Hands-on Gear Review

NOBULL Trainer Review

This model has a great balance of performance features and is stylish enough to wear outside the gym.
By: Scott Francis ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 8, 2017
Price:  $129 List  |  $129.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Very comfortable, durable, stylish
Cons:  Lacks stability for heavy weightlifting
Manufacturer:   NOBULL
70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 7
  • Weightlifting - 20% 6
  • Running - 20% 8
  • Support - 15% 6
  • Protection - 15% 7
  • Sensitivity - 10% 6
  • Breathability - 10% 7
  • Comfort - 10% 9
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Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

The NOBULL Trainer earned Top Pick for a Busy Lifestyle among men's CrossFit shoes. The NOBULL has a good balance of performance qualities which should work well for the majority of CrossFit workouts. We also found it the most comfortable of the shoes we tested. If you're seeking a shoe to wear all day because you have an athletic job or because you might need to squeeze in an impromptu workout, the Trainer could be the shoe for you.

Color Updates
NOBULL stays on top of their game in colorways for these kicks, constantly offering fresh new colors — and patterns, if you're willing to pay an extra $30! Though the basic light grey that we reviewed is no longer available, NOBULL confirmed that the construction of their Trainer remains the same.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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Overall, the NOBULL was ranked third among the shoes we tested. It provided a good balance of qualities, with a bit more attention to comfort than the other shoes. The NOBULL model wins Top Pick for a Busy Lifestyle by being a high-performing shoe in the gym, with enough style and all-day comfort to get you through a casual Friday at work.

Performance Comparison


Feeling well-balanced  catching a squat snatch in the Trainers.
Feeling well-balanced, catching a squat snatch in the Trainers.

Weightlifting


The Trainer handled moderate loads well, but had a few aspects our testers found were less ideal when the loads got heavy. To be fair, the NOBULL was being tested alongside two shoes designed specifically for weightlifting, as well as the latest versions of the Nano and Metcon — two lines with a history of dealing well with heavy weights. Make sure to read about our testing procedures to see if you demand as much weightlifting performance in your CrossFit shoe.


Our testers did not find the NOBULL's sole as rigid or stable as the Metcon 3, Nano 7, or CrazyPower Trainer. The head-to-head squat test revealed that the NOBULL sole is less rigid and has more rounded edges than higher-performing shoes on the weightlifting metric. One tester also noted that the Trainer's sole curls up at the toe, which he felt detracted a bit from stability when squatting heavy. That tester had the same complaint for the toe-curl on the Reebok Nano 7.

For moderate-weight explosive lifts, the Trainer performed well. The toe curl issue did not detract from the testers' ability to transfer force when launching the bar up or to find a stable landing on power cleans up to 155 pounds for consecutive reps. This model was likewise stable on a workout involving 70 pound kettlebell swings. On heavy cleans, our testers wanted a bit more stiffness in the sole to aid with transferring force. For this reason, the Trainer was ranked behind the Metcon 3 and Nano 7, as well as both lifting shoes - the Powerlift 3 and Fastlift 370 BOA. Loaded carries were fairly comfortable in the Trainers. The heel absorbs a fair amount of shock for walking with a load. On the heaviest carries, the heel had a little less lateral stability than the top performer, the Adidas CrazyPower Trainer.

The Trainers provided great performance for high-rep  low- to moderate-weight lifts.
The Trainers provided great performance for high-rep, low- to moderate-weight lifts.

Running


This Top Pick winner performed quite well during run tests, ranked on par with the Nike Metcon 3 and behind the New Balance Minimus 40.


This model has a more shock-absorbent heel for long runs than the Metcon, but the NOBULL's sole is a little less grippy. The Trainer provided good power transfer during sprint accelerations and felt good during direction changes in shuttle runs.

Sprinting comfortably in the Trainer.
Sprinting comfortably in the Trainer.

Support


This award winner ranked in the pack in the support metric. It fit our testers well and its upper is sturdy. Its lacing system and tongue work well together to provide adjustments to fit.


The only detractors were issues of stability on the squats and heavy carries. The upper is significantly more flexible than the most supportive shoe we tested - the Adidas Powerlift 3. The Trainer scored lower on support than the Nike Metcon 3 and Reebok Nano 7, which both have more stability in the heel. The Trainer had a similar level of support to the Adidas CrazyPower Trainer, though the CrazyPower fits differently - with a wider toe box. The Trainer provides an acceptable level of support for the majority of CrossFit movements.

Protection


This Top Pick winner tied with the Reebok Nano 7 and Nike Metcon 3 as the next most protective shoes after the Adidas Powerlift 3. All three have protective layers added to the outside of the upper. NOBULL's coating seems to be the most abrasion-resistant, with hardly a scuff-mark after our testing. The Nano 7 and Metcon 3 both have a slightly stiffer upper above the toenails, with more flexible fabric behind. NOBULL, however, uses the same coated fabric for its entire upper. Our lead tester was happy about this, since he has a tendency to rip shoes just behind the toe reinforcement.


The Trainer protected our testers adequately from impacts and jumprope misses. Rope climbs and descents didn't appear to damage the upper at all. The NOBULL's sole also had grippy traction on the medial edge of the sole which helped significantly with rope climbs, though it was not as grippy on ropes as the Metcon 3.

NOBULL's protective coating covers the whole upper - great news for our lead tester  who tends to blow out shoes just behind the toe reinforcement.
NOBULL's protective coating covers the whole upper - great news for our lead tester, who tends to blow out shoes just behind the toe reinforcement.

Sensitivity


This competitor ranked with the pack on sensitivity. The sole thins toward the toes, allowing the athlete's toes more feeling for jumping, landing, and transitions. The sole has a slight upward curl which was noticeable when our testers were squatting. To get full contact with the ground, our testers felt like that had to push their toes down. The Reebok Nano also had this slight upward curl in the toes. The toe curl only seemed to be an issue when squatting; our testers did not have this complaint when catching moderate-weight power cleans or performing kettlebell swings.


The NOBULL scored with the Reebok Nano 7 and Adidas CrazyPower Trainer in sensitivity. The Nike Metcon 3 ranked slightly higher due to its very flexible forefoot. The Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA also has a more flexible forefoot than the NOBULL, but scored the same since its stable heel blocked ground-feel on the back half of the shoe.

The lightweight and sensitive Trainer made short work of box jumps.
The lightweight and sensitive Trainer made short work of box jumps.

Breathability


The Trainer breathes well given the amount of protection its upper provides. The NOBULL was slightly less breathable than the Metcon 3 and about on par with the Nano 7.


This model was noticeably less breathable than the two top performers (a near perfect 9 out of 10) — the New Balance Minimus 40 and the Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA, which have large sections of breathable mesh in their uppers.

The Trainer - balanced performance  comfortable  durable  and stylish.
The Trainer - balanced performance, comfortable, durable, and stylish.

Comfort


We looked for a shoe that provided a baseline level of comfort during the wide variety of movements in CrossFit workouts — minimal distraction from our efforts, as opposed to cloud-like squishiness. The best shoes felt like extensions of our bodies. The tested shoes fell on both sides of the ideal balance — some proving a bit harsh for one or two activities, others failing to provide the performance edge because they got a little too squishy under load.


The Trainer proved the most comfortable for our testers. It had enough cushion in the sole to lessen the impact of running and loaded carries. Its upper matched the contours of our testers' feet very well, with no noticeable seams or pressure points. The lacing system and tongue worked well to allow a secure fit without digging into the instep. The NOBULL uses a sturdy suede-like tongue with ventilation holes, and provides a great overall-fit, allowing our testers to move instinctively. The NOBULL was followed closely on comfort by the Adidas CrazyPower Trainer and Nike Metcon 3. The NOBULL and Metcon 3 fit our testers' feet very well, but the Adidas CrazyPower could be a better choice for those wanting a wider toe box.

Most comfortable shoes: the Trainer  followed by Metcon 3 and CrazyPower TR.
Most comfortable shoes: the Trainer, followed by Metcon 3 and CrazyPower TR.

Best Applications


NOBULL's Trainer is a good all-around shoe for urban or suburban life. Not flashy, but has good athletic features, good style, great comfort in & outside the gym. The upper seems fairly damage-resistant, which is a plus for life outside. The NOBULL Trainer would be a good pick for those with an athletic job who need to look professional. A coach, personal trainer, or customer service rep at large store with concrete floors could wear it all day. The NOBULL could be especially convenient for anyone who might have to sneak a CrossFit workout into a short lunch-break, or someone who just doesn't want to carry another pair of shoes.

The Trainer - at home in the gym  at work on casual Friday  or hanging with friends.
The Trainer - at home in the gym, at work on casual Friday, or hanging with friends.

Value


This Trainer is priced comparably to other high-performing shoes. It has good features for the gym and beyond. Overall, we found that this Top Pick winner is a good value.

Conclusion


The NOBULL Trainer has a good balance of features for a primary CrossFit shoe. It performs very well on the majority of movements in CrossFit workouts. The NOBULL's clean, stylish look and all-day comfort make it a good option for anyone with an athletic job, or someone who may need to get in a workout without any notice. (New dads, entrepreneurs, etc.)

Scott Francis

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 (5.0)
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