When it comes to trying obstacle course racing, take note that your shoes are among the most crucial items that will help you succeed. Some of those who tried obstacle course racing (OCR) often make the mistake of using their old shoes. Such is not actually recommended, especially if it is still your first time to try the race.
Instead of enjoying the activity, you may end up suffering from a lot of pain and discomfort, and worse, injuries, if you do not wear the best OCR shoes. That said, you need to invest in proper footwear before you ever step on your first event. In case you are already a veteran in the race, then the right footwear is still a must.
The good news is that you will no longer have a hard time gathering information about the best shoes for Obstacle Course Racing at present as this article is now available. It contains top 7 OCR shoes today and an informative buying guide, so you can make a really wise choice.
Top 7 Best OCR Shoes 2018
1. Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Runner – OUR PICK
Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Runner for men will always be part of the choices of the best OCR shoes, especially if what you are after is a rugged and tough footwear that can handle the toughest terrains. I think that such ability can be attributed to the fact that it features a solid and well-built outsole.
I love the fact that the Speedcross 4 is available in different color options. With such options, picking one based on individual preferences is really possible. Another nice feature is the lacing system, as it tends to wrap snugly around the feet, resulting in an impressive and secure feeling.
It features quick laces that you can in making adjustments to the shoe. It also takes pride of its Conti grip outsole, which digs into soft terrains. In addition, there is a sticky rubber built into the shoe, thereby ensuring that it will work perfectly in hugging surfaces.
Aside from all that, I noticed the durability of the upper of the shoe, as it is constructed from a mesh material. It works efficiently in making the shoe highly breathable while also preventing any form of debris from penetrating inside. It is lightweight and has more than enough cushion, making it a comfortable shoe.
It also features an impressive grip, especially when you wear it on soft trail conditions.
However, there are a few noticeable flaws in the shoe – one of which is the fact that users are still doubtful of the durability of the lugs. In addition, some also complained about the tighter than usual toe box.
Yes, there are some flaws to the Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Runner but no one can also deny the fact that its lightweight nature, proper cushion, and excellent grip makes it ideal for use in obstacle course racing.
2. Reebok All-Terrain Super 3.0 Trail Runner – BUDGET PICK
Another obstacle course racing shoe that you may want to check out is the Reebok OCR shoes. I find this shoe favorable because of the Dura-Grip rubber present in it. It works in reinforcing the toe box, which its past models were known because of tearing.
The one used in this new model is more reinforced, thereby correcting the issue. I also noticed that it sports a low-cut design, which also features a clamshell construction. It boasts of a seamless sandwich mesh upper, which I like because of its toughness and durability.
It also has a few features specific for obstacle course racing – one of which is the Rope Pro. It refers to the exterior tread starting from the bottom part of the midsole up to the side of the shoe and the laces. Such is a sticky tread, which many find useful because of its optimized grip, especially on rope climbs.
It has an obstacle grip, which also sports of a 360-degree traction as well as an underfoot rock guard, too. With the H20 drain technology integrated into the footwear, there is also an assurance that it can efficiently drain the water that penetrates inside. Furthermore, you have an assurance that the shoe has a responsive traction.
With the rip-stop materials showcased in the shoe, as well as its toe bumper, there is also a guarantee of maximum durability.
One possible downside of this shoe, though, is its standalone lacing system, which prevents you from using the lock tie method to secure it firmly to your ankle. Ankle support is also quite lacking.
Overall, Reebok All Terrain Super Running Shoe does a pretty good job in leaving a good impression to most obstacle course racing fans. It is a great shoe known for its durability and comfort and for its suitability to OCR.
3. Inov-8 X-Talon 212 Trail Running Shoe – RUNNER UP
Another shoe, which is known for handling the somewhat harsh and tough environments of obstacle races, is the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 Trail Running Shoe. I think it is a nice option as it is an athletic gear, which offers a high level of comfort and durability. I also noticed how light this shoe is as it is only around 212 grams.
Aside from being lightweight, the flexibility of this trail running shoe is also top-notch. It works efficiently when it comes to naturally complimenting the actual movements of your feet. In addition, it performs well when it comes to increasing your speed when doing obstacle races.
I also like the built-in water-repellent coating. Such coating works in ensuring that your feet stay dry even when you are handling puddles and streams. There are also sticky rubber studs integrated into the shoe. The studs are pretty effective in giving adequate traction on all forms of terrain.
Expect the shoe, therefore, to be capable of handling different environments for obstacle course races, including soft dirt trails and rugged and rough rocks. Other prominent features of this footwear are the injected EVA foam midsole, the 6-mm heel-to-toe drop, the lace-up vamp, and forefoot flex groove.
One complaint I have about this shoe is that it fits slightly narrow. The single-layered midsole slightly hinders the cushioning of the footwear, too. Also, it makes use of a breathable mesh material, which causes pebbles to enter the shoe occasionally.
Despite the mentioned drawbacks, I can still say that the Talon 212 is a great option for obstacle course races as it is flexible and lightweight while also delivering an excellent grip whether you are using it on a soft or extreme terrain.
4. ASICS GEL-Fuji Runnegade 2 Running Shoe
One of the most prominent benefits of the ASICS GEL-Fuji Runnegade 2 Running Shoe is its excellent versatility. In my opinion, it is one of the most versatile shoes out there as it can survive different kinds of conditions in obstacle course racing, even the most extreme ones. Expect it to handle deep mud and highly intense terrains.
It also comes with the PlasmaGuard technology, which is a big help in giving you full protection from the mud and rain without compromising the shoe’s breathability and flexibility. It also promotes comfort – thanks to the sole made of rubber as well as the gel cushioning system used at the rear foot.
With such comfortable features, there is a guarantee of a smooth flow and transition starting from impact to the mid-stance stage. I like the fact that this shoe is constructed with a gusseted tongue, too, as it ensures that dirt, debris, and gravel will not have an easier time penetrating the footwear.
The cushioning system used in this shoe is also effective in absorbing shocks and impact. In addition, there is a trail-specific outsole, which also features reversed lugs that offer excellent traction whether you are going uphill or downhill.
Such traction can also be expected regardless of the terrain you are handling. Furthermore, the shoe is made of seamless materials, thereby reducing the risk of friction and irritation often triggered by the usual seams and stitches.
One problem, though, is that the tread of this footwear tends to wear out sooner than expected. The back part of the heel is quite stiff, too, but rest assured that it gets better as soon as you break it in.
The fact that the ASICS GEL-Fuji Runnegade 2 Running Shoe can handle even the most extreme conditions definitely make it a great OCR shoe even if there are minor issues to it.
5. Icebug Mist Rbx 9 Trail Runner
Finding the best OCR shoes 2017 - 2018 is now also easier with the Icebug Mist RBX 9 Trail Runner. Many consider it as the best obstacle race shoes as it is nicely designed while also boasting of the fact that it is lightweight, making it really good to wear in races that require a lot of movements.
Such is possible because of the highly impressive traction it offers whether you are using it on a dry or wet surface. The superior traction offered by the shoe can also be attributed to the extreme compound it uses It has a sole made of rubber material, which is also a good thing as far as comfort and convenience are concerned.
Another nice feature I would want to emphasize is the fact that it has an open mesh material, which is not only airy but also effective in keeping your feet cool and promoting a quick-drying ability. Expect it to fit nicely on your feet with the presence of the molded lacing extensions, too.
It has a lightweight EVA midsole, which also features a stabilizer, as well as a removable and molded EVA, which also sports a mesh liner. With such features, you have all sorts of assurance that it will work based on what is comfortable enough for you. The stability of the midsole is also worth noting.
With the low 5-mm drop of this shoe, you also know that it can handle an extensive range of outdoor activities. It has an incredible traction and water drainage ability, making it a really nice option for obstacle course racing.
The toe box is quite small, though, which is my only complaint.
The only improvement that, I think, the Icebug Mist Rbx 9 Trail Runner can benefit from is on the toe box, which would have been better if it is slightly larger. Other than that, I can safely conclude that it is an ideal shoe for obstacle course racing.
6. Inov-8 Terraclaw 220 Trail Running Shoe
This list of the best shoes for OCR will not be complete if it does not include the Inov-8 Terraclaw 220 Trail Running Shoe. It takes pride of its mesh upper, which is known for being lightweight while also having a lace-up vamp, adding comfort and support to those who wear it.
This shoe is also a nice option as it protects the insides as well as your feet from being exposed to debris – thanks to the diagonally sewn tongue that prevents the debris from penetrating inside. I also noticed that triangular lug design used in this footwear. Such is a major help in releasing gravel and grit with ease.
As for the traction, expect this trail running shoe to perform well. It is mainly because of the outsole made of sticky rubber. Such offers adequate traction for various trails, surfaces, and terrains. It also delivers excellent grip with each step. It is lightweight as it is only around 220 grams, so rest assured that it will not hamper your speed.
It blends well with the natural movements and shape of your feet, too. It is also sturdy and I noticed that it does not come with any hotspots triggering blisters. It is flexible that it works well regardless of the demands of the different terrains and environments where you expose it.
The toe box is smaller than expected, though. Also, it does not grip that well when dealing with wet rocks.
With the excellent performance of this shoe and its comfort and durability, it is no longer surprising why it is on top of the choices of those who love obstacle course racing and other forms of outdoor adventures.
7. Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 Trail Running Shoe – ALSO GREAT
Lastly, there is the Inov-8 Terraclaw 250 Trail Running Shoe, which, I noticed, continues to impress buyers and its present users. It has a lace-up mesh upper, which works efficiently in providing a highly centralized support and comfort. It comes with a synthetic sole, too.
In addition, I like the presence of the layered toe cap in the shoe. Such toe cap is lightweight plus the layered feature ensures that it can protect you from different elements. Just like the previously mentioned shoe, this one also comes with a diagonally sewn tongue designed in such a way that debris can’t penetrate inside.
It has the triangular lugs mentioned in the previous shoe, too. Such functions by ensuring that grit and gravel are released. It was constructed in a way that it is lighter when compared to other shoes without compromising its durability and toughness. It has a good traction.
Furthermore, it takes pride of its less aggressive tread, promoting ease in climbing and dealing with obstacles, like ropes and walls. What’s more? It has an impressive drainage ability, which is a good thing when you are exposed to a lot of water and moisture. It also offers additional comfort and protection – thanks to its appropriate stack height.
One downside is that it has subpar laces that are quite hard to tie again especially when they are full of mud.
Overall, this is a great shoe designed to meet the demanding environment and terrains usually present in any obstacle course racing event.
Obstacle Course Racing Shoes Buyer's Guide
So how can you pick the best shoes for mud run obstacle course from your numerous options? Here are some deciding factors to keep in mind:
Fit – Make sure to pick the right size. Such will prevent you from incurring injuries as your feet receive a lot of impact during the race. Note that several obstacle courses have plenty of mud. You do not want to have a hard time moving around with all the mud because of your poor-fitting shoe, do you?
To get the right fit, have your feet measured accurately. Pick an accurate size and your feet will definitely feel grateful as they take each step.
Traction – If you are planning to wear a shoe specifically designed for obstacle course racing, then it is a must to check the traction. The shoe must have an impressive traction as it ensures that it has more than enough grip, especially if you need to climb over mounds of mud.
With proper traction and grip, you can reduce the risk of you getting injuries due to falls or from sliding downhill. One sign that the shoe has good traction and grip is if it has lugs at the bottom. You need to check the sole material, too.
If possible, go for a shoe with large and sticky rubber lugs as such can grip various trails while also letting you climb ropes and walls with a minimal risk of slipping.
Drainage – The shoe should also have an excellent drainage ability. You do not want to add more weight to each of your feet just because your shoe is incapable of draining the water that it absorbs. Note that several obstacle races require you to deal with a lot of water.
There are even instances when you need to swim. If you do not want your shoe to absorb too much water without properly draining it, causing it to get too heavy while you are completing the race, then go for one with excellent drainage ability. The obstacle course race shoe should also have less weight, to begin with.
Outer Material – Check the material used in the outer part of the shoe, too. The material should be strong enough to handle various obstacles, like stems, rocks, and other debris usually present in obstacle courses and trail race courses. The material should be durable that it can deal with rough environments.
Ventilation – The shoe also needs good ventilation as it can help keep your feet cool while you are completing the course. With that in mind, you need to pick a footwear, which is made of a breathable fabric. The fabric should also have good vents close to the arch as such aids in draining water from your shoe quickly.
Ankle Support – The best shoes for Spartan Race 2017 and Tough Mudder shoes to wear for you needs to have an impressive ankle support, especially if your ankles are weak and thin, making them prone to injury. The ankle support should be excellent in the sense that you won’t experience pain and discomfort when dealing with uneven terrains.
Durability – Running through obstacle courses require you to wear a shoe that can hold up and promote quick movements. You need a durable shoe. You will know that a shoe is durable if it comes with a heavy-duty rubber outsole, which also offers additional support.
It should also come with a water-repellent coating and mudguard, as both features help prolong the life of your chosen shoe. In addition, the footwear should also have a high level of stability and balance when worn in adverse conditions.
There are many things that you have to take into account when you are in search of the best OCR shoes. To make your choice, take into consideration the factors mentioned above plus the specific event you are planning to take yourself and the shoe into.
It should be suitable for the event. Also, take your time when doing the research and comparisons. Figure out your exact needs so you will get an idea about the best pair of shoes that will work for you.