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GORUCK Ballistic Trainer Review (2024 Update) | Tried and True

goruck ballistic trainers for daily wear

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The GORUCK Ballistic Trainers is a cross-training shoe designed for tackling a variety of training settings. If you’re new to this brand, GORUCK is a company that was founded in 2008 and specializes in creating durable equipment and gear.

Since GORUCK focuses so heavily on rucking equipment and hardcore training gear, I was curious to see how the Ballistic Trainers would match their brand’s intention.

I’ve used the GORUCK Ballistic Trainer for heavy squat and deadlift days, countless CrossFit sessions, and cross-training workouts where I was blending short runs with lifting.

Throughout my testing, I’ve enjoyed training in my GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, and I find myself constantly reaching for them for my lifting sessions. However, there are a couple of cons to note, which I’ll discuss below.

GORUCK Ballistic Summary

The GORUCK Ballistic Trainer has been a consistent trainer for tackling strength workouts, cross-training sessions, and even rucking. This model is a little heavier than its peers on the market and has a dense midsole.

If you like a shoe that feels more “built” regarding its rigidity, then I think you’ll resonate with the Ballistic Trainer. The two insoles are also great for varying the “feel” of this shoe during training.

It’s worth keeping in mind that while this shoe works well for lifting and cross-training, this model may feel too heavy for running. If you like lighter-weight shoes that feel more athletic then this model may be a miss.

Ballistic Trainer Pros and Cons

Logo

Pros

  • This shoe is great for lifters and athletes who love heavier and denser shoes, think Reebok Nano X heaviness.
  • The Ballistic Trainer has awesome stability for heavy lifting and they're a great strength-focused training shoe.
  • For cross-training and CrossFit, the durability of this shoe's upper, midsole, and outsole tend to do well long-term.

Cons

  • These can feel heavy at times and if you like lighter training shoes, then you'll probably want to pass on these.
  • The dual-density midsole can feel dense for things like sprints and fast interval runs. They're not my favorite sprint-focused trainer.
  • If you have low-volume feet then you may find that this shoe is too spacious for your foot anatomy.

Specs to Know

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 14.4 oz (for my size 10)
  • Removable Insole: Yes (comes with 2 insoles)
  • Width: Regular/Medium
  • Sizing: True to size.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

$125

goruck ballistic trainers (2)
4.4
Stability
4.5
Versatility
4.2
Durability
4.4
Quality
4.5

Best For

  • Heavier Training
  • Versatile Workouts
  • Day-to-Day Wear
  • Shorter Runs

Falls Short

  • For Longer Runs
  • For Agility Training

Are the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers right for you? Try my cross-training shoe finder to see if my calculator pairs you with this shoe or other suggestions based on your needs!

Why I’ve Liked This Shoe

Pro 1: Stable for Heavy Training and Lifting

The first callout that deserves attention for this model is just how stable the midsole (and outsole) are. The GORUCK Ballistic Trainers feature a gradient density midsole that uses two types of EVA to create this shoe’s stability.

Throughout the entirety of the shoe, you’ll feel stable under heavy loads and the outsole provides a nice flat base to ground the feet with. I like the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers for heavier barbell work, accessories, and machine work. 

goruck ballistic trainers outsole and lifting

They’re a solid model for recreational lifters and anyone who has a bias in their training for strength and hypertrophy. I’ve squatted 365 lbs and have deadlifted over 455 lbs in this shoe and have had little issues with stability.

Pro 2: Upper Construction Is Durable

Another thing to like about this model is the upper construction. The forefoot features a warp knit material that provides a decent amount of breathability and maneuverability. The mid-foot and heel are wrapped in a CORDURA Nylon which is a durable material for resisting abrasion and friction. I thought this material was fitting when you consider GORUCK’s brand.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Pros

The CORDURA nylon does a good job at preventing breakdown from rope climbs and it’s fairly easy to clean. This feature is why I also like the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers for daily wear. They’re a good hybrid shoe that you can wear daily without worries of breakdown, then to the gym.

Pro 3: Good Fit and Comfortable for Daily Wear

Another perk of this shoe that I like is the slightly higher heel-to-toe drop that this shoe offers. Instead of the traditional 2mm and 4mm used in most cross-training shoes, this model comes with an 8mm heel-to-toe drop.

If you like training and lifting on slightly higher drops in your training shoes, then this is a good stable cross-training shoe to look into.

I also like that this shoe comes with two different insoles. One insole has a flatter construction, while the other has some natural arch support built-in, which fits with the last of the shoe. This is great for anyone who wants variety and to select an insole that fits best based on their preferences.

Where They Can Be a Miss

As of right now, I haven’t found too many cons that come along with the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, but there are two nitpicks I could see other lifters potentially having.

Con 1: Longer Break-In Period

The first potential drawback is that this model does take a couple of weeks to break in. It’s not the biggest deal by any means, but it’s worth mentioning that this model took me about 6 workouts (just about 2 weeks) to break in.

This model has a thicker midsole construction so it makes sense that it takes a bit of time to truly break them in.

goruck ballistic trainers weight

Con 2: Can Feel Heavy At Times

Another potential drawback to this model is that they can feel heavy during longer training sessions. For my size 10 model, this shoe weighs 14.4 oz.

If you’re tackling longer training sessions or more athletic-focused work where you’re primarily focused on speed and power activities, then you may notice this a little bit more.

I didn’t notice this until tackling a 30-minute conditioning session where I had a full-body circuit and a bunch of plyometrics-focused work programmed.

Towards the end of my conditioning session, when my fatigue was kicking in, I started to notice that the shoes felt a tad heavy when jumping or doing single-leg work.

How I’ve Tested These Shoes

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Performance

I Tested Them for CrossFit and Lifting

In regard to lifting, I really enjoy this model’s stability under a variety of loads. I think GORUCK did a solid job at designing the midsole and outsole to accommodate a variety of lifts. I never had issues with compression or stability, and I even did some speed trap deadlift at 405 lbs, which will usually highlight stability issues in shoes if there are any

On top of their stability, I like the 8mm heel-to-toe drop in this shoe. I think it provides a nice amount of heel elevation for lower body movements without making you feel as though your full momentum is being pushed forward.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Lifting Performance

These shoes work well for CrossFit because they are stable and durable, but there are a few key performance indicators to note. While the CORDURA upper is abrasion-resistant, it doesn’t provide a ton of grip for things like rope climbs, where you may be using your feet, and this could be a drawback for some CrossFit athletes.

Additionally, this shoe can feel a tad heavy at times and this could be particularly problematic for WODs with more running or plyometrics programmed. This may not be an issue for some athletes, but if you’re used to training in super lightweight CrossFit shoes, then you may find it more apparent.

Then I Focsued On Versatility, Testing for Classes, Agility, and Plyometrics

Overall, I think this model does a pretty good job of tackling the tasks of agility and plyometrics. If I were in school, I would give this model a B/B+ for this training style. The outsole has a nice amount of traction for multi-directional activity, and the midsole provides an okay level of responsiveness for casual plyometrics.

If you’re tackling training sessions where you’re lifting and adding in athletic focus, then I think you’ll enjoy this shoe’s range. The dual-gradient midsole does an exceptional job of being a good performer in a variety of tasks.

goruck ballistic trainers for plyometrics crossfit and jumping

My only two faults with this model, which I discussed above, are that the Ballistic Trainers do take a bit of time to break in and they can feel heavy. These shoes will definitely take a few sessions to get feeling super seamless and if you have workouts where you’re only tackling power and agility-focused work, then you may find these to feel a tad clunky. 

I Finished With Day-to-Day Wear and Running Assessments

On a day-to-day basis, I like the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers a lot. I don’t always prefer to wear my cross-training shoes daily, but this model is one of my exceptions.

The dual-gradient midsole offers a nice level of support for standing and walking and it’s also comfortable enough for all-day wear. The best perk of this shoe for daily wear is that it’s durable and easy to clean.

There have been multiple occasions where I’ve gotten the upper pretty dirty in my Ballistic Trainers and they were super easy to wipe down and spot clean. The midsole and outsole are also durable from the weather which is nice for anyone wearing these outdoors on a day-to-day basis or for rucking.

When it comes to running, I think this model does an okay job between the 400m – 1-2 mile range. If you plan to run longer amounts, then you may find that these are a bit uncomfortable. Plus, with the weight of this model, you’ll likely find them a tad heavy if you’re running longer mileage.

Sizing and Fit

As per the sizing and fit for the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, I think most lifters and athletes will be safe going true-to-size. The toe box offers a good amount of width for folks with wider/flatter feet and the length of the shoe is true for their sizing.

  • GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Sizing Thoughts: Go true-to-size.

goruck ballistic trainers sizing and fit

Plus, this model comes with two different inserts. One insert provides a bit more arch support through the foot’s three arches, and the second insert is flatter, so you can customize how you want this model to fit.

Ballistic Trainers Low Vs Mid

The GORUCK Ballistic Trainers’ low and mid shoes are fairly similar in terms of their core construction. Both models feature a dual-gradient midsole, have similar outsole construction, and have virtually identical uppers, with the mid obviously having a higher boot construction.

This is nice because each model has similar levels of stability, versatility, and durability, so from a consumer perspective, it’s really more of a question of personal preference regarding style and fit.

goruck ballistic trainers mid

I personally really like the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Mid for daily wear and lifting, but I don’t use them as much for cross-training and CrossFit. The upper looks stylish. However, it can be a tad limiting at times, so for cross-training, I’ll reach for the low model.

If you’re unsure which to go with, I’d suggest going with the model that aligns best with your training bias. If you’re primarily going to use these shoes for CrossFit and cross-training, you’ll probably want to go with the low model.

Conversely, if you’re like me and like mid-top shoes for lifting and daily wear, then go with the mid version.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Mid Top

$135

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Mid Top
4.5
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.3
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Barbell-Focused Work
  • Daily Wear
  • Casual Cross-Training

Falls Short

  • For Running
  • For Serious Versatile Training

Construction

For the specs and material breakdown of this model, I’ve provided the details for the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers from GORUCK’s site. If you want a visual construction breakdown, then skip to 7:15 in my Ballistic Trainers review video above.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 14.4 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes (two options)
  • Upper materials: Engineered Knit, 1680D CORDURA®
  • Gradient Density™ EVA Midsole
  • Triple Compound Rubber Outsole
  • Lace-Lock eyelets

If you have additional questions on the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers and their construction, drop a comment below.

Wrapping Up

Overall, I’m a fan of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers and I think they do a really good job in the context of lifting, CrossFit, and casual daily wear. Their midsole and outsole are stable and their upper construction offers a nice level of durability.

They fall a bit short for power-focused training and running, but if you understand this context and where they come up short and go into this shoe understanding where they perform the best and use them as so, then I think you’ll enjoy this model.

If you have any questions about the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

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.

9 thoughts on “GORUCK Ballistic Trainer Review (2024 Update) | Tried and True”

  1. I absolutely love these shoes — I tried them on for the first time at The Arnold in Columbus last year, and it was instant love. I wear them all day frequently, and the tri-arch insole is incredibly helpful for my flat feet. They’re a great shoe to wear all day and then knock out a workout in.

  2. Well of course when I was thinking about some new gym shoes (my NoBulls are 3+ years old!) what floats in front of my eyes? An ad for GORUCK shoes. Hmmm looks interesting. I immediately Google to see if Jake’s reviewed these and, of course, he has. And not only reviewed, but *thoroughly* reviewed. As always, a great resource and an unbiased perspective from someone who *I know* has actually tested them.

    1. Hey brother, whenever I update my content the updates are usually fleshed out in the pros, cons, and performance section. They generally revolve around long-term durability or additional performance thoughts.

      In this article, my updates included adding more beef to those sections. You bring up a good point, though, which is adding more context as to where exactly I’m adding my updates. I’ll start making author notes at the bottom of the content I update sharing what exactly I’ve added beef to — I think that would be a cool addition. Thanks for the ask and for checking out the review!

  3. Well, i believe this reviews (not only for the ballistic trainer but for every shoe i’ve researched) are some of the most comprehensive and thorough, i’m just starting in crossfit, i recently joined a local Box and i’m only scratching the surface of the sport, the current pair of shoes i wear are a couple years old and on it’s last leg, so i’m on the hunt for a new pair. I’ve set my eyes on this ballistic trainers and i’m wondering how does it compare to the nano X (i’m from mexico so both pair would be an import and a hassle so i’d like to have the best perspective i can before pulling the trigger), i’m by no means a runner, 6 foot tall and about 220 pounds, my foot is i’d say between normal and wide, and looking to compare with the nano X because it seems those were the last pair made specifically for crossfit, as for price i’ve encountered the nano x between 110 and 120 bucks so basically in line. which would you recommend between those models) (or if you have a better suggestion).
    Thanks.

    1. Hey Joseph! I appreciate that feedback. That’s awesome, stoked for you to start your journey in CF. That being said, I like the Ballistic Trainer, but I’d say go for the Nano X if you can find them for a good deal. They’re a really solid CrossFit shoe and I think they’re a good option for a newer lifter because their durability is solid across the board so they should last you a while. The Ballistic Trainers will be around for a while if you ever choose to make the switch to them, but stock on the Nano X is depleting since they’re not being made anymore. They’re a good safe bet, IMO.

  4. Hello, awesome site, I’ve enjoyed reading your shoe reviews. I’m an average joe crossfitter with a 300 lb back squat. I’m also 40, 175lbs, and dealing with some plantar fasciitis, and pereformis syndrome. I currently wear metcon 6’s for lifting and flite 235 v2’s I think. I’ve been looking at either the flite 260 v3s, g300’s, or the go ruck ballistic trainers. If you were to pick one for more plyo/runners which one would it be? From your reviews they all sound good.
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Nate! Thanks for rocking with me and reaching out. The 260 V2s would be a good bet in this context, the G 300 is also solid, but if I had to choose between them — I’d go 260 V2. The Ballistic Trainers are not great for plyos/running.

      Shout if you have additional questions or if you need additional models to check! I have content up on all of these models on the site, too!

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