Mudder Shoes, Cross Country Trainers, Running Shoes… whatever you want to call them, you’re going to need a great pair if you want to complete a Tough Mudder (or any mud run / OCR).
Here is a feature overview of the best Tough Mudder shoes with my reviews below.
Ladies: I created a separate list for women’s trail running shoes.
Tough Mudder Shoes
It’s important to understand the particular challenge’s of a Tough Mudder event. You can expect plenty of trail running – uphill, downhill, through mud, and even through creeks and standing water.
Rarely will you be running on a flat, even surface with good traction. There will be plenty of water in a Tough Mudder run.
The best shoes will be able to survive dipping in and out of the water multiple times throughout the race and drain the water quickly.
Your typical running/jogging shoes were not designed to take this type of abuse. This is why a pair a trail running shoes made specifically for this purpose are going to do a much better job for you.
Tough Mudder Shoes Should Be:
- Fast drying and wick away moisture and sweat.
- They need to be lightweight, remember it’s a 12 mile race.
- Give you traction in wet and muddy conditions.
- Tough Mudder shoes should give you support while climbing obstacles.
- Comfortable and stay on your feet while getting stuck in the mud. You don’t want to leave them behind!
- Durable, a good pair of trail running shoes are not cheap, you want to have them for a while.
Also a good pair of moisture resistant socks, will also help in keeping your feet dry and comfortable.
Everyone has a different opinion on what makes the best shoes to wear for Tough Mudder events. Some people will say go for the best trail shoes that you can afford, others will tell you it doesn’t really matter that much “they’re just going to get ruined anyway…”
So I took it upon myself to create a list of the best shoes for a Tough Mudder or any mud run / Obstacle Course Races, such as Spartan Race and Warrior Dash.
If you are doing the 5K Mudder, the best shoes for it are the same as they have all the same requirements. The only difference is you won’t be getting muddy but your shoes will still need moisture wicking abilities to keep your feet dry from sweating.
Best Shoes for Tough Mudder
#1 Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe
The Saloman Trail shoe is an ‘ultra-lightweight’ shoe designed for “Mud Running Races”. The Tough Mudder races will throw you additional obstacles from the standard mountain path. The Speedcross 5 deals with these situations better than most with it’s Mud and Snow “Climashield” and “Contragrip sole”.
This protective upper with an ultra aggressive tread will help you from falling off the balance beam into the freezing water below!
The Saloman Speedcross 3 Trail shoe will have you feeling confident ripping through the sloppiest of trails in all weather conditions.
The Speedcross 4 now has the added feature of Gortex so these shoes will keep the water out while letting sweat evaporate keeping your feet dry and comfortable.
Just looking at these shoes you have to admit they look bad-ass! And a nice bonus, there are no shoe laces to tie, just a quick pull of the tightening cord and that’s it.
For a bargain price and no less a shoe, makes the Saloman Speedcross 4 my favorite Tough Mudder shoe.
#2 Merrell Trail Glove Running Shoe
Merrell is considered to be one of the first and the original “Trail Shoe” manufacturers and they don’t disappoint with the Trail Glove. Falling into the ‘minimalist’ category like the Saloman and New Balance, these fabric based, Vibram soled shoes have a zero heel-to-toe drop for that real bare-foot experience.
These shoes are so comfortable you will almost forget your wearing them, so comfortable in fact; you really don’t need to wear socks. I found them are flexible right out of the box, needing no break in period at all!
During a Tough Mudder run, you’re going to get wet and sweaty. Shoes with sweat-wicking properties are best. The breathable mesh upper of the Merrell Trail Glove is second to none, keeping your feet dry and comfortable.
Minimalist running shoes are often a worry for a many Tough Mudders, because your not running on a smooth surface. This is not a problem with Merrell’s ‘TrailProtect’ pad which cushions those rocks and obstacles very easily.
You won’t go wrong with a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves!
#3 Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 Trail Running Shoe
One of the first piece’s of advice you may hear from people are Mud Runners is to “go minimalist”. They are not referring to your choice of clothes but what to wear on your feet. Minimalist running shoes have been around for a while now and New Balance is considered one of the originals and leaders.
The Terraclaw shoes bring a very lightweight design(about 6 oz), with their high tech ‘Vibram’ sole. The Terraclaw vibram sole is designed to provide maximum surface contact for traction in the wettest and slipperiest of conditions.
They have been designed by British show manufacturer Inov who specialize in trail running shoes and they have created a VERY lightweight and flexible shoe with the “Terraclaw”.
The tread pattern has been specifically designed to shed mud so they maintain traction where other shoes may not, giving you a edge in the mud!
The ‘true’ fit of Inov shoes is something that runners all over the world rave about – running distance in wet and muddy conditions and not ending up with blisters due to an uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoe is something every Tough Mudder will appreciate!
The Inov Terraclaw’s is designed to be worn with or without socks, and only a 4mm drop from heel to toe it will improve your running form.
Optional but HIGHLY Recommended: Salomon Trail Gaiters
If you have ever had to stop to pick rocks, sticks, pebbles even snow out of your shoe you will ABSOLUTELY LOVE these Salomon Trail Gaiters ! These are simple to put on, they wrap around your ankle with a strap that goes around the bottom to keep it from pulling off in the mud.
Many people say that you should wear a taller sock so that it doesn’t rub your ankle. Note: you don’t have to wear a Salomon shoe to use these Trail Gaiters.
So there you have it – The 3 Best Shoes for Tough Mudder and one optional but highly recommended piece of equipment. Now you just need to make sure you have the gloves, socks and shirt to compete.
Remember while you need to be in cardio shape, Tough Mudder is not just about running, you will need upper body strength to complete most of the obstacles. Here is some recommended equipment to help you train.
If you are really serious about doing a Tough Mudder, or any other type of “Mud Run” the training program I recommend is the P90X. It has gotten me into the best shape of my life. The program was created by fitness expert Tony Horton, frequent author for Men’s Health.
It is designed to get you into peak fitness in a short period of time using “Interval Workouts”, which have been proven the most effective way to lose weight and get into phenomenal shape. Its a complete program of workouts and how to eat for the most effective results and have you scaling the “Berlin Wall“, running the “Mud Mile” and crossing the “Funky Money“.
If you follow this training plan you should be ready for the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race or Warrior Dash!
Other Tough Mudder Gear:
Tough Mudder Workout Equipment
The Best Socks for Tough Mudder
The Best Shoes for Tough Mudder
What to Eat Before Tough Mudder
In my opinion the Salomon Men's Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe is your best bet for a Tough Mudder shoe. The combination of grip, support, comfort and value make it tough to beat.