I initially wanted to call this my “worst five,” but none of these shoes are completely horrible. Matter of fact, some of them are great, but some just aren’t realistic for someone new to functional fitness. Even the No Bull Trainer that I lambasted in a re-review recently isn’t without its redemptive qualities. If you love CrossFit, Functional Fitness, and have a substantial collection of shoes; this list probably isn’t for you. This list however is for people who want bang for their buck and need to know which shoes to steer clear of.
Nike Metcons (1-4 and Flyknits 1-3)
GASP! I know. It is probably the best CrossFit shoe ever and known at one time for the slogan “don’t ban our shoe, beat our shoe.” This isn’t to say that Metcons are bad, as much as it is to say that there is a glaring problem that has plagued the shoe since its first iteration: That damned squeak. I posted a video of how every one of these shoes’ squeaks after a few wears, and I keep hoping Nike would resolve the issue. I had found the source of this problem and it’s the drop-in insole of the shoe. After a few wears, the sweat alters its shape and size and creates that awful squeak. But don’t take my word for it, find a pair, take the sole out, compress the toe box, and listen closely.
The Adidas CrazyTrain Elite
When these first dropped, I was truly excited since variety is the spice of life and Adidas can come up with some pretty exciting designs. While this shoe is a solid first entry into Functional Fitness, it’s as plain as it can come. It brings nothing new to the box that any other shoe has. 4mm drop? Check. Rope climb guard? Check. Strong upper, durable outsole, good for Oly lifts? Check, check, and check. The problem here is really about a release price point equal to its competitors at $130 (it’s cheaper now), without proving itself. Why take a chance on an unknown quantity, when the big dogs are already two to three designs deep? Drop the price of the next outing, put a little effort into marketing, and give us something new like Nike consistently tries to. Sooner or later you’ll hit pay dirt just as they did.
The Reebok Rich Froning One
I won’t debate you on what type of athlete Froning is; as Fraser would say, “Don’t ask me about Rich.” What I will debate you on is the utility of a shoe that costs $150. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great shoe and I love wearing it, but that price point puts it in a niche market. Only us diehards will buy it and after being out for nearly a year the price hasn’t dropped. This has made it an unrealistic purchase for someone new to CrossFit. It’s a shame too, since it’s a really great shoe that deserves a wider audience.
The Under Armour Tri-Base Reign
Another great shoe makes this list for all the same reasons as the CrazyTrain Elite. Shoes like this one and the Adidas are unfortunate because of their marketing. They didn’t jump onboard the CrossFit bandwagon soon enough and are left trying to snatch up what little market share is left. I love this shoe and gave it a positive review, but this is likely another “one and done” entry. I wish these companies would sponsor a big-name athlete for some exposure, perhaps then we can see what they do with a second chance outing in functional fitness footwear.
The No Bull Trainer
I mentioned in my re-review that these shoes are a dumpster fire, and yes there might have been a bit of hyperbole in that statement. They are great shoes with a lot to offer because of their rugged design and multifaceted uses in the gym. However, $160 for a shoe is absolutely insane for what you’re getting here. The Reebok Nano (any one, your pick), in my opinion, is just as good as this shoe in absolutely every category except one and that’s durability. But even then, I have a pair of Nanos 5’s that I’ve worn more that look just as good as my No Bulls and they’re $30 (or more) less. I’ve tried them once, and until there’s an actual update to the design, I’ll never try a pair again.