What shoes should I train in?

Introduction

The one thing every freerunner and traceur can agree on is that finding the right shoe to fit your style is important. I can give you a good starting list on what to look for, but ultimately it’s your decision. In parkour/freerunning we put shoes through the ultimate test of durability every time we step outside and train. With this in mind it’s important we find the best shoe that’ll produce optimal training. Although the trainer doesn’t necessarily make the runner great, a bad shoe can slow your progression down with worry and doubt on grip, cushion, etc. In short, I’m going to go down the list to what I feel is the most important qualities to look for in a trainer.

 

Grip

Whether your style is specifically parkour or freerunning a shoe with good grip is very important. We don’t want slipping to occur on rail precisions or wall flips. I think we can all agree since the majority of training is done on our feet the very bottom of the sole should be top priority when searching for some kicks to train in.

However it’s crazy how many practitioners I see get it wrong. In my opinion grip is so important the rubber should stretch across the whole sole of the shoe.  This leave very little room for error if you accidentally over step a pre or a wall run. However a popular trend I see amongst newcomers is shoes with very little rubber grip and high arches made of weird Styrofoam like materials.

This is what you DO NOT want!

Nike_Free+_3_running_shoeHere is a clear example of what you DON’T want for two reasons.

  1. The only clear sign of rubber grip is on the very tip and back end of the shoe. What if you land to far down the sole or on your arches by mistake? ‘SLIP CITY’ If you ask me.
  2. The material is broken up into little cubes throughout the shoe. Design of the sole of the shoe has very little importance when your only use of them is for training. Even if every little cube was replaced with cubed rubber this still wouldn’t be great for optimal grip. There are just better options.

This is what you DO WANT!

new-balance-670-navy-burg-5

This is why this shoe’s grip is perfect!

  1. The rubber stretches across the whole shoe. This means you can land anywhere on the shoe without much worry about slipping out and bailing.
  2. The tread design is apart of the one solid piece of grip and will perform great against many surfaces you’ll find outside.

 

 

Flexibility

With so much rubber required on the sole of the shoe there is a chance you’ll lose some flexibility in the trainer. This is why find the right balance between the two is so important. You still want to be able to freely move your foot along the ground, feel surfaces  as well as textures along your foot. Having a shoe that’s allows a decent range of motion is vital to not only comfort, but also safety. A shoe that is too stiff can cause many foot and ankle injuries in the long run from lack of mobility support.

5feiyue_in_half

The Feiyue is a classic example of what a perfectly flexible shoe looks like. If you feel that a shoe that is able to completely allow your foot fullness of motion is important to you. This shoe is probably worth looking into. Many practitioners recommend highly of this trainer as do I. However there are some drawbacks to a shoe of this caliber of flexibility.

  1. Generally speaking trainers like the Feiyue and others similar lack durability. These type of shoes trade durable and tough materials for cheaper ones. That being said this shoe is substantially cheaper than many, $20 and less at times, but be expected to buy new trainers every month to 2 months depending on how hard you train.
  2. This shoe also lacks cushion. Unless you have feet of steel your going to feel EVERYTHING under you so taking drops to a certain degree maybe less appealing in these types of trainers.
  3. This shoe generally lacks style. Basically what you see is what you get. There is not too much personality here and although they are cheap I feel in the long run they aren’t worth the buck. However some people may disagree.

 

Cushion 

The reason this is a little bit down the list is because I think how much padding you need under your feet it depended on the freerunner or traceur. We have to ask ourselves what would we feel the most comfortable with as far as cushion is concerned. This quality will almost always be conducted by how you train as an individual. Say you are a person that mostly trains vault flow, the need for a ton of shock absorption wouldn’t necessarily be needed. However, if you enjoy precisions or perhaps flipping off things you may need a little more support for minimizing impact on your body.

feiyue_white_side_1024x1024

 

 

 

 

Which shoe works best for you?

 

Durability

Finding shoes that are durable is a bit tricky because we don’t know how long a trainer may last without first training in it. There are things we can look for to find a rough estimate though, but it’s still not precise. Look for is what material the shoe is made out of and that’ll determine how long it may last. For example:

pDSP1-20947816v750Mesh

Often times you find shoes made of a cloth material with a stitch like design. These are typically called mesh material. Generally shoes made of this are incredibly lightweight and very flexible. This type of material also allows air in to keep the smell of your trainers nice and fresh. However, the real down side is that mesh is easily ripped over time. It’s typical to see shoes like this develop holes all over the place because the threading doesn’t hold together too well.

 

 

 

img-thing Leather

A more durable alternative would be leather. Leather is very tough and doesn’t rip over time unless but under a lot of stress. The down side though is that leather typically weighs very heavy limiting easiness of motion. Also leather doesn’t breathe quite well making it difficult to keep fresh smelling and your feet will sweat a ton because of this.

 

 

 

k-swiss_03178028_si-18_rannell_2_4500262817__blk_wht_fiery_red_2Combined <- ALL THE YES!

This right here is what you want to go for in my opinion. As you can see it has leather like material on the other edges, but is filled in with mesh. This is beautiful because it’s easier to scuff up the edges of the shoe rather than the inner portions of the trainer. The combination ensures durable, light-weighted, breathable shoes that will be perfect for training in.

 

 

 

 

 

How much should I be paying for trainers?

Fist Full of DollarsThis is completely up to you can your budget. Typically we want trainers that aren’t too expensive because we are only going to destroy them in time. If you’re willing to spend tons of money on one pair just note that over the months and years of practice this can get really expensive. Personally, I  rarely exceed 60$ to buy a trainer. Typically I stay in the 40-50 dollar range. The only tip I can give you is to do your research! You can find kicks for cheap if you know where to look. I feel online realtors are your best bet and generally the offer the best sales if you don’t mind the wait in shipping. If you’re impatient and need trainers now find stores that already sale shoes at a discounted rate. Resale stores and outlet malls near you will most likely have what you are looking for at a small price. I would shy away from popular brand stores such as Nike, Adidas, Pumas, etc… Instead find places that sale those brands and they’ll most likely have a discounted price on older model shoes.

 

 

Hope this helps! Best of luck getting a new pair of trainers!

-D’Ondrai Jones