Best Wrestling Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Anyone who knows about wrestling, no matter what style or culture, understands how important your footing is. Literally, all of your power is from your feet; if you don’t have solid contact with the ground, you simply won’t be able to use your strength properly. That’s one of the major reasons that having a quality wrestling shoe is so important. A good wrestling shoe provides traction and support, allowing you to throw your weight around to the best of your ability.
- Adidas Combat Speed 5
- Ankle Support
- ASICS Aggressor 3
- Adidas HVC 2
Wrestling shoes are generally tightly conformed to the feet, in order to provide as much natural connection with the ground as possible. In addition, wrestling shoes will usually have high arches, designed to let the athlete be on their best when standing on their toes. But wrestling shoes do have another purpose beyond giving you the best chance in competition; they also protect you. Proper padding and cushioning protect the soles of your feet, strong ankle support prevents you from getting a sprain at the worst time, and wrestling shoes also protect you from more pervasive issues like athletes foot. If you’re serious about wrestling, then you need to get the best wrestling shoes you can find. Here’s a rundown of the ten best wrestling shoes available.
10 Best Wrestling Shoes
1. Adidas Combat Speed 5
There’s a reason that speed is in the name of this wrestling shoe. The sole of the shoe offers the wearer lots of grip, letting them get moving quicker and turn sharper.
When wrestling, it’s all too easy to twist or sprain an ankle, especially when your footwork is particularly quick. The Combat Speed has great ankle support to prevent such injuries.
Cost and Value
The Combat Speed 5 provides an amazing return at a relatively modest price. Perfect for pros, but not too expensive for amateurs, the Combat Speed 5 is great value for anyone.
Grip augments speed and agility
Versatile, can be used for lifting or other martial arts
Supports fallen arches or flat feet
Can’t be worn outside the gym
Some people have issues with the Velcro
2. ASICS Aggressor 3
The most stand-out feature of the ASICS Aggressor 3 is just how much of a beating they can take. The Aggressor is such a durable model, it’s often one of the top choices for non-wrestlers, too, simply from how much use it can give.
Very tightly-fitted, the ASICS Aggressor 3 allows for some of the greatest range of mobility out of the available wrestling shoes. This is one of the primary reasons that they are favored by veterans of the sport, who can get more out of that flexibility.
Cost and Value
The Aggressor 3 is a somewhat more costly item, but with that cost, you are buying a great deal of value. The Aggressor 3 will not only perform consistently for you, it will do so long after other models, potentially saving money in the long term if you’re serious about the sport.
Highly flexible and a wide range of mobility
Stands up against a lot of wear and tear
Extremely comfortable for the right foot type
Can be worn outside
Balanced grip to mobility
Material doesn’t breathe very well
Can be too narrow for wider feet
3. Adidas HVC 2
The Adidas HVC 2 isn’t just a great introductory shoe for wrestling, but for just about any gym sport. From the universal design and inexpensive price tag, whether you’re getting into martial arts, weight-lifting, or any other gym sport, the HVC 2 is a great place to start.
Another factor connected to that versatility, the HVC 2 is a lightweight wrestling shoe, which can feel like you’re barely wearing anything and be extremely comfortable to move around in.
Cost and Value
Out of all the items on this list, you won’t find any that get you more bang for your buck than the HVC 2. The price is about as low as you can get before reaching sub-par shoes.
Affordable for the beginner
Straps are easy to use
Material breathes well, very comfortable
Completely flat sole, great for pivoting
Not made from the most substantial materials
Can’t be used on concrete
4. ASICS JB Elite III
Most wrestling shoes, or other sorts of athletic shoes, require a bit of a breaking in period before they can be used comfortably, but the ASICS JB Elite generally feels like it’s broken in already, so it’s comfortable from the outset.
What’s the point of winning if you don’t look good doing it? The JB Elite is a statement worn by any athlete, with a bright, reflective gold exterior.
Cost and Value
The ASICS JB Elite III is a reasonably expensive wrestling shoe, as most tend to be, but it’s not the most expensive on this list by a long shot.
Immediately comfortable to wear
Easy to put on and lace up
Thin tongue prevents cramps from developing
Uses a split sole
Has a breathable mesh
Can fall apart too quickly
Some find it a bit too flat
5. Otomix Stingray Escape
Wearing the Otomix Stingray Escape has been described as wearing athletic slippers. They support the foot very well, with a high ankle, but the whole feeling is not one of restriction.
Sizing Fits Well
Picking out the proper size with wrestling shoes can be difficult, but generally, with the Stingray Escape, if you simply get your regular shoe size, the Escape should fit you perfectly.
Cost and Value
Another middling-level product, the Otomix Stingray Escape is more expensive than entry-level workout shoes, but won’t run you into the triple digits like some of the higher quality shoes like ASICS will.
Extremely comfortable and natural fit
Supports the entire foot evenly
Thin sole provides strong grip
Lightweight and flexible
Not actually designed for wrestling
Cons can be found on amazon reviews
6. ASICS Dan Gable Evo
More than most shoes on this list the Dan Gable Evo looks like it might be an actual shoe, and it’s durable enough that you can wear it on or off of the mat.
With each iteration of the Dan Gable, the designers improve off of the most recent model, so the most recent version integrates a number of complex factors in a very streamlined manner.
Cost and Value
As with most ASICS, the Dan Gable Evo is not put together with the most inexpensive of materials, so the shoe will generally run you over a hundred dollars, on average, but there is real quality in the materials that you’re purchasing, not just inflated value.
Well balanced between grip and flexibility
Comfortable after a breaking-in period
Will stand the test of time
Often come smaller than expected
A bit pricier than equivalent options
7. ASICS Cael V7.0
With the Cael V7.0, you have more lacing options than with most other wrestling shoes. This allows you to customize your lacing, having it tighter or looser in different areas as you need.
Moisture Protection Liner
A special liner inside the Cael deals with moisture accumulation, keeping sweat from getting trapped inside your shoe and making you uncomfortable or less able to perform.
Cost and Value
The Cael is on the upper end of average when it comes to wrestling shoe pricing, but on the lower end when it comes to other ASICS options. All in all, you get a lot of value for the shoe, but it might not last the longest.
Customizable lacing options
Comfortable and breathable
Sturdy and well balanced to provide support
Less grip, more slippery, can be preferred by some wrestlers
Can be a bit narrow
Not the most durable shoe on the market
8. Adidas Mat Wizard 3
This is one shoe where those three stripes don’t simply serve an aesthetic purpose. On the Mat Wizard 3, those stripes actually add durability to the mesh at the middle of the shoe, making them stronger in the central support, promoting a better stance.
Flexible Base Layer
The base layer of the shoe, the central part upon which the rest of the shoe is based, is quite flexible in the Mat Wizard 3, allowing for a great deal of mobility and agility.
Cost and Value
Adidas seems to be the reigning king at providing a great product for a reasonable price. In fact, out of everything on this list, only the HVC 2 will beat the Mat Wizard 3 when it comes to price and relative value.
Promotes the proper stance
Comes with high quality laces
Lightweight and breathable
Durability issues, earlier models haven’t held up well
Not the most reliable sizing
9. Nike Inflict
The Nike Inflict comes complete with forefoot wraps designed to provide the highest amount of comfort possible, while still giving you the best possible performance and range of motion.
Grips the Mat Well
Most shoes on this list have to have some element of grip, or they wouldn’t work at all, but the Nike Inflict manages to have grip, flexibility, and comfort all in one, a rare combination.
Cost and Value
The Nike Inflict are some of the more expensive shoes that you’ll be able to find on this list, so they’re generally going to provide more value to the more experienced and serious wrestlers than those that are new to the sport.
Lightweight and easy to move
A simple and pleasing look
Relatively durable materials
Doesn’t build up moisture
Velcro strap can get annoying
Grip isn’t always reliable
10. Adidas Adizero
Breathable is one of the most common things that you’ll see on this list, because of how important ventilation is on the mat, but few of these shoes will be more breathable than the Adizero and its synthetic mesh.
Can Be Used in Different Martial Arts
Not only a favorite for use in the wrestling ring, the Adizero is also a very popular option among boxers, mixed martial artists, and any other form of physical combat for sport.
Cost and Value
Interestingly, the Adizero has the widest variety of prices available. You might be able to get a steal close to other Adidas shoe prices, but for the most part, expect to pay in the triple digits for the Adizero.
Synthetic mesh breathes very well
Top half is very lightweight
New outsole provides higher grip and speed
Sturdy and supportive
Can be used for wider feet
Dries out pretty quickly
Gets dirty easily
You’ll never be able to pay your way into success. When it comes to wrestling, as with any other athletic endeavors, or really anything in life, you need to be willing to put the work in yourself. There is no shoe that you can buy that will make you better than the other wrestlers if you haven’t put in the hours of work making yourself better in the first place. That said, when it comes to going up against peers in the sport, who have trained just as much as you, and who likely will have the best equipment for them, as well, the difference between a good wrestling shoe and a great one really can be the difference between a tight victory and a narrow defeat.
Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Wrestling Shoes
When looking for a great wrestling shoe, the most important aspects to help you decide are how comfortable they are, how well they grip, how lightweight they are, and, most importantly, how well they defend you from injury. In addition, certain things like quality of craftsmanship and durability will determine how much long-term use you can get out of your wrestling shoes. The best wrestling shoe will be one that you enjoy wearing, that keeps you safe, and that pushes you to be the best that you can be.
It’s quite possible that there’s no other quality quite as important for a good wrestling shoe as much as that shoe’s level of traction. You need shoes that can grip the mat as you move. Wrestling is a sport that is fundamentally one person trying to use their leverage better than another person. If your contact with the mat slips, even a tiny bit, that can be the difference between a successful hold and losing your grip on an opponent. The best shoes are the ones that give you the traction to brace yourself against the ground, allow you to move fast when you have the need, but also allow you to pivot as the fight might require. As such, there are a few different types of grip available, like split sole and single sole. To find out what type of grip works best for you, you’ll probably need to try out some of the available options.
The reason grip isn’t definitely the most important quality of a wrestling shoe is just that performance isn’t the end-all, be-all for everyone. Some truly dedicated wrestlers might be able to put up with a horribly uncomfortable shoe because it gives them a slight advantage in a specific way, but for most people, a shoe that is uncomfortable will be nothing but a distraction and will prove to be a liability in a fight. Even worse, it might make wrestling something you want to avoid instead of something that you have fun doing. Make sure that your shoes have all of the high-tech qualities that you want, but above all, don’t forget to make sure you can move around in them comfortably.
All athletics are activities that will bring out a sweat, but few more so than wrestling. It’s done inside, in close quarters, and has a lot of straining against another person’s muscles. In all of this, it’s easy for your feet to overheat and begin to swim in sweat before long. The best wrestling shoes take this into account, letting air circulate properly through the shoe, to avoid that buildup of sweat. That sweaty accumulation can be a huge annoyance, but it can also be a major disadvantage, as increased movement inside the shoe itself could lead to you losing your footing at a key point in the bout.
Many of the criteria pieces will have more to do with performance or comfort, but if you want your career as a wrestler to go on for a long time, you will look for safety considerations, as well. In particular, you’ll try to get a shoe that has proper ankle support. With all of the twists and turns and throws involved in wrestling, it’s easy to break a limb. You and your opponent are both using tremendous amounts of force to try to overcome each other; if, even for a moment, that force is applied the wrong way, the structural integrity of your limb won’t even be a factor. Few areas are more vulnerable or receive the brunt of more force than the ankles. Wrestling shoes are usually designed with that in mind, so when you’re buying a new wrestling shoe, make sure that it’s one that properly supports your ankle.
Often times, wrestling isn’t so much about strength or speed as much as it is endurance. You need to be able to outmaneuver your opponent, true, and you need the strength to hold them down or to resist their holds, but if there isn’t one clear advantage over the other, then it can come down to a war of attrition. Your aim, quite often, isn’t so much to beat your opponent as it is to outlast them, to hold off your own exhaustion a bit longer than theirs, so that your protesting muscles are able to overcome their even more protesting muscles. In the aim of producing the least strain on your endurance, many wrestling shoes are extremely lightweight. In such an endurance sport as wrestling, having a lightweight pair of shoes can make the difference in your longer matches.
The durability of a product should always be a consideration, whether you’re buying athletic wear, a new car, or a grill. No matter what a product is, you don’t ever want to spend a bunch of money on something that you won’t be able to use for very long. That same principle holds true when it comes to wrestling shoes, and goes double from the sheer abuse the average pair of wrestling shoes takes. Athletic activity, in general, will always put more wear and tear on an article of clothing than casual use would, and that is even truer when it comes to gear that’s used for physical combat. If you spend over a hundred dollars on a great new pair of wrestling shoes, and then, halfway into the season, you need to buy another pair because the first pair fell apart, then they weren’t that great a pair, to begin with. Some of the less expensive options will be less durable, and that’s okay, because those are usually going to be better for those who are just entering the sport anyway, and might not continue past the shelf life of the shoes.
It’s not a bad thing to judge a piece of gear on how it looks, as long as that’s not a prime determinate for you. Things like comfort and safety must always come first. However, if you’re deciding between a few different options that are roughly equivalent, feel free to decide on how much you like one or the other’s individual look. You will have to be wearing them regularly, after all, and you want to like how you look in them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why are wrestling shoes important?
A: Ultimately, wrestling shoes are designed to best replicate the experience of wrestling barefoot. If you wrestle barefoot, you are able to use your feet to the absolute best of their natural ability and have no considerations about the gear that you are using, or how it might interfere with your performance. Unfortunately, when it comes to competitive wrestling, going barefoot simply is not a viable option. The reasons for this are plentiful; for one, it’s a sanitary thing. Having a whole bunch of bare, sweaty feet moving around on a mat is just about guaranteed to spread things like athlete’s foot, and stepping on that mat with your own barefoot is a great way to contact them. There’s a lot of moving around in wrestling, obviously, so wearing wrestling shoes also prevents someone from getting a barefoot right in their face. In addition, there’s the safety consideration: feet can be some of our most fragile parts, and encasing them in a protective mesh frame is one of the best ways of making sure you don’t suffer a serious injury. Of course, those practical reasons aren’t the only one: wrestling shoes may have been initially designed to imitate bare feet, but at this point, the wrestling shoe has exceeded the barefoot. If you tried to wrestle barefoot, if it were it allowed at your gym, you’d be at a disadvantage against an opponent who has more grip, speed, and leverage, from the shoes that they’re wearing.
Q: How much should wrestling shoes cost?
A: Generally, wrestling shoes will cost about the same as running shoes or basketball shoes. That is to say, there’s a pretty wide range for acceptable costs, depending on the shoe quality, the company that you’re purchasing from, even the size of the shoe that you’re buying. At the lowest end, you can get decent quality wrestling shoes for around $40; any less than that, and you’ll probably get something so low quality that it isn’t worth getting, either because it won’t let you perform at your best, it will fall apart too quickly, or even that it doesn’t have the right support and could injure you. At the top end, as with most shoes, wrestling shoes can easily cost several hundred dollars; some of the “finest” around might even be in the low thousands. But generally, much more than a hundred dollars, and you’re not really paying for quality, you’re just buying a brand name. The highest quality shoes around will be in the area of $150; much past that, and you’re in the area of seriously diminishing returns.
Q: How tightly should wrestling shoes fit?
A: Ultimately, since you’re moving around a lot in them, the most important thing about the fit of your wrestling shoes is that they be comfortable. If you’re miserable wearing your shoes, then you aren’t going to enjoy wrestling, and you won’t get the best performance out of them, no matter what recommendations you try to follow. That said, there are a few guidelines for wearing wrestling shoes. Fundamentally, you want a snug fit; that means that there isn’t a lot of room to move inside of the shoe. The reason for this is sheer functionality; the closer your shoe is to your natural feet, the better you will be able to move around on the mat. Don’t take snug to mean tight, though: you want to feel the shoe all around your foot, but you don’t want restricted movement or lack of blood flow. A shoe that fits like a sock or a slipper will be best on the mat. There is one exception, however. If your child is the one you’re getting a shoe for, then you can get it with a bit of extra room, to allow the child to grow into them. Don’t allow too much extra room, though, because if a kid is moving around too much in their shoe, they could actually injure themselves due to the range of motion. Understand that wrestling shoes are generally made a bit small and a bit tight, so you may want to order a half size or a full size larger than your own feet in order to get the right fit.
Q: Why “wrestling shoes”? Why not boxing, or MMA?
A: You might have noticed that a few of the items on this list were described as being versatile, able to be applied to more than just wrestling. If that’s the case, then what exactly differentiates wrestling shoes from boxing shoes, and why might one or the other be preferable? Well, fundamentally, all of these martial arts shoes, in addition to other workout shoes like weightlifting shoes, share some fundamental qualities. They might be made out of the same mesh, with similar support, and similar designs; the differences between wrestling shoes and other shoes are in the fine details. When you’re wrestling, you’re often very low to the ground, and the ankles of wrestling shoes need to be a bit lower, allowing for more range of motion. When you’re boxing, however, or doing karate, you’re standing straight up, and are more likely to fall further when you go down, both of which require higher ankles to protect the fighter. Conversely, the ability to ground yourself for leverage is a key part of wrestling, where moving around and “dancing” is much more important to an upright fighter, so a pair of wrestling shoes will generally have much more grip. The differences are subtle, though, and you won’t be immediately outclassed if you bring a pair of boxing shoes to a wrestling match or vice versa.