10 Best Deadlift Shoes in 2021

Best Deadlift Shoes
Image by Andy Gin / Canva Photos

Deadlifts are a great way to exercise the core, legs, and lower back all at once. Deadlifts were one of the first weight-training exercises I added to my routine as a beginner, and I can personally vouch for the results. Like all kinds of weight training, though, proper deadlift form is everything. Although deadlift shoes won’t lift for you, the best deadlift shoe will both help you perfect your form and help you prevent injury. Coming up next is our ranking of the best deadlift shoes.

Our Top Picks: Best Deadlift Shoes

Up first is a quick look at what we liked about the deadlift shoes in our ranking.

  • Best Overall: Sabo Deadlift Shoes. With an ultra-thin sole, side support, and lateral straps for fit, Sabo has everything you need in a deadlift shoe.
  • Best Eco-Friendly: Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Shoes. Made from recycled materials, the Vapor Glove 2 from Merrell earns the ‘Green Pick’ in our ranking of the best deadlift shoes.
  • Best Budget Pick: Converse Chuck Taylor High Tops. Why mess with a classic? For everything you need in a deadlift shoe without the extra cost, choose Chuck Taylor High Tops Converse.
  • Best for Wide Feet: Reebok Men’s Crossfit Nano 8.0 Flexweave Sneaker. When it comes to deadlift shoes, fit is everything. Our pick for the best deadlift shoe for wide feet is the Reebok Men’s Crossfit Nano 8.0 Flexweave Sneaker.
  • Best w/ Midfoot Strap: Adidas Powerlift 4 Shoes. Keeping your foot planted in place is essential in proper deadlift form, and the midfoot strap on the Adidas Powerlift 4 helps lifters do just that.
  • Best w/ Individual Toe Pockets: Vibram FiveFingers KSO Shoes. For the sensation of lifting barefoot, choose the individual toe pockets of the FiverFingers KSO from Vibram.
  • Best w/ Ankle Support: Otomix Stingray Escape Shoes. For lifters seeking extra ankle support without losing range of motion, our choice is the Stingray Escape from Otomix.
  • Best w/ Two Hook & Loop Straps: VS Athletics Weightlifting Shoe II. For maximum lockdown while deadlifting, choose VS Athletics Weightlifting Shoe II, our choice for best deadlift shoe with two hook & loop straps.
  • Best w/ Heel Drop: New Balance Minimus Mx20V6 Shoes. Those with limited ankle or hip motion may prefer a high heel drop in their weightlifting shoe. If that’s you, head straight for the New Balance Minimus Mx20V6.
  • Best Slipper: Fitkicks Active Lifestyle Slipper. Our choice for best deadlift slipper is the Active Lifestyle Slipper from Fitkicks, because sometimes the best deadlift shoe isn’t a shoe at all.

1. Sabo Deadlift Shoes

The best deadlift shoes overall

Sabo Deadlift Shoes

Brand: Sabo / Heel Drop: 0mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Fabric & Leather / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Make a list of everything you need in the best shoe for deadlifting, and Sabo has it all. Made from fabric and synthetic leather, Sabo’s offer an ultra-thin sole with zero heel drop. There’s also a high-density, non-marking outsole, specially designed for traction, and two lateral straps to customize the fit. There’s also extra side support to keep your ankles secure.

Those who lift with Sabo love the ultra-flat, hard sole, and that the shoe feels strong when spreading the floor. The shoe also supports everywhere but the arch, which is exactly what you want in a deadlift shoe. Others do caution to buy a half size larger than you might otherwise, and that they do run narrow. Many lifters also consider the Sabo the best shoe for sumo deadlift as well.

  • Good grip on lifting surface
  • Feet do not slide inside the shoe
  • Shoes do not roll outward like trainers

  • Narrow toe box
  • Velcro straps provide minimal support

2. Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Shoes

The best eco-friendly deadlift shoes

Merrell Vaper 2 Shoes

Brand: Merrell / Heel Drop: 0mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Thermoplastic PU / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Merrell brand’s commitment to using recycled material in their product earned the Vapor Glove 2 the Green Pick in our ranking of best deadlift shoes. Although Vapor Glove shoes aren’t designed specifically for deadlifts โ€” hey, a little versatility is never a bad thing โ€” they do offer a lot of what a deadlift looks for in a shoe, and they’re a favorite for many powerlifters.

Things lifters like about the shoe include the zero heel drop, as well as the sticky, vibram outsole, providing extra traction. The shoes are also super-light, with a breathable mesh upper. Some use the shoe both for weights and kickboxing, commenting on the very grippy outsole. They’re also wide enough to allow for the toe- splaying necessary in proper deadlift form.

  • Light as “vapor”
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Minimal arch support โ€” ideal

  • Pinched toes, for some
  • Runs about a half size large

3. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Tops

The best cheap deadlift shoes

Converse Deadlift Shoes

Brand: Converse / Heel Drop: 0mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Canvas / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ

The best deadlift shoe on a budget may already be in the back of the closet โ€” but it never hurts to buy a back-up pair. Yes, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Tops make a great deadlift shoe, and best of all, they’re affordably priced.

Chuck Taylors offer zero heel drop, with a rubber sole, and plenty of high ankle support. There’s also an ortholite insole for a little added cushioning, though converse shoes are known for that rooted to the ground feel. They also come in a wide variety of colors and look great even when you’re not in the gym.

Those who use Chuck Taylors for weightlifting especially appreciate the extra lacing holes allowing them to customize fit. At the same time, another lifter comments that they’re light, flat, breathable, and pliable, with great ankle support.

  • Also a great day-to-day sneaker
  • The firm, minimally padded soles
  • Best shoe to squat and deadlift in

  • No arch support makes them lousy for cardio
  • Lots of laces to loosen before putting them on

4. Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0 Flexweave Sneaker

The best deadlift shoes for wide feet

Reebok CrossFit Shoes

Brand: Reebok / Heel Drop: 4mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Synthetic Mesh / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

If you have wide feet, it can be tough to find shoes with a wide enough toe box to allow for the kind of toe-splaying you want in proper deadlift form. With this in mind, the best shoes to deadlift in if you have wide feet are the Crossfit Nano 8.0 Flexweave Sneaker from Reebok.

In addition to a wide toe box, the shoes offer a 4 mm heel drop, and an extra-durable and high-abrasion rubber sole. There’s also a molded sock liner for added cushioning and extra toe protection. The Flexweave design means the shoes are light, durable, and stable.

Lifters with flat feet also love these shoes, while others comment these shoes offer a stable and solid mid and outsole. But there’s also enough flexibility to stay agile.

  • Almost non-existent heel drop
  • Trusted for any type of maximal-effort lifts
  • Great for squatting and deadlifts, but also snatches and cleans

  • Flexweave durability issues
  • Some had heel blister issues

5. Adidas Powerlift 4 Shoes

The best deadlift shoes with midfoot straps

Adidas Powerlift Shoes

Brand: Adidas / Heel Drop: 15mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Canvas / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Midfoot straps on a weightlifting shoe help provide the snug fit needed in a deadlift shoe. Our pick for the best deadlift shoe with a midfoot strap is the Adidas Powerlift 4. Choose the Powerlift 4, and you also get a bit higher heel drop at 15 mm, useful for lifters with limited hip and ankle mobility to help ensure proper form.

In addition to complete lockdown provided by the midfoot strap, these shoes, which are made from durable canvas, have a rubber sole, a midsole wedge, and a lightweight upper. Lifters who use the shoe say they fit true to size and helped improve their form in both deadlift and bench. Others call the shoes a stiff and stable platform for lifting.

  • Great for even a recreational lifter
  • Feels connected to the ground with compound movements
  • Dramatically improved squat and bench press, as well as deadlift

  • Stiff, no give in the toe box
  • Strap gets in the way while lacing

6. Vibram FiveFingers KSO Shoes

The best deadlift shoes with toe pockets

Vibram Five Finger Shoes

Brand: Vibram / Heel Drop: 0mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Polyamide, Polyester, & Hypalon / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Some deadlifters like to feel like they’re not wearing any shoes at all. To get as close as possible to barefoot, then choose a minimal shoe with articulated toe pockets, like the FiverFingers KSO from Vibram. The heel drop doesn’t get much lower than it does with the FiveFingers, and the sole on the shoe is made from extra-sticky Vibram material for added grip.

These shoes are also incredibly lightweight, with flexible construction, and a soft, interior mesh lining for added airflow. Those who’ve tried the shoe say wearing them really does feel like your barefoot. While they’re great for squats and deadlifts, they’re not recommended for snatches or cleans.

  • Good for wide feet
  • Also good for jogging
  • Held up under 5-days-a-week lifting

  • Fit smaller than normal
  • Toe pockets tough to get used to

7. Otomix Stingray Escape Shoes

The best deadlift shoes with ankle support

Otomix Black Stingray Escape Shoes

Brand: Otomix / Heel Drop: 0mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Fabric & Leather / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Some who deadlift prefer extra ankle support, especially if they’ve had an ankle injury. Our choice for best deadlift shoe with ankle support is the Stingray Escape from Otomix. In addition to extra ankle support, these versatile shoes are suitable for everything from weightlifting to wrestling, with zero heel drop, an extra-thin and grippy rubber sole, and synthetic and leather construction.

Fans of the shoe comment that the sole grips the ground well, offering good balance while allowing you to pivot and step properly. These shoes ride the ankle at just the right height, added another. This allows for a decent amount of roll, but you won’t have to worry about twisting your ankle wearing them.

We loved the broad range of colors, adding a little style to your workout. Otomix makes some nice lifting shoes for women as well.

  • Fit true to size
  • Vast improvement over regular running shoes
  • Grips foot just right โ€” not too tight, not too loose

  • Insole shifts towards big toe
  • Warmed up some people’s feet too much

8. VS ATHLETICS Weightlifting Shoe II

The best deadlift shoes with two hook & loop straps

VS Athletics

Brand: VS Athletics / Heel Drop: 35mm / Sole: Hard Rubber / Upper: Fabric & Leather / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Keeping your feet as stable as possible is important for proper deadlift form, and many lifters love the feel of having not one but two hook & loop straps rooting their feet firmly to the ground. Topping our list of best deadlift shoes with two hook & loop straps is the Weightlifting Shoe II from VS Athletics.

With a 4 cm heel drop and soles made from extra hard rubber, these shoes are made from fabric and leather. Lifters who’ve tried the shoes notice their similarity to Oly shoes, a type of shoe preferred by powerlifters for their added stability. That’s while others particularly like the arch support, calling them better than previous versions of the shoe, and more stylish, though there’s only one color option.

  • Stiff soles
  • Excellent fit
  • Solid heel cup

  • Straps could be shorter
  • Had to order one full size up

9. New Balance Minimus Mx20V6 Shoes

The best deadlift shoes with heel drop

New Balance MX20

Brand: New Balance / Heel Drop: 4mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Nylon-Infused Yarn / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ

As previously stated, proper deadlift form says your feet should be as flat on the ground as possible. Some lifters with limited hip and ankle mobility maintain better form with their heels elevated just a little bit, either with a small piece of wood or sometimes just the heels of their shoes.

For those looking for deadlift shoes with heel drop, we say choose the Minimus Mx20V6. These cross-trainers have a 4 mm heel drop, a REVlite midsole, and a Vibram outsole. Also setting the Minimus apart, are the two extra heel lock holes, as well as the Asym collar with molded foam, allowing for an even more secure and comfortable fit in the heel.

Fans of the shoe call it a comfortable, lightweight, all-around gym shoe, perfect for those transitioning from standard workout footwear to something more minimal.

  • Achilles padding feels great
  • Decent amount of heel drop
  • Doubles as casual shoes or for running

  • Poorly thought-out, asymmetrical tongue
  • Shorter and narrower than the V5 in the same size

10. Fitkicks Active Lifestyle Slipper

The best deadlift slippers

FitKicks Original

Brand: Fitkicks / Heel Drop: 0mm / Sole: Rubber / Upper: Spandex & PU / Price: ๐Ÿ’ฐ

When is a deadlift shoe not a shoe at all? When it’s a slipper, instead. Finding the middle ground between lifting barefoot and lifting in a shoe is the Fitkicks Active Lifestyle Slipper. The Fitkicks slipper offers minimal design and inner cushioning. There are pull tabs to fine-tune fit and a protective toe guard. There’s also zero heel drop, and Flex Form sole technology.

Those who exercise in Fitkicks love the versatility and comfort for lots of different kinds of exercise, ranging from capoeira to hopping on the elliptical for a little midday cardio. Lifters love slippers because next to lifting barefoot, they create the least amount of distance between the pushing force, your feet, and the ground. They’re also the best choice for lifters who pull conventional, as opposed to a sumo-style deadlift.

  • Extra toe reinforcement
  • Elastic band helps keep sole snug against foot
  • Enough protection to walk freely over different kinds of terrain

  • Soles not very grippy
  • Not a lot of color options

What to Look for in the Best Deadlift Shoes

Best Deadlift Shoes on Gym Floor
Image by Canva Photos

Here’s a closer look at the heavy lifting behind our decisions, AKA which shoes to include in our ranking, and which shoes to leave on the mat. Use the following criteria to pick the perfect pair for you.

1. Heel Drop

Zero heel drop is ideal for a proper deadlift, so we sought as many zero heel drop shoes as possible to include in our ranking as possible. We did include a few shoes with heel rise for those that prefer a little extra helping reaching and maintaining proper form.

2. Construction

When dead-lifting, you want the sole of your shoe to be as flat and as hard as possible, with as little distance as possible between your foot and the ground. Rubber is a great option, and the harder the rubber, the better.

For the uppers, having a tight fit with just a smide of wiggle room is ideal.

3. Price

It goes without saying that many deadlift shoes will cost you a bit more than your average shoe, but are pretty comparable to other shoes designed specifically for sports like basketball shoes, just as an example. There are some affordable options, however, like Converse High Tops, which is our choice for best budget deadlift shoe.

4. Ankle Support

And last, ankle support is another important consideration when choosing a deadlift shoe. There’s a bit of personal preference here. Some like some added ankle support, like in Sabo shoes. That’s while some prefer none at all, like with a slipper. Consult a trainer or try both to see how you feel.

If you’ve had an ankle injury, however, it’s often best to choose a little extra ankle support.

Other add-ons to look for in a deadlift shoe include midfoot straps or hook & loop straps for extra stability.

Proper Deadlift Form

All deadlift shoes are meant to support proper deadlift form. Like any kind of weightlifting, the proper form creates the best results, and also helps prevent injury (trust me, I’m speaking from experience).

To help choose a deadlift shoe, here are a few notes on proper deadlift form. Note, this is for conventional pulling. Here’s more on sumo-style deadlift form.

  • Position mid-foot under the barbell.
  • With a shoulder-width grip, bend over and grab the bar.
  • Bend knees until shins are resting against the bar.
  • Lift your chest up, a position sometimes called “proud chest.”
  • Straighten the lower back.
  • Breath deep and hold it, and then stand up with the weight.

It’s important to keep as flat as possible on the ground. The best way to achieve this is lifting barefoot, in a slipper, or in a shoe with zero heel drop โ€” the difference between the height of the heel at the back of the shoe and the thickness of the sole at the front of the sole.

As stated elsewhere, though, some lifters with limited hip and ankle mobility like a little heel lift to help maintain proper form when they deadlift, or even when they squat. If you’re wondering if a little heel lift could be right for you, have a trainer evaluate your form.

Our Process

For this guide on deadlift shoes, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 50 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about two hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each shoe. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 10 deadlift shoes on the market. Therefore, you can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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