The GORUCK Ballistic Trainers are slightly newer on the cross-training shoe scene. GORUCK is a company that was founded in 2008 and specializes in creating incredibly durable equipment and gear. Basically, their gear is designed to withstand and last through any task you could throw at them and this is why I find the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers so intriguing.
The cross-training shoe market is flooded with shoes that are all somewhat similar in nature, so it was nice having the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers offer a slightly different take on cross-training. For example, the Ballistic Trainers offer a higher heel-to-toe drop than most cross-trainers and a CORDURA Nylon upper for increased durability, but do these features improve performance? More on that below.
In this GORUCK Ballistic Trainers review, I cover a variety of topics to help you figure out if this model is for you.
- Who Should Buy the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
- GORUCK Ballistic Trainer Pros
- GORUCK Ballistic Trainer Cons
- GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Performance
- Sizing and Fit
- Construction Details
As always, I’ve also put together a GORUCK Ballistic Trainers video review to accompany this article. Check it out below!
Who Should Buy the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers?
If you’re someone wanting to try something new and you love a slightly higher heel-to-toe drop (8mm) compared to the general 4mm drop in most cross-trainers and want stability at the forefront of your shoe’s performance, then I think the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers could be worth trying.
This model is pretty dang solid across the board and durable upper construction should make this model last a while.
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Pros
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers but I had four key pros that I really like.
- Stable Midsole
- Durable Upper
- 8mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
- Fit and Toe Box
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 stability. Throughout the entirety of the shoe, you’ll feel stable under heavy loads and the outsole provides a nice flat base to truly ground the feet with.
Another big pro of 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 an incredibly durable material for resisting abrasion and friction — which is totally fitting when you consider GORUCK’s brand.
A third callout that I like is the slightly higher heel-to-toe drop this shoe offers. Instead of the traditional 2mm and 4mm used in most cross-trainers, this model comes with an 8mm heel-to-toe drop to promote performance. Lastly, the toe box is wide for toe splay which is a major perk for toe splay and the simple aesthetics are a hit in my book.
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Cons
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.
- Longer Break-In Period
- Not the Best At Rope Climbs
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 it takes a bit of time to truly break them in.
Another nitpick others might have is that this model is not the best for s-lock rope climbs. Do note, they work perfectly fine for this activity, but if you’re used to having an extended outsole that comes up fairly high on the medial and lateral midfoot, then do note this model does not have that so its grip is a bit more limited. Honestly though, the durable upper makes up for this aspect, in my opinion.
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Performance
Across the board, I thought the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers performed fairly well in the tests I put them through. Check out their rating below using the TF2 scale and more detailed explanations below.
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 if there are any. However, I didn’t notice any with this model.
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.
Agility and Plyometrics
Overall, I think this model does a pretty good job at tackling the tasks of agility and plyometrics. I would give this model a B/B+ for this style of training. The outsole has a nice amount of traction for multi-directional activity and the midsole does provide a nice level of responsiveness for casual plyometrics.
My only fault with this model is that it does take a bit of time to break in, so it’s not going to feel the smoothest right out of the box for this style of training.
Day-to-Day and Running
On a day-to-day basis, this model is what you’d expect from a more stable cross-trainer. It’s not uncomfortable by any means, but it’s definitely not going to compare to a shoe with a thick and more compressive midsole. I personally enjoy the fit and feel of this model for day-to-day activities like walking the dogs and running errands.
When it comes to running, I think this model does a pretty good job between the 400m – 2/3 mile range. If you plan to run longer amounts, then you may find that these are a bit uncomfortable. However, compared to other stable cross-trainers, I think this model does have an edge with its overall construction on this front.
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.
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 even have more customization with how you want this model to fit.
As for the price of this model, you can expect to pay around $125.00 USD. This model is not the most cost-efficient on the market, but it is $5 less than other popular cross-trainers if that matters for you.
Overall, I think the price is fair for this model, and with the durable upper construction, I could see this model going the distance for your investment.
For the specs and material breakdown of this model, I’ve provided the details for the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers from GORUCK’s site.
- Upper materials: Engineered Knit, 1680D CORDURA®
- Gradient Density™ EVA Midsole
- Triple Compound Rubber Outsole
- Two inserts included – Custom High-Density Insert & optional thinner insert
- 8mm heel-to-toe drop
- Weight (size 9): 0.675 lbs (10.8 ounces)
- Lace-Lock eyelets
If you want a visual breakdown, then skip to 7:15 in my video above!
Overall, I’m a fan of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers and think they do a really good job at differentiating this model from the “traditional” cross-training shoe norm.
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
- Gradient Density Midsole
- Durable Upper Construction
- 8mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
- Wider Toe Box
- Longer Break-In Period
- Not the "Best" for Rope Climbs