Shoes for Mud Runs

So, you’ve signed up for a mud run, and now you’re wondering what to wear for that run,especially what shoes!

Well, one thing we notice is that the shoes wear while training for a obstacle course race may be different than the race day shoes. The main thing that you need to worry about shoes is the style. The only shoes that you absolutely can’t wear are cleats, since they can be dangerous to other competitors.

Boots are not advised, since they tend to become heavy after your first water obstacle. Good! Now that we know what shoes NOT to wear for a mud run, what shoe should you wear for the actual event?

When looking for shoes for mud runs, remember these important factors: weight, flexibility, and traction.

Minimalist Shoes


One of the more popular options for adventure races and mud runs are the minimalist style of shoe, particularly models like the New Balance Minimus.

Their primary advantage is flexibility, which allows for better gripping and balance while going over obstacles.

The thin sole also gives improved feedback; you can feel what you’re stepping on a lot better than in a thicker-soled shoe, and that can translate to fewer stumbles. They’re also very light, which is important once they get wet and muddy.

A lighter shoe holds less water, so slogging around in wet shoes won’t be as bad. The downside is that the thinner sole can leave your foot vulnerable to sharp objects.

Trail Shoes

imagesA lot of people prefer trail shoes for mud runs. The Salomon Speedcross 3, which comes in both men’s and women’s models, is particularly good for trail-style races.

This is also a light-weight shoe, but it has a thicker tread to it. You’ll lose some of the flexibility of a minimalist shoe, but you’ll gain protection and some extra traction.

This is an especially good option for people who haven’t been running in minimalist shoes all along, since those take some getting used to.

The fact that the laces are drawstring-style is a bonus, since it means that you can tighten them even when your fingers are numb and frozen.

Hybrid Shoes


One style that has been gaining popularity is the Inov-8 line, especially the Bare Grip 200.It has a more aggressive sole than the previously mentioned shoes, which gives it great traction on mud and wet grass.

It doesn’t have a midsole, which gives it extra flexibility compared to trail shoes, and the greater drop from heel to toe makes it easier to adjust to than a minimalist shoe.

The downside is that they can tend to let in more dirt than other styles, so you’ll want to wear socks.

Old Shoes


A lot of runners out there swear by old shoes for mud runs, and there’s a lot of sense in that. For one thing, you already know that your shoes are going to get filthy in this race, so wearing brand-new shoes can be a bit of a bummer.

Another thing, it can be really beneficial to use shoes that you’ve run in a lot, just for familiarity’s sake. Many do not want to be dealing with unfamiliar shoes and unfamiliar obstacles at the same time.

Finally, a lot of adventure races have a ‘donation’ pile at the end to send the shoes off to developing countries.

Not to sound stingy, but you’ll feel a lot better about participating if you didn’t just drop $150 on them.


In the end, you’re the one that needs to decide. The shoes recommended here are all great options. Just try them on and make sure you’re looking for lightness, flexibility, and the best traction you can find.

And if you think you’ve got an old pair in your closet that are suitable, that might just be the best option of all.