NOBULL Knit Runner - Women's Review
Cons: Runs narrow, too much sole compression, not good for lifting
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Four years ago, the Boston-based newbie NOBULL made its appearance in the CrossFit shoe market. Since then, they have made their way into almost every gym, and any CrossFit athlete will recognize their popularity. That being said, we were excited when they announced they would be making a running focused shoe to supplement their well-known Trainers.
The NOBULL Knit Runner isn't the best option for an overall CrossFit shoe, but it does excel in running and comfort.
If you know anything about CrossFit and anything about weightlifting, you recognize that based on appearance, the NOBULL Knit Runner isn't meant for lifting anything. Heck, it even has the word runner in the name, which is an instant no-no for anything barbell. NOBULL Trainer, the sister to the Knit Runner, excels in everything weightlifting with is flat and stable design. The 10mm drop and compressive soles of the Runners don't leave any question. These aren't shoes for weightlifting.
Now, this is where the Knit Runner shines in comparison to our other shoes tested for CrossFit. Granted, a good CrossFit shoe will perform well on all movements from weightlifting to gymnastics to running, and that should be your main focus when choosing the best shoe for you. However, if you need a shoe to help with those running WODs, this is your new friend. The Knit Runner features a 10mm heel to toe drop that will help, not hinder your running style. The midsole material looks a bit tall but offers just the right amount of cushioning without being overly soft, and the thick shoelaces have reflective material intertwined in them for added visibility if you are running outside at dusk.
When looking for a new CrossFit shoe that can tackle any given WOD, you want to take a look at the sensitivity of the shoe, meaning how easily you can feel your body weight balanced in your feet on the ground. As you can tell by the looks of this shoe, they are the lowest-ranked on the sensitivity scale. The amount of midsole cushioning is comfortable, but your foot cannot feel the ground. This shoe also runs very narrow with little lateral support, so finding your balance during a CrossFit workout is very difficult.
The demands of CrossFit workouts require a shoe that can perform in a variety of conditions. This shoe runs extremely narrow, and the support comes from the one-piece, sock-like, knit upper materials. This knit is quite comfortable, but it can only stretch so far. If you have wide feet, you will most likely run into issues with your feet spilling over the sides of the sole of the shoe and bursting out of the knit material.
Protection and Durability
CrossFit workouts are intense and need a shoe that can stand up to the use and abuse it will go through from day to day. The seamless, stretch knit material on the uppers of this shoe was surprising durable during all of our indoor and outdoor testing. The design of the outsole is tough and grippy with its deep triangular design. We did test this shoe in the gym during rope climbs as well. Although we didn't experience any damage to the soles or the uppers, our tester reported feeling worried about her shoes during the workout, considering their price point.
Aesthetically, the Knit Runner appears to be very breathable with the deep knit pattern on the knit uppers. It does have a lot of give that allows for toes to splay, but we found these to be quite hot, especially in the dry Colorado summer heat.
The Knit Runner's main comfort factor comes from the lightweight, stretch knit upper that moves in unison with your foot and creates a seamless feel. The midsole might look clunky, but it is lightweight and made of high rebound Phylon, which gives athletes the perfect amount of cushion. Our tester's favorite feature was the knit sock construction, and she notes being able to wear these all day while coaching with no issues. It is worth noting that the narrow sole is unforgiving for wider feet.
We've already mentioned that this shouldn't be your go-to CrossFit shoe for day to day workouts. If you are looking for the best value in a shoe that can handle high intensity, varied movements, we recommend the Our Editors' Choice winner. That being said, if you're willing to pay a good amount for an additional pair of shoes, you will love these for running and overall comfort.
While these shouldn't be your top pick for a CrossFit shoe that can handle every day WODs, we are happy to see NOBULL roll out the Knit Runner. Ideally, you should be looking for a shoe that will keep you grounded through squats, deadlifts, and presses like the NOBULL Trainer, which is a very different style shoe.
— Brittany Page