Comfort and flexibility are key factors in choosing parkour clothing, with shoes being the most important piece. Shoes should fit well, have good grip, and provide shock absorption. Clothing should allow for full range of motion, and safety gear is optional but should be made of durable and flexible materials.
Choosing clothes for parkour, also known as freerunning, revolves more around comfort and flexibility than just safety, as the former two factors significantly reduce the risk of injury. The most important piece of clothing for parkour is a good pair of shoes. Freerunners should test their shoes for three factors: fit, grip, and shock absorption. Other parkour clothing is usually determined by personal preference; Freerunners should choose clothing that provides comfort while still maximizing their body’s range of motion. Safety equipment, such as knee pads and gloves, are generally ignored by experts, even though these pieces may prove useful for beginners.
Parkour clothing should always include a pair of properly sized shoes; shoes that are too tight restrict movement, while shoes that are too loose put a freerunner at risk of injury. Freerunners can test this quality of their shoes by wearing them and rotating their ankles. The best shoes should be comfortable while still allowing for full, unhindered rotation.
Another important consideration is the grip of the soles. Individuals will run, jump, and land on a variety of surfaces while parkouring, so shoes contribute a large part to foot stability. Shoppers can test this by dragging their feet across a smooth floor; if the shoes provide adequate friction against movement, their grip is good for parkour.
Freeruners should also test how well their shoes distribute stress by stamping their feet full force on the ground or by jumping from a height of about 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m). Parkour places a significant amount of pressure on the foot, and shoes should have strong enough cushioning to prevent stress-related injuries. A good pair of parkour shoes should minimize the perceived impact of these tests.
Experts identify two main schools of thought regarding parkour clothing: some believe that loose, comfortable clothing is best for the sport, while others think that skintight under-armor is more suitable. Parkour enthusiasts find that both options work, as the main principle behind dressing for the sport is to allow for a full range of body motion. Freerunners should choose parkour clothing that feels light and non-restrictive when worn; thick, durable fabrics such as denim are not recommended.
Beginners can also choose to wear safety gear, although they should consider removing it after a few weeks of practice. Knee pads and elbow pads tend to limit the movement of the joints. Gloves, on the other hand, tend to limit a freerunner’s ability to feel the environment through their hands. Freerunners should choose safety gear made of durable plastic at the points of impact and flexible material like neoprene around the joints.