If you’re new to the world of CrossFit, or you’re considering starting CrossFit, you may find yourself wondering if they’re important, what makes them special, or even where can I get myself a goodpair? This guide aims to answer all of your burning CrossFit shoe questions and then some including our top picks for best CrossFit shoes on the market today!
Why Buy CrossFit Shoes?
If you’re asking yourself “what’s with CrossFit shoes and do I really need them?” The answer is simple: they’re shoes designed specifically for CrossFit which means they’re designed for running, jumping, crawling, burpees, treadmills, roads, weightlifting, squats, well, you get the idea. And the second answer is no, you don’t need them to do CrossFit, but they’re designed specifically for CrossFit so they may help prevent injuries during workout sessions, which are notoriously vigorous during CrossFit training. If you’re not convinced you need them, here are some additional reasons you should consider them;
Specialization: running shoes are made for running, which provide very little ankle support for any lateral movement, as runners don’t typically run sideways like a crab. This is fine for runners, but it’s not great for CrossFit. Similarly, weightlifting shoes are heavy and force your feet to stay planted on the ground, this works well for additional stability when you’re lifting weights, but imagine trying to move with cinderblocks strapped to your feet. CrossFit shoes are made specifically for those who need a running shoe with ankle support and a lightweight weightlifting shoe in one. They’re also not anything like your traditional gym shoes as they have a lighter weight design and they’re way more flexible, which is important for CrossFit training.
Performance: everything you use in your training increases your results and your performance, you’re not going to be able to work out as well in jeans as you would in clothes that are specifically designed for working out. The same is true for the machines you use, the better they are, the better results you’ll see. And I’m sure you can see where this is going, but it still has to be said, the same is true for your footwear. There is a lot happening with your feet that you may not notice during a workout (and who would?) But it’s important that they’re properly taken care of with the correct shoe for what you do.
Support: while we touched on this above, it’s still worth going into depth here. Running shoes provide very little support for your ankles during lateral movement. And when you’re trying to move quickly, bad things can happen if they’re not supported. The same is true for weightlifting shoes as they don’t provide much arch support, which is helpful if you plan on doing a variety of things in your CrossFit shoes (and assuming you’re CrossFit training, you will be.)
What to Look for When Buying CrossFit Shoes
CrossFit shoes are made for a variety of purposes so you’ll really have to take into account what it is you (specifically you) need from your CrossFit shoes, but in general, here’s what to look for to find a quality CrossFit shoe regardless of what you plan to do;
Look into their soles: seriously. Look at their soles, they should be hard and rigid. If they’re not hard it will be difficult to keep your balance. While the idea of standing on a mattress all day sounds nice and soft, it’s not a practical way to exercise or keep your balance.
Stiff ankle support: you want the support for your ankles to be stiff to keep your ankles within a healthy range, but you don’t want them to be so rigid that they don’t bend at all. They should be suitable if you run side to side as well as front and back.
The drop: the drop refers to the “depth” of the shoe from the back-ankle support down to the heel. The steeper it is the harder time you will have moving, but the more ankle support you will have. This is great for weight lifting, but bad for climbing, jumping, running, and certainly burpees. However, if the drop is too short you will risk your ankle stability, which is the last thing you want to do when lifting weights, crab walking, squatting, or running side to side. It’s important to consider if they will be able to let you do anything and everything comfortably while supporting you (and your ligaments.) The ideal drop is 4mm to allow you to run, lift weights, and perform handstand pushups or burpees without your shoes hindering your abilities!
Durability: the outside of the shoe should be moderately difficult to bend, by not so difficult that you can’t get into a runner’s stance with them. It is important to find the “Goldilocks” of stability, flexibility, and durability in a shoe that you’re expected to do the unexpected in.
Comfort: if the shoes aren’t comfortable you won’t be able to perform in them, no matter how many other checkboxes they check. Of course, you can always get inserts for them if you find that they don’t support your arches or heels the way you need them to. It’s equally important to have them measured correctly to ensure that they won’t be too tight or restricting on your feet.
Tips on Choosing the Best CrossFit Shoes for You
Because CrossFit is such a diverse training program that encompasses so many different principals, CrossFit shoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, structures, and were built with certain activities in mind more than others. It’s important to consider your specific training regimen when you’re shopping for a CrossFit shoe, here are some tips to keep in mind;
Activity level: your activity level shoes be an important consideration, the more you intend to work out the more durable your shoes will need to be. If you plan on working out 3 days or less you can opt for a shoe that’s less durable (but not by too much, you still want to protect your feet!) On the other hand, if you intend on training 4 or more days a week you will probably want a more durable shoe. Only count the days you intend to do CrossFit training when making this consideration unless you want your CrossFit shoes to be dual use which we cover in more depth below.
More than just CrossFit? If you’re using CrossFit as your primary training method, you should consider a shoe that’s more durable and able to withstand rigorous movements time and time again. On the other hand, if you’re supplementing another type of training with CrossFit, you can probably opt for a more versatile shoe depending on your needs. IE: if you’re primarily a running who wants to supplement with CrossFit you can probably opt for a slightly more flexible shoe for additional versatility. The opposite is true for a weightlifter supplementing with CrossFit, you’ll probably want a slightly more rigid shoe than the average CrossFit shoe.
Protection: if you intend to use items or exercise in such a way that it may hurt yours toes (for instance, rope climbing or jump roping) you’ll need to consider extra durability in the toe area. The hit from a rope can leave you in toe pain for days. And the climb down your rope may damage your shoes and cause them to wear out faster. These two exercises aren’t the only ones that could ruin the toes of your shoes (or injure your toes!) It’s important to think about all of the exercises you intend on doing and the impact they could have on your toes.
Style: style is rarely overlooked when it comes to our purchasing decisions, and CrossFit shoes shouldn’t be an exception. Many manufacturers offer their shoes in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles- sometimes even within the same shoe model.
Local climate: if you intend on training outside (even just a little) your local climate should also be considered. If you live in a climate that never sees snow, but sees sweltering temperatures you should consider a CrossFit shoe with some additional aeration to keep your feet cool. On the other hand, if your climate regularly receives snow you should consider a shoe that will keep your feet warm, but not too warm. Additional or less traction may also be a consideration depending on where you plan on training and how.
The 5 Best CrossFit Shoes for Men
While there are loads of great (and not-so-great) CrossFit shoes on the market, we figured we’d do you a favor and narrow down your decision-making process, and the amount of research you need to do, to find a quality CrossFit shoe that’ll work for you.
1) Reebok Men’s R CrossFit Nano 5.0
Reebok’s Nano 5.0 is viewed by many as one of the best, if not the best, CrossFit shoe on the market today, and for good reason. The attractive features of this shoe include the following:
- Highly breathable
- 3mm drop (ever so slightly low)
- Kevlar mesh upper (super durable)
- No-slip tread
Breakdown of Features
The Nano 5.0 is made of a highly breathable mesh to prevent your feet from overheating, which also makes it lightweight. The makeup of the shoe is incredibly durable, from sole to midsole, to the Kevlar mesh upper of the shoe. It’s capable of handling whatever you (and/or your trainer) throw at them. The slightly lower drop makes this shoe better for running than it does lifting, but the drop is high enough where you can lift weights without an issue, it might just take some minor adjusting. Additionally, the no-slip grip allows you to retain your traction regardless of terrain or exercise. Having a no-slip tread, you don’t have to worry about moving around all other the place, and can perform the functions as intended. Having shoes with a tread as such means that you can reduce and eliminate the risk of injury entirely.
This shoe is highly versatile and incredibly safe (comparatively speaking, the safety of your workout is on your, not your shoes) and their practically indestructible so long as you care for them correctly. This shoe is great for someone who rigorously works out, trains mostly in CrossFit, and/or works out frequently with a variety of exercises.
The drop is slightly lower than the suggested 4mm drop of the standard CrossFit shoe, which makes it slightly less stable than the ideal stability. This shoe, however, would be easy to use with a few minor adjustments for weightlifting and may even be the perfect shoe if you mainly use CrossFit and running for training. The aforementioned doesn’t interfere with the actual performance of the shoe whatsoever, they are just simply things to look out for when you purchase because of the style of the user.
2) Nike Metcon 2 Cross Trainers
Metcon 1 was met with enthusiasm from Nike fans, and after rigors testing and feedback, Nike came out with the Metcom 2 after implementing the majority of changes users suggested. Although they didn’t alter the look much, the Metcom 2 underwent some drastic design changes. Features of this shoe include the following:
- Added durability in “hot spots”
- Extra grip on inside
- Heel clip
Breakdown of Features
The additional durability in the “hot spots” (the heel, toe, and inseam) they’re now more durable than ever and only added additional weight where it was needed to ensure the shoe was kept light and easy to move in. The extra rubber grip on the inside of the shoe (on the outside where the curve of the shoe is) adds for additional ease of rope climbing. Additionally, the heel clip was made for the sole purpose of handstand pushups to reduce the resistance that you feel from the wall to practically nothing.
This shoe was created with various and rigorous workouts in mind, and it shows in its construction. The heel clip allows for easier handstand pushups with less resistance, and the additional durability ensures that the hot spots of your shoe won’t wear down anytime soon. Additionally, its lightweight design is great for any activity.
This shoe, like many others on this list, is not a great choice for those who want to focus on heavy weightlifting (as in 100 pounds or more.) Although it is fine for lighter weightlifting sessions during your CrossFit sessions or even an occasional weightlifting session.
3) Asics Men’s Met-conviction Cross Trainer
Asics is known for their highly-durable and lightweight performance shoes and Met-Convictions is certainly high up on most folks’ lists of top rated CrossFit shoes. Features of this shoe include the following:
- 3mm drop (slightly lower)
- Top cap for additional durability
- Slip-resistant soles
Breakdown of Features
The slip-resistant soles promise that you can tackle virtually any task without fear of slipping or sliding, the additional durability within the toe cap also allows you to perform a wider range of training without fear for your toes. Additionally, the lightweight design makes running, jumping, and virtually any high-energy movements a breeze. The 3mm drop allows for additional range of movement with less restrictions, but it does come with less stability (more on that below.) Being lightweight for CrossFit, the weight is extremely important. When a shoe is too heavy, the performance of the user can and will decrease immensely. The user will suffer in success of their workout, as well.
These shoes are lightweight and versatile, which makes them great for the versatility that comes with CrossFit. Similar to the Nano 5.0, they’d be a great option for someone who primarily trains with CrossFit and/or running, but may not be the perfect option if you train primarily with weightlifting and use CrossFit as a secondary method of training.
The slightly lower drop doesn’t offer as much stability for your ankle as the recommended 4mm drop, however, they’re still a great option that can be used safely with a few modifications in your posture and positioning if you intend to use them for weightlifting as well. It’s worth mentioning that the aforementioned disadvantages cater directly to those with specific needs and annoyances.
4) Inov-8 Men’s F-Lite 235 V2
The F-Lite 235 V2s are a great option for anyone who enjoys a variety of demanding activities when you’re CrossFit training. They can “change gears” quickly and easily, ensuring you’ll have a top-notch training session. Features of this shoe include the following:
- Toe bumper
- Reinforced specifically for rope climbing
- Fun color options
Breakdown of Features
The lightweight and durable design make the F-Lite 235 V2 a great option for those who want to run, jump, climb, and focus mainly on other high-level activities. They’re extra durable to protect your toes for burpees, rope jumping, or climbing and they’re super light, ensuring that they won’t slow you down when you’re running.
These shoes are highly versatile and can be used for a number of high energy activities, which is what CrossFit is all about. They’re lightweight and come with additional levels of protection to ensure the longevity of your shoes and your workout alike!
They’re not great shoes for weightlifting, which is fine if you don’t use heavy weightlifting as your primary form of training. However, if you’re someone who supplements with heavy weightlifting or you tend to lift lighter weights frequently (under 100 pounds) these shoes could still work for you. Even if you do frequently light weights over 100 pounds, these shoes could still be a great option for your strictly CrossFit training regimen.
5) Reebok Men’s CrossFit Nano 4.0
Reebok is well-known for their high-quality high-performance shoes, in fact, there’s another Rebook shoe on our best CrossFit shoes list! This shoe has some features that are similar to the Nano 5.0, but some it also has some features that the 5.0 doesn’t have.
- Cage-like durable design
- 4mm drop
Breakdown of Features
Reebok’s lightweight design makes it easy to perform a variety of demanding tasks that CrossFit often uses. They’re super breathable to help keep your feet cooler, and their cage-like design that encompasses the shoe offers additional durability. The 4mm drop is the highest drop on this list, so it’s perfect for any and all activities that CrossFit demands.
The ideal drop makes the shoe perfect for everything from running to weightlifting and the lightweight design doesn’t hinder you in the slightest while doing headstand pushups. The 4mm drops provide additional ankle stability without being too constricting and the breathable design leaves room for both flexibility and durability, making this a well-rounded CrossFit shoe.
The additional breathability of the shoe does allow for additional (and unwanted) moisture into the shoe, so they may not be the best shoe for rain or snow training. However, they do make a great warm weather and/or indoor training shoe! We highly suggest these shoes if you’re looking for comfort, breathability, and a little bit of confidence in your step, thanks to the structure and lightweight aspect of this shoe.
The Final Verdict
Even though the top 5 best CrossFit shoes on this list are fantastic shoes, there can only be one shoe that wins. This shoe has to be stylish, comfortable, offer a great value for its price, and offer next-level performance as well as be able to hold its own during training. And through our thorough research we’ve found that the best overall CrossFit shoe on this list is the Reebok Men’s R CrossFit Nano 5.0. Even though the competition was fierce, the Nano 5.0 was fiercer, allowing it to claim top spot on our list.