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NOBULL Rec Trainer Review | Weakest NOBULL Shoe to Date?

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The NOBULL Rec Trainer is a training shoe from NOBULL designed with versatility in mind. This model is said to have a more flexible sole for tackling training and daily life.

I feel like I constantly battle with NOBULL workout shoes regarding consistent performance in the gym. When I read about this model being more flexible than the other NOBULL Trainers, I was super excited to put them to the test.

In my NOBULL Rec Trainer review, I’ll discuss this shoe’s pros, cons, performance, and how I would size them.

Quick Take: The NOBULL Rec Trainer has some niche functions where they might make sense, especially for narrow foot anatomies. For most lifters and athletes, though, I would pass on this shoe.

NOBULL Rec Trainer

$130

NOBULL Rec Trainer Product Shot
2.8
Stability
3.0
Versatility
2.9
Durability
2.8
Quality
3.0

Best For

  • Moderate Lifting
  • Casual Cross-Training
  • Daily Wear
  • Narrow Feet

Falls Short

  • For Serious Training
  • For Medium and Wide Feet
  • For CrossFit
  • For Running

NOBULL Rec Trainer Review

Who Should Buy the NOBULL Rec Trainer?

To date, the NOBULL Rec Trainer has been one of my least favorite NOBULL training shoes, but there are a couple of contexts where this shoe may make sense.

1. You Want a NOBULL Trainer for Casual Wear

The first context where the NOBULL Rec Trainer can make sense is for the athlete and lifter that has longed for a NOBULL trainer that can be worn a little more casually.

Compared to the traditional NOBULL Outwork, the Rec Trainer provides a little more breathability and it has a simplistic upper construction. This model can be dressed up with pants or worn with shorts and look good.

NOBULL Rec Trainer for Narrow Feet

While I’m someone who dressed up their High-Top Outwork, I know some athletes and lifters aren’t fans of doing so, and if you want that training shoe for a heavy casual use bias then you’ll probably like the Rec Trainer.

2. You Want a Low-Profile and Narrow Fitting Training Shoe

Another scenario where I think the NOBULL Rec Trainer can make sense is for low-profile shoe lovers that have narrow feet as this shoe’s fit is super specific.

If you currently wear NOBULL shoes or other training shoes and wish the toe box had a more aggressive taper or lower-profile feel in the upper then you’ll resonate with this model.

NOBULL Rec Trainer Upper and Fit

This shoe also has a pretty flexible sole compared to some of the other NOBULL Trainers that have thicker and clunkier soles like the NOBULL Trainer+ and Court Trainer.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the NOBULL Rec Trainer?

As mentioned above, I’m not the biggest fan of the NOBULL Rec Trainer, and below are a few contexts where you’ll want to pass on this shoe.

1. You Want a High-Performance Training Shoe

This may come off as a little harsh, but the NOBULL Rec Trainer is not a training shoe that I would put at the top of any specific type of training list.

For example, this would not be my go-to training shoe for lifting, cross-training, CrossFit, short runs, and the list goes on. I think I’m having a tough time figuring out why most should invest in this shoe.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Lifting

The sole of this model is dense so you can train fairly heavy in them, but with their limited width and low-profile upper I constantly find myself struggling to find them comfortable for leg days and longer lifting sessions.

On top of this, the thicker sole makes them pretty uncomfortable for cross-training sessions, and the upper leaves little to be desired regarding meeting the durability demands of most CrossFit WODs.

2. You Have a Medium Or Wider Foot

Save yourself the trouble now and avoid investing in these shoes if you have a medium or wider foot width. In my opinion, this is a shoe that will pretty much solely work for narrow feet.

I have a medium to slightly wider foot width and I find it tough to wear these for even an hour, and that’s in super thin socks, so with thicker socks — forget about it.

NOBULL Rec Trainer for Wide Feet

I like the idea of low-profile training shoes and generally resonate with models that do have that style of construction, however, these feel a little extreme in that fit regard.

The toe box is also just way too tapered, so while narrow feet may enjoy this, I think for everyone else you’ll want to pass on this model because the taper isn’t a feature that can’t be broken in over time.

3. You Want to Save Money On Your Training Shoes

The final context where I think you’ll want to pass on the NOBULL Rec Trainer is for those that don’t feel like spending money on training shoes that they don’t necessarily need.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer

I’ll admit, I am the worst offender when it comes to buying more training shoes than I need, especially pairs that have very limited use cases that I really like for specific things.

That said, this is one of the few models where, even though they can work for daily wear, I would say pass on them entirely and save your money. These don’t feel worth their price point and they come off as “cheap” to me.

NOBULL Rec Trainer Pros and Cons

Over the course of my testing and training in the NOBULL Rec Trainer, I’ve found a few pros and cons to keep in mind with this shoe. 

Report Card: Get the Quick Facts

NOBULL Rec Trainer

NOBULL Rec Trainer Product Shot
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for Narrow Feet
  • Width: Narrow

Pros

  1. This shoe can work a little better for daily wear compared to other NOBULL shoes due to its simplistic appearance, flexible sole, and more breathable upper.
  2. Narrow feet lifters that love low-profile shoes will resonate with this shoe’s fit, especially if you like aggressive toe box tapers.
  3. This shoe can work decently well for moderately heavy strength training and casual cross-training so it can be a good generalist for NOBULL fans.

Cons

  1. This shoe’s performance is very lackluster and I haven’t been that impressed with this model’s performance in any one training vertical.
  2. The lack of width and low-profile upper makes this shoe feel really snug on the foot and they’re definitely not the most comfortable model on the market.
  3. Despite being more “flexible” this shoe’s sole is still thick and clunky and you don’t get a ton of ground feel with this model for training and walking.

If you’ve worn this shoe, what are some pros and cons that you’ve noticed with this model? Let me know in the comments below.

Performance Assessment

To break down the NOBULL Rec Trainer’s performance, I’ll discuss its performance in a few training contexts. I’ll cover how this shoe has performed for lifting, versatile training, and daily wear.

For the record, I did one short run in this shoe and decided to not test them in this vertical because I didn’t find them comfortable at all.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Lifting

The NOBULL Rec Trainer can work for casual strength training if you need a shoe for some static strength work on rubber gym floors on a regular basis. For example, if you’re doing bodybuilding workouts, then these will likely be fine for your needs.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Leg Day

The EVA foam midsole is fairly stable for deadlifts up to 405 lbs and some moderate heavy leg work. This isn’t my favorite NOBULL training shoe for lifting, though, so if you are wanting something for heavier work, you’ll want to pass on these, in my opinion.

My rationale for this and why I don’t like this model for more serious lifting sessions is for two reasons. First, the lack of rubber outsole gives this shoe a more slippery feel on machines (think metal platforms), wooden platforms, and turf.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Strength Training

I get the point of the EVA foam outsole for casual use and keeping the shoe light, but it’s not my favorite for lifting and this model doesn’t have the best traction in the game.

Second, this shoe’s narrow toe box gives them an uncomfortable fit when you’re trying to ground the feet and grip the floor. Plus, the low-profile upper digs into this shoe’s comfort when doing things like lunges and split squats.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Versatile Training

For versatile training, the NOBULL Rec Trainer is just okay. This is not my go-to training shoe for wearing for HIIT workouts, athletic-focused sessions, and workouts where you’ll be doing a lot of jumping.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for HIIT Workouts

Yes, it’s lightweight and more flexible than its NOBULL peers, however, with its snugger upper and narrow toe box I found this shoe to be really uncomfortable during workouts where I heavy into my forefoot.

When doing jump rope conditioning and broad jumps, for example, I felt my pinky toe screaming after a short time of use in this model. This is why I suggest anyone with a medium or wider foot width steer clear of this shoe.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Versatile Workouts

I also wasn’t overly impressed with this shoe’s grip on turf when doing sled pushes, and this didn’t really surprise me because this model does have a foam outsole. Generally, shoes with foam outsoles will always compromise tread for keeping weight lighter.

That said, if you’re doing casual versatile workouts here and there and you want a shoe that can technically work, but with a daily wear bias, then this model might make sense for your versatile training asks.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Daily Wear

In a daily wear context, I’m hit or miss on the NOBULL Rec Trainer. If you have narrow feet, you’ll enjoy this shoe and how it foots your specific foot anatomy.

This model is more flexible than other NOBULL shoes so if that’s been an ask of yours with your footwear, then I could also see this shoe filling a void that’s been lacking from their footwear line-up.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Daily Wear

Lastly, if you’re wanting a NOBULL shoe for daily wear in indoor contexts then I could also see this shoe working. For example, if you work retail and you’re on your feet all day or you’re on less aggressive surfaces this shoe should work fine.

My gripes with this shoe for daily wear, though, revolve around its fit and long-term durability. Shoes with foam outsoles are always problematic in my eyes when it comes to long-term durability.

Testing the NOBULL Rec Trainer for Walking

After only a week of casual use in this shoe, I’m already noticing the outsole start to fray so I’m really curious how this shoe does long-term on concrete and high-abrasion surfaces. I’ll update this article as more time passes, too, by the way.

NOBULL Rec Trainer Sizing

For the NOBULL Rec Trainer, you’ll want to be really specific with how you size this shoe. Compared to other NOBULL shoes, this model fits most similar to the Canvas Trainer but with a snugger upper.

If you have narrow feet then you’ll want to go true to size in this model. In addition, if you like a little more length at the end of your toe box then you’ll want to go up a half-size in this shoe.

NOBULL Rec Trainer Toe Box Width

For medium and wide feet, I would steer clear of this shoe entirely. Even if you size up in this shoe I’m not convinced you’ll have enough room in your midfoot and toe box.

I would also pass on this shoe if you have thicker feet. The low-profile upper will be pretty brutal for those with thicker and meatier feet, in my opinion.

  • NOBULL Rec Trainer Sizing Thoughts: True to size for narrow feet. For medium and wide feet, pass on this shoe.

NOBULL Rec Trainer Sizing and Fit Assessment

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the NOBULL Rec Trainer, drop a comment below and I can help you out accordingly.

Price Breakdown

For the NOBULL Rec Trainer, you can expect to pay around $130 USD which is a pretty standard price point for NOBULL training shoes.

To be honest, I don’t think this shoe is worth its price. There are not enough features in this model to warrant a price of a more “premium” training shoe.

NOBULL Rec Trainer Midsole and Heel

For example, if you really want to grab a NOBULL shoe for CrossFit, cross-training, and lifting, then I’d opt for the traditional NOBULL Trainer or NOBULL Trainer+ which have similar price points to the Rec Trainer.

NOBULL Rec Trainer

$130

NOBULL Rec Trainer Product Shot
2.8
Stability
3.0
Versatility
2.9
Durability
2.8
Quality
3.0

Best For

  • Moderate Lifting
  • Casual Cross-Training
  • Daily Wear
  • Narrow Feet

Falls Short

  • For Serious Training
  • For Medium and Wide Feet
  • For CrossFit
  • For Running

Construction Details

The NOBULL Rec Trainer is pretty simplistic regarding its construction and features. Below are some of the key construction details to note about this model.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Stack Height (Heel/Forefoot): 13mm/9mm
  • Knit Upper
  • Outsole Grade EVA Foam
  • Herringbone Tread Patterning
  • Rubber Midsole Overlay
  • EVA Foam Midsole
  • 4 Core Eyelets
  • Gusseted Tongue
  • Warranty: 1 Year

If you have additional construction-related questions about this shoe, drop a comment below and I can clarify whatever you need more information on.

NOBULL Rec Trainer Lacing System

Takeaway Thoughts

The NOBULL Rec Trainer has been pretty underwhelming and it’s my least favorite NOBULL training shoe to date. I’m having a tough time figuring out where this shoe really fits in compared to its peers.

Maybe if you have narrow feet and you want a model for daily wear, too, then it makes sense, but I think for most lifters and athletes, you’ll want to pass on this shoe.

If you have additional questions about the NOBULL Rec Trainer, drop a comment below or reach out to me via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

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.

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