Parkour moves like landing on a rail or climbing a wall can be seriously hindered by bulky or inappropriate footwear so finding the perfect shoe is important to ensure your performance is at its best.
The ongoing debate has serious advocates ranging from barefoot advocates to those that like extra support and comfort. Each type of parkour shoe has its pros and cons but Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 shoe top the lists as one of the best sneaker to wear for parkour.
This sneaker is extremely variable making it the number one choice for parkour . It is recommended for any skill level and provides the ideal balance between support and sensitivity for training. It provides the support for beginners and for learning new skills and tricks while also allowing for enough sensitivity and flexibility to ensure maximum performance.
The Shoe Debate
The founder of parkour, David Belle, has publicly stated that the best shoes for this sport are no shoes. Bare feet, he argues, strengthens the feet over time.
Unfortunately for our modern feet the customary wearing of shoes has already caused our feet to evolve as softer, underdeveloped, and more easily injured. Our modern feet cannot absorb nearly as much shock as our ancestor’s feet and our ankle stabilization muscles have diminished.
Barefoot training will strengthen the feet, decrease sensitivity, and improve the body’s general alignment. Human feet are designed to handle much more stress than modern people put on them so they can be trained to handle parkour.
Modern feet, however, are seriously underdeveloped because we have all been socially pressured to wear footwear most of our lives. Due to this our feet are weak and soft and can’t sustain the heavy impact parkour generally requires. It can take years to train our feet to handle such intensity.
The idea of partaking in vigorous exercise without any protection on our feet can be daunting. Having bare feet is dangerous and can lead to serious injuries but recently developers have been working on the perfect compromise – minimalist footwear. These allow for a better grip and can provide the extra support.
Features of the Best Parkour Shoe
The ideal shoe needs to be an ideal blend of sensitivity, strength, durability, flexibility, and comfort. Parkour is an extremely demanding and individualized sport. The best shoes for one may not be the best fit for another freerunner due to the variation in tricks, stunts, or landscape.
In general, the best sneakers share some common features including:
- Grip: The shoe’s grip is important to assist in moves such as leaping on walls and wall runs. The sole needs to have grip that provides for overall traction and is not going to wear thin easily.
- Comfort: The shoe should fit the foot both perfectly and comfortably to ensure maximum performance. Uncomfortable shoes can quickly turn par-kour into an unbearable or impossible experience. In contrast to everyday shoes comfort does not describe the cushioning but rather the fit of the shoe.
- Flexibility: Parkour demands that the feet are free to move in order to perform most of the tricks. The shoe must allow for this flexibility without forfeiting safety or durability. If the shoe won’t bend then you are sacrificing control. The shoe needs to bend just enough to wrap around the wall, ground, or whatever you land on. The front end of the shoe needs to be flexible enough to bend while you are climbing a wall but not be too flexible and lack support. The number one problem with par-kour shoes is that many are just not flexible enough.
- Durability: Durability is very important. Having soft rubber soles tremendously assist with grip but you will sacrifice some durability. Hard soles on the other hand will last much longer but will also provide less grip. Parkour-training is generally extremely vigorous so durability is a necessity.
- Cushioning: This essential feature should allow interaction with the environment while also handling drops and falls. The sole needs to be a good medium to provide for the most effective training.
What to Avoid
You will want to avoid a few things to prevent unnecessary injuries during activities. First, avoid footwear with the hard plastic as arch support because it can cause injuries during falls. Flexible soles are essential and the plastic can become slippery when landing.
Bulky and heavy footwear should definitely be avoided. Not only will these sneakers be physically taxing but they will make all of the stunts and tricks harder to perform. The extra weight can make injuries much more likely.
Be sure to avoid sneakers that can’t be secured to the foot. Without laces or some way of securing the foot – injuries can occur.
Best Parkour Shoes
#3 Vivobarefoot Stealth
Though this is actually designed for running it does have the thinnest sole of all Vivobarefoot models. The soles are additionally high abrasion and puncture resistant. They are flexible, soft, lightweight, and comfortable.
It is recommended for a enthusiast of any skill level. It is a more middle-ground type of footwear which offers both support and some sensitivity.
#2 Puma Faas 500
The most prominent feature of Faas 500 is the amazing grip. The grip is great for all kinds of surfaces. The Puma Faas 500are also flexible and fairly durable. They are designed for running but are in fact one of the top choices. They are lightweight and have decent cushioning.
Durable, flexible, lightweight, comfortable, and one of the best parkour shoes brands.
This model is recommended for those who value grip as a very important feature. It is a good middle ground choice between the minimalistic and a very supportive shoe. The one-piece foam sole allows for a more natural feeling in the feet while also providing good cushioning.
Update: Puma Faas 500 v3 is now available
#1 Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81
These sneaker are designed to be minimalistic and keep the foot close to the ground. They provide very little arch support and are designed to be slim, flexible, and lightweight. The soles offer decent grip and durability.
It actually designed to improve over time. The sneaker ill somewhat mold to your foot and the grip will improve as you break in and train with them. It provides slight cushioning and allows you to feel the ground more.
The Ultimate 81’s are one of the top models for those enthusiasts who are looking for a model that fits somewhere between the minimalistic design and those which are more heavy, thick and supportive.
It is recommended for enthusiasts who do not want thick parkour shoes but desire more support than offered with the minimalistic type of footwear. It perfect for beginners or experts alike.
Asics Gel-Evolution 6
It is extremely comfortable and lightweight. It has a decent grip and fit but lacks in durability and flexibility.
This model is good for beginners or those who are looking for an extra support.
Nike Dart 10
This model is comfortable, flexible, durable, and grips well on all surfaces. They fall in the middle weight class but are far from bulky. The extra support is perfect when learning new tricks with larger drops or just for high-impact training. The traction and grip is extraordinary on a wide variety of surfaces.
Not only is this well-respected within as well as outside of the parkour community but it is also one of the cheapest and high-quality sneker avaialbe.
It is perfect for any skill level. It is recommended for those who would like extra support from their shoe.
Update: Nike Dart 12 is now available
It is praised for its comfort and minimalistic design. The little cushioning allows for a more barefoot-like experience and heightened sensitivity to surfaces. The model are extremely lightweight and grip well. The design was originally meant for those skilled in martial arts.
One of the downsides of this is the durability. After vigorous and intense training it can begin to shred and disintegrate.
It is recommended for those who are seeking extra sensitivity and they may lack the support needed for beginners or those with sloppy technique. This model is lacking in durability but makes up for that in price.
Ranking in at the top of many professionals lists, this model provides one of the thinnest soles. The minimal sole allows for close contact and sensitivity without sacrificing any durability. The soles have anti-puncture technology. The soles are resistant and safe while remaining thin enough to allow training to strengthen the feet and arches.
Overall this model will provide extraordinary durability, a minimalistic and thin sole, and anti-puncture grip technology. It provides for amazing grip on wet or smooth service and can easily be considered the most durable of all minimalist footwear.
This particular model is recommended for those experienced and who likes minimalist footwear style. If you have never tried minimalist footwear before, or are just starting out learning, this may not be the best choice. Injuries can result if the foot is not trained to absorb the shock of without the shoe’s support.
Vibram Five Fingers
It is designed to emulate barefoot training and assists in training up the feet’s muscles. Vibram Five Fingers has top-notch grip only beaten out by the Ultimate 81 model. Individual toe slots allow the foot and toes to wrap around surfaces like rails increasing both grip and allowing for unmatched flexibility. They are extremely lightweight and allow for amazing control.
Overall this show is one of the very best minimalist footwear for parkour. The extraordinary control, grip, flexibility, durability, and weight are nearly unmatched all around. One of the drawbacks of this model is the price which can be somewhat high. The overall rating of this model is 9/10.
It is highly recommended for those looking to train the muscles in their feet. Those experienced and with using minimalist or bare feet will find this one a perfect choice. It may not provide enough support for those who have not practiced barefoot.
After analyzing the features for all of above-mentioned footwear the obvious choice clearly is unmatched by the competition.
The Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 shoes are the number one choice for any skill level because they provide an ideal balance between support and sensitivity. They have excellent grip, flexibility, and durability and clearly beat all other competition.
If you like this guide please read more articles at workout gear lab