The 9 Best CrossFit Shoes for Beginners

Whether you’re walking into a CrossFit “Box” for the first time or have decided to turn your garage into your training ground, you’ve probably recognized the need to get properly outfitted.

Outfitted in the right CrossFit shoes, to be precise.

It may be tempting to throw on any old tennis shoe or sneaker and start grinding away. It can be equally as tempting to look to the most popular, biggest, and most expensive brand names and to hit the “BUY!” button on Amazon.

Either of these strategies could work out for you. However, if you want to still be as gung-ho about CrossFit six months from now, it pays to spend a little time learning about the best CrossFit shoes for beginners. 

Thankfully, we happen to have a list of the top 9 right here for you!

Criteria for Best CrossFit Shoes for Beginners

As a CrossFit newb, you likely have a number of concerns related to your first pair of dedicated shoes.

They, of course, need to be functional and appropriate for the demands of the sport. They should also be comfortable for those transitioning to shoes that are specifically engineered to maximize performance.

Low heel drops and Flexweave fabric aren’t standard for the vast majority of sneakers.

Additionally, as you’re still figuring out your own personal preferences and priorities, you probably don’t want to make a huge gamble in regard to price.

Finally, social proof and peer reviews go a long way in the close-knit, heavy-on “community” CrossFit crowd. Shoes that have been beneficial for other beginners have a great chance of being good starting points for you as well.

To sum things up, the 9 entries on our best CrossFit shoes for beginners list are all in the lower price range (relative to other CrossFit shoes) and had positive reviews from 90 percent or more athletes. Additionally, few entries (except those where noted) had extreme heel drops or were ultra light-weight shoes.

These criteria ensure that you’ll literally “hit the ground running” with any shoe from this list!

The 9 Best CrossFit Shoes for Beginners

Reebok Nano 9 (Best Overall)

Xero Prio 

Adidas Dropset 

Reebok Nano 8.0 (Women’s)

Nordic Lifting Shoes 

Under Armour Tribase Reign 3 

Inov-8 F-Lite 260 V2

Mizuno Tf-01 

Reebok Nano X


Reebok Nano 9

best crossfit shoes for beginners

Let’s start by looking at the Nano 9, widely considered to be one the best overall CrossFit shoes of all time.

Does this make it one of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners, though?

For the CrossFit newb who wants his training shoe and casual “wear around” shoe to be the same, the Nano 9 might be the perfect shoe. The split outsole design, while looking nice (the O.G. Reebok logo returned with these babies!), also provides degrees of rigidity and flexibility to better support everyday activities (such as walking to the store).

The Nano 9 retains the same stiff, supportive heel and generously-wide toe box that the Nano 8 offers, but the trademark Nano Flexweave is more “form fitting”. The material stretches throughout the foot to perfectly conform to it, creating a feeling of increased breathability and overall comfort.

Like the Nano 8, the Nano 9’s midsoles provide extra stability for heavy lifting while also adding to the shoe’s overall durability during “burning” rope climb movements. Like many other training shoes, the Nano 9 is not designed to accommodate heavy running workouts, and if you’re especially prone, you might experience shin splits after a mile or two in these.

The durability, style, and (almost) perfect functionality put the Nano 9 in a class of their own as the best CrossFit shoes for beginners. 


Xero Prio

Most CrossFit beginners need a shoe with at least a little bit of heel drop. For those who have worn low or no-heeled shoes before and want a similar feeling in their CrossFit shoes, the Xero Prio is the way to go.

Popularized by Ben Patrick, the “Knees over Toes Guy”, and by the experts at “Squat University” the Prio is designed to promote a “natural” feeling. For those participating in CrossFit, this translates to a non-elevated heel, emphasizing natural posture when approaching different dynamic movements. The Prio shoes also possess a rigid sole for extra stability.

The outsoles are thick enough to provide adequate support for heavy weightlifting movements. They are also thin enough to provide “sensory feedback” with the floors and terrain, creating an overall “grounded” feeling. If you are a minimalist veteran and prefer to go without socks, throw in the included 2-millimeter insole and enjoy a sock-free CrossFit experience!

Low and no-heeled shoes are not for everyone, and Xero Prios are not recommended for CrossFit if you have not worn these type of shoes before. Some have cited durability issues after long, intense hikes, but for those exclusively using the shoes for CrossFit, this should not be a problem. Even if durability issues do arise, each pair is backed by a 5,000-kilometer sole warranty.


Adidas Dropset 

Adidas doesn’t make too many “CrossFit Shoes” and is generally not known for being a CrossFit apparel and equipment brand.

Doesn’t matter; the Adidas Dropset Trainer is a great shoe!

The multi-functional nature provides a mid-sole that is capable of accommodating weightlifting movements with sufficient rigidity to create stability in box jumps and related movements.

Regularly used as a tennis shoe, the Dropset Trainer’s lateral support is excellent, ensuring that athletes don’t slide or lose appropriate weight distribution in heavily-weighted movements.

For those who prefer a lot of forefront space in their shoes, the toe box is large and accommodating!

The Dropset Trainer is a more-than-sufficient shoe for the vast majority of CrossFit enthusiasts. However, advanced-level athletes engaged in multiple daily sessions may find that the multi-faceted elements of the shoe do not hold up during regular, extremely intense dynamic activity and heavy weightlifting.


Reebok Nano 8.0 (Women’s)

I feel bad that I haven’t dedicated enough time to women’s CrossFit products, specifically on this site. 

This changes today!

My wife loves her Nano 8’s (and so do about 10 million women like her!)

Reebok has been superceded by NOBULL in recent years as the official CrossFit sponsor. However, just because they are the title sponsor of the CrossFit games doesn’t mean that the Nano CrossFit shoe series has declined in quality or functionality. 

Combining a perfectly mid-ranged heel drop, patented Flexweave for total breathability, and a wide toe box, the women’s Nano 8 is the perfect CrossFit on-boarding shoe.

The hard and rigid sole holds up well during heavy powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting movements (although it can feel a little “clompy” during longer running pieces).

Like all Nanos, you have a wide variety of color options to choose from (although I feel like I’ve never seen women opt for anything other than pure white!), and the polyurethane construction provides necessary stability and support in heavy lifting movements.

Highly durable but not the most durable shoes, repeated rope climbs, handstand pushups, and wall walks will wear the Nano 8s down faster than some other shoes. However, for a beginner CrossFit shoe, going a few Nanos “back” is an excellent option!


Nordic Lifting Shoes

The Nordic Lifting shoes are a bit of “wild cards” in the discussion of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners, mainly because they are not CrossFit shoes.

Hear me out for a minute, CrossFit Newb! You’re going to want a good pair of entry-level lifting shoes to complement your CrossFit WOD and metcon shoes (likely after your first heavy squat session or so!)

Unlike any of the other shoes on our list, the Nordic Lifting Shoes are heeled (an extremely raised, raised heel at that…just over 35 millimeters), helping to put the feet in a technically favorable position for squatting and Olympic lifts.

Nordic Lifting Shoes are constructed differently than other weightlifting shoes, feeling less “boxy” and more like a “normal” CrossFit shoe. Because of this, they make for excellent “on-boarding” weightlifting shoes for those who are considering making the jump to a more standard weightlifting or powerlifting (squatting) regime. 

Like many weightlifting shoes, Nordic Lifting Shoes are secured by laces and a velcro strap. The strap increases stability, but the strap on this shoe is particularly narrow and doesn’t feel very durable. You can still squat in lift in these if the strap breaks, but you’d probably want to replace the shoe.


Under Armour Tribase Reign 3 

Like the Adidas Dropset above, the Under Armour Tribase is a somewhat surprising addition to this list. Like Adidas, Under Armour is a respected fitness brand that hasn’t made much headway into CrossFit.

The Tribase might be the impetus for this journey to begin!

The Tribase is arguably a shoe that many intermediate-level CrossFit athletes wish they had found when they were beginners. Many cite that they have tried the much more popular Nanos and Metcons before settling for and ultimately falling in love with their Tribases.

The Micro G foam midsole provides support for heavy lifting movements while the external heel counter provides the necessary traction for handstand push-ups (and beginner progressions!) and rope climbs. The rigid construction of the heel adds to the Tribase’s durability, allowing it to withstand standard CrossFit punishment.

The Tribase’s “knit bootie” construction and mesh exterior allows for breathability, flexibility, and overall added comfort.

Sizing seems to be an issue for many with a number of people lamenting the narrow toe box and suggesting that others order at least a ½ size larger shoe than they would normally wear. If you’re like me, though, and love that compressed, “can of sardines” feeling at the front of your shoe, the Tribase might be just the perfect beginner CrossFit shoe for you!


Inov-8 F-Lite 260 V2

Inov-8 is one of the more obscure brands on our list of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners.

This doesn’t mean it should be ignored. For some CrossFit beginners, this could be the shoe.

The F-Lite 260 V2s pride themselves on being lightweight shoes with the stability and durability to withstand intense CrossFit sessions. Just how light are the shoes?

A cool .57 pounds per shoe.

Now that is lightweight!

For those coming from other sports or training programs where lightweight shoes are preferred, the F-Lite 260 V2’s will provide a similar feeling as you adapt to new (and, frankly, somewhat odd movements). The specially designed midsole provides additional shock absorption during heavy lifting and plyometric movements. The “sticky rubber” outsoles create extra traction and “groundedness” where necessary.

Although these shoes are resilient enough for most “beginner weights”, they start to feel a little…less so when the weights really start to get heavy. For the true beginner who has a propensity for lightweight training shoes, though, the F-Lite 260 V2s are tough to beat.


Mizuno Tf-01 

Another one of the “what brand is this?” entries to the list, the Mizuno Tf-01 also elicits the “why have I never heard of this brand before?!” statement.

For being from a relatively unknown brand, the Tf-01 might be the “safest” shoe on this list. 

The hard rubber sole is extremely stable, able to withstand barbell cycling and heavier lifting sessions. The linked midsole and outsole seem to work in tandem in grounding the foot, transmitting impact from the ground to the bottoms of the feet in an overly-responsive manner.

The external heel counter provides necessary traction (and extended durability) during handstand push-ups (and related progression movements) and rope climbs, while the woven mesh engineering results in a stable yet comfortable shoe.

What can the Tf-01 not do? Apparently, satisfy people with wider feet (or those who prefer a wider toe box). The shoes tend to run a little narrow so you might opt for a slightly larger size or for a shoe with a wider toe box if you’re concerned.


Reebok Nano X

3 Reebok shoes and ZERO Nike shoes on the best CrossFit shoes for beginners list?

The stats don’t lie; if you’re new to CrossFit, go with Reebok (or with one of the less-known shoes/brands we have discussed so far!)

As a beginner, you can’t really go wrong with the Nano 8, 9, and X, but what makes the X unique is the more narrow overall design and toe box. The feeling isn’t an “oh man, this is so tight, my foot could never slip off, I hope I’m not losing circulation” kind of feeling, but for those who prefer a tighter fit (such as yours truly), this might be the Nano shoe for you!

The additional cushioning in the upper portion of the shoe might be especially comfortable for beginners unaccustomed to the design of CrossFit shoes. Also, for those who prefer a bit more weight in their training shoe, the Nano X is a little bit more than 10 percent heavier than the Nano 9 (12.8 oz vs. 14.4 oz).

The Nano X provides good lateral support to better accommodate dynamic movements and the heavier sole creates a more stable feeling during heavy lifts.

For those more accustomed to lighter fitness shoes, the Nano X feels a bit heavy. I enjoyed my Nano Xs for a period of about 6 months, but always felt a little “heavy” on longer runs and even on box jumps. However, if you have never grown accustomed to a lighter training shoe, this shouldn’t be a problem.


Buyers Guide

Purchasing your first pair of CrossFit shoes can be a bit daunting. With so many choices and so many new considerations to be mindful of…well…let’s just say it’s not as easy as heading to the store and picking up the new Jordans!

Keep in mind that CrossFit shoes are designed very differently than running shoes or even other gym training shoes. The following considerations will help you to maximize comfort and performance while greatly reducing the risk of injury.

Cushioning

CrossFit shoe cushioning is a touchy subject. Due to the dynamic nature of many of CrossFit’s lifts and movements, most CrossFit shoes are designed with less cushion than other training shoes.

 The lack of cushioning ensures that the feet feel more “grounded” and engaged. More cushioned shoes result in the shoes themselves absorbing the impact of the movements, resulting in less control and possibly putting athletes in less secure positions.

Seasoned CrossFit athletes are likely more accustomed to shoes with less cushioning or even to more minimalist-style shoes. For those who have always worn more “traditionally-cushioned” casual or even training shoes, the lack of padding in many CrossFit shoes can be quite the shock.

Adjusting to a less-cushioned training shoe can take some time, with those on the extreme side of minimalist design being the most difficult to adjust to. Our list of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners does not include any shoes with little-to-no cushioning since this adjustment period can be especially uncomfortable and painful.

(Don’t worry; once your feet are “broken in” to a less-cushioned CrossFit shoe, you’ll be able to go as minimalist as you want!)

Heel Drop

Most of the shoes on the best CrossFit shoes for beginners list have a minimal (4-6 millimeter) heel drop. The Nordic Lifting shoes are the exception (35-millimeter heel drop) since these are specifically designed for Olympic weightlifting and squatting movements where an extremely elevated heel is more technically advantageous.

Traditional running shoes have a heel drop somewhere between a typical CrossFit shoe and a weightlifting or squatting shoe to best facilitate the “heel-toe, heel-toe” running movement pattern. Nothing really dynamic is going on here so the higher heel drop works.

The minimal heel drop of CrossFit shoes helps to evenly distribute the weight of the foot, creating more stability for dynamic lifts and other movements. This “grounded” feeling is similar to the benefit that less-cushioned CrossFit shoes provide in relation to their higher-heeled and more cushioned peers.

Rigid Sole

It pays to be more specific here: a good CrossFit shoe will have a rigid outsole AND a rigid midsole

The outsole is what helps the shoe “grip” to the floor and other surfaces. A shoe that is more pliable won’t hold tight to the floor, box, or even climbing rope, resulting in possible slippage or loss of control. While a good CrossFit shoe doesn’t need to be as rigid as some of the toughest deadlift shoes, it should be resilient enough for the demands of the sport.

The midsole is more responsible for shoe stability and should also be resilient enough to provide a degree of balance with dynamic movements. Due to the diverse nature of movements, the midsole should be pliable enough to provide enough flex to accommodate long runs and similar movements. 

Thankfully, almost all of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners perfectly strike this outsole-midsole balance!

Toe Box

Thankfully, there is a bit of variety in toe box widths, even among the best CrossFit shoes for beginners. This one is more of a “personal preference” inclusion to the buying guide, so you will be the best judge of how you like the front of your shoe to feel.

I’ve made it known before that I appreciate a narrow toe box, making my front foot feel like it’s packed in tight into the front of my shoe….

Yeah, that’s only really for heavy deadlifts, squats, and Olympic movements. For everything else, I like a little more space.

You’re a beginner; have some fun figuring this out for your own feet!

Lateral Support

We’ve talked a lot about dynamic movements and the need for CrossFit shoes to be able to accommodate these movements. 

Add lateral support to this discussion!

Shoes with strong lateral support ensure that the feet do not slide out or even roll when engaged in any movement that moves the bodyweight out horizontally over the feet. A heavy clean caught in shoes with strong lateral support might be a missed clean and a rolled ankle in shoes with poor lateral support.

Durability

CrossFit can be tough on your feet…and even tougher on your shoes. Certain movements in particular, most notably rope climbs, can result in excessive wear on the exterior of your shoes and can even deteriorate the midsoles.

Your CrossFit shoes need to be durable enough to accommodate this punishment!

While most CrossFit athletes can expect to get 6-9 months out of a pair of regularly worn shoes, there are shoe features that you should look for that can lengthen the lifespan of your shoes. CrossFit shoes with reinforced heels, most notably those with polyurethane, are good bets for long-lasting shoes.

Price

CrossFit shoes and other gear can get expensive, especially when you’re first getting equipped. Additionally, as you’re still figuring out the types of shoes, styles, heel drops, and weights that work best for your feet, you probably don’t want to spend a ton of money on a gamble.

We suggest spending no more than $120 on your first pair of CrossFit shoes.

There are a number of high-profile CrossFit brands (most notably, NoBull and R.A.D.) that did not make this list, as well as popular weightlifting shoes such as the Nike Romaleos 4. These shoes come at a higher price point (although not necessarily at a higher quality point). If you would like to give these brands and CrossFit shoes a try in the future, please do so.

When you’re just getting started, though, we’ll try not to break the bank!

Frequently Asked Questions

CrossFit shoes really aren’t like any other shoes on the market. Thankfully, we’ve got the answers to the major questions about them that might be burning in your brain right now!

CrossFit shoes are specifically engineered to withstand the demands of numerous dynamic movements and exercises. They must be capable of supporting the feet during heavy weightlifting sessions and flexible enough to accommodate quick, change-of-direction movements.

Running shoes are specifically engineered to support…running activities. While dedicated running shoes are almost always going to be the better choice if you’re just…running, they are not at all designed to accommodate dynamic movements.

Sit outside any CrossFit Box on a day when a running WOD is programmed, and you’ll see a lot of athletes jogging around in CrossFit shoes.

CrossFit shoes generally have less heel drop and cushion than most running shoes, making them less comfortable to wear over longer (½-mile or further) runs. Many athletes have complained about suffering shin splints or other ailments when wearing CrossFit shoes for longer runs.

As long as you take it slow and progressively grow accustomed to the new and unique feel of your CrossFit shoes and leave them at home for runs longer than what Murph demands, you should be just fine.

This is entirely dependent on your training volume and the degree to which you wear your CrossFit shoes outside of the gym.

Athletes putting in 5 or more training sessions each week while wearing their shoes out and about might only get a good 6 months out of their shoes. Those putting in 2 or 3 sessions a week and reserving their shoes for only training could go closer to 9 months (or longer) before looking for a replacement pair.

Conclusion 

Picking out your first pair of CrossFit shoes can be an exciting experience. You, of course, need to put in the training work to see results, but a good pair of CrossFit shoes can go a long way in supporting you during your training sessions.

Deciding on your first pair of CrossFit shoes can also be a daunting experience, with so many different options to choose from. The concern that goes along with choosing the “wrong” pair is very real.

Thankfully, it is difficult to go wrong with any of the choices on our list of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners. The supportive, comfortable, and affordable options presented will ensure that you’ll be in the mood to purchase CrossFit shoes for years to come!

If, after all of that, you’re still finding it hard to decide, go with Reebok Nano 9, the best of the best CrossFit shoes for beginners!

For those who are beyond the “beginner” stage and want to take their lifts, specifically their deadlifts, to the next level, check out or list of the best shoes for deadlifting!

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AUTHOR

Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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