Wresting, for all its intricate techniques and intense physical demands, is a pretty simple sport, gear-wise. And no, we’re not talking about that wrestling, the professional spectacle with choreographed acrobatics, nail-biting scripted narratives, and eccentric characters dressed in crazy costumes.
The wrestling we’re covering here is the combat sport you’ve probably seen play out at the collegiate and Olympic level, with two athletes dueling it out, trying to pin each other to the mat. It doesn’t have the lengthy equipment requirements of sports like hockey or football, which puts athletes in all sorts of different pads, gloves, helmets and accessories. For wrestling, all you need is a singlet, headgear, and a pair of wrestling shoes.
That should tell you how important it is to have a good pair of wrestling shoes. You want something lightweight and flexible — to let you quickly navigate around the mat — that also offers great traction and support, to ensure you can grip the mat easily and avoid rolling an ankle. And if you flip a pair of wrestling shoes over, you’ll notice they’re either “unisole” — with one continuous piece — or “split sole” — which, as the name suggests, features two separate sole pieces. Split soles are said to be more flexible, while unisoles provide more traction.
Shopping for the Best Wrestling Shoes
There are a relatively small number of choices on the wrestling shoe market. In fact, only two brands — Asics and Adidas — really seem to dominate the space. As such, you’ll see almost exclusively options from those two brands on this list. That’s not favoritism or coincidence, simply a reflection of the market itself. We’ve dug deep to make sure we’re listing the best options, so know that you can’t go wrong buying from one of the big guys.
And speaking of those brands, during the shopping process you’ll likely spot some slightly older models of the shoes we sourced here. Those are often similar or identical — save a color or textural upgrade — and might available at lower prices as the brands try to shed inventory. We’ve done our best to include the most up-to-date versions.
When it comes to sizing, both Asics and Adidas recommend going half a size up from your regular shoes. Wrestling shoes should fit pretty snug, so proceed accordingly. And we definitely recommend wearing socks underneath. Those will certainly affect the fit, but more importantly, they’ll keep your shoes from getting stinky.
1. ASICS Matflex 6
Asics leads the pack with the Matflex 6, which sports a mesh upper that helps circulate air and keep your feet from soaking up sweat. It also features a removable sock liner. With more than 3,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.4-star rating, this is clearly a wrestling shoe that gets the job done. It’s worth noting, however, that many reviewers had trouble with sizing, so we’d recommend trying these on in a store if you can, or ordering a couple of pairs and returning the ones that don’t fit.
ASICS Matflex 6
2. Adidas Impact Wrestling Shoes
Limited gear means limited opportunities to make a fashion statement. Fortunately, these bold wrestling shoes from Adidas provide that opportunity in full force. The Impact comes in the Red Digital colorway featured below, in addition to a contemporary camo, loud neon green and a few other, slightly more tame, choices. If you’re a recreational wrestler — and not limited to school or uniform colors — these are a surefire way to up your style game on the mat. The Impact feature a split-sole contraction with synthetic leather under the toes and mesh on the heels.
Adidas Impact Wrestling Shoes
3. Asics JB Elite IV
BEST SIGNATURE SHOE
The JB Elite IV gets its name from Jordan Burroughs, an Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion wrestler. As a college wrestler at Nebraska, Burroughs won three Big 12 championships and two NCAA Division I championships. It’s safe to say the guy’s legit. And luckily, his signature shoe from Asics matches the quality of his performance. The JB Elite features a lace-up, high-top body for added support, while the mesh upper makes these shoes especially breathable. In case you’re not convinced, the JB Elite IVs have a 4.8-star rating on Amazon.
Asics JB Elite IV
4. Nike Inflict 3
BEST NIKE OPTION
As we mentioned, Asics and Adidas dominate the wrestling shoe game. If you’re interested in a third option from a renowned sports brand, the Inflict 3 is Nike’s best offering. Available in five simple, classic colorways, the Inflict 3 sports a gum outsole that provides extra traction, while a unisole design keeps your foot close to the ground for a natural feel.
Nike Inflict 3
5. Asics Unisex Snapdown 2
Asics has already unveiled the Snapdown 3, but the slightly older model is still available at a pretty low price. The Snapdown 2 features Serradial Traction Pods around the sole, which offer increased flexibility and traction. We’re a huge fan of the clean and simple aesthetic. Because it’s an older iteration, these are the cheapest wrestling shoes we could find, but act swiftly before your size goes out of stock!
Asics Snapdown 2
6. Adidas Combat Speed 5
One of the most popular wrestling shoes of the 70s and 80s, the Combat Speed 5 from Adidas sports a no-frills aesthetic, with the classic three-stripe logo displayed across a simple mesh body. The key feature here is the adjustable ankle strap, which should help keep the laces in place and provide additional ankle support. It’s easy to see why these minimalist wrestling shoes have never gone out of style.
Adidas Combat Speed 5
7. Adidas Mat Wizard 4
Another solid option from Adidas, the Mat Wizard 4 has the minimalism of the combat Speed 5s with a contemporary touch. You’ll see “EVA midsole” in a lot of product descriptions for wrestling shoes. This refers to ethyl vinyl acetate, which more simply translates to extra cushioning on the bottom of the shoe. Like most options on this list, the Mat Wizard 4 features a mesh upper and a lightweight “sock-like” fit.
Adidas Mat Wizard 4
8. Otomix Stingray Escape Shoes
We reviewed these multi-purpose shoes from Otomix in our roundup of the best weightlifting shoes. Though you’ll need a proper pair of wrestling shoes if you’re competing, it’s clear they have a lot in common with weightlifting and boxing shoes. Both prioritize traction, limited cushioning and a natural movement with the ground. These would also be great if you’re into mixed martial arts or other combat sports.
Otomix Stingray Escape Shoes
9. Asics Matcontrol 2 Lite-Show
Asics appropriately closes out our list with another great pair of wrestling shoes. Honestly, there’s not much to say about these Matcontrol 2s that we haven’t said about Asics’ other top-tier choices. These do, however, feature a “shoelace garage” to stow your tied laces during bouts, ensuring they won’t get in the way. The Matcontrol 2s mark another solid offering from a brand that dominates the wrestling shoe market. You really can’t go wrong with any pair of wrestling shoes from Asics.