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What are the Different Types of Parkour Gear?

By Amy Cottrell
Updated May 23, 2024
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One of the advantages of learning parkour, also known as free running, is that it requires no expensive equipment other than a good pair of running shoes. Parkour is a form of acrobatics that uses rural and urban settings as an obstacle course. Therefore, most of the equipment is already available, such as railings, walls and park benches. Some parkour athletes will want to purchase gear for strength training or safety gear such as elbow pads and knee pads, but much of it is optional.

The most important investment a person can make when beginning parkour is a suitable pair of shoes. Sneakers with good arch support will make it easier to both run long distances and make soft landings. The shoes should have soles that do not skid, because parkour sometimes requires climbing smooth walls. Beyond a good pair of shoes, any other material goods are completely optional for parkour.

Strength training and conditioning is crucial for athletes who wish to perform the intense acrobatics of parkour. Some might consider regular gym equipment as a form of parkour gear, because it helps to prepare for the real playing field, which is the urban obstacle course located outside. Working out at a gym is not always necessary, however. The philosophy of parkour is to find one’s own way, and many parkour enthusiasts do their strength training on the very outdoor rails and walls over which they enjoy leaping and climbing.

Some athletes like to create a controlled replica of the urban jungle for parkour training. Indoor walls and railings can be erected for obstacle course training. Beginners might also wish to use safety parkour gear, such as elbow pads, knee pads and gymnastic mats, for injury-free landings. Some sporting goods manufacturers that specialize in extreme sports have begun offering more parkour gear that aids controlled training.

Athletes might wish to bring some entertainment along for the journey, making a durable and tightly secured digital music player a valued piece of parkour gear for some people. It is also recommended that water be kept nearby, because dehydration can occur during heavy workouts. Although it isn't practical to carry much at all on the body while practicing parkour, a nearby meeting ground or storage locker should have a first aid kit inside. Minor scrapes and bruises are par for the course, and it is always a good idea to keep any wounds clean.

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Discussion Comments

By anon354089 — On Nov 05, 2013

You can't run around in full body armor while doing parkour or freerunning, guys. You have to be able to use every inch of your body freely. Also, safety does go first. You start very low and go slowly higher. If you are not sure that you can perform a move/jump, then you don't do it. Sure, you still can injure yourself but not that bad.

I've been doing parkour for a year now and I've never injured myself. Only a few bruises and pain in the muscles from overdoing it.

By Denha — On Sep 24, 2011

@sherlock87- I don't know about those as parkour shoes, but I know some people who have tried things like dance shoes and other minimalist shoes. I imagine barefoot-running shoes would also be good, considering that parkour is also called "free run".

By sherlock87 — On Sep 23, 2011

Many parkour enthusiasts prefer a light shoe to a typical running shoe. Others even do parkour barefoot. As someone who runs in barefoot-like shoes, I wonder if those might be even better? I have tried a few, including the fivefinger, which look similar to toe socks, only they're made with rubber. Those might be really good, since it's like being barefoot but with some protection.

By JaneAir — On Sep 23, 2011

@starrynight - Parkour does sound dangerous. Maybe a first aid kit should be considered essential parkour gear!

I have a few friends who do parkour also, and they do indoor strength training. I know at least one of my friends would consider a pull up bar and free weights part of his parkour gear!

By starrynight — On Sep 22, 2011

I think anyone who is doing parkour should really consider a helmet as part of their parkour gear. A few friends of mine do parkour and they've been injured more times than I can count.

Maybe my friends are doing parkour a bit more recklessly than they should, I don't know. But I think if you're going to be running around an "urban obstacle course" or whatever, you need serious safety gear.

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