One of the questions I receive most when new CrossFiters begin their journey is related to gear. What items do I need to buy, and at what point in my journey do I need it? Well you are in luck because when you look up the definition of the term “Gear Head” you just see a picture of me. One of my lifting buddies calls it my “CrossFit Tuxedo”. When it comes to a WOD, I definitely like to put on my Sunday best before I get after it.
My absolute favorite editions of skiing magazines is the yearly gear guides, so consider this your CrossFit Gear Guide for 2020.
So as you read you will see that I will list the gear in order from most important to least. I will give you and idea of when during your journey you may want to start using it and my personal recomendations for brand, type, etc…. So let’s dive right in.
Do you need it? Yes. When do you need it? Day 1
This is an easy one. We live in a day and age where there are tons of options for CrossFit specific shoes and you definitely want to purchase a pair early in your journey. Simply put – would you go bowling in running shoes or play baseball in basketball shoes? Sure you could but your performance would be hindered. Shoes designed for CrossFit have a few unique features.
- Flat stiff soles – a standard running shoe has a lot of cushions and the sole has a rounded shape. This is not ideal for CrossFit because the shape will throw you off balance and the cushioning saps power as the rubber compresses
- Durability – you are going to beat the living daylights out of your shoes as you run, lift, and climb ropes… so flimsy shoes just won’t cut it. Especially when it comes to rope climbs. Without some protection of the sole your shoes will last exactly 1 rope climb workout.
- Dual-density – since a CF shoe is really designed to handle anything its important that it is stable underfoot to handle heavy weights. The rear of the shoe must be stiff, but after you drop the barbell you may need to box jump, run, or jump rope and therefore the ball of the foot requires some cushioning and flexibility.
- What to buy – Reebok (Nano 9 Here) and Nike (Metcon 4) are the 2 biggest players with the nano and metcon. Personally I prefer the nano and love reeboks regular sales (I just picked up the latest model and color at a 50% discount), while Nike tends to be stingy with discounts, but regardless both are very good options. Smaller companies like No Bull have put their hat in the ring with some good options. In the end it comes down to what you like as all will be good options.
When building the Metcon 5, Nike looked at core functions of the shoe and looked to build upon them for specific uses. Firstly, the added more cushioning to the tongue for better support, added width to the heel for improved stability through compound movements like squats, and a Nike Hyperlift insert for 8mm lift for men and 6mm for women for further stabalisation. In addition to the Metcon 5 the new Nike Pro apparel collection elevated the base layers of prior releases into must-haves for fitness fans across the board. Newly developed pieces now feature Aeroadapt technology, designed to help keep athletes at their optimal temperature.
Jump Rope – Preferably a Speed Rope
Do you need it? Yes. When do you need it? Day 1?
Double unders (the rope turns 2x and you jump 1x) are a key component to CrossFit and can be painful (figuratively and literally) to learn. Owning your own jump rope will allow you to use the exact same size and weight rope each time you practice which will help accelerate the learning curve. The slightest change in length and weight can throw off timing. So while you can always grab a rope off of the wall and just go, you will hinder your ability to learn this challenging skill if you don’t have a personal rope. Again over the past 7 years since I began CF the options have skyrocketed. To help out here are my personal recommendations
- Rogue Fitness SR1 – this is a great beginner to intermediate rope that will work for advanced athletes too. I like it because it’s only $25 and you won’t feel terrible benching it for a pricier higher performance option in the future. It’s heavy enough that beginners can feel the rope yet light enough and fast enough that more advanced jumpers can string together 50-100 reps easily with minimal fatigue
- RX Smart Gear – If you want are a beginner and want to step up a little you can spend $50 for one of the heavier RX smart gear ropes. The website guides you as to which rope you want depending on your ability. Personally I find the handles large and think that if you are a beginner you will outgrow this rope quickly. On the other end of the spectrum for advanced jumpers, they offer the evo rope for a cool $125. It’s the fastest and most expensive rope on the market.
- RPM Training – This is my personal go to for intermediates and experts. At half the price of the evo it has worked for me for years. Add on the ability to change from a heavier more durable coated cable to a lighter bare steal cable (be wary this will sting and leave marks if you miss) and the steel knurled handles and for me, this is the one. On Amazon in Pewter, among other colors.
Gymnastics Grips for CrossFit
Do you need it? Most Likely. When do you need it? The day you hang from the pull up bar.
The reason I say you most likely need this is because still, to this day, some of the top athletes in the world. although fewer and fewer grab a pullup-bar barehanded. I will definitely not. When you start to perform kipping pullups, toes to bar, and muscle-*ups your hand rotates on the bar or rings. This creates friction between skin and steel and eventually will tear your hands. So if you don’t mind having bloody hands that sting every time you shower than sure, go barehanded. Also, as the quality of grips has gone up they now actually aid you in gripping the pullup bar. The reason I say buy them immediately when you start hanging is because you have to hold the bar differently with an without grips. So learning all of your skills without grips and then making the switch to grips is a painful process that has led to me watching countless grips ripped off and thrown across the gym in frustration to have the athlete finish a wod barehanded and end up bleeding which was what they wanted to prevent. What to buy is easy. Victory Grips are the gold standard. Personally, I love my tacticals but the X2 are a great option also and for me its 3 finger addition although fingerless is gaining popularity quickly.
Here are some from Bear Komplex
CrossFit Wrist Wraps
Do you need them? Maybe. When to purchase? When things get heavy.
Most of us have never held a barbell in the front rack and with all our phone and computer wrist have tight and weak forearms. So many people experience wrist discomfort early on. Personally I think this can be overcome this over time as the wrists will get used to what they are asked to do. If the pain doesn’t go away than a pair of Strength Wraps is what I would purchase.
You can check out a paid of 2POOD wrist wraps for $9.99 as an entry level option.
Weight Belt for Strength Training
Do you Need? If you plan to lift heavy, than maybe. When to buy? Wait 6 mos, or longer.
A belt is an amazing assistive device and will 100% help you move more weight. The myth here is that a belt protects your back. This is false. A belt helps you increase your ability to brace your abs. Therefore until you understand how to brace properly a belt actually hinders your progress. Also it’s good to keep in mind a belt is not functional. When I’m over at my buddy’s house and he needs me to move a couch, I don’t first go grab my belt. Therefore if I become reliant on my belt in the gym I very well may hurt myself outside of it. So if general health is the goal then you will never need a belt, but if the goal is to push your strength to the max then a belt is necessary. Again there are a ton of options on the market. The big difference is velcro vs leather. The advantages of velcro are price (you can get one for $20) and they are easy to take on and off. The downside is that the velcro will wear out and its not as supportive as leather. So if you are new to velcro belts, this is what I would start with: 2pood. If you are going for max weight then leather is your go-to. The bad news is that this is an over $100 purchase, The good news is that it will last forever as long as you don’t get to big or small for it. The gold standard for leather is the Rogue Fitness Ohio Belt. Finally, if you are like me you just have 2 belts and use the right tool for the job.
Olympic Lifting Shoes
Do you need them? No but you will love them. When to purchase? Good at any level, but get top3 items first.
Oly shoes or Olympic lifting shoes are designed specifically to provide a stiff platform and elevated heal to increase ankle mobility and help with squat depth. Originally used by Olympic lifters only (snatch, clean and jerk), powerlifters have adopted them to assist with squatting. If you have limited ankle mobility the heel height will do wonders for your squat and while I’m a huge advocate for mobility work some of us just need the help. Again these will 100% increase you ability to perform lifts in the gym but are unnecessary if general health is your goal. Again the big players in the shoe game have the best offerings. Reebok makes the Legacy Lifter, Nike makes the Romaleos, and Adidas offers the AdiPower 2. All are great options so pick your favorite brands.
These are the top 6 pieces of CrossFit Gear you will find in my gym bag. If you want to delve a little deeper into some of the honorable mentions, here is a shortlist.
- Thump Tape by Lift Genie
- Knee Sleeves by Rocktape
- A shin guard for rope climbs by Rocktape
- A mouth guard for heavy lifting by New Age Performance
- Cotton Wrist Bands
I can go on forever and with the holidays coming I’m sure I can come up with a few more things I “Need”. Happy fitnessing.