Best Parkour Shoes Reviewed & Rated

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.

Best Pakour Shoes Man Jumpig over cement doing parkour

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.

Last Updated: January 11, 2018
By Tenby Lloyd:

In order to keep up with the ever changing trends in footwear, we have added an additional 5 items to our best list. The new items are all current models of shoes that excel in terms of what is needed from a parkour shoe. Adding to the list brands like Adidas and Nike as well as Merrell gives you a very well rounded list of exceptional shoes that are durable, have great traction, and will let you land your jumps in both comfort and style.

Featured Recommendations

Vibram KSO EVO
  • Vibram KSO EVO
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • XS Trek Outsole
  • Price: See Here
Asics Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81
  • Asics Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Cush-Hole Shock Absorb
  • Price: See Here
Evolv Cruzer Approach
  • Evolv Cruzer Approach
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Soft microporus sole
  • Price: See Here

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.

 

15 Best Parkour Shoes

 

1. Merrel Vapor Glove 2

It's no surprise that a Merrel shoe is on top of the list. Their parkour-friendly design make them optimal for every motion. It has just about everything you need to run freely, jump high, climb fast, and land soft. This pair will endure just about any freerunning performance.
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Minimalist Design
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.

Versatility
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.

Price
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.
Pros
  • Barefoot experience
  • Supports multiple terrains
  • Ultra-breathable design
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not many color options
  • Not much arch support

2. Asics Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81

Asics has a great reputation for its shoes. The Tiger Ultimate 81 is not only very fashionable, but it is efficient as well. The lightweight build provides effortless motions and the cush-hole shock absorption system supports rough landings. The combination of elements in this shoe makes them look like they’re meant for parkour. These will also maintain comfortability at top through the whole training.
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Cush-Hole Shock Absorption
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.

Lightweightness
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.

Price
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.
Pros
  • Lightweight, yet firm construct
  • Acceptable price
  • Superb absorption
  • Solid arch support
Cons
  • Light colors will degrade with parkour
  • Doesn't supper high landings

3. Vibram KSO EVO

Five-fingers have earned their place amongst parkour shoes. Though the KSO EVO is originally a cross-trainer, parkour suits it just right. The man-made outsole won’t allow any terrain to stop you from freerunning. Its 0mm heel-to-toe drop and lightweight outline provide the right amount of minimalism needed in a parkour shoe. Lastly, the combination of padding and materials secure a comfortable fit through any exercise.
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XS Trek Outsole
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.

EVA Insole
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.

Price
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.
Pros
  • Vegan shoe
  • Ultra-lightweight (4.9oz)
  • Multiple uses
  • Easy fit and quick lacing
Cons
  • Some sizes are off, verify the official chart

4. PUMA Narita V2

4. PUMA Narita V2
PUMA has built quite a reputation with their aerobic models, which seem to be low-key parkour shoes. Packed with technology on the outsole, sockliner, and heel, the Narita v2 is everything you need for freerunning. Maintaining comfortability and breathability at maximum, this running-optimized shoe is ready for high-intensity activity.
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High Abrasion Ruber
The EverRide outsole is now equipped with an Evertrack high-abrasion rubber to increase durability and improve traction. Reducing impact has never been easier.

EcoOrthoLite Sockliner
A breathable sockliner fused with EcoOrthoLite technology takes comfortability to another level. The improved flow of air prevents heat from acummulating on the insole.

Price
The Narita V2, like most Puma products, offer an outstanding quality:price ratio. This shoe is affordable and functional at the same time.
Pros

Geo-pattern mesh

Minimalist

EcoOrthoLite Sockliner

HAR Outsole

Lightweight (7oz)

Cons

Support is not great

5. Nike Flex Rn 2016

5. Nike Flex Rn 2016
There’s no Nike shoe that doesn’t support running. The features in the Flex RN are exactly what you should be looking for in a parkour shoe. A specific outsole patterns provides great flexibility to optimize each gait and jump. Rubber technology at heel and toe increase traction while maintaining durability at peak. Lastly, like most Nike shoes, they look awesome.
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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.

Phylon Midsole
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.

Price

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.
Pros
  • Fly-wire technology for a secure fit
  • Increased traction and durability
  • Fashionable design
  • Optimized natural flex
Cons
  • Not ideal for trail-like surfaces

6. Minimus 20v5 Trainer

6. Minimus 20v5 Trainer
Yet another minimalist parkour shoe disguised as a cross-trainer. The Minimus 20v5 is a very versatile shoe for both training and freerunning. The no-sew overlay guarantees a durable and comfortable use. Materials in this shoe are not only lightweight, but highly breathable as wel. This shoe counts with the famous Vibram sole to maximize the barefoot running experience.
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Strong, secure fit
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.

Sockless experience
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.

Price

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.
Pros
  • Burrito tongue
  • Asym collar steady fit
  • Adaptive heel foam
  • Minimalist
  • No-sew design

 

Cons
  • Not as flexible as previous Minimus

7. Vibram Trek Ascent

7. Vibram Trek Ascent
Five-finger shoes seem to be taking over parkour. The trek ascent counts with an outsole every parkour practitioner dreams off. Off-road support, firm grip, and zero slippage. Run, jump, and climb concrete, wood, dirt, grass, and almost any other surface with these shoes. The elements are no match to you when freerunning with a pair of Trek Ascents.
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MEGAGRIP Sole
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.

Polyurethane Sole
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.

Price
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.
Pros
  • Spandex + Polyester upper
  • Support on and off trail
  • Easy wash and air dry
  • Lightweight (6.34oz)
Cons
  • Laces loops are weak

8. Evolv Cruzer Approach

8. Evolv Cruzer Approach
The Cruzer Approach supplies a compact parkour experience thanks to its trail running design. With innovative technology, it delivers all comfort, stability, durability, and efficiency. Midsole technology increases shock absorption and the textured outsole is great for climbing things. The trail running design allows users to free run on and off the roads, including some moist surfaces without slipping.
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Insole Development
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.

Price

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.
Pros
  • Collapsible heel for slip-on
  • Microporous midsole
  • Great for climbing surfaces
  • Microfiber insole

 

Cons
  • Doesn’t support high landings

9. PUMA Faas 500 v4

9. PUMA Faas 500 v4
The Faas 500 v4 is lightweight cushioning at its best. The minimalist running shoe is amongst the 5 PUMA top-sellers. Cushioning, flexibility, and shock absorption build up to make this Faas a tool for parkour. Innovative midsole and outsole technologies keep running performance at peak, delivering more comfort and running power than ever. The use of new materials such as woven-mesh upper combine both breathability and durability.
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FaasFoam+ Midsole
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.

Evertrack+ Outsole
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.

Price

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.
Pros
  • Fashionable design
  • Innovative midsole
  • EverTrack+ technology
  • Minimalist runner
Cons
  • A bit tight when new (it stretches with use)
  • Degrades faster when climbing stuff

10. Nike Dart 12

10. Nike Dart 12
Nike has once again combined efficiency with style in the Men's Dart 12. This whole running shoe was designed thinking lightweight, and it hit the nail on the head. The supportive technology makes running much easier than before, still delivering a barefoot touch. Know no obstacles to your parkour practice with the Dart 12. Jump higher, run faster, and grip harder.
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Molded Midfoot Saddle
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.

Price
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.
Pros
  • Synthetic-and-mesh
  • Molded midfoot saddle
  • Lightweight (6.4oz)
  • Fashionable
Cons
  • Runs tight for wide feet
  • Inner materials are hard

11. Merrell Trail Glove 4

11. Merrell Trail Glove 4
Feeling the ground beneath you is essential to becoming better at parkour. Free running shoes for parkour should maintain zero drop, have enough grip, and protect your feet from abrasions. That's exactly what the Merrell Trail Glove 4 does.
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Durability and Control
The Merrell Men's Trail Glove 4 Minimal Trail Running Shoe acts as a top-of-the-line parkour shoe. It provides a decent amount of protection while giving you the ability to control your feet. The one-piece rubber sole forms the foundation of this shoe. It's sturdy and durable. You won't find pieces of it falling off as you move.
The 3mm lug depth adds a certain level of grip. This is important to make sure you can safety traverse unfriendly surfaces like smooth concrete and metal bars. Combine this with the Merrel Glove Minimal's ability to bend, and you have a decent amount of control.

Comfort and Fit
The exterior of this shoe provides for a decent amount of comfort. It's made of a lightweight synthetic material, which means it won't weigh you down. The last major benefit of the Merrel Glove Minimal comes from the laces. The Merrel Omni-Fit lacing system ensures that the Merrel Glove Minimal stays snug on your fit.

Price
While this shoe makes for a good parkour shoe, the price is the biggest drawback. It is more expensive than the Vivo Men's KSO and the Feiyue, but it tends to last longer than both if you run decent distances while practicing parkour.
Pros

Comfortable and Snug Fitting

Decent Gripping Ability

Lightweight and Resiliant Exterior

Minimal Sole for Adequate Tactile Perception

Sturdy Shoe Designed to Take a Beating

Cons

Break In Period

Mesh Breaks Easily

12. Nike Free 5.0+

12. Nike Free 5.0+
Comfort, durability and weight are three key factors that the Nike Free 5.0 shoes address. That makes these Nikes nearly perfect for people who are into parkour. These shoes are designed to last while maximizing your control and Nike's excellence as a shoe manufacturer can be seen in these.
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Foot Control
The Nike Free 5.0+ integrates synthetic materials with a savvy design. This allows you to feel what your feet touch while developing the muscles of your feet for more control.They add more protection to your feet because of the thicker exterior. This does not, however, come at the cost of making the shoe weigh more. When you put these shoes on, you will feel as if you're barefoot. These shoes are incredibly light and flexible.

Traction and Grip
The rubber sole is designed to be used for running. It's durable, but the lack of deep lugs does make it second in terms of grip ability. While this shoe will give you extended flexibility in the forefoot, you may not be able to tackle surfaces that require a lot of grip. With that said, the shoe has a lot of bounce is extremely responsive so you should easily feel how the shoe will react on a given surface.

Price
The Nike Free 5.0+ is really a decent choice. The largest drawback is the price, but the choice in colors and sizes can offset this for those who are real enthusiasts of parkour.
Pros

Added padding to minimize injuries while running

Durable one-piece rubber sole

Feels like running barefoot

Lightweight synthetic exterior

Thin sole for maximum sense of touch

Cons

Grip and Traction is Lacking

Midsole is Not Overly Durable

13. Feiyue Classic

13. Feiyue Classic
Feiyue specializes in creating a shoe designed for people that need control of their feet. The Feiyue Classic shoe represents some of the best free running shoes for parkour. While originally designed as a kung fu shoe, this option is durable, cheap, and will allow you to perform well as they are flexible and move with your feet. Because of the low price point, you can purchase several pairs of the Feiyue Classic to take with you on vacations and the like.
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Performance
The sole of the Feiyue Classic is the foundation of why they are so great. They're made to bend with your feet while offering a certain amount of cushioning. This allows for you to feel your feet, and to control the way your entire foot moves. The sole itself is made of a durable piece of solid rubber. This means it won't fall apart when you're climbing up walls, or when you land on the ground from a high jump. The treads of the soles are fairly reliable. They add a moderate amount of grip to make climbing things like metal poles and steep walls easier.

Upper
The cloth exterior allows your feet to breathe. It also remains protective enough to prevent harmful objects from damaging your feet. This makes the Feiyue Classic capable of doubling as some of the best parkour gear and an everyday shoe. With the simplicity of the design, you can easily take these shoes from the streets to a restaurant and enjoy a dinner or date without worrying about your footwear.

Price
The last point to cover is the cost. The Feiyue Classic is designed to be durable and affordable, which means that you will retain these for a while. When you have to replace them, you won't struggle to do so because they are so affordable.
Pros

Breathable and protective exterior

Cheap pricing makes them easy to replace

Designed to bend with your foot

Durable sole

Parkour anywhere by wearing these as everyday shoes

One-piece rubber sole

Cons

Construction Not of the Highest Quality

Sizing Runs Smaller

14. ASICS GEL Venture 6

14. ASICS GEL Venture 6
The ASICS GEL Venture 6 shoes provide a comfortable fit for people used to using traditional sneakers. While the thicker sole limits your mobility, the increased grip of these shoes is nice. Many wearers find the shoe is tough and has a very strong and durable build, which is great for tougher terrains and surfaces.Compared to other options, the ASICS GEL Venutre 6 can make for a more affordable and stylish parkour shoe option.
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Comfort and Support
These shoes feel comfortable and the added padding makes them feel warm, while the mesh exterior allows your feet to breath when they need to. The padded tongue resolves the issue of shoes rubbing against your ankle while the lower sides give your feet a greater range of movement. This is especially helpful when you are trying to climb up two parallel walls.

Traction and Grip
The soles on the ASICS GEL Venture 6 are thicker than the soles of other parkour shoes. While this reduces the amount of tactile feedback you get, it does allow these shoes to provide significantly deeper lugs. This makes them ideal for cold environments where barefoot parkour may be too slippery.

Price
The price of these shoes is attractive. Even as the newest model in this line of Asics Gel shoes, the price point is still extremely reasonable and should be within almost everyone's budget.
Pros

Cushioned exterior

Deeper lugs for a better grip

Rugged enough for use as parkour and running shoes

Stylish designs

Tight fit on your feet

Cons

May Be Less Comfortable than Prior Models

Overall Heaviness

15. Adidas Energy Boost 3

15. Adidas Energy Boost 3
This shoe is designed to meet the demanding needs of many different activities. It balances comfort, protection and durability to ensure that you have a shoe that lasts. Some have remarked that this shoe feels more comfortable to them and this is especially true when they perform a large amount of running during their travels.
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Lightweight
When you put on the Adidas Energy Boost 3, you'll notice that they weigh considerably less than they look like they should. The synthetic mesh exterior gives these shoes a considerable amount of protection and comfort. It also minimizes the weight.The lightness of the shoe makes it versatile and useful for a variety of activities, and parkour wearers should find that they can jump and move with more ease.

Midsole and Outsole
The sole itself is a solid rubber sole. It provides a decent amount of grip due to the design of the lugs. The only point of critique with the sole is the way the arch is designed. the arch may present a few challenges when trying to balance on metal bars and other smooth surfaces. The midsole is where this shoe's strength lies. It is designed to wear slowly. You will find that the shoe tends to fail due to damage to the synthetic exterior, which gives the Adidas Energy Boost good longevity as a free running shoe.

Price
The shoes retail for quite a hefty price tag, but you should find that they are on sale from most retailers. While the initial cost when they were released was very high, it came down to the fact that these shoes are extremely durable and long lasting. You will not need to replace these as frequently, making them great value for the money.
Pros

Boost technology increases shoe durability and comfort

Comfortable synthetic mesh exterior

Decent amount of overall durability

Fits securely on feet

Tends to make your feet feel less tired

Cons

Stripes are Stiff and Can Cause Irritation

Fit May Not Feel Completely Secure

 

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.

Best Pakour Shoes Man Jumping over gap in two buldings

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

 

Grip

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.

best-parkour-shoes-young-man-jumping-on-the-walls-sport-parkour

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.

 

Flexibility

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.

best-parkour-shoes-flexible-shoe-on-runners-foot

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.

 

Durability

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.

best-parkour-shoes-run up wall

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.

 

Shock Absorption

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.

best-parkour-shoes-jump across gap

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.

best-parkour-shoes-jump

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.

 

Sole

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.

best-parkour-shoes-bottom of shoes

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.

 

Weight

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.

best-parkour-shoes-girl-jumping-wall

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.

 

FAQ

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 degradation.

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.

Sources

  1. Shoe Guide, Shoe Anatomy, Article, Jan 30, 2015
  2. About, Shoe Glossary: Outsole, Article, Mar 26, 2016
  3. Wikipedia, Parkour, Article,
  4. Shoe Materials, Material Information, Manufacturer Sales Information,
  5. Very Well, Athletic Shoe Anatomy, Article, Nov 22, 2017
  6. Road Runner Sports, Anatomy of a Running Shoe, Article,