Best CrossFit Shoes for Women of 2018

We put 11 of the top rated shoes for CrossFit training to the test. Here's Lisa Ray in our Editors' Choice winner  the newly released Nike Metcon 1.
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What's the best shoe for CrossFit style workouts? In our quest to find the answer, we put 9 of the most popular and highest ranked shoes for CrossFit through multiple workouts and numerous side-by-side tests. We spent over three months testing these shoes for a total of over 150 hours of workouts; we tested these shoes in the dry Arizona heat as well as the humid North Carolina Coast. Each contender was then given scores in a number of categories such as weightlifting, running, support and durability to highlight their strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading to find out which shoes rose to the top of the pile in this extensive review process.

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Test Results and Ratings

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Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Audrey Hammond
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
February 22, 2018

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Updated February 2018
Our CrossFit guru put each pair through the ins and outs, testing each one across the board via a series of metrics. The NO BULL Lifter emerged as our Editors' Choice, while the Reebok Crossfit Speed TR is our Best Bang for the Buck, ringing in at under $100. The Inov-8 Fastlift 325 takes home an award as our Top Pick for Lifting WODs.

Best Overall Women's Crossfit Model


NOBULL Trainers - Women's


No Bull Women's Trainer Editors' Choice Award

$129.00
at Amazon
See It

Incredibly comfortable
Can take on anything you throw its way
Fun patterns cost extra
You'll never want to take them off
The NOBULL Trainers won us over during this review. It consistently scored higher than the other shoes for CrossFit in our review criteria. The NOBULL was by far the best non-weightlifting specific shoe for the heavier lifts that we wore during this review. Our shoe testers were also pleasantly shocked at how grippy the upper fabric is for rope climbs. Even with the tough nature of the fabric, it was amazingly breathable as well. Did we mention this is a very good looking shoe? Looks aren't everything, but they do really look sharp in the gym!

Read review NOBULL Trainer - Women's

Best Bang for Your Buck


Reebok CrossFit Speed TR


Reebok CrossFit Speed TR Best Buy Award

$65.99
at Amazon
See It

Versatile
Comfy and light
Not our first choice for super heavy lifts
Our testers loved that you can run, jump, lift and squat in the Reebok CrossFit Speed TR within a workout and not feel like you need to change shoes between movements. Getting all that in one pair of shoes for under $100 is why the Speed TR receives our Best Buy Award. We preferred this shoe over many of the more expensive shoes even when the price tag was not taken into consideration. You really can't go wrong with this breathable and lightweight shoe that can also take you through Olympic lifts with no problem.

Read review: Reebok Crossfit Speed TR

Top Pick for Lifting WODs


Inov-8 FastLift 325


Inov8 Fastlift 325 Top Pick Award

$100.00
at Amazon
See It

Versatile
Breathable
You'll need another pair for non-lifting workouts
Inov8 really hit the mark with the Fastlift 325. It has the stability and feel of a traditional wood soled lifting shoe for heavy lifts, and yet versatile enough to handle some other movements in the midst of a heavy metcon workout. Would we want to run a 10K in these? Definitely not. However, for short runs in a workout, they did just fine. We even enjoyed double unders and box jumps in these shoes, which was a nice thing to find in a lifting shoe for CrossFit.

Read review: Inov-8 Fastlift 325

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Score Product Price Our Take
89
$129
Editors' Choice Award
The Trainers from NOBULL are super comfortable and were stellar performers during every test we put them through.
84
$100
Best Buy Award
You won’t break the bank when you purchase this solid all purpose shoe for CrossFit; our reviewers preferred to workout in this shoe over quite a few of the more expensive options.
80
$160
Top Pick Award
If you are looking for a lifting shoe that you can also wear for other movements during a workout, then this shoe is for you! With the Inov-8 Fastlift you can go from heavy lifting to short runs, double unders, box jumps, and rope climbs.
72
$299
The price tag is not for the squeamish, but the beauty and function of these lifting specific shoes is unparalleled in the industry.
70
$130
The Metcon 4 will not be your go to shoe for runs; our testers found them to be too stiff for plyometrics, but excellent for workouts that involve a lot of lifting.
68
$120
Scoring right at the middle of the pack in most of our testing categories, the Conviction X is an understated and sometimes overlooked solid pair.
65
$120
If your workouts involve a lot of running, you will love the Minimus 40; they feel light and fast with enough arch support for longer runs.
59
$130
Reviews of the Reebok Nano series vary widely from version to version of the shoes; our current batch of shoe reviewers liked some of the older Nano versions better than the 7.0.
50
$115
This is a lightweight minimalist shoe, and some athletes love the minimalist design; if you are looking for a more supportive shoe, this may not be the best pick for you.

Performance Comparison


Ideally, the perfect shoe for CrossFit would be similar to the perfect CrossFit athlete. When we look at the top athletic performers in CrossFit we expect to find someone that is not overly specialized in one area. An athlete that can deadlift 800 pounds, for instance, is probably not a very good sprinter. On the other hand, a sub three hour marathon runner is most likely lacking in strength. Excelling in one specific movement will inevitably cause weaknesses in other areas. As stated in the October 2002 CrossFit Journal article, "Our specialty is not specializing." CrossFit workouts require athletes to be masters of diversity, so we searched for a shoe designed with the same mindset. The perfect running shoe with a soft, cushioned midsole will not be the perfect lifting shoe. Conversely, a great lifting shoe with a 17mm heel to toe drop would be a nightmare to run in. CrossFitters want a hybridized shoe that can do it all.

Types of Shoes


CrossFit athletes have different preferences for the style of shoes they like to wear during workouts. Most CrossFitters have more than one pair of shoes so they can wear the style of shoe that works best for each different type of workout they come across in the huge variety of CrossFit movements. There are benefits to wearing the lightest and slimmest shoes but also merits to shoes with more structure and a substantial sole. We separated the nine shoes in this review into five different general types to help illustrate which workouts the shoes are best designed for. To read more about the different types, cruise on over to our buying advice.

Weightlifting


Weightlifting is a key component in CrossFit programming. Therefore, this category comprises 20% of the overall score for each shoe in this review. The broad category of weightlifting gets broken down into Olympic lifting and powerlifting. When training the Olympic lifts, snatch and clean and jerk, athletes, wear shoes with a high heel rise and supportive sole that won't compress under heavy loads. The raised heel helps athletes stand up out of the bottom of a deep squat. Shoes without a heel rise require more hamstring and ankle flexibility from the athlete. Two shoes scored a perfect 10 in our testing, and not surprisingly they are the two lifting shoes we tested, the NOBULL Lifters and the Inov-8 Fastlift 325.


The NOBULL Lifters are a thing of beauty, and they even smell amazing! The heel is comprised of many layers of highly pressed leather so as you open the box an earthy leather smell wafts out to great you. For our Top Pick for Weightlifting WODs however, the Inov-8 Fastlift 325 won over the NOBULL Lifters. Don't get us wrong; we absolutely fell in love with the design and the feel of the NOBULLs. However, the practicality of the Inov-8's won out over the flash of the NOBULL Lifters. For instance, the soft leather uppers, as well as the price tag on the NOBULLs, makes the thought of rope climbs in them seem absurd. The Inov-8s, on the other hand, can take on rope climbs, double unders, and box jumps in stride right next to Olympic lifts - all in the same workout.

These lifters by NOBULL are a thing of beauty! They have a stacked leather heel that is handmade by skilled craftsman  and the high quality of work is noticeable.
These lifters by NOBULL are a thing of beauty! They have a stacked leather heel that is handmade by skilled craftsman, and the high quality of work is noticeable.

For the majority of CrossFit workouts, we aren't looking for the perfect Olympic weightlifting shoe. CrossFit shoes need to be able to handle light to moderate weights at high repetitions in combinations with running or gymnastics movements. A close second to the two lifting shoes regarding weightlifting scores was our Editors' Choice winner, the NOBULL Trainers. This shoe feels amazingly solid while lifting and is still great for running, jumping, and everything else you do in CrossFit.

Running


We set the bar high in this review. We want a CrossFit shoe that is great for running but also great at everything else! To find the best shoe strictly for running, head over to our Best Running Shoe Review and our Best Trail Running Shoe Review. Some runners are seeking out shoes that mimic what it is like to run with bare feet while still protecting from hazards.


Crossfitters are sometimes attracted to minimalist shoes because they are lightweight which is nice with gymnastics movements, as well as have a low heel to toe drop, which makes it a little easier to get into a good starting position for deadlifts. The minimalist shoe that so many CrossFitters loved was the New Balance Minimus. Unfortunately, the design changed over the years, and the shoe fell out of favor. New Balance claims to have brought back the feel of the original with their newest trail version. This shoe is nice and light but just didn't have enough support and stability for our testers. Even for a minimalist shoe, we could feel a little too much of what our feet were landing on during runs. One tester noted that "I don't like to feel every little rock under my foot."

The best shoe for running workouts in this review was the lightweight Reebok CrossFit alternative to the Nano, which is also our Best Buy Winner. This shoe feels fast and light and yet still has the support you need for the rest of your movements in CrossFit. The New Balance Minimus 40 was also an excellent shoe to run in, but it lacked the versatility of the Reebok Speed TR.

Out Best Buy winner  the Reebok Speed TR  was our favorite shoe to run in and performed equally well on all plyometric movements.
Out Best Buy winner, the Reebok Speed TR, was our favorite shoe to run in and performed equally well on all plyometric movements.

Sensitivity


Why do we care about sensitivity and what does it really mean in a CrossFit shoe? When we refer to sensitivity, we are primarily referring to how easy it is to feel where your bodyweight is positioned on your feet. You need to be able to tell if you are fundamentally moving your body weight onto the balls of your feet or if you are balanced with your weight firmly in your heels. The subtle differences in bodyweight shift are key to effective Olympic lifting.


The shoes in this review with the best sensitivity for lifting are the two lifting shoes (the NOBULL Lifters and the Inov-8 Fastlift 325) as well as the NOBULL Trainers. While it is not a surprise that the lifting shoes excel in this area, we were delighted to find a trainer that was fantastic for our heavy Olympic lifts.

The NOBULL Trainers have the sensitivity of a lifting shoe when performing heavy olympic lifts. We had no problem accurately shifting our weight in these shoes.
The NOBULL Trainers have the sensitivity of a lifting shoe when performing heavy olympic lifts. We had no problem accurately shifting our weight in these shoes.

Support


The demands of CrossFit workouts require a shoe that can support not only the weight of the athlete but also the hundreds of additional pounds the athlete might be lifting. Therefore, how a shoe scores in the category of support comprises 20% of the shoe's overall rank in this review.


During heavy lifts, how compressive the sole is in a shoe might be one of the first things you notice about your footwear. A soft, squishy sole will be hard to balance on when trying to remain stable with a heavily loaded barbell. For instance, the spring in our step while running from the compression of the sole in the New Balance Minimus 40 was not welcome on the lifting platform. We really needed a sole with less give to it. The softness of the sole is not the only aspect of support however.

The softer sole in the Minimus 40 was great for running and jumping movements. During lifts however  it was just a little too squishy.
The softer sole in the Minimus 40 was great for running and jumping movements. During lifts however, it was just a little too squishy.

Once again, the NOBULL Trainers were at the top of our list, along with the two lifting specific shoes. The NOBULL Trainers can take you from light to heavy loads with no problem due in part to their supportive sole.

The sole of the Adidas shoe is firmer than the Minimus 40  but the extra width of the shoe made for an unsupportive shoe during lifts as well.
The sole of the Adidas shoe is firmer than the Minimus 40, but the extra width of the shoe made for an unsupportive shoe during lifts as well.

Protection and Durability


CrossFitters like to push both their bodies and their equipment to the limits, so we need a shoe that will protect the athlete and not wear out anytime soon.


The learning curve for double unders is a painful curve indeed. Especially with the growing popularity of super fast metal cable jump ropes, you will have bright red lashes reminding you of your misses. As tempting as it might be, a full body armor of chain mail would be a little impractical. Luckily, we can at least protect our feet from those painful double under misses. Surprisingly, the Inov-8 Fastlifts scored well in this category. You normally wouldn't think to do double unders in a shoe geared more to lifting, but Inov-8 really did a good job of making a great lifting shoe practical for other movements. The protective plastic upper material in this case protected our feet well.

Like most lifting shoes  the Fastlifts feature a Velcro strap across the top of the shoe for added support.
Like most lifting shoes, the Fastlifts feature a Velcro strap across the top of the shoe for added support.

Before you shell out your hard earned money on a pair of new CrossFit shoes, be sure to inspect the durability of the sole and uppers near the instep of the shoe. The friction from rope climbs will literally tear chunks out of soft midsoles. Ten years ago, had you ever seen tennis shoes with added protection on the instep for rope climbs? The popularity of CrossFit is literally changing the shoes on your feet.

As you will see in this review, shoe manufacturers are trying new and creative tactics to keep their shoes from shredding to pieces on rope climbs. Asics has a material they call "Rhinoguard" on the uppers in the Conviction X. Granted it is sturdy material, but the material is "crazy slick" on the rope as one tester put it. Our arms had to work even harder to make up for our feet sliding on the rope. We much prefer Nike's tactic on the Metcon. There is a huge swath of extra sticky rubber on the instep, which really helped our feet stick to the rope and showed no signs of damage at all. As CrossFitters we greatly appreciate these adaptations, it's frustrating to see your favorite shoes torn to bits.

Unfortunately the Minimus Trail shoes were not designed to stand up to the frictions of rope climbs.
Unfortunately the Minimus Trail shoes were not designed to stand up to the frictions of rope climbs.

Breathability


Inevitably you are going to get hot in the midst of high-intensity workouts. Shoes for Crossfit with good breathability will keep you a little more comfortable and hopefully help you push through those sweltering moments when you think you just can't keep going.


Our best buy winning shoes were among the best shoes we tested in the category of breathability. The mesh along the laces and the toebox of the CrossFit Speed helped to keep our feet cool. However, the stuffiest model was the Reebok Nano 7. The NOBULL Trainers, on the other hand, looked like they would get hot but were surprisingly breathable.

Comfort


If your shoes aren't comfortable, it might be one more reason to avoid going to the gym. We want gear that makes us want to use it! The tricky part of rating comfort, of course, is that everyone has differently shaped feet and different preferences on how a shoe fits.


Opinions about comfort were actually pretty consistent among all of our shoe testers. The New Balance Minimus 40, for instance, were a common favorite for all-day wear around the gym. They are the kind of shoes that you put on your feet in the store and instantly like the way they feel. However, the king of comfort in this review was the NOBULL Trainers. Our reviewers were impressed with how well they fit for all of the movements we put the NOBULLs through. On the other end of the spectrum, we all agreed that Reebok has lost some comfort with their newest Nano. The Nanos feel really stiff at the toebox when running, and two testers on different occasions noted that their smaller toes would go numb after standing in them.

Conclusion


We tasked CrossFitters from around the country to test 9 of the most popular shoes for CrossFit in our search for the best CrossFit shoe out there. We had some pretty seasoned athletes giving us feedback in this review. The accumulated years of CrossFit experience with all our reviewers added up is over 48 years. These ladies have been around CrossFit gyms for a long time! For over three months we put these shoes through the ringer in the programmed workouts for the day at two different CrossFit affiliates. CrossFit programming is all about variety, so these shoes were exposed to many different movements including weightlifting, running and gymnastics movements just to name a few. In addition to exposing the shoes to typical CrossFit workouts, we also performed side by side testing in sprints, heavy weightlifting, and rope climbs.

Our reviewers spent over 150 hours putting 9 of the highest rating shoes through the wringers in our search to find the best shoes for CrossFit.
Our reviewers spent over 150 hours putting 9 of the highest rating shoes through the wringers in our search to find the best shoes for CrossFit.
Audrey Hammond

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