Since our last shoe article centered around skate shoes, this time around we’re going to focus on the shoes designed with solely parkour in mind, made by the community. Over the years there have been a few options for parkour footwear, but we want to hone in even more specifically, and look at the most recent shoes on the market, as well as some yet unreleased.
Ollo Alpha and SapienX
Ollo has been designing shoes exclusively for parkour for the better part of a decade. Since the Alpha dropped it’s been taking off in popularity and well worn by some of the best athletes in parkour, from DomTomato to Siebe van de Spijker, and even the most well known Motus athlete, the incomparable Giles.
I spoke with Ollo CEO Chip Howe about the Alpha’s design and he had this to say: “Our old styles were getting long in the tooth and becoming less relevant from a style perspective. We knew that it was past time for us to introduce a new shoe. PKFR was evolving and footwear manufacturing technologies were becoming more sophisticated. We started from scratch on the Alpha, creating a new last with Jones and Vining, a 90 year old development company. We optimized heel height and toe spring to create a fit that would be stable for fore/aft and lateral movement.”
“We benchmarked and deconstructed the Vans Ultrarange because of its popularity with many athletes. After breaking it down completely we drew forward elements of the shoe that athletes loved and built in features that would turn the Alpha into a solid parkour shoe. We lowered the heel height, improved the midsole compound and sculpting, created a full length rubber outsole with a multi-surface traction pattern and used a more abrasion resistant mesh in the upper.”
When asked if Ollo has anything new in the works, Howe responded, “We are currently in the late stages of development on our next shoe, the SapienX. It references our first shoe, the Sapien, but like the Alpha, is a much more technical and highly engineered product than the original. We are hoping to introduce the SapienX late summer or early fall this year.” I’m interested to see how the SapienX performs, considering the athletes finding success with the Alpha. Retailing at $89.00 USD, the Alpha is a great option for those who prefer a skate shoe feel with unparalleled grip. The SapienX has not yet been priced.
Storror Tens 3.0
Planned for release later this year, the 3.0 looks to be a complete redesign of the shoe from the ground up. We’ve seen bits and pieces of these shoes, but after making contact with Drew Taylor I learned the full extent of the changes. The 3.0 is an entirely new shoe, unlike any other shoe represented in the community right now. It doesn’t seem to borrow from skating, or reference any particular style. Simply put, it’s a pure parkour shoe if there ever was one.
In Drew’s words, “We completely started from scratch with these new shoes, they’re actually going to be called something different. It’s a completely new design with a sole that kinda hugs your foot round the sides to give you a really solid base. The upper is now fly knit with some padding around the ankle for additional support. Originally they were going to be high top, but we ended up curving the ankle so they’re sort of mid-height. Then round the front we’ve got this cool rubber printing tech to reinforce the places that shoes usually fail at first. The sole is now custom too, so we have the custom STORROR ‘triple S’ tread.”
I asked about the design process for these new shoes, to which Drew responded, “Our dev process involves a lot of sampling and testing, over two years now. I think the major difference with these and anything else available is how much detail has gone into it being specifically designed for the sport, and tested by people training. We want to make the kind of shoes we want to train in every day.” These shoes have yet to receive a price, as they haven’t been released to the public, though we expect it to land somewhere in the $90-$120 range like it’s predecessors.
Farang Elevate Light
The successor to the Farang Elevate dropped just a month ago, and already it’s been picked up by the likes of Kevin Franzen and many others. Largely the design remained the same, and the few changes made were geared towards delivering greater durability. The upper was updated to a finer, more hardwearing mesh with additional rubber support on particular stress points. The Elevate Light comes in at a price point of $85.00 USD.
Traceur Black Edition 2021
The Black Edition 2021 is a from the Korean parkour brand Traceur. Designed by brand owner and longtime parkour practitioner Jiho Kim, these shoes are made for versatility among all parkour applications. Traceur takes pride in the Black Edition’s lightweight design and rugged durability. Sliding in at $80.32 USD, this is the least costly of our list, but only barely.
Where They Stand
We conducted a poll of the Instagram parkour community to find out how exactly these brands measure up against one another in practice, with a surprising result. The vote was incredibly close, despite my assumption that one may blow the others out of the water. 30% of the vote went to Ollo, 34% to Storror, and 36% to Farang. A fairly even split, which I think bodes well for the parkour shoe industry. Traceur was unintentionally left out of this poll, due to this writer’s unfortunate lack of knowledge about the brand’s existence until just recently.
The main complaint that I’ve seen against buying parkour-specific footwear is the cost. All of these shoe options are going to cost the average consumer close to $100 including shipping, and for a sport that boasts “no equipment necessary,” that seemingly low number can be a steep ask. In comparison, the tried and true Reebok Classic sits at a comfortable $65.00 USD per pair. At that point the question becomes whether or not you prefer to put your money back into the parkour community. This is by no means a gate-keeping statement, as it’s important to wear what makes you confident when jumping fat gaps; it’s merely to say that there is an added bonus of supporting community efforts when we buy “parkour local” goods. So before summer training really kicks into gear, maybe take a look at the shoe options available to you, and set yourself up for a season of solid progression.
Special thanks to @grimeboy_guy on Instagram for his help putting this together.
Photos courtesy of Ollopk, Drew Taylor, Team Farang and Traceur.