Best Parkour Shoes

Even though it started as a merely recreational activity, parkour, or free running, has also developed into anaerobic training discipline and even a form of competition.

Nowadays, traceurs not only consider this to be a sport but also a way to stay fit. This is especially because parkour combines running with calisthenic movements when climbing, pulling, vaulting, rolling, and jumping, etc, all of which require full-body strength, flexibility, high jump, muscle memory, and stamina, and help enhance these further too.

However, these rather simple-sounding motions can turn out to be quite tricky and, if not equipped with the right shoes, you will be quite vulnerable to slips and falls, causing lots of problems. Therefore, you will need to find shoes that offer great traction, tight grip, high flexibility, amazing durability, and extensive support and protection, which can seem daunting.

But don’t fret because I have looked through the internet to find what I consider to be the five best parkour shoes, three for men and two for women.

For further assistance, I have included the criteria I used to form the list and some of the most important FAQs.

Let’s jump into it!

Key Features & Search Criteria

How I Decide on The Best Parkour Shoes

Before introducing the shoes, I believe it would be helpful if you knew the precise criteria that I used to shortlist these. By remembering these factors, I can assure you that you will be able to find shoes that not only help allow easy transitions through flexibility but also provide great protection, comfort, fitting, and support.

1. Protection and Support

Because you will be moving through various terrains and performing all kinds of tricks, you will need extensive protection and support. The protection can, firstly, be through a safety toe which will protect you from any falling object but can be quite heavy, and, therefore, is added in very few parkour shoes.

You may need them to be chemical-resistant or provide electrical hazard protection. Additionally, the pair should provide some level of insulation for the colder climatic conditions and you can also find waterproof ones. Other than that, proper padding and cushioning will help protect you from external elements better while additional liners will also work in a similar way.

For support, you will need to make sure that the midsole and insole cushioning is soft with a stiff structure so that it is supportive yet comfortable. A padded collar can also help better support your ankle while a rigid outsole will help add traction and reduce friction. For better support, there can also be a heel or a wide toe box.

2. Fitting and Weight

If the shoes are too loose, you’ll be vulnerable to slips while a tight pair will keep you from performing well too, and, so, you’ll need to ensure amazing fitting by checking the closure. While lace closures wear quickly, they are the most personalizable and velcro isn’t flexible and very difficult to replace. BOA, lastly, is the most durable option and can easily be adjusted to your needs, hence seeming to be the best choice.

You will also need to make sure that the upper and outsole are flexible enough to allow adequate room for change. Also, make sure that the width and the vertical length are sufficient and, if you have wide feet, you might go for shoes that have an outrigger.

For the weight, on the other hand, remember that the higher the jumps and more varying the terrain, the lighter shoes you’ll need. When checking this, you will need to make sure that the essential shoe parts, including the upper, outsole, and midsole, don’t weigh a lot. Also, if the shoes include any additional features like a liner or a safety toe, make sure that these don’t add any extra weight.

3. Outsole

The outsole forms a major part of the shoes, and, therefore, can’t be ignored. For one, this needs to grip onto the feet tightly so that the foot movement can be controlled, hence preventing problems like plantar fasciitis and sore feet. This, however, should be wide enough to comfortably fit the feet.

Furthermore, you will need to make sure that the shoes provide adequate traction to prevent slips as parkour can be quite deadly. A particularly beneficial feature for added traction is spikes. Abrasion resistance, on the other hand, will add to the durability while oil resistance will make them better suited for a range of terrains.

Similarly, the outsole can include some kind of cushioning for shock absorption to diminish damage from repeated high jumps. A heel will also help support the heel and ankle muscles better while a raised middle platform is well-suited for flat feet, as it will provide arch support. This part, lastly, should provide ample protection and be flexible so that it doesn’t crack when bent a little.

4. The Upper

The upper, again, forms a major part and holds great importance. This will, firstly, need to be extremely flexible to allow better room for movement when parkouring while breathability will help prevent various infections. However, high breathability will reduce the waterproofing and I would suggest you read below for more info on this.

Moreover, this should be highly durable and abrasion-resistant. Also, they will need to be relatively lightweight because, if they are heavy, you won’t be able to run as fast or jump as high and will also be fatigued quickly.

You should also make sure that this is versatile and doesn’t pressurize the top of the foot or problems like extensor tendonitis can occur. Considering all this, I would highly suggest knit upper as they are not only breathable but also flexible, lightweight, and durable.

5. Waterproofing and Insulation

While this does not affect parkouring directly, it will help prevent various foot problems, like infections. However, this is affected by various factors, and, for one, the upper will need to be made of materials like leather, which can help retain temperature better and enhance the waterproofing.

Other than that, the outsole will need to be waterproof as well as well-insulated and the shoes should include features like some kind of lining, which will help prevent water and cold from entering the shoes. Be that as it may, despite their claims, waterproof shoes do not expel moisture efficiently, which may be a problem.

Furthermore, the overall construction should also be tight enough to keep the water outside and warmth within. But remember, the better the waterproofing and insulation, the worse the breathability will be, and, therefore, you will have to set your preferences right.

6. Feature #6

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product reviews

The 5 Best Parkour Shoes

I have divided this section into two parts, with the first including the three best shoes for men while the other consists of the two best women’s parkour shoes.

The price ranges from around $60 (£43 approx.) to about $200 (£141 approx.) and I shortlisted them with the help of the criteria above. For these, I also made sure that various features were available, including IMEVA midsole, thin thread construction, two-tone insole, hexagonal outsole lug pattern, astonishingly lightweight build, a strap closure, V-run upper, and Vi-Lite insole.

MEN’s

Nike Men’s Flex Experience Rn 6 Running Shoe

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best parkour shoes - Nike Men's Flex Experience Rn 6 Running Shoe

Moreover, the IMEVA midsole cushioning promotes a better posture when free-running while also improving comfort. The synthetic traditional lacing system of the shoes enhances the great fitting and durability further.

It should also be noted that the thin threads used for construction help to balance the shoes further and prevent the feet from overpronation. The shoes are also available in 25 different color combinations and are highly versatile, allowing you to wear them when parkouring, running, playing other intensive sports, or even at casual events. However, the narrow toe-box has caused problems for some people.

PROS

  • ✅  Single-layer mesh upper for breathability and flexibility.
  • ✅  Hexagonal outsole lug pattern for greater traction.
  • ✅  IMEVA midsole foam for support.
  • ✅  The traditional lacing system promotes better personalization.
  • ✅  Thin thread construction helps to balance the shoes.

 

CONS

  • X   Slightly narrow toe-box.

Nike Flex Experience Rn 6 Running Shoe

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Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 Slip-On Classic Running Sneaker

Along with their stylish appearance, these shoes are extremely comfortable and durable, making them perfect for parkour. Natural fibers have been used in their construction, which also makes them extremely lightweight, and, therefore, they do not pressurize the feet and prevent fatigue. Also, the traditional lacing system in the shoes is very secure and the wide toe-box allows a relaxed fitting, hence adding comfort and preventing foot problems. 

Best parkour shoes - Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 Slip-On Classic Running Sneaker

Moreover, the shoes feature a well-cushioned insole that adds immense comfort and support, something direly needed during running. Additionally, the two-tone EVA midsole foam, along with the flex channels incorporated in the heels, provides extra stability and response when parkouring.

The upper, on the other hand, is made up of suede and synthetic materials that readily absorb moisture, thus preventing the manifestation of various infections. The mesh also positively affects air circulation, which, in turn, prevents problems like blisters.

In addition to that, the padded collar supports the ankle and part of the leg. As far as the rubber outsole is concerned, it provides excellent gripping and traction, making it possible to parkour over wet surfaces as well. The inner sock lining enhances the protection further while also adding to the comfort. Lastly, the shoes are very durable and are available in 10 different color combinations.

PROS

  • ✅  Two-tone EVA insole provides great comfort and support.
  • ✅  The rubber outsole provides extra grip and traction.
  • ✅  The fit is true to size and the shoes include a wide toe-box, hence enhancing the comfort.
  • ✅  The shoes are extremely durable.
  • ✅  They are available in 10 color combinations.

 

CONS

  • X    Not waterproof

Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 Slip-On Classic

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Vibram KMD EVO

Vibram is rising to become one of the best shoe brands and this pair represents their expertise well. The most impressive and distinct feature of these parkour shoes is the glove shape that helps enhance the fitting and these individual pockets also provide extra comfort and support.

Additionally, the rubber outsole improves the durability considerably and flexibility, confirming smooth movement, while preventing blisters and foot injuries. Also, this provides additional traction which, in turn, helps keep the balance and stability when jumping. The snake-like scales on it also prevent debris and scuffing while the shock-absorbing technology prevents damage from impact. 

best parkour shoes - Vibram KMD EVO parkour

Moreover, the upper is made up of a mixture of three materials; Polyamide, Polyester, Hypalon which boast great durability and flexibility while also being lightweight. Also, this has a breathable stretchy mesh that helps keep the foot dry and cool through air ventilation and temperature regulation.

In addition to that, the shoes have a lightly padded tongue that improves support and protection. The speed lacing system is also simple and secure, hence providing great fitting while the distinct overall look will help catch a lot of attention. Lastly, the 9 millimeters-thick heel is highly flexible, and, therefore, reduces the stress over the feet while also adding to the heel and ankle support.

PROS

  • ✅  Individual slots to provide extra comfort and support.
  • ✅  The outsole provides extra traction to keep the balance while running.
  • ✅  The lacing system is secure and non-constricting.
  • ✅  The upper has mesh that keeps the feet dry and cool.

 

CONS

  • X    Based on some reviews, the toes were a little tight.

Vibram KMD EVO

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WOMEN’s

PUMA Women’s Fierce Velvet Rope Wn Sneaker

Along with extreme comfort and support, these next shoes have a stylish appearance as well. Firstly, the top strap closure makes the fastening easy and adds to the shoes’ flexibility.

The mesh upper, on the other hand, enhances breathability, thereby preventing infections. Additionally, it is flexible and includes a roomy toe box. Also, the inner sock layer enhances the protection and provides additional support to the feet.

The synthetic outsole provides stability and helps maintain balance when parkouring. Other than that, the padded collar provides ankle support there, thus preventing injuries. Also, these shoes have high heels that absorb shock and support the heel and ankle better.

Best parkour shoes - PUMA Women's Fierce Velvet Rope Wn Sneaker parkour

Other than that, these heels provide greater traction and grip when running, hence preventing slips and falls. It should also be noted that these are one of the most attractive shoes on the list and can be worn for various purposes. Lastly, the pair is extremely lightweight, and, therefore, effectively prevents unnecessary pressure, particularly on the tendons, and fatigue, enabling a more enjoyable experience.

PROS

  • ✅  Shoes are very light in weight which prevents unnecessary pressure and fatigue.
  • ✅  The padding around the collar provides additional arch and ankle support.
  • ✅  The single-layer mesh upper enhances breathability immensely.
  • ✅  The inner sock layer enhances the protection and stability.

 

CONS

  • X    I genuinely couldn’t find any, these are a great option for parkour.

PUMA Women’s Fierce Velvet Rope Wn Sneaker

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Vibram Women’s V Running Shoe

To end off, these shoes are an amazing choice if you are looking for a pair of lightweight and well-fitted shoes. Weighing just 9.9 ounces, as compared to around 17 ounces of most of the others, this is the lightest choice on the list, thus helping prevent fatigue and enhance performance considerably.

With a thin EVA midsole and XS Run rubber outsole, the pair also features impressive responsiveness and the heel padding helps support the ankle and heel well. In addition to that, the Vi-Lite insole, with the extensive cushioning, provides extreme comfort and support throughout the feet, including the toes, arch, heel, and ankle.

 

Best parkour shoes - Vibram Women's V Running Shoe

The comfort is further improved by the V-Run upper which includes the antimicrobial Drilex sock liner and a stretchy polyester lycra mesh material with polyester microfiber. They are also surprisingly protective and, with the help of immense ventilation, the shoes offer great breathability and moisture-expulsion.

Moreover, the adjustable pull tab and cord closure provide a great mix of personalization and a secure fit, allowing you to move comfortably without risking twists. In case you want versatility, rest assured that these provide just that and come from one of the most reliable brands. These are not, however, very durable and will need to be replaced in just a couple of months, particularly because of the thin construction and lightweight design.

PROS

  • ✅  Weighing just 9.9 ounces, these are some of the lightest parkour shoes.
  • ✅  EVA midsole and XS rubber outsole feature impressive responsiveness.
  • ✅  The Vi-Lite insole provides comfort and support.
  • ✅  V-Run upper includes antimicrobial Drilex sock liner and stretchy lycra mesh material with polyester microfiber.
  • ✅  Adjustable pull tab and cord closure for personalization and a secure fit.

 

CONS

  • X    You won’t find these as durable as other options.

Vibram Women’s V Running Shoe

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What is parkour?

Originating in France in the 1980s, the sport was initially termed Art du Deplacement and later given the name ‘Parkour’ by David Belle. It was derived from the French word ‘Parcours’ which means ‘course’ and later termed ‘Freerunning’ to communicate the sport to English-speaking audiences better.

Usually practiced in urban space, this is primarily a training discipline where traceurs try to get from one point to another in a complex environment. Through it all, this combines martial arts with calisthenics and the practitioner performs vaulting, jumping, climbing, running, swinging, plyometrics, quadrupedal movement, and rolling, to move through the area without any assisting equipment.

Also, even though it began as a recreational activity, parkour has now become a widely practiced sport, particularly because it enables one to see the environment from a different angle. The non-competitive activity also forces a person to build physical strength, stamina, agility, flexibility, balance, spatial awareness, precision, and muscle memory.

Other than that, the sport aims to promote self-reliance, self-discipline, determination, confidence, and responsibility for one’s actions. Simultaneously, it encourages respect, self-expression, humility, and community spirit, while also helping realize the importance of play, safety, and discovery.

2. How to get started in parkour or freerunning?

To get started with parkour, you will have to get into shape. For this, practice calisthenics like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and sit-ups, and make sure that you can perform at least 25 push-ups, 5 pull-ups, and 50 squats before getting into freerunning.

You should also perform landing, rolling, and jumping while trying various climbing maneuvers, vaulting, and increasing your jump too. Additionally, you should make sure that you practice these at least three times a week and focus particularly on your balance, starting slow and gradually building your way up.

Lastly, you should develop your personal style and, once done with individual training, move on to group training, learning what others might know better and asking traceurs for tips.

3. How should I clean my parkour shoes?

Even though most parkour shoes are built completely differently, you can follow a similar cleaning method for all. Start by separating all the parts, including the midsole and lacing, from the upper and outsole. Now, wash the lacing and midsole in a washing machine with a light detergent and let them air dry as heat will cause cracks.

Once done, clean the outsole with a clean cloth and then the same detergent on a brush. After this, clean the dirt off the upper with a clean wet cloth and ripe away the dirt from the footbed before patting it dry with cotton or a clean piece of cloth. Lastly, condition the leather upper with a non-petroleum leather cleaner and put the parts back together.

4. Is wearing parkour boots compulsory?

While it is not compulsory, I would highly suggest wearing parkour boots. It is so because, unlike most other running and sports shoes, these are built to be extremely lightweight, something particularly important for high jump and rolling during parkour. Other than that, these will feature an extremely flexible build and help provide jump boots, hence helping with various maneuvers.

Such shoes are also very breathable and provide impressive responsiveness while also supporting the feet adequately and featuring amazing traction, hence preventing slips. Besides, parkour shoes will help enhance your confidence and fit in better.

 

Summary & Conclusion

Best Parkour Shoes

I hope the article has helped fulfill the aim of understanding parkour and the best shoes for it.

I would, however, like to mention that I liked the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 Slip-On Classic Running Sneaker most for men. This has a two-tone EVA insole for comfort and support while the rubber outsole adds to the traction and durability. The fitting is also well-liked and the wide toe box enables comfort. Besides, the only con is the absence of waterproofing, which you might never even need.

For women, on the other hand, PUMA Women’s Fierce Velvet Rope Wn Sneaker seems a great choice. This pair is extremely lightweight and well-padded as well as cushioned, hence providing support and comfort. The mesh upper is also highly breathable and I couldn’t find any con whatsoever.

I would also recommend that you carefully evaluate your foot health and check whether you need a particular feature. Also, remember that while the closure and durability can be compromised, the shoes need to be highly flexible and tractive.

Happy Shopping!

Written by Mark

Having researched and advised on hundreds of footwear products, I'm confident you'll find my articles insightful to the most common questions that's currently being asked online.

June 19, 2021

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