Nike v. Reebok: Which CrossFit Shoes Team Are You On?

Last week, it came out that Nike products were banned from the CrossFit Games, which are sponsored by rival sports apparel company Reebok. There’s been a lot of back and forth on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – everywhere, really, about whether or not Nike should have been banned, who has the better CrossFit shoes, who was there first. Nike released an ad; Reebok countered with an invitation to on-ramp at CrossFit One in Canton, Mass. And “shots fired,” as commenters stated.

Keep in mind that Reebok was with Greg Glassman and CrossFit first. Reebok is sponsoring the CrossFit Games. Reebok pioneered CrossFit shoes. Of course the company doesn’t want competitor products being represented there! They were partnering with CrossFit back in 2010, before Nike even knew what CrossFit was or even cared. They didn’t see it as a money-maker. Reebok did, and now they’re known for their CrossFit shoes and apparel.

That said, it’s not just Nike that’s been banned – it’s all competitor products. I’m waiting for the New Balance, Inov-8, and other shoe loyalists to make just as much of a ruckus as Nike fans. I get it, there aren’t that many. Nike is a HUGE brand with millions of customers. Niche brands may not have that same following.

But from my own experience as a runner and gym rat, Nike products aren’t superior. Yes, there’s the status, but if you peeled off the swoosh, their running shoes aren’t nearly as supportive as Asics (my current shoe for distance) or as light as my New Balance shoes I wear for shorter, faster runs. I used to run in Nikes. I’ll admit it. But now that I’ve discovered better options, I’ll go with those. I wear Reebok Nanos or New Balance WX20 shoes for lifting and my current box-shopping. With so many other options to choose from, I don’t choose Nike anymore. There are better options for CrossFit shoes than Metcons.

The people moaning about how Nike is better than an on-ramp course at a box, well, you’re not going to like me much. I’m going to equate my Nikes with on-ramp shoes. My Nike running shoes got me started on the road. My Nike training shoes got me started in the gym. But if Nike MetCon 1s are anything like their running or training shoes, they’re great for people just getting started, and if you’re a Nike loyalist, go grab them. I haven’t tried them, so I can’t speak for them at all.

But if you’re not a huge Nike fan, or if you’re more experienced and ready to try something that a lot of athletes wear by choice, the CrossFit Nanos are amazing. I did my first-ever CrossFit workout in Nano 4.0s (kindly provided by Reebok, although I had already purchased a pair for strength and conditioning classes). So far, I’ve found them to be a pretty great shoe.

A WO(rl)D of options abound for CrossFit shoes.

And there are other options. Just Google “best shoes for CrossFit” and you’ll find shoes from all sorts of companies: the aforementioned New Balance, Merrell, Inov-8, and others. Asics makes a decent training shoe, the GEL-Harmony. There are others that, as a CrossFit newbie, I haven’t heard of or seen – feel free to leave them in the comments.

Which team am I on? None of them. I side only a little with the CrossFit Games on banning Reebok. It’s their prerogative, since Reebok is the official sponsor, and Reebok is their official partner. That’s just business in action. I don’t wear Nikes, but if you do, and you’re happy with them, go for it. Rep whatever you want in your box: Nikes, Reeboks, New Balances, Inov-8s, Merrells – it’s your choice. But when you’re competing in something sponsored by a corporation, yeah, you’re going to have to follow their rules, even if their rules seem like a direct hit to the competition.

Is it fair? No. (As I say to my kids, “Life isn’t fair.”) I do hope that next year, Reebok loosens its hold on CrossFit shoes and apparel that can be worn in the CrossFit Games. I get that Nike’s probably not going to be welcomed with completely open arms; they’re a giant rival. It’s probably going to be like when the New York Yankees take the field at Fenway Park: there’s some polite applause, but for the most part, Boston Red Sox fans are booing at their rivals. Reebok has definitely gained a following in the CrossFit community; they’re the first brand that took CrossFit seriously, and that means something.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments!