Despite its intense reputation, CrossFit is a sport that’s accessible for people of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels. Get ready for the WOD with the best CrossFit shoes of 2023.
CrossFit athletes know no two days are alike. The sport asks a lot of you — and your shoes. With activities ranging from heavy deadlifts and Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics and distance running, it’s no surprise that finding the best CrossFit shoes can be a challenge.
We researched and tested the most popular CrossFit & cross training shoes on the market — shoes that you can run, jump, lift, row, ride, climb, carry, and rage in. After much sweat, some blood, and maybe a few tears, we are proud to present our list of the best CrossFit shoes for 2023.
Feel free to go through all of our recommendations, or if you’re looking for a specific category, you can jump to it below:
- Best Overall
- Best Value
- Best for Workout of the Day
- Best Everyday Shoe
- Best Barefoot Style
- Best of the Rest
The Best Crossfit Shoes of 2023
Avid Crossfitters might recognize the name Scott Panchick. A former competitive CrossFit athlete turned coach, Panchick took his time and experience at the games and used it to help design the F-lite 260 V2 ($140)
As one of the lightest and most comfortable shoes tested, the F-lite 260 v2 scores big points for breathability and cushioning while maintaining ample support and performance. The 8mm drop elevates the heel just enough to keep lifters in the sweet spot without feeling like you are wearing full-blown lifting shoes.
While this shoe wouldn’t be my first choice for olympic lifting or properly heavy sets, squats, presses, jumps, and sleds all feel great in the F-lite 260 (Those looking for a better weightlifting shoe should check out the Rogue/Do-Win Classic Lifter).
The V2 sports a new “Met-Cradle ” in the midfoot to protect and assist in rope climbs. This feature actually outperforms similar features on the Metcon 7 and Nano x2 despite looking and feeling substantially less bulky. The low bulk factor keeps this shoe feeling light and responsive, while the Met-Cradle and Toe Bumper give wearers peace of mind that their feet are protected.
While Inov8 describes this shoe as being even wider for a more comfortable fit, I would argue that they could have, and maybe should have gone even wider. With a slightly wider than average foot, the base of my 5th metatarsal protruded (albeit less than 1/2cm) over the footbed, and during cutting and jumping moves the base of my big toe easily slid outside the footbed.
Because the F-light 260 is so comfortable and flexible, sliding around didn’t lead to any pain or hotspots, however, I do worry about the longevity of the shoe as a result of its width & mesh upper (I often bust through mesh shoes at the pinky toe). Folks with average-width feet will be very happy with this shoe, but those of us with wider feet might be better served with another shoe.
Overall, the Inov8 F-lite 260 V2 Knitted is a strong contender for the best CrossFit shoe of 2023. Those in the market for a new gym shoe should strongly consider it.
- Best for: Athletes who want a light, breathable, comfortable, and protective cross trainer for everyday gym use
- Drop: 8 mm
- Width: Medium
- Weight: 9.17oz
- Bonus: Met-Cradle climbs ropes exceptionally well. Mesh upper is super breathable and very comfortable.
Best Value: Rogue/Do-Win Classic Lifters
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Do-Win classic lifters ($130) are almost exactly the same as the classic lifters offered by Pendlay/Do-Win back in the day. Revamped with new materials and colorways, these shoes offer almost the same performance as the original. For the price, they offer a tremendous value for anyone just getting into weightlifting or someone who’s still on the fence.
With a stacked leather heel and TPU sole, the classic lifter offers excellent stability and grip. Two hook and loop midfoot straps perform just the way they should, keeping your foot secure in the shoe and pinning the laces out of the way. The suede/mesh upper allows adequate airflow and ventilation during your session, and the color (ours are blue) pops, setting you apart from the rest of the gym.
At first glance, these shoes appear to be somewhat of a unicorn — attractive, functional, and competitively priced… Caveat Emptor! Users have complained that the rogue/do-win lifters aren’t as durable as they should be, specifically citing issues with the heel coming unglued. While our tester has yet to experience any longevity issues, the glued and stacked leather heel does present a potential weak spot in the shoes’ construction.
Many purchasers also complain that this shoe runs small and slightly narrow, and suggest ordering ½ a size up. Indeed, our tester (size 11) found this shoe to be a fairly snug fit. Additionally, our tester did not care for the laces, having found them too long and easily frayed by the velcro straps.
The Rogue/DO-Win Classic lifters are a great lifting shoe with a few minor issues, but at a very competitive price and with big style points, it might just be enough for some folks to pull the trigger and pick up a pair for themselves.
- Best for: Olympic weightlifting. Heavy Strength training
- Drop: 19 mm
- Width: Narrow
- Weight: 22.3 oz
- Bonus: Super competitive price. Old school style
If you’re looking for a high-performance cross trainer with serious Dad style, you could do a lot worse than the Reebok Nano X2 ($130). Reebok, the first company to make a CrossFit-specific shoe, has had 10 years to refine its Nano line. The shoe’s 12th iteration, the Nano X2, feels like a shoe a decade-plus in the making.
Striking the perfect balance between cushioning and stability, the Nano X2 feels as good jumping onto a box as it does hitting a clean PR.
Previous iterations of the Nano were known for their stability. However, complaints among users were that the shoe’s toeboxes were too narrow and that the shoe’s firm stability sacrificed comfort during non-weighted movements, particularly cardio which entailed anything longer than short runs.
Thanks to the raised support on the heel cup, the X2 doesn’t sacrifice stability — the rubber sole rises halfway up the body of the shoe, adding lateral stability and ensuring that the force from a leg drive goes straight to the floor, rather than out to either side.
This is still the case for the x2 — the toebox may appeal to people with narrow to medium feet but those with wider feet would be better served by a different shoe. The heel is solid and stable, making it excellent for lifting, jumping, and climbing, but folks looking to throw more running-based WODs into the mix may benefit from a different shoe like the Inov8 F-lite 260 or the Nike Metcon 7.
While the X2’s heel is less bulky than the Metcon 7, this shoe is still pretty bulky. Folks who value a stable and supportive shoe likely won’t mind the included bulk, especially if they lean more towards lifting, however, the clunky heel and overall amount of material on this shoe really show while running, jumping, and sprinting.
Crossfitters with a medium volume foot who lean more towards lifting-based WODs will be well served by this shoe, but those who value a wider, lighter, or better running shoe should look elsewhere for a more versatile CrossFit shoe.
- Best for: Athletes who want one shoe for every workout
- Drop: 7 mm
- Width: Medium
- Weight: 10.2oz
- Bonus: Extra cushioning on the tongue and around the ankle cuff gives the shoes a much more luxurious feel than most CrossFit shoes
Possibly the best-known CrossFit shoes on the market, the Metcon line took the world by storm with its wide toebox, soft cushioning in the heel, and impeccable styling — many athletes use their Metcons as everyday sneakers.
As the years went by and Nike refined the Metcon based on athlete suggestions, the Metcon’s comfort and attention to CrossFit-specific detail has only grown over time.
One of the shoe’s most noticeable features is the rope guard. The outsole wraps up the sidewalls and instep of the upper, providing grip and protection on rope climbs, which are notorious for tearing up sidewalls. The Metcon 7 ($130) received an updated rope guard, but our tester found the guard to be less grippy and more cumbersome than other shoes on the list (i.e. the Inov8 F-lite 260).
Additionally, the newest version sports a velcro lock-down lace keeper to keep the laces from untying during your workout. This system seems pretty much mandatory for the Metcon 7 since folding the velcro out of the way led to frequent untying during running and jumping rope.
The heel and midfoot feel stable and supportive while the mesh upper allows for good ventilation when things get hot. This newest version retains the hard plastic heel point – a feature that is sure to win points the next time your WOD features handstand pushups. However, this feature does lead the Metcon 7 to feel bulky and somewhat cumbersome.
While it feels great for most gym applications, the Metcon 7 shines the most during run WODs without sacrificing stability on lifts. Testers have reported feeling faster in the shoe (even if their times didn’t reflect it), thanks to the springy heel cushion and flexible forefoot giving excellent rebound and resulting in a smoother stride.
The Metcon 7 strikes a good balance for gym-goers who value versatility, comfort, and style. This shoe is best suited for cross-fitters who lean towards running, have a medium-volume foot, and want one shoe to hit the gym and then head to the coffee shop.
- Best for: Everything, with a slight bias toward running
- Drop: 4 mm
- Width: Medium
- Weight: 10oz
- Bonus: The collapsible heel on the FlyEase version allows you to slide into the shoe without untying it
Early on in CrossFit, there was a wave of athletes who wanted to lift as naturally as possible, so they worked with training shoes that had the least amount of material between their feet and the ground. Remember those Vibram Five Finger shoes?
The trend has moved away from shoes with no cushion, but there is something to be said for having a good feel for the terrain beneath your feet. Luckily, you don’t have to wear foot gloves to achieve that feeling thanks to U.K.-based footwear company inov-8, whose Bare-XF 210 V2 ($110) is the latest iteration of its barefoot shoe.
The Bare-XF sports a completely flexible sole — we’ve rolled the shoe up like a cinnamon roll during testing — allowing your foot to move and flex naturally during complex movement.
The tacky rubber outsole is grippy on boxes and lifting platforms, and is only 3mm thick, allowing the sole maximum flexibility and keeping your feet close to the ground. Male and female testers noted that the shoe felt like wearing a sock, only with more protection.
Early versions of the shoe were notoriously fragile. We had a pair rip in half after a few months of use. But inov-8 has solved that problem with a more durable outsole and a flexible plastic cage covering the upper, which provides excellent protection from rope abrasion. Our current pair has been in rotation for months without any signs of wear.
- Best for: Athletes who want a lightweight, barefoot feel during workouts
- Drop: Zero
- Width: Wide
- Weight: 7.5oz
- Bonus: Each pair includes a 3mm cushioned insert for athletes who occasionally want a touch of cushioning
Best of the Rest
NOBULL’s Trainer ($129) is pricey, but the shoes are so durable that you may never need to buy another pair. Firstly, the shoe features a one-piece upper, so there are fewer weak points in the shoe. That one piece is made of SuperFabric, made by applying a layer of protective guard plates to a fabric.
These guard plates are basically tiny pieces of hard plastic. The plastic acts as a shield over the fabric, making it resistant without sacrificing breathability or flexibility. This also gives the shoes a distinct dot pattern.
The low-profile lugs on the outsole provide both traction and a stable platform, while the firm midsole provides ample support during heavy lifts (though some athletes find them clunky on runs).
NOBULL takes pride in being an understated company. Its shoes are solid, stable, and durable, without any of the extra bells and whistles. They may not be flashy, but they’ll get the job done — and they’ll do it for years without showing any wear.
- Best for: Athletes who want a shoe that will survive years of abuse
- Drop: 4 mm
- Width: Medium
- Weight: 12.7oz
- Bonus: Understated styling makes them work as everyday shoes as well
Weightlifting shoes (aka “lifters”) are exactly what they sound like. They are great for movements like clean and jerks, snatches, and squats, but they offer zero shock absorption.
This means that they aren’t ideal for much else. The unforgiving stiffness of the heel feels brutal if you try to run with them. It can also damage the heel’s integrity. That said, weightlifting is a major part of CrossFit. You can lift with a regular shoe, but most athletes have a pair of lifters in their gym bags.
The AdiPower series holds a special place in the hearts of many lifters. For this iteration, Adidas has completely reworked the AdiPower weightlifting shoe with its AdiPower Weightlifting 2 shoe ($200). A previously hard, rigid plastic heel has been replaced with a smoother sidewall made of non-compressive TPU (plastic). This prevents loss of power and provides plenty of support under heavy loads.
The most noticeable difference in performance with the AdiPower 2 is the upper. Adidas replaced the solid upper with a woven textile upper for more ventilation and breathability. It also provides a bit more sidewall stretch to let your foot expand under load.
- Best for: Olympic weightlifting, workouts that have heavy cleans and no running, like the King Kong WOD: three rounds of one deadlift (455 pounds), two muscle-ups, three cleans (250 pounds), and four handstand pushups.
- Drop: 20 mm
- Width: Narrow/Medium
- Weight: 17.1oz
- Bonus: A Velcro strap over the midfoot locks down the laces and provides added midfoot stability
As comfortable as CrossFit shoes can be, it’s understandable that athletes want to use them for everyday wear. But, like many athletic shoes, some CrossFit shoes are built more toward function than form (notable exceptions are certain color schemes in Nike’s Metcon 6, Nano 8, and the understated NOBULL line). However, New Balance’s Minimus Prevail ($120) perfectly rides the line between looks and performance.
Built on the wildly popular (if less durable) original Minimus line, the Minimus Prevail sports a grippy, durable Vibram outsole with a low tread that offers plenty of stability on lifts and lateral movements (so no slipping on bar-facing burpees). Paired with a thin midsole — it’s not as minimal as inov-8’s Bare-XF line — it provides a good tactile feel of the ground underfoot and plenty of support.
The upper is made of a knit perforated mesh that’s infused with TPU fibers. It not only blends ventilation and durability, but it also gives the shoe more of an “everyday” look than most workout shoes. The wraparound outsole adds traction and durability on rope climbs (though not as much as the current Nano and Metcon).
On to the form factor. The Black with White color scheme of the Minimus Prevail looks as good with jeans as it does with sweat shorts, and the gum sole provides a great contrast to the understated upper, making it likely that you’ll get more total hours in and out of the gym with these shoes than you will with any other on this list.
- Best for: Athletes who want a shoe that looks as good out of the gym as it feels in the gym
- Drop: 4 mm
- Width: Wide
- Weight: 10oz
- Bonus: At only 10 ounces, it’s one of the lightest all-around pairs of shoes that we tested for this buying guide
CrossFit Shoes Comparison Chart
|Inov8 F-LITE 260 V2 Knitted||$140||8 mm||Medium||9.17 oz.|
|Rogue/Do-Win Classic Lifters||$130||19 mm||Narrow||22.3 oz.|
|Reebok Nano X2||$130||7 mm||Medium||10.2 oz.|
|Nike Metcon 7||$130||4 mm||Medium||10 oz.|
|inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V2||$120||Zero||Wide||7.5 oz.|
|NOBULL Trainers||$129||4 mm||Medium||12.7 oz.|
|Adidas AdiPower Weightlifting 2||$200||20 mm||Narrow/Medium||17.1 oz.|
|New Balance Minimus Prevail||$120||4 mm||Wide||10 oz.|
Why You Should Trust Us
Authors Billy Brown and Paul Mandell sought out the top footwear for CrossFit endeavors and put each pair of shoes through rigorous testing. Shoes are evaluated via rope climbing, box jumping, pushing sleds, and a variety of lifts.
Author and gear tester Paul Mandell is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist & Coach based in Bishop, Calif. Currently, he coaches gen pop and CrossFit classes out of Bishop CrossFit. Co-author Billy Brown is a marathon runner, powerlifter, and frequent contributor to GearJunkie’s fitness equipment buyer’s guides.
With many years of experience between them, they put in the work to break down the best CrossFit shoes of 2023.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a CrossFit Shoe
Cushioning & Heel Drop
Cushioning and heel drop are two of the most important factors in choosing a shoe for CrossFit. It’s also the first thing you notice when you put a pair on.
As far as cushioning goes, there’s a delicate balance to maintain. Too little cushioning can be wildly painful during high-impact movements. Unless you’re used to barefoot shoes, these movements can give your feet a beating on long runs.
Too much cushioning, however, can lead to a loss of power and responsiveness, especially during weightlifting. Most CrossFit shoes strike a balance between cushion and support, with some leaning toward one end or the other.
Heel drop refers to how high the heel is off the ground versus how high the toe is. For CrossFit, 4 mm seems to be the sweet spot. It strikes the perfect balance between cushioning on runs and balance on lifts.
A rigid sole, particularly in the heel, is ideal for Olympic lifting. A soft sole’s cushioning will absorb the power that an athlete produces in their leg drive during explosive movements.
Wide toeboxes are a matter of preference. Athletes with wider feet will appreciate the way that a wider toebox allows the toes to splay out.
Athletes with narrow feet will feel like their feet aren’t getting any sidewall support. When you buy online, make sure the company has a good return policy. When they arrive, try them on immediately to make sure they’re a good fit.
Lateral support is especially important for athletes with previous ankle injuries or who tend to roll their ankles. Shoes utilize different designs to combat this.
Nike’s Metcon line and Reebok’s Nano line sport slightly wider outsoles for a wider base. And NOBULL’s mid-top shoe provides additional support for the ankle.
CrossFit is as hard on the shoes as it is on the athlete (maybe more so). We’ve seen every failure that a shoe can experience, from delaminating materials to a sole literally breaking in half.
By far the most common failure is a sidewall blowout. From lateral pressure on the sidewalls to abrasion from rope climbs, shoes’ sidewalls take a lot of abuse. Many shoemakers add TPU reinforcement on the sidewalls to shield the foot from this type of wear.
What Is the Best CrossFit Shoe?
The best CrossFit shoes for both men and women will vary by individual. The best cross trainer will be as versatile as the sport of CrossFit itself. The best shoes in the sport will allow you to run, climb, jump, lift, and squat with relative ease.
Can You Run in CrossFit Shoes?
Yes, you can. The best CrossFit shoes are made to accommodate a variety of sports, including running.
How Are CrossFit Shoes Supposed to Fit?
CrossFit shoes should fit just like a regular shoe; snug enough to provide support without compressing the foot.
Can You Wear CrossFit Shoes Every Day?
You absolutely can. Many athletes use some of the better-looking CrossFit shoes as their everyday walking-around shoes. We know athletes who would buy multiple pairs: one for the gym, and another pair for everyday use.
The Nike Metcon Line — What's All the Hype About?
Nike and Reebok were early adopters of CrossFit with Nike’s Metcon Line and Reebok’s Nanos. Initially, Reebok skewed closer to the lifting side with its harder midsole. This worked well for lifting weights but was less comfortable during gymnastics and run-heavy WODs. Nike made a big splash by erring on the run side being a running shoe with a softer midsole material.
CrossFitters loved this, as well as the wide toebox. Over the years, Nike and Reebok refined both of their lines, striking a better balance between running and lifting.
As CrossFit grew, Nanos and Metcons became more visible in the public eye as the CrossFit games became televised. Now the two brands are synonymous with the sport, with other brands carving their names out in the space.
Should I Wear Socks With My CrossFit Shoes?
Yes. We recommend taller socks, as this also protects your shins during bar moves like deadlifts and snatches. It’s also a nice extra layer during rope climbs.
How Often Should I Replace My CrossFit Shoes?
Normally, we’d suggest that you replace your shoes when they wear out or blow out. However, you should expect to get at least a few years out of each pair before they become unusable. And with new styles and designs coming out every year, you’ll be buying shoes before they do.