The new kid on the block, the NOBULL Trainer, has won our Editors' Choice 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 these shoes much more frequently and the reasons why are apparent after wearing them. No matter the movements that came up in our workouts, simply put we loved wearing these shoes. They are sturdy and supportive yet not clunky feeling and are breathable as well.
Introducing our Editors' Choice Winner, the NOBULL Trainers. From lifting, to gymnastics movements, to sled pulls, these shoes were a consistent favorite of our testers.
CrossFit workouts usually include a lifting movement. Perhaps you will need to pick up a heavy strongman object or perform high reps of light, 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.
In this CrossFit shoe review, we did include two lifting specific shoes, the NOBULL Lifter and our Top Pick for Lifting WODS, the Inov-8 Fastlift 325. The lifting specific shoes, of course, out-scored the NOBULL Trainers on our weightlifting matrix, but it was a very narrow margin. 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.
Our reviewers loved lifting in the Trainers. These shoes can take you from heavy lifts to any other CrossFit movement without requiring a change of shoes.
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 yet again deceiving when it came to the Trainer's performance on a run. Since they don't look like a running shoe, we were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they felt. It feels like they have just the right amount of cushion in the soles for shock absorption without so much that it would compromise their performance during heavy lifts. On the other end of the spectrum, the Minimus 40 shoes were great for running, but just too squishy for lifting. The NOBULLs did not outperform our Best Buy Winning Reebok CrossFit Speed TRs, however. Compared to the Speeds, the Trainers were a bit stiffer and not as light feeling on our feet.
Heading out the gym door for a quick run during a metcon in the NOBULLs. We loved that these shoes are sturdy and yet still comfortable and light for runs.
To test the sensitivity of the shoes, we ran each pair of shoes through some heavy clean and jerks. When we discuss sensitivity in a shoe for CrossFit, we are looking for a shoe that helps us feel where our weight is positioned on our feet. Am I leaning too far forward? 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 lifting specific shoes in our review regarding sensitivity. These shoes are fantastic for allowing the athlete to discern weight shift through Olympic lifts correctly. Sensitivity is an area where NOBULL has a leg up on the newest Reebok Nano 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. The NOBULLs also bested our previous Editors' Choice winner, the Nike Metcons, in the sensitivity category.
Working our way up to some heavy clean and jerks, it was easy to feel where our weight needed to shift during Olympic lifts with the Trainers.
Looking for a supportive shoe for CrossFit requires close inspection of the design of a shoe. 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 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. Perhaps it is the one-piece construction of the uppers that makes this shoe feel so supportive. When compared to the combinations of multiple mesh fabric in the Minimus Trail shoe, for instance, there was no contest. The sole of the Lifter also serves as a sturdy platform for lifting, yet has enough give to it for box jumps and double unders. If the cost of the Lifters is a concern for you, then take a look at our Best Buy Winning shoe from Reebok. The Speed TR scored almost as well on support and does not cost over $100.
The excellent support of the Trainers was part of what earned this shoe our Editors' Choice Award.
Protection and Durability
In looking for a shoe for CrossFit, we want a shoe 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 for some protection from the friction and pressure of the rope. Oh, how sad it is to see chunks of your shoes come off from rope climbs.
Luckily NOBULL kept this in mind with the construction of their Trainers. The "SuperFabric" material of the uppers grips onto the rope amazingly well and is very sturdy. We did not see any damage to the material on our rope climb testing day. Asics also took a shot at adding a little rope protection with their Rhinoskin on the Conviction X. There was no damage to the uppers on the Asics either, however, the material is super slick and not at all suitable for gripping onto the rope. The other part of a shoe that can come apart on rope climbs is the sole. The instep of the NOBULLs stayed intact with no damage. 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!
The solid upper construction of the Trainers held up well to rope climbs and provided good foot protection from double under cables, as well as comfort on the rower.
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. We were pleasantly surprised that they kept our feet cool during workouts. NOBULL far outperformed the Nano 7.0 in the breathability rating. Numerous reviewers noted how hot their feet felt in the Nanos. However, the most breathable shoe in this review was our Beat Buy Winning Speed TR. The material of the NOBULLs feels like it will be more durable over the life of the shoe as compared to the Speed TR, but if breathability is your top concern, go with the Speed.
The Trainers feel light and breathable during high intensity workouts. These are a great choice for your everyday CrossFit needs.
Chances are you can always come up with some excuse 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 comfortable you want to spend more time in them, not less!
The overall comfort of a shoe is somewhat 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! These shoes will feel great during all the movements you will find in CrossFit as well as just standing and walking around. Don't be surprised if you find yourself grabbing these shoes from your closet for everyday use and not just your CrossFit workouts.
The other shoes in this review that we found comfortable for everyday wear were the Minimus 40s from New Balance. They may not have scored well across the board against the NOBULLs, but if you spend hours standing and walking, you might want to check them out. Our reviewers also agreed that the NOBULLs were far superior to the Nanos in comfort.
The weight of the NOBULLs are right around average for a pair of all-purpose training shoes. They don’t feel heavy on your feet, which is nice for holding L-sits!
Best application for the Trainers from NOBULL? Everything! We loved how these shoes felt in everything we did, which is why it was chosen as our Editors' Choice. CrossFitters need a shoe that can handle runs, lifting, and plyometric movements. This shoe can do it all.
The solid colored Trainers
retail at $129, while the fun patterns will cost you additional coin. 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 just 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 Editors' Choice Winners based on their versatility and comfort. They are a great shoe for CrossFit as well as everyday use.
Our Editors' Choice winner was quick to become our go to shoe for any workout we saw on the whiteboard.