GORUCK Ballistic Trainer vs. Reebok Nanoflex TR 2.0

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Over the years, Reebok has firmly established itself as one of the premier brands for developing “cross-training” (CrossFit) shoes. After about 83,472 different Nano iterations, one could argue that the their NanoFlex TR 2.0 shoes are a bit different than your typical CrossFit shoes.

…but, it has to be a “better” CrossFit shoe than one from a rucking brand

…right?

Unfortunately for Reebok, the rucking company in question happens to be GORUCK and the shoe we’re talking about is their Ballistic Trainer. If there is any shoe that can take down one of the offerings from CrossFit footwear “royalty”, this might just be it.

Reebok Nanoflex TR 2.0 vs. GORUCK Ballistic Trainer

Unless you’ve been living under a rock…since…forever, you’ve probably heard of this…Reebok brand a time of two in your life. Renowned for its athletic shoe offerings, the brand launched its first iteration of its Nano trainers way back in 2011. Since then they have made seemingly yearly adjustments, culminating in the offshoot NanoFlex line (along with its offshoots, to include the TR 2.0).

In the words of the Reebok marketing crew: “from jump-rope drills to kettlebell sets, your workouts are intense. Count on these men’s Reebok training shoes to support you from the dynamic warmup to the post-workout sweat angel. The breathable mesh upper is reinforced with durable overlays for a sporty look and lightweight feel while a heel clip adds stability. The high-traction outsole offers enhanced grip.”

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers vs. Reebok Nanoflex TR 2.0

In contrast, GORUCK became an official “CrossFit company” being unveiled as the “official apparel and footwear provider of CrossFit” in January of 2024. However, their flagship shoe, the Ballistic Trainer, has been in production since 2020 and is the only dedicated cross-training shoe in the company’s arsenal.

GORUCK has a lot to say about the Ballistic Trainer, but they can largely be summed up as “for use with barbells, sandbags, and all the things that make you strong. The most versatile and functional shoes for training in the real world.

To push past your limits in garages and driveways and in fields and on asphalt the world over — you need a stable platform, and you need more support from your fitness & weight training shoes. When you run, you need support. When you lift, you need support. When you flex, you need support.”

Those intros aside…

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General Training

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On first glance, these two shoes appear to be appropriate contenders in a versus battle. They have both made their respective ways into the cross-training footwear space and, for the time being at least, somewhat fly under the radar relative to some other, more popular offerings.

However, comparing one of the athletic shoe company O.G.s to one of the new kids on the block seems slightly…random.

Is there a better reason for selecting these two to go head to head with one another…?

Yes!

As someone who has been into the world of “functional fitness” for some time now, I have been through a lot of different training shoes. Some of these shoes have been pretty great while others…well..you gotta have something to mow the lawn in!

The Reebok Nanoflex TR 2.0s and the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers are two of my “modern era” favorite training shoes and, with enough niche similarities to categorize them together, breaking down the pros and cons of each shoe is a no brainer.

If you’re looking for a less expensive shoe with a bit more “flash” (and name recognition), the Nanoflex 2.0 is going to be your shoe. However, if you prefer a true “all-around” cross-training shoe that mixes subtlety and substance, the Ballistic Trainers are likely right up your alley!

CrossFit

Let’s be real…if you’re looking at these shoes, you’re more than likely looking at them because you have some type of CrossFit or other “functional fitness” aspirations in mind for them.

…and that’s cool because I would lace either pairs of these bad boys up for a quick metcon or even for a full/proper CrossFit workout.

Additionally, unlike many cross training shoes that have trended towards smaller and smaller heel drops, the NanoFlex TR 2.0’s (7mm) and Ballistic Trainers (8mm) are both a bit larger with only a single millimeter separating the two.

Most importantly, both of these shoes spent some time as my “favorite CrossFit shoes of all time” during respective periods of time…

…the Ballistic Trainers just happen to be the reigning holders of this title, though.

The first major difference between the two is the overall feel of the shoes. Despite its “cross training” shoe label, the Nanoflex 2.0s have a very unique feel about them.

Besides feeling, in a way, “light”, (though they aren’t actually that light) I always feel like I’m not wearing shoes when I first slip them on. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they feel flimsy or unsupportive; I think they just feel like a slipper. Part of this may be because the upper mesh feels very thin, creating an “open” feeling at the top of the foot.

In contrast, the Ballistic Trainers have more of a familiar feeling to those who have slipped on a CrossFit shoe or two in their life. Although they also have a mesh upper area, it feels much thicker than the 2.0s. The hard rubber outsole also feels much more durable than the 2.0’s “MetaSplit Outsole”.

So how do these differences translate into CrossFit workouts? I contend that the the Ballistic Trainers are the more well-rounded shoe while the NanoFlex 2.0s do certain things slightly better (or, in some cases like running, a bit better), but more things a bit worse.

As long as you’re not a diehard minimalist shoe lover (or someone who requires zero heel on movements like deadlifts or even squats), the Ballistic Trainers are going to be more reliable in most CrossFit workouts. The 8mm heel drop isn’t yuge, but it does provide a bit more leverage throughout squat and/or Olympic lifting-heavy workouts (which are, what? Over 40 percent of metcons?)

In contrast, the 2.0s are more than capable of holding up under these movements, but the combination of the smaller heel drop and the less durable outsole inspires less confidence when landing (either under a bar or onto a box) or planting under heavy bars.

These reasons alone make GORUCK’s offering the winner in my book.

In contrast, the lighter overall feel and materials of the Reeboks make them more ideally suited for running (both longer distances and shorter distances which further benefit from the flexibility of the MetaSplit sole).

To further expand on the more nimble nature of the NanoFlex 2.0s, they better facilitate movements that favor agility (ex. double unders, bar-facing-burpees), especially as these movements creep into higher rep counts.

However, as apparent as these Reebok advantages are, unless you’re facing something like Murph where you’re going to be on the road for a bit and will never touch a barbell, it doesn’t justify everyday use of the Ballistic Trainers are an option for you.

Winner: Ballistic Trainers

General Training

Both pairs of shoes hold up in more general training environments.

Due to their extremely well-rounded nature, the Ballistic Trainers are suitable for more “extreme” training environments just as well as they are for walking from machine to machine in…that are of the gym.

Considering that gym-goers who aren’t engaging in some type of specialized program or training (ex. CrossFit) are more likely to include a 10-to-15-minute warm-up jog or cool down into their daily workout regimen, the 2.0s have the potential to be very appreciated for general training.

How often do you see your run-of-the-mill gym goer squatting…yet alone jumping up to or off of a plyo box…or…snatching? If you’re more likely to jump on an elliptical than to scour around for a squat rack (even to do curls in!) the NanoFlex TR 2.0 makes more sense as a general training shoe.

I would like to think that everybody wants to get some type of “functional training” in from time to time, but realistically, I know this just isn’t most people. As such, the NanoFlex TR 2.0 wins this round.

Winner: NanoFlex TR 2.0

Construction & Materials

As you might imagine, what these shoes have going on “under the hood” is what really makes all the difference. Despite both being “cross training” shoes, they really couldn’t be less alike in this regard.

Ballistic Trainers Specs

Straight up: the Ballistic Trainers’ materials feel sturdier and more robust in general. The knit mesh upper materials is thicker than the 2.0’s while its Cordura in the heel and lacing area is far superior to its counterpart’s TPU.

I really don’t care what Reebok has to say about the “flexibility” of their MetaSplit outsole; it just feels less durable and stable when compared to the Ballistic Trainers’ hard, “triple compound rubber” (which has the added benefit of scuffing and scarring less when clasping during dope climbs).

Nanoflex TR 2.0 specs

I wouldn’t say that the 2.0s are constructed of “bad” materials and mine have held up well for, at the time of this writing, close to seven months of regular (2-3 days per week on average) use. They’re just not constructed as well as the Ballistic Trainers.

Winner: Ballistic Trainers

Appearance

If there is one thing to say about the Ballistic Trainers’ appearance, it is that there are a lot of color options and combinations available. This is especially good because if you don’t really care about the color scheme, you can pretty much always find a less popular color on sale for ~50 percent off!

Regardless of the color selection, the shoes themselves have a very subtle and unassuming look about them. Unless you opt for the more “outlandish” color combos (does my second pair of Ballistic Trainers look like A. Clown shoes; B. Bowling shoes?) these are shoes that convey more of a “I’m here to work…hard” message than pure “flash”.

In contrast, even the most subdued NanoFlex TR 2.0 versions are a bit more “vibrant” with other versions being downright eye-catching (for better or for worse!) These are shoes that, assuming they don’t get too dirty and you picked the right color scheme, you could wear and pull off as “ath-leisure” shoes (Ballistic Trainers are always going to look like gym shoes).

I understand that “appearance” is almost entirely a personal preference metric, but more people are likely to find something that like in the look(s) of Reeboks than in the Ballistic Trainers.

Winner: NanoFlex TR 2.0

Price

The Reebok Nanoflex TR 2.0 technically have a base price at $100. With that being said, you are as likely, if not more likely, to find them with over a 50 percent discount applied.

This being said, it is more reasonable to call these $50 training shoes (even though they aren’t badly priced, event at $100).

The GORUCK Ballistic Trainers are a bit pricier, generally sitting at or around $140. As mentioned earlier, there are normally at least 2 or 3 color options on sale in the $69-$110 range and GORUCK regularly runs promotional sales where items are priced at up to 30 percent off (hell, they even have Presidents’ Day sales!)

Even with regular sales pricing, the Reeboks are still less expensive, in addition to having a wider variety of color options available at the $50 price point.

Winner: NanoFlex TR 2.0

Overall Winner

According to our metrics, the Reebok NanoFlex is the winner.

However, personal preferences and priorities ultimately reign supreme.

As far as raw CrossFit shoes are concerned, the Ballistic Trainers are the clear winners. If you don’t care about colors and can pick some up on sale for under $70, you’ve definitely “won”.

However, as far as inexpensive, multi-functional yet capable training shoes go, the 2.0s are a “winning” choice (especially if you like a bit of “flash” in your shoes).

Long story short, this definitely isn’t a “blowout” victory and either “contender” could have taken home the trophy based on our metrics.

Our Testing Process

It’s important to us that we conduct the purchasing, use, and “intangible” processes that come with the new training shoe search process in a manner that most closely resembles how the average person approaches it.

We have personally used both pairs of shoes for months and through different types of training/training environments to most accurately gauge their capabilities. In addition, we have consulted the most up-to-date information on the objective testing items/categories (ex. price).

Frequently Asked Questions

You still got questions? Thankfully, we still have answers!

Yeah, both pairs of shoes are still widely available (and likely will be for the foreseeable future!)

Definitely the Ballistic Trainers. The Reeboks are definitely serviceable, but feel much less stable (at least to me!) under heavier loads. If you're going to clean and squat heavy, go with the GORUCK option.

Really depends on what your priorities are. If you really want a good shoe for all-around CrossFit (and other "functional training" ventures), yeah, I think it's worth it. If you want shoes to kind of wear around the gym and do a metcon every once in awhile...probably not.

Conclusion

As much as it sucks to have to declare a “winner” between two pairs of shoes that I genuinely like, it’s nice to be able to showcase these…particularly for those who may have overlooked them for more popular shoes or other brands altogether.

Reebok’s entry “won” this competition and, to be honest, Reebok is always going to get more of a boost due to the company’s name recognition and popularity.

…but now with GORUCK creeping up, don’t be surprised if people start associating CrossFit (and, by extensions, CrossFit shoes) with the brand in the (near?) future. at their size, I doubt they’ll have the capability to put out an ultra low-cost shoe and shoes with “flash” are pretty much…against what the company stands for…but as in McWorld…

If you’re still deciding between these two and want a few more options of the best shoes for someone just getting started in CrossFit, check out our article on the top CrossFit shoes for beginners.

CrossFit

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General Training

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Construction & Materials

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Appearance

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Price

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Photo of author

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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