Reviews Shoes Comparing CrossFit® Sneakers: The Best Shoes for CrossFit

Comparing CrossFit® Sneakers: The Best Shoes for CrossFit

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Oh, CrossFit shoes. Everyone knows that old joke: “Reebok®, Nike®, No Bull®, and Under Armour® walk up to a bar…”

Yet, few have gone so far to seek the punchline. I didn’t want to do your average one-off shoe review. WeRFitness bought* a pair of each brand’s flagship CrossFit sneaker. I then proceeded to spend thirty days in every pair. Here’s what I learned.

*I purchased these pairs instead of reaching out to the brands. Our goal is to provide you with a completely unbiased view of these CrossFit shoes.

Want details on upcoming Nike Metcon and Reebok Nano releases? We’ve written about both! Nike Metcon 5 | Reebok Nano 9


No Bull Trainer

Buy Now: Men | Women

It's hard to so "no" to a great pair of camo CrossFit shoes. Image courtesy of No Bull.
It’s hard to so “no” to a great pair of camo CrossFit shoes. Image courtesy of No Bull.

I didn’t walk into this with much in the way of high hopes for the No Bull trainer. Short of some epic colors and patterns, the shoe doesn’t look very complex. Therein lies the rub: No Bull built one heck of a shoe and found success in simplicity. I’m not even sure their intent was to build a pair of CrossFit shoes. But, they did.

No Bull’s Genius

The design of the shoe body is much like the Reebok Nano 8 Flexweave, but with a much thicker material. This makes the shoe feel sturdier and more durable. At the same time, I didn’t feel my feet get any warmer than the Reebok competitor. This is a lifting shoe, so it is flat on the foot. I mean FLAT. The material of the sole feels soft, but it’s not thick enough to feel like it’s wrapping around your foot. It’s a functional shoe and extra frills need not apply.

No Bull’s Room for Improvement

Here’s my one qualm: the roomy toe box builds a giant dome over your toes. The shoe is flexible enough to not need it, so this feels like unnecessary space. Do you have a natural heel-toe walking and running movement? You’ll find your toes flying up into the space and clapping back down when you strike pavement. That’s a hard sensation to get used to. But hey – you bought them to churn out reps, not for mall walking with Betty and Sally.

CrossFit Shoes: The Lowdown

  • Fit: Roomy
  • Flexibility: Surprising
  • Lifting: Simple
  • Width: Wide
  • Keeper: To look good and lift in. Nothing more, nothing less.

Under Armour Tribase Reign

Buy Now: Men | Women

Under Armour has a couple of color options for their CrossFit shoes, but this shoe is hot right now and the black/teal was the only coloway available when I purchased. Image courtesy of Under Armour.
Under Armour has a couple of color options for their CrossFit shoes, but this shoe is hot right now and the black/teal was the only coloway available when I purchased. Image courtesy of Under Armour.

Let’s be real. Regardless of what I type here, Under Armour did a fantastic thing by entering the CrossFit shoe game. The CrossFit community is a persnickety one, and I can smell a phony from a mile away. While the Tribase Reign wasn’t our favorite shoe, it feels like the creators understand our sport. I hope the UA Tribase Reign isn’t the last shoe of its kind. Under Armour has potential to do great things for CrossFit shoes.

About the Tribase Reign

The best way I can describe the feel of this shoe is like a classic pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. You have a very sturdy base, attached to a much-less structured body. That said, the material Under Armour used for the body of the Tribase Reign is nothing short of genius. It feels both more flexible and more durable any of its competitors.

Tribase Reign Flaws

Unfortunately, the sole and the body don’t feel like they were a coherent thought. By that, I mean they have a very solid, simple base and it feels like the rest is hanging on. Or they have a very complex, well-planned, modern body and they strapped on a sturdy base.

Under Armour’s Genius

The true strength of the Tribase is in lifting. I aren’t kidding when I say the base is sturdy. The stance is very neutral, and it goes a long way to helping you feel comfortable lifting heavy weights. As CrossFitters are apt to do. Our one qualm is the toe box feels like they added a little extra something for the outside of your foot. It may be that Under Armour was working to help a lifter keep their weight back, but it’s not as clever as they think. Or they used an odd foot model to design their frame. Either way, it’s something I hope they fix in future models.

CrossFit Shoes: The Lowdown

  • Fit: Perfect
  • Flexibility: None
  • Lifting: Sturdy
  • Width: Narrow
  • Keeper: Yes. But, don’t try to run in them.

Nike Metcon 4

Buy Now: Men | Women

Yes - these custom Nike Metcon 4 CrossFit shoes say "AMRAP" on one heel and "METCON" on the other. Images courtesy of Nike.
Yes – these custom Nike Metcon 4 CrossFit shoes say “AMRAP” on one heel and “METCON” on the other. Images courtesy of Nike.

I told you I used these brands’ flagship shoes. To be honest, I used it as an excuse for a custom pair. Nike’s shoe customizer led me to a bright (borderline fluorescent) teal pair of Nike Metcons. And yes, they read “AMRAP” on the back of one and “METCON” on the back of the other.

Because I’m a nerd.

With that information, you know I’m wild with excitement. I wanted to love these shoes. The last pair of Nike Metcons I had were the Nike Metcon 2s, which suffered from a classic case of a rock-hard sole.

If your soles stay hard for more than four hours, please consult a doctor.

Nike Metcon 4 Flaws

The good news is, Nike has done a lot of work to bring some flexibility back to the Metcon. The bad news is, we’re not sure it was enough. The change in sole materials made the Nike Metcon 4 much more forgiving when you flex your foot. I found myself wishing for a little more lateral (left-right) flexibility, though. The immediate feel of the shoe was like you could catch an edge and break an ankle. Especially if you’re as clumsy as I am during burpees.

The Genius of the Nike Metcon 4

Nike is all about the details. The inside face of the shoe keeps the textured surface for grip during rope climbs. This is as great as ever. Nike also made the heel bump less obtrusive. It still provides a low-friction surface for handstand activities, if you’re into that.

In comparison to the Nike Metcon 2, this bump is much less noticeable when running. We’re still haunted by the side ache-wrenching echo of thudding heel bumps on pavement. Those days appear to be gone with the Metcon 4.

These extra features add value to the shoe, and Nike has done it without any loss of lifting comfort. The Nike Metcon feels like a true neutral shoe. They balance your weight throughout your foot. I tried these with squats, deadlifts, snatches, and thrusters. Each lift felt like the shoes were providing a strong, sturdy base.

CrossFit Shoes: The Lowdown

  • Fit: Tight
  • Flexibility: Some
  • Lifting: Strong
  • Width: Perfect
  • Keeper: Yes. Especially the custom pair.

Reebok Nano 8 Flexweave

Buy Now: Men | Women

I loved my green pair of Reebok Nano 8 Flexweaves so much, I went back and grabbed a pair of the white. What a great pair of CrossFit shoes. Images courtesy of Reebok.
I loved my green pair of Reebok Nano 8 Flexweaves so much, I went back and grabbed a pair of the white. What a great pair of CrossFit shoes. Images courtesy of Reebok.

Let’s get right to it. The eighth edition of the Reebok Nano is the most comfortable shoe I worked with.

First, nobody should run longer distances in a lifting shoe. That said, I could myself doing it in the Reebok Nano. If I had to.

Reebok Nano Flexibility

Everything about this shoe is flexible – from the rubber they use in the sole to the Flexweave material of the body. Consider it much more friendly than its competitors. There is a downside, though. In activities on uneven ground and box jumps, you can almost feel the surface through the shoe. If coach programs rock running or obstacle courses, you’ll want stable running shoe.

And yes, I invented “rock running” for this article. You’re welcome.

As far as lifting goes, the Reebok Nano does great. It feels like the shoe has a small drop (the toes are lower than the heels). It’s enough to make running more comfortable, but still feels minimal when you lift. Strength training with a front squat had my weight well-balanced in my feet. The drop didn’t push me forward onto my toes.

The bottom line: the Reebok Nano Flexweave became my favorite shoe. By the end of touring the Tribase, Metcon, and No Bull, all I wanted to do was go back to the Reebok. I could nap in their comfy toe box.

CrossFit Shoes: The Lowdown

  • Fit: True
  • Flexibility: Great
  • Lifting: Balanced
  • Width: Wide
  • Keeper? Heck Yes
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Ben Garveshttps://woddity.com/
Founder and CEO of WODDITY. We build tools and resources for affiliates, athletes, and fans of CrossFit.

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