What Are The Best Crossfit Shoes Available? A Buyers Guide
Over the last decade or so, crossfit has become the choice for millions of people looking to improve their health and fitness.
Crossfit is a core strength and conditioning interval program. It uses functional movement during high intensity workouts, called “Workout of The Day” or WOD.
During a crossfit session you will be performing a varied mixture of bodyweight exercises like squats, pull-ups and box jumps.
They are combined with weightlifting exercises such as The Back Squat, The Snatch and The Split Jerk etc. all performed at an intense level.
So, as a crossfitter you will be doing a mixture of pulling, pushing, running, squatting and jumping during your workouts.
One thing you will notice straight away about crossfitters is that we are an extremely fussy bunch when it comes to our footwear.
But, we have a good excuse. During a crossfit workout your feet take the brunt of the workout mainly because they are involved in nearly every exercise.
They have to carry your bodyweight plus the extra weight during weightlifting exercises. They also have to stabilise your body during every exercise. This places a huge amount of pressure on them.
It's because of this pressure on feet during workouts that you need a crossfit shoe that is able to cope with the mixture of high intensity movements.
Doing a Crossfit WOD in a pair of shoes not able to cope with the pressure of the workouts or unable to provide stability is both costly and dangerous.
Costly because if the shoes can't take the pressure then they will wear out faster, costing you money.
Dangerous because if they can't provide you with a stable platform it will force your feet to work even harder during workouts. They can suffer badly, even be injured, costing you your health.
Clearly, it is vital that you find the best sneakers for crossfit. The best work out shoes provides you with both stability and comfort during your crossfit workouts.
Now the question becomes, one pair or two? Do you buy a dedicated pair for weightlifting as well as a dedicated pair for running and bodyweight exercises and just change shoes as needed? Or do you find a pair of shoes that blends stability, flexibility, comfort and durability ?
My advice, if cost is an issue, is to invest in a pair of crossfit minimalist shoes that can handle and cope with an intense crossfit workout.
Finding the workout shoes that work for you is not easy.
Based on my experience as a Crossfitter I have created a comparison chart of the best cross fit shoes available on the market today.
Best Cross Training Shoes For Men: A Comparison Table
Different Types of Crossfit Shoes
Best Lifting Shoes For Crossfit: Traditional Olympic Weightlifting Shoes
Olympic weightlifting has been integrated into crossfit WOD's. As a crossfitter you will be lifting heavier and heavier weights.
You can't afford to wear shoes that don't give you a firm, solid platform from which you can press off with power.
When lifting, your power comes from pushing through your heels. So the most important aspect of lifting shoes are their stability and lack of heel compression. The best lift shoes will give you a firm heel and great stability.
Running shoes do not give you the best stability when lifting heavy weights. The soft heel and sole of a running shoe is designed give under pressure and absorb impact and shock.
This is completely the opposite of the heel and sole of a lifting shoe and because of this they are not interchangeable.
The best lifting shoes, unlike running shoes, are designed not to give way under pressure. They are designed to give you the best platform to transfer as much power as possible off the floor up through your legs and body onto the barbell. The more force you generate, the easier it is to perform the lift.
For lifts such as the Deadlift and the Squat, the right lifting shoes fit your feet perfectly to stop them moving inside your shoes.
They provide great traction so you don't slip during your lift. They also improve your lifting performance and help reduce the possibility of injury.
There are many excellent, traditional, weightlifting shoes on the market today.
Best Crossfit Running Shoes: Traditional Running Shoes
As with weightlifting, running has specialist shoes specifically made for the exercise.
The qualities serious runners look for in a great training shoe are level of foot and ankle support, level of comfort and flexibility.
Another quality that runners look for in a training shoe is how snugly the shoes fit. When you run you generate huge pressure on your feet so you need to find shoes that not only supports them, but can absorb repetitive foot impacts.
If you are going to use a dedicated pair of running shoes during your Crossfit workouts, you need to find a pair with a soft, absorbent, elevated heel.
You want a pair of shoes that does a great job of displacing impact during your runs while contouring your feet well.
There are many fantastic, traditional, running shoes available.
Best Crossfit And Running Shoes: Crossfit Minimals
So far I've spoken about the traditional, specialist, shoes that you can wear during your Crossfit workouts. But what do you do if you just want one pair of good crossfit shoes and not have to worry about changing during your WOD?
You look for a shoe suited for weightlifting, bodyweight training and running . In crossfit, these kind of shoes are known as "Minimals".
Minimals have a low heel drop with only minimal cushioning.
When you wear a pair of minimal crossfit shoes you have a firm platform from which you can generate power during weightlifting.
You also have just enough compression in the heels and sole of the shoes to make it comfortable to run and perform your bodyweight workouts.
Remember the best cross trainer shoes must allow you to successfully complete your standard WODs. They must allow for activities like comfortable running, rope climbing, jumping rope, burpees, etc.
They also need to provide the stability, foundation and power platform you need for lifting. If you are a crossfitter with flat feet, check out my review of cross training shoes for flat feet
Benefits of Minimalist Shoes
The Top 5 Cross Training Shoes For Men
King of the hill, top of the heap! I must confess these are my favourite crossfit shoes and I have a wardrobe full of tested shoes.
It seems that I'm not the only one that loves these shoes. Multiple cross training shoes reviews, and buyers, have given them an almost perfect user rating.
The Reebok Nano 5.0's performs brilliantly in all crossfit exercises, takes a beating and comes back for more.
This is the 5th, and newest version, in Reebok's Crossfit Nano brand and it’s by far the best shoe for crossfit.
With the Nano 5.0 you get a shoe whose upper mesh includes Kevlar. This increases durability, gives high level abrasion protection and allows for maximum airflow. It's the most durable Crossfit shoe available on the market.
The whole midsole of the shoe has being re-designed for a better fit to give more support for your feet when lifting. This redesign also makes them the most comfortable workout shoes.
The heel to toe drop on the Nano 5.0 is only 3MM, allowing for improved sensitivity and stability and the raised outsole lug patterns allow better traction.
One thing you will love about these shoes is....they are light! They weigh in at only 269g. This is exactly what you want during your WOD's, you want to feel like there is nothing on your feet.
The Nano 5.0 is a true crossfit all rounder. The 3MM heel to toe drop and the wide fit means it’s perfect for lifts like the squat and deadlift.
In addition the shoes are perfect for body weight exercises and running. With the Nano 5's you won't have to worry about changing shoes during your WOD. The Nano 5.0's are all you will need.
The shoes handle any of the running distances likely to come up as part of your WOD such as 3 km runs and 500 metre repeats. The extra support means you will have no arch or foot pain when running.
The durable sole gives a huge amount of traction and flexibility to absorb the impacts of running.
Without question, the Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0's are best crossfit shoes for men. They have everything you would want a great crossfit shoe to have if you’re a crossfitter.
They’re light. They're great for Olympic lifting, running, and bodyweight exercises and they will last.
The Puma's came a close second to the Nano 5.0's. Buyers, again, gave these shoes an almost perfect user rating.
As a crossfit shoe, the PUMA Cell Surin Cross Training Shoe is one of the best mens cross training shoes.
They have a supportive TPU shank which is great for fast movements and the heel cushioning gives adequate support for your feet.
The perforated detailing keeps your feet cool and comfortable even during heavy workouts. A thin midsole ensures you have excellent grip and comfort. The upper overlay construction allows for a comfortable and secure fit. These shoes are extremely light, and they are sturdy giving you maximum support
When it comes to running, the PUMA's really come into their own. You could be mistaken into thinking they are specifically designed for runners. They fit your feet snugly and the cushioned soles and heels absorb even the most heavy impacts.
For the lifting section of your WOD, the PUMA's don't let you down. There is plenty of room inside them to allow for movement. The thin midsole allows you to feel the ground underneath your feet and they provide security, support and stability.
The MX20BS4 Cross Minimus is a great example of a minimalist cross training shoe. It's perfect for crossfit workouts providing a stable platform and a 4MM heel to toe drop.
At only 188g, it's a lightweight shoe ideally suited for crossfit bodyweight and cardio exercises. This is version 4 of the MX20 shoe and they are one of the best sneakers for cross training.
When designing this version, New Balance redesigned the midsole so that it delivered a flatter drop. This resulted in a more stable and flexible shoe. A smaller tongue allows for more foot space which also decreased the weight of the shoe.
The shoe sits just right in the heel, very snugly in the mid-foot, and has a nice roomy toe box for grip and stability.
They're well ventilated and keep your feet feeling cool and comfortable during intense WOD's.
The uppers of this shoe are designed so that you can wear the shoe with or without socks, this shows the level of comfort this shoe provides.
They are really great for lifting, with the Vibram sole giving fantastic traction and grip.
They are stable enough to give good support while doing compound lifts such as bench press, squat, dead lift. In fact, any lift that requires a push against them.
While not made for running marathons, The Cross Minimus will keep you comfortable and pain free over the distances you will face in your WOD. It's easily one of the best cross trainer shoes for men available today.
Ok, before I get into reviewing these cross training shoes a couple of words of warning.
First, everyone in the gym will ask you " What the hell are you wearing on your feet? So be prepared to explain your Vibrams to other crossfitters.
Second, these are not traditional training shoes. When running in them for the first time they will make the muscles in your lower legs ache as you strenghen muscles you have never used before. However, you will get used to them, but these are shoes you need to "break in" slowly.
I suggest walking a few miles in them a day for a week or so to break your legs and feet into them first and buy a pair of toe socks.
When you do eventually get used to them, your legs will love you for it. They are one of the most comfortable cross training shoes available.
With that said. I love my Vibrams. In fact I love the whole Vibram FiveFingers range. They are one of the top crossfit shoes on the market today. However, after testing, the KMD LS Cross Training shoes are my favourite.
The Vibrams zero drop shoe are the first, of only two, in the top five best crossfit shoe for men.
These shoes are extremely comfortable. When you're wearing them it’s like you're walking around barefoot. It will take some practice to get used to putting these shoes on, but when you do it will be as easy as putting on traditional cross training shoes.
They are lightweight at only 190g and very thin. Despite this they are an extremely durable training shoe with a polyester & nylon mesh upper that allows for great breathability.
The shoes sport a rubber sole for foot protection. And the circular lug pattern provides better lateral support for weight training and conditioning.
The Vibrams are shoes that are great for running and lifting. You can comfortably run 5k in these shoes pain free, with some of my crossfit group routinely running 10k while wearing them.
They fit well and provide huge amounts of traction when lifting. The sole allows your feet to feel the floor beneath them, which is a huge plus for stability when heavy lifting.
The Inov-8 F-Lite 235 Cross Training Shoe is the second zero drop shoe in the top 5 and the word of warning I gave you regarding the Vibrams, apply here.
Break these shoes in slowly, over a week of walking until your feet and calves become used to them.
The Inov-8's are designed for cross-training, high intensity strength and conditioning workouts.
A redesigned, wider, toe bumper for protection. The wider toe box is essential in helping you stabilize your feet when performing fast movements.
These shoes are light and airy with a breathable mesh lining for a great fit. And the sticky, F-Lite, rubber sole is made for maximum traction on lots of different surfaces.
The shoes give you plenty of lateral support and the base of the shoe is firm. The zero drop let's you really plant your entire foot to the ground which is great for stability.
All crossfitters know that rope climb workouts are harsh on our shoes outer mesh. The 235 has Rope-Tec that extends into the uppers for 360° of added grip and stability. As well as Rope-Tec midfoot durability reinforcements. It's a durable shoe.
As you exercise you can actually feel the soles flexibility. The shoe hugs your foot and bends with it in whatever exercise you are performing. Also, the design of the treads give great traction, so your feet won't slip out from under you.
The soles of the shoe provides enough cushion for absorption and a large amount of flex that makes running in them very comfortable.
Also the slightly thicker sole on these shoes increases your comfort level during your run. The zero heel-to-toe drop and the thin sole of the shoe gives you a firm foundation when squatting and lifting.
Your feet will always feel secure on the ground. There is little or no lateral instability or rocking of the feet.
Best Cross Training Shoes For Women: A Comparison Table
The Top 5 Cross Training Shoes For Women: The Top Crossfit Shoes Review
The first thing you will notice out of the box is the Reebok Women's Crossfit Nano 5.0's are a gorgeous looking shoe. The whole range has some fantastically vibrant colours.
Like all the Reebok Nano's before it, this latest version is high quality. It has a durable Kevlar material mixed into the entire upper, exactly where you need it for the best support and protection
For this version, Reebok has completely redesigned the shape,making it one of the best training shoes for women. It fits your foot even better than before. Very form-fitting to your foot, snug towards the middle and heel
The new NanoShell midsole is a hard shell that supports your foot during medial and lateral movements. While providing a soft contact for the foot.
It's one of the best crossfit shoes for women. Good support, extremely flexible. Nice design.
The stability of this latest Nano is incredible and they really allow you to feel the floor which is great for heavy lifting. They have a wider toe box which helps you keep stable form during squats and deadlifts. They also have superior grip and keep your feet from moving around.
You'll feel like you're glued to the floor.
They are also fantastic for the running and cardio sections of your WOD. You don't need to worry about having to change into running shoe after lifting. These shoes can do it all.
They give good stability on side to side lunges and burpees. For impact exercises like jumping jacks and intense place running the balls and soles of your feet are very comfortable.
Without question the top cross training shoes for women today.
Plus, they look GREAT!!
These Nike shoes are great for crossfit. It has a removable insole. The herringbone sole provides multi-directional traction and is fully supportive of intense quick-response movements.
The shoes are made for multi-directional movement. They have a lightweight, breathable mesh upper that gives maximum support.
The sole provides flexibility and traction and the inner sleeve lends dynamic support and a snug lockdown. These shoes provide support but are light enough to not get in your way during a hard WOD. It easily takes to all types of crossfit exercises while staying comfortable.
These are one of the best workout shoes for women, lightweight, supportive and breathable. They are super comfortable .... but when buying go a half size larger.
Your feet will feel light like being barefoot. The grip is amazing on the floor and the support is great. These shoes are like a glove to your foot. They're very light shoes that hug your feet during hard WOD.
Remember, order a half size larger.
Firstly, these shoes from New Balance are part of their minimalist range and up there as one of the best shoes for crossfit women.
The minimalist shoe isn't supposed to be super supportive it's meant to allow your feet to move/flex the way they do when you run barefoot.
You will need to break these in for a week or so with some light walking to let you leg muscles get used to the motion.
The WX 20v4 is a minimalist runner with a breathable overlay , lightweight construction and Vibram sole. The heel to toe drop is only 4mm which is excellent for stability while lifting.
These shoes are light in weight and perfect for squats since they are thin on the bottom and let your feet feel the ground beneath them.
The minimal cushion and flat sole helps feel the ground and use proper form when lifting weights. The wide toe box allows you to spread your toes out more for extra grip and stability. you will really feel your feet get the grip sensation and push away from the ground.
These shoes are so lightweight, you’ll barely notice you are wearing them at all. They will the be most comfortable shoe you'll train in.
They are extremely durable. They take a ton of abuse from intense WOD'S and still look fantastic.
They are considered, by crossfitters, as being among the best cross trainers for women.
These are minimalist shoes so the warning for the New Balance WX 20v4 applies to these shoes as well.
The first thing you will notice about these shoes are the colours are just fun, fun,fun!
They are perfect for weightlifting use. The low height of the heel makes squats and deadlifts much easier .
As well as having a lightweight, flexible body. The sole and toe box have a material on them that really "sticks" well to gym floors. Meaning no slipping when you're doing lunges and other exercises where you don't want your feet to move.
They grip the floor and help greatly with push-ups, squats, jumps etc.
These shoes mold to your feet like gloves and there is nice arch support. The molded sole will really hug your arches and supports my feet during a WOD weight circuit.
When ordering go a half size up.
These shoes look absolutely amazing. They are the top crossfit shoe for women who want to improve their lifts.
They really mold to your feet and are designed as a crossfit "blended" shoe. They have anti- friction lining helping to reduce sweating and a high abrasion rubber outsole. This makes them very durable..
They are super comfortable lifting shoes that gets your heels up into the perfect position for lifting. They also allow for a great range of motion in the ankle for getting into that deep squat position.
Even though these shoes focus on the lifting section of your WOD, they are capable of easily handling most exercises.
Some crossfitters have said that these are the most comfortable weightlifting shoe they have ever worn.
They're snug around heel. You’re arches and toes will have lots of room to wiggle around in. Overall it's Reebok’s best crossfit shoe for women.
How To Choose Your Crossfit Shoes: Criteria For Evaluation
One of the things I love about Crossfit, is the sheer amount of activities and movements it involves.
This diverse, intense, range of movements puts a lot of pressure on your feet. So, your training shoes must give you the support needed to prevent strain on your legs and heels across a variety of intense activities.
You’ll need a pair stable enough for weightlifting and a shoe light and flexible enough for running and bodyweight exercises. The shoes should be comfortable while protecting your feet as they hit the ground.
Good shoes for crossfit can be difficult to find. Some crossfitters have a couple of pairs of the best crossfit sneakers based on whatever WOD they’re doing that day.
For you, the best shoes for crossfit training will depend totally on your body composition and your personal crossfit goals and needs. Take the time to pick your cross training shoes very carefully.
One critical aspect of crossfit shoes is to realize crossfit shoes for men are not the same as crossfit shoes for women. They are two completely different things.
Below you will find a list of the most important factors to look out for when choosing the best shoes for cross training. Male or Female.
The top class crossfit shoes have very little or no heel-to-toe drop.
The "drop" refers to the difference between your heel height and your forefoot height when your shoes are flat on the floor.
The zero drop is extremely important because a lot of exercises like squats and deadlifts need stability in your feet, ankles, and legs. Zero drop means that your heel and the ball of your foot are level with each other when the foot is flat on the ground.
Your crossfit shoes will be most effective and safe with the smallest heel to toe drop possible. So a training shoe with a zero or close to zero heel to toe drop is your best buy.
The closer to zero drop you are, the easier it is to land on the middle of your foot which means your step is strong and stable. This minimizes your risk of foot, ankle, knee, and back injuries.
A pair of ordinary running shoes will have a steep drop because they are designed to direct your feet from heel to toe.
On average crossfit shoes have a 3- 4 mm drop. This helps spread your weight more evenly across your foot. It's also a more natural foot position.
A Hard Sole
When you are lifting heavy weights you need to be able to feel the floor under your feet. This allows you to stabilize your body during the lift.
A hard sole with the least amount of compression in the heel is a must.
This will help keep your feet glued to the ground and stay stable regardless of the weight you are lifting.
Crossfit shoes take a huge amount of punishment. You need to buy a pair of quality training shoes that can take a serious beating and still perform at their best.
Spending money on a pair of training shoes only to find they are falling apart after only 2-3 months is a situation you never want to find yourself in.
You want a pair of quality shoes that can resist the friction generated by exercises like box jumps, burpees and especially rope climbs.
However, finding a pair of crossfit shoes that balances durability with the need for a light and flexible design isn't easy.
So how do you know the shoes you are buying are durable?
Well, the feature you are looking for is sometimes called a cage or duracage. This is a layer, sometimes made of rubber or kevlar, around the mid-shoe and toe areas of the shoe.
This layer provides lightweight protection for the shoe and traction on the top of the shoe. This top of shoe traction is very helpful for exercises such as rope climbs.
This layer of protection is the sign of a quality, durable crossfit shoe.
Here is a fact of life: No two pair of feet are exactly the same. That's why this one criteria is so subjective.
No matter how well made or how durable, a pair of training shoes are, you will not train in them for long if they aren't comfortable on your feet.
Obviously, the best way to access comfort is to try the shoes on and "road test" them. But there are qualities to look for without having to do that.
Some questions to ask yourself are: How breathable is the shoe? Is the shape of the shoe compatible with the shape of my feet? Can it absorb the amount of sweat my feet produce? Is there any part of the shoe that looks like it may cause discomfort?
The secret to a comfortable shoe is making sure that is fulfills your specific needs. Do you have wide feet, narrow feet, flat feet?
Make sure to look for shoes that address your feet's unique features.
Maximum shoe flexibility is needed to give your feet the ability to easily move in your training shoes with little or no friction. This allows your feet to give you strength and stability.
Shoe flexibility requires a flexible top shoe and sole as well as a good fit so your feet can move naturally. Usually this requires that the shoe have good fore foot room and a wide toe-box.
Lightweight And Breathable.
Crossfit is a tough endeavour involving lots of quick, intense, movement.
I know from experience, and believe me when I tell you, the last thing you’ll want to wear during your WOD are a pair of heavy training shoes.
During your workout you will spend the vast amount of your time moving or jumping around. 90% of the exercises you will perform during your WOD need sudden, quick movements. That’s why you training shoes must not weigh you down.
Imagine doing a box jump set wearing a pair of shoes that feel they are made of stone or lead.
Add to this the fact that during your workout you’re going to get very hot and sweat a ton. To combat this you need to ensure your crossfit shoes are breathable.
The right crossfit shoes for you will be lightweight with maximum breathability. This means they will effectively cool your feet and won't burden you with unnecessary extra weight during your WOD.
If your crossfit shoes don't give you maximum support during your workouts, it’s only a matter of time before you get injured.
Some questions to ask yourself before you buy a pair of training shoes:
Will they support my ankles during fast and hard lateral movements? Is the heel hard and solid enough to provide a firm and safe platform during heavy lifts? Does the heel also provide me with some absorption to combat high impact jumping landing and running?
The number one way you can prevent injury is to wear training shoes that provide maximum support during your workouts.
The right crossfit shoe will protect your feet from any undue pressure or punishment during your WOD.
When assessing how much protection a shoe provides look for the following design features.
Does it have a tough outer lining ? Does it have a mid foot "cage"?, Does it have an adequate toe "cage"? Does it have a high back to protect your Achilles Heel region?
These features alone will protect your feet during WOD exercises like Double-Unders, Rope Climbs and Box Jumps.
During crossfit workouts you must be aware of, and know, where where your body is at all times.
The most important way of accomplishing this is being able to feel the ground beneath your feet during exercises.
When we talk about the sensitivity of crossfit shoes, we mean how well does the shoe allow us to feel the ground through the shoe.
As you have probably guessed, this is of the utmost importance during heavy lifts. As being able to feel the ground tells you where you are putting the most pressure during the lift.
Sensitivity also means how responsive the shoe is to quick, sudden changes in lateral direction.
How To Pick Your Crossfit Shoes
As I have already said in this article, crossfit is a tough, unforgiving activity.
If you are considering joining a crossfit class you must take it seriously. The pressure your feet will have to endure should not to be taken lightly.
You need to make sure that you are equipped to reach your crossfit potential in a safe and injury free manner. So, please make sure you have the best equipment for the job.
Issues to keep in mind when you are buying a pair of crossfit shoes are what kind of training are you going to be concentrating on and where?
Are you just starting out and not in great shape? Then you might need a pair of training shoes with a little more support and cushioning. As your fitness progresses you can then change to the more minimal designed shoes.
I urge you not to go for the cheap option, but rather buy the best you can afford.
A good pair of crossfit shoes is an investment towards your future health and well being. It's definitely worth spending as much as you can possibly afford to keep you injury free. Use the criteria listed in this article to help you choose a pair of shoes that fulfills your needs.
This article gives you all the information you will ever need to choose and buy the best crossfit shoe.
Product Images Sourced From Amazon.com