What kind of shoes to wear? PDF Print E-mail
You can count on hours of strict training and dedication for just about anything you do in the Parkour world, but don’t kid yourself, you need the right equipment to go along with it. That’s right, I’m talking about shoes, trainers, kicks… whatever you want to call them, they can either make or break your success in parkour. Some people claim they can perform at top physical ability with any shoe, at any moment. If you are one of them, I either A) don’t believe you for one second, or B) salute the heck out of you! For those of you who are not among this elite group of super-heroes, then listen closely.

      We all know that we want the most amount of grip on the bottoms of our feet, but it’s not as easy as asking the clerk at the local Sports Authority “so what shoe is best for parkour?” No, we need to do our own homework and make our own expensive mistakes while shopping for shoes. But there are a few tips that might narrow the choice down to a minimum, and give you that bang for your buck that it took so many of us so many attempts to get right.

      First, let’s talk about grip. I’m not going to say who has the best grip or the worst grip, because truthfully, I don’t know. But when looking for shoes with grip on the soles, there are a few things to consider. First, try and find a shoe with a simple, one piece tread on the bottom. The more pieces of rubber you have, the more that can come right off. It may look incredibly complicated and cool, but it will lack the performance needed by us traceurs. Single tread shoes are ideal, but a bit hard to come by, so do your shopping!

      Another aspect of grip will be the coverage. Look to see if the sole wraps the top of your toe. The more rubber coming up over the tip of your toes, the better. This comes in handy when doing pop-vaults or any work on a vertical wall because the grip your toe creates will determine how high you are able to climb. The same goes for the heel, and sides of your foot. Again, the more rubber you have around your foot, the better.

      The second big attribute to consider is comfort. I’m not talking about the Rolls Royce of shoes, but how the shoes fit your feet. If you have a shoe that its way too big on the inside, then it will be hard to make a serious connection with the environment. Find a shoe that fits snug and leaves very little extra space (especially around your toes, because that is where you make the most contact with surfaces). You can have the stickiest sole, but you will minimize the effectiveness of that sole when your feet are swimming in that big empty space inside your shoes. 

      The third shoe characteristic is weight distribution. Just like a sports car versus an SUV, the taller soles face threats of tipping over. If you load up your shoes with big insoles, and also have a thin (width) shoe to begin with, you are likely to roll your ankle with any sideways movement. Imagine doing parkour in platform shoes. That’s of course exaggerated, but you now understand what direction NOT to go in. find a shoe that has a somewhat wide sole compared to the height. Hold on to the road like the sports car, don’t tip over like the SUV.

      Fourth, shop for material. The sidewalls of course don’t see much of the road, but strong material for everything that is not rubber is still important. Thick materials like canvas packed with padding should hold up nicely and won’t wear out as quickly, ultimately becoming weak and flexible. Sometimes those flimsy, light running shoes won’t put up with the punishment that parkour dishes out regularly. This is up to you to decide how stiff your shoe can be. Personally I like the stiffness. It creates a stronger connection with my feet to the wall or ground.

      Overall weight of a shoe is among the smaller issues with parkour. Runners like the lightest shoe possible, and hikers like heavier shoes. Parkour is somewhere in between with the demand for durability yielding heavier shoes, and the need for longer jumps yielding lighter shoes. Stay away from tacky add-ons that some companies develop. Super springs in the heel are not necessary, and add tons of un-needed weight. But then light running shoes may lack some necessary support for the demanding traceur foot. So, all in all, not too heavy, not too light. Consider what you’re missing by leaning towards either side of the weight spectrum.

      Lastly, remember that you will never find a shoe that lasts forever. Most people don’t understand that shoes are used every time you stand up, walk, or run. This means they will begin to show wear and tear sooner than most possessions. There are no super-shoes that last as long as a traceur would like, so just get into the mindset that you might be inclined to invest in your feet every few months. But don’t let this slow down your progression, I would rather be a better traceur with worn shoes than a lagging traceur with pretty, pristine shoes.

      On that note, next time you’re in the market for some new shoes, bring a list of important points to consider. Get the most of your dollar, but don’t neglect those feet of yours, they deserve it!