A Closer Look at the Best Crossfit Shoes for Men & Women
Finding the best Crossfit shoes for your “Workout of the Day“ and beyond just got easier. We’ve put together this handy guide for you in hopes of bringing you up to speed as to what you should look for, key features to examine when buying, review of some of the top Crossfit training shoes, and more. Investing in yourself just got a little easier, read on to learn more.
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Crossfit requires you to be performing at your peak, which means you definitely need the right footwear. You don’t want to be completing a rope climb or deadlift and be thinking about how sore your feet are, or if your shoes are about to fall apart.
The variable nature of Crossfit means that you can’t wear just any old shoe – they need to be particularly durable and be able to hold up to weight lifting, jumping, climbing and more. So what sort of shoe is best for Crossfit? This article goes in depth into what shoes are best for each activity, what you should be looking for, as well as a guide to the top 5 Crossfit shoes for women and the top 5 Crossfit shoes for men.
If you haven’t heard of it before, you must have been living under a rock. But even if you have heard of the fitness craze that has been sweeping the world, not everyone knows how it started and what it really involves.
Crossfit is an exercise routine created by Greg Glassman, a former personal trainer that created high intensity workouts based on functional movements. His workouts soon went viral and then Crossfit, Inc. was created in 2000 along with Lauren Jenai.
Crossfit is now both a fitness regime and a competitive fitness sport. It is probably most famous for its “WODs” or workouts of the day. Workouts frequently involve Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, plyometrics, calisthenics, gymnastics, high-intensity interval training and other exercises. The focus of these is on functional, everyday movements that are performed at high intensities.
Crossfit took off in a big way thanks to its intense exercise philosophy and reputation for getting fast fitness and strength results. It is currently used in over 13,000 affiliated gyms, with many in America. These gyms usually hold hour long classes that cover a warm up, skill development, the WOD and some stretching. Performance is scored to increase competition and to track individual progress.
Crossfit-specific shoes are a tricky subject because the exercises are so varied. It can be hard to find a shoe that fits all the different workouts you’ll be doing. In addition, your specific Crossfit gym might favor some exercises over others, such as more of a focus on weights or plyometrics, so try to take this into account. Here are some aspects of your workout shoes that are important for different exercises:
A shoes’s drop is the difference between how high the heel is and how high the forefoot is. You might find higher drops of around 8mm in running shoes that are designed to have high support and guide the foot as it rolls from heel to toe. However, most weightlifters don’t want much of a drop as they like to feel their feet flat on the ground, and stay on their heels instead of rolling too far forwards onto the balls of their feet.
Crossfit incorporates both running and weightlifting, so which is best for the WODs? Generally a shoe with a medium drop of around 4mm is a good choice. This provides a more natural position with the weight distributed evenly across it and means the shoe can be versatile enough for most exercises. However, those who have any Achilles tendon problems, calf problems or rigid feet benefit from more heel lift in order to reduce stress on these parts.
True Crossfit fanatics may choose to have two or more pairs of shoes so that you can feel at your most comfortable, wether you’re weight lifting, squatting, jumping or running.
Comfort and Fit
The main thing you need for good shoe comfort is the right fit. This means getting the perfect fit – not just the shoe size itself, but the right width and style that works with your foot. Generally high end running and Crossfit shoes are very comfortable because they use high quality padding.
If you’re buying online then read as much about the specifications as you can and measure your foot if need be. Rarely will a low end and unknown brand be as comfortable and durable as you need for intense Crossfit workouts.
Quality shoes for Crossfit are essential. Your shoes take a real beating with the huge variety of exercises that Crossfit involve so if the materials, stitching and general construction aren’t high quality then you’ll most likely be buying a new pair in a matter of months. The widely regarded rule is that you get what you pay for, so higher price range Crossfit shoes tend to be of higher quality.
Not all Crossfit workouts are conducted indoors. Some require 400 meter runs, and some Crossfit gyms place particular emphasis on outdoor workouts. For this reason, it’s important to consider what your local climate is like when buying Crossfit shoes. Do you get frequent rain? Or even snow storms?
If this is the case then you’ll want to get shoes with great sole traction and some waterproof materials. Perhaps you’re in a hot environment with high humidity? In this case you might want lightweight shoes made from breathable materials.
Imagine doing a rope climb with bare feet. Does that make you cringe just thinking about it? What about doing double unders with a skipping rope? Many of the Crossfit exercises would wreak havoc on your feet, so your Crossfit shoes better provide you with some serious protection. The outer material of your Crossfit shoes need to be strong, such as kevlar, and preferably have some grip to make climbs easier. Similarly, decent forefoot protection, such as a rubber cage, will be a great help if you catch your toes during a double under.
You need to decide the level of support you need for the exercises you’ll be doing, along with your own personal preference. Super supportive shoes will help you get through plyometric exercises like box jumps and the impacts of running, but usually have a high drop so they can be problematic during heavy weight lifting.
In contrast, minimal shoes offer a more lightweight and natural feel that can help to develop the muscles in your feet. The downside of a minimal shoe is that they can leave your feet pretty sore from giving them a good workout, and can mean you’re more likely to roll or injure your ankles.
Main Use for the Shoes
Some shoes are specifically designed for Crossfit workouts and these are usually a good choice. But is Crossfit your only form of exercise? You might really be into running and like the feel of running shoes, or you might like a good all-rounder shoe if you’re constantly doing different classes at the gym or a variety of sports.
You’ll need to decide just how often Crossfit features in your weekly schedule to see if it warrants buying Crossfit-specific shoes, as well as what your personal preference for shoe styles is.
Crossfit workouts are all about mixing it up so you never get stuck in a rut. This can mean a trail run one minute and rope climbs the next. Whatever the exercise is, you can guarantee both you and your gear will get a serious workout.
Climbing up and sliding down ropes are one of the most intense things you can do to your shoes, as the friction from the rope can take chunks out of your soles. So take a good look at where the sole connects to the shoe’s upper and see if there are any extra protection features. If it’s just soft foam then you might need to give those shoes a miss.
As a general rule, the more breathable your Crossfit shoes are, the better. Shoes that are lightweight and have mesh paneling allow your feet to stay cool and fatigue at a slower rate. Plus, less sweaty feet are safer and less prone to slipping. Moisture wicking materials can also help reduce a build up of sweat and moisture which can be the cause of extra bacteria and foot odor.
While you certainly should’t base your entire Crossfit shoe choice on color, you can’t deny that it plays a big part in how much you like something. You definitely want your Crossfit sneakers to come in a great color combination that you’ll want to show off in the gym.
You could also consider what color of gear you usually wear to work out in and if the shoes will suit them. Luckily most Crossfit shoes come in a variety of awesome colors to suit different tastes and styles.
We’re not all shoe experts, so how do you know what parts of the shoe you should be looking at in order to determine if they’re right for your Crossfit needs? Here’s a breakdown of the specific parts of a running style shoe, and what features will help when it comes to your workout of the day.
Laces secure the upper part of the shoe and connect your foot to the shoe. You’ll want to make sure these are strong and that the eyelet, the hole the lace passes through, is also durable. Snapped laces are frustrating but replaceable, while a broken eyelet can mean buying a whole new shoe, so look for metal and plastic reinforcing around them.
The front bit of the shoe that holds your toes is the toe box. This is where you can get a lot of pain and even bruised toe nails if the toe box is not high enough or long enough. The outside of the toe box tends to wear quickly so look out for leather or rubber reinforcing.
The upper of a running shoe is the external shell that fits around the foot and holds it in place when the laces are tied together. The upper is usually made of nylon or nylon mesh and needs to be very durable to cater for rope climbs and outdoor runs. Think of it as the armor around your shoe. Look for certain features on your upper such as reflective panels for night workouts, waterproof material for wet regions and lightweight sections.
The tongue part of the shoe is the strip of material that sits under the laces, in the top middle of the shoe. The tongue protects the foot from being rubbed by the laces so extra padding in this region is a bonus.
The insole is inside the bottom of your shoe, where the foot bed is. It’s usually a cushioned area to provide comfort as well as shock absorbency. Insoles are often made out of low density foam, are removable and are designed to fit different types of feet.
However, they usually don’t offer much arch support, which can cause foot injuries and instability if you have a high arch. Custom inserts that are fitted exactly to your feet are highly recommended to reduce foot fatigue and the risk of injuries. This is especially important for Crossfit athletes due to their high intensity and varied workouts.
The mid-sole sits between the foot bed and the outsole and is arguably the most important part of the shoe. It is usually made out of thick layers of rubber and acts to absorb impact, supports the whole foot as it rolls from heel to toe, and flexes at toe off.
Mid-soles are usually made out of three different materials: EVA (a lightweight foam cushioning), Dual-Density EVA (a heavier, more dense version of EVA) and Polyurethane (the most durable and heaviest cushioning). Some manufacturers have other technologies in their mid-soles, such as gels, air bags and other materials to improve shock absorbency.
High impact sports like tennis and road running require a lot of mid-sole cushioning, whereas low impact sports like yoga and weight lifting don’t require as much. For Crossfit, a medium amount of mid-sole cushioning around 4mm is best so that it is versatile enough to cater for both Olympic lifts and running.
The outsole is the exposed part of the sole that touches the ground. It is usually made from a combination of carbon rubber (the same durable material that tires are made from) and blown rubber (lighter and more flexible rubber but less durable).
When you’re looking to find the best Crossfit shoes, check that the outsole has good tread for better traction, has flex grooves so the shoe is flexible, is made out of durable materials and is water resistant.
This is the particular section of the mid-sole and sole under the arch of your foot. It needs to provide support to the foot while allowing the shoe to flex. Any shoe that is weak and thin in this area should be avoided, as arch stress and pain can lead to injuries. You can tell if the shoe is weak in the arch fill by bending it and seeing how much the arch flexes with the shoe.
If it flexes as much as the rest of the shoe, it may be too weak for Crossfit. Some reinforcement in the arch fill will help with your Crossfit workouts as this part often gets rubbed during rope climbs. The proper technique for a rope climb is to pinch the rope between your feet to take some of the load off your arms, which usually means a lot of friction on the arch fill.
The heel tab is the part around the heel that is quite stiff. It helps to reduce side to side movement during exercise and keeps insoles in place. You can simply squeeze the heel part of the shoe to determine how stiff it is.
Finally, the heel tab is the top part of the heel area. Some heel tabs might have a strap attachment to help you pull your shoes on. Heel tabs should have some cushioning inside to help prevent rubbing, and should be low enough to not aggravate the Achilles tendon.
Crossfit is varied by definition, so it may be too much to ask to have one pair of shoes to suit all workouts. When high intensity interval training and sprints are on the board, lightweight and flexible shoes will be your friend. But when it’s time to hit the heavy weights then a stable and supportive shoe with a low heel to toe drop is your best option.
Most Crossfit-specific shoes try to get the best of both worlds by being good all-rounders, but if you’re serious about your Crossfit workouts, or are entering the competitive Crossfit scene then it will be beneficial to invest in more than one pair or Crossfit training shoes.
5 Main Types of Crossfit Shoes
When it comes to choosing a good pair, it helps to know which type of Crossfit shoe you need to look for. We break it down to the five main types below.
Classic Crossfit shoes are your regular gym and sport shoes that most fitness enthusiasts wear on a regular basis. These are fine to use when you start out in Crossfit training, but should be upgraded as you get better. Their benefit is that they’re usually cheap and are good all-rounder shoes.
Minimal shoes are designed to give you a barefoot feel with low outsoles and little mid-sole cushioning. They’re flexible, lightweight and often cheap. Plus, they allow you to feel the ground beneath your feet.
Their downsides are their lack of cushioning, support and stability, which can lead to sore feet, stress on calves, ankles and feet. They are suited to cross training, short running distances and body weight exercises but are less suited for weight lifting and long distance running.
Running shoes are designed with comfort and support in mind. They tend to be very stable with a lot of mid-sole cushioning. They’re all about reducing stress on your feet and joints but usually have a high toe to heel drop, which is not ideal for lifting weights.
The Olympic Crossfit lifting shoes are very durable and solid shoes that provide superior protection and stability. They are mostly flat-heeled, with a small elevated platform to enable the best form for lifting heavy weights.
These are funny looking shoes that go over each of your toes, like toe socks. These are extremely lightweight and breathable and allow a natural foot fall of toe to heel, instead of the shoe-induced heel to toe style of running. They’re comfortable and encourage a favorable running position but do take some getting used to.
Below you’ll find a listing of the top five Crossfit training shoes for each gender. You can find our more about each of them by clicking on the ‘more info’ button from where you can also purchase a pair should they be the right ones for you.
Top 5 Mens Shoes for CrossFit Training
Reebok Crossfit Nano 5.0
- Designed for Crossfit
- Kevlar-infused upper
- RopePro carbon rubber
- 3mm toe to heel drop for stability
These Reebok shoes have been specifically designed with the Crossfit athlete in mind. They provide the best of both worlds – a lightweight and breathable mesh upper for high intensity workouts, along with a 3mm toe to heel drop for great stability during heavy lifts.
This is a highly durable shoe that will last many WODs, thanks to its kevlar-infused upper, hard TPU mid-sole, RopePro carbon rubber to handle rope friction, and a raised outsole lug pattern for increased traction.
Who Makes It?
Reebok is an American-inspired brand that started in the 1980s with the simple goal of helping athletes to run faster. In fact, founder Joseph William Foster was one of the first people to create running shoes with spikes. Reebok is now a global brand backed by some of the world’s best athletes.
The Nano 5.0 frequently comes out on top in the rankings for the best Crossfit shoes. It’s durability, clever technology and the fact that it’s specifically designed for Crossfit exercises means this shoe is one of the best you can buy.
|$51.99 – $109.99||More Info|
Nike Metcon 2
- Firm rubber heel for weight lifting stability
- Zero-drag heel for easy hand-stand pushups
- Dual-density cushioned mid-sole
- Flywire mid-foot technology provides extra support
The Nike Metcon is a Crossfit training shoe designed to help you get the best out of heavy lifting, sprints, bodyweight exercises and agility work. The outsole is flat and provides a stable platform for lifts while the zero-drag heel reduces friction to make your hand-stand wall push ups smoother than ever.
The Metcon gives you the support and lightweight feel you need during agility with Flywire cables that wrap around your foot and lock it to the shoe.
Who Makes It?
Nike is one of the biggest companies in sports gear, and aims to bring innovation and inspiration to all athletes, from amateur to professional and everything in between. Nike are constantly bringing out new technologies and new products to help you stay one step ahead of your competitors, as well as staying ahead of theirs.
The Nike Metcon is another one of the best cross training shoes for men you can find. It has been made with rope climbs, agility, weight lifting and more in mind, with specific features to help you deal with each. In Crossfit workouts, every little advantage helps so you’ll love the Metcon’s features.
|$119.00 – $130.00||More Info|
New Balance MX20v4
- Seamless minimalist style shoe
- Odor resistant
- Vibram rubber outsole for excellent grip
These New Balance shoes are a minimalist style all-in-one trainer, with the entire upper made as a complete unit for comfort, durability and a lightweight feel. It’s also waterproof! There’s a 4mm toe to heel drop, which is ideal as a middle ground for both running and weight lifting.
The Vibram rubber outsole is particularly durable and suited for both indoor and outdoor workouts. The only downside is that if you’re used to highly padded and supportive shoes, the minimalist design can take some getting used to.
Who Makes It?
New Balance are one of the oldest sports brands on the market, and have been dedicated to helping athletes reach their goals for over 100 years. All their products are about getting the right fit over the right image, and they have a strong sense of corporate responsibility for the environment and the community.
These are lightweight, waterproof, and perfectly suited for both weight lifting, outdoor running and indoor exercises. If you’re a fan of barefoot running and the natural feel, you won’t find much better than the New Balance mx20v4.
|$69.99 – $120.00||More Info|
Nike Free 5.0 V6
- Moulded sockliner matches your foot’s shape
- Flywire technology wraps the foot and locks it in place
- Natural and weightless feel
- Rounded heel designed to roll with each foot fall
The Nike Free’s were one of the first minimalist shoe designs to really take off, and have been going strong ever since. The 5.0 V6 is an improvement on past generations with Flywire technology to wrap the foot and keep it in position for fast movements, a Phylite mid-sole and waffle outsole to help absorb impact, and hexagonal flex grooves for flexibility.
If you’re coming from a highly supportive shoe then you might find that your feet go through a period of adapting to the Nike Free’s, but barefoot runners love this shoe.
Who Makes It?
In their constant quest for improvement, Nike were one of the first companies to try and make a shoe that was similar to barefoot running. The research team spent 8 years studying barefoot running and how the foot falls differently when compared to wearing shoes. The result was the bestselling Nike Free, a testament to the company’s continue dedication to new fitness technology.
If you’re into your barefoot running and want a shoe that will keep you feeling light and fresh through any workout, the Nike Free is a classic. The lightweight mesh upper provides ultimate ventilation while the no-sew overlays means it feels seamless and airy during any WOD.
|$104.90 & FREE Shipping||More Info|
Reebok Crossfit Lifter 2.0
- Hook and loop strap locks the foot down
- Heel clip for rear foot security
- Anti-friction lining reduces sweat and heat
- Heat-activated mid-foot wrap customizes your fit
The Reebok CrossFit Lifter is designed for those athletes who really go big with weight lifting, while still providing enough support and technology to stand up to agility and running-based workouts. First, the weight lifting specific features include a strap to lock your foot in place, heel clips to keep you grounded in the shoe, and a low heel to toe drop for a stable platform.
When it comes to the more agile parts of your workout, the CrossFit lifter has a grooved outsole for traction on many surfaces, Strobel boards that allow extra toe spring, as well as an anti-friction lining that keeps your feet dry and cool during the most intense workouts.
Who Makes It?
Reebok has been making sports and fitness gear for over 30 years. They aim to help consumers, athletes, their staff and everyone they interact with reach their maximum potential.
The Reebok CrossFit Lifter strikes an impressive balance between a weight lifting shoe and a running and gym shoe. If you want the best of both worlds, and are particularly focused on lifting big weights, then this is one for you.
|$56.21 – $179.99||More Info|
Top 5 Women’s Shoes for CrossFit Training
Reebok Nano 5.0
- Designed for Crossfit
- Kevlar-infused upper
- DuraGrip toe protection
- 4mm toe to heel drop for stability
The women’s Reebok Nano 5.0 is a Crossfit specific training shoe that can stand up to the rigors of the most intense WOD. The entire upper is infused with Kevlar for durability, and there’s a DuraGrip layer around the toe section for increased toe protection.
Comfort is at an all time high with the new re-engineered design for a more secure fit, a compression molded mid-sole for great shock absorption and a contoured heel counter. The Nano 5.0 is also designed with the weight lifting woman in mind, with a 4mm heel to to drop for stability and a hard mid-sole shell to support the foot during heavy lifts.
Who Makes It?
Reebok was built in the 1980s to simply help athletes run faster. Since then the brand has grown into a fitness empire with big name athletes backing up the products and getting great results.
The Reebok Nano 5.0 is undoubtably one of the best cross training shoes for women. They’re specifically designed for WODs, from weight lifting to box jumping and sprints. They’re durable, stable, comfortable and provide an excellent fit.
|$54.89 – $167.42||More Info|
ASICS Women’s GEL-Fit Sana Cross-Training Shoe
- Rearfoot gel cushioning
- Stretchy MONO-SOCK fit system
- Lightweight soft mesh
- Support bands from heel to forefoot
The GEL-Fit Sana is designed for cross training, from dance to gym sessions and Crossfit WODs. It provides a barefoot feel and custom fit thanks to a Flexible Fit system that incorporates support bands from heel to forefoot.
This ASICS trainer has a soft mesh upper that makes it ultra lightweight and breathable for when things get sweaty. For support, there’s GEL cushioning, and for durability there’s a high-abrasion outsole. Keep in mind this is a minimal lightweight shoe that may not be suitable for long distance running.
Who Makes It?
ASICS started in Japan in 1949 when Mr. Kihachiro Onitsuka began creating basketball shoes in his living room. From there, his empire grew on the premise of the acronym ASICS, “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”, which translates to “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body”. ASICS continue to create fitness and lifestyle products to help people live happier and healthier lives.
This is an ultra lightweight and breathable trainer that provides a sock-like, custom fit. If you like to feel like you’re running barefoot then this women’s workout shoe should be at the top of your list.
|$73.50 – $111.27||More Info|
- Flymesh upper for breathability and foot lockdown
- Nike Zoom Air for responsive cushioning
- High-abrasion heel rubber for traction
- High-density mid-sole foam for comfort
The Nike Vomero are a lightweight training shoe designed for versatile workouts just like Crossfit WODs. It’s a lightweight and breathable shoe that also provides stability by locking your foot down with Dynamic Flywire technology and wrap-around Flymesh. Superior support comes from dual-density mid-sole foam that is softer in the front and firmer in the heel.
Who Makes It?
Nike is a huge name in the sport and fitness industry, thanks to it’s epic marketing campaigns and research team that constantly reinvents Nike products. They aim to inspire all athletes, great and small, to reach their potential.
These are a great all-rounder shoe that are both lightweight and durable enough to handle Crossfit workouts. These are one of the best Nike Crossfit shoes available now.
|$58.50 – $119.03||More Info|
Reebok Women’s Crossfit Sprint TR Training Shoe
- Anti-friction lining reduces moisture and heat
- 3mm heel to toe drop
- DuraCage upper for durability and lightweight feel
- MonoMesh protection helps rope climbs
This adaptable shoe is designed to get you through the toughest Crossfit workouts. It has an anti-friction lining to reduce moisture and heat build up, a shock absorbing foam mid-sole and a strong DuraCage upper.
These shoes have unique Metasplit foot grooves that allow your foot to splay for ultimate stability and a natural barefoot feel. They’re also designed for the rigors of the rope climb with MonoMesh protective wraps that help you grip the rope while guarding against shredding.
Who Makes It?
Reebok is a brand dedicated to providing the products and inspiration people need to achieve what they’re really capable of. It all started in 1895 when a 14 year old Joseph William Foster invented spiked running shoes, and the fitness brand has since grown into an empire.
The Crossfit Sprint TR by Reebok is one of the best shoes for Crossfit because of the way it’s been designed with WODs in mind. It’s been made durable enough for rope climbs, low enough for weight lifting and breathable enough for high intensity, sweaty workouts.
Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 16 Running Sneaker
- DNA mid-sole for adaptive cushioning
- Progressive Diagonal Rollbar for extra support
- Segmented crashpad provides smooth transitions
- Saddle pulls from the heel for ultimate security
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 is all about a more secure fit and a cushioned feel. Those who love a more supportive shoe will enjoy the way the saddle pulls from the heel to create a secure fit, combined with the DNA mid-sole that allows adaptive cushioning.
The sole has deep V-grooves for a smooth transition from heel to toe, plus there’s a Progressive Diagonal Rollbar for stability. Finally, these Brooks shoes have moisture-management mesh in the upper and Element linings to help wick away sweat to keep your feet cool and dry.
Who Makes It?
Brooks have been a big contender in the running shoe industry since 1914. Their trademarks are advanced technologies in their shoes, a dedication to runners instead of consumers, and a quest to make people happier through running, no matter their age, gender or fitness.
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 is a shoe for the ladies who love support, security and a whole lot of comfortable cushioning. It’s perfect for running and durable enough to stand up to other Crossfit exercises. This is a great shoe for providing a smooth, lightweight ride.
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You are now ready for the workout of the day! Hopefully this guide has been of value and provided you with the information you were seeking and perhaps even a pair of one of the top Crossfit training shoes we reviewed. We update our posts and lists regularly, so be sure to check back in momentarily and see if anything has changed. Feel free to share the knowledge with your friends, family, and social media channels if you found it useful.
Thinking of doing Crossfit at home? Check out: Crossfit At Home – Best Crossfit Equipment Packages