NOBULL Trainers - Women's Review
Cons: Never wanting to take them off, fun patterns will cost you a little extra, sell out quickly
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Our Analysis and Test Results
One of the newer brands to CrossFit, the NOBULL Trainer, has won our Top Pick Award. With its robust one-piece upper construction, it doesn't look like the typical training shoe you would typically see in CrossFit gyms. However, we are starting to see shoes like this much more frequently and the reasons why are pretty clear after wearing them.
We felt confident during our heavy lifts and were equally as pleased during our shorter runs. Often a shoe that performs well for lifts feels clunky on runs, but the NOBULLs handle both with no problem. The best compliment we could give during our testing? We forgot we had these shoes on. More than one tester noted that the Trainers were so comfortable and reliable that it was hard to find anything wrong with them during a workout. They are sturdy and supportive, breathable, and aren't clunky feeling despite their look. Keep reading to see more of the specifics and why NOBULL has made a quick name for itself in CrossFit.
CrossFit workouts typically include a lifting component. You might be lugging around a heavy strongman object or rocking out high reps of clean and jerks, but chances are you will be lifting something off the ground. We want to help you find a shoe that gives you confidence in your lifts during your workout, so we closely scrutinized all of our test shoes in this area.
These shoes feel like they were made for lifting due to their superior support and comfort. If you already have a pair of dedicated lifters, chances are you will prefer to wear them over the Trainers during your heavy lifting days. However, if you are searching for a shoe that can take you straight from heavy lifts to bodyweight movements in one workout, then the Trainers area great choice.
We weren't searching for the perfect running shoe in this review. For our purposes, we want a shoe that is comfortable enough for some short runs, and yet sturdy enough to also handle the additional demands of a CrossFit workout.
Looks were very deceiving when it came to the Trainer's performance with running. It is pretty clear that these don't look like a traditional running shoe, but we were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they felt during 400m runs. It feels like they have just the right amount of cushion in the soles for shock absorption without so much that compromises their performance during heavy lifts. On the other end of the spectrum, the NOBULL Knit Runner shoes were excellent for running, but just too squishy for lifting.
To test the sensitivity of the shoes, we ran each pair of shoes through some heavy back squats, clean and jerks, and weighted lunges. When we discuss sensitivity in a shoe for CrossFit, we are looking for a shoe that helps us feel where our weight is distributed in our feet. Am I putting too much weight on one leg? Do I need to shift my weight back onto my heels? A shoe with good sensitivity will help you answer those questions when lifting.
Just like our weightlifting matrix, once again, the Trainers were second only to the two minimalist specific shoes in our review regarding sensitivity. These shoes are fantastic for allowing the athlete to discern weight shift through lifts and movements correctly. Sensitivity is an area where NOBULL has a leg up on the newest Reebok Nano 9 shoes. It's hard to nail down exactly what makes the Trainers so much more sensitive during heavy lifts compared to the Nanos, but we found ourselves struggling to nail some heavy lifts that went much more smoothly in the NOBULLs.
Looking for a supportive shoe for CrossFit requires close inspection of the design. If the soles are too soft, you will not feel enough support under your feet. The shoes need to have enough structure in the upper material to keep your feet snug and not allow your foot to slip or move in the shoe. On the other hand, if the uppers are too high, they might interfere with ankle flexibility in the bottom of a deep squat.
You will be hard-pressed to find a more supportive all-purpose shoe for CrossFit than the Trainers. The difference is in the one-piece construction of the uppers that makes this shoe feel so supportive. When compared to the combinations of light mesh fabric in the Vivo Primus Lite shoe, for instance, there was no contest. The flat sole of the Trainer also serves as a sturdy platform for lifting, yet has enough flexibility to perform well for box jumps and double unders.
Protection and Durability
When searching for new CrossFit shoes, we want a pair that is durable enough to last and protect our feet. Rope climbs, for instance, can shred shoes quickly and hurt your feet if the uppers are not thick enough to give some cushion when you are locking the rope in. The last thing you want to be worrying about during a rope climb workout is your brand new shoes ripping and falling apart! Rope climbs can kill a pair of shoes after one WOD.
Luckily, NOBULL kept this in mind when they constructed their Trainers. The "SuperFabric" material on the uppers of this shoe is no joke. This fabric isn't something that NOBULL created; it was primarily made for gloves that could resist cuts and slashes from surgical knives. It is used in heavy-duty products like military and moto apparel, and now CrossFit shoes. NOBULL also added in a medial rope grip to guard your shoes and your feet, and our testers loved both the traction and durability that the Trainers had. However, the reigning champion in rope climb protection is still the Nike Metcon. The grippy sole that wraps up the instep on the Metcon is hard to compete with.
You are going to be working hard in your new shoes for CrossFit, and breathability is an important consideration in the search for the best shoe.
At first glance, we were a little worried that the Trainers would be a bit too stuffy with their solid upper construction. Lacking any mesh as compared to other CrossFit shoes, these look like they would be terribly hot for working out. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they kept our feet cool during workouts. The Trainer's SuperFabric is not only extremely durable, but it is also flexible and breathable. NOBULL far outperformed the Nano 9.0 in the breathability rating, and numerous reviewers noted how hot their feet felt in the Nanos.
Chances are you have enough excuses not to go to the gym; why let your uncomfortable shoes be one of them? Our final rating is for comfort. Look for shoes that are so comfy you want to spend more time in them, not less. The overall comfort of a shoe will always be subjective to the athlete wearing them. Our reviewers were unanimous in their feeling about the comfort of the Trainers, however. They are so comfortable you will forget you have them on!
Long gone are the days where you rip your shoes off as soon as the WOD is done. The Trainers are constructed with the seamless, one-piece upper of SuperFabric and an extremely breathable base mesh layer. Our testers noted the comfort of the molded, anatomical sock liner in the shoe. It moved with them during workouts and had just the right amount of cushion. NOBULL also added comfort in the tongue of the shoe with their breathable microsuede. These shoes felt great during a CrossFit workout and are excellent for all-day use - in and out of the gym. Don't be surprised if you find yourself grabbing these shoes from your closet for everyday use, not just for your CrossFit workouts.
The solid colored Trainers retail for less, while the fun patterns will cost you additional cash; this doesn't seem to bother anyone considering their new releases sell out every time. These shoes are just as expensive as some of the other high-end trainers in this review but far more versatile than all the others. Therefore, this shoe is a good value given that you can do everything with one shoe and not need to purchase another pair of shoes specifically for running or just for lifting.
Love at first workout would be a good way to describe our reviewers' feelings about the NOBULL Trainers. These shoes were chosen as our Top Pick Winners based on their versatility and comfort. They are a great shoe for CrossFit as well as everyday use, not to mention they come in more options than any other CrossFit shoe on the market. You can choose between high tops, mid tops, regular, solids, patterns, SuperFabric, leather, and canvas materials. Whether you are going for a great CrossFit shoe, a causal lifestyle shoe, or a combination of both, give these shoes a try for your next WOD! This shoe can do it all.
— Brittany Page