After what seems like an eternity, FringeSport’s long awaited weightlifting shoe is finally out. The “Liftopus”, named after it’s ability to stick lifts, is not my favorite, but I’m sure it’ll gravitate to some CrossFitter’s still wearing headbands and knee high socks. Despite the ridiculous name and marketing, Fringe’s first effort at a shoe is a pretty solid try.
The Liftopus’ are constructed from a polyurethane leather upper and TPU heel; because of this, expect a good amount of off-gassing to happen from the synthetic materials. It’s been a couple weeks since I got my shoes and they still reek like an over chlorinated Vegas pool.
Despite their budget price tag (and stinkiness), the Liftopus’ are fairly well built and don’t feel cheap. The PU leather feels soft and supple without much of a break-in period, it also shouldn’t stretch like real leather. Around the ankle collar you’ll find a mesh/knit fabric that’s well padded and in my use, has never gotten uncomfortable. The tongue is slim but not minimal like what you’d find on the Romaleos 3, I haven’t noticed it so that’s probably a good thing. There is only a single strap that runs across the front of your ankle, similar in placement to Adipowers.
The TPU heel wedge sports a very similar design to the also cheap Pendlay weightlifting shoes, though only has curious 1/2″ effective heel on the Liftopus. I could have sworn that in the Facebook group, they said they were going with the 3/4″ heel with possible future plans to expand into shorter and taller heel heights. The TPU from the wedge extends up a short amount to cup you heel in place, but also actually feels like the heel is flexible.
Underneath the shoe you’ll find a full rubber outsole with honeycomb-like design similar to what was found under the Romaleos 3. I’m not sure if that design is just for looks or it’s actually functional, but in my experience with the shoes, I’ll go with the latter. Or maybe it’s just the rubber compound they’re using. Either way, it works!
Design-wise, the shoe plays it ultra safe with a near all black colorway with just a bit of neon green to mix it up. The speckled laces are cool but the shoe also comes with a pair of neon green laces if you wanted to add a little bit of spice to your shoes. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the way the shoe looks: it’s plain – the lines are generally unoffensive and the colorway doesn’t do anything to elevate it’s looks. I do wish they went for one of the crazier designs originally seen on the Facebook group, or even just went with a color scheme to give the shoe more contrast.
Weighing the shoes came out to 17.6oz for a mens size 10. Not light but right around the average of most weightlifting shoes.
Unlike most weightlifting shoes, the Liftopus’ fit true to size like a normal training shoe would. Typically with my lifters, I’d have to size down to get them to fit well, but the Fringe lifters fit almost perfectly in my training shoe size.
There was a lot of talk about the shoes being on the wide side in the FB group and I can confirm that they’re not narrow, but they’re not obnoxiously wide either. I’d say they strike a nice middle ground with my fairly average width feet. There’s good width at the metatarsal joints, the toebox comes to a point and the midfoot is neutral with no arch.
My sizes for reference:
- Nano 9 – 10
- Metcon 5 – 10.5
- Legacy Lifter – 9.5
- Romaleos 3XD – 10 (3 – 9.5)
- Adipower 2 – 10 (1- 9.5)
- Romaleos 2 – 9.5
Unsurprisingly, the Fringe lifters are fairly flexible. Why am I not surprised? It seems like this shoe is mainly marketed towards Crossfitter’s and not so serious weightlifters. I’m not going to hate on that because I’m a Crossfitter and a not so serious weightlifter. Seems like they’re going the route of the Adipower 2.
The whole chassis of the shoe feels more flexible, like a training shoe. Similar to the feeling you’d get wearing the Adipower 2’s, but with a little more thickness to the upper. Still, the synthetic leather bends and moves with your feet very well and there are no hot-spots inside the shoe to aggravate your feet. It’s one of the better synthetic uppers I’ve come across in terms of comfort.
Interestingly enough, the heel does feel like it flexes a little bit if you were to try to stomp down at weird angles. Not something you’d find from a wooden, leather, or higher quality TPU heel – but I have noticed this on other cheap weightlifting shoes (Pendlay Do-Win). The likelihood of this affecting your lifts is low because if you’re landing at one of those weird angles, you’d probably miss anyways.
These shoes are comfortable to wear throughout your training sessions if that matters to you. Because they’re so pretty flexible and fairly lightweight, I wouldn’t mind using them for a WOD if I saw the need to. They should do well for something like the workout 16.2/19.2, the triplet of double unders, toes to bar and ascending weight cleans.
While not something I’d pick over my Legacy’s or Romaleos if I was trying to go for a 1RM lift, I think the stability should satisfy most peoples needs – especially considering that this is an entry level weightlifting shoe.
I’ve found the TPU heel to be generally responsive though there is that weird flex that it has if you were to try to bend it. Power delivery has been good, I haven’t noticed the heel or forefoot compressing at all. The insoles are thin and don’t get in the way of lifts either. There hasn’t been a single movement that I’ve shied away from while using the Liftopus’. Grip from the rubber outsole has been great not matter what surface I’ve put the shoes on and is probably the Liftopus’ strongest suit.
Up until writing this review, I thought the Fringe lifters had a .75″ heel height (chances are you wouldn’t notice either), which is generally the sweet spot when it comes to effective heel lifts. Knowing that is only half and inch makes me realize why I felt so much more comfortable lifting in these shoes than other weightlifting shoes. I typically prefer lifting in flatter shoes because they’re more neutral, so lifting in the Liftopus has been generally pretty positive. Powerlifters are likely to gravitate to this shoe when they find out it’s a half inch effective heel because that favors the low-bar squat.
That being said, I think that the lower heel is going to be off putting to most weightlifters as .75′ is the norm, with some actually also wanting that 1″ heel. To be honest, it really just depends on the lifter, the higher or lower heel isn’t going to make you stronger but it could help your technique depending on what your body proportions and mobility are like. Don’t be fooled into thinking that having a higher heel height automatically will make your lifts go up.
From a CrossFit perspective, the Liftopus are perfect. They’re flexible enough to use during WOD’s, if that’s your thing (it’s not mine) and they’ll give you that added boost to mobility you might need whether you’re a beginner or elite trying to squeeze out as much from a WOD as you can. I wouldn’t be using these for Nancy, but they’re entirely comfortable enough to wear for a workout like Fran or Elizabeth.
Coming in at a mere $130, the FringeSport Liftopus are a great entry level weightlifting, powerlifting or CrossFit shoe. I think when the powerlifting community catches wind that there’s a low heel height, TPU heel lifter, they’ll be all over the Liftopus for utilitarian reasons; considering the lack of lower solid heel shoes. The marketing and name screams CrossFit, so I feel like there’s a good market there for this shoe.
The only people I think won’t necessarily care for the Liftopus are actual Weightlifters. In my experience they’re not typically jazzed by playful marketing or enticed by a not so serious name. The real nail in the coffin is going to be that .5″ heel height because typically most weightlifters are looking for at least .75″ with a good amount now gravitating towards 1″ heels.
Personally, I think the shoe is great. Like I said, I’m not wild about the name or the way it looks, but for me I think it’s a great performing weightlifting shoe. It’s comfortable, neutral and stable enough for what I’m doing. I’ll likely never wear them during a WOD, but it’s nice to know that I have something that won’t bother my feet too much while helping me out a bit in mobility and stability. They wouldn’t be my first choice to go for a 1RM in, but if I had to, I definitely wouldn’t mind wearing them and I wouldn’t blame the lack of a PR on them.
They’re not for everyone, but I think the FringeSport Liftopus will do well especially considering their price point, though if they were around $100 or even $120, I think they would kill it. The heel height makes them a little niche, but I think that will work out for them at the end of the day. If you’re looking for a lower heeled weightlifting shoe, this is probably going to be the one for you.
- Build quality is nice despite the budget price.
- The fit comfortably.
- Grip is excellent.
- Depending on who you are, you might not be down with the heel height.
- The TPU heel has a little flexibility to it.
- I think they could be a little bit cheaper to attract a broader audience.
- They smell awful.
- The “Lift heavy shit, with dope people” mantra is cool, but wears off the insoles after a wear and the letters bunch up and are annoying to step on.
- Boring looking.