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Under Armour Project Rock Delta Highlight Shoe Review (Longest title ever, if ya smell what The Rock is cookin’.)

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For this review, we’re going to have to step outside the box. Think back to a time before you did functional fitness, back to the days of globo-gym and bro-science; if that’s what you still do, it should be easy. Before I knew anything about minimalist shoes, zero drops, or weightlifting shoes – I, like most people, just wore running shoes to the gym. Granted, leg day wasn’t a big part of my routine and my footwear was more for style than anything else. The crazy thing is that even though the world is a lot more informed now, people still weight train in running shoes. (See: Instagram). Some people just don’t know, or they just don’t care, savages. Either way, people out there still do it and as inefficient as it is, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

When the Rock announced his shoe from Under Armour, I thought to myself, “Finally, a serious training shoe from Under Armour!” thinking the Rock’s input would lead to something a little bit more competition based than what UA had previously offered. Rather than being a completely new shoe built from the ground up, I was extremely disappointed to find out that THE ROCK’s signature shoe was nothing more than a special edition model of a RUNNING shoe that they had already released, the Delta Highlight. Still, it’s the Rock, one of my childhood heroes – how could I not buy his signature shoe?!

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If it’s good enough for The Rock, it should be good enough for me…right?

Disregarding the fact that The Rock training in the Rock Delta’s in his Instagram is probably just marketing, he is indeed doing some work in them. Granted hes not really doing any compound movements, he is working out in them at least, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s doing all his training in them. Keep in mind that these shoes are NOT functional fitness shoes and they’re not marketed towards functional fitnessers. As far as I know, the Rock has never done functional fitness and never will do functional fitness. Now that’s out of the way…

Looks/Construction:

The Delta Highlight as it’s own shoe is actually a pretty good looking piece of footwear, assuming you don’t mind high-tops. It’s upper is a knit like material that’s unlike other knit’s because it lacks any kind of real elasticity.  What I’m thinking is exclusive to the Rock Delta’s is a reflective underlay throughout the whole knit area of the shoe, that not only is functional, but also gives the Rock Delta’s an ultra premium look. Other cues that make the Rock Deltas stand out from the normal ones are the exclusive yellow/black colorway, two of laces (grey or yellow piping), and The Rock’s signature Brahma bull at the rear of the shoe. Some people have clowned these shoes for looking like hiking boots, but I think they look mean AF.

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All the Under Armour shoes I’ve come across have never had any issues with build quality. In fact, they’re some of the best built shoes as far as materials I’ve come across and the Rock Delta’s are no exception. There’s no loose glue or stitching anywhere to be found on the shoes and though they’re not terribly expensive, they feel like a shoe that costs more than what they’re asking. Keep in mind that these shoes were not designed to handle the rigors of functional fitness. The upper is lightweight and flexible, but also very thin and the midsole/outsole combination would probably get eaten up in a single rope climb.

The Rock Deltas have a two pieced Charged Cushioning system that consists of a softer piece of foam on top of a more dense compressed EVA foam for comfort, but not too much that it would totally compromise stability. The outsole is pretty solid and has surprisingly good grip, with flex grooves at the forefoot of the shoe and rubber pods at the forefoot and heel. The heel to toe drop is a whopping 10mm, which is a dead giveaway that these shoes are indeed a running shoe. Despite the bulky looks, each shoe only weighs in at 10.8oz.

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Fit:

Sizing is pretty consistent to other Under Armour shoes and for the most part is true to size. Unlike most UA shoes, the Rock Delta’s don’t feel the slightest bit narrow and should be comfortable for most foot shapes. The forgiving knit upper probably has a lot to do with the way the shoes fit and I think these are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn! My sizes for reference:

  • Under Armour Rock Delta, Charged Legend, Charged Ultimate – 9.5
  • Reebok Nano – 10
  • Nike Metcon – 9.5
  • Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 9.5/10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Red Wing/Wolverine Boots – 8.5

Performance:

This is where things start to get weird.

Fully knowing that these are running shoes, I still decided to do some real weightlifting in them. Those that are used to minimalist platforms will immediately be turned off by the ultra plush (relatively speaking) ride; I was too. Still, I decided to hit some olympic lifts with the intention of removing the shoes before the warm-up was over…but I didn’t. I kept the Rock Delta’s on throughout my whole snatch, clean & jerk, and front squat session. While they definitely weren’t the best shoes to lift in, I could lift in them and not resort to blaming any fails on my shoes. The two piece Charged Cushioning system makes things a little wobbly, but does have pretty good energy return for dynamic movements. Landings in the snatch and clean & jerk were a little sketchy, but I was still able to balance okay. Squatting in the shoes was surprisingly okay as well, with very good lateral stability due to the molded heel cup. You can feel the cushioning pushing back and it takes a little bit to get your feet set, but once you do, you can put up some decent squats…though I would definitely not try to PR anything in the Rock Deltas.

Trust me, I’ve seen people squat in worse shoes.

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Where the Rock Delta’s shine the most is an area that functional fitness shoes are notoriously bad at: running, duh. The upper moves really well with the foot and the two part midsole cushioning provides a soft and stable ride that’s not only good for running, but plyometrics as well because of how well the Charged cushioning returns energy. I have to say that out of all the actual running shoes that I’ve tried out in recent years, the Rock Deltas might be my favorite because they provide great cushioning without totally diminishing ground feel. I typically have issues with plantar fascitis after a lot of running, but the Rock Delta’s kept my feet comfortable with a WOD that included a 3 mile run, box jumps, and deadlifts. When it comes to a lighter weight metcon, possibly one that is solely plyometrics and running, I couldn’t think of a better shoe to work out in.

Another thing that I was worried about was the high-top cut, but the collar is very flexible and doesn’t cause any kind of chaffing against the ankle, even without long socks. That being said, I think a low-top version of the Rock Delta’s is in order.

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Value/Conclusion:

The Rock Delta’s are currently sold out, but normally retail at $140. If you don’t care for The Rock’s branding, then you can opt for the Delta Highlight’s which you can actually get on clearance right now for $90, but normally retail for $120. So should you pay the extra $20-50 for The Rock’s signature shoe? That just really depends on who you are and if you’re a fan. To me, it’s worth it, The Rock was (is) a hero of mine growing up and is much more respectable compared to some of the other worthless celebrities, people support out there.

While The Rock Delta’s might not be the best functional fitness shoes, that doesn’t keep them from being damned good running shoes that you can use for general training as well, considering you’re not going heavy with the squats. I am definitely disappointed that these aren’t a true training shoe, but I’d happily support Dwayne Johnson and rocking his shoes are one of the better ways to do so. If you’re someone looking for an Under Armour alternative functional fitness shoe, you’re still better off looking at the Charged Legend or Ultimate, though they don’t carry the same swagger the Rock Delta’s do. If you’ve got access to a serious pair of lifting shoes, you’re a globo-gym bro that doesn’t care much about leg day, someone in need of some slick running shoes, or you’re just a fan – the Rock Deltas should be a sound choice.

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Under Armour Charged Legend TR Review

Under Armour gets SO many things right in the Charged Legend TR’s, but sadly they miss the most important thing…an incompressible midsole. UA opted to go the same route as Nike with a drop-in midsole, which would be great if they made replacements that were stiffer, but the one that comes in the shoe is just too soft for any serious lifting. Also the arch support is very high causing my feet to get destroyed in any workout with a lot of bounding. Otherwise, the shoe has a flat, grippy outsole, great fit, understated looks, and the upper feels rugged enough. If they could fix that single issue with the midsole, the Charged Legends would be legendary!

 

Nike Metcon 3 Review

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***Click here for the Nike Metcon 3 DSX Flyknit Review***

It seems like just yesterday I received a beautiful package from Nike containing the now antique, the Metcon 1. Since it’s original release, the Metcon has been the biggest thing that’s hit functional fitness since Brooke Wells. For good reason, it is Nike after all.  People were over using their Free’s and begging for Nike to put out a true shoe designed ground up for functional fitness. It wasn’t even that Reebok put out a bad shoe, the Nano’s are quite possibly one of the best designed shoe lines in the history of footwear. To be honest, the only issue that anyone really had with them is that they just weren’t Nike’s.

The original Metcon’s were a great first effort offering amazing stability and response, but they weren’t without their issues. Many suffered from durability issues, heel slippage, and squeaky insoles. All of that wasn’t enough to dissuade anyone, especially me, from stocking up on many of the awesome colorways. Then along came the Metcon 2’s – more like a 1.2 model, meant to address many of the issues that the original shoe had, but in reality, it had failed in doing so. I say failure in the most liberal way because the Metcon 2’s shot Nike from not even being a player in the functional fitness world, to numero uno. In all actuality, the Metcon 2 was a failure because it really didn’t fix the issues that plagued the Metcon 1. Heel slip though lessened, was still there. The overall durability was no better than the last, and that damned squeaky insole was only put off for a little while. Still, they were awesome performing shoes that had the look, and most of all, had the swoosh.

Two years later and were now coming upon the release of the much anticipated Metcon 3. When it was originally leaked, many people weren’t keen to the futuristic look Nike decided to take with the latest model, but it didn’t take long for them to warm up to it. Besides the Romaleos 3, these shoes have definitely been my most requested review of the year, as the previous versions were before it. So what exactly have we been holding our breath for? Was it worth the wait? Is it worth upgrading over the previous models?

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Looks/Construction:

If you were to take a quick glance at someones feet wearing the Metcon 3’s, you probably wouldn’t notice they were a different shoe than the two before it. Granted, the 3’s look the most different than the previous models, they still definitely have the Metcon appearance. Though the upper looks a little different, the lines of the shoe generally remain in the same spots but synergize a bit better due to the redesigned material. While it may look like the 3’s have a knit type material for the upper, the feel is very reminiscent of the thermal wrap found on the 2’s, just to a lesser degree. What it makes for, is a much more sock like feel and pliable upper. The ballistic nylon that was once only found in the toebox is seemingly fused with the thermal wrap and extends all the way from the font to the back of the shoe, slightly reinforced in areas like at the toe and where the rope would make contact. Flywire lacing system makes it’s return and as always provides a nice fit when tightened adequately.

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Durability issues of the Metcon 2’s were mainly due to the upper being so rigid. Most of the time you would see the instep part of the upper starting to crack after multiple rope climbs, or even the thermal wrap coming unglued from the mesh. Since the 3’s have the mesh and thermal wrap fused together, it’s a lot lighter and flexible feeling. This should alleviate issues with the cracking, but only time will tell.  The insole also resembles the original model’s insoles, but now features redesigned flex groove and is ever so slightly thinner. About that squeaky heel, as we know from experience, the 1’s squeaked right away, while the 2’s had to develop it. The bottom of the insole is now a little more tacky feeling, but I have a feeling that over time as moisture builds up in your shoe, it will wear the bottom of the insole out. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t squeak, that’s another thing I’ll have to report back with in a few.

Gone is the hexagonal tread pattern of the outsole and in place is a triangular webbed pattern that is much more pronounced. The material that the outsole was made of remains the same despite the change in tread pattern, but now offers more flexibility. Overall the shape is more narrow than the previous models, most notably in the midfoot, but not so much that I would say the shoe is narrow; it’s still very much a wide training shoe.  The height of the midsole stack also seems to be a little bit shorter, giving you a closer to the ground feel. At the rear of the shoe you’ll find the return of a more well disguised TPU heel clip that’s now matte in texture. New to the 3’s are the TPU heel “cups” found externally on the sides of the rear that help stabilize your foot laterally.

Build quality is mainly what you’d expect from a Nike shoe. The Metcon 3’s are very well put together and feel suited to take on just about anything you can throw at it. Interestingly enough, my blackout models have quite a bit of oversprayed glue, which isn’t a huge deal, but does detract from the sleekness of the shoe a tad. I’m sure this has to do with the previous model’s laces not staying tied, but the laces that come with the Metcon 3 are just plain cheap feeling. I’d gladly take the ones of old and just tighten them up a bit more.

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Fit:

If you’re coming from any of the previous iterations, just go ahead and size the 3’s the same unless you were on the extremely tight side. Remember that the 3’s are slightly more narrow, though the length of the shoe remains the exact same. People with Morton’s toe shouldn’t have to worry about having to size up either, as the shape of the Metcon’s toe box accommodates your second toe well.  Here’s a sizing chart of what I wear, so you can kind of get an idea of how you should size your Metcon 3’s:

  • Metcon 1/2/3 – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • Inov-8 – 10
  • Chucks –  9
  • Speed TR – 9
  • Nike Free – 10
  • Romaleos – 9

Another variance that I’ve noticed between my two pairs of shoes is that the blackout’s fit a little more snug and have less heel slip than my grey/volts. If you’re at the store buying them, you might want to try on a few pairs before pulling the trigger on them.

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Performance:

In my opinion, the Metcon 2’s (and originals), though technically designed for all facets of fitness, were the best training shoe for pure lifting. I’ve hit numerous PR’s with both models, including a 515lb sumo deadlift and very narrowly missing a 225lb snatch, so I will usually grab my Nike when I know I need to lift big. What made them excellent lifting shoes also made them a little hard on the feet when it came to plyometric movements. Honestly, it’s a give and take with training shoes; you just can’t have it all. If you want better power delivery, you’re usually sacrificing flexibility, and vice versa. The key is to find the balance between the two, and I think Nike has come the closest out of any training shoe with the Metcon 3.

Squatting is the foundation of everything we do, so if I can’t squat in a shoe, I really have no use for that shoe.  The Metcon 2’s were arguably my favorite squatting shoe of all time. Sure, they are not the most minimal or shoe closest to the ground, but they are plenty flat, stable, and offer excellent energy rebound. I’ve been doing a lot of squatting in Olympic weightlifting shoes lately with the Legacy and Position’s, but I don’t miss them one bit because squatting in the M3’s feels just as good, if not better. As a functional fitnesser, my mantra is to always be able to use what’s available at the time; you’re not always going to have time to change into oly shoes after all. The M3’s manage to keep up with the best oly shoes, but also outshines the previous models because of the TPU heel counters. Lateral stability is far greater than it was in the M2’s and you never get a feeling of spilling out of the sides of your shoe.

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Once again, historically Metcon’s have been my favorite shoes to do Olympic lifts in. Nano 6.0’s had a really impressive showing earlier this year, easily becoming my favorite training shoe because they were so responsive; that is, until I tried the Metcon 3’s out. Power delivery is excellent and the sloping outsole makes for a shoe that translates power well throughout the entire pull when weightlifting. Honestly, the way I would call it between the two shoes is a draw, they’re both equally just as good as the other with the Nano’s having a slightly more minimal platform with better ground feel and the M3’s guiding your feet better with an insole with greater energy return. It just comes down to preference as it’s just too close to call here, but stability would have to go to Nano’s for having a flatter base, but interestingly enough, rowing in the Metcon 3’s feels better due to the shape of the outsole. Compared to the Metcon 2, you lose out a little bit in forward stability, but gain in lateral and heel stability. The reduction in weight and width in the toe area doesn’t really hurt the overall stability much. Also, the drop remains the same as it’s always been as the original models and the 2’s at 4mm.

According to my scale the M3’s come in the lightest at 11.15 oz, followed by the M2’s at 11.57 oz, and the Nano 6.0’s barely being the heaviest at 11.61 oz. My Nano’s are a men’s size 10 and my Metcon’s are both size 9.5.

Since the upper is much more flexible and the redesigned outsole pattern allows for greater flex than it’s previous counterparts, moving around in the M3’s is much more comfortable; an area that the Metcon’s were notoriously bad at. Typically with repetitive jumping movements, my plantar fascia region will develop a burning sensation, but that hasn’t been the case with the M3’s. Speaking of which, all of the jumping movements feel extremely natural in the Metcon 3’s, making more than half of what we do as fitness-ers much easier. That’s in part due to the redesigned outsole having a more pronounced slope up from the midfoot to the toe and the the flexibility being heightened. Since it’s been cold and rainy outside I haven’t done a ton of running, but agility drills felt excellent due to the toe shape and flexibility. I’d imagine that running still will not be the Metcon 3’s strong suit since the outsole is still fairly ridid, but that’s what the DSX Flyknits are for! Beware, the previous models were pretty forgiving if you had the tendency to lean forward on your toes, but the M3’s are not quite as much due to the new shape.

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I never really understood the need to have the TPU heel clip for handstand push-ups. Other than doing strict handstand push-ups, your feet should almost never drag up the wall. With the Metcon 2’s, I never really noticed the heel clip ever sliding and if anything it would actually stutter up the wall. Doing handstand push-ups in the M3’s felt a little better since the material of the TPU is less tacky, but I never noticed any kind of enhanced smoothness with my kipping. Another area I noticed the M3’s lacking in are sadly, rope climbs. I’ll usually baby my new shoes, but since I know I’m going to get a ton of inquiries about this, I just went for it. It was embarrassing how many times I lost my footing trying to coach rope climbs. Spanish wrap or j-hook, it didn’t matter, the rope slid right through my feet almost every time. I didn’t think the M3’s would falter so hard in this area since the outsole reaches up quite a bit more. I’ll keep trying, maybe the outsole needs a bit of wear before it starts to grab the rope better.

Value:

So why spend double, when you can get a fully functional pair of Metcon 2’s or Nano 6.0’s for almost half the price? Mainly social & brand recognition. That’s not to say the Metcon 3’s are a bad pair of shoes, they’re actually excellent training shoes and definitely one of my favorite picks. The previously aforementioned are still some of the best training shoes of all time and you’re currently able to pick them up for about half the price of Metcon 3’s. Why wouldn’t you want to go with that? It comes down to appearance, sometimes fit, social proof, or because one doesn’t have a swoosh on the side. I will admit that Metcon’s are easily the better looking shoe, and always have been, though the Nano 6.0’s aren’t an ugly pair of shoes.

In my opinion, the Metcon 3’s are an excellent pair of shoes, but they don’t do anything drastically different that what’s already out there. Unless your pair of Metcon 2’s, or even 1’s, were falling apart, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade your shoes. The enhancements are fairly incremental, and the overall feel isn’t that much different than the previous iterations. If for some reason you don’t like the way Nano’s fit your feet (the m3’s are narrower), then you might want to look into some Nike’s. Any way you cut it, the Nike Metcon 3’s  are still some of the finest training shoes on the market, and quite possibly the only true competition for the Reebok Nano’s. If you certainly must have the Metcon 3’s or you’re in dire need of an upgrade, the latest version of Nike’s Metcon are the most well rounded iteration of the shoe yet and you definitely will not be disappointed with them.

You can currently purchase the Nike Metcon 3’s on Amazon.com or Zappos.com, but the actual launch date is January 6th for the normal model and 2nd for the DSX Flyknit.

Now what about those DSX Flyknit’s…

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2016 CrossFit Shorts Buyer’s Guide

Let’s be real here:

Fitness fashion is a thing and it’s here to stay.

Within the last couple years, I’ve seen training clothing go from an obscure kind of niche market to being front in center at almost all popular clothing stores. Before, you’d really only find the good stuff online but now almost since almost every brand is making a fitness line, there’s a ton of good stuff available and everyone is stepping up their game. But as always, with the good, also comes the bad; there’s also a bunch of junk out there too.

My guide to shorts last year ended up being one of my most popular ones (so much so that someone plagiarized it, lol), so this year I figure I’d update it with some of my top picks when it comes to training shorts (and maybe a few things on some tops). You’ll see some returning brands, but a lot of new faces as well. We’ll talk about functionality, style and comfort with the “CrossFit” athlete in mind. Trust me, whether you’re a globo gym person, weightlifter, or powerlifter, you’ll benefit from the same type of wear.

Keep in mind that this guide is in no particular order, these are all the popular picks when it comes to shorts, all things considered. The best way to use this guide is to narrow down what fits your style and budget. Everything here is going to be a top performer in their respective price ranges. For me, pockets are a necessity, so I’ll be commenting on that as well. Update 6/19: I’m going to update to shorts that I’ve tried out that aren’t necessarily my top picks, but rather popular shorts in the fitness scene, to cover a broader spectrum of preferences.

For reference: I’m 5’9″ (on a good day), 180lbs, 32″ is what I wear in my denim, 30″ inseam, medium in most shorts, and large in most tops. I’m also a Sagittarius, ESTP, and sometimes enjoy the occasional rom-com.

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Nike Flex Shorts (2016) – It never ceased to amaze me that the giant that is Nike produced such “meh” training gear, until just recently to coincide with the release of the original Metcon. Nike introduced their Flex shorts last year, and they were some of my favorite shorts Nike has ever come out with. They weren’t long or baggy, they looked nice and the material was good, but there was definitely room for improvement.

This year’s Flex shorts are an upgrade in a big way. They now feature their Hydra Void technology with DWR finish that was previously on the Flex Repel shorts, which costed almost double the price. You get the same 8″ inseam, but now there are added side slits so the shorts don’t chafe your legs. The side slit pockets are excellent, plenty of room for even the largest phones. The 4 way stretch fabric feels very similar to Lulu’s Swift Ultra fabric, comfortable but substantial enough to not look like you’re slumming it.

Recommended – $60 Nike.com

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Rhone Field Bullitt Shorts – In the past year, it seems Rhone has gone from being a grassroots brand to a full on fitness clothing locomotive, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I look back on when they started with only a couple of options for shorts and shirts, to now with a larger shorts collection than their entire store was. In a world full of fitness brands marketed towards females, Rhone stands tall as an all male brand providing premium quality gear.

Last year I reviewed the Mako shorts, and they’re still one of my favorite pairs. Recently I got my hands on the new Field Bullitt shorts, and they’re now my favorite shorts from Rhone. Workouts with a lot of cleans can be hell on shorts at the point of contact but the 4 way stretch nylon ripstop fabic will be able to take a beating, all while being comfortable and still looking great. There are no tight areas with these shorts and the abundance of pockets is ridiculous; two side, one media, and a zippered rear pocket. You’ll be covered whether you’re out for the day, on a hike, or in a brutal workout.

Essential – $64 Rhone.com

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Reebok Speedwick II/Super Nasty/Pro Shorts – How could you make a CrossFit shorts buyers guide without including the official partners, Reebok? Honestly, it could happen. $250 shorts? Reebok sells them. Why? No one knows. Though not all of their stuff is that expensive and not bad in quality, most of it comparatively speaking is over priced. Lucky for us, Reebok usually has a ton of sales so chances of paying full price for anything is slim.

Super Nasty – Like CrossFit, sometimes the designs Reebok puts out are loud and brash. The Reebok Super Nasty Hero board short are excellent examples of toeing the line between too much and just enough. Personally, I dig the pop-art style and I don’t think that these shorts though loud, are ridiculous. The 4 way stretch fabric is pretty much the same they use on all of their boardshorts; light, airy, and extremely comfortable to wear. The shorts have a flattering fit, but not uncomfortably so as these are designed with performance and athletic bodies in mind. Don’t plan on wearing these anywhere but the gym, maybe a pool party, because they only have a single sorry excuse for a pocket that won’t fit anything other than a couple cards and a key.

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Pro – In my video about the Pro shorts, I said that they’re not worth the money. I’m standing behind that statement, but as a pair of CrossFit shorts, they’re actually good. The pockets are nice and deep, the DWR material is comfortable and the fit is nice. It bothers me that after a single day of cleaning, you can already see threads coming undone, but I contacted Reebok and they took care of me there. Worth $120? Probably not, but I paid about half that, which is what I think they should cost. Wait for them to go on sale, they definitely will.

Speedwick 2 – Other than colorways, the Speedwick short has largely remained unchanged since it launched a few years ago. Unlike most CrossFit shorts, the design features an elastic waistband with a softer poly/cotton blend body. These are some seriously comfortable shorts that are good for just about everything, especially considering they have two generous side pockets. The styling is minimal, but some people like it that way. I’ve always wished they had side slits, but the lack of them gives the shorts more of a cleaner look anyways. You wouldn’t expect the softer material of the shorts to take a beating, but they actually hold up very well. On top of everything, these are the cheapest shorts in all of Reebok’s line-up!

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Essential (Speedwick 2), Recommended (Super Nasty), Not Recommended (Pro) – $50, $70, $120  Reebok.com

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The WOD Life Flex Shorts – Not one you’d expect to see in a sea of big names, The WOD Life has crept their way up to the USA in the form of TWL Gear. The Aussies are bringing all the style with them, as their designs are my favorites of the bunch tested. Unlike most of the other brands tested, TWL Gear is a full fledged fitness store that sells everything from shorts to supplements. Check them out, they also have a really sick leather lifting belt.

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Their Flex shorts come in all sorts of different flavors, giving you a short that you can not only WOD in, but take to the trendiest of Vegas pool parties. The 4 way stretch material is nice and light, the fit is above the knees, the legs have side slits and there are two functional side pockets! The sizing is a little large, as a medium is supposedly a 34″ waist, if you’re in between sizes, you might want to go down. We could probably do something about getting a nicer looking logo, but the prints these shorts come with are second to none.

Best of all, besides the ranger panties, these are the least expensive shorts of the bunch. That just means you can buy more! Also, make sure you use code “AMRAP10” for 10% off your order!

Essential – $50 TWLGear.com

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Vuori Kore/The Banks Shorts – Vuori seems to have just popped out of no where. I didn’t even know of this brand until earlier this year, but they’ve got a store chock full of options. At first glance Vuori might be mistaken as a yoga wear company, but their products cover the fitness gamut, “One short, every sport”. Being a SoCal native, I love that their designs embody California’s style. If you know, then you know.

The Vuori Banks shorts blew my mind, not only were they stylish, but they were extremely functional with side, front coin and rear pockets. The V4 4 way stretch was extremely comfortable and the Banks became my “go-to” shorts for my recent trip in Japan. I everything from hikes to just commuting around town in them and they remained odor free the whole time. The above the knee cut is accentuated by a shallow side slit giving you more than enough mobility for anything you’re going to put these shorts through.

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The Kore shorts are another great option from Vuori. While not as flexible as the Banks shorts, literally and figuratively. They’re perfect for someone looking for shorts with liner. The 4 way stretch fabric doesn’t provide as much stretch as the V4 in the Banks shorts, but it should be enough for most training or running. Still the Kore shorts are very comfortable as the Coolmax liner keeps you cool and dry for even the most demanding workouts. For my money and training, I would still go with the Banks shorts.

Vuori also has their “Investment in Happiness” guarantee. Simply put, if you don’t like it, send it back. ez pz.

Essential (The Banks), Recommended (Kore) – $68  www.vuoriclothing.com

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Hylete Verge Flex/Helix Flex Shorts – Since Hylete’s inception, the brand has gained an almost cult like following. For good reason, the products are great, the customer service is stellar, and the warranty is awesome. I’ve had to use the latter two reasons more than I’d like to say, as the original cross-training shorts had some issues with their velcro. Each time one would fail, Hylete would happily take care of me, so I wouldn’t even knock them for that. The velcro has been ditched since then for some more streamlined fitment options in their Verge and Helix Flex shorts.

I’ve been a long time wearer of Hylete and the Vertex shorts were some of my all time favorites. The new Verge Flex shorts basically take the Vertex shorts and improves on them in almost every way. The majority of the shorts are the new flex woven fabric that is a lighter material than their older fabric, that’s only now found in the pocket areas of the Verge shorts. The flex woven fabric is now more like other brand’s 4 way stretch material. More comfortable, quick to dry, but more versatile without the risk of getting chewed up by some hang cleans as the older material was softer. I still have shorts sized small (I’m now medium) from when I first started CrossFit, and they fit me due to Hylete’s patented waistband system. Side pockets remain the same giving you the flexibility to wear these shorts to the gym or to the beach.

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The Helix shorts are basically the same shorts as the Vertex shorts in design but feature integrated “cargo” pockets. Rather than having a separate part sewed on for the pocket, they’re now a part of the side area. The point is the minimize bulk while maintaining functionality. Honestly I didn’t notice a huge difference, so I would probably save money and go with the Vertex shorts or spend a little more and get the Verge shorts.

The best thing that Hylete does is offer 3 different lengths with their shorts. Us “short” guys appreciate the above the knee cut.

Recommended – $80/$75 Hylete.com

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Myles Everyday Shorts – The only returning short to make it on the list! The Myles Everyday shorts continuously update themselves just by releasing new colorways. Props for being made in California, Myles provides excellent performing shorts with a classic aesthetic that everyone can love. Their 4 way stretch fabric is a bit more substantial than the rest of the shorts on the list, making the shorts not really even look like gym shorts. You can dress them up, or dress them down for serious training sessions. They’ve got a water repellent finish and generously sized side pockets.

I’ve taken my Myles on pretty much every trip I’ve been on since getting them. When options are limited, you can count on your Myles shorts to be good for just about everything. You can get them in an 8″ or 11″ inseam and 8 different colors now.

Essential – $58  MylesApparel.com

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Soffe Ranger Panties – Freedom, all for about $13. If you don’t plan on doing anything other than gym, these are the shorts for you. Make sure your quad game is strong because these shorts leave don’t leave much to the imagination. There’s a thin built in liner so you get the full package, for your package, with these shorts. They might look silly and people might make fun of you, but these are some of the most comfortable, well performing shorts I’ve ever worn. Put your shame aside and try them out, you probably won’t ever go back to normal shorts.

Skies out thighs out.

Essential – $13  Amazon.com

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Lululemon T.H.E. Shorts – What list could be complete without an offering from Lulu? They stepped up their training short game with the Assert short last year, which I never got to try out but I’ve seen plenty of my friends with them, but as of recently discontinued it for some reason. All we’re left with now is their T.H.E. Shorts.

It seems like the fabric has been beefed up from their old Luon material to the new slightly more durable feeling “swift ultra” fabric. It’s still lightweight, has a 4 way stretch, and seems like a cross between their Luon material and what was on the Assert shorts. The versions I have are with liner, but if I could do it again I wouldn’t get it with because the liner is a tad bit long and actually gets stuck on my quads. Like most Lulu’s, make sure you remember to size up. Another thing, the inseam is 9.5″ which is just on the cusp of passing my knees, there’s no side slits so they feel somewhat long. Still, if you love Lulu, you’ll probably still like these shorts, just keep in mind that there are other excellent options nowadays.

Update 6/19: With more testing, I’ve come to the conclusion that barbell cycling does indeed end up scratching up the newer material, just as it did the old. Either pull up your shorts or avoid wearing these for days with a lot of barbell movements.

Recommended $78 Lululemon.com

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2POOD Performance V. 4.0 Shorts –  I’ve always been on the fence with 2POOD’s styling, though they have been a favorite among the functional fitness community. I just don’t see the need for such a large logo on the side of their shorts.  There has to be something to these shorts, curiosity got the best of me and I ordered a pair of Inferno V. 4.0 shorts.

The material used is a middleweight 4-way stretch fabric that adorns the whole short with an elastic waistband with a tie together front. I really like the length of these shorts, which is somewhere around 7.5-8″, leaving them well above my knees. The cut is also nice, as the V 4.0’s are not an overly baggy pair of shorts. They feel great and actually look fantastic once you get past that huge logo. Overall the shorts look, feel, and perform great…but…

…On their site, 2POOD states: “This is an amazing material but excessive scraping with barbell knurling will damage these shorts”. Of course this is part of the test, and their warning should not be taken lightly. One workout and the area where the bar meets my leg is already starting to lose color (EDIT: also has tons of scratches after 3 wears). Obviously I figured this would happen, just not that fast. Hopefully I’ll get to try out the Pendleton short soon, which is supposed to have more durable fabric than the V. 4.0. At $65.99, it’s tough to recommend the 2POOD V. 4.0’s for only days that don’t have any barbell work.

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2POOD Metcon Shorts – Who loves short shorts?  More wearable day to day than the Soffe ranger panties because they’re slightly longer, but still have the second shortest inseam (3″) of all the shorts in this guide. The 2POOD Metcon shorts have a simple 2P logo that should be on ALL 2POOD shorts, versus the huge one they always put on the side. Worried you won’t be able to find compression shorts that are shorter than these? No worries, they come with a built in liner. Going running and afraid people the awesome camo will be too effective? They’ve got reflective strips on the side that shine bright like a diamond. Got thighs like Sam Dancers? You’ll get plenty of room in the seat, leg openings and a gusseted crotch, so you won’t have to worry about them catching. Best part about these babies is that they don’t show wear like the v4.0’s do and they’re the cheapest shorts in 2POOD’s line-up at $52!

All this isn’t with it’s downsides. First off, there’s only a single rear pocket, but I guess one is better than none and unfortunately the material isn’t as stretchy as the V4.0’s. Though I would take the more durable material any day.

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v4.0 – Not Recommended, Metcon Shorts -Essential $65.99/51.99 http://www.2poodstore.com/

Tango Charlie Apparel WOD Shorts – I literally stumbled upon TCA’s shorts via Facebook ad (I guess they really do work), but I’m very glad that I did! These shorts are a real gem and it’s sad to see them not get the popularity they deserve. Speaking to the owner Tommy over the phone (who even does this anymore?) gave me a real sense of what his ultimate purpose is: to provide the best quality gear, made in the USA and to support his fellow veterans as a portion of each sale is donated towards veterans in need.

When you look at a lot of the CrossFit™ marketed brands out there, you’ll see a lot of the same; a lot of fightshort/boardshorts.  It’s not a bad design, it’s just tired. If anything, the TCA shorts look different than most “CrossFit” shorts, more similar to Lululemon’s Core shorts with their elastic waistband. Elastic waistbands = comfort, which I’ll take every day over velcro or loop and tie waistbands. The 4 way stretch material is also light and airy, like Lulu’s Core shorts, but doesn’t scratch nearly as easily. You won’t have to worry about stinking up the gym because the shorts are also anti-microbial, nor will you have to worry about any adverse reactions to the material.

To top it off, the TCA shorts come with two side pockets! Fit is excellent and stops plenty before my knees, but I do wish there was some a side slit/scalloped side as they can catch your quads when squatting. One more thing I’d like to see is a change in the size of the logo; it’s not awful but it is a little big. A simple “TCA” or just smaller logo would do the trick nicely and make these shorts even better. Not to mention, they’re a steal at just under fiddy bucks.

Essential- $49 http://www.tangocharlieapparel.com/

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Under Armour HIIT Shorts – Easily the biggest surprise when it came to putting this guide together. I stumbled upon the UA HIIT shorts from checking out their store at the Americana out of boredom. The first thing I thought was –

“Wow, these are cool looking shorts!”

Though I’ve never been much of a UA fan due to their lack of training gear, the HIIT shorts are enough to make me a believer. Other than looking great, they have a 4-way stretch material that feels great all while being substantial enough to take a beating and not show it(the camo ones are a smoother material than the solids). Two side slit pockets means you can wear these for more than just gym time. The inseam is 8″ landing right above the knees, but they also have side slits to give you even more clearance. The cut could be a little more open in the legs, but they’re still very comfortable training shorts. On top of all that, they’re available for as low as $30!

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$30-50 www.underarmour.com

IAMBEASTMODE Helios Shorts – I love when people mix innovation with out of the box styling, but the IAB Helios shorts are a pair of sharp looking shorts with some thoughtful features that don’t quite hit the mark.

IAB uses a poly/spandex blend to create their very lightweight and comfortable 4-way stretch fabric that can take punishment. Traditional boardshort design means there’s only a velcro and tie closure system with no elastic waistband. My issue with this is that when you undo the velcro, there’s nothing keeping the two sides together and also, the string isn’t secured on the shorts at all. These are two things that most major boardshorts manufacturers have been doing for years.

Being 5’8″, shorts that go past my knees are a big no-no and I avoid them because they make me look stumpy, which is where the Helios shorts end. The side slits take a little away from the look and open up the legs, but overall the IAB shorts could be an inch or two shorter for my tastes. I constantly found myself pulling the short legs up while squatting. Interestingly, the pockets are located lower on the thigh, making things stored sit closer to your knees. This is weird because if you put your phone (or anything else) in your pocket to run, it will end up bouncing all over the place rather than securely closer to the hip.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

At just under $60, I feel like the Helios shorts should be more than just looks. If you’re a taller athlete or love the way they look (they are dope), then by all means go for them if you can live with the low pockets.

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Not recommended unless you’re taller – $52.50 http://www.iabmfg.com/

I’m going to try to keep this list growing to have a more comprehensive guide for you guys, please leave me a line if you don’t see something here that you think should be here!