T Nation

Sabo Deadlift Shoe Review + Pics


Dropping a Sabo Deadlift shoe review here incase anyone’s keen or if someone googles it up looking for info. Bought the updated/newest version from MaxBarbell (great service btw definitely recommended for US or international), in black because its sexier and looks something like the metal powerlifting shoes, to sumo deadlift.


  • Flatness/Insole: Flat, hard and close to the ground as per most other reviews. Removable insoles which were negligibly thick/cushioned but pulled them out anyways. Won’t exactly replicate a barefoot/sock pulling feel for conventional deadlifters used to that way so maybe slippers would be more appropriate, being a bit flatter however imperceptibly so and perhaps more importantly cheaper.

  • Traction/Outsole: Underwhelming but nevertheless good enough especially when placed under load. To clarify the outsole has little tackiness to it as opposed to say the gum rubber of the Asics Matflex but will do the jump all the same.

  • Lateral Stability/Reinforcement: When driving out/spreading the floor in sumo you want no doubt in your mind that your footwear can hold up to it, transfer that force efficiently and ultimately allow you to finish the lift. I’ve heard of people busting out the sides of their chucks though this does sound a bit far fetched to me. What I can tell you is that you won’t be busting out the sides of the Sabos.
  • Metatarsal Strap: one of the main deciding factors for me in purchasing these shoes. The straps sucks your foot into the shoe/ground. If you’ve felt metatarsal straps on the Romaleos and you like it then the Sabos will offer a similar feel albeit not as secure as the former. If you haven’t tried a metatarsal strap then you’ll probably (99%) like it anyway.

Called into question by several reviews. Can’t say these are completely false claims especially compared to the construction of something like the Nike Romaleos 2 (in hand are heavy, built like a tank and will probably last a life time). However the Sabos aren’t all that bad. Synthetic leather, suede and double stitched reinforcement especially on the outside make the Sabos plenty tough albeit not to the level of the Romaleos.
Tradeoff of this perceived flimsy construction is the you get a light a flexible shoe that can get you into any sumo position you choose without being restrictive.

Personal preference mostly and unimportant to some but goddamit I give a shit. In the words of his holiness the Brofessor, Dom Mazetti, “I go to the gym to look good and I look good to go to the gym”.

Seriously tho Sabos look like they mean business. IMO the white detailing looks gaudy af so painted it black using acrylic (see pic below). As close as I can get to a pair of Metals minus the $200+ price tag.

As far as shoe reviews go sizing sections always seem to be subjective and not that helpful to prospective buyers. You’ll get one guy saying go true to size and another say up or down 3 sizes or wear the shoes on the wrong foot.

I’ll attempt to give as much useful information as I can but there’ll be a bit of subjectivity sprinkled in. To orient us a bit: I’m a 7US. That’s my go to size, the size I’ll try first and state anytime I’m asked (Big dick tho lel). Width wise… I’ve no idea so I’m normal width. Also I tend to prefer my shoes snug with as little wiggle room as possible. e.g. my Nike Romaleos 2 size 7US. Snug fit. Perfect fit

If you are looking to find your Sabo size the first step is to check out the official size chart and measure your feet. Sabo uses EU or Russian sizing or something like that so this is a must. Some sites recommend adding 5mm to your measurement but I my experience this will throw off your sizing. When I measured my feet they were somewhere between 250-255mm depending on how bad my tracing was or RUS 39 to 40.

I bought the size 39 and found it looser than I’d like (keep in mind I like my shoes snug). From my experience I would recommend you measure your feet, DO NOT ADD 5mm TO THE MEASUREMENT and purchase the smaller size in the range you end up with (if you like a comfy fit or have wide feet) or the next size down if you prefer a snug fit. That is to say that if I could be bothered I would swap out for a size 38 RUS.

On Maxbarbell there’s also an approximate US to RUS sizing chart but I can’t speak for its accuracy.

Keep in mind that the insole can be removed/new insoles inserted allowing for some customisation of fit but given the Sabos mostly synthetic construction the shoes will not stretch much and will fit as out of box.

Would recommend for sumo tho not for conventional. Sabo Deadlifts aren’t much better if at all then other shoes on the market e.g. Metal Powerlifting Shoes, Mark Bell/Reebok Power Shoe, Various brands’ DL Slippers, Chucks, Asics Matflex 5s etc.


The Mark Bell shoe is awesome. Just switched to them from chucks.