One of, if not the most important choices you need to make before doing a mud run such as Tough Mudder or similar is to figure out which type of mud running shoes you’re going to get.
When I did Tough Mudder back in 2018 with a group of friends, the funniest mistake I made was going there in my Vans casual shoes (Yes, you read that correctly!). The reason why it was funny was that my shoes basically fell off every time I did a hard obstacle.
When you’re getting very wet and very muddy you need to ensure that the shoes are sturdy and won’t fall off at the drop of a hat. Whilst I’ve never gone back to do Tough Mudder I have done a trail marathon and only then did I realize how important the right shoe is.
What I’ve covered in this article is my experience from trail running shoes conducted together with research on what running shoes work the best in mud terrains. Using my experience from my Tough Mudder run I’ve compiled a list of shoes which I believe you’ll definitely benefit from when doing your mud run.
Hopefully, the below will help you in finding the best mud running shoe for yourself. Whatever you decide, I hope you have the best mud run and enjoy that crisp beer at the end of it all.
Best Mud Running Shoes Compared and Reviewed
|Top||#1 - Salomon Men's Xa Pro 3D GTX Trail Running Shoes||Salomon||Check Price on Amazon|
|#2 - Salomon Men's Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe||Salomon||Check Price on Amazon|
|#3 - Inov-8 Women's Terraclaw 250 Trail Running Shoe||Inov-8||Check Price on Amazon|
|#4 - La Sportiva Bushido Running Shoe||La Sportiva||Check Price on Amazon|
|#5 - Reebok Women's All Terrain Super OR Running Shoe||Reebok||Check Price on Amazon|
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Salomon’s. When I reviewed the best trail gaiters I also made a note of Salomon being the number one product manufacturer that I believe in. You should check out the post if you’ve landed here finding a trail shoe, or even considering shoe gaiters (protective covers to prevent mud, sticks, etc from coming in). Anyway, let’s get into the Salomons.
These mud running trail shoes are made from 100% water-resistant textile material. And with its GoreTex (Best waterproofing material) bootie you can imagine that these shoes would come in very handy during a mud run or jumping in a river or whatever which is very common in such a run.
One thing that it comes with and something that’s very common with the Salomon brand is the precise-fit quick lace. This ensures a comfortable fit for every foot and will definitely help you avoid the mistake I made with my Vans on my first mud run.
With Salomon’s history of over 60 years together with the impressive features that it boasts I’ve found these to be the number one best running shoe for mud terrains. These are the most rugged all-terrain shoes you can find on the market today.
What have other runners said about it though?
“These Salomons are the perfect shoe for me, I have a very narrow foot and this shoe contains a very narrow fit. I’ve used them at the Leadville 100 and they didn’t present any problems for me. That’s a 100-mile race and not having an issue with it was very comforting.” Andrew T
#2 - Salomon Men's Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe
It was a tough choice to pick between number one and number two, although they are both from Salomon. The first shoes I reviewed I believe are better all-rounders for the mud-terrain whilst Speedcross focuses more on the trail running aspect. These shoes, however, are a lot more lightweight.
These Salomon’s pack on an aggressive grip to ensure that your foot stays stuck to the floor. The Speedcross 4 also contains the Salomon quick lace system. Whilst it’s made from 100 percent synthetic material, it doesn’t contain the same GoreTex waterproofing material as the Xa Pro 3D GTX Trail Running Shoes.
However if what you’re looking for is a lightweight shoe for your mud or trail terrain then Speedcross 4 is the better choice for you if you can compromise on the waterproofing.
If you’re anything like me and have poor knees then you can have comfort in the fact that these shoes provide maximum cushioning and the soles have known to last a very long time. So you’ll be able to keep the support from them for a while, as long as the tread is not worn out. As a general rule of thumb, most running shoes of high quality can expect to get 400-600 miles on them before they need to be replaced.
Just remember that these shoes are primarily and best used for mud or trail races, and they would be too clunky and sticky for hot surfaces such as track. Because they are lightweight it means that they will drain the water out much faster when you come out of the mud, which is the next best thing compared to waterproofing.
What have others said about the Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes?
“These are my third pair of Speedcross and I love them. I’ve used them for a few 20-mile and 25-mile mountain runs and they provide maximum stability for my foot. I’ve once sprained my ankle with another pair before I invested more money into getting proper trail shoes. I wouldn’t go back to anything else.” Paul K
#3 - Inov-8 Women's Terraclaw 250 Trail Running Shoe
Inov-8 is definitely a player which has been climbing the ranks of trail running since they started in 2003. These mud running shoes for women have been considered among the best. They’re made 100% from textile and synthetic materials. Again another shoe that doesn’t contain waterproofing materials.
These shoes are best suited for mild to moderate technical terrains. These make them a good choice for a mud run, but if you’re considering a much more technical and tough trail such as the Hurt 100 (Kudos to you if you’re doing this by the way!) then they might not be the best option. The durability isn’t the same as the top three products we’ve reviewed.
However don’t let that scare you, they have a double-layered lightweight toe cap that protects you from debris, dust, rocks and so on from entering the shoe. One definite benefit of these shoes is the comfort that they provide. The 8mm drop and 16mm/8mm stack offers more protection underfoot and helps you get more mileage out of the shoes which definitely makes them a good bang-for-buck choice if you compare them to the Salomon’s.
Because they are lightweight, it makes them perfect for a mud run. Some people may think that waterproof material is the most important thing for a mud run. This is because of personal preference, but the next best thing to waterproofing is how quickly the shoe drains out water.
If you’re coming out of the water and your shoes are holding a lot of water with no drainage then it’s going to be heavy on your feet. This will make the race extremely difficult as there are heaps of water and mud in these types of races. The Inov-8 Women’s Terraclaw 250 Trail Running Shoes drain very fast, meaning you can hit the ground running quite fast after coming out of the water.
What have other women said about these shoes?
“I took these to the savage race mud run and they were perfect! I had no issues with them falling off or causing me any problems and am very happy with them.” Kelly A
#4 - La Sportiva Bushido Running Shoe
These “Trail Magazine” award-winning shoes are another great alternative for mud running. They are extremely lightweight at 10.5 oz (298g) which has made it a go-to shoe for many runners that are doing off-road technical terrains. They are made completely of fabric and synthetic materials so these are another pair of mud running shoes that don’t contain any waterproofing materials such as GoreTex.
They are extremely breathable with their AirMesh material and AirMesh front which helps keep your foot dry from sweating, but don’t get mistaken if you get them wet then you won’t be protected compared to if you were using the Xa 3D GTX from Salomon.
Many have said that these shoes provide an awesome grip, so even if they don’t have the Salomon quick lace system they’re able to provide the same stability. If you’re not a fan of the Salomon quick lace system and you’re looking for an all-round lightweight trail shoe that is sturdy and durable then the La Sportiva’s are definitely a great choice.
With these three picks (Salomons vs La Sportiva) it definitely comes down to personal preference and if you require waterproof material or not.
Many others have mentioned that the shoes might be small by 0.5. If you haven’t tested these shoes in store first before purchasing them online then it might be a good idea as a few people have been caught out by this.
How others have reviewed the La Sportiva Bushido Running Shoes:
“I love these shoes, they work great in an area like Boulder, Colorado where there are heaps of incline and rugged rocky terrain. I’ve found that they can be a bit rough on the sole of the foot if you’re wearing thin socks though. Hardly an issue if you get thick socks though.” James T
#5 - Reebok Women's All Terrain Super OR Running Shoe
These 100% synthetic, low-cut rubber sole women’s mud running shoes pack on more than just a good look. Coming from the reputable Reebok brand that has a lugged outsole helps drain water and sheds moisture after water crossings. They contain an underfoot rock guard which helps protect your feet on the much tougher trails.
These shoes provide a very tight fit which is great for the shorter mud runs meaning they fit their purpose but can be a bit uncomfortable the longer your run goes for. They provide great grip on the arch which helps with the rope climb that most obstacle courses like the Spartan Race or mud runs provide.
Others have said that they’ve been able to use it for more than just mud runs or spartan races, they’ve also used it for daily cardio activity as well as HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) classes. This makes them a great allrounder and the price is very affordable.
What have other obstacle runners said about this shoe?
“I’ve used this shoe for tough mudder and could feel the water being drained during every step after coming out of the water. I didn’t get a single blister from the 10-mile course and there were a lot of rocks and other objects on the course which I was a bit worried about. They proved amazing and I’m in love with them” Sarah V
My Number One Pick
What To Look Out For When Buying The Best Mud Running Shoes
When considering a purchase for an obstacle course shoe there are a few things that you will need to look out for. Most of the features depend upon personal preference however looking out for features such as waterproofing or water draining are the most important.
As with any purchase, there are always key nuances to look out for in order to get the best value for yourself. The most important thing that you do is not do an obstacle course such as the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder in normal running shoes. They don’t contain the qualities and features that you require and you’ll probably have to throw them away after you’re done with the race. Below are the top things to look out for and should serve as buyers guide for obstacle course runners.
Waterproofing And Water Drainage
The key feature to look out for when considering the best mud running shoes for yourself is that they’re either waterproof or are capable of draining water quickly. When you’re constantly hopping in and out of the water and/or mud your shoes are going to get very wet. If your shoes aren’t waterproof they’re going to feel rugged and heavy.
That’s why you need to make sure that the shoes that you’re purchasing are able to drain out water fast when you come out of a water-crossing obstacle.
The shoes should be as lightweight as possible, most of these obstacle courses tend to go for 10 miles or more. By the end of it, you’re going to feel that extra weight that you’re carrying if your shoes aren’t lightweight as they will constantly be going through the water or attracting dirt and mud to them, adding to the volume of the shoe.
The shoes should provide the right grip. Obstacle courses will contain walls you need to climb, a rope that you need to climb and difficult crosses where you want to ensure that your foot is grounded to either the obstacle or to the latches for you to get through.
The shoes should provide tight-fitting, or contain a quick lace system such as the Salomons. As your foot gets heavier and heavier the more obstacles you go through it has the potential to fall off your shoe (Such as my example with the Vans).
They will also get very wet so you want to ensure that they don’t slide off or another competitor accidentally steps on them halfway through the obstacle course and then putting them on and tightening them will become a mission in itself.
You want to get the most out of your shoes, you don’t want to have to throw them away after running just one obstacle course. You will want to look for materials that are easily cleaned such as GoreTex or synthetic materials. If you start running with a shoe that contains a lot of cotton material then you’re not going to get much use of them afterward.
Frequently Asked Questions for Mud Running
Q: What’s the most popular Mud Run?
A: Generally Tough Mudder is considered the most popular, however other races such as the Spartan Race are growing in popularity. You can find a wide range of different mud runs that are available now through a simple internet search.
Q: Can I use these shoes for other activities as well?
A: As most mud running shoes are derived from trail shoes themselves you can pretty much take these shoes hiking, trail runs and even everyday-use if they serve that purpose for you.
Q: Do I need to use certain socks for Mud Runs?
A: Whilst there isn’t a rule for this, it’s highly recommended that you invest in performance socks. These will provide compression and help keep your foot in place with your shoes.
The most important thing to consider before picking out mud running shoes is what works well for you. If you’re like me and love Salomon’s quick lace system then they should definitely be amongst the top picks for yourself. The reason why I chose the Salomon’s as well is that the company is very reputable and have been around since the 1940s.
Also if you have weak knees then getting shoes that provide maximum cushioning is only going to benefit you. If you don’t like your shoes and socks getting soaked then opt for a waterproof shoe that has GoreTex material such as the first Salomons pick.
Whatever your choice is, the fact that you’re investing in the right shoe will make your mud run a fun experience, I guarantee it. I wish you the best of luck and hope you have fun at the race.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.