10 Best CrossFit Shoes Tested and Compared
All runners know cross-training is essential to keeping us well balanced and preventing injury. While running keeps us in incredible cardiovascular shape, the repetitive movement is not ideal for whole body strengthening and can leave us susceptible to injury. Many runners turn to CrossFit for a challenging and fun way to engage the entire body and improve strength and speed.
Whether you attend one of the many gyms that have been popping up or you are just completing WODs (Workout of the Day) at home, you will find yourself engaged in a wide variety of exercises from squats and dead lifts to box jumps and rope climbs to sprints and biking. Many runners may try to tackle these exercises in their trusty running shoes but those who seek out CrossFit designated shoes are shocked by the benefits.
The first thing converts to CrossFit shoes note is significant improvement in form during squats and lifts. Unlike running shoes, which push you forward, CrossFit shoes are designed with a flat sole and negative or neutral heel drop to push the weight into your heel and help you feel more grounded during heavy lifts. Other key features include multi directional traction to improve grip and flexibility for lateral movements and rubber outsoles to increase durability and grip when on unconventional surfaces such as during box jumps or rope climbs.
For any level of CrossFit (or really any cross-training) cross-training or lifting shoes should be considered. We have narrowed it down to 10 of the most popular and quality options for you to consider.
- Reebok Crossfit Nano 6.0
- RopePro+ grip
- Nike Metcon 3
- Zero-Drag heel
- Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0
- TPU NanoShell midsole
10 Best CrossFit Shoes
1. Reebok Crossfit Nano 6.0
These shoes strike a good balance to accommodate the wide variety of CrossFit exercises. They offer great stability and support for lifting without being too rigid or bulky for quick movements. Unlike many shoes meant for lifting, there is a good amount of cushioning for high impact exercises. You may not want to give up your running shoes for longer distances but there are not many activities these shoes cannot handle.
Kevlar-infused mesh upper for increased durability without sacrificing breathability or weight. Sandpaper texture and RopePro+ grip enhances traction on a variety of surfaces.
This version is reported to be the most comfortable of the Nano line. Unlike previous models, they feature an anatomical foot shape to cradle and support. They also require very little, if any, time to break in. Many users report improvement in foot, ankle or knee pain after switching to these shoes. Some women do feel the women’s version is too narrow but women with wide feet who opt for the men’s version have few complaints.
Built to endure intense workouts, these shoes have great durability owing to the kevlar-infused upper.
Despite the tough Kevlar-infused exterior, the uppers are still mesh and allow for your feet to breathe.
Two classic designs for men (black or royal blue) with a larger selection of colors for women. They do say CrossFit on the tongue and back of the shoe but it is not displayed very prominently.
These shoes are pricey but if you are devoted to CrossFit they are worth the investment. You are paying for high quality, specialized support and durability. Expect these shoes to make a difference in your work out and hold up much longer than budget options.
- Very Durable
- Good Support
2. Nike Metcon 3
The solid sole and supportive heel provides a stable foundation for squats and lifts with ample space in the toe box for optimal balance. Forefoot flex grooves allow for natural flexibility to assist with grip and quick movements. They also have enough cushioning to absorb impact during sprints and jumps.
Flywire structure around the midfoot provides support to prevent the foot from slipping without adding any bulk to the shoe. “Zero-drag” heel specially designed for handstand pushups and box jumps. Outsole rope wrap adds abrasion protection and traction for rope climbs.
Great improvement in comfort from the previous Metcon models. Strikes a good balance of padding and flexibility. A few people note occasional issues with heel slippage but this does not deter people from loving these shoes.
These shoes are relatively new and there has not been much feedback on durability. They do seem to have improved durability over the Metcon 2 but may not hold up quite as well as the Reebok Nano
Consistent with other Nike shoes, these shoes come in a variety of cool colors and designs with a large Nike swish to leave no one wondering what brand you’re wearing.
Price does vary based on color and size but are in the same price range as the Nano 6.0
- Flexible but secure
- Stable foundation for lifts
3. Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0
As its name would suggest, these shoes are lightweight and flexible with good traction for Metcon (metabolic conditioning) workouts. It also provides good grip and support in the heel for lifting. Ample room in the toe box allows toes to splay to improve lifts and jumps. Some people find the lack of arch support makes running any distance a bit uncomfortable.
Just like the newer versions this shoe is designed with a Kevlar-infused mesh upper that provides protection and increased durability. Hard TPU NanoShell midsole provides additional support for medial and lateral movements as well as heavy lifts.
This shoe has taken a step toward the anatomical foot shape that makes the Nano 6.0 so comfortable. Most people find this shoes very comfortable for workouts but would prefer more arch support for longer wear.
Kevlar-infused mesh on the upper with Polyurethane NanoShell around the midfoot provides protection and increased durability around the whole shoe.
This shoe has a tougher and more graphic design compared to Nike. Crossfit is displayed a bit more prominently on this version on both the heel and the side. This will stand out more or less depending on color.
Again, the price will vary with color but these have been on the market longer. The price starts around the same as the Nano 6.0 but chances of finding a good deal if you are flexible on color will be much higher.
- Great durability
- Versatile performance
- Good support and flexibility
Lacking arch support
4. Inov8 F-lite 235 V2
This shoe provides support for almost any exercise without getting in the way. It is more flexible and snug-fitting than other cross training shoes allowing athletes to feel less restricted during plyometrics, cardio and climbing exercises. However, the wide toe box and structured heel still offer adequate support and stability to keep weight in your heels while lifting and squatting.
Met-cradle lacing system provides snug yet flexible security to lock the foot in place so your shoe moves with you. Attachment to the laces allows a customized fit to optimize this natural feel. It has a Zero drop. Rubber toe cap provides extra protection without catching during box jumps. Sticky rubber outsole extends onto the upper to provide increased traction for rope climbs.
Designed to fit like a glove, people love the secure and flexible fit. This shoe especially popular for cardio buffs who are not accustomed to the sturdier feel of lifting shoes.
These shoes feel well-made and sturdy but some do experience some wear in the mesh area between the fingers of the met-cradle.
Fun and functional for the gym. They do not offer as wide of a variety as some other brands but they do offer one bright colorful pair for both men and women as well as a few other gray and black options with much more subtle color.
Around the same price as those listed above. These shoes are not a cheaper option but are great for those not impressed with the standard CrossFit shoes. Worth the investment if you are seeking flexible and lightweight shoes that can still provide support and improve your form.
- Lightweight and flexible
- Natural foot-feel
- Enough support to improve form but will not get in the way
May show signs of wear and tear
5. Nike Free 5.0 V6
All Nike Free shoes are designed to be lightweight for cardio, but these shoes have included some extra design features to increase support for lateral movements and lifting.
To design this shoe, the team at Nike studied how human feet move during physical activity. It’s designed to simulate the bare foot while providing protection and support to help both performance and comfort. This really shows and makes this shoe great for transitioning to barefoot shoe training. The sole provides excellent grip on pretty much all surfaces.
This shoes need no breaking in, but will be flexible right out of the box. They have a flywire lacing system that can be adjusted to grip your feet lightly or tightly depending on your preference. The design provides a lot of lateral support and will help keep your ankles from rolling. They do fit very true to size.
This shoe is very durable and will handle frequent use for at least a year. It should be noted that the unique, highly flexible design of the sole can result in objects like rocks getting stuck between the sections, though they’re easy to pry out. You do need to get them out as soon as possible, or else the object may start to damage the sole and lead to it splitting.
This shoe comes in some very vivid colors. The color you see on a computer screen does not do justice to how bright the colors are. Besides the color, these shoes have a very stylish look that you can wear out on the street without looking out of place. The Nike swoosh is evident, but not overwhelming, and is more subdued on some color options.
Price can vary by size, but on average these are fairly mid-range athletic training shoes.
• Good lateral support
• Objects can get stuck between sole sections
• Very bright colors may not work for everyone
6. Brooks Glycerin 12
These shoes are called cross-trainers for good reason. Their light weight makes them great for running, while they provide a lot of support thanks to high tech materials. It’s been designed to distribute pressed every time your foot comes down and the rounded heel is meant to provide increased efficiency.
The modular sole and unique materials make a notable difference in performance and comfort alike. It’s something athletes can really feel when they’re pushing themselves.
These are incredibly comfortable shoes. Their design is really great for anyone with foot or knee pain, as the cushioning will help alleviate some of the issues, and their light weight means that you can still train. These shoes fit as expected and can fit most orthotics inside quite easily.
These shoes hold up great, even with intense use like competitions or marathons.
These shoes have a lot of style options, from bright and loud to more subdued and calm.
These are some fairly expensive shoes, as you might expect with something so innovative.
• Great support and cushioning
• A lot of choice for styles
• Not what you’re looking for if you want a minimalist shoe
7. Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0
Added heel piece and heel drop provides even more stability for lifts than previous models. Anatomical toe box and multidirectional traction are designed for natural toe splay during lifts squats and jumps although some people feel the toe box is still too narrow to get the grip they are accustomed to.
Nanoweave upper designed to provide secure but comfortable fit and increased durability. 360-degree TPU heel lock wraps around to increase stability. Strong foundation and multidirectional contouring enhance traction and durability all around. It also has a 4mm heel drop. These shoes are a little heavier than the other shoes on this list.
These require a bit more work to break in than previous models but may be worth the payout. Some people feel the Nanoshell is too compressing and rigid initially but those who stick with them notice the fit eases up after a few workouts and report the shoe reach a good level of stability without hindering movements. The higher heel lock and sturdy sole remain a bit controversial but many feel the contoured foot bed is a step up from previous models.
Although not infused with Kevlar, these shoes should hold up as well as others of the Nano line.
Ventilation is not a key aspect to the design but over-heating feet does not appear to be an issue.
The Nanoweave overlay creates a mesh look to add contrast to the selection of brightly colors that climb up the heel lock and outsole. Like the CrossFit Nano 6.0, the CrossFit brand name appears in small font on the tongue and heel of the shoe.
Prices range widely but as this version has not been quite as popular as the Nano 6.0 it may be easier to find a deal on these incredibly supportive and durable shoes.
- Secure, locked-in feel
- Comfortable foot bed
- Takes time to break in
- May be too rigid or narrow
8. Asics Gel Nimbus 15
These shoes are great for any activity where you’re on your feet, whether it’s CrossFit, running, or simply walking around for work. They’re designed to maximize flexibility with some deep grooves in the sole while providing a lot of cushioning with Asics’ Gel technology. They are bit heavier than many other shoes used for CrossFit, but that’s balanced out by their comfort and overall sturdiness.
These Gel in these shoes is balanced to the front of the feet for shock absorption. They put a bit of bounce in your step, offering a bit of a boost.
These shoes are incredibly comfortable. They’re a great choice for anyone with flat feet or a tendency for tendonitis since their structure and cushioning provides support to alleviate those issues. They handle just about any kind of surface very well.
These are some pretty tough shoes, thanks to the special consideration for trail running in their design.
These shoes are a great option for those who don’t want a training shoe that looks like a training shoe. Most colors available are bright, but there are also more subdued options available.
These are fairly expensive shoes.
- Low cost
- Solid Foundation
- Not highly specialized for CrossFit exercises
- Does not provide as much security or stability compared to other options
9. Asics Gel Fortius TR
Designed to accommodate lifts, cleans, rope climbs and sprints this a great versatile shoe. It has slightly more padding than others on this list and is intended to ease the impact of repetitive jumps and sprints. Low profile build provides a good foundation for lifting but some feel there could be more toe space to allow for improved grounding and balance.
The shoe features a low profile platform. Gel cushioning, breathable mesh, added abrasion resistant overlays, toe guard and outsole to improve durability.
Snug and secure fit with a bit more padding makes for a very comfortable gym shoe. Some find it to be a bit too narrow and constricting especially in the toe.
Abrasion resistant overlays and Rhinoskin toecap add increased durability and protection. Shoes appear and feel well-made and durable.
There are a few options to choose from that feature vibrant colors such as highlighter yellow and bold red.
Mid range for CrossFit shoes but can be found at a more affordable price. These are some high quality shoes built to provide support and endure tough, high-impact workouts.
- Abrasion resistant materials increase durability
- Snug and secure fit
- Increased cushioning for high impact exercises
- Low profile platform
- Lacking space in toe box
10. Nike Metcon 2
Customer reviews are mostly positive for this shoe’s ability to perform a variety of CrossFit tasks. Solid foundation and supportive heel aids in lifts and the lightweight and flexible shell is designed to support multi-directional movement. Although most people do not feel hindered in movements, some find the sole a bit too stiff for quick sprints and box jumps.
Flywire structure around the midfoot provides support to prevent the foot from slipping without adding any bulk to the shoe. “Zero-drag” heel specially designed for handstand pushups and box jumps. The shoe is lightweight and has a breathable mesh upper.
Some complained that these are a bit shallow and tight across the top for those with high arches. In general these shoes run more narrow than the Nanos; however, the toebox is still wider than a typical running shoe to allow toes to expand and splay with lifting.
These shoes do show some wear and tear after months of regular use.
Wide variety of bold color combinations some with a unique marbled appearing outsole and all highlighting the classic Nike swish.
Price ranges widely with the variety of color options but they tend to be less than the newer Metcon 3.
- Secure feel
- Zero drag heel
- Variety of stylish options
- Rigid sole
- Narrow fit
The Factors We Used in Our Evaluation of the Best CrossFit Shoes
With the growing popularity of CrossFit and the fanatic dedication of its members, the market is saturated with a variety of models and many highly opinionated reviews. To sort through the chaos we have evaluated each shoe on the standards set out below.
The wide variety of exercises from WOD to WOD requires a highly versatile shoe that will keep you moving quickly and comfortably between exercises. We looked for shoes that have support and stability for lifting as well as flexibility and traction that for quick cardio movements, runs and jumps. Most cross-trainers, especially CrossFit-specific shoes, are not designed to support long-distance running. Regular runners should plan to leave these shoes in the gym and look into a shoe specific to their running needs.
Many shoes feature unique design elements specific for CrossFit exercises. We have highlighted some key features worth considering when investing in more specialized shoes.
Comfort is key for any shoe regardless of the activity but there are some elements that make the fit of CrossFit shoes a bit different. CrossFit veterans prefer shoes with a wide toe box to allow toes to splay comfortably during lifts and jumps. Those who have never worn lifting shoes may find the flat sole and extra heel support takes some getting used to but you should grow to love the security and support of these shoes.
CrossFit is characterized by high intensity workouts that are hard on shoes. Activities such as rope climbs, box jumps and handstand push-ups make different areas of the shoe susceptible to wear and tear.
Repetitive movements cause friction which can easily lead feet to overheat especially in a warm gym. We sought out shoes that take breathability into account with the design to keep feet cool and comfortable.
Support, structure and durability add weight quickly. We looked for shoes that can provide these elements without weighing you down during workouts.
Whether you are looking to start conversation or are just rewarding yourself for working out it is always fun to have options you can be excited about wearing. CrossFit gyms often provide a great social atmosphere and your shoes can make a statement.
Price varies significantly for many shoes depending on color, size and seller. We compared price ranges for the top shoes and considered durability and quality when considering the value.
Additional Things To Think About
Flexibility vs Support
While each shoe selected has some balance of flexibility and support, some shoes favor one or the other. It is important to consider what feel you prefer and what CrossFit elements you are looking to improve on. If you are looking for support and a locked in feel to secure your feet during lifts, opt for a more structured and supportive shoe. If you can’t stand to be slowed down by weight or bulk, a shoe with minimal support and barefoot feel may be for you.
Consider how dedicated you are to CrossFit. If you have been going 5 times a week for the past year you may want to invest in a durable and specialized pair. Whereas if you are just starting out or are dabbling in CrossFit along with other cross training workouts you may opt for a more general pair of cross-trainers.
The CrossFit name carries with it a reputation of intense strength, speed and athleticism. Many dedicated athletes take great pride in the hard work they put in and like to make it known. Some shoes are specifically labeled as CrossFit shoes and others are just highly regarded in CrossFit circles. If this matter to you, consider investing in one of the higher end shoes.
Q: Can these shoes double as running shoes?
While this answer will vary for each shoe and individual, the general consensus is no. Many options are great for running less than a mile but do not provide appropriate support for running distances.
Q: Do I need special shoes for CrossFit?
We highly recommend it! CrossFit is a high impact activity that requires careful attention to form. Having the right pair of shoes can make a big difference to protect from injuries and get the maximum benefit from these workouts.