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Which shoes should crossfitters buy ?

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Feb 6, 2015 9:33:00 AM

Which shoes should crosfitters buy ?

Not really an easy question to answer with the broad portfolio of shoes from reebok, nike, adidas and the likes out there. There are new lines of shoes for crossfitters being developed on almost a daily basis and it is hard to keep up with it to know where your money is spent wisely. This post is an approach, but not an exhaustive source to help you to determine which shoes are best for your need based on my personal experiences.

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What kind of crosfitter am I ?

The way you crossfit can be very different from person to person based on their goals and capabilities. First you have to ask yourself where you want to go, what kind of exercises you will be doing most and what kind of shoe might fit the criteria best. Also bear in mind your shortcomings and consult your doctor if necessary, if you already have some foot conditions you have to consider when making your decision. Last thing is to determine how much budget you want to spend and also what kind of designs you like or dislike. A functional shoe which is butt ugly might not be worn, even though all intentions are well meant. 

Which options are out there ?

There is a lot to choose from and I have one blind spot here regarding the actual crossfit shoes. So take my assessment of them with a grain of salt without having tested them, because I tend to be a doubting Thomas around things i did not test. 


Above you see the Mizuno Wave rider 17, a classic running shoe with a thick sole. I personally owned the Mizuno wave Riders 15 which had a very similar sole and fit. This was a great shoe. I loved it and clocked around 2000km with it and even after a tough mudder it still went strong until my girlfriend decomissioned them, because of their unpleasant smell. These shoes are ideal when you are running a lot, but not necessarily with perfect form or if you are a bit heavier, because you have something to keep the pain of the road off your feet.


The next category for me are running shoes with a thinner sole and less material to them like the nike flyknit lunar series, which I currently own. While this shoe and presumably shoes of similar design are very light and comfortable to wear, they can be painful if you run with bad form or you legs give in on a marathon (I experienced this). Really not for beginners in running if you ask me. They look really cool though and can be more individual which is even cooler. Now looking back i somehow regret that I got them, because i majorly bought based on their looks. I might be investing the money in asics instead, I herd a lot of good about them from other marathon runners.

I've put the inov8 here to represent all of the hybrid shoes which are designed to serve lifting and running purposes as well. I never had a pair of shoes of this kind so everything I say is completely based on reviews I read and what I can see on pictures. Those are not for long distance running by the look of things and they also were not designed for it, which is fair enough. I can see this work in WODs where you have to fit in 400m sprints and then go to a deadlift or snatch. Still I have done snatches, clean and jerks and light deadlifts in my nike lunars and I was just fine. What I would not recommend is to lift anything heavier than your own body weight without proper weightlifting shoes. I found that in this area you can get very wobbly having shoes with an air cushion and without proper stability. This is not something you want when deadlifting 150kg or squatting 120kg because if you wobble and crash, serious injury can occur.

Depicted above are the most popular weightlifting shoes on the market, adidas powerlift and nike romaleos. If you ever see someone stepping into the gym wearing these you can usually expect some serious lifting to be done. I personally own the adidas, as again, i found the nikes extremely ugly for my own tastes, especially from the site. (Yes there is a pattern emerging here, and yes I will reconsider looks vs functionality in future) I find that the running shoes do not work with heavy weights and I tested it. It feels unstable and I already mentioned why you do not want that. Take care that the lifting shoes are a tight fit and have straps on them which give you further stability.



Converse chucks are an alternative which Mehdi, the man who runs the 5x5 Stronglift App and website, recommends as a good alternative to weightlifting shoes. I never tried this but i can see this working and have seen this in action in the gym making a good impression on me. These shoes have the advantage that they can also be worn for everyday purposes which does not really apply to all of the other choices I've discussed.

From a cost perspective you are looking at

  1. Mizuno Wave Rider 17 50 - 80€
  2. Nike flyknit Lunar 80 - 120€
  3. Adidas Powerlift 70€ - 90€
  4. Nike Romaleos 100€ - 150€
  5. Converse Chucks 10 - 50€
  6. Inov 8 80 - 110€

So which ones are the right fit for you ?

If you are running heavy and plan to compete in long distance running, I personally think there is no way around a proper running shoe. Also bear in mind, that you have to replace a running shoe every 200 - 300 miles which means, if training is being taken serious, you will replace every three to four months. The running shoes can be used in the gym for most WODs with a few exceptions where the weight lifted surpasses your own body weight. You might have a problem that your local box will not allow the dirty running shoes in their gym, so be mindful of that. 

If you are somewhere in the middle and just do crossfit to stay in shape with occasional 5k runs and sprints, I think your best option is the hybrid option due to budget and durability. The shoes won't need to be replaced that often and the weights are not so heavy, that you will feel wobbly without proper straps on the shoes.

If you are a serious athlete, there is no way around having all three types of shoes for different use cases, because weightlifting shoes are really bad to run in.I've tried and I do not recommend it as it ruins the shoes and your feet. Bare in mind, that the invest you make in the weightlifting shoes will last you for a very long time, as they are not exposed to a lot of wear and tear.

Chucks are a good low budget option for everyone who can not afford a lot of shoes (I am thinking teenagers, students, young adults here) because you can do most of what is needed in crossfit with them without spending near to 100€ or even 300€ (multiple pairs of shoes) on your wardrobe and still can wear them to social occasions. (Let's not talk of smelly feet here for now ;))

Hope this helps you to make a decision. Let me know what you think in the comments and which experiences you have especially around the shoes, i personally did not own yet.

Further reading


Topics: Crossfit Equipment