2012 Risto Trainer

Reviewed on November 8th 2011
Updated on March 21st 2014


This is a great shoe if you intend on doing any outdoor training as the grip is much more aggressive than other trainers and the sole, while still remaining relatively flat, provides perfect cushion for traversing even the roughest terrains.

This Model Has Been Discontinued by Risto.

With so many shoes on the market now claiming to be “great for CrossFit” one really needs to examine the entire design and function of a shoe to determine if the claim holds true. CrossFit is not only physically demanding of your body, it is also pretty fierce on your shoes. I’ve seen many pairs of shoes shredded, split and destroyed by a few months of CrossFit training. So yes, shoes do need to incorporate certain design features to be truly useful to a rigorous training routine.


The first thing I thought to myself when I pulled the trainers out of the box was “Ok, these look a little different than what is currently on the market”. The shoes have a natural upward curve in the front which is more apparent when you aren’t wearing them. I found this to actually be useful when perform toe on ground moves such as burpees, but they also help get your toes up when doing box jumps.

I do wish the foxing at the toe cap (the part where the sole attaches to the front of the shoe) went a little higher up the toe. I still found the toe of the shoe getting scuffed by the floor, but not nearly as noticeable as some other trainers.

The sole of the shoe is not quite low enough to be considered “minimalist” but certainly isn’t high enough to be considered a traditional running shoe. It falls somewhere in-between with a heel drop of about .4″ and an effective heel lift of around .5″ total.

The shoe features the same upper design and styling as the White Thunder weightlifting shoe. The opening of the Trainer seems to fall lower below the ankle than the Series 2 models though. I’m unsure whether this was an intentional design feature or a product of using the same upper on a different sole. Either way, it didn’t affect performance. Also, the tongue is design differently with much more padding.

Just like the Series 2 shoes, the Risto Trainer Shoe features a mesh breathing system embedded in a full grain leather upper. The quality of the leather Risto is using is still top-notch but as I’m about to discuss, the visual aspects of their construction appears to have improved.

Risto has cleaned up their manufacturing process and these shoes no longer show signs of being handmade as previous models did. For those of us that didn’t mind the sometimes tattered edges, fingerprints, smudges and off-centered stitching, this doesn’t change much – but for those of you that are a bit more finicky, I’m sure this will be a welcomed change.


The Risto Trainers are priced at $75.00 and come with a carrying bag, making them one of the least expensive model of trainers on the market. But the most impressive aspect of these shoes is that they function exceptionally well both indoor and outdoor, and they perform great in all weather conditions. This is something that most other model of trainers, especially those labeled as “for CrossFitters” seem to have overlooked. If you’re looking at training outdoor on pavement, grass or rocky trails, rain or shine, these shoes will perform.

This “dual-use” functionality can be directly attributed to the innovative sole design adorned by these shoes. The rubber “knobbies” that cover the sole of the shoe are soft enough to compress on hard surfaces yet strong enough to provide grip and traction when you need it.


I was very skeptical about how this shoe was going to fit. Perhaps it was the low-profile look paired with the cleat-like sole that threw me. Regardless, I was very surprised at how comfortable these shoes were. When I took them outside and performed a few sprints and obstacle drills, I couldn’t help but think how much they reminded me of a really good pair of soccer cleats I once owned.

For starters, the toe-box is a generous width so I didn’t have issues with my wider than average foot. I also found that, while the middle-sole of the shoe is very narrow, it actually creates a very nice arch support that should accommodate both high and low arches.

As we reported earlier this month, Risto finally converted all their shoes to US sizing. Unfortunately the pair I was sent was a prototype model that was still sized in the old Columbian sizing system; so I cannot confirm whether these are true-to-size or not. Ristos site doesn’t specify that these run large or small so I would assume that means they are true to size.

My only complaint with the fit of these shoes, and this issue may alleviate itself as they have more time to break-in, is I found them pinch the front of my foot slightly when the shoe bends at the toe-box. More specifically, as I rise up on my toes the shoe will pinch the outer-side of my pinky toe right before the first knuckle.

This could just be a anthropomorphic issue with my foot, or the shoes may just need additional eyelets further down the shoe to prevent this. If you own these please let us know if you have experienced the same issue and whether or not it went away over time.


These can only be purchased at RistoSports.com. Be sure to tell them you read a review of them on WLShoes.com!


  • Low Cost
  • Comfortable
  • Full grain leather construction
  • Suitable for all terrain and weather


  • Pinch at toe break
  • Foxing at toe cap could be higher


  1. Israel Arandia
    15 April 12, 9:05am

    Got the trainers..Great shoes for running on icy conditions, actually run on those in Nebraska last winter, the grip of the sole is fantastic. Couldn't have asked for a better shoe for my daily crossFit WOD, including O Lifting….worth every penny of it…

  2. Joel
    22 May 12, 9:20am

    Looking at these for my new pair of all around CF shoes…How do these perform for Oly lifts? I have other minimalist shoes but for 75 dollars these seem worth it…


    • 22 May 12, 1:43pm

      They are ok for the oly lifts so long as your aren’t getting heavy with it. The sole of the shoe compresses so it wouldn’t be suitable for heavy lifts, plus the design of the grips on the bottom add to the compression. Of course, if you were doing heavy olympic style lifts then you should be wearing a proper pair of oly shoes anyway!

  3. Joel
    24 May 12, 10:51am

    Excellent! Thanks for your reply and info. I love my Nike Free Runs and my Reebok RealFlex’s but even at WOD weights they seem too compress quite a bit too much, and stability seems off. I certainly don’t plan on going too heavy with these shoes but am looking for something with the same versatility as other “minimalist” shoes, just with slightly less compression and lower heel height, hopefully these Ristos will do it. Real Oly shoes will be next…


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