Best Shoes for Obstacle Course Races, Mud Runs, and OCRs
A popular question a first-time racer might have is “What are the best shoes for “. This might come in the form of “What are the best shoes for Spartan Race”, “What are the best shoes for Tough Mudder”, or “What are the best shoes for Warrior Dash”, “What are the best shoes for my first obstacle course race or mud run” or any other upcoming race.
If this is your first time, it's easy to be overwhelmed. As obstacle course racing and mud run have grown in popularity, more and more shoe companies are coming out with models catering to the OCR crowd. Some work great, and others…..not so much! We've done reviews on many popular models, put hundreds of hours worth of testing into them, and also reached out to our community to get their recommendations. While we aren't going to recommend a single model for you, as it varies based on personal taste, foot sizing, and other factors, we can guide in the direction of a few brands & models that if they fit correctly, should be a good shoe for your first mud run
The below list is in no particular order. Click on the shoe name to find current pricing for it
-These might be the most popular shoe for people's very first race. Why? Salomon is a proven company with a track record of indestructible shoes. Salomon's are typically cheaper than a lot of the other dedicated models. The one downside? Shoe weight. If you've never used a “light” racing shoe before, you might not know the difference, but compared to a lot of the other models listed below, they are noticeably heavier.
Icebug Zeal & Zeal2
– Icebug is a brand that has become more and more popular the last few years. Originally designed for “SwimRun” events, these shoes typically drain well, are light weight, and durable for the beating they take on the course. While they have several models, the Zeal line work well on technical trails. Mud Run Guide's review here
Inov-8 X-Talon –
The Inov-8 line of all terrain shoes have been a perennial favorite in the obstacle racing world. The X-Talon line-up has been a favorite for years offering the 200 version (made specifically for OCR), 212 version, 225 version. The major difference between the three versions is the heel to toe drop and outer construction. All three models drain well and will ensure that you do not slip even on the muddiest of tracks. For athletes who need more support in a race shoe look to the Roclite line from Inov-8 to offer more stability and at the same time great grip on muddy terrain. For the really muddy events check out the X-Claw line from Inov-8.
Reebok All Terrain Super 3.0
– Reebok designed the All Terrain shoes with OCR specifically in mind. The shoe design was a collaboration of Reebok and obstacle racing athletes. The construction is light and drains water well. The lugs grip the mud. However, it's worth noting that models prior to 2017 were not built to last and people were ripping holes in their shoes after just a use or two! So if you are looking into these, make sure they are a 2017 or later year model (as pictured).
Merrell All Out Crush
– Merrell has been a longtime staple of the outdoor industry. In the last couple of years, Merrell has made a push into the obstacle racing market with a partnership with Tough Mudder. In doing so they have tweaked their All Out Crush trail running shoe to adapt to the needs of obstacle racers. The shoe offers a solid platform and good lugs to get through the mud with ease. The All Out Crushes drain water well and rugged upper will last at least for a couple seasons.
– If the race you are looking at is going to be muddy, or involve river crossing, we would suggest picking up a pair of “shoe gaiters” or “trail gaiters”. They attach at the top of your shoe, and help prevent debris from entering the top of your shoe. This helps reduce the amount of gravel & dirt that builds up under your foot as the race goes on. Definitely not a necessity, but, a nice to have!
Know of a model we left off, or interested in knowing our thoughts on a model not listed here? Just leave us a note in the comments!