Best Shoes for Mud Running Reviewed & Compared

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The most important decision you will make regarding the gear you will need for your next mud race is most definitely the shoes you will wear.  Losing a shoe during the race, slipping all over the place, falling and simply not making it through the race altogether are all very real possibilities if you don’t have the right footwear to support you.  A lightweight shoe that provides exceptional support for running, jumping and climbing are important factors when considering the shoe you choose. Traction abilities are of tremendous importance. You will definitely need shoes that won’t slow you down in water or mud by becoming heavy meaning they will need good drainage, airflow, and comfort.

Featured Recommendations

Salomon Speedcross 4
  • Salomon Speedcross 4
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rugged & Durable
  • Price: See Here
Altra Lone Peak 3.5
  • Altra Lone Peak 3.5
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Dries Fast
  • Price: See Here
Saucony Peregrine 8
  • Saucony Peregrine 8
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Excellent Traction
  • Price: See Here

In our review of our top 10 best mud running shoes, we specifically used durability, traction, drainage, and protection for our metrics.

 

10 Best Mud Running Shoes

 

1. Salomon Speedcross 4

The Salomon Speedcross 4 is a made for trail running, mud racing, obstacle course challenges, basically the most rugged outdoor and off-road exercise you can do. It uses a mesh upper that is both water-resistant and anti-debris which basically is going to keep those tootsies dryer and give them first-rate protection. Additional features include a rubber toe cap, ortholite insole and updated outsole which together make for a superb combination of rugged durability with a side of performance.
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Comfortable

These are very comfortable shoes, even with all the bells and whistles you still get a nice feel for an off-road shoe. They will support your feet for logging tons of miles, and they will keep them safe from blisters and random rocks getting in there which is ruinous to a great run. Get into that mud, get yourself wet, and go for it. These shoes can hold up to it all without deformation meaning you aren’t going to lose any comfort or output regardless of how ruthless the conditions.

Go Be Adventurous

Any shoe will gain get heavy in muddy and rainy conditions, that’s no surprise. These shoes will do that for about a couple seconds before they get into that draining action. While they are ridding the excess water, any weight from the mud isn’t going to be an issue either. Caked with mud, they will stick to your foot and not become loose. They don’t lose anything in traction, their updated lug pattern with even more high-traction arrow lugs provide tremendous grip. So, attack that uphill, keep it going on the down, left to right and don’t even worry about a slippery surface.

Cost and Value

These shoes are THE option for mud runs. You can’t ask for more than a comfortable shoe that will be able to take the intense conditions and not lose anything in function or execution. Get it as dirty as you want because with a quick wash after your race they will look sparkly new. A truly versatile shoe for spartans, mud runs, hikes, or trails, you can’t go wrong.
Pros

Great look and design

Rugged and durable

Very comfortable interior

A very breathable shoe

Very aggressive tread with even more lugs

Cons

Check out sizing, those with wide feet may need to adjust accordingly

Toe box can be a little small

2. Altra Lone Peak 3.5

The Altra Lone Peak 3.5 is a shoe that was made for natural motion using a nicely cushioned zero-drop base. This shoe is designed to help your foot strike the ground as naturally as it would if you weren’t wearing any shoes. It offers the support and features needed to keep your feet positioned in its appropriate anatomical position with added comfort through its inner design.
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Grip

The MaxTrac Rubber with TrailClaw gives you tremendous grip on maintained roads or on dirt, sand and gravel paths. The material helps to absorb the energy from impact and relays it back for a tremendous return. You can’t help but run and log in mile after mile with that type of bounce back.

Fit and comfort

You will enjoy the fit of the shoe wrapped around your foot with a nice feel of the just the right amount of cushioning. The shoe’s upper is protective enough to keep out all that annoying rubbish from getting inside and the lateral support in the toe-box will keep your foot in its natural place within the shoe..

Cost and Value

Improved cushioning, with a design based on the allowing your foot to have a molded natural feel, these are a great shoe for anyone who wants to trail run, hike, fastpack, or trail race in luxury. You have your on-point protective features but you still got that flexibility that works together to make this a functional mud shoe. No problems keeping your body moving as the responsivity of the shoe’s return will keep your legs energized to keep plowing through.
Pros

Dual layer EVA with A-bound midsole

Awesome grip with the Maxtrac and TrailClaw

Dries fast with the air mesh in the upper

Nice 5mm contoured footbed insole

Natural feel provides ease of movement

Cons

The upper could have better ventilation

The toe box has a different sizing from the previous version which may take time to get used to

3. Saucony Peregrine 8

Saucony is regarded as one of the leaders in the running shoe industry. Saucony Peregrine 8 is a go-to for hiking or running in the mud or on the trail, you can confidently tackle wet, smooth and slippery surfaces without losing any grip. You get a comfortable and rugged shoe with updated features.
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Awesome Traction

These shoes will hold up to puddles, and mud and thick squishy conditions with no problems at all. The Pwrtrac outsole’s ability to grip and stick to surfaces is stellar, to say the least. They have a nice thickness and density to them which absorbs a decent amount of shock in addition to the incredible traction. They are especially durable and they will last you a long time of training and racing. You absolutely cannot get these without being super stoked to log miles in the intense conditions, because these shoes will grip through it all.

Protection

During training or race day when you are faced with slick conditions and steep inclines and declines, these shoes will keep you from sliding. The comfortable and supportive fit will keep your foot in place without having to worry about it sliding around. Saucony’s use of Everun for underfoot protection will pad your foot through sharp rocks, small pebbles, roots and tree limbs. You can boldly take on any course, path or race with these top-tier shoes.

Cost and Value

These shoes are some of the best on the market for mud runs because you have such solid protection and surface adherence. They can take the wet with a good drainage system and they are functional enough to also keep your foot cool through hot races and exercise. They will be your go-to shoe for your next trail run or mud race.
Pros

Drain fast

Come in a variety of color options

Fit like a running shoe but have durability and traction of a hiking shoe

Easily cleaned

More robust shoe

Outstanding off-road shoe

Cons

Soles are have a bit of weight

Sizing a bit smaller than previous versions

4. Vibram V-Train

4.  Vibram V-Train
The Vibram V-Train is here for all you barefoot running lovers. If minimalism is your thing but you know you need more than just bare bones for a mudder, here is your shoe. You get the feel of a barefoot type shoe with the flexibility of one but you get added structure and support to move in all directions while in slick environments.
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Balanced Design

These shoes are a nice balance of sensory foot impact mixed with a supportive design for safeguarding against rugged terrains. These minimalist shoes are will still give you plenty of support off-road and still allow you to run with your natural gait. There is a built-in tread system that offers great protection that spreads your shock from impact over a wide area.

Fit

The shoe uses a fast lacing system which helps to provide a stable fit and an easy adjustment if one is needed when you are out hitting it hard. Polyester and nylon mesh together, give you an organic breathability and will also help keep your foot as dry as possible. Your foot will have a nice organic flex ability throughout each strike even with those extra protective aspects.

Cost and Value

A terrific minimalist running shoe with extra features to allow more versatility in use for those who prefer barefoot runners. Added support, extra tread, and a design that ensures a nice fit, this shoe is a great option. The barefoot style also allows for the extra flexibility that makes a shoe comfortable on uneven terrain as well as it’s lightweight nature, this is an excellent choice.
Pros

Zero drop

Very light and comfortable feel

Solid grip interior

Amazing movement quality

You can be confident lifting in these shoes

Cons

Does not have a bunion cradle

Toes run a little long

5. Merrell Vapor Glove 3

5.  Merrell Vapor Glove 3
The Merrell Vapor Glove 3 is the shoe for those who want to get into mud running but still want a shoe they can use on daily to do other physical activities like regular workouts in the gym. It has a nice feel for off-road running and those protective features you’d want such as a trail protect pad, and breathable mesh lining but its design is still practical for less craggy type training.
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Diverse Usability

These shoes can offer you a ton of functionality. They can be worn in the gym for training, road running, or trail running, posture awareness, jumping exercises, and strength training. The zero-drop feature will help you feel exactly where your feet land when you are running or performing various exercises while training.

Trail Protect Pad

The solid Vibram sole will provide you with a lot of protection and comfort. There is just the right amount of support while still being very flexible. These are shoes that will move with your foot naturally so you can rest assured your foot will have a nice free ability without slipping around inside the shoe. All of this comes with protection for when you are interested in doing rocky outdoor exercise.

Cost and Value

A nice mix of it all this is a lightweight minimalist shoe that won’t sacrifice support for gym training or off road exercising. You have your low profile design, and breathability with lots of reinforcement in those high-wear areas to give this shoe added longevity. This is the jack-of-all-trades for shoes, all you have to do is pick your activity.
Pros

Minimalist shoe

Vibram soles are flexible and comfortable

Very sharp looking shoe with attractive laces

Upper wraps around the shoe nicely and gives a lot of breathability

Soles provide a great grip for running outside

Cons

Material lifespan could be longer

Run a bit large

6. Xero TerraFlex

6.   Xero TerraFlex
The Xero TerraFlex is another exciting option for barefoot shoe lovers. The flexibility in conjunction with some minimalistic protective features makes this a nice mud shoe. It's highly rated and popular as a shoe and a company that was even featured on Shark Tank!

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Grip

TerraFlex uses a 4mm lugged sole that will provide the traction you are looking for in a variety of environments. It’s ultra-grippy propensity still is very flexible in the movement of the shoe. Your foot’s natural progression and positioning have full support in wet or dry environments, races, and intense running even with the soles intense grasping ability.

Protection

Equipped with 6mm of FeelTrue rubber in addition to 3mm layer of BareFoam will keep will gently cradle your foot against the ground. If you are used to doing a very minimal barefoot type of training, go ahead and take advantage of the option you have with this shoe to remove the 2mm insole.

Cost and Value

A nice option for a durable, minimalist shoe. It is just minimalist enough to be attractive to these types of competitors with the practicality of protection with a Tek-toe bumper for instance. Even though it fits snugly it is still breathable so don’t be concerned about your foot overheating. The handsome design can be worn not just for working out but also in casual environments.
Pros

Vegan-friendly materials

Lightweight, men’s size 9 is only 9.6 oz each

Removable 2mm insole

Adjustable instep strap

Can be worn with or without socks

Cons

Runs small, order ½ size larger

Takes a little getting used to the flat sole especially for those new to minimalist running

7. Inov-8 X-Talon 212

7.  Inov-8 X-Talon 212
The Inov-8 X-Talon 212 is an all-terrain running shoe so say goodbye to blisters, the upper is made of a tight-knit and abrasion-resistant material. That is what you most definitely want for long distance and soggy environments. Featured in this shoe is a removable 6mm insole as well as X-Talon outsole that has profound cleats for unmatched traction. Additionally, it has a heel pull loop and an EVA midsole.
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Company

Inov-8 is a British company that is leading specialists in manufacturing products for off-road use. They are experts in running and in the US, they are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after brands on the market for off-road shoes and supporting products. Their products are designed with human biomechanics in mind. Their products are known for quality construction and materials for high-performance athletes.

Great for Off-Road Runner

These shoes will keep you confident in wet and muddy conditions. In the mountains or on rough trails, climbing large rock sides, you can count on the grip to keep you balanced. The treads are impressive and we cannot bring them up enough. That is literally how good they are.

Cost and Value

These shoes have will stay on your foot in thick mud and uneven trails they will support your foot. Feel free to take them out and get them dirty because even caked with mud, a quick and easy clean they will look brand new and be ready for your next outdoor adventure. And heck, they fit super comfortably.
Pros

Precision fit, they fit as expected

Great for obstacle races

Sole inserts are great for long distance running and wear

Funky design

Cleats and traction are top notch

Flexible shoe moves with your foot

Cons

Show material thinner

Not great for running on concrete, an absolute off road shoe

8. Merrell All Out Peak

8.  Merrell All Out Peak
Merrell All Out Peak has a mesh upper with nice use of reflective details so night running or even mud running you can be seen. You have the option of removing the footbed and the TrailProtect pad is a much welcomed underfoot protective feature. Technically, it has a 6mm drop, a 16 mm cush and 32 mm stack height.
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UNIFLY

UNIFLY is a material that Merrell has designed for their midsoles. It provides tremendous shock absorption that will allow each of your steps to be easier on your body and joints and have greater comfort for the foot itself. It is made of an incredibly strong foam with very firm shock pads that are put at specific points to have the best ability to take in and evenly spread the shock. You will have increased stability that will provide you with the responsiveness to improve your speed and the as well as help you add more distance.

Vibram

These shoes use the uber quality Vibram soles so you already know that it will be exceptional. With a neat lug pattern, you will be ensured to have balance, security, and strength in any environment or condition. There are no lugs under the arch so the comfort of your foot was taken into account by the Merrell design team, your foot will have a nice flexibility that you can appreciate.

Cost and Value

The shoes are made of noteworthy materials. They have a really nice look and added details for extra comfort. They will support you with an amazing grip and improved feel on the ground with each footstrike and the shock absorption to keep you running longer.
Pros

Work for people who have wide feet

Terrific obstacle course shoe

Very good with drainage

High quality foot protection, midfoot excellent

Laces allow for easy adjustment

Very nice fit, no slipping at the heel

Cons

Not a running shoe for pavement and concrete

The arch support doesn’t work for every foot

9. Adidas Kanadia 8.1

9.  Adidas Kanadia 8.1
The Addidas Kanadia 8.1 is a nice off-road shoe option that provides decent traction. They are a simpler shoe but hit all the features you’d want in a mud shoe. Comfort, light, terrific traction, and breathable. For those of you beginners who have not committed to extreme and routine off-road training or mudding, these should be on your list because they will do the job well for you without busting your budget.
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Comfortable

Here’s it is, straightforward, they are seriously comfortable shoes. The padding and support add upon itself in comfort especially on uneven surfaces--but don’t think you can use them on maintained surfaces for comfort because you definitely can and should. Their true-to-size fit will provide you with a good amount of spacing without allowing your feet to move around too much inside the shoe. You can spend hours in these with ease.

Design

The soles of these shoes have got what you need for gripping trails. Wet conditions? Yea you need shoes that can hold up to it, these can. They are fairly lightweight so they will keep you fast on your feet running and racing.

Cost and Value

These shoes come in at a great price range. They are incredibly comfortable to wear and offer off-road features in their grip and weather resistance. They have a nice fit, they aren’t too small or too narrow. Best of all, they are a good looking shoe that provides the ability for hiking, trail running, or obstacle racing in style.
Pros

Fit true to size

Beautiful design with plenty of color options

Exceptional comfort for the foot

Awesome price

Light for their size

Cons

May be a bit bulky for some

Can have a plastic looking appearance

10. Reebok All Terrain Super

10.  Reebok All Terrain Super
Reebok makes a nice all terrain footwear option that is man-made. They have a ghillie speed-lacing system which some people prefer. The Cordura Skin Full upper, and they provide H20 drain technology work well with the rock guard. Altogether, this shoe is a great all-around smart option for mudding and off-road exercise.
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Racing with Reebok

These are light and provide a lot of comforts so you aren’t going to be weighted down too much which will help keep your pace. The tread is nicely sized for hitting the trails and managing mud. Where there is mud, there is water, drainage was not overlooked in this shoe design. The drainage ports work well moving that water out of your shoe and the quick-pull lacing is key to keeping the shoe tight on your foot if it ever comes a little loose.

Breathable

These shoes use mesh on the sides that help air flow through the inside of the shoe easily. They will keep your feet cool while you are running or doing intense races, and they also have a dual function to support the drainage ports to rid your shoes of water faster and keep you going longer.

Cost and Value

You can log a ton of miles in these shoes. They work the way you need. Your foot is going to be kept dry with drainage design and fabrics that will allow air to penetrate and disperse through the shoe. They will stay on your foot in rough conditions like mud without slipping as they have that easy lace adjustment feature. Stick out with these shoes amongst the other muddy runners with the funky design and neat look.
Pros

Terrific value

Will hold up well to a ton of mileage

Machine washable

They won’t let your foot slip and slide inside the shoe

Good and protecting the foot and keeping out debris

Very stylish

Cons

May need to wear socks for races

Customer service could be easier to navigate

 

There is no doubt you could just pack an old ratty pair of tennis shoes and use them to do a mud run. Then it’s easy and cheap and you can just throw them away when you are done. The reality is that your chances of slipping and having a much harder time making it through the race with this strategy are almost guaranteed.  Not to mention, the physical risk should you slip and fall and hurt yourself. Being proactive and making sure that the one, most important part of your wardrobe for your race – your shoes- will support your foot, drain well so as to keep away blisters on your feet, and have the grip to keep you from slipping is a pretty intelligent choice.  There are plenty of options for anyone’s budget and plenty of options for everyone’s preference. Most of the shoes that you can buy can easily be cleaned after the run and will look as good as new, so don’t let the thought of mud caked on your new digs be a reason to not get the appropriate footwear to support you during your run.

Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Shoes for Mud Running

best-shoes-for-mud-run

Durability

Mud running requires not only a decent amount of training but also the appropriate gear to keep you on your feet and not sliding around in the mud.  Training on rugged terrain can really put the beat down on your shoes. If you are really putting miles upon miles on them, you can’t escape needing a durable shoe.  The type of materials and the construction of the shoe are all very important when choosing which shoe will be the right one for you.

Traction

Mud running is slippery business.  If you are slipping and falling, not being balanced on your feet could not only be frustrating but it also could be dangerous.  Slipping and falling, you could hit the ground in an awkward way or twist a joint, or break a bone. You absolutely cannot use a shoe that wasn’t designed a sole that has superior traction on the sole. Deep cleats, that are made of rubber will help give you the best grip for mud running.

Drainage

You can find many designs and systems to help keep your foot dry in the inevitable event that you are going to have extremely wet conditions.  Waterproof coatings can repel the water from your shoe, however, they don’t do much to remove water once it finds its way into your shoe. This is an absolute when mud running, water will find its way in.  Shoes that are more form-fitting and can form and wrap around your feet will leave less room for water to get in and accumulate. Shoes with drains and mesh material are other features that you can look for which will help rid your shoes of water.  

Protection

The surface under all that mud could be very bumpy and rocky.  While more minimalist shoes tend to be favorites for mud running, they can have a learning curve.  If you haven’t used them in the past, you may need a little time to get used to them, but once you do,  they have a lot of advantages for running in mud. Many of the more minimal shoes that we featured here are not pure minimalistic, as they have really durable soles to protect the foot from rocks and debris.  They have some more support features for the entire foot and many have options of removable inserts.

Other Important Factors to Consider

mud-run-shoes

There are some other things to think about that will also matter, such as what you wear.  Stay away from cotton, which can get heavy and stretch as it gets caked with mud and drenched with water.  A light and loose water wicking shirt is a better option. Keeping yourself as comfortable and efficient as you can is a given.  Outside of gear, keeping your hair tied and out of your face is another little tidbit.

Pace yourself.  Mud will weigh you down and will make the actual running much more difficult.  Don’t push through if you need to take a break after extending yourself, it is ok to take a break and reset.  A tip is not to run through the middle of creeks and mud pits because this is the point where these bodies are at their deepest and will be the most challenging.

Stay safe, you are exerting a ton of energy.  Keep yourself hydrated and keep some optimal form of nutrition with you to easily access.  Something that is portable and easy to hold and eat, and maybe one that you can eat that has some sort of wrapper like an energy bar is perfect because then you don’t have to hold it with your dirty hands!

FAQ

Featured Recommendations

Q:  What are some of mud run races available?

Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, and Camp Pendleton Mud Run, Spartan Race, Gladiator Mud Run, Tough Mudder, Spartan Death Race are a few of the top races.

Q:  Can anyone do a Spartan Race?

Absolutely!  The Spartan Race is a team activity and anyone from those are very fit for those who are somewhere in the middle and to those who are on the lower end of the fitness spectrum can participate.  Both women and men can participate in the race. The key is your team. A team with great, motivational and encouraging people that work together well should not have any issues competing and finishing and having a great time while doing it.  The majority of people finish the race, of course, there are always those who do not, but they tend to be very few of the overall racers. That being said, this is still a physically challenging race that will put stress on your body and so contacting your doctor before you start any race is recommended.  If you get the go, start training and getting yourself fitter each day and more prepared each day for the race.

Q:  Are obstacle-course races more fun than traditional marathons?

The matter of which is a more fun race to participate in is really up to personal preference.  Training up to either race is also much different. There has been a trend where participation in marathons and traditional running races have been on the decline while these challenge-course type races are on the incline.  One major difference that seems to be appealing to people today is that while traditional races and marathons, in particular, are very challenging physically they are individual races.  Contrast that with these obstacle course races which are mostly team-oriented, some people are finding more gratification in a shared physical experience over purely personal success. Having teams allows for more types of people of all sizes and shapes and fitness levels to have a better chance at being able to compete in an intense race.  That is very appealing to many people who see something like a marathon as an unobtainable task.

Q:  What is involved in a Tough Mudder Race?

Tough Mudders are popular obstacle course challenge races held all throughout the country.  There is obviously a good amount of running that mix with varying obstacles that don’t involve the help of electricity.  “Kong Infinity” is an example of an obstacle. You have barrels and rings 20 feet high to get through, but the challenges change throughout each of the different race locations in the country. The races aren’t timed and there really are no winners or losers, it’s a team race so partnership and unity, fluidity as a team will be the most important part to getting through the race.  It is intrinsically competitive, some people will take the race on for those purposes, but that shouldn’t scare anyone off from doing it just for fun, because overall the goal is to work together and help your team get through each challenge. The full is a great choice for everyone, while the half is more for athletes.

Q:  What happens if you get hurt on the race?

Every race has medics because inevitably some will get hurt.  You are running on slick muddy and uneven surfaces, you are hanging from obstacles or on your hands and knees crawling through obstacles and room for error is present.  This is yet another reason why having quality gear is important. There are usually medical teams and personnel throughout the course at all times and they usually have a designated medical tent for such emergencies.  If you get hurt and no one of the volunteers or workers are around to assist, this is another advantage to having your team. Tell a teammate and have them get to the next medical personnel or volunteer and they will make sure to get to you and give you the help you need.

Q:  Are there special socks for trails or uneven terrains?

Yes, there are performance specific socks available.  For a trail, a seamless toe and a high top that has material that is great at keeping your foot dry and wicking sweat away would be featured.  Specific designs where it would have a nice fit for the heels and arches is also an element of a trail sock.

Sources

  1. Mudruns.net, Mud Runs, Racing Website,
  2. Trip Fitness, Beginner's Guide to Surviving a Spartan Sprint, Fitness Blog,
  3. The Atlantic, Why are Obstacle-Course Races so Popular?, News Publication, Jul 14, 2018
  4. Newsday, Tough Mudder Coming to Long Island this Weekend, News Publication,
  5. Terra Racing, FAQ, Race Website,
  6. Men's Health, The Best High-Performance Running Socks for Men, Men's Health and Fitness Magazine,
Rockay Socks + Flipbelt
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