NOBull Cupsole Trainers – Our Review

Last update:

⭐️ Best for Stability and Looking Fly: 78/100

*NOTE: The Cupsole Trainers are currently not available from NOBULL.

The Cupsole Trainers are one of NOBULL’s more prominent high-top trainer offerings. They are stylish shoes that are surprisingly good at certain aspects of CrossFit training.

If you’re looking for training shoes to wear around the gym, do lifting-intensive WODs in, powerlift in (if you like a slight heel), or want to simply “wear around”, they’re up to the task.

Unfortunately, there are some glaring deficiencies with these shoes (running ability and even getting them on and off) as well as with NOBULL itself that puts them below many other cross-training shoe options.

Pros

Extremely stable, even during power and Olympic lifts

Surprisingly nimble and easy to dynamically move in

Stylish…they look cool

Cons

Not good for running/rucking

Lacing/unlacing is tedious

Brand’s customer services is…not good

nobull cupsole trainers
Visit NOBULL

Overall Score

78

CrossFit

85

General Training

70

Construction & Materials

80

Stability

95

Appearance

100

Price

70

Customer Reviews

90

Customer Service

30

How we test & score products

NOBULL….it’s hard to express how I feel about this company.

One one hand, nobody would argue that it has anywhere close to the cache or name recognition as brands like Nike or Reebok, even in the more niche CrossFit universe.

At the same time, the fact that it’s name was repeated some 532 times during every “NOBULL CrossFit” event made them impossible to ignore.

Ironically, their decoupling from CrossFit, and ensuing major sales was the most impossible thing for me to ignore and shortly after this divorce was announced, I pulled the trigger on my first ever NOBULL purchase.

Smelling blood in the water, my wife and I jumped on a few items, most notably the High-Top, Leather Cupsole Trainers.

Although I had no allusions that the Trainers would become my new “go-to” training shoes, I was excited to see what the hype (or, to be honest, lack thereof, given their relationship with CrossFit) was all about.

…and yeah…they’re shoes…interesting shoes.

Not “bad” shoes…but…interesting shoes…

Let me tell you all about ’em!

CrossFit

I’m not a high-top shoe fan…

At. All.

I can appreciate that high tops might be able to cup against your upper foot better than low or mid-top shoes, providing an extra degree of durability and support to this oft-neglected area. However, to what extent can this added material end up limiting mobility and overall agility…attributes that we know are vital to numerous CrossFit exercises and movements?

All that being said, I was skeptical that I would appreciate the NOBULLs as CrossFit training shoes.

5 minutes into my first warmup with them, I started to understand how and why NOBULL was the official title sponsor of the CrossFit Games for 3 years during the early 2020’s.

When you (eventually) get the Cupsole Trainers on your foot, they…work.

Getting up on the Echo Bike, running throw jump squats, and ripping through a few sets of double unders, I am constantly surprised at how “nimble” the NOBULL high tops actually feel during training. As heavy as they feel as you (endlessly) lace them up, they offer a medium-weight training shoe feeling during metcons.

Another surprising quality is how well they facilitate both higher percentage (~75-80% of 1RM) Olympic lifting as well as barbell cycling. The 4mm heel drop isn’t going to make you forget that you’re not wearing a dedicated Oly lifting shoe, but the incredibly robust sole creates a secondary lifting platform that inspires confidence even as the weights start to creep up.

What should come as less of a surprise is how they hold up during the power lifts, most specifically the squat and deadlift.

As much as I can appreciate dedicated squatting shoes or Olympic shoes to squat in (I’m an elevated heel guy), I feel almost as comfortable in the Cupsole Trainers during squats as I do in my Romaleos with the added bonus of my upper foot and ankle feeling incredibly stable due to the high top.

The bulletproof sole that is perfectly flat is exactly what I want in a good deadlifting shoe and I would go as far as to say that these NOBULLs are my new favorite non-dedicated deadlifting shoes.

Of course, there are some caveats, although depending on the type of workouts you do (and if you’re willing to change your shoes out when certain WODs show up) they may not be too bothersome for you.

The leather material scuffs really easily. While this may fall under an “appearance” concern, I think it more importantly falls under a “rope climb” concern. Unless you’re exclusively going legless on your rope climbs, that is going to show some wear…fast.

…that being said, much of the time, this wear is only temporary (as in, until you wipe your shoes off). The leather is surprisingly tough and is able to withstand the rigorous demands of rope climb friction pretty well, all things considered.

As much as the Cupsole Trainers have surprised me as being nimble, unobstructive shoes for movements such as double unders, bar-facing-burpees, and (most surprisingly) box jumps, they have performed…as expected for runs of any duration…

…they feel a few levels above “lead shoes” during runs.

I will go into this point in greater detail in the next section, but I dread having to run even short distances in these. As much as CrossFit shoes aren’t known for their run-enhancing abilities…these ones really drop the ball.

Rope climb and running issues aside, these NOBULLs are legitimate CrossFit training shoes with the added bonus that, if you’re like me and can’t be bothered to change your shoes out for squatting or Oly lifting sessions, are more than viable alternatives to your dedicated, high-heeled specialty kicks.

CrossFit Score: 85

General Training

As you might expect, a yuge component of how well the Cupsole Trainers. stack up as general training shoes will come down to how much running or other “non-seated cardio” you perform/intend to perform in them.

For those who exclusively look to them as basic training shoes with the added bonus of being particularly stable during heavier, compound lifts, they certainly get the job done. Besides the excessive lacing/unlacing requirements necessary just to get the shoes on and off (and the slightly higher-than-usual heat buildup than comes with a high-top, leather shoe) these present no faults in this area.

On the other hand, if you intend to run in these, ruck in these, or even go on extended walks in these, their overall training utility drops significantly. Even trudging through 400-meter runs in the middle of metcons gets really annoying in the NOBULLs and the thought of running anything further makes me sick.

On the day I tried them out for a ruck session, I only lasted about 15 minutes before switching them out (thankfully, I had foreseen this and had brought my Rough Runnersmuch more appropriate shoes for the task!)

As unfair as it may seem, for shoes that brand themselves as “trainers” (by a company that used to be the title sponsor of “The Sport of Fitness” no less), I have to hold NOBULL to the higher of the two standards. As such, they’re just not up to snuff as general training shoes.

General Training Score: 70

Construction & Materials

This might be as much of a “hit and miss” category as the previous one as there are components of the Cupsole Trainers that are really great and others that…aren’t.

Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the corner…the lacing system.

I’m sure there may be some trick to this, but I haven’t been able to figure it out. Apparently, I’m not alone.

*put on

This is the ordeal you face every time you decide to wear these bad boys.

Every. Time.

As hyperbolic as it sounds, the prospect of lacing and unlacing these actually deters me from wanting to wear them a significant amount of the time.

On the flip side, the shoes’ leather feels surprisingly tough and durable while the hard rubber sole, as mentioned in a previous section, is incredibly stable during deadlifts and squats. The EVA midsole seems to be pretty much standard at this point for most cross training shoes and will probably be the most “familiar” feature for most users.

Although the 4mm heel drop is definitely more on the “low” side, these don’t have the feeling of “minimalist” shoes at all (probably due to their more bulky overall feel). If this is something you’re going for, but don’t want to go quite to the extreme of the 0-2mm heel droop, look elsewhere.

Construction & Materials Score: 80

Stability

One of the shining qualities of these trainers is the overall stability they provide. There is very little ankle movement (which, admittedly, I have to thank the excessive lacing system for) when performing heavier lifts. I would say that I actually experience even less movement in these than in shoes like my Romaleos 3XDs.

For power lifters who might prefer slightly more of heel drop than in Chuck Taylors (if this is their/your preferred shoe), I could see the Cupsole Trainers being a major contender for their replacement due to their stability and somewhat similar construction.

Stability Score: 95

Appearance

I mentioned before that I’m not really a big fan of high-top shoes.

However, there is something about these green beasts that I don’t mind. Even when I’m wearing them with shorts and a t-shirt during my workouts (which is my gym outfit ~99.5% of the time) I don’t think they look too bad, laced up my bare, exposed lower leg. I guess you can be the judge!

As a “wear around” shoe, these NOBULLs look much more appropriate (ironic given that they are “training shoes” as opposed to “ath-leisure” or whatever) with jeans.

A friend commented that he liked my “alligator shoes” so…if the world thinks that I’m ballin’ enough to casually walk around in alligator-skinned sneakers, I can live with it!

Appearance Score: 100

Price

These days, it’s difficult to come across my specific high-top, leather cupsole trainers since NOBULL isn’t currently selling them. When I purchased them, they were $109 (which I think was actually a discounted price at that time).

While these aren’t the most inexpensive training shoes, they’re (likely) not going to break the bank at that price.

Price Score: 70

Customer Reviews

Although the leather, high-top trainers aren’t NOBULL’s most popular shoe, those who have purchased them appear to have a pretty high opinion of them. With a 4.5/5 rating from close to 150 reviewers, there is a good social proof to be found with the shoes.

NOTE: These reviews are composed of all of NOBULL’s leather, high-top trainers.

Unfortunately, NOBULL products are really rare to come by on Amazon and you’ll be hard pressed to find more than a few scattered reviews about random brand items there. As such, we’ll exclusively default to the customer reviews found on the official NOBULL page.

Customer Reviews Score: 90

Customer Service

Wow…I get to talk about NOBULL customer service”…..oh boy.

This is a topic that has been discussed…a bit and is without a doubt the worst part about the company and, by extension, these NOBULL trainers.

I have ordered from NOBULL on multiple occasions and, interestingly enough, the first experience was incredibly smooth. I use the word “interesting” here because it took place during the pre-Christmas season where you’d figure that things would take longer. Alas, an easy order process and a quick delivery process.

The next experience, though…

After roughly 2 weeks of no updates and, as expected delivery, I contacted the NOBULL service/delivery department on February 6th to inquire about the order. Here was my exchange with them (this picks up after I was told that my stuff was on the way):

In reality, we found out this guy had lied and that they hadn’t actually shipped the order (the picture below implies that they hadn’t sent it until after my chat)!

To add insult to injury, they ended up shipping our order…in 3 different packages, making it a nightmare for declaring to customs when we imported them to our home in the EU.

This anecdote aside (which, I can assure you, is nowhere close to being an uncommon experience) NOBULL also seems to disproportionately attract complete scam sites selling “heavily discounted” merchandise.

I know the presence of these sites isn’t NOBULL’s fault, but their presence makes it necessary for my wife and I to always ask each other “you did order from the ‘correct’ NOBULL site…right?”

Which isn’t exactly fun.

Overall, this customer service situation is the biggest knock against NOBULL. Hopefully, Terrific Tom is able to do something about it (probably not, though, given how good FTX’s “customer service” was…).

Customer Service Score: 30

Who are the NOBULL Cupsole Trainers Really For?

There is certainly an audience who would most appreciate the Cupsole Trainers…it’s just not yuge.

Power Lifters Looking for a Slight Heel

There is a benefit to all of those laces and it comes in the form of excellent stability in the mid-to-upper foot and ankle areas. This, combined with a hard, durable sole that supports a foot-to-ground connection, makes these solid options for power lifters looking for something in between the no-drop Chuck Taylor’s and heeled squat or weight lifting shoes.

CrossFit Athletes who Do Not Run

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the NOBULL trainers held up during the power lift and Olympic lift components of a few of my workouts.

I was really surprised at how good and supportive (without being overly clunky) they felt during a few of my CrossFit metcons.

I was not at all surprised at how awful they felt during even the shortest runs and rucks.

Casual Athletic Shoe Connoisseurs

The shoes look cool.

I don’t even know what “cool” is and I can tell that they look cool…so…if you’re looking for cool-looking athletic shoes that you can wear in more casual settings, these NOBULLs definitely fit the bill.

How we reviewed NOBULL Cupsole Trainers

The NOBULLs entered my training shoe “rotation” a few months ago and, although they aren’t my “go to” shoes (or even mainstays) I have hyped myself up to run the lacing gauntlet with them at least a few times a month.

I quickly gave up on them as running or rucking options after only a couple of (short) attempts wearing these shoes for each of these ventures, but I have worn them in multiple lifting (power and Olympic) sessions and a number of CrossFit metcons during this period.

Cupsole Trainers Alternatives

There are certainly a number of shoes doing similar things as the Cupsole Trainers. I would actually argue that the three alternatives below are better options for their respective primary uses/categories (CrossFit, powerlifting, NOBULL alternative):

Best alternative

GORUCK – Ballistic Trainer

From the old title sponsor of the CrossFit Games to the new one! GORUCK’s Ballistic Trainers are my new “go-to” shoes for CrossFit.

Pros

Incredibly versatile

Always a color option on sale

Subject to GORUCK’s “Scars” lifetime warranty

Cons

Not ideal for those who prefer “minimalist” training shoes

Not great to run in

Power Lifting Alternative

Converse – Chuck Taylor

A true classic, beloved by “no heel” powerlifters everywhere. Stability and style at a (generally) very reasonable price.

Pros

Tried and true by lifters everywhere

Inexpensive

Iconic brand and look

Cons

Cliche

Not ideal for those who prefer heeled shoes

Brand Alternative

NOBULL – High Top Leather Trainer

A really short description of what the product is about and why people should consider it instead of the product reviewed.

Pros

Even more interesting-looking and “stylish”

Same firm sole and excellent stability

Medial grip to help with rope climbs

Cons

Same lacing “journey” as the Cupsules

Expensive

Frequently Asked Questions

At this point, you’ve probably already made up your mind regarding how you feel about these NOBULL trainers. If not, here’s a few more answers that may do the job for you:

Unfortunately, the Cupsole Trainers are not in NOBULL's current offering. However, they have other, high-top, leather trainers that can do the job as well (if not better!)

I have found the leather exterior to be very durable and resilient in my trainers and even after decently significant use, they haven't shown signs of wear or break down.

A Good Shoe…for a Certain Type of Person

NOBULL is one of those brands that I have always been slightly curious about, but never really had the inclination to run out and get my hands on. Even when they were so closely entwined with CrossFit, they always just seemed like shoes, clothes, etc. for that “certain” type of person.

There is nothing wrong with this person…I just don’t think it’s me.

I know I’m getting to the NOBULL party late, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything with their Cupsole Trainers. It seems to be a party entirely comprised of “athleisure” folks (the majority of the part goers), CrossFitters who refuse to run (about 1/3 of the party goers), and power lifters with niche preferences (the rest of the party goers).

If this sounds like your kind of party, the Cupsole Trainers might be your kind of shoe. Tell Mr. Brady I said “hello!”

Summary

Overall Score

78

CrossFit

85

General Training

70

Construction & Materials

80

Stability

95

Appearance

100

Price

70

Customer Reviews

90

Customer Service

30

How we test & score products

NOBULL – Cupsole Trainers

The Cupsole Trainers are one of NOBULL’s more prominent high-top trainer offerings. They are stylish shoes that are surprisingly good at certain aspects of CrossFit training.

If you’re looking for training shoes to wear around the gym, do lifting-intensive WODs in, powerlift in (if you like a slight heel), or want to simply “wear around”, they’re up to the task.

Unfortunately, there are some glaring deficiencies with these shoes (running ability and even getting them on and off) as well as with NOBULL itself that puts them below many other cross-training shoe options.

Pros

Extremely stable, even during power and Olympic lifts

Surprisingly nimble and easy to dynamically move in

Stylish…they look cool

Cons

Not good for running/rucking

Lacing/unlacing is tedious

Brand’s customer services is…not good

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!

Leave a Comment