A common question from beginners and pros alike is, "What are the best shoes for training Ninja Warrior obstacles?" This is and will continue to be an endless debate within the ninja community, but there are key ingredients that make up the best shoe:

  1. Grip - When we mention grip, what we actually mean is friction. The more friction between your shoe and the obstacle diminishes the chance of your foot slipping out from under you. Friction ultimately comes down to surface area. Which leads us to our second ingredient...
  2. Rubber Soles - The soles must be rubber! the smoother and flatter the better (easier to wipe dust and water off). Avoid anything with plastic or "teeth" like the plague (looking at you Nike...)
    A lot of obstacles on Ninja Warrior deal with metal surfaces. Metal + Plastic = No Bueno & teeth will eventually rip off, thus creating a more uneven surface area. All theses gimmicks just add unnecessary weight to the shoe.
  3. Weight - Lighter is better in Ninja Warrior, we need to be as agile as possible when navigating through obstacles.

  4. Flexibility vs Support - If you take anything away from this article it should be MOARRRR SURFACE AREA! The more a shoe is able to bend (flexibility) the more you will be able to "feel" the obstacles and react to situations faster. A trade off for having more flexible shoes is less padding/cushion. However, seeing as how Ninja Warrior generally utilizes mats (or water...) for dismounting, impact shouldn't be too large a concern.
    As for support, like high tops, I'm personally not a fan. I know a lot of people who have injured their ankles in the past tend to desire support, but studies have shown that the more artificial support placed around a chronic injury actually further weakens the ligaments/tendons in that area. I would personally place more attention on rehabbing said injury over relying on a brace or shoe.

  5. Durability - sdjfsjdssfjd

Now that we have established a strong foundation of what makes a great shoe for Ninja Warrior training, here are the Top 3 Brands that are consistently putting out awesome shoes year after year...

#3) Merrell

Merrell is a brand that specializes in trail running, but has made it's way into the obstacle course racing world. They provide a lot of different models with different uses and treads utilizing the Vibram rubber. Their best models for Ninja Warrior training are (from left to right) All Out Fuse, Bare Access, and Trail Glove. A lot of pros prefer this brand due to the utility it provides on both the Ninja Warrior course and outdoor obstacle races. However, what it gains in utility, it loses in a lot of other categories.

Grip: 7/10 ( The grip will have to be warn down before it truly shines)
Soles: Vibram Rubber, Synthetic
Weight: 12.8 oz - 14 oz
Flexibility: 7/10
Durability: 8/10 (these shoes will last you a long time, but the model you like might be discontinued when you come around to needing a new pair).
Price: $80-$150 (The most expensive on our list)

Worn by: Andy Lowes and Kevin Bull
runner up: Inov8

#2) Asics
Asics has its hands (feet) in a lot of different sports; Volleyball, Tennis and Cross Country to name a few. But surprisingly enough their Wrestling shoes are actually quite useful on the Ninja Warrior course. The rubber on the soles is one piece and smooth giving lot of traction.
The Onitsuka Tigers are also a great shoe by Asics and come in a wide variety of designs. They are slightly heavier than the wrestling shoe, but will give slightly more mobility in your ankle. Either one you pick will not leave you disappointed and Asics continually puts them on the market year after year.

Grip: 7/10 ( The grip will come and go as they get wet or dusty)
Soles: Flat Gum Rubber, Circular Pattern Rubber
Weight: 8.3 oz - 11 oz
Flexibility: 6/10 (It has a fair amount of padding on the inside and focuses more on stability).
Durability: 9/10 (After heavy use the rubber will begin to wane, but it actually holds up for a surprisingly long time. As the rubber breaks in, the grip gets better).
Price: $50-$90 (You will be able to find cheaper, just takes some inter-webs surfing)

Worn By Sam San and Jessie Graff
Runner Up: Strike Movement

#1) Know Obstacle (KO)

Know Obstacles has been specializing in shoes designed for Ninja Warrior and Parkour since 2011. They currently have 3 models to choose from: The Pres, The Drops, and Classic Gen 3. Each model has slightly different design features that tailor to any foot. Minimalist designs, wide or sleek toe boxes and flexible heel cups.

Grip: 10/10 (I personally have never slipped while wearing the Gen 3)
Soles: Flat Rubber, Foam
Weight: 6.7 oz - 9.7 oz (Lightest shoe you can find)
Flexibility: 9/10 (Wad them into a ball and put them in your pocket)
Durability: 4/10 (The best shoe you will ever destroy)
Price: $20-$55 (Also have a great membership program, loaded with discounts and specials)

Worn by: Joe Moravsky and Justin Sheaffer
Runner Up: Ollo

What are your favorite shoes to train in?
Let us know in the comments below!