The Best Shoes for CrossFit Training
With the sport of CrossFit rapidly growing in popularity, the demand for top-tier, functional equipment is getting pushed onto the fast track. One product category on the frontline of this battlefield are shoes for CrossFit. CrossFit is a sport that focuses on functional movements structured in high intensity workouts. These movements range from normal body weight exercises (pull-ups, burpees, and pushups) to running, as well as various Olympic weightlifting movements (the clean and jerk and the snatch). One of the biggest challenges companies face when trying to produce a hybridized shoe for CrossFit is finding a design that incorporates the stability required for these weightlifting movements while also allowing for the flexibility and comfort needed for running.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
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Selecting the Best CrossFit Shoes
In order to figure out what distinguishes one shoe for CrossFit from another in terms of practicality, it is important to understand what you need to look for. Shoes for CrossFit need to be evaluated in respect to their durability, comfort, support, protection, sensitivity, and lastly their ability to perform in both weightlifting exercises and running. In this review, we will test seven different pairs of CrossFit shoes, focusing primarily on these criteria to rate them.
Analysis and Test Results
Comfort is an important criterion because everyone wants something they know will feel good. While this measure is subjective, comfort can be viewed as a test subject because every aspect of a shoe goes into whether or not it is comfortable. Additionally, this broad range of factors makes testing for comfort a trickier task; no two persons have the same foot. That said, some of the best things to look at while testing different products for comfort is at the overall construction (ie. its shape), how the shoe breathes, how absorptive the inner sole (sockliner) is, and whether or not there are any aspects of the design that cause irritation or areas that rub the wrong way.
Testing for protection aims to understand how well the shoe prevents your feet from being thrashed and beaten by some of the movements during a workout or, more formally, a WOD. The best way to test for protective capabilities is by putting the product through rope climbs, box jumps, double unders, and toes-to-bars. In the case of box jumps, double unders, and toes-to-bars, it is important that the design has an effective toe-cage. For example: when performing double unders it is more than likely that you will end your personal record breaking streak of 100 unbroken double unders by smacking the razor thin wire of the rope into the front of your shoe, piercing the flesh of your skin, causing you to drop to the ground in agonizing pain. OK…that might be a little exaggerated. However, with a durable toe cage, this fear will cease to exist and you can continue to double under in bliss. Additionally, when performing a rope climb, one of the most common outcomes is a blistering rope burn on your foot. Therefore, finding a product with a strong outer lining and possibly even a higher back design to protect your Achilles is ideal.
Sensitivity refers to how the shoe allows you to feel the ground during movements. Being able to feel the ground allows you to know exactly where you are exerting the most pressure. This is a key component in weightlifting because every movement is so technical. Therefore you need to be fully aware of your body at all times. Sensitivity also refers to the shoe's level of flexibility and how it functions in lateral movements where you are forced to change directions quickly. It is all about the responsiveness.
Weightlifting Shoe Review.
In the world of CrossFit, finding a balance between durability for in-the-gym movements and comfort for running has posed the biggest problem. For runners, the most sought after qualities of a good design lie in the level of comfort, support, and flexibility. Running generates a substantial amount of pounding on your feet, so runners look to buy products that not only support the contours of their feet, but also absorb the repetitive impacts. Another quality that runners look for is a good fit. Having the shoe hug your foot seems to be ideal. The general aspect of a running shoe that makes it more difficult to find a more runnable CrossFit shoe is the soft, absorbing, elevated heel. The minimalistic design that most CrossFitters search for brings the foot closer to the floor, lessening the heel-to-toe drop, allowing for a more natural movement and use of your foot. To test these products for their running capabilities, we will focus on how well each one displaces impact while running and performing the common heel to toe action.
If you're just an occasional CrossFitter or you just want to own fewer pairs of shoes for CrossFit, it's worth considering models that will work for CrossFit, hiking, and other workouts. For example, even though the New Balance Minimus MX20v3 scored lowest in the review, some of our testers actually preferred owning it because it was the better all-around design. OGL founder Chris McNamara choose this shoe because he could use it for crossfit as well as big hikes, around town and even backpacking. Another low-scorer, the Nike Free Trainer 5.0, fell into a similar category. It didn't score high for weight-lifting, but is great for running and more stylish to wear around when not working out. Balance the scores in our reviews with your own personal preferences and needs. The overall score may not be as important as the scored in the specific rating metric that is most important to you.
Ask an Expert
Below we ask Del LaFountain 5 questions about what makes the best shoe for CrossFit training. Del is a three times CrossFit Games Masters Competitor (2013, 2014 and 2015). He is a Level 1 certified instructor and has a Coach's Prep Certificate, the Olympic Weightlifting Certificate, and CrossFit Competitor's Certificate. He is an owner at South Tahoe CrossFit and has completed 60+ adventure races.
How do you size your shoes?
Every shoe I 've tried so far is downsized a half size. I normally wear a 9.5 and I usually go with a 9. And that has been pretty constant for everyone, especially with the Reebok Nano line.
How many different shoes do you use?
I don't use lifting shoes much unless it's a really heavy overhead squat. But I like the new Reebok CrossFit Lifter Plus 2.0 much more than the old Reebok lifting shoe so have been using it more for wall balls and kettle bell swings.
I generally go with a lighter model like the Nano 2. However the 2 is not the best for running. The 4 is great for running as well as rebounding off of box jumps and double-unders.
Overall, for most people the perfect set up is a lifting model and an all-around shoe: something like the Lifter Plus and Nano 4. If I wanted to add a third, it would be the 2. Younger people who don't need cushion could use the Nano 2 for everything.
When do you replace them?
When you don't like color anymore. But seriously, I typically replace them after 6-8 months of heavy use. Most people can probably go 8-12 months. Lifting shoes last longer.
Ever use a running shoe?
I've tried lots, but I found the Nano 4 to be just as good.
How much does weight matter?
Weight does not matter a whole lot, but it does matter. If you're doing 100 toes to bar, chest to bar, pull ups and box jumps, a lighter shoe makes a big difference. It's not a huge difference, but it does make a difference, if only psychologically.
As the CrossFit industry continues to grow, so do the plethora of options for gear catering to each aspect of the sport. Features to consider when looking for this type of footgear include low weight, flexibility, durability, and low to zero heel to toe drop. It's not uncommon to have several different shoes to meet this quota. Many athletes own an olympic weightlifting shoe as well as a minimalist running shoe to cover all of their bases. We've researched a few alternative ways to fit the bill. From the classic Chuck Taylor to a pair of foot gloves: We have you covered if you're interested thinking outside the box.
Vibram Five fingers
We all know how difficult it is to make decisions on the best crossfit shoes to buy, and that is made increasingly difficult when the product requires a specific set of features. A CrossFit shoe is just that, as it must be designed to not only survive the demands of the sport, but also to provide you, the athlete, with endless support throughout all the movements. Fortunately for you, we wanted to make your lives easier by finding the best products on the market. Keep in mind that we chose what we believe to be the best design specifically suited to the demands of CrossFit. Our hope is that our side-by-side testing and scoring results have helped you narrow down to the exact pair, or at least a couple of contenders. If you're still undecided, consider reading at our accompanying Buying Advice article.
— Jacob Jizrawi
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