Thanks to CrossFit’s continued growth and popularity, gear targeted specifically to CrossFit athletes is now competitively priced and easy to find. This is especially true for CrossFit shoes.
Shoes are one of the most important things for CrossFit athletes. They must be comfortable, versatile, and they need to support athletes as they tackle various activities. Competitive athletes are more likely to have a few different pairs of shoes to address different activities, but others just want a single pair that will work how they need them to.
Fortunately, as shoe manufacturers have seen the potential for growing their brand with CrossFit athletes, they have produced shoes that offer the stability and reliability CrossFit athletes desire. Reebok is the only company able to market specifically as “CrossFit,” but others – including Nike and Inov-8 – have shoes that are designed or the kind of workouts and versatility the sport demands. Typically these shoes are called cross-trainers, but not all cross-training shoes are good for CrossFit. We recommend being careful not to simply pick up a pair of cross trainers and expect them to work well for your CrossFit workouts.
Newcomers to CrossFit can often rely on regular running shoes for the first little while. Running shoes can handle some of the initial workouts you’ll perform, and, of course, they are great for the running you’ll do as well. However, after you’ve been working out for a while, you’ll probably find that your running shoes are not working out as well – they can’t handle lifting, or the heel to toe drop is too large.
Some of the most important characteristics to look for in a CrossFit shoe include:
- Drop: 4mm is average for CrossFit shoes
- Durability: your shoes have to handle the gamut of workouts
- Sole: a hard sole is necessary for the best stability
- Structure: you need a structured instep for certain tasks, such as rope climbing
- Material: consider climate and breathability specific to your workouts.
Many athletes prefer to have specific shoes for lifting and for running longer distances. The shoes we’re recommending here are all-around CrossFit shoes.
Ultimately, especially with the wide range of choices, finding the best CrossFit shoe is an incredibly personal decision. So much depends on the fit of the shoe, your foot shape, and what is comfortable to you. To get you started, we have compiled a list of our favorite CrossFit shoes for men and women.
Best CrossFit Shoes for Men and Women
Reebok is the name in CrossFit shoe, so of course they top the list. The Nano 7.0 is a perfect CrossFit shoe for everything except longer runs. It features a stiff sole to support you when you lift, wraps around the out- and midsole for better rope climbing, and better breathability than previous versions of the Nano.
The various versions of the Nano have continually been improved upon in an effort to address CrossFit athletes’ needs. The 7, for example, features new material (no longer Kevlar) to increase breathability. Reebok also updates the multi-surface outsole to provide better traction for all kinds of training. One big complaint about this version is the narrower toe box, which provides less room for toe splay and is an issue for many athletes.
Nike’s Metacon line is out to give Reebok a run for its money, even without the official CrossFit name attached to it. The Nike Metacon 3’s are dynamic and excellent all-around shoes for CrossFit. They are even cushioned enough for running (short runs) while also having a firm enough sole for lifting.
Both men’s and women’s versions of the Metacon 3 tend to run a little small, so some athletes are finding they need to go up a half size for more room in the toe box. Nike also made some changes to improve versatility over earlier versions, and as a result the 3’s are not quite a good for lifting.
For athletes who prefer a minimalist shoe, Inov-8 offers up the F-Lite (which stands for “feather light”) 235 – a functional CrossFit shoe for the lover of minimalism. The F-Lite 235 features a toe bumper to protect you during burpees, Rope-Tec for better rope climbing capabilities, and a denser heel for enhanced lifting support.
The biggest drawbacks of the F-Lite 235 are really the drawbacks that any good minimalist shoe will have: not enough support, a stiff arch, and not great protection against the elements. However, as a minimalist shoe, Inov-8 offers up a functional and fun CrossFit shoe that is sure to please those looking for minimalism.