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Being vegan is much more than just avoiding animal ingredients in our diet. Choosing what to wear is equally important, and this also goes for the shoes we pick.
However, in this particular case, besides avoiding any shoes that contain leather or suede, we have to choose shoes based on several different factors like weight, breathability, comfort, flexibility, and support, so that you can maximize your performance on the mat.
Put simply, your wrestling shoes should feel light and flexible, so that you can have added mobility on the mat, while at the same time, giving you ankle support and enough traction to perform certain techniques without slipping or potential injuries.
Here’s a list of 5 vegan wrestling shoes to help you stay ethical and competitive.
Top 5 Vegan Wrestling Shoes
Adidas Performance Men’s Mat Wizard 4
The Adidas Mat Wizard 4s’ are lightweight wrestling shoes with strong underlays that provide you with ideal support for your midfoot and ankle.
The 3D upper mesh allows your feet to breathe, keeping them cool and dry. Plus, the flexible synthetic 3-stripes and reinforced upper allows your foot to move without feeling constricted, which is like walking barefoot with additional protection.
While being a mid-cut shoe, it still provides you with ample ankle support with a very cushioned and comfy fabric upper. It also has a neat lace pocket that can easily be used to tuck the laces away come match time.
The sides are made from TPU material that helps achieve a sock-like feel in terms of comfort, allowing you to break-in more easily over time.
Also, the sole on the bottom is an extremely popular insole design where the sole rises higher on the ankle which allows for enhanced grip from literally every position.
In addition, you’re also able to find drive specific areas located in important areas of the foot to help you win scrambles and exchanges. That said, some users suggest that the shoes are not as long-lasting as they seem… though this opinion has been based on a limited number of reviews.
ASICS Men’s Split Second 9
ASICS actually creates some of the best wrestling shoes on the market, and the Split Second 9 are high-performance wrestling shoes that can easily handle intense workouts.
The uppers are synthetic and mesh, which allows for excellent airflow, keeping your feet cool and dry over time. Also, the high-tops provide your ankle with solid support.
On top of that, they offer a great snug fit while wrapping your feet in comfort, though, keep in mind that the Split Second 9 take some time to break-in before it gets comfortable.
They are also lightweight and have a split sole, which is ideal for lightweight wrestlers that require more mobility on the mat. Also, the high-quality synthetic material and mesh confers the shoe additional stretchiness which grants your feet and ankles more flexibility.
In the end, the ASICS Split Second 9 were designed to give you the upper hand on the mat!
ASICS Men’s JB Elite V 2.0
These shoes are a co-creation of ASICS and one of the best wrestlers of all-time — Jordan Burroughs, an Olympic gold medalist. In short, we’re looking at a shoe designed with a world champion in mind.
The upper is a single-layer mesh that provides both breathability and comfort.
In addition, the tongue of the shoe features lace garage technology, meeting regulations for tournament competition — removing the need to cover the laces with tape.
The traction on these shoes is provided by the rubber compound slip sole, as well as both rear and forefoot “serradial” traction pods that lead to more flexibility and grip on the mat.
If you want to perform power moves, these shoes certainly make it easier to get some throws in without the slip of a foot or the twist of an ankle. They’re protective, flexible, and have the right amount of comfort and grip to help you succeed on the mat.
NIKE Inflict 3
The NIKE Inflict 3 is one of the most popular wrestling shoes across all ages and levels, mostly due to how comfy they are. It’s also one of the best fitting shoes NIKE has to offer.
The entire upper of the shoe is constructed using a breathable mesh that provides the user with a lightweight and form-fitting feel, as well as ventilation.
The midsoles are designed to keep you low and close to the mat for superior traction. Also, the shoes have a split outsole that provides exceptional grip in multiple directions, allowing for enhanced flexibility and mobility.
They also have a built-in velcro that secures the laces at the top, preventing them from getting untied during a match. On top of that, they’re very lightweight, increasing the amount of mobility you can have on the mat when seeking the legs.
Also, one thing to keep in mind is that these shoes run fairly small when compared to other wrestling shoes, and run very small when compared to street shoes.
As such, it’s probably a good idea to go up half a size to full size to avoid any concerns.
Adidas Wrestling Men’s Response 3.1
The Adidas Wrestling Men’s Response 3.1 is a stylish wrestling shoe with several features that will help take the mat by storm. Starting with its breathable synthetic mesh that snugs to your feet, giving you both comfort and stability.
This is a lightweight wrestling shoe that gives you the feeling of being barefoot, giving you more mobility and responsiveness on the mat. Its traction is provided by its rubber sole and synthetic outsole that enable you to move and pivot easily without losing grip.
On top of that, the shoes have a very solid and durable construction and can be used for both normal and wider feet easily.
All in all, the Adidas Wrestling Men’s Response 3.1 is very good and can be fetched at a lower price than the ASICS we’ve mentioned, even though the quality and features are similar.
How To Choose The Right Wrestling Shoes
Choosing the right vegan wrestling shoes isn’t just a question of opting for leather-free shoes.
You want to be able to take your wrestling to the next level and wear shoes that can match your skills and potential. In other words, you must have wrestling shoes that can withstand and maximize your performance on the mat when implementing holds, pins, throws, and takedowns.
Because certain movements require rotation, you want your joints to be protected, which is why wrestling shoes have high-tops.
Wrestling shoes should be made from a material that is durable and lightweight
Wrestling is a high-level sport that requires you to be light and quick on your feet, but you also need to have shoes with amazing traction to create torque when performing throws.
Because we’re vegan, leather and suede are off-limits, but shoes made from mesh or nylon can also be advantageous given their incredible lightness and stretchiness.
However, shoes made from synthetic materials are usually less durable, but that is often more relevant in low-tier shoes because it’s dependant on the construction.
Also, having your feet sweaty is not at all a good sensation to have when grappling, therefore having shoes with good airflow is also imperative in high-level sports, as it also dictates the amount of comfort you feel when performing. Fortunately, synthetic shoes tend to have good airflow, whilst leather-made shoes are proficient in retaining heat.
Wrestling shoes should feel like socks. In other words, they should have a tight and snuggly fit so that your feet can be held in place. This is important for several reasons.
The first reason is due to mobility. Having a loose fit inhibits your ability to move around the mat, and it also affects your speed and the amount of traction you can generate on the mat. Also, having a loose fit can mean that your ankle is not stable enough, which can result in injury.
Whether you’re a heavyweight or lightweight, you should find shoes with a tighter fit.
Usually, if you choose a tight fit, the shoe stretches out once you wear them over a period, which should improve both comfort and fit. However, keep in mind that not every shoe breaks in as easily though synthetic shoes should be more accessible.
This is yet another crucial aspect to take into consideration, especially when we refer to sports that require tremendous stability because the strength required to throw an opponent or score a takedown comes, for the most part, from the legs.
This isn’t an issue with wrestling shoes, as they typically extend over your ankle to provide maximum support.
Shoelaces also play an important role in maintaining proper fit, particularly in high-top shoes where the laces reach the ankles.
Having a lace garage system allows you to tuck your shoelaces behind the shoe tongue, which keeps them from getting untied during matches. Depending on the legislation, you may be required to have your laces covered, which may be done using tape. However, with a lace garage system, the laces can be easily tucked behind the tongue of the shoes.
Wrestling shoes typically have two distinct soles: insoles and split soles, and these can vary based on the size and weight of the wrestler.
These shoes have a sole that is split in two directions, as the heel and the ball of the foot are separated by a noticeable gap. These soles are generally used by lightweight wrestlers due to the mobility and flexibility they often require on the mat.
These are continuous soles. They go from side to side without a single gap, and they generally provide the wrestler with better traction or grip. Because heavyweight wrestlers tend to rely on their upper body strength, they need their bodies to be more stationary and gripped to the mat.
As we’ve briefly mentioned, the amount of traction will depend on the type of wrestler. If you’re a lightweight wrestler and require more mobility, having shoes with circular traction patterns will allow you to feel more nimble, as excessive traction won’t impair your swift movement.
On the other hand, if you’re a heavyweight wrestler and want to throw people around with your upper strength, having more reliable traction or grip allows you to more easily transfer power to your upper body to perform a throw.
Therefore, when choosing your shoes you have to keep that in mind.
As a vegan, yes, it’s important to avoid animal skin. Yet, at the same time, you want to have the right wrestling shoes, especially if you have a competitive spirit and want to maximize your skills and performance.
The shoes are the most important part of a wrestler’s equipment. It should provide the wrestler with comfort, support, traction, and flexibility. Having the right wrestling shoes means having an advantage over your opponent, and being able to win every possible exchange on the mat without slipping, which can happen at any time when performing picks, pivots, or throwdowns.