You’re in the middle of a WOD. It’s hot. You might redline but there’s no turning back. You’re racing against the clock and all you can think about is your achy arches and the blister forming on your heel. Yikes.
That’s not what you want! You can avoid CrossFit horror stories like that by wearing the right training shoes. In my NOBULL shoes review, I’ll let you know if these popular —but controversial— weightlifting shoes are the right choice for you.
Why You Should Trust Us
We wrote the most comprehensive guide to the best training shoes you’ll probably find anywhere on the internet. Aside from that, and our product testers have years of experience in the fitness industry and have personally worn most of the CrossFit shoes on the market, from the original Reebok Nanos all the way to the Nike Metcon 7 shoes and the Reebok Nano X1s.
A Quick Look At The NOBULL Trainer Shoes
NOBULL has come a long way as a brand since its launch in 2015. What started as a new-age brand became the CrossFit Games title sponsor in 2021 with an impressive roster of sponsored athletes—Brooke Wells, Katrin Davidsdottir, Scott Stallings, Will Greier, Tia-Claire Toomey, and Justin Medeiros, to name a few.
Since releasing the original NOBULL Trainers in 2015, the company has launched an entire apparel line as well as new types of shoes, including the NOBULL Runners, NOBULL Lifters, and NOBULL Trail Runners, as well as cycling shoes, golf shoes, and slides.
The shoes themselves, however, haven’t changed much at all. The Trainers in particular still sport the same design as they did six years ago. This is a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you ask.
The people who like these shoes really like them, and the people who don’t like them really don’t like them. There aren’t many people who feel totally neutral about NOBULL shoes, and you’ll be hard-pressed to change someone’s mind about them. (Although one of our product testers and editor, Kate Meier, did order these shoes hoping to dislike them, and she ended up enjoying them.)
Are NOBULL Trainer Shoes Worth It?
Once again, for whatever reason, NOBULL shoes have become the most debated shoe in the CrossFit community. So it truly depends on who you ask. Even our own team at Garage Gym Reviews has different opinions on whether or not NOBULL Trainer shoes are worth it.
Amanda Capritto, one of our fitness writers and longtime CrossFitter, winces at the price tag and she’s a self-proclaimed NOBULL junkie. At $130 to $170 for a basic training shoe, the price is indeed high. But it’s worth it if you like the minimalistic design and utilitarian styles.
Wearing The NOBULL Trainers Shoes
Kate serves it straight: “I really didn’t want to like these shoes. I’m typically not a NOBULL fan just because their look isn’t that appealing,” she told me.
“When I initially put these on, I didn’t like the feel. The bottom felt hard, and I’m used to weightlifting shoes. However, once I got to working out with them, I really liked them. I did workouts that included running, jumping and squat cleans, and I never felt uncomfortable in the shoes.”
Initially, these can feel a little rough because the bottoms are relatively flat and hard. However, exercising in them feels great. The harder bottom gives you a good platform for squats, but it’s still flexible enough to get through more dynamic movements. Also, the suede tongue is soft and comfortable. Myself, Kate, and Amanda all find the NOBULL Trainers to fit true to size.
Wearing NOBULL Trainer Shoes For CrossFit
If you want a CrossFit shoe, these are spot-on. While they’re not our top pick for the overall best training shoe (we collectively decided on the Reebok Nano X1s for that), the NOBULL Trainers are still one of the best options for cross-training.
As all CrossFitters know, durability is key in a good pair of shoes. Between burpees, rope climbs, handstand push-ups, and other movements, training shoes take quite the beating during CrossFit WODs. The seamless SuperFabric® upper on NOBULLs is probably the most durable construction I’ve come across.
Because it’s one-piece construction, it eliminates the possibility that your shoes start to come apart at the seams. Amanda has been wearing the same NOBULL shoes for three years and (when washed, she clarifies), they still look, feel, and function like they’re brand new.
As for comfort, this is where things start to get controversial. NOBULL Trainers are flat—like, really flat. Most complaints are about the lack of arch support and shock absorption. If you’re used to more cushioning, transitioning to NOBULL Trainers might be tough. However, Kate, who was initially wary of the shoes, says they’re “shockingly comfortable once you get moving in them.”
For box jumps and other high-impact movements, you might miss some of the shock absorption you’ve experienced while wearing Nanos or workout shoes designed for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. The high-top trainers add ankle stability if that’s something you’re looking for.
Wearing NOBULL Training Shoes For Lifting Weights
Unlike the Reebok Nano Xs and X1s, which I think are too cushioned for heavy lifting, the NOBULL Trainers are great for heavy squats, deadlifts, and even the Olympic lifts due to their super flat sole and minimal heel-to-toe drop.
True weightlifting shoes still provide better support and offer mobility assistance for Olympic weightlifting, but for the most part, I’d recommend the NOBULL trainers for lifting weights. They feel great during all types of lifting, including powerlifting and bodybuilding workouts.
Between myself, Kate, and Amanda, we’ve worn NOBULL shoes for just about any lift you can think of. They don’t have as steep of a heel as, say, the Nike Metcons do, so they are particularly great for deadlifting.
Wearing NOBULL Trainer Shoes For Cardio
Nope. Nope; no; nada. Heed our advice and just skip the NOBULL Trainers for your daily walk or if you feel inspired to go for a run. As much as our product testers love the NOBULL shoes for training and lifting weights, no one on our team likes these for pounding the pavement.
There’s no arch support, the forefoot isn’t flexible enough to roll with a running stride, and the low heel tab might cause blisters with repetitive foot strikes. You can get away with wearing NOBULLs during a WOD that has short bursts of running, such as 200-meter repeats, but even then, you might find them uncomfortable.
NOBULL does make running shoes if you’re interested in wearing NOBULL sneakers for cardio sessions.
Wearing NOBULL Trainer Shoes Walking And Everyday Activities
Kate tells me she wouldn’t wear these shoes to just walk around all day. After taking her dogs on several walks in the NOBULL Trainers, she decided that although they were okay, they aren’t the most comfortable shoes for something recreational.
I know a lot of people who love NOBULL shoes so much that they wear them out socially or otherwise outside the gym.
For Kate, these aren’t those shoes. For Amanda, they’re shoes she’ll wear to go out for a casual dinner or to a bar where she knows she’ll be sitting for the most part. The simple design makes them great for matching with any outfit in her opinion.
NOBULL Training Shoes Construction And Materials
At this point I’m beating a dead horse, but the NOBULL shoes are some of the most durable shoes I’ve ever worn. The outsole is constructed of carbon rubber, which can withstand rope climbs and outdoor elements.
The SuperFabric mesh lends itself to breathability without sacrificing durability. There’s a microsuede upper option, too, but Kate wasn’t crazy about it. Regardless of which upper fabric you choose, the seamless one-piece construction remains constant, as does the suede tongue.
NOBULL Training Shoes Colorways And Design
Here’s another controversial aspect about NOBULL shoes: the looks. Some people love the simple designs whereas others feel the colorways and aesthetics leave a lot to be desired.
Typically, NOBULL shoes have a very utilitarian look to them—solid color, no contouring, plain white or gum bottom, with essentially just the words “No Bull” on them.
They have expanded their line substantially over the last few years to include more designs and patterns, many with vibrant colors, both on the shoe and on the sole. Kate wore the Navy Trainers, which are simply navy blue with the white sole, and with the navy laces. They came with a pair of cream-colored laces as well, which very slightly add a break in the monotony.
Kate tells me she’s generally not attracted to how plain the NOBULLs are. “They remind me of something that the military would issue,” she says. “If they didn’t say “No Bull” on them, I’d think they were super overpriced shoes from a box store.” Ouch!
On the flip side, Amanda loves the simplistic nature and finds it easy to match them with any workout clothes she wants to wear. She’s a fan of the deep, earthy colors and monochrome upper construction.
NOBULL Trainer+ Review
In February 2022, NOBULL expanded its range of training shoes with the NOBULL Trainer+, a modified version of the Trainers.
At first glance, the Trainer+ looks like a chunkier version of the original Trainers—and it essentially is, with a few extra perks (or downfalls, depending on how you look at it).
The Trainer+ features a thick midsole constructed of EVA foam, the same material used in the vast majority of running shoes. The midsole is about an inch in height, which looks like a lot, but doesn’t translate to a big change in feel. The foam itself, however, does alter the feel of the shoes compared to the old Trainers.
NOBULL Training Shoes Vs. Other CrossFit Shoes
The NOBULL Trainers are probably the most similar to Nike Metcons. Like the NOBULLs, the Metcons have a minimal midsole, extremely durable sidewalls, and medial rope grips. Both of these CrossFit training shoes feel flat and rigid, at least during initial use, and take some time to break in. After the break-in period, though, you’ll be set up with a pair of extremely stable, hardwearing cross-trainers.
NOBULLs Trainers are somewhat reminiscent of older versions of the Reebok Nanos, specifically the Nano 5s and Nano 6s. The newer nanos, especially the Nano Xs and X1s, are vastly different from NOBULL Trainers in a lot of ways, but especially in the level of cushioning and available colorways.
NOBULL Training Shoes FAQs
Are NOBULL Trainers Good For CrossFit?
NOBULL training shoes are great for CrossFit. They’re durable and stable, which is exactly what you need for CrossFit workouts.
Are NOBULL Trainers Good For Olympic Weightlifting?
Some people like to wear NOBULL Trainers for Olympic lifts, but true weightlifting shoes will typically be the better choice for most people, especially if you’re moving really heavy weight.
Are NOBULL Trainers Good For Running?
NOBULL Trainers are not good for running for most people, especially those used to cushioned running shoes with a thick midsole. Even running short distances in these training shoes might result in sore feet and poor running dynamics.