GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Review

GORUCK BALLISTIC TRAINERS - LOW TOP - BLACK + GUM

9.3

Durability

9.0/10

Technology

9.5/10

Design

9.0/10

Breathability

9.4/10

Maintenance

9.7/10

Pros

  • Stabiliity
  • Breathability
  • Design & Aesthetics
  • Short Shoe Break-In period
  • Maintenance

Cons

  • Midsole & outsole elevation will take time to get used to

I recently got my hands on the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers as I was looking for shoes that are versatile and that can be used for numerous occasions and activities. They’re technically categorized as cross-training shoes that are designed to be versatile and adaptable for many different types of activities, and not just rucking alone.

It’s one thing to review shoes as soon as you unbox them, however since these shoes are designed versatility, I wanted to put them to the test by wearing them for 2 months and then share my thoughts on how they performed.

To test them properly, I went out and about while wearing these shoes and did the following activities in order to really gain a comprehensive understanding as to how agile and versatile these shoes are:

  • Rucking
  • Hiking
  • CrossFit
  • Weightlifting
  • Recreational walks

A big component when fully examining any shoe is to look at how they perform during different terrains and weather conditions. During my the 2 months, I wore these shoes while walking on sand, ice (glacier), and on wet surfaces.

Keep reading to find out how they held up during every single one of those activities.

Finally, before we get into it, I also wanted to look into how easy it is to maintain these shoes. Longevity is important to be mindful of when picking out your new shoes, and so we looked into that so that you don’t have to.

Table of Contents:
1. First Impressions of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
2. GORUCK Ballistic Trainers 2 Months Follow-Up Review
3. Pros & Cons of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
4. GORUCK Ballistic Trainers on Slippery Surfaces
5. GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For Hiking
6. GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For Running
7. GORUCK Ballistic Trainers on Sand
8. GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For Rucking
9. GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For CrossFit
10. Cleaning & Maintaining the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
11. Final Thoughts on the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

First Impressions of the GoRuck Ballistic Trainers

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Packaging review
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Packaging

The delivery time was spot on, I believe it took me about a week to get shoes in the mail. There was no damage to the box itself which was comforting to see as I have had my fair share of mishaps with deliveries in the past.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers - Low Top - Black & Gum review
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers – Low Top – Black & Gum

At first glance, the shoe looked exactly like how it was advertised on their website. You get exactly what you ordered and I noticed that no features on the shoes were exaggerated from the pictures on the site. I went for the Black & Gum style since their midnight (full black) Ballistic Trainers were out of stock at the time.

Front and side view of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers - Low Top - Black & Gum coloured review
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers – Low Top – Black & Gum – Front and side

The toe area is made from an “engineered wrap knit technology” according to GORUCK, which is specifically designed to reinforce strength to the shoe and provide flexibility in the toe area.

Personally, I like the way the knit wrap blends in the with tough 1680D CORDURA Ballistic Nylon that covers the lace, midfoot and heel areas.

I found that the logo placement on the back of the shoes very strategic and aesthetically pleasing. You can tell what brand of shoes they are without the logos having to cover the entirety of the shoe.

The logos are perfectly sized so that it doesn’t take away from the style and personality of the shoe, yet you know what brand you’re wearing. Nice touch.

The wide shape at the tow area gives your feet and toes ample space to move around and looks great.

Outsoles of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

The minute I unboxed these shoes, I immediately checked the outsole to make sure the treads were deep enough to provide the proper grip I was looking for. I was happy with what I saw.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Outsoles review
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Outsoles

The Triple Compound Rubber Outsole looks durable and able to provide the very much needed grip when rucking, working out, and for everyday use. The pattern on the outsole comes in different shapes, lines, and patterns which is great for maintaining proper grip.

Breaking into the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

I found that the sizing options they had listed on the site were accurate. I typically wear a size 9, and their size 9 was the perfect fit. So their sizing is pretty accurate. If you’re looking to place your order, i’d recommend that you get your usual size.

As for breaking them in, Im not quite sure how I did not get any blisters. I simply wore these shoes to a couple of CrossFit classes, and thankfully there wasn’t much running in those classes.

Usually, if I’m in a rush to break into any shoes or boots, I usually place wet balls of newspaper into the toe section. As the paper dries and hardens, it stretches the material and creates a comfier fit. However, I did not feel the need to do that with the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers.

If I had to put a number on how many days it would take to break into the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, I’d say it would take about 2 – 3 days. However, it really did not take me that long.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers 2 Months Follow-Up Review

During the first 2 months of wearing the Ballistic Trainers, I really wanted to test out these shoes under all conditions. Not only did I try it out in my daily workouts, I took these shoes with me when I went on vacation to the west coast of Canada (Alberta & Vancouver).

This was a trip packed with outdoor activities which included hiking, rucking, walking, and walking on glaciers.

This trip gave me an opportunity to put the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers to the test. Here’s how my experience was.

Pros and Cons of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

ProsCons
Feet stability in all outdoor activitiesMidsole & outsole elevation will take time to get used to
Breathability
Durability
Design & Aesthetics
Flexibility
Short Shoe-break-in period
Maintenance

Pros and Cons of the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Explained

As you keep reading my full take and experiences with the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, you’ll understand how shoes preformed in different terrains and activities. Throughout this time, I had no issues with my feet being too loose or feeling like they were too tight. Hence, feet stability is on the pros list.

Breathability was great. I trained like an animal in these shoes, I went on really long hikes, rucks and wore them to some intense CrossFit classes. With that said I found these shoes keeping my feet as cool as possible at all times.

I pushed these shoes to the limit by wearing them in different terrains and environments. I wore them while hiking up mountains, glaciers, rocky and sandy terrains yet they continued to perform well and stood their ground. These shoes are certainly durable given all they’ve been through in the first 2 months that I wore them.

Design and aesthetics are somewhat subjective depending on your taste, but to me, these shoes are designed well for everyday activities and rough workouts. It’s easy to tell that a lot of technology, thought, and effort went into designing these shoes.

I did not find myself relying on old tricks to quicken the break-in period with these shoes. I found that within a day or two of strategic use (not using them for too long in the first day or two), that my feet got well accustomed to them. I would certainly recommend that you treat the break-in period with these shoes like with any other new shoes you buy, don’t wear them for too long when you first get them.

Maintenance so far has required little effort. I got these shoes really sandy given all the adventures I went on. However, all I did to restore them back was to rinse them in water and leave them outside in the sun for a day and they were cleaned properly.

Price is subjective depending on how you intend to use these shoes. They are currently listed for $125 which is not too expensive for a sports shoe, however they’re not the cheapest. If you intend to buy these shoes for a single activity like running, then it may be seen as expensive as the alternatives on the market are somewhat cheaper.

However, if you intend to use these shoes for different activities like rucking, CrossFit, running, hiking and more, then these shoes are very well priced given all the technology in it.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers on Slippery Surfaces

Adam walking on the frozen water from the glacier while wearing the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
Adam walking on the frozen water from the glacier while wearing the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

We hiked to the top of the mountain where the surface we walked on eventually transitioned from a rocky terrain to glaciers. This is where I had my doubts about the ballistic trainers.

While tourists were wrapping their shoes with ice cleats, I just went in with my GORUCK Ballistic Trainers and to my avail, I did not slip once. Granted, I was walking with caution, however the shoes held strong. My feet felt very stable and the triple rubber outsole really held strong. In my eyes, it really did pass the slip test.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, I would still recommend having ice cleats on you. We only walked on the ice for 10 minutes, while others hiked on the glacier and the frozen water for an hour. So for your own safety, always be equipped and wear those ice cleats if you find yourself in that situation.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For Hiking

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For Hiking review
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers worn during my Hike

We went for numerous hikes during our trip and hiked on all types of terrain. We also hiked on different elevations, meaning we hiked uphill and downhill very frequently.

During this time, my main concern while wearing the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers was whether it will keep my foot in place, breathability, and if it would grip well during the uphill and downhill tracks.

I must say that the GORUCK Ballistic trainers held very well. I put them through the wringer as I hiked for more than 10kms at a time and I could tell some of the features in the shoes helped me push through the hike.

The flexible and cushioned Midsole gave my feet the flexibility to move in all different directions with complete comfort. I did notice the hardened midfoot of the outsole come into play when I was half way into my hike. It did provide me with the stability I needed.

At times, when I just stood up after a break mid-hike, I’d feel a strange sensation in the middle of my foot because of the elevated insole, but I got used to that feeling quickly. It was a feeling that I simply was not used to when wearing running shoes or similar type of sport shoes.

Side note, are you looking to learn more about the difference between rucking and hiking? check out our full take on it here.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For Running

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Blackout

Check out the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Blackout on GORUCK (link to GORUCK)

I mainly ran with the GORUCK Ballistic trainers during my CrossFit workouts. In the beginning, I found the high density elevated cushioning in the midsole of the shoes to be rather weird when running.

However, a minute or two into the run, my feet just got accustomed to it.

What I did like about these shoes while running was the breathability that comes from the wrap knit technology that is prominent on the front of the shoes. It also provided me with the flexibility I was looking for. I noticed that my feet were not sweating as much after the run as with other training shoes.

One thing that also stood out to me was the density and durability of the heel.

The heel area on the outsole is thick enough to absorb the shock on my feet while running, which is great cause I do tend to get some lower back pain if the shoes I’m wearing have a thin outsole (especially in the heel area). Thankfully I had no lower back pain while running in the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers on Sand

Walking on sand while wearing the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers to review
Walking on sand while wearing the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

As previously said, I really wanted to test out the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers on all terrains, so I tested them out while on the beach.

I found that the outsole and the deep treads on the outsole did a lot of work. I found that my feet were very secure and that the shoes did not sink too much in the sand. Somehow, I felt rather lightweight while wearing them.

Granted, all the sand that enters the shoes is not fun, and I wouldn’t recommend taking these shoes to the beach for a typical beach day. However, it’s good to know that they still performed well on sandy terrain and that they can support you during a workout session on the beach.

Side note, check out our rucking vs running post if you’re looking to learn more about the difference between rucking and running.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For Rucking

Adam wearing the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers while rucking

I found that the experience of rucking in these shoes were very similar to when hiking. To be fair, I had not loaded to my weight in my rucksack in the past 2 months while i was reviewing these shoes.

The main features I noticed in these shoes that came into play while I was rucking were breathability and stability.

I really do put any boots or shoes that I wear during my rucks through the wringer as I do ruck for long distances. One of my main priorities is breathability and foot sweats. I found that after breaking into the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, I was not thinking too much about my feet heating up.

To be fair though, I did wear very breathable socks as well, especially during the summer months. Nevertheless, these shoes performed really well and kept my feet as cool as possible.

Stability of any rucking shoes is key. Making sure that the shoe wraps around my feet properly is a must. Thankfully, these shoes delivered on that. The arch in the midsole combined with the hardened midfoot outsole play a large role in that.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers For CrossFit

Going to my CrossFit class was a great way to test the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers, I was paying attention to the following:

1. Stability

CrossFit classes involves different type of movements from running, jumping, olympic weightlifting and movements which require the feet stability.

The GORUCK Ballistic Trainers had my feet perfectly stable for the compound movements, lifts, and jumps.

I found that the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers had my feet very well positioned when performing heavy compound lifts (squats and deadlifts). The hardened and elevated midfoot came into play here as it left no wiggle room for my feet to move around.

2. Breathability

No one leaves a CrossFit class without being dripped in sweat, so making sure that my feet were as cool as possible was a priority.

One thing I ought to note is that I did pair these shoes with breathable socks. So it did maximize airflow in and out of the shoe.

I did find that my feet were NOT sweating excessively. Yes, my socks were kind of wet as expected by the end of the session but it could have been much worse if it weren’t for the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers.

3. Shock Absorption

CrossFit involves jumping whether it be from burpees or any other exercise, the absorption from the shoes is important to prevent any knee or back pain.

I found that the dense and durable heel portion of the outsole really came into play here. Especially when jumping back on the ground after the kip swings and the jumps during the endless burpees.

I paid close attention to my knees and back after every jump and I felt no pain. The firm midsole and outsole in the heel area supported me well and absorbed all the shock involved with those jumps.

Cleaning & Maintaining the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

I was a bit worried about cleaning these shoes as I got them really dirty while hiking and rucking. Since I really put them to the test, one final test remained.

How easy is it to clean them?

To show you how easy it was for me to clean them, all I did was rinse them in the shower. I did not use soap or any detergent.

I simply got them wet and left them outside to dry for a day. Here’s a before and after picture to show you the results.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Dirty - Review
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers Dirty
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers after cleaning with water - review
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers after cleaning with water

If you’re looking to maintain these shoes long term, I would highly recommend getting your hands on 2 spray cans.

1. Deodorizer Spray Can

While these boots are very breathable and did not omit any weird smells, thankfully, it’s a good idea to get your hands on a shoe deodorizer as the smell can be an issue for some people.

It also keeps it clean and hygienic as we do rack up some bacteria from our sweat that can be left inside the shoe.

Here’s what I typically use:

Check out the M&B Deodorizer on Amazon (link to Amazon)

2. Water & Stain Shoe Protector

This spray can will have your shoes fully waterproof and will prevent wear and tear issues like crackling, fading, discolouration, and premature aging.

It’s also a good tool in your aresnal for all your other shoes as it repels water, soil, oils, and common stains.

Check out the M&B Water & Stain Shoe Protector on Amazon (link to Amazon)

Final Thoughts on the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

I really put these shoes in the wringer. I wore them during activities that I do not usually partake in, like walking on glaciers. Yet, it still held on strong and provided me with the support, stability, and flexibility that I was looking for.

Generally speaking, I tend to buy shoes that I know I’ll be wearing for more than one occasion or activity and the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers are a perfect fit for that.

While two months in certainly not considered long term, but given the condition of my GORUCK Ballistic Trainers after taking such a beating, I’m confident that they’ll live with me for quite some time. I have no worries in terms of durability.

The main question is would I recommend these shoes? Yes. I would certainly recommend them if you’re looking for sport shoes that are versatile and can be used for numerous activities like rucking, hiking, CrossFit, weightlifting, etc. Comfort is not an issue and the break in time is rather short so it definitely meets my requirements for a sports shoe.

Still looking for other rucking shoes? Check out our full list of the best boots for rucking.

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