10 Best Parkour Shoes Reviewed
Parkour (or free-running) is an excellent activity to develop agility, body strength, and to increase overall motor skills. Depending on the complexity of the motions of your particular parkour session, it can be both an easy practice and a nightmare. However, wearing adequate footwear, as we outline below, will ensure you have a great experience.
This discipline involves a great variety of motions which require multiple skill sets and physical assets that are enhanced by what you wear, especially on your feet. Abilities such as jumping, running, flipping, rotating, pulling, pushing, and climbing are all involved. Parkour is often related to calisthenics, seeing as it’s a discipline that trains the aerobic aspects of the body. Because of improvements in flexibility and agility, calisthenics is a highly practiced discipline amongst parkour practitioners, thus dictates to a higher degree which types of footwear would be ideal as they need to handle the advanced motions that come with it too.
- Vibram KSO EVO
- XS Trek Outsole
- Asics Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81
- Cush-Hole Shock Absorb
- Evolv Cruzer Approach
- Soft microporus sole
Despite initially starting as a recreational sport, parkour has slowly evolved into an aerobic training discipline as well, and even into competition. Free runners not only see it as a sport, but also a way to stay in great shape. In fact, parkour is a combination of running and multiple calisthenics movements. Thus practitioners burn a considerable amount of calories. Because of the motions we mentioned above (climbing, pulling, jumping, etc.) they also develop their full-body strength. But, there’s one last factor that improves performance aside agility and body strength, and that’s an ideal pair of parkour shoes.
10 Best Parkour Shoes
1. Merrel Vapor Glove 2
The Merrel Vapor is made to provide a completely barefoot experience while running. An integrated microfiber footbed and a very breathable mesh build makes this shoe as minimalist as it can get. With 0mm cushioning and 0mm heel-to-toe drop you’ll forget you’re even wearing them.
The Vapor Glove 2 allows you to perform any motion you need. Thanks to the TPU and mesh flexibility running and climbing has never been more comfortable. The rubber outsole meant for trail running provides you an all-terrain grip to provide enough versatility for almost any surface.
Base cost is more expensive than the average on this list. However, there are current sales (ones actives as this is published) that make it considerably below average cost. Even if you get the base price, the multiple uses and durability of these will make them worth your bucks.
- Barefoot experience
- Supports multiple terrains
- Ultra-breathable design
- Not many color options
- Not much arch support
2. Asics Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81
The rear midsole is equipped with three ventilations holes that are strategically placed where tension accumulates the most. Thanks to this, the shoe is able to reduce the energy absorbed from high jumps.
This undercover parkour shoe counts with very light and breathable materials. The nylon and mesh build with the suede heel and toe lining stay firm to the nostalgic design of the classic running shoes.
A bit below the average price of this list. If you’ve had Asics previously, you’ll find these way cheaper. Though, these ones don’t count with the signature gel cushioning. They’re utterly fashionable for the price too.
- Lightweight, yet firm construct
- Acceptable price
- Superb absorption
- Solid arch support
- Light colors will degrade with parkour
- Doesn't supper high landings
3. Vibram KSO EVO
Vibram played it smart with this design. A build meant for crossfit, which supports parkour, and has an outsole for trekking. The serrated blade lug outsole will enhance the grip on pretty much anything you put your feet on.
A 2mm cushioning EVA insole provides minimalist support to the arch and heel. The shoe also includes an Antimicrobial Drilex Sockliner repels bacteria from humidity and sweat, preventing odors.
A little bit above average of other products in this list. However, this is a cross-trainer, and it’s cheaper than most cross-training shoes. Considering the multiple purposes it can server, we recommend this purchase.
- Vegan shoe
- Ultra-lightweight (4.9oz)
- Multiple uses
- Easy fit and quick lacing
- Some sizes are off, verify the official chart
4. PUMA Narita V2
The EverRide outsole is now equipped with an Evertrack high-abrasion rubber to increase durability and improve traction. Reducing impact has never been easier.
A breathable sockliner fused with EcoOrthoLite technology takes comfortability to another level. The improved flow of air prevents heat from acummulating on the insole.
The Narita V2, like most Puma products, offer an outstanding quality:price ratio. This shoe is affordable and functional at the same time.
Support is not great
5. Nike Flex Rn 2016
Tri-pod Outsole Pattern
The Flex RN stays true to its name, arguably being one of the best flexible shoes from Nike so far. The tri-pod outsole pattern is specially design to provide flexibility in the most natural way.
Forget about the traditional rubber midsole. The Flex RN has a Phylon midsole combined with two layers of cushioning to help you run and jump as hard as you want.
Much cheaper than most of Nike’s high-end technology shoes. Also a bit cheaper than the average price of the other products in this list. You’re getting functionality and great looks for a good price.
- Fly-wire technology for a secure fit
- Increased traction and durability
- Fashionable design
- Optimized natural flex
- Not ideal for trail-like surfaces
6. Minimus 20v5 Trainer
An asym collar in combination with molded foam delivers a natural fit to almost any type of foot. Thanks to the adapting foam, your heel is guaranteed to stay in its most natural and comfortable position at all times.
Technology that works along the Vibram outsole make this shoe capable of delivering maximum efficiency with or without socks. Anti-bacterial agents maintain your shoe prepared for humidity and away from odors.
The base price is around $30 higher than most products on this list, but they’re on sale as of the publication date of this list. One thing is of sure, you won’t need a new pair of these in a long time.
- Burrito tongue
- Asym collar steady fit
- Adaptive heel foam
- No-sew design
- Not as flexible as previous Minimus
7. Vibram Trek Ascent
As you can guess by the name of the technology, this grip doesn’t mess around. The MEGAGRIP is originally meant for climbing, making sure climbers stay on the mountain. Though, it will grip to walls and other surfaces.
A polyurethane sole in combination with an anti-drilex sockliner and 4mm of rubber gives you everything you need to parkour. Slipping is no longer a thing when wearing a pair of shoes with this technology.
This is a very complete shoe for such an average price. No wonder they’ve been selling like fresh cakes all around Amazon. About half of the suppliers were out of stock at one time, we’ll let you make your conclusions from there.
- Spandex + Polyester upper
- Support on and off trail
- Easy wash and air dry
- Lightweight (6.34oz)
- Laces loops are weak
8. Evolv Cruzer Approach
The insole is lined with microfiber to increase both comfort and durability. Additionally, memory foam in the insole provides great heel support efficient through a whole day. A collapsible heel design allows a slip-on wear.
Soft Microporous Midsole
An EVA midsole works in combination with soft microporous technology to enhance durability and effectiveness. This technology strategically absorbs and distributes compression and shock on contact with the surface.
Average price for a trail running shoe. However, the quality is nowhere near being average. Not the best offer of your life, but definitely worth considering the investment.
- Collapsible heel for slip-on
- Microporous midsole
- Great for climbing surfaces
- Microfiber insole
- Doesn’t support high landings
9. PUMA Faas 500 v4
A foam-integrated midsole offers smarter shock absorption and running support. This material is not only lighter, but also much more efficient and durable. The perfect distribution of support, efficiency, and durability.
The Evertrack outsole combines a series of elements to engage surfaces with enough traction and grip. This outsole contains patterns prevent slipping and works along the 4mm heel-to-toe drop in a very lightweight approach.
We’re yet to see a single complaint about the price of the Faas 500 V4. Their base price is very accessible, and it’s nowhere near of being cheap quality. It’s also been on sale multiple times all over the internet.
- Fashionable design
- Innovative midsole
- EverTrack+ technology
- Minimalist runner
- A bit tight when new (it stretches with use)
- Degrades faster when climbing stuff
10. Nike Dart 12
A saddle located in the midfoot provides a light and secure fit. The mold adjusts to your feet in a manner that shoe slipping is non-existant.
Innovative Outsole Design
The outsole patterns split around different parts of the shoe to optimize flexibility. The heel, sides, and forefoot bend in a much more natural way.
The Dart 12 is considerably cheaper than other Nike shoes, and the cost is below the average of the products in our top 10. The materials of this shoe make it a durable investment.
- Molded midfoot saddle
- Lightweight (6.4oz)
- Runs tight for wide feet
- Inner materials are hard
What you need to know about Parkour
Parkour is a very active practice, and it can be dangerous even at intermediate levels. The idea of running, jumping, climbing, and landing, at top speed, is indeed hazardous. You want to make sure you can rely on your shoes to optimize your performance. Parkour shoes will deliver the necessary tools to improve your technique while keeping you (and your feet) safe.
At the time of practicing parkour, you want to make sure some elements are present in your shoes. Features such as grip, flexibility, shock absorption, and protection mark the difference between a firm and a loose performance. When you’re jumping against a wall to climb it, you’ll want your shoes to help you stay on the wall. Slipping in the middle of a climb or a jump at full speed is the last thing you want.
You’re probably wondering why so many trail running shoes are listed on this parkour shoes buying guide. That’s because the elements of trail runners are very similar to what you need while practicing parkour. A grip that sustains smooth and secure mobility on multiple surfaces and terrains and terrains is one of them. They also provide you with the necessary protection to step on things when landing or running at top speed.
In conclusion, any decent parkour practitioner will tell you the consequences of freerunning in casual shoes. Not only aren’t they able to take a freerunning pounding, but they also make your feet not ready either. This results in damaged shoes and hurt feet.
Criteria Used in Evaluation
As a free runner, one of the main things you want to count with is a decent grip. If a parkour shoe lacks grip, every bit of the performance will be considerably affected. Grip is important in every motion of parkour, whether it’s running, jumping, or climbing. If you don’t get a good grip on the surface in contact with the shoe, you can’t get a full impulse.
While running, you want to make sure your shoe grips properly to the floor. This way, you’ll be able to make each gait confidently and firmly. Grip is something essential in a running shoe. Thus most products on this list are meant for running as well. At the end of the day, running is the essence of parkour. This is where you get your impulse from and how you build enough momentum.
When climbing objects, the best parkour shoes must act as support to impulse you up. For this, the grip must be able to provide a good grasp of the surface your feet are on. During a wall climb, for example, there has to be enough contact between the wall and the runner’s feet. Else, said runner wouldn’t be able to use their feet as an additional impulse. Though it may seem like it’s arm work, your feet have a huge role when it comes to climbing stuff. Therefore, it’d be smart to have your feet properly equipped.
The most important part of a parkour jump is the impulse built by running. To perform an optimal jump, the shoe grip has to maintain a steady stance during the moment of take-off. If running at full speed with a weak grip, you won’t be able to make good use of the impulse for jumping. In fact, it may even end up in an accident. A shoe with a loose grip can’t guarantee that you won’t slip when taking off at full speed.
The grip utterly depends on two factors: the shoe’s sole and the surface.
Anyone who has ever worn a pair of sneakers knows how important flexibility is. Without flexibility, there’s no running. As you can probably guess, there’s no free running without the “–running” part.
We looked for parkour shoes that flex as naturally as possible. A true flexible shoe should bend at least 40 degrees on the tip. Keep in mind that the only flexibility you need should be on the toebox. At the end of the day, that’s where the anatomic shape of the foot bends when running. A decent parkour shoe has to flex without becoming an obstacle to other parts of the shoe. For instance, some low-quality shoes have a flexible toe-box. But, whenever said flex engages, the structure wrinkles and the rest of the shoe becomes really tight.
Just like the grip, flexibility also plays a role in both jumping and climbing. Think of flexibility as swinging a bat. If you hit a baseball with a bat and stop the swing right after hitting, you’re not making good use of your impulse. Instead, continuing to swing completely will build more impulse, and the ball will go further. This is exactly what happens when jumping.
To get the most out of each jump, the shoe must allow you to make good use of your momentum by flexing the toe box. The jump is very similar to the running gait; all the power comes from the flex on the final gait.
Climbing is analogous to each other case, where the posterior foot is the responsible part for impulse. When hanging from an edge during a climb, the body remains vertical. Hence, the foot doesn’t enter into full contact with the surface. Instead, the only part able to engage for impulse is the front. This is why a combination of flexibility and grip is crucial for any parkour shoe.
We know how important it is for everyone to have durable shoes. No one likes having to throw away a pair of hard-earned money after a short time. However, shoes must be selected carefully when you’re a parkour practitioner. The durability topic takes a twist when we’re talking about freerunning. This is not an average aerobic activity.
Parkour shoes have to endure landings, jumps, falls, and even some scratches. Don’t get us wrong; no shoe is meant to be damaged. However, certain materials are much more likely to tear or degrade with the slightest contact. This is the case of casual walking shoes. Because of this, parkour shoes are often related to other rough disciplines such as trekking and trail running.
The selection of materials is tricky, as it not only depends on their durability. Thick, heavy materials sure are more resistant, but good luck doing any parkour on those. A free running shoe requires a right combination of durable and light materials. If the shoe sacrifices performance for durability, it’s defeating the purpose of a parkour shoe.
We searched for the best parkour shoes that can pull through almost anything. Keep in mind that no matter how good the shoe is, there’s no guarantee they’ll live long. When it comes to parkour, there’s always a chance you’ll snap them open at any point. Don’t worry though; it’s not common. Plus, we looked for parkour shoes made of the materials which are less likely to rip apart.
If you care for your heels as much as we do, then shock absorption is a major factor to consider. When choosing parkour shoes, look for those which include impact-absorbing properties. Most technologies and features associated with shock absorption are found in the midsole and around the heel. This is because the heel is the part of the foot to first enter in contact with the ground.
But shock absorption technologies don’t only protect our heels. They also protect our knees. We’ve seen some information on the internet about how shock-absorbing shoes are bad for knees. We’d like to clarify that impact-absorbing shoes will never be the original cause of knee issues. Any pain or harm on the knees or foot is because of a previous injury or an already existing plantar condition. Cushioning does not harm your body either, at all.
A shoe’s sole would have to be abnormally elevated to cause any biomechanical irregularities in the ankle or knee. Running will never be the original reason for any bone or joint condition either unless the form is terribly wrong.
That being said, shock absorption stops a considerable amount of energy from reaching the heel. Performing parkour stunts without an absorbing shoe will bring a list of next-day consequences. These go from heel soreness to shin pain and knee uncomfortabilities. On some other unlucky cases, long-term conditions can appear. Remember – we’re talking about the shoes here. This is assuming each motion was successful. There’s absolutely nothing shoes can do if you land in a bad position.
Newer technology has allowed shoes to use the impact absorbed to energize the next motion. However, this only happens when the motions are consecutive, like running.
Comfortability & Protection
Comfortability is something you’ll need in every running shoe. It’s a simple fact that you can’t perform any athletic disciplines properly if the shoe is uncomfortable. Shoes are no exception. Comfort is a must when you’re considering running, jumping, landing, and climbing around.
Many factors determine how comfortable a shoe is. The major part goes to the materials, fit size, cushioning, and insole. Though, the materials have another sub-factor that also affects comfort: breathability. Materials that allow air to flow through the shoe build make a huge difference. It might not look important at first sight. However, you’ll reconsider it once you feel like your feet are in a microwave.
Accumulation of heat is not only uncomfortable but also bad for your feet. It makes you much more susceptible to irritation and excessive sweating; which leads to humidity and bad odors. Shoes with an upper mesh structure, on the other hand, keep you fresh at all times. It does feel like feet are “breathing”.
Protection is just as important as anything else on this list. Typically, the most protective shoes are those used for rough activities. It’s another factor that makes trail running/trekking shoes good for parkour as well. When freerunning, you can’t afford to lose balance because there was something on the floor and you stepped on it. This is where protection comes in.
The best parkour shoes have to maintain balance and a firm grip at all times. Trail running shoes which are made to endure rocks, dirt, and surface irregularities, are ideal for this. Users just can’t run confidently knowing that they’ll fall as soon as they step on something odd.
The factor that is mostly responsible for protection is unquestionably the shoe sole. Though there are other influencing elements, a firm sole is a must. At the same time, multiple factors affect the quality of a sole; we’ll explain that below.
The sole is one of the most important parts of a parkour shoe. We’d like to say it’s the most important, but there’s much more behind a quality parkour shoe than a sole. It has an impact on a lot of other factors in parkour shoes. Long story short, a cheap sole will ruin even the greatest parkour upper design.
The sole is responsible for the quality of factors such as grip, flexibility, traction, protection, durability, and shock absorption. It doesn’t determine them, but it does have a considerable impact. At the same time, many factors are responsible for the quality of a sole like we mentioned previously.
The first one is sole thickness. The thicker the sole, the higher you’ll be off the ground, and it determines the heel-to-toe drop. It’s the height of the sole in comparison to the forefoot. With the trend of minimalist shoes, sole thickness has decreased; but this doesn’t mean that they’re less efficient. In fact, we looked for those shoes that deliver greater performance with a lower sole thickness.
The synthesis of new compounds allows manufacturers to increase efficiency while reducing the size, like AHAR (ASICS High-Abrasion Rubber). We recommend these compounds over traditional rubber.
The second factor is the outsole patterns. Many customers are unaware of the real purpose of outsole patterns. While they might seem like a fancy thing, at first sight, their goal is functional. Those patterns are designed to prevent slipping and improve grip, and they improve the contact with (and against) surfaces.
Trail running, trekking and climbing have sole patterns that stand slightly out from the sole. This is so they can engage off-road and rocky surfaces. These soles come in handy for off-road parkour experiences. They also improve climbing (rope, walls, etc.).
The sole is composed by the outsole and the midsole.
The weight of a parkour shoe determines the ease the performer can move around with. All shoes have adopted a minimalist and lightweight approach, and parkour was no less. To make each motion smoother and lighter, parkour shoes should be as lightweight as possible. While still maintaining a steady structure, that is.
Materials compose the weight of a shoe altogether; there are aren’t any other contributing factors. For this list, we selected shoes that provide a lightweight approach while still meeting other standards. Fortunately for athletes, technology has created new materials that are more efficient than the traditional ones while being lighter.
There’s a race between manufacturers to see whose shoes weight one or two fewer ounces. Don’t struggle to get the lightest ones on the market; as long as they’re light, they’re fine. Keep in mind that the materials need to meet other factors besides lightweight-ness. For instance, breathability is a standard feature amongst lightweight materials. There’s no point in a lightweight shoe if it blocks any air from flowing through.
Durability is another factor to consider when selecting materials. Lightweight materials such as mesh are breathable and comfortable. However, they’re easy to perforate as well. Though, a shoe can’t be mostly built on it. Shoes also need other reliable materials to have support and a firm build. Synthetic leathers are perfect for this task.
Usually, the most weight comes from the sole alone (midsole + outsole). They require heavier materials to deliver a firm platform. Regardless, advancements in technology have made soles significantly lighter without decreasing their quality.
Bulky, heavy shoes become an obstacle when performing parkour. Typically, a thicker shoe would mean more protection, but this is not the case with parkour. In fact, it’s the opposite. A heavy shoe will just build up more weight, and thus landing impact will be harder. Lastly, it’s simply inconvenient. Think of it as running with ankle weights. Sure, it might be good exercise, but it wouldn’t be performance-friendly at all.
Q: Where to buy parkour shoes?
A: Amazon is your best option when it comes to variety. Though, you can check retail stores and test the shoes yourself.
Q: How should parkour shoes fit?
A: Just like running or cross-training shoes. Go for a comfortable tight for a secure fit.
Q: How often should I replace parkour shoes?
A: As soon as the performance of the shoe is being affected by degrading.
Q: Are parkour shoes expensive?
A: The same as sport shoes. Most of them are running sneakers at the end of the day.
Q: From what height can I land with these?
A: We wouldn’t recommend going over 12 feet. Though proper training and landing form will support higher stunts.
Q: Why shouldn’t I pick light colors?
A: Parkour is a messy sport. Light colors simply degrade faster and more notably.
Q: What other activities can I use parkour shoes for?
A: Depending on the sole they may work for trail running, mountain climbing, trekking, and sports that involve running or jumping.
Q: What parkour shoes are the best?
A: Our recommendation for parkour are five-finger shoes, preferably trail running ones.
Q: What kind of closure should parkour shoes have?
A: The best option would be a slip-on shoe, and the second best would be velcro. Though, shoe laces are fine as long as they provide a secure fit and are short.
Q: How to make parkour shoes?
A: Almost any shoe can become a parkour shoe if you replace the sole with a quality running one. Though, the rest of the build should follow our recommended criteria above.