The flattest gym shoes
April 26, 2018 6:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to reduce the size of my gym kit, and shoes take up a lot of room. What very flat yet durable and washable shoes can I wear to the gym?

My shoes will only be used on the elliptical and rower and while I lift weights, so they don't need to be running-compatible. They do need to stand up to three-ish gym visits a week and periodic machine-washing.

I have slightly wide feet and wear a men's 8.5 in Adidas and Puma.

Basically I'd like shoes that fold down to take up not much more room than the sole itself. I used to have this great pair of sort of mesh Adidas but they aren't made anymore.

In an ideal world, these would not cost a million dollars, but I will pay for the right shoe.
posted by Frowner to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I love kung fu training sneakers -- I used to run in them, and when they wore out for running I just wore them while walking around the city. Very cute, very light and flat, very durable, and $20-30/pair. Here's a link to the ones I have: Top one Feiyue Kungfu Martial Arts Taichi Trainer Shoes - For Men and Women
posted by rue72 at 6:46 AM on April 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I know everybody will think you're super granola, but Vibram FiveFingers aka 'the toe shoes'.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:50 AM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Merrell Vapor Gloves are my preferred flat-squishable washable gym shoe.
posted by a moisturizing whip at 7:14 AM on April 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't know what to think of this feature of the Kung Fu sneakers.

Rubber grounds you for protection from electric attacks

But thanks for the idea - they had never occurred to me as an option.
posted by COD at 7:48 AM on April 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

some models, mexico 66 i think, of onitsuka tigers (classic asics) are exactly this, and my go-to for the gym.
posted by zippy at 8:08 AM on April 26, 2018

Another vote for Merrell, either the Trail Glove or the aforementioned Vapor Glove 3 (or Vapor Glove 2). They flatten down to just the height of the sole, which is minimal, plus they're comfy and they work well for wide feet.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:41 AM on April 26, 2018

Lems Primal 2 are lightweight and rollable, and cut super wide in the toebox. Site sez they're not machine-washable, though.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2018

Why not Chucks? They were originally designed as basketball shoes, after all, and they're machine-washable.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:39 AM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding Chucks. They're great for weightlifting!
posted by jenny76 at 10:07 AM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I use two types of shoes at the gym depending on if I'm weight lifting or doing cardio. Chucks are a standard type you'll see being worn, especially with weight lifters, although they run narrow and may not be a good choice for your feet. I find them a little narrow in the toebox/front but my feet don't slide in them, which is a plus for weight lifting. I also am a fan of Inov8 shoes for everything else, which come in several types (no rise or minimal rise, tight toe box or wide toe box) and are easy to wash (I'm a nurse and wear a separate pair for work, and it gets washed fairly frequently).
posted by Thirty7Degrees at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I forgot to mention! Some of the Inov8 also have a feature called "Powerheel" for no-slip heels during powerlifting; I'm not sure if it's a good feature or not but it is a detail to consider if it is important to you.
posted by Thirty7Degrees at 10:47 AM on April 26, 2018

FTR - Chucks are too stiff. They don't squish down enough, but more importantly, I had a pair when I started going to the gym and my poor sensitive heels bled enough to saturate the back of the shoes on one vigorous elliptical workout. (It turns out that if you're elliptically fast enough sometimes you don't notice the bleeding.)
posted by Frowner at 11:06 AM on April 26, 2018

Vivobarefoot makes flexible "barefoot" shoes with wide toe boxes. They look like the more fashionable and sock-friendly version of the five-fingers, which I have worn and liked for exercise. They are expensive but show up on ebay from time to time.
posted by a moisturizing whip at 11:20 AM on April 26, 2018

I use Nike Free for the reasons you're listing. I find them perfect for the gym (elliptical, rower, circuits), and even as a running shoe outside when travelling due to their lightness and ability to flatten down and stow away. I don't have wide feet myself but just did an online check and those who do seem to find them fine.
posted by Lilypod at 11:27 AM on April 26, 2018

My Vapor Glove 3s weigh almost nothing, have paper-thin soles, and have uppers that are basically mesh. I also really, really like them as shoes. They cost $80. Highly recommended.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:42 PM on April 26, 2018

Nthing Merrell Vapor Gloves. Check eBay before you shell out full price, I got mine (unworn!) for about $20.
posted by desuetude at 1:57 PM on April 26, 2018

If you really want to go minimal: I'm pretty out of shape, so take that into consideration, but I do my weights/elliptical/rower in Fitkicks. They're basically a sock with a toeguard on a rubber sole. They wash easy and pack completely flat.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 2:29 PM on April 27, 2018

« Older Help me ride my bike more   |   summertime sadness: academia $ edition Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.