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After wearing and testing nearly every current shoe designed for general training and CrossFit type workouts, my team and I determined that the best CrossFit shoes for 2021 are the Reebok Nano X1, with the Nike Metcon 6 close behind. Although this is a fierce debate and our runner-up could easily hold the top spot depending on preferences, we had to go with one.
There are so many factors to take into consideration when looking at shoes, like durability, cushioning, if they are breathable, if they fit your foot. Honestly, it’s pretty subjective because what works for a wide foot won’t be great for a narrow foot. I had several people try out all kinds of shoes to bring you the best picks for what you should put on your feet.
Why You Should Trust Us
First of all, it’s me, Coop, who lives, eats and breathes fitness equipment (I don’t actually eat the equipment … all the time). I started training for CrossFit nearly a decade ago and have competed multiple times. I also had several other people on my team–including a CrossFit L1 trainer and CrossFit box owner Kate Meier, who happens to be on our expert panel here at Garage Gym Reviews–test the shoes you’ll find here (along with many, many others).
We actually put these shoes on (along with our CrossFit-friendly gymnastics grips) and wore them for all kinds of metcons, lifting sessions, runs and jumps. The shoes go through an eight-point testing methodology where we evaluate everything from construction and performance to delivery and other user reviews. That’s how we rank and score each pair you’ll find on this page.
We review free products that we receive and participate in affiliate programs, where we may be compensated for items purchased through links from our site.
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Best CrossFit Shoe Overall: Reebok Nano X1
Best Overall CrossFit Shoe Runner Up: Nike Metcon 6
Best Lifestyle Shoe: No Bull Trainer
Best Budget CrossFit Shoe: Reebok Speed TR
Best CrossFit Shoes for Running Workouts: Nike Free Metcon 4
Best CrossFit Lifting Shoes: Adidas AdiPower 2
Best Affordable Weightlifting Shoes: Do-Win Classic Lifter
Good for: Virtually anyone with any size foot who wants to WOD
My Favorite Things:
It’s no secret that Reebok and Nike dominate the CrossFit shoe space. Reebok sort of burst onto the scene with the Nanos, and the Nano 2 was perhaps one of the most popular models. Then the Nano sort of tanked around the 4s and 5s, but I’m here to say: the X1s may be the best Nano yet.
First, you have so many options for variations of the Nano X1: The Grit, the Vegan and the Lux. Kate, who is on our expert panel and owns a CrossFit gym, tried out the Grit, wearing them for metcons, weightlifting and coaching. She’s typically a Nike fan, but these won her over for how comfortable they are. They offer a little more cushioning in the midfoot than the Nike Metcons and slightly more of a heel-to-toe drop at 7mm (versus 4mm on the Metcons).
Appearance-wise, this has the look of a Reebok shoe. It does come in a number of color and style options. As of this writing, there are 19 women's varieties, including takes on the X1 like the Grit and the Adventure, and 24 versions for men, like the Grit, Pride and Lux. These all sit around $130, except the Vegan and Lux options, which are $150. Considering the Metcons and the NoBulls run much more expensive, the Nano X1s are a good deal. That’s also no surprise because Reebok notoriously puts out more budget-friendly gear.
One downside to the Nano is that, unlike previous versions, the heel cup comes up pretty high on the back of the foot, which can cause rubbing. Kate wore tall socks and had no issues, but it’s easy to see where someone might not like the feel of it.
Good for: Support, breathability and agility in training
My Favorite Things:
I love the Nike Metcon 6. I think Nike saw what Reebok was doing with the Nano and said, “Hold my beer.” And then came the Metcon, which, in my opinion, gets better with every iteration. In fact, I would have put the Metcon 6 as my top pick, but, as Nike shoes do, it runs a little narrow, so it may not be the best fit for the most amount of people.
That said, I don’t have a wide foot, so I don’t need a wider shoe. I wear my Nike Metcon 6s a lot: for box jumps, cardio, deadlifts and basically anything else that would require cross training shoes.
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So, here’s why I like them: First, the Metcon 6s have what all the other Metcons have, which is a firm, stable heel ideal for squats, and a cushioned foam forefoot in the midsole that makes it ideal for plyometrics and running.
The all-rubber outsole is hardcore. As anyone who does CrossFit knows, you need a hard bottom to withstand climbing ropes. Similar to the Nike Metcon 3 shoes, the Nike Metcon 6 has an extremely breathable upper. The large perforations in the material truly do make a difference, especially when I’m working out in hot conditions.
Nike gets away with charging $150 or more because, simply put, people will pay it. If you don’t mind investing that kind of money in a cross-trainer, then this is definitely the way to go. Also, Nike has one of the best return policies I've ever seen. The brand gives you 60 days to try out the shoe and will let you return them for any reason you want.
Good for: Wearing in and out of the gym
My Favorite Things:
In my experience, you’re either in or out on the look and feel of the No Bull Trainer. Our team was a little divided, actually, because I really like the look of the shoe, but Kate was indifferent. That’s why we chose this for our best lifestyle pick, however, because if you like the look of the shoe, you can essentially wear it anywhere.
In March 2021, the CrossFit Games announced No Bull as its title sponsor. Let’s be honest, though, No Bull was climbing the popularity ranks among CrossFitters well before then. The brand locked down big names like Tia Clair Toomey, Katrin Davidsdottir and Alex Smith and just watched the sales pile up.
The Trainer comes in several height levels: low, mid and high. They started with a very utilitarian look to them–solid color, no contouring, plain white sole, with essentially just the words "No Bull" on them. However, over the years, the brand has expanded its line substantially to include more designs and patterns, both on the shoe and on the sole.
Okay, but you didn’t come here for the best looking shoe (or did you?); I assume you want to know how it performs. I was pretty surprised, to be honest. When you first put them on, that very small 4mm heel to toe drop makes the shoe feel almost uncomfortable.
However, once you start moving, you don’t notice it at all. In fact, the shoe moves and breathes incredibly well across the breadth of CrossFit exercises. There is a mesh upper as well, which keeps the shoe breathable.
The biggest downside is the cost. Even the most basic Trainer is about $140, and it feels to me like you’re essentially paying for the name “No Bull.” But, since these can double as your workout shoes and your out-on-the-town shoes, it might be a good investment.
Good for: An affordable, lightweight shoe useful for cross training
My Favorite Things:
At under $100, the Reebok Speed TR is a great pick for someone who wants to save money on running shoes that could also be used in functional fitness. With the name “Speed,” it’s clear that these are intended for faster-paced workouts. These weigh just 8.5 ounces, whereas the Nike Metcon 6 weighs about 12.6 ounces.
A pleasant surprise is that the Speed TRs perform well in lifts–as long as you aren’t someone who needs substantial support from your shoe. Some people really need the feedback from a sturdy heel cup or dense midsole. The Speed TR uses a lot of EVA foam. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s going to absorb your feet when you lift rather than give them a harder base to push against.
I absolutely love having the Speed TRs in my personal collection of cross-training shoes. I have used them in CrossFit workouts and in lifting weights.
Reebok doesn’t make the Speed TR in women’s sizes (though just drop 1.5 sizes off the men’s size and there you go). However, there are Speed variations available on the Reebok site for women, like the Speed Flexweave TR and the Speed Her TR. These look different from the shoes I wore, so I can’t vouch that they would perform the same. Reviews of the women’s shoes suggest they offer the same lightweight and moderate support as the Speed TRs.
Read my full Reebok Speed TR Review.
Good for: People with narrow feet who enjoy feet hugs while running
My Favorite Things:
So, here’s what happened: Nike took the Free running shoe and the Metcon training shoe and they had a baby. And you got the Free Metcon, specifically the Free Metcon 4, which we tested.
This is a great blend of both shoes. You get the “foot hug” feeling that the Free running shoe offered, but still have that stability that the Metcon has always provided. In testing, we found that the Free Metcon 4 moves really well with the foot, especially when running, even on treadmills. It weighs 11.2 ounces, so it’s not quite as light as a straight up running shoe, but it’s not as heavy as the more CrossFit-specific shoes are.
The Free Metcon 4 has a lot of features that cater to CrossFitters: a wide heel that is great for squatting movements, webbing along the midfoot that forms to your feet for support on agility movements, and a flexible forefoot for running. The bottom tread is incredibly grippy and feels great when doing any kind of running or jumping.
We did notice that the Free Metcon 4 runs small. If you have a very narrow foot, you may get away with sticking to your actual size. Otherwise, going up half a size may give you a little more room. These are supposed to fit snugly, but you also don’t need to lose any toenails. Lastly, this is a great shoe for running workouts, but the outsoles might not withstand rope climbs.
Good for: CrossFitters who want to wear weightlifting shoes in a WOD
My Favorite Things:
CrossFit basically re-introduced weightlifting to the world because people who would have never otherwise heard of movements like the snatch or the clean were suddenly doing them in daily WODs. Professional weightlifters wear shoes specifically designed to handle those kinds of lifts, and from time to time, as a CrossFitter, you might prefer to have a shoe that’s even more stable than your typical cross trainer.
That’s where weightlifting shoes come in, and I really like the Adidas AdiPowers 2 for CrossFitters who want to wear a lifting shoe in a metcon.
The AdiPowers 2 are, most noticeably, one of the most flexible but still high quality weightlifting shoes I think I have ever seen or used. They have a full canvas outer, which keeps your feet cool, and a really flexible forefoot which is ideal in a workout where you have to do more than a squatting movement. All of this while still keeping a 20-ish mm heel drop, giving you that elevation that is ideal for moving below parallel.
These are priced at around $200. Now, I’d recommend these for people who want weightlifting shoes that can be worn in a metcon. I don’t think these are the best outright weightlifting shoes because the soles don’t give you quite the feedback that most weightlifters would want from a shoe. However, they certainly got the job done for us in workouts that featured snatches and squat cleans.
Good for: People looking for a quality, budget-friendly weightlifting shoe
My Favorite Things:
Let’s face it: You can snatch in your Metcons all you want, but you won’t get the same type of foot feedback from them that you would get from a true weightlifting shoe. However, you’re a CrossFitter, and you might not want to spend an arm and a leg on the top weightlifting shoes.
The Do-Win Classic Lifter is a great place to start when looking for a budget-friendly shoe that supports weightlifting movements. It’s priced around $125–yes, less than your Metcons–and still provides the support you want from a weightlifting shoe. That’s nice when considering all the gear we buy as CrossFitters, like weightlifting belts.
With around a 20mm heel to toe drop, the Do-Win Classic meets the standard for these types of elevated heel shoes. The toe box is wider than, say, the Nike Romaleos, which is great for people who need to feel their piggies move.
Also, these shoes are just dripping in style. They have a compressed leather heel that makes it look like you’re lifting on wood. The upper is a combination of suede and mesh that comes in black, red and royal blue.
Rogue recommends dropping half a size when purchasing, though we actually found these to fit either true to size or even a little small. Also, you’re going to get what you pay for: While people who wear the Do-Win Classic love the shoe, there are reports of them falling apart after a year or so.
We have a few other shoes we tested and liked (and some we don’t love at all):
Reebok JJ IV Men’s Training Shoe: It’s actually a pretty decent shoe–if you’re a guy with big feet. JJ Watt is a big dude, so he needs big shoes. The JJ IV give a lot of space and support for cross-training workouts. These were a little hard for us to test, just because none of us are quite big enough to fill these shoes.
Nike Romaleo 4: This is arguably the best weightlifting shoe on the market right now. Nike killed it with the Romaleo 2s, then hit a setback with the 3s, but came back with the 4s to produce a heavy, wholly supportive shoe. However, this isn’t a shoe to wear in CrossFit workouts, which is why it didn’t make our list. Also, it’s expensive around $200.
Under Armour HOVR: I just didn’t like these. Under Armour hasn’t really figured out the cross-training shoe yet. Maybe next time.
Inov-8 F-Lite 235 V.2 or the Inov-8 F-Lite 235 v3: Inov-8 has produced great trainers for years, but their latest releases lack durability and lack in overall comfort. We hope Inov-8 continues to innovate as we are overall big fans.
The shoes we picked to test could all be considered great for CrossFit and general training. Granted, some of the shoes we tested simply won't work for certain people either due to the looks or fit, but our picks should work for the majority of people. After some deliberation, we narrowed down our specifications to the following list of features ordered in no particular order.
Overall Construction: The shoes we recommend are some of the best available and are often priced as such. They should be constructed with high-end materials and last a minimum of 6 months under heavy training conditions.
Value: The price of the shoe should be in alignment with its performance. If a shoe costs $150 but performs just as well as a $100 shoe without any outstanding features, then it has poor value.
Appearance: We understand that this is a subjective quality and as such it plays a small part in which shoes we chose. Rather than basing it solely on our views of the shoes, we also took the opinions of others as to which are the most aesthetically pleasing.
Fit: Shoes mostly fit depending on dimensions of your feet, however we tried to choose shoes that fit the widest range of people. All of our top picks can be used by those with thin or wide feet and combine a locked down feel with great comfort.
Comfort: If you train as much as we do, you're going to be spending a lot of time in these shoes. They should be comfortable both during training, runs, and after training.
Versatility: A CrossFit shoe should not just work well in the gym doing burpees and squats, but also outside of it as well. This includes on short distance runs as well as dragging and pushing sleds as well as ruck marches.
Special Features: As CrossFit evolves, so should the specialization of the shoes designed for the task. Obviously CrossFit hits a wide range of movements, so the shoes will always be more for generalized training. However, things like heel clips and rope guards are important to keep the shoe performing well.
During testing, we performed various workouts: long, short, and in between. We squatted, deadlifted, box jumped, wall-balled (is that a word?) clean and jerked, snatched, ran, and did many other movements, like workouts from our 100+ CrossFit WODS for hypertrophy.
We did heavy lifting as well as EMOMs, AMRAPS, and lots of metcons. We requested the opinion of many different people including a couple of CrossFit Games Athletes without shoe sponsors (to avoid biases.)
If you’re looking for the best shoes for CrossFit, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Sure, you can swing a kettlebell in just about anything, but you want something to help you perform well across all aspects of fitness, like lateral movements and heavy lifts. Here are what we see as being big factors:
CrossFit can be hard on our bodies, and it can be really hard on our shoes. An all-mesh upper or soft sole could get totally torn up. Just one rope climb can rip the bottom off a shoe, no problem. Strapping into a rower or running outdoors can put wear and tear on the outer layers. The average amount of time manufacturers recommend you get out of your shoes is about 7 months of normal use.
Look for a shoe that has a reinforced bottom for those rope climbs and a reinforced heel for the abrasion that comes from doing handstand pushups against a wall. In many cases, manufacturers add thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, to the sidewalls, heels and upper for added durability. Also, a lot of companies, like No Bull and Reebok, do a good job of providing a breathable upper that is perforated but still coated or reinforced so it won’t rip at the first sign of friction.
Perhaps one of the most noticeable differences between CrossFit shoes and, say, running shoes or other cross training footwear is the sole. A harder sole is key for powerlifting, Olympic lifting and squatting movements. It gives you feedback in explosive movements and stability in the power movements.
Weightlifting shoes like the Nike Romaleo 4 or Do-Win Classic Lifter have a much more rigid sole than shoes like the Reebok Nano X or X1. We aren’t suggesting you wear weightlifting shoes, but, rather, find a training shoe with a more rigid sole.
Generally speaking, an elevated heel is great for getting into a squatting position in which your knees can travel forward over the toes. That is ideal body mechanics, whether you are hitting an air squat in HIIT training or a weighted squat with a barbell.
Weightlifting shoes have a large heel-to-toe drop of about 20mm. CrossFit shoes typically have about 4 to 6mm, but many shoes come with a removable and additional insole that can get you to about a 10 to 12mm drop. One of the big changes of CrossFit shoes from traditional training shoes is the more minimalistic style. A 0mm heel drop would make your foot parallel to the ground. Although there are few with a 0mm heel drop, there are many that are close.
Now, we need to balance out the rigid sole and heel drop with some cushioning, because you still need to run and jump in these shoes. This is a fine line, because too much cushioning means your shoe absorbs weight in lifts instead of giving you the feedback to push off from. Too little cushioning, however, like the minimalist line from Vibram, can be painful for people who need more support.
Cushioning in a trainer shoe is ultimately pretty personal. Most shoes like the Metcon from Nike or the Reebok CrossFit Nano line strike a good balance.
Too narrow of a shoe will be incredibly uncomfortable while running. Too wide of a toe box will make you feel a little lost in the shoe, wondering where your support is as you’re cycling the barbell.
In our experience, Nike shoes tend to run a little narrower, Reeboks give the most room, and No Bull feels in between. The good news is that all these companies take returns, so you if you order online or via Amazon, you can try and send back shoes that don’t fit right.
CrossFit shoes aren’t exactly known for comforts like arch support, but it is possible. Of course, you can always take out the insoles and replace them with your own. Alternatively, look for cross trainers with more cushioning, as that might provide the support you need.
You'll notice that many shoes designed for CrossFit have a wider toe box and this is to allow you to splay your toes when doing grounded movements like squats. Some shoes feature tongues that are stitched to the sole and are secure without even being laced, while others require you to crank them down.
Finally, the price of the shoes should be a factor. No matter how good a shoe is, its price should be a criteria for whether it's chosen or not. Rather than say shoes are expensive or cheap, we like to look at the value. If the shoe is costly, does it's performance match up? If not, then it is overpriced.
With so many great options today, it's unlikely that a $200 pair of shoes designed for CrossFit are going to be that much better than the $130 pair.
What are the best shoes for CrossFit?
The answer to this is fairly subjective, but typically you live in either the Reebok Nano or the Nike Metcon camp. We like both, and the Nano X1 edged out the Metcon 6 solely because we believe that the Nanos might fit more feet than the slightly more narrow Metcons.
Can you run in CrossFit shoes?
Yes, the best CrossFit shoes are designed for all kinds of exercise: lifting, running, jumping. Some have great lug soles for gripping the ground during runs, some have an extremely flexible forefoot, some, like the Nike Free Metcon 4, is literally a combination of a running shoe and a shoe made for lifting weights.
What makes a good CrossFit shoe?
A good CrossFit shoe is one you can use to run, jump, climb ropes and lift weights. A more rigid sole is great for weightlifting, an elevated heel (even slight) is ideal for squatting, a flexible forefoot makes for good running and jumping, and a reinforced sole and heel is ideal for durability.
Are CrossFit shoes worth it?
Here’s the thing: You can grab a pair of Asics or New Balance shoes and hit the box. It’s doable and possible and people all over the world do CrossFit in shoes that aren’t your typical “CrossFit shoes.” Shoot, some people do it barefoot!
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However, having the right shoes for the sport can help you feel better, and, in turn, perform better. An elevated heel and appropriate amount of cushioning assists in the breadth of movements we do in CrossFit. Also, some shoes just can’t stand up to the sport and will literally fall apart. I recommend investing in a comfortable, durable pair of shoes if you plan on exercising often.
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