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10 Best Obstacle Course Racing Shoes Reviewed

last updated Jul 31, 2019
The best obstacle course racing shoes can be difficult to find—after all, there are literally hundreds of options available to choose from. Having the right pair of OCR shoes for you can make or break your performance, so it is important to be in the know.

Obstacle course training shoes are designed for extreme terrain and the added challenges that obstacle course races bring. They need to be able to handle complex challenges, wet and muddy terrain, and exposure to water.

The best obstacle course training shoes take it a step further and do all of these things without sacrificing comfort, durability, or breathability. They provide all of the protection you need without weighing you down or holding you back.

Take a look at our top 10 picks below! Happy mudding!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research

icon
Salomon Speedcross 4
98.6/100 our score
Traction
99
Drainage
99
Fit
98
Durability
99
Value
98
Salomon Speedcross 4
Why is it better?

Awesome grip

Highly cushioned

Protection for trail running

EVA midsole

Contagrip technology

QuickLace system

Mudguard

Sensifit

Anti-debris mesh

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Salomon Speedcross 4
Test Winner: Salomon Speedcross 4
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
4
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
3.8K
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
13
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
20
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Giselle Killebrew:

To keep things current, we regularly update our page and products to ensure our readers are receiving the most up to date information available. This time around we have added three new pairs of OCR shoes—the Altra Lone Peak 4, the Salming OT Comp Trail, and the Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib. We have also streamlined the rest of our product reviews to make them easier to sift through and compare. As usual, we have updated and added more information to our entire buying guide and FAQ sections.

Sorting Options
Traction Drainage Fit Durability Value By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.6
Traction
99 %
Drainage
99 %
Fit
98 %
Durability
99 %
Value
98 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
Amazon Link
$94.00
Backcountry Link
$104.97
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Holabird Sports Link
$129.95
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Road Runner Sports Link
$129.95
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#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97
Traction
97 %
Drainage
97 %
Fit
97 %
Durability
97 %
Value
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.6
Traction
96 %
Drainage
95 %
Fit
96 %
Durability
96 %
Value
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
Amazon Link
$159.99
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Traction
94 %
Drainage
92 %
Fit
94 %
Durability
94 %
Value
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
Amazon Link
$122.95
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Traction
92 %
Drainage
92 %
Fit
92 %
Durability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.6
Traction
91 %
Drainage
90 %
Fit
91 %
Durability
90 %
Value
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
Amazon Link
$180.00
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90
Traction
90 %
Drainage
90 %
Fit
90 %
Durability
90 %
Value
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.6
Traction
90 %
Drainage
89 %
Fit
90 %
Durability
89 %
Value
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
Amazon Link
$129.95
Road Runner Sports Link
$129.95
See Deal
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Traction
89 %
Drainage
88 %
Fit
89 %
Durability
88 %
Value
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Traction
87 %
Drainage
87 %
Fit
87 %
Durability
87 %
Value
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (16.10.19)

10 Best Obstacle Course Racing Shoes

1. Salomon Speedcross 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.6
Salomon Speedcross 4
Amazon Link
Traction
99
Drainage
99
Fit
98
Durability
99
Value
98
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Pros:

Awesome grip

Highly cushioned

Protection for trail running

EVA midsole

Contagrip technology

QuickLace system

Mudguard

Sensifit

Anti-debris mesh

Cons:

Some customers have complained that this shoe feels too narrow.

The fourth edition of the Salomon Speedcross does a great job of keeping you comfortable, supported, and safe while running on technical trails. These are at top of our list because they come highly recommended and reviewed by real-life users and have proven to live up to everything they claim!

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Traction

The Salomon Speedcross 4 provides great traction thanks to its rubber sole and aggressive grip, Wet Traction Contagrip.

Drainage

These shoes have an excellently designed drainage system that will ensure your feet stay as dry as possible and that your shoes do not remain soaked and weigh you down at any point during your race.

Fit

This shoe fits very comfortably and close to your foot. It provides just enough protection for trail running. A molded EVA midsole makes this shoe extra comfortable and supported. This shoe has a 10mm drop and weighs 310g.

Durability

As far as durability goes, these OCR shoes by Salomon are exceptionally designed and built to last. The outsole features a seamless design and the lugs are perfect for technical outdoor terrain—just make sure to keep them off the road so you don’t wear them down. The upper is breathable but woven exceptionally well for added durability.

Value

These shoes are priced averagely compared to others on the market.

2. Merrell All Out Crush 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97
Merrell All Out Crush 2
Amazon Link
Traction
97
Drainage
97
Fit
97
Durability
97
Value
97
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Pros:

Protective toe cap

Drainage ports

Uni-Fly impact absorption system

Great traction

Reflective details for visibility

Antimicrobial lining

Cons:

Some people find that there is not enough padding in the midsole.

We previously had the All Out Crush original model listed here--so it comes to no surprise that we decided to upgrade this selection with its newest, and more improved model. Like the original version, this one is still an excellent option for those of you who do a lot of running in low-light conditions--because thanks to their reflective details for visibility, you’ll never have to worry about safety issues when it's dark out.

Read more

Traction

This shoe provides excellent traction for obstacle course racing and their gripping ability is top of the line when compared to other options out there.

Drainage

Providing better drainage than their predecessor, these shoes will effectively get rid of the water so you can keep moving at the same pace until the very end.

Fit

They fit great and also provide you with excellent shock absorption thanks to their Uni-Fly impact absorption system, which disperses the impact and encourages a strong and stable takeoff.

Durability

Just like there predecessors, these shoes feature the M Select Fresh technology--which adequately prevents sweat and moisture from damaging your shoes. They are also equipped with antimicrobial agents that help prevent odor from forming and bacteria from growing.

Value

Since this is a newer model, this one is a bit on the pricier side. However, it is well worth the investment--and we highly recommend you consider its predecessor if you aren't willing to shell out what these shoes are worth.

3. Reebok All Terrain Super 3.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.6
Reebok All Terrain Super 3.0
Amazon Link
Traction
96
Drainage
95
Fit
96
Durability
96
Value
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$159.99
Pros:

High performing dispelling of water through drainage ports.

A new Upper system built into the shoe

High performing tread system-Rope Pro

An updated reinforced toe-cap

Rock Guard system designed into the mid-sole

Cons:

A new updated stand-alone lace-up system, will runners appreciate and will the new reinforced upper be enough?

This new version of the shoe is a revamped update on the previous shoe model, you get this shoe available for both men and women. Durability is enhanced through the update to reinforce the toe-box to address previous tear concerns, Reebok responded to concerns for ripping in this area and updated the shoe.

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Traction

Traction is superb through Rope-Pro which is a tread system which flows from the lace area all the way down to around and around the mid-sole. A high performing tread with good sticky factor is also built into the interior-outsole for grip maximization even for complicated rope climbs on obstacle courses, in fact, the grip system works well on walls and other obstacle course challenges.

Drainage

This shoe like its previous version is tops when it comes to draining water, on obstacle courses we will get wet feet, this shoe is very effective at dispelling water. Reebok was first to build factory-drainage-ports into running shoes and this innovative approach was very well received by runners. This standard of comfort is continued. There were comments about debris in the drainage runoff when water is dispelled, debris will flow with it, better out than remaining in the shoe.

Fit

Another update for comfort and secure hold is the updated lace system, the laces no longer thread through the shoe, instead, they pass through a stand-alone rubber system which is fitted separate from the shoe tongue. For runners who like a low cut shoe, this will be fine, for others, they will need to try the shoe to see how good stability for the ankle is for them.

Durability

Let's get straight to the point on the previous shoe version, durability caused concern among runners, ripping issues have been flagged up in the past. Reinforcement is evident in the uppers in the areas where ripping was a cause of interest. Reebok heard the feedback and they have reacted, this fourth shoe model has had major updates to the upper to put right previous problems with ripping. The “Dura-Grip” rubber is reinforcing the toe box where the previous models were widely known for tearing. It looks like Reebok heard the call for correction(or got tired of replacing shoes for this issue).

Value

Priced at a similar amount to other high performing shoes for obstacle courses, the updates make this a worthwhile investment.

4. Icebug Acceleritas 5 RBX9

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.6
Icebug Acceleritas 5 RBX9
Amazon Link
Traction
94
Drainage
92
Fit
94
Durability
94
Value
94
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$122.95
Pros:

Polyester mesh upper

Compression-molded EVA foam

RB9X Rubber

Lightweight

Great traction

Soft and airy upper

Cons:

Some people find that this shoe is not heavy-duty enough.

This shoe is one of the lightest trail shoes on the market. Runners have described wearing this shoe as feeling barefoot!

Read more

Traction

Rubber 9 Extreme technology is used on this shoe’s outsole. The outsole is designed with a special pattern that optimizes traction on hard as well as soft surfaces. Around the outsole is RB9X, providing the shoe with even more grip. This innovative compound provides incredible traction on all terrains.

Drainage

As far as drainage goes, these shoes do a good job at keeping water out—which is imperative when it comes to OCR shoes.

Fit

The quick-dry mesh helps assure that your feet stay comfortable. With an upper made of a polyester mesh, this shoe is super lightweight and doesn’t irritate the skin. The midsole is made of compression-molded EVA foam, making for a supportive footbed.

Durability

When it comes to the overall durability of these shoes, these shoes are built to last multiple obstacle course races and you can count on them for the long haul.

Value

These shoes are a bit on the expensive end of the scale.

5. Inov-8 Terraclaw 250

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Inov-8 Terraclaw 250
Amazon Link
Traction
92
Drainage
92
Fit
92
Durability
92
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Pros:

Flexible

Affordable

Durable

Unique lug system

Comfortable

Great shock absorption

Provides great stability and support

Cons:

Sizing runs narrow

Inov-8 has quickly become known for their high-quality OCR shoes, and this model does not disappoint. They are also the best affordable shoes out there and offer features you need to succeed in your race.

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Traction

These shoes offer a unique lug release system that will help you trek through your obstacles.

Drainage

In terms of drainage, these shoes offer an innovative and effective drainage system that will ensure you won't be held back by a "little" water.

Fit

These shoes are extremely comfortable and provide the comfort and support you need during your race.

Durability

Their 3 Arae Shoc Zone tech provides stability, responsiveness, and excellent shock absorption--all without sacrificing the durability of your shoes.

Value

These come at a great affordable price and will last just as long as many other options.

6. Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.6
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2
Amazon Link
Traction
91
Drainage
90
Fit
91
Durability
90
Value
91
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$180.00
Pros:

Excellent energy return

Incredibly durable

Secure and comfortable fit

Supportive

Optimal protection

Air mesh lining

Sleek design

Cons:

Expensive

The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 is an excellent option for those of you looking to run an obstacle race in the coming future. They haven't been out to long and we highly recommend them for serious obstacle course racers since they are a top of the line option.

Read more

Traction

These OCR shoes offer optimal traction thanks to their Premium Wet Traction Contagrip technology. This ensures you conquer your obstacles and win your races without risk of slipping or falling all over the place.

Drainage

In addition to being incredibly water-resistant, these shoes also offer a highly effective and efficient drainage system that will keep the water out and the dryness in.

Fit

There Sensifit technology, Endofit capability, and Quicklace features provide you with a secure, customized fit as well as ensure you stay blister free during all of your races.

Durability

Their skin guard also makes them highly durable and ensures you get the protection you need from the elements and obstacles you will encounter.

Value

This shoe is one of the most expensive options on this list. As far as comfort, we can assure you these shoes will keep you comfortable during your races. They utilize a Profeel Film chassis to provide you with maximum levels of support and keep your feet stabilized on even the most technical terrain. They are also equipped with an EnergyCell Plus midsole for optimal cushioning levels as well as sufficient levels of energy return. There Sensifit technology,

7. Altra Lone Peak 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90
Altra Lone Peak 4
Amazon Link
Traction
90
Drainage
90
Fit
90
Durability
90
Value
90
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Pros:

Very breathable

Great traction

Compatible with a trail gaiter

Available in a high top design as well

Well-cushioned

Rock plate for added protection

Cons:

Sizing is off

Not as durable as other shoes on our list

The Altra Lone Peak 4 trail running shoes are also a great pair of OCR shoes that are versatile, durable, and comfortable. They feature more breathability than its predecessor and the lugs will give you excellent traction. If you want to win, these are a great pair of shoes that will help you do just that!

Read more

Traction

These shoes offer optimal traction and grip. They feature the brand’s MaxTrac rubber outsole, which is designed to protect you from slipping. The outsole is perfect for muddy and wet terrain and the lugs allow for even more traction and grip,

Drainage

As far as drainage goes, these shoes are one of the best. They have holes for drainage in the toe, heel, middle, and lateral areas of the shoe—so it’s drainage system is both effective and efficient. Overall, they have an excellent drainage system.

Fit

Thanks to the shoe’s padding in the heel, these shoes wrap around your ankle securely and comfortably. Although their sizing runs off, the FootShape tech used in the toebox of the shoes will allow your toes to splay the way they are supposed to.

Durability

Although these are not the most durable shoes on our list, they should still hold up between 100 to 300 miles depending on how well you take care of your shoes. The midsoles hold up pretty well but by a hundred miles, a lot of users start to notice some wear and tear.

Value

Exceptionally pricey, these are definitely an investment. However, they are worth every penny if you need a pair of shoes with a serious drainage system and that provides traction for evert and any terrain.

8. Salming OT Comp

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.6
Salming OT Comp
Amazon Link
Traction
90
Drainage
89
Fit
90
Durability
89
Value
90
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Amazon Link
$129.95
Road Runner Sports Link
$129.95
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Pros:

Lugs for excellent traction and grip

Lightweight

Really durable

Self-Cleaning

Cons:

Expensive

Salming is a well-known brand in the outdoor sporting world, so it is no surprise that we chose one of their shoes to be featured on our list of best obstacle racing shoes list. Not only do these shoes look and feel great—but they are perfect for multiple obstacle course races!

Read more

Traction

These shoes were made for seriously technical terrain and are designed to take on obstacle after obstacle. They have 7mm lugs for optimal traction and grip without sacrificing for responsiveness.

Drainage

When it comes to drainage, these shoes are perfect for encountering water. Their drainage system is effective and will get the water out almost as quickly as it came in.

Fit

Although the sizing is off on the shoes and you will need to make sure to measure appropriately if you can’t go into a store to try them on, they still provide a secure fit. At 9 ounces, they are really lightweight and their 4mm drop is perfect for those of you who like to be lower to the ground.

Durability

As far as durability goes, these shoes are built to last. Their lugs are highly durable and they shoe itself is self-cleaning! The outsole is made of durable rubber and the rest of the shoe is made of high-quality mesh and synthetic material.

Value

Yes, these shoes will cost you a pretty penny—but they are worth every cent if you find they cover all of the basis for you as well as offer the features you are looking for.

9. Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib
Amazon Link
Traction
89
Drainage
88
Fit
89
Durability
88
Value
89
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Pros:

Fast drying

Made for runners who go in and out of water

Breathable

Storage pocket for the laces

Secure and comfortable fit

Great support

Well-cushioned

Excellent traction

Cons:

Expensive

Sizing runs a little large

Made for the water, these are the perfect shoes for obstacle races. OCR shoes need to be able to go in and out of the water without sacrificing performance or comfort—and these definitely get the job done. These are lightweight and flexible as well, so you can get through all of your obstacles with ease.

Read more

Traction

As far as traction goes, these shoes feature the brand’s Contragrip rubber outsole which ensures the best traction for all technical terrain. They are made for the outdoors and trails—so they are perfect for obstacle course races—and will prevent you from slipping and sliding even when you step out of the water. It is important to note, however, that these will wear down quickly if you take them on the road or pavement.

Drainage

As we mentioned earlier, these shoes are made for athletes who go in and out of water. They feature an effective and efficient drainage system that will get the water out as quickly as it gets in. Combine this with its fast drying capabilities, and these shoes are perfect for obstacle course races.

Fit

When we took a look at the fit, we found that the Sensifit and Endofit tech ensure a secure and comfortable fit that will feel like a glove. The shoes are cushioned enough for neutral runners and the Profeel Fill adds additional support. As a plus, these shoes feature lace pockets for you to store the shoes QuickLace system.

Durability

These are some of the most durable shoes on our list. They feature a rubber sole and are designed to take a beating on any terrain. It is important to note, however, that they are a little less durable than other options featured above.

Value

If you are okay spending a pretty penny, you will love these. With a 4mm drop, these are closer to the ground and more minimalistic. Their additional features are worth every penny but only get these if they will fit your needs and preferences.

10. Inov-8 X-Talon 212

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Inov-8 X-Talon 212
Amazon Link
Traction
87
Drainage
87
Fit
87
Durability
87
Value
87
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Pros:

Lightweight and flexible

8mm sticky rubber soles

Water repellent coating

Compliments foot’s natural movements

Cons:

Some people have found that this shoe fits a bit too narrow.

Since launching in 2003, it’s become one of the fastest-growing running brands in the country. It does a great job of complimenting the foot’s natural movement and also working to increase speed

Read more

Traction

The 8mm sticky rubber studs do a great job of providing traction on all kinds of terrain, from soft dirt trails to rough and rugged rocks.

Drainage

A water repellent coating ensures that your feet remain dry, even when running through streams and puddles.

Fit

Weighing only 212 grams, this shoe is relatively lightweight and flexible.

Durability

Inov-8 prides themselves on the durability and comfort of their athletic gear.

Value

These shoes are priced moderately compared to others.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Traction

Obstacle races have difficult terrain to plow through, slippery walls to get over, and muddy water to trek through...

Obstacle course races will test your endurance, your technique, and your overall performance--which is why it is important to have the best obstacle course racing shoes. The most important factor to consider is traction because without it you will slip, fall, and maybe even get injured. We prioritized traction because this is by far a make it or break it feature.

Take a look at what we accounted for in each pair of shoes we chose:

Lugs for added grip and traction

Not all of the obstacle course racing shoes on our list have hardcore lugs on them--some may not even have them at all (you'll have to check out our reviews to find out!) However, lugs are a common feature in OCR shoes because they optimize your traction and ensure that you have a firm grip on the technical terrain you will be running in.

That being said, you don't need the hardcore metal lugs, instead, you want to look for the lugs that are made for the outdoors--which all of the shoes on our list are, so you won't have to worry about that. You will also need to consider the race you are competing in because they all differ in terms of how technical the obstacles are.

Also, consider the climate and geographical location you will be in before choosing the type of logs you need.

How effectively do the shoes prevent slipping and sliding?

To accurately let our readers know whether or not the shoes we choose would effectively protect them from slipping and sliding and provide them with the grip and traction they need, we had to take a look at countless reviews by real-world users to see what they had to say. Sometimes you don't know until you put the shoes to the test and this is the best way to find out without having to buy them first.

Rock plate for more stability and protection

Although the rock plate is put in place to protect you from the rocks and debris you will encounter and to give you more stability, we also took it into account when it comes to traction. This is because the rock plate protects your feet from having the lugs dig into your feet when you run--so you get added traction without sacrificing comfort.

Drainage

...the challenge for shoe brands is to create a shoe which can take a serious soaking...

You absolutely want a shoe that provides you with serious drainage performance. The challenge for shoe brands is to create a shoe that can take a serious soaking, give top-performing drainage capability while retaining durability and not ripping at the seams due to weight, wear, or overexposure to water.

Up to date drainage systems

One thing we paid close attention too was whether or not the shoes featured an updated or outdated drainage system. All of the obstacle course racing shoes on our list feature updated drainage system and are innovative and effective in design. The shoes on our list are fast drying and will keep your feet as dry as possible and won't weigh you down during your race.

Additional water-resistant features

Water-repellant properties are an important feature for OCR shoes, however, if you find a pair with this feature make sure their drainage capability is also evident. This is especially important if you are racing in the rain or snow--or if you have to trek through the water at some point in the obstacle race. Most water-repellent shoes use a mesh-like material to ensure that they are still breathable as well as capable of drying quickly.

Brands to check out

Reebok is a good quality shoe and they are constantly updating and adding innovative shoe tech to tackle shoe durability while giving good drainage. If you're looking for good shoe drainage it's a good idea to keep an eye on Reebok shoes, especially as they regularly update.

Fit

Make sure you have some wiggle room for your feet to expand...

We cannot stress how important the right FIT really is. Without the right fit, it doesn't matter how good the shoe's durability, protection, or traction is because without the right FIT you won't receive any of the benefits the shoe provides. Make sure you have some wiggle room for your feet to expand, but not too much--you don't want to chafe or develop blisters.

Make sure you get the right size from the beginning

If you are able to go in-store that will be your best option because you will be able to try them on right then and there. Remember that sizing can vary between brands, so just because you are a 7 in Reebok doesn't mean you will be 7 in Inov-8 shoes. If you are ordering online, make sure to measure your feet and refer to the sizing chart before placing your order.

Check out the lacing system

Nowadays, there are different types of lacing systems to choose from. Some of the shoes on our list feature standard system while others feature more innovative systems. The point of the matter is that you need a lacing system that will adjust to your specific needs so that your shoes fit securely. After all, nothing is more annoying than stopping every 20 minutes to redo your shoelaces.

Durability

The best options will use heavy-duty rubber outsoles to provide extra support...

We all want to make sure we invest in a pair of OCR shoes that are built to last and that we can rely on for more than just one race. And, running obstacle courses require durable shoes that can take everything being thrown there way. This is why we prioritized durability when we took a look at each pair of shoes that made our list.

What is the outsole made of?

The most durable OCR shoes feature durable outsoles. This typically means that their outsoles are made of heavy-rubber that can take anything that comes their way. The best obstacle course racing shoes will often also have a mudguard for extra protection to the outsole and the rest of the shoe in general.

Reinforced toe box

While reading our list of reviews, you may have noticed that a lot of the obstacle course racing shoes on our list also feature a reinforced toebox. This added feature will not only boost the overall durability and life of your shoe, but it will also protect your toes from getting injured when you come across debris or obstacles that deliver an impact.

Waterproofing and water resistance features

Some of the OCR shoes on our list are completely waterproof and those that are not, still offer exceptional water resistance and drainage. The shoes with the water-repellant coating will help keep your feet nice and dry as well as allow your shoes to dry quickly. They will also increase the shoe's durability with added protection from water damage.

Value

We all like a bargain...but the price is not the only thing to look for when it comes to value.

We all like a bargain but when it comes to obstacle racing shoes this should not be your main concern. If you are on a budget we recommend you set it and look for the highest quality and most recommended shoe within your prices range. If you have never owned an OCR shoe in the past then you may be hesitant when you see how much some of the best options cost.

However, you need to keep in mind the durability these shoes provide--most normal running shoes won't make it past 1 or 2 hardcore races--which is why some of the best of the best OCR shoes cost a bit. And, although there are some affordable options out there, you don't want to just pick a pair of shoes because they are the cheapest

Many obstacle course racers have learned this the hard way. They might save a lot by buying a cheap pair of shoes, but by the end of the race, they have to throw them out because they are completely destroyed and cannot be worn again. In the end, this will end up costing you more than if you just spent a little more the first go around.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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Traction
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Rate This Criteria as Most Important
One time use

A common misconception is that OCR shoes are for one-time use only. The truth is that the best obstacle course racing shoes should last you through several races and even through countless training sessions.

Versatility

OCR shoes need to be versatile, responsive, and capable of transitioning easily between movements. Make sure the OCR shoes you get will be versatile enough for your foot type and your own specific needs and comfort preferences.

Other Factors to Consider

Comfort

Comfort is another important factor to consider when looking for your next OCR shoe. If they have EVA foam they will most likely be very comfortable. When analyzing the shoe's overall comfort also make sure they provide you with the right amount of support. If you don't have the right amount of support during your obstacle races you will underperform and risk getting injured.

Lastly, overall comfort is also affected by the shoe's lacing system and while we recommend QuickLace systems, this feature is based on personal preference. Remember to keep your own comfort preferences and needs in mind when looking for a pair of shoes. Take a look at the following as well to get the most comfortable model for you.

How breathable are the shoes, really?

Proper ventilation ensures your feet stay cool and help reduce the accumulation of sweat and moisture. Breathable shoes also help prevent bacteria and keep odors at bay--some shoes often utilize anti-microbial fabric to further eliminate other bacteria.

What is the shoe's drop?

Just like regular running shoes, drop heights vary across the board with OCR shoes. As the name suggests, low drop shoes are lower to the ground, typically have minimal cushioning, and allow the heal to sit at shoe level. Higher drops provide much more support and cushioning, so this choice depends on your personal preferences and specific needs.

Style

The best obstacle racing shoes have the same capabilities as trail running shoes, are lightweight and durable, protect you from the elements, and provide you with the traction you need. Before making your selection make sure to consider the following:

Upper shoe construction: The upper should be thin, lightweight, and breathable while also providing optimal durability, protection, stability, and that repels water/

Minimalist vs Non-Minimalist: Most high-quality obstacle racing shoes are minimalistic shoes, but there are several other options to choose from if you really don't want minimalist shoes. We recommend you consider brands like Reebok, Icebug, New Balance, and Inov-8 when starting your search.

If you are set on a non-minimalist shoe, we recommend shoes by Salomon. If you go with this option look for a lightweight shoe that can withstand water and still help you perform.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: What's the difference between OCR shoes and regular running shoes?

a:

OCR shoes are specifically designed for obstacle races--like the Tough Mudder. They are meant for extreme conditions and provides the features you need to succeed in these races. They are designed to handle all types of terrain, protects you from everything you will encounter, gives you optimal traction, and repel water.

Along with obstacle races, these shoes are also a perfect option for those of you that run in adverse weather conditions.

q: What gives a shoe great traction?

a:

Traction is very important when purchasing an OCR shoe because it's what gets you through most of your obstacles and challenging terrain. Many have outsole lugs for optimal traction--similar to spikes on track shoes.

q: Is a QuickLace lacing system better than a traditional one?

a:

Not necessarily. The QuickLace system is efficient at holding the foot securely in place, but some prefer the traditional system. This is essentially personal preference. Sometimes the lacing system can affect the way the tongue feels against your foot, so consider this before buying. QuickLace may be ideal for those who have weaker joints and need a more supportive shoe. Keep in mind comfort is the key!

q: Can I just get a pair of cheap shoes for one-time use?

a:

While you can do this if you so choose, we definitely don't recommend it--especially if you plan on participating in obstacle races for the long haul. The best obstacle racing shoes are specifically designed for obstacle races and give you the right levels of protection, durability, performance, and comfort. In the long run, you will be saving money if you invest in a good quality pair of shoes.

Sources

  1. Simone Rossignoli, How to choose the right shoes for an obstacle race, Running Website
  2. Editorial Team, Tough Mudder Shoes – The Best Shoes for Obstacle Races, Tough Mudder Website
  3. Peter Dobos, The Ultimate OCR Shoe Guide: Which OCR Shoe Should I Choose?, OCR Training Website
  4. Editorial Team, How To Choose The Right Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) Shoes, Athletic Training Blog