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Deadlift Shoes Vs Deadlift Slippers | Which Is Best for Serious Deadlift Training?

Deadlift slippers and deadlift shoes are two of the most common footwear options for lifters interested in improving their deadlifts. Both deadlift footwear options are great and they each have their lists of pros and cons for one’s performance. If you’re getting more serious about your deadlift sessions, then this is the perfect article for you.

Footwear can make a fairly substantial difference regarding performance, especially as you get more niche in your training. Whether you’re a beginner or a powerlifter deciding on your next pair of deadlift footwear for competition, paying attention to subtle details that exist between deadlift shoes and slippers can be useful.

Below, we’ll be breaking down deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers and discussing their differences. The goal of this article is to help you decide which footwear option will be best for your needs and deadlift performance goals.

Deadlift Shoes Vs Deadlift Slippers Differences

To better understand deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers, we should first break down their construction differences. Despite serving to accomplish the same thing, deadlift shoes and slippers do have some pretty stark differences.

1. Different Upper Constructions

The first difference between deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers is their upper construction. Deadlift slippers will utilize a minimalist upper construction that usually consists of light synthetic leathers and mesh blends. Deadlift shoes will have a much more “traditional” shoe feeling to them and use heavier mesh blends, synthetic materials, and additional straps.

what are deadlift slippers

To contextualize each style of footwear, if you’ve ever worn wrestling shoes, then you can expect deadlift shoes to feel and fit the same. Then, in regard to deadlift slippers, if you’ve ever worn swim booties or something like a Tom’s minimalist shoe, then you’ll have somewhat of a similar feeling in deadlift slippers.

2. Outsole and Performance Differences

Another major construction difference is the sole and outsoles used in deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers. Deadlift slippers will have a thinner sole construction, which can be both a good and bad thing depending on your deadlift style and the slippers you’re using.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re a sumo deadlifter try to find and use deadlift slippers that have additional straps to help lock down the foot. If a slipper is too loose or lacks additional upper support, then the sole can fold at times mid-deadlift.

With deadlift shoes, you can expect to get a much thicker rubber sole to grip the floor with. A deadlift shoe’s outsole material will be designed to fully grip the floor and resist rolling and folding despite the type of deadlift you’re performing.

3. Price Differences

The final major difference between deadlift slippers and deadlift shoes is their clear price difference. If you’re not planning to compete in powerlifting and you want to save money while replicating lifting barefoot, then deadlift slippers will be a much more cost-conscious purchase. Most deadlift slippers cost between $30-40 USD.

Deadlifting in cross-training shoes

[Suggested Read: Squat Shoes Vs Deadlift Shoes | The Ultimate Comparison

Deadlift shoes can range anywhere between $80-$120 USD. In my opinion, if you’re not planning on competing, then you could save by opting for slippers or a good pair of barefoot shoes or training shoes that will work for heavy deadlifts. This way you’ll save a bit of money and have a pair of shoes that is a bit more dynamic in nature.

Deadlift Shoes Vs Deadlift Slippers Similarities

Despite there being some stark construction differences between deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers, there are also a lot of similarities to note and be conscious of.

1. Minimalist Stack Heights

Both deadlift shoes and deadflit slippers will have minimalist stack heights to promote optimal deadlift mechanics. Essentially, they’ll both possess minimalist sole constructions to decrease the amount of material that separates the foot from the ground. This is beneficial for limiting compression and the total range of motion that you need to lift weight.

In regard to stack height, deadlift slippers will provide you with a much more “barefoot-esque” feeling compared to deadlift shoes. Deadlift shoes will give you a bit more sole to stand and pull from.

SABO Deadlift Shoes Pros

2. Zero Drop Outsoles and Soles

On top of minimalist stack heights, both deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers will have 0mm heel-to-toe drops, also known as zero drop. When deadlifting, we’ll generally want shoes that possess minimal heel-to-toe drops to promote a tripod foot position and maximize the surface area in which our feet are making contact with the ground.

A tripod foot position entails grounding the base of the heel, big toe, and pinky toe, and by having shoes that are flatter we’re able to do this without too much forward knee translation which can shift our weight and momentum forward.

3. Additional Mid-Foot Security

We talked about differences in upper construction above, but one upper construction similarity that exists with most deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers is their additional mid-foot security. Oftentimes, you’ll see deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers equipped with additional mid-foot straps.

SABO Deadlift Shoes Performance

These straps are designed to lockdown the foot and promote additional stability to prevent the sole and upper material from rolling under the foot during deadlifts.

Deadlift Shoes Vs Deadlift Slippers for Competition

If you’re thinking about competing in a powerlifting meet or you’re thinking about switching your current deadlift footwear, then you may be wondering why you would go with shoes over slippers, vice versa.

Below, I’ll provide you with a few questions to answer to help guide you towards which deadlift footwear would fit your needs best.

Do you enjoy deadlifting barefoot?

Barefoot deadlifting is a phenomenal way to maximize your body’s leverages to optimally lift big weight. If you love training barefoot and you want to resemble how that feels on the platform, then I’d suggest going with deadlift slippers.

They have really thin soles and wide toe boxes so you’ll be able to splay the toes with ease and feel the ground beneath you to the fullest. If you’re sumo deadlifter, you can still opt for deadlift slippers, however, I’d suggest finding a pair with soles that wrap up over the base of the big toe and pinky toe and have additional mid-foot security.

Do you enjoy additional ankle and boot support?

If you like how mid-top and high-top shoes feel such as wrestling shoes and Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, then you’ll like really enjoy deadlift shoes. Granted, you could wear both of those options for competition if you have them already, so if you want to save money then I’d suggest sticking with your current wrestling shoes or Converse.

deadlift slippers vs deadlift shoes which is best for your goals

Conversely, if you do want to get more specialized with your footwear, then opting for something like a pair of Sabo Deadlift Shoes could be a really good call. This model has a higher boot construction and additional straps to really lockdown the ankle in conventional and sumo deadlifts.

Do you have a wider sumo deadlift stance?

For athletes with a wider sumo deadlift stance, you’ll want to consider two things. First, if you’re going deadlift slippers, finding a model that is designed to support sumo deadlifts. Lifting Large Ground-Lock Deadlift Slippers are a decent option here and so are Notorious Lift Deadlift Slippers.

Both of those options possess soles that wrap up the medial and lateral side and have additional mid-foot straps to prevent the material rolling under the foot when spreading the floor.

Second, deadlift shoes will typically by my recommendation for your style of deadlift. This style of shoe will support your ankles a bit better and there’s really no chance of the material rolling under or sliding when grinding out heavy reps.

SABO Deadlift Shoes

SABO Deadlift Shoe

Best For

  • Conventional Deadlifts
  • Sumo Deadlifts
  • Powerlifting

Falls Short

  • For Anything That Isn’t Deadlifts!


Do you want your footwear to last over six months?

If so, then you may want to opt for deadlift shoes over slippers. There’s no denying that deadlift slippers can last a while, but when you’re constantly training in them and pushing the limits, then they can be more prone to breaking down within a year.

For context, my last pair had their soles and upper start to rip at right about the six month mark, which wasn’t the biggest deal since they’re fairly cost-efficient, but definitely worth noting if you’re on the market for longevity.

Which Deadlift Shoes and Deadlift Slippers Can You Compete In?

When planning to compete in powerlifting, I can’t stress enough to go over your powerlifting federation’s rules before taking the platform. If you’re competing locally, then some equipment rules about singlets, briefs, and apparel can be a bit more forgiving.

However, when it comes to footwear, you can’t navigate around shoes that are not permitted on the platform. For example, if you don’t have the right shoes for deadlifts and fail your equipment check, then you won’t be able to take the platform.

are deadlift shoes worth it

As a general rule of thumb, there are two key aspects to deadlift footwear when competing in powerlifting.

  1. Deadlift footwear must have material that wraps around the heel. This means you can’t deadlift with your Crocs in “sport mode” if you plan to compete.
  2. Deadlift footwear must cover the toes, A.K.A. no deadlifting barefoot.

Outside of these two rules, you can pretty much wear most pieces of footwear to deadlift in at your powerlifting competition as most shoes designed for lifting and sport will possess these two aspects.

However, once again, I want to stress to always check your powerlifting federation’s equipment rules before competition day. If you have any questions, always reach out before competition. Meet directors will answer all of the equipment questions you have.

As a bonus tip, once you decide on the deadlift footwear you plan to compete in, make sure you prep your bag the night before. Trust me, you don’t want to be running around looking for your gear come meet day where you’ll already be dealing with a fair amount of stress.

Lifting Large Ground Lock Deadlift Slippers



Best For

  • Powerlifting
  • Deadlift-Focused Goals
  • Budget-Friendliness

Falls Short

  • Anything Other Than Deadlifting (lol)


Are Deadlift Slippers Better Than Deadlift Shoes?

Deadlift slippers are better than deadlift shoes for the athlete and lifter that wants to replicate truly deadlifting barefoot in the gym and on the powerlifting platform. Their truly minimalist construction will provide lifters with a footwear option that often has stack heights coming in at less than 3-4mm.

Additionally, they’re also a more cost-efficient option and are easier to store and bring with you to the gym if you have limited gym bag space.

Are Deadlift Shoes Better Than Deadlift Slippers?

Deadlift shoes are a fantastic option for the lifter and athlete that loves deadlifting with minimalist shoes and appreciates having a bit more support around their foot and ankle. Oftentimes, deadlift shoes will come with higher boot constructions which adds to their ability to hug and stabilize the ankle joint.

On top of this, deadlift shoes will often last longer than deadlift slippers and will provide a much more resilient upper construction to resist tearing to promote long-term durability.

Wrapping Up

Deadlift shoes and deadlift slippers are both pieces of footwear to promote overall deadlift performance. Both styles of have their own lists of pros and cons and can support performance per the context of your needs.

If you want a longer lasting piece of deadlift footwear, then go for deadlift shoes. For my budget-conscious friends who also love deadlifting barefoot, opt for deadlift slippers.

If you have any questions about which to go with, drop a comment below or feel free to reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly)!

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

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