CrossFit Shoes, By Request

by Sarah on November 23rd, 2014

We've been fielding lots of questions about shoes lately, so we figured it could be helpful to post our opinions about them here.  In this post we'll talk about shoes for everyday training.  In a later edition we'll cover shoes for Olympic lifting.

In general, we suggest shoes that are relatively new (generally no older than 6-12 months old) with a stable footbed.  We want shoes that are sufficiently padded to allow impact in applications such as running, box jumps, double unders, and jumping down from the pull-up structure, while also stable enough to allow for efficient force transfer against the ground when lifting barbells.  Below we've described some characteristics of the primary CrossFIt shoes we've tested and encountered, but these are by no means the only shoes which meet the above criteria.

Reebok's Nanos are designed for CrossFit.  There are three versions currently available: 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0.  The 2.0's are very different than the 3.0's and 4.0's, but we haven't noticed much of a difference between the 3.0's and 4.0's.

All Nanos are pretty wide, probably to allow the foot to move naturally especially when lifting heavy weight.  They're fairly padded - you don't feel the pavement through the shoe - but still provide a sufficiently stable platform for most lifting applications.  Depending on foot width, the wider toe box does allow for a fair amount of foot movement within the shoe which can be an issue for those who struggle to maintain foot tension on the ground.

The Nano 3.0's and 4.0's tend to be pretty durable, and don't seem to wear out prematurely.  This is in constrast to the 2.0's which didn't seem to last nearly as long.  In the event of a defect, Reebok seems to be pretty good about providing replacements.

Inov-8 was pretty early to the CrossFit game, as their minimal running shoes were favored by early CrossFitters.  As their popularity within CrossFit grew, Inov-8 started adding CrossFit/fitness features to their shoes, and even designing models intended primarily for fitness training.

They currently market their F-LITE and BARE-XF styles to the fitness market.  In the F-LITE line the higher the number, the more the shoe weighs, which as far as we can tell means the shoe is more padded if the number is higher.  All of the models seem well-suited for CrossFit, and most if not all the models now come with Rope-Tec which makes the sole more durable.  Any F-LITE style works well for CrossFIt applications as far as we've seen.  In addition, the BARE-XF style is the most minimal - allowing for more connection to the ground, but less padding.  These are not the ideal style for someone converting from traditional running or training shoes as the significantly reduced heel-to-toe drop can sometimes be a shock to the sole and/or the achilles and ankle.  Inov-8's are better suited to narrow feet, and they seem to run a bit longer than other brands.

Inov-8s do seem to be a bit less durable than Nanos.

New Balance
The New Balance 20v3 Cross-Training shoe is another good option, especially for those wanting the more minimal style.  This style allows for great force transfer between the foot and the ground in weightlifting applications, and it allows the foot to move in a pretty natural way as the shoe is not very structured.  It does allow the foot to feel the ground more which can be a detriment in hard-impact activities (like missing double unders) or uneven terrain.  It's also a style that people transitioning from more traditional shoes should adopt slowly to allow the achilles and foot to adapt.

These shoes seem to be pretty durable.

As we understand it, Nike has created a training shoe intended for CrossFit.  Some fitness insiders have posted sneak peeks and positive feedback on the interwebs, but we haven't yet seen them firsthand.  They're supposedly dropping in January, so it might be worth delaying any new shoe purchases until then.

There you have it!  Let us know if you have further questions.

WOD 11-24-14:

Skill Focus:


5 Rounds for Time:
8 Deadlift @225/155 lbs
8 Toes-to-Bar
8 Lateral Bar Burpee

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