The Best Shoes for CrossFit Training

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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

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
Reebok Nano 5.0
Reebok Nano 5.0
Read the Review
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
Inov-8 F-Lite 235
Inov-8 F-Lite 235
Read the Review
Nike MetCon 1
Nike MetCon 1
Read the Review
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award       
Price $130 List | $93 - $130 online
Compare at 2 sellers
$120 List | $85 - $108 online
Compare at 2 sellers
$120 List | $85 - $98 online
Compare at 2 sellers
$130 List | $104 - $130 online
Compare at 3 sellers
$120 List | $74 - $110 online
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score 
100
0
99
100
0
96
100
0
87
100
0
84
100
0
83
Star Rating
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Pros Durability, comfort, support, lookComfortable, protective, breathable, breaks in fast, great looking shoesVersatile, durable, comfortable, stableLightweight, Running, Comfort, BreathabilityDurable, comfortable, great looking shoe
Cons ExpensiveLimited color selectionCostSupport, ProtectionLong distance running, heavy weightlifting
Ratings by Category Reebok Nano 5.0 Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's Reebok Nano 3.0 Inov-8 F-Lite 235 Nike MetCon 1
Weightlifting - 20%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
Running - 20%
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
6
Sensitivity - 10%
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
Support - 15%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
9
Protection - 15%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
10
Breathability - 10%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
10
Comfort - 10%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
10
Specs Reebok Nano 5.0 Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's Reebok Nano 3.0 Inov-8 F-Lite 235 Nike MetCon 1
Upper Synthetic/mesh/kevlar, rubber Synthetic/mesh, rubber Synthetic/mesh, rubber Synthetic/mesh, rubber Synthetic/mesh, rubber
Weight (oz/grams) 9.7oz 8.0oz 9.8oz/278g 8.5oz/235g 11.2oz
Heel to toe drop (mm) 3mm 4mm 4mm 0mm 4mm

Analysis and Award Winners



Review by:

Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday

Best Overall CrossFit Training Shoes


Reebok Nano 5.0


Editors' Choice Award
Reebok Nano 5.0
Price:   Varies from $93 - $130
Compare prices at 2 resellers


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In Reebok's line of CrossFit shoes, the Nanos, are undoubtedly at the top of their game. The design that stands out the most is their newest model, the Reebok Nano 5.0 - Men's. This shoe comes equipped with all the features you need, and have really improved upon the previously successful Nano 4.0 model. They ranked the highest in almost every category of testing. The sole, which is durable and rigid enough to support you in weightlifting movements, provides a substantial amount of traction and flexibility to absorb the impacts of running, and are light enough to perform the other various gymnastics and high intensity movements incorporated into the sport. Additionally, the Nano 5.0's, with their new Kevlar outer mesh, provide you with the greatest level of protection to date, making them the most durable CrossFit shoe on the market. These shoes are definitely our top pick.

Best Bang for the Buck


Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's


Best Buy Award
Reebok Nano 4.0 - Men's
Price:   Varies from $85 - $108
Compare prices at 2 resellers


Read the review

The Reebok Nano 4.0 win the Best Buy award because they offer an extremely functional product for a great value. With the recent release of the Reebok Nano 5.0's, the Nano 4.0's can be found for well under $100. They were the most recent building block for the Nano 5.0's, so they provide their wearers with a similarly high level of quality and functionality, and are still the second highest scoring shoes for CrossFit overall. They can often be found for half the price of the 5.0. These shoes offer a level of stability and support in all other movements, weightlifting in particular, that almost equals that of the Nano 5.0s.

Top Pick for All-Around Shoe


Reebok Nano 2.0


Top Pick Award
Reebok Nano 2.0
Price:   Varies from $55 - $75
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The Men's Reebok Nano 2.0 wins the Top Pick award as the best all-around crossfit shoe for many reasons. Similar to the most recent Nano models, this shoe offers all the features you would want when you are running through a CrossFit WOD. As one of the earliest Nano models, the Nano 2.0 provided Reebok with a strong blueprint for the the design of the following models. 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 — something that is not extremely important unless you are doing endless numbers of rope climbs. Nonetheless, the Nano 2.0's continue to be one of the favorite models amongst veteran CrossFitters.


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


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


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Monika Renk and Brandon Caskey
Under this criteria, we focused on understanding how well each crossfit shoe 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


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


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


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Del LaFountain in the Nano 2's
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. Also see our Weightlifting Shoe Review.

Running


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.
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Jack Valera, Fittest of the Sierra, South Lake Tahoe.

Versatility


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.

Alternatives


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.

Chuck Taylors

  • Chuck Taylor's are lightweight and have thin soles which are useful for both running and lifting. They score big in three main areas: comfort, cost, and style. Yes, Chucks have outlived the test of time, (in our opinion), when it comes to looking cool. From Dennis the Menace to the entire gym class in Grease, Chucks can be linked to all things hip. Their comfort level is equanimous with that of your favorite faded college hoodie, and at fifty bucks a pop, there's not much competition.
  • Whether you are squatting or deadlifting, you want a thin, flat, hard soled shoe to transfer the maximum amount of force to the ground through the heels.

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Vibram Five fingers

  • Many CrossFit athletes are passionate advocates for the minimalist shoes we know as Vibram Five Fingers, and for the most part, they fit the criteria.The flexibility of Five Fingers allows for a great foot to ground connection as well as intuitive weight transfer between feet. If you're not used to it, the thin protection underfoot can take time to become accustomed to, especially with high impact exercises like box jumps. Additionally, there does seem to be a consensus on the stink factor. If you decide on these frog shoes, make sure to take measures to keep from them smelling too toadey (You can throw them in the washing machine as needed).

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FiveFingers TrekSport left against a more traditional running shoe. FiveFingers make normal shoes seem really clunky and imprecise.

Barefoot

  • Some athletes prefer to go bare-foot. Going barefoot can contribute to factors such as balance and agility: According to karamcrossfit.com, "going barefoot gives you the ultimate proprioception, which is a fancy word for the body's awareness". Bare feet give you maximum sensory feedback, which is important in standing and balancing poses. If you're new to exercising unshod, you can try wearing Vibram five fingers or minimalistic footwear approach for a while to help with the transition. Also, get ready to potentially develop some gnarly callouses and earn some version of "Sasquatch feet" as your nickname.

Foot Gloves

  • Foot gloves are just what they sound like: an anatomically shaped glove for the foot which provides a barrier between your skin and the ground, (but not much else). These shoes, or "gloves", were created to enable the "freedom that was previously the reserve of barefoot purists." Inov-8 makes a futuristic looking foot glove, the EvoSkin 5 Toed Silicone Shoe. They're about the thinnest type of protection you can find when it comes to minimal kicks. Each pair weighs in at a mere 5.6 oz, and offers 2.4 mm of medical grade silicon between your foot and the ground. This option puts you somewhere between the Vibram 5 fingers and the au natural options.

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Evoskins

Conclusion



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Reebok Nano 5 (left) vs. Nike MetCon 1 (center) vs. Inov-8 F-Lite 235 (right): crossfit shoe toe box comparison.

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
Helpful Buying Tips

Unbiased.