Growing online fitness apparel brand; Born Primitive has put its best foot forward by entering the performance shoe market with the Savage 1, a cross training sneaker built for a wide variety of training styles including strength work, HIIT, running, and various other modalities. M&F took a look at the Savage 1 to find out whether they deserve a place in your gym bag, and how they compare with some of the existing options that are already out there.

One of the biggest obstacles in designing a versatile training shoe is to offer the flexibility to provide freedom where agility is needed, while at the same time providing support for a session on the weights. Born Primitive say that its inaugural shoe was built specifically to give stability for activities such as Olympic style lifting, without limiting your ability to make short-distance runs, sprints, or box jumps. The Savage 1 attempts to achieve all of this multifunctionality largely as a result of its low-profile design.

“We decided to step into the footwear space as we personally experienced the shortcomings in current cross trainers on the market,” says Bear Handlon, the co-founder and CEO of Born Primitive. “Some of the top shoes on the market are really only designed for a single modality, being either too stiff for running or lacking the stability needed for lifting. With that in mind, we designed a cross trainer that can accommodate multiple types of training styles. Over the last nine years, we have strived to perfect our performance and athleisure apparel, but the launch of the Savage 1 represents a massive new chapter for our company.”

Fit man performing sled pushes wearing Born Primitive Shoe The “Savage 1”
Born Primitive



Handlon was a Navy SEAL Lieutenant and has contributed to the development of this shoe from his own perspective since he’s also a former CrossFit Games athlete. With a back squat of 435 pounds , Handlon certainly understands the importance of a solid shoe. One of the features that allows the Savage 1 to partner you in multiple workouts is a specially formulated EVA midsole. Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate is a lightweight, cushioning foam that can absorb shock. The precision density of EVA in the Savage 1 is complemented by a highly durable rubber molded outsole that should be able to withstand even the most intense workouts. In terms of fit, the Savage 1 compares well with Reebok Nano 2.0, in that the wide toe-box allows for balance and comfort, especially when you find yourself standing under a heavy barbell.

In terms of breathability, the Savage 1 features a lightweight mesh upper construction so you won’t feel too constricted in these bad boys. Other shoes such as the Reebok Nanos and Nike Metcons use a TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) layer around the heel to add further stability. Thankfully, this is also a welcome aspect of the Savage 1, especially since it is so lightweight. The added thickness around the heel provides a more robust feeling when working out. TPU is also found in the forefoot and toe overlays of the Savage 1 to improve lateral support and overall shoe durability. Unique to those other brands, however, is it’s own tread pattern that has been formulated to maximize traction whether you are doing linear or lateral movements.

Born Primitive Shoe The “Savage 1”
Born Primitive

Chatter among the Savage 1’s early adopters seem to have everyone agreeing that this shoe is true to size, but Born Primitive advise that if you are normally between sizes, you should go half a size upwards here. “Just got mine in and they are amazing,” says a verified buyer who left one of the dozens of 5-star reviews that can be seen on the products official website.  “Shoe fits true to size (9.5 nobull, metcons, reign) Some things that stood out as soon as I tried them on: Wide toe box was perfect, outer sole looks even cooler than pictures, and shoes are very grippy so I can’t wait to test these out in competitions. Absolutely love them!”

As an initial training shoe offering from Born Primitive, the Savage 1 is a welcome addition to the marketplace and is available in 5 different colorways for men and women. Classic with a retro feel, you can wear these sneakers to the gym, in the park, or even on busy “rest” days.

Price: $130

Available from: Born Primitive

The Verdict: The only issue we could find with The Savage 1 is that the thin tongue might take a little getting used to for some users, and it could be liable to fold, but as you work out they will soften and you’ll likely forget about that slight inconvenience. This style of tongue is preferred by many CrossFitters and can also be seen in the Nano X2 Froning shoe so it’s just a matter of personal preference. Overall, this is a solid entry for Born Primitive, and if you prefer a wide toe-box and a sleek minimalistic design, the suave Savage 1 makes for an awesome training partner.