If you thought performance sneakers are just for the conventional sports like basketball and running, let this change your mind. Over the years, along with the norm, footwear brands have attempted to cater to sports we never even knew existed, much less required their own performance-specific sneakers. Check out The 10 Best Sneakers for Unconventional Sports.
Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi
Original Purpose: Martial Arts Training
If the name of the shoe wasn't enough of a clue, these '60s Onitsuka Tigers were a the choice training kicks for martial arts experts. The lack of the midsole allowed for more control over the flexible outsole, which in turn meant better balance during training. If the Tai Chi happens to look familiar, it's probably because you saw actress Uma Thurman in Quinten Tarantino's Kill Bill kick ass in a yellow version of the sneakers.
Puma Speed Cat
Original Purpose: Motorsports - F1
While the Puma Speed Cat was designed for motorsports, it quickly went from the race track to the city streets as a popular lifestyle sneaker, particularly in European culture. Featuring a slim, aerodynamic profile, the Speed Cat originally came in a black suede upper. The shoe's only real performance element was the non-slippery rubber outsole that mimicked the traction on car tires. The
Converse Jack Purcell
Original Purpose: Badminton
Before the Jack Purcells achieved legendary status both in sneaker history and mainstream culture, they were just ordinary sneakers worn by the renowned 1930s badminton champion of whom the shoes were named after. While the shoe's upper was nothing but more than a simple canvas, the Purcell featured an encapsulated toebox, which gave it added traction and durability on the badminton court.
Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0
Original Purpose: CrossFit Training
What some people consider to be the modern day World’s Strongest Man competition, we call plain un-necessary. But regardless, we suppose there’s need for a sneaker that is built to the specifics of CrossFit. It’s only right that the brand that began the craze (literally) is the only one who’s made a specialized shoe for it—talk about self-promotion. The low-profile CrossFit Nano 2.0 is designed for lateral support, along with quick mobility through grueling CrossFit courses. If you’re crazy enough to try it, you might as well go all out with the kicks.
adidas Handball Spezial
Original Purpose: Handball
At first glance the adidas Spezial looks like an indoor soccer shoe. But this extremely lightweight sneaker was designed for another indoor sport: handball. The velour upper on the Spezial featured additional padding, along with a four-zone sole construction that made it perfect for the quick stop-and-go movements that handball requires. With a pair of these, you could rule the playground.
Teva Cherry Bomb 2
Original Purpose: Watersports - Kayaking
We're not sure how big the kayak sneaker market is, but it's safe to assume that Teva has it on lock with the Cherry Bomb 2. The water-ready bootie is designed to fit comfortably into the tight spaces of a raft or kayak. Its Spider Rubber + JStep outsole offers exceptional grip on slippery rocks, while the 3mm neoprene upper keeps feet warm and dry. Of course you must be a serious kayak enthusiast if you happen to own a pair of these specialty kicks.
Reebok Alien Stomper
Original Purpose: Space Travel
Ok, so maybe space travel isn't a sport. And the Reebok Alien Stompers weren't literally made to go to outer space. But they were, however, created specifically for James Cameron's 1986 sci-fi hit Aliens, in which Sigourney Weaver rocked them in her role as a badass lieutenant. The sneakers had straps in place of laces to really get the futuristic look across. In conclusion, the Alien Stompers had no real purpose, however they're definitely high on the weird list.
adidas Indoor Super
Original Purpose: Squash
In the '80s adidas rolled out a wide series of indoor court shoes, but none were more impressive than the Indoor Super squash shoe (and yes, squash is a sport). While we'd rock a pair of these on the street any day, the Indoor Supers were designed specifically to conquer the squash court. The shoe's molded dual-density rubber outsole with insert zones gave it excellent grip and flexibility—making for one solid sneaker.
Onitsuka Tiger Tug of War
Original Purpose: Tug of War
If you recall getting owned in a childhood game of tug and war, it's because the kids on the other team were probably wearing these Onitsuka Tigers designed specifically to help you hold you ground. This was, however, a bit of a reach from Onitsuka. Considering its ordinary rubber outsole, we'll bet these weren't any better for tug of war than the normal sneakers of the time. Its no surprise this is the only tug of war shoe from a sports brand.
Original Purpose: Parkour
If you're unfamiliar with the urban art of parkour, to break it down in layman's terms, its the activity of maneuvering through the city streets using acrobatic skills. While the sport has received a decent amount of hype over the years, the only brand that has attempted to give parkour athletes their own custom sneaker is K-Swiss. The Ariake combines toughness from a single piece upper that is virtually impossible to break, with a one-of-a-kind outsole designed to climb walls with ease. The sneaker's shock spring technology provides great support during landings.