You’ve likely heard of or seen videos featuring people engaged in parkour and freerunning, but what is parkour? The World Freerunning and Parkour Federation (WFPF) explains that parkour has evolved into an act of moving from one place to another, usually through an urban environment, as quickly as possible. This usually involves using what most onlookers would consider obstacles as tools to maximize the speed and efficiency of the individuals engaged in parkour. The WFPF believes that parkour is a philosophy, or lifestyle, that encourages people to look at the world and determine that there is no obstacle they can’t overcome; every “obstacle” is really just a way that they can improve themselves and further their journey through life. And as Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu reminds us, this journey begins with a single step and making sure that you have great shoes can ensure that this single step is all the more rewarding and efficient.
Best Parkour Shoes
Table of Contents
- Best Parkour Shoes
- Practically Priceless Guide to Parkour Footwear
- The sole is one of the most important parts of parkour footwear.
- Best Shoes For…
- 1. Take Flight 1.0 Parkour & Training Shoe
- 2. Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 Running Shoe
- 3. Weweya Barefoot Shoes Men Minimalist Running Cross Training Shoe
- 4. Vibram KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
- 5. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 5 Running Shoe
- 6. Nike Men’s Free 5.0+ Breathe Running Shoe Synthetic
- 7. JOOMRA Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes | Wide Toe Box
- 8. Evolv Cruzer Psyche Approach Shoe
Practically Priceless Guide to Parkour Footwear
Good footwear is essential for both male and female parkour practitioners respectively. There are several factors that are important in good parkour shoes, including weight, construction, breathability, and budget.
Always look for lightweight shoes.
For parkour practitioners, the lighter the shoe being worn, the longer training can last before fatigue sets in. Wearing lightweight shoes also promotes natural movement. Parkour experts also point out the importance of balancing weight with durability. While you may be able to find an extremely lightweight shoe, it is also important to ensure that the shoe will provide the support you need and will last through rigorous training.
Other parkour enthusiasts advocate wearing minimalist shoes, lightweight, thin shoes that promote minimal foot confinement and natural movement while offering some protection, or going barefoot when engaged in parkour or free running. Parkour Train online writer Dan Dinu explains that there are many benefits associated with training for parkour barefoot, including: increasing coordination, strengthening of stabilizing muscles in the legs and feet, improvement of balance and landing, correction of small mistakes and erroneous techniques, and increasing the amount of surface and incline information available to the trainee.
Dinu explains that when one trains for parkour barefoot or with minimalist shoes, there is an instant awareness of mistakes or bad habits communicated to the body in the form of pain. He suggests that feeling the pain associated with poor techniques will help you to learn faster from your mistakes.
Memphis, Tennessee Parkour online journalist Jonathan McCarver also supports training and freerunning barefoot or in minimalist shoes. He suggests that barefoot training promotes your usefulness in the event of a crisis, saying that it is important for a traceur or traceuse to always be prepared for any emergency, including one that may occur when you have no equipment! Like Dinu, he explains that pain can be a great teacher. Shoes can prevent injury or discomfort when bad techniques are used, but the continuation of the bad techniques will later lead to the trainee plateauing in their progress or becoming more seriously injured later.
McCarver also writes that in addition to returning to the natural method of movement for humans – life without confining footwear – barefoot or minimalist training can strengthen your ankles, making you less likely to sustain significant injuries, including ankle rolling, later.
Parkour practitioners should be cautioned, however! Minimalist or barefoot training can be hazardous for people, especially a beginning traceur or traceuse. The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health and Sports Medicine recommend that people engage in strenuous activity with minimalist or no footwear with extreme caution and consult a medical professional for any questions or concerns. While the organizations recognize the benefits of minimalist shoes and barefoot movement, they explain that many people suffer foot, ankle, and knee trauma sustained due to running over debris in the environment. Others suffer stress fractures or pain from the increased force of impact on the feet, energy that is normally absorbed in part by the shoe. Barefoot and minimalist activity can also result in mid-foot injuries, strain of calf muscles, collapse of foot arch, and blisters.
Experts in podiatry and foot health and parkour veterans stress the importance of increasing your tolerance for activity barefoot or in minimalist shoes slowly, which allows your muscles and tendons to become accustomed to the new function of the foot. The key to becoming accustomed to minimalist footwear or barefoot parkour training is patience; the average period recommended for breaking-in minimalist footwear can be anywhere between 4 – 6 months.
The sole is one of the most important parts of parkour footwear.
The soles of your parkour shoes should be thin, first and foremost. Thin-soled parkour shoes are preferred by experts because they provide maximum sensitivity between your feet and surface area where you’re landing, which leads to better techniques. Thick-soled or excessively cushioned shoes will greatly decrease your sensitivity to the ground and may decrease our awareness of your abilities in that thick-soled shoes are more likely to encourage people to attempt drops or moves that they aren’t ready for yet. Thin-soled shoes also allow you to feel the impact of your landings which indirectly encourages you to maintain proper technique to avoid injury.
Some parkour veterans also recommend almost no cushion in the front of the shoe and small to medium cushion in the back of the shoe. Maintaining a specific standard for the cushion of parkour shoes ensures that you will look for shoes that provide adequate shock absorption and support while maintaining your contact with your environment.
If you’re a beginner traceur or traceuse, more experienced practitioners advise that you allow for extra cushion in your shoes. You should start by wearing shoes with thicker soles and gradually work your way toward thinner soles. This will allow your feet to adjust to the training and the shoes at the same time.
Parkour shoe sole design is important for determining the durability and the grip of a shoe. You should look for flat, single-pieced soles constructed without plastic. Multiple pieces of rubber sole put together are not durable and tend to rip off. Once pieces of sole rip off of your shoe through use, you won’t have the same grip and traction as before, making precise movement and control more difficult. Having single-pieced soles will prevent this and will increase the longevity of your parkour shoes.
Speaking of grip….
Good shoe grip is absolutely essential for parkour and freerunning, more so even than with other physical activities. The grip of your shoe will help you to stick to surfaces and prevent you from falling or slipping during training. Moves like leaping on walls and wall runs are absolutely impossible to execute correctly and safely without shoes that have adequate grip. Make sure the soles of the shoes have a grip that not only provides overall traction, but is durable and is going to last.
Don’t box yourself in!
While wearing footwear with a wide toe box that allows your toes to move and spread out naturally is a good idea for everyone, the necessity is even greater for those training in parkour and freerunning. A wide toe box refers to the area in the front of the shoe where the toes rest being wide enough to allow for adequate, natural movement, but not so wide that excessive room exists in the front of the shoe allowing the toes to rub against the sides or top of the shoe with each step. An appropriately-sized toe box will be wide enough to be comfortable and snug enough to maintain the proper fit of the shoe. The movement of the toes is essential for overall foot stability and your balance, which are both important in the safe and ideal parkour / freerunning training session.
Flexibility facilitates form.
Flexibility in your parkour shoe is essential to nail certain maneuvers. In order to maintain good form and technique when practicing parkour, you must have flexible parkour shoes that allow natural movement and twisting of the foot and ankle while providing safety and maintaining the durability of the shoe.
You should look for a shoe that will bend just enough to grip a wall, rail, or ledge that still has adequate arch support. The shoe should bend at the points where your foot naturally bends, including the joint of the toes, to allow for efficient climbing. Making sure that a shoe has a natural flex point, or spot where the foot needs the shoe to crease, will support natural movement and efficient use of energy during training.
Nothing can beat breathability!
Not only is breathability in a shoe important for comfort during strenuous activity, it is also necessary for good foot health and safety during parkour.
Breathable shoes decrease your risk of developing foot fungus / odor, blisters, and infection by minimizing the accumulation of sweat in your shoe. Having sweat accumulate in the shoe can also make it more hazardous to perform some parkour maneuvers because the moisture will decrease foot stability in the shoe, disrupt snug fit, and will likely result in the foot sliding around in the shoe during movements. In addition to making sure that the shoe is constructed of material that will allow air to flow into and out of the shoe naturally, you may want to consider wearing socks made of moisture-wicking materials to further support the breathability of your footwear.
High-top versus Low-top
While high-top shoes are known for providing ankle protection and increasing foot stability, low-top shoes are generally considered better for parkour and freerunning. Low-top shoes provide protection to the foot, but they also allow for maximum range of motion. Attempting to rotate your foot when wearing a high-top shoe can result in chafing and blisters on the sides of the foot and the ankle.
Not only do low-top parkour shoes facilitate good technique when executing complex maneuvers, but they also allow for natural movement and range of motion in the foot. Wearing low-top shoes has also been suggested to aid in recovery from errors during movements.
Switch it up!
Veteran parkour practitioners often advise that beginners should invest in an extra pair of parkour shoes. Not only will having two pairs of shoes allow you to rotate them, increasing the chances of both pairs lasting longer, but will also allow you to dry your shoes out after highly physical training sessions. Experts also explain that it may be helpful to have one pair of parkour shoes for flow training, when movements require minimal or light shoes, and high impact training, when movements are going to require more shock absorption and grip than other training sessions.
Price isn’t the most important factor.
Price point is not necessarily a good way to identify quality parkour shoes. Higher price doesn’t mean better quality when it comes to parkour shoes. For instance, Feiyue is a martial arts shoe that is heavily favored by parkour enthusiasts and comes in at a budget-friendly total of $20.00 per pair. Compared to that, Take Flight parkour shoes cost approximately $50 – $80 per pair for similar quality.
Apart from basing your parkour footwear decisions on your experiences and preferences, it is usually a good idea to check online parkour forums, such as American Parkour, Parkour Steam, or Parkour Train for user reviews and to collaborate with fellow parkour enthusiasts.
Techniques offer protection, too.
While wearing quality footwear is one of the most important ways to avoid injury during parkour and freerunning, making sure to practice good techniques is essential as well.
Some of the most common injuries sustained during parkour – including muscle and tendon damage – can be avoided by warming up before your training session. In addition to stressing the importance of good form and appropriate maneuvers and landings, parkour veterans also encourage training in moderation. Not only will training past exhaustion make your more susceptible to injury from over-exertion, it will also make you more likely to make a mistake which could lead to being injured.
Learning proper form and focusing on safe maneuvers will not only help you to avoid injuries, but will likely also make all of your movements more efficient in terms of speed, energy use, and ground covered.
Off to a running start!
With all of the tips provided, you have all of the tools you need to find the perfect parkour footwear! Focusing on shoe construction, durability, grip, breathability, price, and your techniques will help to ensure that you get the most from your parkour experience while maintaining safety.
Best Shoes For…
1. Take Flight 1.0 Parkour & Training Shoe
- Shoe that is specifically designed for parkour; cool parkour logo on side
- Made with a double insole for extra comfort; easy to remove
- Great all around fitness shoe with traction on the shoe specifically for Parkour
- Lightweight, easily travels with your foot; doesn’t hold you back
- Great fit rating, with 81% finding it fit as expected
- Only available in black, no other styles available
- Designed specifically for concrete use, not the best on slippery surfaces
This shoe is a must if you are a serious parkour athlete! It’s really an all purpose shoe, but it has features and designs that are specific to parkour training. Checkout the parkour logo on the side! Now you can show to this shoe off to all your friends as you jump from building to building and flip around. The shoe is super lightweight and bends and moves with the foot so you can perform to the best of your abilities. It has a great fit rating and is sure to please you! The only drawbacks? It’s only available in black with no other color options available. But black goes with everything, right? Also, as it’s a parkour shoe, it’s best suited for concrete; it’s not so great when wet outside.
2. Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 Running Shoe
- Many colors and styles to choose from; great options
- Flexible channels at heel for superior comfort
- Padded tongue and cool logo
- Size is true to the standard sizing format, 84% found the shoe fit as expected
- Completely flat outsoles, may not be comfortable or efficient at keeping you from sliding
- The shoe has been described as looking and feeling cheap by some reviewers
The Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 Running shoe is a great all around athletic shoe, that doubles as an awesome parkour show. There are tons of great colors, options and styles to choose from – buy one or buy multiple of your favorite colors! The fit of the shoe is really great, and many have claimed the fit is true to the size (not too small, not too big). The shoe is very casual and it has a EVA midsole that has channels that add support and flexibility to the natural movement of your foot. The tongue is fully padded and is very comfortable and supportive. The shoe may not be comfortable for some users as the outsole is pretty flat and may not have the best traction. Also, many have described the shoe as being too simplistic and cheap looking. Try ordering the shoe for yourself – you be the judge!
3. Weweya Barefoot Shoes Men Minimalist Running Cross Training Shoe
- Low cost under 40 dollars
- Wide Toe Box
- Can be used for martial arts, tai chi, karate, and parkour
- Removable Exclusive Arch Support Insole
- They either fit around the foot, or they are too tight. No adjustment.
- Can rub some peoples feet
One thing is for sure: shoes can be expensive. So when you see the price point of this Weweya Barefoot Shoes Men Minimalist Running Cross Training Shoe, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the cost is under forty bucks! This shoe is super hip, and has many different colors to choose from! The shoe is specific to cross training and also acts as a great parkour shoe. While you’re jumping and kicking, the breathable material and low cut ankle collar has you covered since it is pretty breathable. The shoe may fit some people snug. This shoe is one of the highest rated parkour shoes available. Despite the inconveniences, because of the low price you may as well try it out if you’re on a tight budget.
4. Vibram KSO EVO Cross Training Shoe
- Webbed toe design, unique and supports each individual toe
- Great grip strength; tons of grooves and texture for optimal traction; XS Trek Outsole
- Easy tie shoelaces; adjustable by pulling on the tab
- Lightly padded tongue & speed lacing system
- Assortment of colors to choose from that are sure to please almost everyone
- Relatively low fit score, with only 68% finding they fit as expected
- A little too light fabric, feet can become cold and soaked if wet outside
- High price tag compared to other parkour shoes; up to $100
You may have seen this unique webbed toe design shoes floating around out there in the world on other people’s feet and never knew where to buy a pair for yourself. Well now you can! The shoe supports each toe individually, and the traction on the shoe is outstanding! It has an outsole with XS Trek technology for the best grip possible. The shoelaces tie easy, by simply pulling on the fastened. You can choose from a large variety of colors, so that you can have the perfect design customized to your taste and style. Despite the high price point, ranging up to $100, it doesn’t have a very high fit rating, with just 68% of people finding that it did not fit as expected. You would think that due to the cost, the shoe would be designed well enough to accommodate more people’s feet. Also – be careful in the rain or when going through puddles, as the shoe can get soaked (although, this is a plus because you can wear it to the beach). Overall a unique design with a decent delivery as far as the functionality.
5. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 5 Running Shoe
- Fast and convenient lacing system
- Well designed pattern; available in a handful of colors
- Textured outsole that is sure to give you great traction
- Lightweight and very breathable with the mesh material upper
- Convenient lacing system with the “knot” hidden
- Expensive compared to other parkour shoes available; price range of $60 to $200
- 23% found the shoe did not fit as expected
Merrell is renown for delivering great athletic shoes – this trail running shoe is perfect not only for running, but also for other sports, including parkour! The Oni-Fit lacing system unique to this shoe is phenomenal. You are able to tie the laces effortlessly, and tuck them under the tongue where they remain out of sight for a more fashionable look. The designs are really great, and you have an ample selection of colors available. The material of the shoe itself is awesome; not too heavy, yet incredibly durable, and also very breathable with the mesh design. If the shoe fits your budget, around $100, then this parkour shoe will be great for you when you’re jumping around and doing flips.
6. Nike Men’s Free 5.0+ Breathe Running Shoe Synthetic
- The status symbol and image of Nike; brand power
- Mesh inner that fits like a sock and is easy to put on
- Intentional asymmetric lacing for easier use
- Arch is diagonally cut for superior performance
- Textured outsole that provides incredible traction
- Price point is a little high ranges from $150 to $200
- 16% found that it did not fit as expected
An automatic plus about the Nike Free 5.0 Breathe running shoe is the brand itself. Nike has a certain brand power to it – the shoes are almost like status symbols. They represent fissionability, athleticism, and money. Nike is a brand that is consistently excellent as well. These shoes are extremely well designed. The shoe itself is super durable and has a great textured sole to help keep you on your feet. The mesh inner sleeve cups your foot like a sock and makes the shoe’s comfort optimal. The cuts in the arch act as supports while also increasing your foot’s strength as you move about. If you can afford this shoe, costing up to $200, then this will be a great shoe to sport while practicing parkour.
7. JOOMRA Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes | Wide Toe Box
- Integral knitted upper structure makes your feet feel lightweight and breathable
- Thicker topline wrapped perfectly around feet, which make shoes not fall off during exercise
- Removable insoles support the feet’s arches and not cause too much pressure and transfer weight over the ball of the feet.
- Specifically designed for women’s trail running, but makes great parkour shoes as well
- Low price point; maximum price at just over $35
- Too thin, made of cheap material and aren’t as durable as other options
- Slightly low fit rating, with 24% finding that the shoe did not fit as anticipated
This JOOMRA Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes | Wide Toe Box is at an incredible price point, being priced just above $35. The thicker topline will wrap perfectly around your feet, which make shoes not fall off during exercise.. The sole is basic; not a whole lot of features, however it is very light and has just enough padding to be comfortable. This shoe is ergonomically designed, and is intended to be used specifically as a training shoe, etc. and non-traditionally as a parkour show. Since the shoe is lower in price you are going to be paying in other way; namely in quality. The material is fairly cheap and not quite as durable. However, if you have a lower price range and want a standard parkour shoe, this is a shoe to keep in mind.
8. Evolv Cruzer Psyche Approach Shoe
- Modern, patchwork looking design; vintage
- Can stick your bare feet right into this memory foam lined insole with antimicrobial features
- Extremely textured outsole in order to ensure maximum grip strength
- Odors and sweat build up are impeded with the microfiber insoles
- Heel clips that attach right onto your backpack or belt, etc.
- Relatively low fit rating with only 61% finding the shoe to fit as expected
- Not a lot of support and cushion; just your basic shoe
- Mildly expensive; just under $75
The Cruzer Psyche Approach shoe has everything you need in a parkour shoes, with a modern earthy design that has a unique retro feel to it. The insole is awesome because it is designed to accommodate your bare feet – no sock required. It is lined with memory foam (although some ma find it to be too thin) for a comfortable and supportive feel to the shoe. The interior is specifically designed to avoid foot odors as well. The main selling point of this shoe is the awesome sole. The sole has great grip for all of your climbing and parkour needs. The heel also bends and folds as you move for a greater range of motion another unique feature about this shoe: you can clip the heels right onto your backpack for a hands free way of carrying these shoes. The shoe is a little expensive, at just under $75, but the quality and design is phenomenal. Try a pair out yourself!