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The Best Parkour Shoes and 5 Laws for Choosing Them

One of the great things about parkour is that you can do it anywhere, and you do not need to dump a bunch of money into equipment. All you need are some shoes, and the world is your playground.


But do not underestimate the value of a good pair of shoes. Your shoes are your connection to the world during your runs. A good pair will allow you to move across a wide range of objects with confidence. A bad pair of shoes will hurt your game – and your bones.

If you are serious about committing to parkour long-term, you need to invest in some quality footwear. Don’t be fooled, this is an investment. A good pair of parkour shoes will cost you some coin, but you will see the benefits in your game.

This article will break down what you need to look for when buying a pair of shoes. We will also give you some suggestions at the end to aid your search.

What Makes for a Good Parkour Shoe?

If you are going to find your own pair of shoes, you need to do some research first. You might be able to find shoes off the rack at a local shop, but chances are you will need to buy them online.

The key thing to do is not rush the process; you want to ensure that you get a pair that is perfectly suited to your specific needs. By failing to do so, you will end up not performing as well and will inevitably have to purchase a new pair sooner rather than later.

No matter how you buy, here are some things to look for:

1. Grip

You need to make sure your shoes have grip on a wide range of surfaces. However, if a surface is slippery or unstable, you don’t train on it. It’s as simple as that. You want to be working with surfaces that can handle your weight and movement. The last thing you want to do is suffer a serious injury.

With that in mind, it is important to pick a shoe with a single-piece sole. You want the bottom of the shoe to be made of soft rubber that can move and bend with the contours of your foot during your runs.

A sole made with a rubber compound that is harder will last longer, but it will not grip as well. These types of soles will also make people attempt certain drops that they are not ready for, as there is not much sensitivity between the surface and your feet. This is to be avoided as it promotes bad technique.

When it comes to arch support, you don’t want there to be any hard plastic present in the arch of the shoe, as this can lead to injuries and accidents when you land incorrectly.

A single piece sole ensures that your foot is making as much contact with the surface of the object as possible. More contact equals more grip. Single sole shoes are also more durable, as those with individual parts are more likely to come off. Note that single sole shoes are thinner and therefore the shock absorption will not be as good.

2. Padding

There is a bit of debate over this in the parkour community. The general consensus is that you should use shoes with less padding if you are advanced, and more padding if you are a beginner. No matter what, you should try to eventually move towards shoes with less padding.

Padding, like what you would get from a basketball shoe, encourages bad technique. Shoe padding helps to protect your heels from impact, but you should not be landing with your heels in the first place. Buying shoes with heavy padding only serves to hinder your technique.

Also, shoes with low padding allow you to feel your surfaces with ease, and you will have more control over the dexterity of your feet. Less padding will also help you run with more grace and fluidity, instead of stomping on the ground like Donkey Kong.

3. Weight & Size

Whatever shoe you choose should be light. This is a no-brainer. Heavy shoes also tend to be big and clunky. Anything that is heavy and clunky is going to hurt your ability to move efficiently.

There is a tradeoff you need to consider, as more light weight shoes have less shock absorption. Therefore, you need to take into account the type of movements and training you are going to be doing before deciding on the size and weight of a shoe.

Burn this into your brain: small and light. No skateboarding shoes.

Make sure that they are a good fit for your feet. Wearing shoes that do not fit you can lead to some serious injuries that are difficult to resolve. Make sure that your feet are comfortable and snug, with your foot having enough space to spread out when there is an impact. Your toes should not be pinched up and your heel should not be slipping when you are moving.

4. Durability

You will be using these shoes for parkour, so do not expect them to last more than a year. In reality, they will probably only last a few months.

With that in mind, you need to find a pair of shoes that is as durable as possible. This boils down to research. When you find a pair you like, go on the internet and read some reviews. If people are complaining about their shoes falling apart, it is time to look for a different pair.

Normally harder soles will last longer, while exteriors made with synthetic materials can be prone to wear and tear over time.

5. Cost

You need to understand that these shoes will not last long, and consider that when evaluating the cost. You might be OK to pay $150 for some footwear in general, but not for a few months.

More experienced and hardcore traceurs may enjoy the extra options, such as size and colour that are available to them albeit at a higher price range, but if you don’t care about these features, there are cheaper alternatives available that will do just as good of a job.

Whatever your price range, understand that these shoes will not last long. Don’t splurge on an expensive pair thinking they will last forever.

What the Pros Say
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Recommendations

Here are some of our recommendations for quality parkour footwear.

OLLOpk_SapiensOLLOpk Sapien ($85)

Grip: Great

Padding: Great

Weight & Size: Moderate

Durability: Great

OLLOpk is one of the only companies that designs shoes for Parkour use. The Sapiens are their entry-level model. They are small, light, and durable. These are excellent shoes for beginners and experienced traceurs alike.

The Sapiens look great, and feel just as comfortable on the foot. They have wide, even soles that help to grip a extensive range of surfaces, and are malleable on the bottom of the foot. They provide everything you need out of a parkour shoe.

OLLOpk also offers its Zero line for a slightly higher price tag. The Zeros come with the same durability and slick look as the Sapiens. They are a natural stance, zero drop shoe, making them a great choice for taceurs looking to master their technique.



Vibram Cross Training KSO ShoesVibram Cross Training KSO Shoes ($75-100)

Grip: Great

Padding: Good

Weight & Size: Very Light

Durability: Great

These shoes are one of the best options on the market today. They are very durable and will not disintegrate when you are attempting tough landings. They are also structured optimally to allow you to maintain proper form.

You also have great flexibility and feel with them, as they allow you to closely interact with any surfaces that you may encounter thanks to individual toe tips. These tips also have additional grip, allowing you to gain more traction on certain surfaces.

These are aimed more towards advanced traceurs and are too lightweight for beginners. This is due to the fact that they do not have much cushion and they don’t offer much protection against foreign objects like twigs and nails.

If you are more experienced, these are the shoes for you.


Feiyue_copyFeiyue ($70 – 125)

Grip: Great

Padding: Moderate

Weight & Size: Light

Durability: Good

Feiyue is one of the most highly used brands of parkour shoes out there. They have a wide range of styles, but the functionality between them is almost the same.

Feiyues are light, have good but small padding, and look stylish. The only knock against them is their durability. Some traceurs complain that their Feiyues crashed after a single month.

They are a little more expensive than the OLLOpk Sapiens, but you can find pairs on Amazon for as low as $17 occasionally.


Know Obstacles KO_copyKnow Obstacles KO Range ($25 – 35)

Grip: Good

Padding: OK

Weight & Size: Moderate

Durability: Weak

Know Obstacles is another company that designs parkour shoes. Their KO line (Classic and Gen 2s) are cheap and provide good grip.

These are great shoes for beginners because of their price. However, they will break down faster than the other shoes on this list, so heavy users might not like them.


Merrell Glove MinimalMerrell Glove Minimal ($110)

Grip: Great

Padding: Good

Weight & Size: Very Light

Durability: Good

This is one of the more premium options that is available to you on the market. It provides a great blend of comfort and protection, while still allowing you to be flexible in your movements.

The sole is made from one piece and provides a solid foundation in which to perform your movements. The lug depth is 3mm, which is very good as it allows you to more safely navigate uncertain surfaces like rails.

The shoe itself is comfortable to wear thanks to the synthetic exterior that is lightweight. The laces are optimally placed to ensure that you can have the best fit possible. These are one of the more expensive pairs of parkour shoes on the market, so if yo are looking for a cheap pair, it is better to look elsewhere.


Vivobarefoot EVVivobarefoot EVO ($80-110)

Grip: Great

Padding: Weak

Weight & Size: Very Light

Durability: Good

This shoe places a large emphasis on being able to feel the ground and adjust how you land, something which is vital when it comes to parkour. While it may look like a normal running shoe, the sole is synthetic and is very thin. Every contour beneath your feet you will be able to feel.

If you are look for feel and sensitivity, this is one of the leading candidates that is on the market today. The sole will conform specifically to your own foot contours and has minimal cushioning.

The tight laces and cushioned tongue allows your shoe to stay compact and prevents any foreign objects from entering the shoe.

These shoes are in the higher price range and are also less durable than alternative options.


Nike Free 5.0+Nike Free 5.0+ ($80-200)

Grip: Great

Padding: Great

Weight & Size: Moderate

Durability: Great

This shoe has a great blend of weight, durability and comfort. This is why these are so well suited to parkour. They have been made in such a way that they are durable while still giving you a huge amount of control over your movements and landings. It is evident that you are dealing with an expert shoemaker when you try this pair.

The design is very sleek and the synthetic material is lightweight, allowing you to feel everything you touch.

The exterior is slightly thicker than other alternatives, giving you a bit more protection. This does lead to the shoe being slightly heavier than usual. To wear, they are very lightweight and will almost feel as if you are wearing no shoes at all.

The main disadvantage of this shoe is the price, but for more hardcore traceurs, the wide range of sizes and colours is very appealing.


Adidas Energy BoostAdidas Energy Boost ($75-165)

Grip: Good

Padding: Great

Weight & Size: Light

Durability: Great

This shoe is more durable than a lot of the alternatives on the market today. While they look like they will be heavy and clunky when you put them on your feet, they actually feel surprisingly light. This is thanks to the exterior which is made of a synthetic material. This adds a bit of extra protection and comfort while keeping the weight to a minimum.

The sole is solid rubber and the lugs are designed to provide maximum grip. The arch is somewhat poorly designed and may cause some hindrance when balancing on surfaces that are smooth.

The sole is durable, but the synthetic material is lightweight and can be susceptible to getting damaged over time.


Ontisuka Tiger Ultimate 81Ontisuka Tiger Ultimate 81 ($75)

Grip: Great

Padding: Good

Weight & Size: Light

Durability: Great

The Ultimate 81s are another top-notch shoe. They have excellent grip, great durability, lightweight build, and small padding. They also look fantastic. They are on the expensive side but are still good value for money. For what you are getting, you could even call them cheap.

The Ultimate 81s are a great pickup for the committed traceur. If you are ready to get serious, investing in a pair of these is a good call.


Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, finding the perfect parkour shoe is a matter of preference. You will need to test out several models before you understand what you like.

There are a few different factors that you need to take into consideration, but you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to the parkour shoes available for you to choose from on the market today.

Every traceur is different. Take your time, do your research, and be smart. You will eventually understand what you like, and find the perfect shoe for your needs.
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