The Best Shoe 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 CrossFit shoes. CrossFit is a sport that focuses on functional movements structured in high intensity workouts. These movements range from normal bodyweight exercises (pull-ups, burpees, and push-ups) 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. In order to figure out what distinguishes one shoe from another in terms of practicality, it is important to understand what you need to look for. For CrossFit, shoes 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. We recommend that you also read our How to Choose the Best Shoe for CrossFit Training buying advice article as well.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Shoes for CrossFit - Men's Displaying 1 - 5 of 8 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's
Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's
Read the Review
Video video review
Reebok Nano 3.0
Reebok Nano 3.0
Read the Review
Reebok Nano Speeds
Reebok Nano Speeds
Read the Review
Reebok Nano 2.0
Reebok Nano 2.0
Read the Review
Inov-8 F-Lite 195
Inov-8 F-Lite 195
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award    Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award   
Street Price $110
Compare at 1 sellers
$91
Compare at 1 sellers
$79
Compare at 1 sellers
$97
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $100 - $120
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score 
100
0
96
100
0
87
100
0
77
100
0
74
100
0
69
Editors' Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
Pros Comfortable, protective, breathable, breaks in fast, great looking shoesVersatile, durable, comfortable, stable.Comfortable, lightweight, durable, affordable.Comfortable, supportive sole.Lightweight, comfortable.
Cons Limited color selectionCost.Narrow, not as sturdy for weightlifting.Wears down faster.Lack of durability, lack of protection.
Best Uses CrossFit workouts, bodyweight exercises, weightlifting, runningAll CrossFit movements.Running workouts.High impact movements, weightlifting, short-distance running.Running, bodyweight movements.
Date Reviewed Sep 13, 2014Apr 03, 2014Mar 30, 2014Apr 02, 2014Apr 04, 2014
Weighted Scores Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's Reebok Nano 3.0 Reebok Nano Speeds Reebok Nano 2.0 Inov-8 F-Lite 195
Weightlifting - 20%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Running - 20%
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
8
Sensitivity - 10%
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
Support - 15%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Protection - 15%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
Breathability - 10%
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
Comfort - 10%
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Product Specs Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's Reebok Nano 3.0 Reebok Nano Speeds Reebok Nano 2.0 Inov-8 F-Lite 195
Upper Synthetic/mesh, rubber Synthetic/mesh, rubber Synthetic/mesh Synthetic/mesh Synthetic/mesh
Weight (oz/grams) 9.8oz/278g 9.5oz/269g 9.3oz/263g 6.9oz/195g
Heel to toe drop (mm) 4mm 4mm 3mm 4mm 3mm

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Reebok Nano Speeds
$99
100
0
77
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Reebok Nano 2.0
$110
100
0
74
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Reebok Nano 3.0
$120
100
0
87
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Inov-8 Bare-XF 210
$120
100
0
63
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Inov-8 F-Lite 195
$120
100
0
69
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Nike Free Trainer 5.0
$95
100
0
61
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Selecting the Best CrossFit Shoes
From left to right; Nike Free Trainer 5.0, Reebok Nano Speed, Reebok N...
From left to right; Nike Free Trainer 5.0, Reebok Nano Speed, Reebok Nano 2.0, New Balance Minimus MX20v3, Inov-8 F-lite 195, Inov-8 Bare-XF 210, and the Reebok Nano 3.0.
We all know how difficult it is to make decisions on the best product 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. To do so, we tested seven of the most popular CrossFit shoes to see how they stacked up. Keep in mind that we are choosing what we believe to be the best design specifically suited to the demands of CrossFit.

Ask an Expert
Below we ask Del LaFountain 5 questions about what makes the best CrossFit shoes. Del is a two times CrossFit Games Masters Competitor (2013 and 2014). 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.

Criteria for Evaluation
Comfort
Credit: Chris McNamara
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.

Support
Click to enlarge
Monika Renk. and Brandon Caskey
Credit: Del LaFountain
Under this criteria, we focused on understanding how well each contender was able to offer stability throughout your movements. Support encompasses the overall durability and design of the product. Is the heel stiff enough to counter the weight while under heavy loads? Does it protect your foot and ankle during lateral movements? Does it offer the necessary amount of absorption during high impact movements? While there is no single component to test for support, the majority of attention was on the sole.

Protection
Comparison of toe box
Comparison of toe box
Credit: Chris McNamara
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
Comparison of shoe treads
Comparison of shoe treads
Credit: Chris McNamara
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 weighlifting 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
Click to enlarge
Del LaFountain in the Nano 2's
Credit: Corey Rich
CrossFit is comprised of a variety of movements all geared towards providing people with the most effective form of fitness training. However, of these movements, the most popular amongst CrossFitters are the Olympic lifts (the snatch and the clean and jerk) and weightlifting (e.g. squats and presses). Olympic weightlifting calls for a highly specialized design to accommodate the technical movements performed in each lift, allowing athletes to utilize their most explosive power as efficiently as possible. Because athletes are placing themselves under exceedingly heavy loads of weight, the central components that make a weightlifting design successful are its stability and heel compressibility. Power in a lift comes primarily from driving through the heel to get out of the bottom of a squat. The design of a weightlifting shoe emphasizes elevating the heel, allowing the lifter to bring their knees over their feet in the squat position while being able to still maintain a constant pressure from their heels driving into the ground. When it comes to designing a CrossFit shoe, it is important to find a middle ground that provides individuals with stability in the squat position when under heavy weight loads. However, a traditional weightlifting shoe, in this case, would not be practical because the elevated heel limits the ability to perform other CrossFit movements — running being the most difficult — efficiently and safely.

Running
Comparison of heel rise
Comparison of heel rise
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.
Jack Valera, Fittest of the Sierra, South Lake Tahoe.
Jack Valera, Fittest of the Sierra, South Lake Tahoe.
Credit: Julia Warren

Versatility
If you're just an occasional CrossFiter or you just want to own fewer pairs of shoes, 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.

Editor's Choice Award: Reebok Nano 4.0
Reebok Nano 4.0
Reebok Nano 4.0
Credit: www.academy.com
In Reebok's line of CrossFit shoes, the Nanos, are undoubtably at the top of their game. The design that stands out the most is their newest model, the Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's. This shoe comes equipped with all the features you need. They ranked the highest in almost every category of testing. The sole, which is durable and rigid enough to support you in weightlifting movements, is also flexible and comfortable enough to absorb the impacts of running, and light enough to perform the other various gymnastics and high intensity movements incorporated into the sport. Additionally, the Nano 4.0s provide you with the greatest level of protection, making them the most durable product of the seven tested. These shoes are definitely our top pick.

Best Buy Award: Reebok Nano Speeds
Click to enlarge
Author performing wall balls in Reebok Nano Speed
Credit: Kate Brierly
The Reebok Nano Speeds win the Best Buy award because they offer an extremely functional product for a great value. The Speeds are one of the few contenders we tested that are priced under $100. One of their best qualities is that they closely resemble a traditional running design, yet are still designed as a minimalist shoe to help them perform functionally for CrossFit. Although they received their highest rating in running, these shoes offer a level of stability and support in all other movements, weightlifting in particular, that almost equals that of the Nano 2.0s. In addition, they are a great transitional shoe for people who are just getting into CrossFit and are used to wearing a traditional running shoe or a even a more traditional training shoe. With the Nano Speeds, you are getting a quality product for an affordable price.

Top Pick Award for All-Around shoe: Reebok Nano 2.0
Men&#039;s Reebok Nano 2.0
Men's Reebok Nano 2.0
Credit: Reebok
The Men's Reebok Nano 2.0 wins the Top Pick award as the best all-around product for many reasons. Similar to the Nano 4.0, this shoe offers all the features you would want when you are running through a CrossFit WOD. As the model that preceded the Nano 4.0, the Nano 2.0 provided Reebok with a strong blueprint for the the design of the Nano 4.0. These shoes perform amazingly in all aspects of CrossFit, from supporting you through weightlifting and Olympic lifts to supporting you through high impact movements like box jumps and double unders. The difference between the Nano 2.0 and the Nano 4.0 is you don't get the same level of protection as you would get from the 3.0s — something that is not extremely important unless you are doing endless numbers of rope climbs.

You might also want to check out our Women's Shoes for Crossfit Training review.

Jacob Jizrawi
Buying Advice
How we Test
Helpful Buying Tips
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Recent Editor's Award Winners