As you likely know, CrossFit is a high-intensity workout regime developed over several decades by incorporating aspects from several different sports and other fields of exercise. When CrossFit started taking over the exercise scene, shoemakers realized they needed a new shoe that could keep up with this intense, new regime. They knew they had to make Crossfit shoes that incorporated all the best parts of other athletic shoes. Many shoes claim to be CrossFit shoes, but simply fall flat on this claim. In this article we will discuss what makes a good Crossfit shoe, why you should wear one, and review our top 10 favorites of 2018 (5 for the men and 5 for the women).
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 While Shopping
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.
The 5 Best CrossFit Shoes for Men
Since there are loads of great (and not-so-great) CrossFit shoes on the market, we figured we’d help you narrow down your search. Out of over 15 different models tested, the 5 options below came out on top. (Looking for women’s Crossfit shoes? Scroll down)
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
The Top 5 Best Crossfit Shoes for Women
Thought this list was just for men? Think again. My female team test over a dozen of the most popular Crossfit brands for women and we’ve narrowed it down to the top 5 below, in no particular order.
Nano weave upper: When talking about shoes, the upper is the entire part that covers the foot. The specially woven, synthetic upper of shoe provides maximum breathability to the wearer. It can be nearly impossible to get a good workout in shoes that are too heavy, hot, and uncomfortable.
High abrasion rubber outsole: That is basically just a fancy way of saying that this shoe is really durable. The outsole was designed to take a lot of impacts and keep your feet protected. The outsole of the shoe is easy to overlook if you are new to CrossFit, but you want to make sure you get a shoe that has a durable outsole because it will be hitting the ground a lot.
CMEVA midsole: The compression molded EVA midsole is there for cushioning and comfort. The midsole is designed to help keep your foot stable and prevent it from really feeling the terrain under you, such as sharp rocks. CMEVA midsoles are becoming more and more common and are just a small part of what makes this shoe awesome.
Low profile: The Reebok Grace truly offers superior comfort with its low profile. The low cut design of the shoe prevents the sides from rubbing against your ankles and gives your ankles much more room to move. When you are doing something like Crossfit, it is important that you have good ankle mobility.
Heel counter: The heel counter of the Reebok Grace can be felt as soon as you put them on. You can feel the shoe sort of gripping your heel and supporting it, which is exactly what it was designed to do. The heel counter gives you better support and stability during workouts, decreasing the chance of accidents or injuries.
I didn’t think it would be considered a top feature, but it is still worth mentioning, the heel tab on the Grace makes it easy to slip the shoes on. Instead of struggling and folding your shoe over on itself, using the heel tab you can get better leverage and put the shoes on much easier.
The shoe also looks awesome and comes in an assortment of colors. You can have your choice of colors such as pink, black and white, and grey and navy.
Like most shoes, breaking them in is always the worst part. It may take some time to get your feet used to these shoes, and to get these shoes used to your feet. It may be uncomfortable sometimes at first, just try to power through and eventually they will start to feel better.
Internal strap: Not visible from the outside, this internal strap provides maximum support for whatever your workout has in store. It provides support for quick and multidirectional movement and may increase your overall performance and agility.
Dual density foam midsole: This dual density foam midsole eliminates the need to choose between stability and cushioning, it gives you everything. Usually running shoes are either considered stabilizing or cushioning shoes, and each one was for a specific type of runner. Runners who over pronate would use the stabilizing ones, and runners who did not would use the cushioning ones. If you are the very beginning of your CrossFit journey, you probably do not know what type of runner you are, but that’s okay, because these shoes are great for both.
Tight fit: When I say tight, I don’t mean they run small or that they choke your feet, I just mean they fit snugly. Instead of having shoelaces hanging down, the laces are in a lace up closure. Instead of having big bulky sides or a thick topline, these shoes fit closely to your feet for a secure fit and to prevent tripping.
Mesh upper: The comfy mesh upper of this shoe is perfect for breathability. It’s not too thick, but still thick enough to protect your feet. The mesh upper also just looks super sleek with its nearly seamless finish.
Solid rubber pods on outsole: Lastly, the solid rubber pods are carefully placed on the outsole in areas that receive a lot of wear. This adds to the overall durability of the shoe and improves your traction. Getting shoes with good traction can be super important in CrossFit because you never know what terrain you might be on, or what the weather might be like. No matter what, you want to know that your shoes will still perform and you won’t end up losing traction and slipping.
The biggest advantage of this shoe, to me, is how comfortable it is. The inside is lined with silky soft fabric, none of those itchy liners that just irritate you. The tongue and collar are also padded, adding a little more comfort to the shoe. Second only to its comfort, is its stylishness. These shoes definitely look a little different than your typical tennis shoes. They are much more modern and sleek and come in several different colors.
The only downside of this shoe that I have heard about is it running a little narrow. As I said before, this shoe was meant to be pretty snug, but if you have wide feet, it may be a little too narrow for your comfort. I have not personally had this problem, but if you know you have wide feet you may want to hold off on buying this one until you can try a pair on in person.
4 mm drop: If you remember from earlier, I said a 4 mm drop is ideal for someone who wants to use the same shoes for running and lifting. The 4 mm of this shoe makes it so you have enough cushioning and support to run, but not too much to shift your weight and mess you up while you are lifting weights, making this a versatile shoe.
Crystalized rubber outsole: The crystalized rubber outsole adds to the overall durability of the shoe. It also increases traction on various terrains and adds to the natural flexibility of the shoe. That means the shoe can keep up with you better and does not limit your movements.
Removable insole: Adding to its versatility, the removable insole is perfect for when you need to lift. Once the insole is removed, you have better access to the reinforced heel cup, which will help you take your lifting game to the next level.
Reinforced heel cup: The reinforced heel cup gives you great leverage during lifts, which isn’t something you usually get from a running shoe. The heel cup also provides great support to the bones in your feet and legs while you are lifting.
Low cut design: The Nano is a lightweight shoe, which shouldn’t slow you down or anything, but what really contributes to your mobility and agility is its low cut design. The low cut design of this shoe provides ankle mobility and greater comfort. It allows your ankles to breathe and perform maneuvers that would otherwise be difficult.
The upper of this shoe employs nano weave technology to create a comfortable, breathable shoe that can be worn all day. You know how some shoes you just can’t wait to get off? That’s how my old tennis shoes were, and when I tried these I honestly forgot I had them on for a while. My feet don’t get too hot and they’re just very comfortable. I also really like the design of the shoe. The low cut design, mixed with the sleek appearance of these shoes make for a very visually pleasing shoe.
The only downside of this shoe, if you could even call it that, is that it comes in a very wide array of colors. In total, there are 20 different colors to choose from, some of them being more expensive. When I picked out my pair, I was overwhelmed by all the options at first. All of them looked so cool right away, but after taking time and looking at each one, I was able to decide which one I wanted. I figured if I really liked them I could always just order another pair in a different color when the first pair gives out. At the end of the day though, color is not a huge deal, and I would rather have too many options than no options at all.
Dual density foam midsole: As we learned before, the dual density foam greatly adds to the shoe’s versatility. The foam makes it so that this shoe will provide support and stability to anyone using it, despite what type of runner they are. In this case, the dual density foam also helps with heavy lifts.
Rubber along the mid sole: The rubber running down the mid sole does more than just look cool. It adds durability and is specially designed to provide protection during rope climbs. Rope climbs are a very common part of CrossFit, so a shoe that you can do rope climbs in is necessary.
Firm, flat heel: This is different than most of the other shoes on the list. Instead of having a raised heel, the Metcon 2 has a flat and firm heel, which greatly increases stability during lifts. You want to be able to stay flat on the ground and in full control while lifting; the Metcon 2 makes that doable.
Fly wire cables: Fly wire cables are threaded through the interior of the shoe, which provides support for your mid foot. The wires wrap around the foot, sort of like tendons, and provide you with unrivaled support, no matter what you are doing. Whether you are running, lifting, lunging, or just stretching, more support is never a bad thing. If you have never had shoes with fly wires, it may take some time to get used to them being around your foot. At first I found it kind of annoying, but I really like the fly wires now and I can feel the support it gives me.
Abrasion-resistant film: I was pretty impressed when I learned about the abrasion resistant film that Nike uses on these shoes. I had never heard of another company using that, but it is such a great idea. Crossfit is really intense and lots of sustained movement will inevitably create heat. That film is there to prevent from high heat friction damage, ultimately increasing the lifetime of your shoes and minimizing wear.
The forefront of this shoe contains flexible grooves, which allows natural motion to take place. Instead of feeling like your shoes are working against you, the flexible grooves allow the shoe to do what you want it to. The forefoot is also made of sticky rubber, which greatly increases your traction and grip, this will help keep you steady and safe.
Like the Nano, the only real downside of the Metcon is that there are so many color options. There are even more options for the Metcon than the Nano; some of these options are white, maroon, orange, turquoise, and pink. The good news is if you have a favorite color, it’ll probably be easy to choose which one you want because chances are they have that color.
Rubber outsole: The rubber outsole of the Tazon 6 increases traction and grip while you are using them. Rubber outsoles are not uncommon, but the carefully designed outsole of the Tazon 6 is certainly unique. The unique design helps the user get the best grip possible.
TPU shank: When talking about shoes, the shank is the main supportive structure between the insole and the outsole. It is important to have a strong shank, without one your shoes don’t really stand a chance up against the elements. In this case the shank is made from TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane, which is a very durable plastic that is resistant to abrasions. This greatly increases the stability of the shoe and makes the entire shoe better overall.
Cushioned midsole: The cushioned midsole of this shoe does exactly what you would expect it to. It provides the wearer with cushioning, lessening the impact of long runs on your feet. As you can imagine, cushioning makes the shoe more comfortable.
EVA heel pod: The EVA heel pod in this shoe is pretty unique to this shoe, I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else. Essentially, instead of using the EVA in the midsole to absorb shock, Puma has put it in the heel to absorb the shock. Depending on how you run, you may be putting a lot of weight on your heels, which can actually damage them. This heel pod aims to remedy that problem and it also acts as cushioning, making this shoe even more comfortable.
Thankfully, the Tazon 6 also features a comfy and breathable sock liner. When you put the shoes on, you can feel the liner conform around your foot, and at first you’d expect it to make you hot and sweaty, but it does the exact opposite. It whisks away moisture and keeps my feet at a comfortable temperature. The design of the shoe is also quite nice and the Puma logo is just the finishing touch that it needs.
The only downside of this shoe is a very minor one; it has no heel tab. This is probably just a matter of personal preference, but I like a heel tab on shoes, especially shoes that are supposed to be snug. I try to avoid untying my shoes at any cost, so a heel tab would have made it a lot easier to get them on and off. Other than that though, I cannot think of anything wrong with these shoes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Crossfit Shoes
What is the shoe drop and does it matter? The shoe drop refers to the height difference between the heel and the forefoot. This matters because if you are a runner, you will want a larger drop, whereas a larger drop would be disadvantageous to a lifter. What you plan on doing with your shoes will determine what sort of drop you should look for. Shoe drops vary in size anywhere from 8 mm to 0 mm and they can affect your performance if you get the wrong size drop for what you are doing. For example, if you try to lift weights with an 8 mm drop, you will find it very difficult and you won’t get the support you need.
What if I plan on lifting and running? If you plan on lifting and running during your CrossFit journey, I recommend a shoe with a medium sized drop, about 4 mm. This is a good balance that allows you to go from running to lifting smoothly. Later down the line you can always experiment with different size drops.
How long do CrossFit shoes last? There is no single answer to this question. The lifetime of your CrossFit shoes will depend on a few different things, including how often you use them, what you use them for, and what kind of terrain you use them on. If you are a pretty avid CrossFit participant, you will probably need to replace your shoes about every six months.
Should I start off with a minimalist shoe? No, especially if you are an inexperienced runner. The best thing you can do is start with a shoe with a good sized drop and slowly work your way down. Minimalist shoes do not offer any support for your feet, so if you do not know the correct way to run with them, you could easily get injured.
Some Final Tips
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.
Breathability: if your feet cannot breathe you will get really sweaty, really fast, and that leads to stinky feet and an increased risk of fungal and bacterial diseases. Fungal infections can get pretty gross and make your feet smell awful, but wearing breathable shoes greatly reduces the risk of fungal infections or diseases. Breathable shoes are also just much more comfortable, and comfort should play a big role in your decision making process. If you buy shoes that are uncomfortable you’ll never want to wear them, and you will never workout, or you will work out in the wrong shoes, which might be even worse.
Style: personal fashion taste and preferences are also important factors when deciding what shoe is best for you. It may seem superficial, but you will enjoy the shoes and the workout so much more if you actually like the way they look. If you find a pair that you really like, but they are out of your budget, unless you are in a hurry to get them, you can always wait a little bit and see if they go on sale. You may also be able to purchase them at a lower price from an online store.
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.