on movements like squats and lunges (anything where the ankles move into dorsiflexion) because the tongue rubs against the front of your ankle. Additionally, I found the laces to be on the short side; I can’t double-knot these and that makes me nervous during CrossFit metcons!
The inside of the shoe is contoured and supports the natural shape of the foot. Arch support is minimal, but these are training shoes, not running shoes, so that’s expected. I don’t have any complaints or standout remarks about the insole—it’s just fine.
The outsole has great rubber tread with a horizontal and vertical tread pattern. It’s a bit different from the typical waffle or diamond pattern you see on most CrossFit shoes, but I haven’t noticed any ill effects of that. I do wish the crash pad was extended slightly.
Born Primitive Shoes: Colorways and Design
The Savage 1 shoes look like your standard training shoes or CrossFit shoes: wide toe box that tapers to a narrower heel, very flat, rugged outsole, plastic and rubber bits along high-wear areas for reinforcement.
The pair I got is all black, which is not my personal favorite because they remind me of the non-slip shoes you have to wear when you work in a restaurant. But they’re not bad-looking, especially in the other colorways. I really like the White/Navy colorway, so I awarded them 4 out of 5 points for this aesthetics.
Currently, available colorways include:
- White/Navy, Black/Black, Black/Gum, White/Gray, and White/USA (the Born Primitive logo is red, white, and blue for the latter)
Born Primitive Training Shoes vs Reebok Nano X3
Reebok Nano X3
- 13th iteration of Reebok Nano
- Unisex sizing
- Lift And Run Chassis in midsole
- Mesh upper
- Durable rubber heel clip
- Great traction on outsole
Pros & Cons
- More comfortable for running than other CrossFit shoes
- Lift And Run Chassis
- Responsive midsole
- Breathable upper
- Sick colorways
- Reflective detailing
- ROPEPRO rope guard
- Durable heel clip
- Wider crash pad
- Wide toe box
- Sizing is kind of funky and confusing
- Feels wider/looser than previous iterations
- Pricey (but not any more so than other CrossFit shoes)
The Reebok Nanos are easily a best-seller in the CrossFit shoe landscape. The newest version, the X3s, are supposed to be the “most runnable Crossfit shoes ever” thanks to the Lift And Run (L.A.R.) Chassis System that Reebok added to the shoe.
Indeed, the midsole is much springier than on previous iterations, and you can really notice this during explosive movements like box jumps. However, the tradeoff is that the midsole is thicker and more cushioned, so some people may not like that for heavy lifting.
Compared to the Born Primitive Savage 1 shoes, the Reebok Nanos have more cushioning and feel a bit bouncier.
Our full Reebok Nano X3 review has the full scoop on the newest Nanos.
|Born Primitive Savage 1||Reebok Nano X3|
|Heel to Toe Drop||4 mm||7 mm|
|Weight||Not disclosed||12 oz (unisex size 9)|
|Size Range||W 5 to 11 (with half sizes); M 8 to 15 (with half sizes)||Mesh (FlexWeave Knit)|
|Upper||Woven knit||Mesh (FlexWeave Knit)|
|Midsole||Compounded EVA foam||Lift and Run (L.A.R.) Chassis System|
|Insole||Molded footbed||Contoured sockliner|
|Outsole||Horizontal and vertical rubber tread pattern||Waffle-pattern rubber lugs|
Ordering the Born Primitive Savage Training Shoes
I ordered the Savage 1 training shoes when they were on presale, but I had what I’d consider the best possible experience for a pre-order. It took a long time to get them (we put the order in back in June, the shoes shipped in August, and I got them a couple of weeks later).
To find them, head to bornprimitive.com and navigate to “footwear” for men and women. Checkout is with ShopPay, and you can choose to pay in four installments of about $38 instead of paying the full price up front.
Shipping starts at $5 for standard shipping; the price goes up from there.
Military, first responders, and hospital personnel can check out with GovX for a discount.
Born Primitive’s return policy is a little more generous than the average 30-day return. They offer 45 days, but the shoes must be returned in brand new, unworn condition with tags, in the original shoe box. For shoe returns, customers must pay a $10 shipping and handling fee. Additionally, your original shipping charge is not refunded. It’s not a great policy, but for wearable items, policies aren’t generally stellar.
At the time of writing, the Savage 1 Training Shoes have an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars on the Born Primitive website. Most customers say they run true to size, which I agree with.
One reviewer wrote, “I am a fan of Nanos and need a wide shoe (my feet will never be the same after having kids!). I typically wear a 6 or 6.5 in Nanos but needed a 7 in these. They are super comfortable now that they’re worn in and I love how lightweight they are! The only thing I would change is maybe have the tongue be sturdier so it doesn’t slide down as I work out. Love the Savage 1!”
Another wrote, “I love the fit of these shoes. I was searching for a wide toe box shoe and these are perfect! No break in period or anything; fit comfortably the first wear!”
There are no negative reviews at the time of writing.
Final Verdict of Our Born Primitive Shoe Review
The Born Primitive Savage 1 Training Shoes are a good start for the brand. They’re not a bad pair of shoes at all, but my honest opinion is that they are solidly average. While they’re a nice addition to the CrossFit shoe market, I won’t be trading in my NOBULL Trainers for these.
They’re a great fit for people who prioritize flexibility and breathability over durability; aren’t concerned with doing rope climbs; and do a lot of general weight training workouts. I like them a lot for deadlifts and deadlift accessory work.
Born Primitive Shoes: Full Rating
Born Primitive Savage 1 Training Shoes
The Born Primitive Savage 1 Training Shoes are the first training shoes released from Born Primitive, a favorite brand among CrossFitters. The shoes are similar to others on the market, such as the Reebok Nanos and Nike Metcons. They feature a wide toe box with a compounded EVA foam midsole, making them very stable for lifting weights.
Product Brand: Born Primitive
Product Currency: $
Product Price: 130
Product In-Stock: InStock
Born Primitive Shoes: FAQs
Is Born Primitive a good brand?
Yes, Born Primitive is a popular brand that makes high-quality sports bras, workout shorts, leggings, and shirts for men and women.
Who manufactures Born Primitive?
Born Primitive is led by founder and CEO Bear Handlon. The company is headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, but has manufacturing facilities around the world.
Does Born Primitive have a military discount?
Yes. Born Primitive has integrated with GovX to provide a military discount.
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