Parkour started in urban and natural environments. While training barefoot is not impossible most tracers prefer wearing shoes. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. There is no “best shoe” for parkour. We hope these suggestions on what to look for help.
Grip – Look for shoes with good rubber. If the shoe is really light then chances are there are other materials mixed into the rubber to make them lighter but also give them less grip. A rubber-soled shoe is heavier, and most shoemakers are in competition to make a lighter shoe. You also need to avoid shoes with too many small pieces of rubber on the bottom.
Ground Feel and Cushion Balance – Never sacrifice ground feel (your ability to feel and sense the ground with the bottom of your feet through the shoe) for extra cushion. Tactile feedback sent from your feet to your brain is important for making decisions in your movement. Cushion is also very important for longevity as anyone who has accidentally hit their heel on the pavement while barefoot would know. We shouldn’t be running on our heels (for our knees sake), but as we learn, we make mistakes, and a little cushion to protect us while we’re on our way to having correct form is helpful.
Heel/Toe Drop Angle – Many shoes today are made like ramps for your feet where there is a rise in the heel. It is much easier to start life in a minimalist shoe then change to a high heel than the other way around but the decision comes down to preference.
Weight and Flexibility – The weight of a shoe for parkour is not as important as the other above factors but many heavy shoes are also rigid and don’t allow the use of all foot muscles. This is why we recommend not using a basketball shoe, skate shoe, or hiking shoe.
Arch Support – This is person-dependent. If you don’t need it then don’t get a shoe that has arch support. If you need arch support then only get as much as you need, never more.
Durability and Price – The longevity of the shoe may be the most or least important to you. A $100 shoe that lasts you a year costs less than a $50 shoe that only lasts 3 months.
Recommended shoes from our community: Feiyues, New Balance Minimus, Merrell Glove, VivoBarefoot, Asics Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81, Vibram 5-Fingers, Puma Narita, Ollo’s, Take Flight Ultra’s, and New Balance Zantes.