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Do you eagerly look at the whiteboard to see what hell the WOD has in store for you? Do you clock double-unders like a bank teller counts 20 dollar bills? Or maybe you’re dipping your toe into the CrossFit box (gym) for the first time, learning what WOD even stands for (workout of the day, FYI).
CrossFit has become a go-to workout for fitness fiends—and it’s only increasing in popularity. Based on functional exercise principles, it requires you to run, jump, climb, lift, row and carry, likely all in the same workout. Years ago, when I first stepped in a CrossFit box, a coach explained it to me as preparation for “running from a bear,” which somehow didn’t scare me away. It’s intense, for sure, but that’s the whole point. Many of the tenets have found their way into regular gyms that now offer “cross-training” turfs, boxes to jump on and lineups of kettlebells to snatch.
As with most fitness endeavors, you need the right gear. More than anything, it starts from the bottom up. The best CrossFit shoes are able to perform under the rigors of everything from rope climbs to Olympic weightlifting. Athletic heavy-hitters such as Nike and Reebok have stepped up the squat rack, offering up a slew of options with various features. Smaller, independent brands have gotten in the game, too, focusing on shoes made specifically for CrossFit and carving out their own niches. Here, we break down 10 of the best CrossFit shoes right now, whether you’re a seasoned CrossFitter or just picking up a barbell.
How to Choose the Best CrossFit Shoes:
As you’re feeling things out among the profusion of CrossFit shoes out there, look for four key characteristics: support, comfort and shock absorption, breathability and overall design.
One of the most important features of CrossFit shoes versus any other sneaker or gym shoes is the amount of support they offer, specifically the firmness of the heel and the midfoot construction. Stability is paramount, so many of the best CrossFit shoes have beefed up heels and grippy midsoles to provide extra support and rigidity.
Your CrossFit shoes should also be comfortable and cushioned enough to absorb the shock that comes with sprints or doing dozens of burpees. Stability and agility: This is the balance you’re always aiming for. Any rubbing? Do they fit? Is there slipping? Are they flexible in the right places?
With all the support CrossFit shoes need to provide, the stable foundation and soft landings, they should also keep the airflow moving. They shouldn’t be a sauna for your feet. Look for a durable and breathable upper that’s tough enough to withstand the WOD, and also isn’t trapping excessive heat and moisture.
Because your full CrossFit kit is pretty minimal (and you’re likely to shed any unnecessary layers during your sweat session), bring some style in wherever you can, especially your shoes. Function is far and away the priority here, but some swerve is also welcome in the box. You’ll be looking at these shoes a lot, so you should, you know, like them. Other design elements come into play, too. How do they lace up? How high or low are they? What colors do they come in?
Ultimately you should forget your shoes are there so you can focus on your next PR.
Best Overall CrossFit Shoes
Nike Metcon 8 Training Shoes
I’ve tried every one of the Metcon iterations, and while there may be minor changes I miss from previous years, on the whole they’ve continuously improved. The Metcon 8 is no exception, delivering a solid foundation with a wide, flat heel and an inner weight-distributing plate along with a smooth responsive ride for cardio and sprints. These are your reliable standbys, good enough for squats, cleans and short runs. The mesh upper is actually breathable with a textured overlay on the areas that get the most wear (e.g. the toe crease), plus the grippy rubber sole wraps around your arch for rope climbs. If you don’t like the standard color combos, you can customize a pair, too. Some minor quibbles: because of the emphasis on the construction of the heel and the fact that these are around the middle of the pack when it comes to weight, they aren’t ideal for long runs. Also, the tab locks for the laces (a new addition for the Metcon 7 and 8) are a good idea in theory, but I find them mostly useless.
Pros: Versatile, breathable and very stable. Constant innovation has helped Nike improve the style each year.
Cons: Not the lightest of the bunch. Heel isn’t as responsive on longer runs.
Best CrossFit Shoes for Durability
Nobull Gum Training Shoes
Nobull has lived and breathed CrossFit since its inception in 2015. Its founders, two Reebok veterans, are passionate about the sport and even became the CrossFit Games title sponsor in 2021. Functional training is Nobull’s sweet spot, evident in every detail of their shoes, especially the military-grade, abrasion-resistant and water-repellent SuperFabric upper, with a base layer of mesh covered in guard plates for added protection. This style is tough and feels right at home tossing weights around in the box and pedaling furiously on the assault bike. Though it has a streamlined design, Nobull offers lots—and lots—of colors and patterns, along with three heights for whatever your particular vibe is.
Pros: Military-grade durability. Tons of color options.
Cons: Some initial stiffness, lacking flexibility.
Best CrossFit Shoes for Stability
Reebok Nano X3 Training Shoes
Reebok has deemed its Nano “the official shoe of fitness,” so you’d think they can handle some cleans and presses. And they can. These were the most heel-cradling and solid of the CrossFit shoes I tried. They didn’t feel stiff when I ran or weighed me down during muscle-ups—all thanks to Reebok’s new midsole technology in the just-released X3, a dome-shaped heel piece that compresses under load when lifting then softens when you push off to run. Heads up, I found these to run large, especially in the toe box, so size accordingly.
Pros: Solid, stable feel. Lightweight cushioning for running.
Cons: Runs large to size. Limited color options.
Best Lightweight and Breathable CrossFit Shoe
STR/KE MVMNT Haze EZ Training Shoes
After thousands of meters rowing and running, STR/KE MVMNT’s Haze EZ trainer came out on top in terms of lightness and breathability. Their flexible engineered 3-D knit jacquard upper construction stood out for its airiness—it was almost like I was just wearing an outsole. While sitting on a rower may not seem like much of a stress test for CrossFit shoes, the flexibility it offered on the ol’ Concept 2 was particularly responsive. Longer runs were no problem with their perfectly springy outsole. Given their versatility, you could easily step out of the box in them and go about your day.
Pros: Lightness, breathability and flexibility
Cons: Heavy lifts may require shoes that feel more substantial.
Best CrossFit Shoes to Wear In and Out of the Box
Reebok Nanoflex TR 2.0 Training Shoes
If you’re looking for something that feels very familiar (we know, change is hard), Reebok’s Nanoflex TR 2.0 feels the most like a regular sneaker. They’re cushy. They’re versatile. They look like something you could wear with a pair of baggy chinos; no one would know you just hit a deadlift PR. They do have plenty of stealth details that make them appropriate for CrossFit, though: a sturdy heel clip for stability; flexible, high traction outsole for agility; and a breathable mesh upper. Reebok is well-versed in the CrossFit universe, so you can expect high performance from these shoes.
Pros: Versatile look and feel. All-day comfort.
Cons: You may want additional stability for heavier lifts.
Best CrossFit Shoes for Burpees
Adidas Dropset Training Shoes
Find me someone who enjoys burpees. Anyone? No? Nevertheless, burpees are an integral part of the CrossFit existence because they require work out every part of your body and push your heart rate up fast. This means they also require a versatile shoe, flexible enough for the push-up and jump portions, as well as cushioned enough for the landing—qualities that you need for the entirety of any WOD. Adidas keeps all this in mind with its Dropset Trainer, which has two different types of cushioning to give you stability on your heels and comfort in front. An amply padded collar around your ankle and all kinds of zig-zaggy sole textures for excellent traction make them ideal for everyone’s most hated (and effective!) exercise.
Pros: Dual cushioning for stable heels and cushioned fronts. Padded collar and solid traction.
Cons: Some lace slippage. Limited colors.
Best CrossFit Shoe for a Natural Feel
New Balance Minimus TR Training Shoes
If you believe that less if more, if you want your foot’s sole as close to the ground as possible, then these are the CrossFit shoes for you. While the midsole of New Balance’s Minimus TR has full rubber coverage that comes up the sides and some additional cushioning, the premium liners and overall streamlined design means you can wear them without socks—one less layer between you and the floor, allowing for prime stability and heavier lifts. The mesh upper is among the most lightweight, too, enabling lots of air to flow back and forth (a good thing if you’re not wearing socks).
Pros: Lightweight, natural feel. Can be worn without socks.
Cons: Missing some cushioning and cradling for agility.
Best CrossFit Shoe for Rope Climbs
Goruck Ballistic Training Shoes
The last thing you want to be thinking about when you’re wayyyy up there on the rope is whether or not your shoes are going to slip or get torn up. Goruck’s Ballistic Trainers have you covered with its “Special Forces grade” 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon panels covering the lace area, midfoot and heel. You could probably build a house out of this stuff. They thought of plenty of other details, too: a wide toe box, a custom high density foam insert and a Goldilocks 8 mm heel-to-toe drop that creates the most versatile foot angle for lifting or rucking.
Pros: Abrasion-resistant. Customizable inner sole.
Cons: Initial stiff feel for running. Size runs on the small side.
Best CrossFit Shoes for Ground Grip
Under Armour UA TriBase™ Reign 5 Training Shoes
You and the floor of your gym are in a relationship that requires constant communication. The more contact you have, the better you can feel each other out—whether you’re heavy-lifting, swinging a kettlebell or doing box jumps. Under Armour’s UA TriBase Reign 5 has a low, stable triangular base, which means that communication and power transfer can happen efficiently over your entire sole. They also added a rubber build under the toe box for a more powerful floor grip since the front half of your foot is doing the most to keep you stable in dynamic movements. Squats and strict presses felt particularly secure wearing these, too.
Pros: Excellent floor grip and stability.
Cons: Can feel flat. Lack of flexibility.
Best CrossFit Shoes for Heavy Lifts
Nike Romaleos 4 Training Shoes
A list of the best CrossFit shoes wouldn’t be complete without a pair specifically made for lifting. Nike’s Romaleos emphasize support and stability over everything else. It’s all about locking in. A rigid midsole, exaggerated heel lift and wide straps over the laces all come together to create a sturdy platform for cleans, squats, deadlifts and presses. You wouldn’t want to run or do much else besides getting cozy with your barbell in these, but they are worth having in your bag on serious lift days.
Pros: Super sturdy and secure base for lifting.
Cons: Specific use—not intended for cardio or exercises other than lifting. Runs small.