Ahh, Crossfit. Outside of a forced labor camp, it’s the most fun you can have in this life. Crossfit is an interval training program that focuses on using a set of intense, alternating exercises to increase fitness in every part of your body. It enhances stamina, endurance, strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and agility. Since it targets such a wide range of fitness goals, it incorporates a huge variety of exercises. This makes choosing crossfit gear especially difficult. Every piece of clothing or equipment has to be as wide-reaching and all-inclusive as the program itself. Meaning, if you’re looking for crossfit shoes, you’re in for a long hunt.
Weight, shock absorption, ventilation, traction, durability, flex, and the ability to wear them around without the other gym rats mocking you are all factors to consider when you choose a crossfit shoe. Then, too you have to factor in your personal preferences. Do you like a minimalist shoe or are you looking for maximum support? When it comes to engaging in the brutal, battering, unforgiving world of crossfit, you put your body at great risk by choosing the wrong equipment. To save you from permanent damage, we rounded up the 7 best crossfit shoes for any extreme athlete.
New Balance MX797v2
Pro: Strong traction for running
Con: Some seams are glued rather than stitched
Budget Buy: No need to throw away a load of money if you’re just considering amping up your core strength with some casual crossfit (Note: There is no such thing as “casual crossfit”). You can get the MX797v2 for a pittance and even if you abandon interval training, these will give you plenty of stability and comfort as casual sneakers or general athletic shoes. Cushioned and highly supportive, these are very forgiving of mistakes and help assuage damage from poor form and beginner errors. Essentially classic gym shoes, the MX797v2 bridge the gap from jogging or racquetball to crossfit routines. They’re a little on the heavy side, which increase the amount of work you will do, but those added ounces are your safety net against injury.
PUMA Men’s Tazon 5
Pro: Breaks in quickly
Con: Run a bit on the wide side
Classic Lines: While not a true throwback, the Tazon 5 have a look that’s about 20 years old. Thankfully, that’s the only aspect to their build that came out of the wayback machine. Imported synthetic leather is used on the upper for a tough exterior that is harder to damage than mesh while breathability is handled by the EcoOrthoLite sockliner. A cushioned inner sole makes the feel easy and a bit bouncy which detracts a little from weight lifting, though enhances the overall supportive sense that these crossfit shoes exude. They work very well in the gym, but really show off when it comes to longer runs, so if you incorporate a lot of cardio or roadwork and don’t want to swap your footgear, these are right up your alley.
Inov-8 Bare XF 210
Pro: Easier to balance for more lifting power
Con: Not ideal for running unless you’re used to barefoot shoes
Alpha Dog: The interval training community is divided on these shoes. Not because of the shoes themselves – which are largely beloved – but because some claim that Inov-8 was the first crossfit shoe maker, while some say others were the progenitor. Whether the company was the original or not, they make a fine piece of footwear that you’ll find thick on the ground of any crossfit gym. Featuring a 3mm drop from heel to toe, the XF 210 have one of the leanest outsoles in the business. They are heavily meshed on the upper like a road bike shoe meant to keep air moving and ensure your feet are dryer sheet fresh. Inside is a layer of anti-friction lining that won’t cause blisters or hot spots even during lateral action or unusual movement, so feel free to wear them to your ballroom dancing class, you floating feather you.
Pro: Double-stitched quarter panel brace
Con: Require a lengthy break-in time
Swift Step: Gel cross trainers, while slightly more comfortable, will often suffer from weight issues that can make movement sluggish. Not so with the Gel-Fortius. Hop, skip, climb a rope, go a few rounds in the ring, dancing and mincing away like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and you’ll never find these slowing you down. Their low drop is ideal for giving you stability when lifting while the fit makes you feel catlike and agile thanks to a sensitive and flexible sole. A reinforced toe cap gives them excellent longevity and avoids the embarrassing stubs and slipper feel of some other lifting shoes.
New Balance Minimus 20v3
Pro: Can be used without socks
Con: Require additional care and maintenance
Thin-Skinned: Among minimalist shoes built for cross training, the Minimus line has always been good, not great. However, New Balance has proven that they can tweak and fiddle a mediocre piece of footwear into a modern marvel given enough time. The 20v3 version of the shoe is among the best for those who like a little less underneath them for their workout. It only has a 4mm heel to toe drop, so it isn’t flat like a barefoot running shoe, but rather offers a little sink for lifting and a nice, neutral position that switches positions and exercises seamlessly. They have an intimate feel similar to wrestling shoes that are handy for fancy footwork and quick speed movements or busting out a fast Tabata training routine.
Reebok Nano 4.0
Pro: Outstanding impact reduction when running
Con: Toe box runs tight
Frame and Fortune: Reebok has become one of the biggest proponents of all things crossfit and their shoes reflect their dedication to the needs of the interval training athlete. Their Nano line is among the best they create, but it tends to be hit or miss. For our money, the 4.0 is the best choice. It has a snugger fit than the 5.0 without the plethora of problems that plagued the 3.0. Using Kevlar aramid fiber, a staple of bulletproof vests, they have made a shoe that is light enough for running suicides but hard enough to stand up to olympic lifts. The best thing we can say about them is it is easy to forget you’re wearing them, which speaks to how well they can merge with your body and incorporate into your training regimen.
Nike Free 5.0 V6
Pro: Excellent arch support
Con: One coral / gray color scheme
The Grip Reaper: When it comes to sticking to surfaces, these have a tread that grabs hold like an approach shoe and seems to just work for all the endless movements that crossfit requires. Using a hexagonal pattern on the bottom you can land and take off in any direction without your feet getting away from you. Nubs on the ball and heel of the foot give you kick off where you need it but not so much as to trip you up. Triple-layered plastic makes up the toe box and creates a hardy and protective end that is tough to wear out and keeps your feet safe as houses. A flywire lacing system gives you quick and exacting control over your comfort and tightness with just a tug.