The Reebok Crossfit U-Form Nano shoes are a minimalist style, zero-drop shoe, designed specifically to meet the needs of Crossfit athletes. Frankly that is a hard task to take on given the very nature of Crossfit and its notorious variation of exercises. Nonetheless, Reebok has spent some 10 months testing and refining the U-Form Nanos to be THE shoe of choice for Crossfit. After testing, here’s our own humble review.
DESIGN AND STYLING:
We’ll first discuss the styling of this shoe, as it is appears to be a hotly debated topic. Minimalist shoes, in general, are not the most attractively designed due to their primary focus on functionality, not fashion. With that in mind, I feel Reebok did a decent job of making the Crossfit Nano appealing while still incorporating all their intended design features into the shoe.
Some have disagreed and stated they look too much like “clown shoes” – to these people I would say if you care that much about what your shoes look like while you are working out, maybe you should go do some Zumba instead…
As mentioned, this is a zero-drop style shoe so your foot remains flat from heel to toes. The sole is fairly hard and stiff with a grip that has been designed for your typical Crossfit affair – box jumps, rope climbing, etc. The grip isn’t great on wet surfaces; and I don’t recommend these for trail running either due to the grip pattern and stiff sole. However, these weren’t designed for that type of use in the first place.
Two of the coolest things to note about the Nano U-Form sole are the rope gripping design on the interior arch of the shoes and the soft “landing pad” section located on the ball of the foot. (See the video review for exactly what I’m talking about). Both of these designs were incorporated for the specific needs of Crossfit.
The shoe features lots of mesh making breath-ability a non-issue. The tongue isn’t thick or annoying and the height of the shoe opening fits right below the ankle, allowing for plenty of ankle mobility. We did find the shoestrings to be a little too short though. While watching the 2011 Crossfit games, I noticed several of the athletes wearing the Reeboks needing to stop and tie their shoes. This is not only a safety issue, but in a time-sensitive sport like Crossfit, I feel it is a major oversight by Reebok.
One of the many deviations from typical trainers that Reebok has used can be found at the toe cap of this shoe. Instead of using extra foxing (the rubber part that connects the sole of the shoe to the top of the toe), Reebok has opted to harden the toecap with a flexible, yet rugged material that feels somewhat like liquid cement. They refer to this as the “DuraGrip Toe Cap” and it gives the toe of the shoe extended durability for push-ups, burpees, and even climbing rope (or ya know, missing that 55″ box jump…)
Our one criticism on the design of the shoe is this – it seems in an effort to make the sole as stable as possible, they may have made the bottom too stiff. The flex-point of the shoe appears to be right behind the ball of the foot, not the best place in my opinion, while the middle arch area feels very stiff like a plank. In short, I wouldn’t try and use these for long distance runs.
The toe box is extra wide, which is a blessing to those of us that have been cramming our feet into what seem like extra narrow Inov-8s for the last few years. Those of you with dainty feet and un-flared toes will also be accommodated by this toe box, which was designed to mimic a barefoot feel “inside” the shoe.
This attempt at a “natural” feel may make the shoe seem to fit too big if you are not accustomed to similar style shoes. My suggestion is to wear them around your house, as to not dirty the shoe, and make sure you aren’t experiencing any irritation or pain while wearing them. If not, and your toes reach the end, then they fit as intended.
We found that these shoes do not run true to size. Instead they seem to run a half size to a full size big, depending on the person. Again, the width of the shoe can make them feel too large as well, so here’s a sanity check – Your longest toe should reach the end of the shoe for a proper fit.
The U-Form technology is what really puts the finishing touches on the fit and feel of the Reebok Nano. While not a novel idea, a moldable insole allows you to custom shape the shoe to your foot. In a minimalist shoe this almost seems unnecessary, but after molding the shoes we felt a noticeable improvement in the fit of the shoe. It wasn’t so much support but more of a “glove” like fit around the heel and toes.
Bear in mind there are TWO types of U-Form technology, one you need to bake in the oven and one that only requires a blow dryer. The Reebok Crossfit Trainer shoe requires only a hair blow dryer to mold the insole – do not bake, microwave or use a cutting torch to mold these shoes!
How Does Reebok U-Form Work? In short, you will hold a hairdryer inside the shoe for 4 minutes or until the U-Form logo turns red. Then you put the shoes on, lace them up and sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor for 8 minutes. After that, you’re good to go and the shoes can be remolded as many times as you’d like. For more detailed instructions see Reebok’s page at shopcrossfitreebok.com/u-form
WHERE TO BUY:
It looks like Reebok’s Crossfit HQ Store is going to be only place to get these for now, with a release date of early 2012 for the next shipment to be in. We’re not certain, but it doesn’t look like the yellow model will be available to the public. The shoes are now available, in ALL colors, through Reebok.com. Given the sizing issues, I certainly hope Reebok posts a reliable sizing chart on their website; otherwise I can see a lot of people returning these due to purchasing an incorrect size.
DETAILED VIDEO REVIEW:
ADDITIONAL SHOE FEATURES: