Best Mud Running Shoes-cross country shoes

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Cross country season is upon us. athletes are hitting the trails, roads, and tracks trying to get an edge on their competition. I’m sure there is much debate as to what shoes work best for your running gait and foot strike pattern; people talk about trail shoes, training shoes, country shoes etc.

In the post, I’ll like to give some advice for people who’re just getting into OCR or cross country running on running shoes choices. After trying out several of them, my recommendation for the best mud running shoes is Salomon SpeedCross 5.

The 10 best OCR Running Shoes 2021

  1. Inov-8 Men’s Roclite 315 (Best for narrow feet)
  2. ALTRA Lone Peak 4 Mid Mesh (Best for Wide Feet)
  3. Saucony Peregrine 10 (Best for responsiveness)
  4. Salomon SpeedCross 5 (Best Overall)
  5. Inov-8 Mudclaw G260 (Best for OCR)
  6. Merrel All Out Crush 2 (OCR alternative)
  7. Salomon Xa Pro 3D V8 GTX (Best All-around shoes)
  8. Inov-8 X-Talon 200 Unisex (Best for traction)
  9. Reebok All Terrain Craze (Best for Money)
  10. ASICS Gel Fujitrabuco 7 (Best for hiking)

Below are the 10 best cross country running shoes:

1. Inov-8 Men’s Roclite 315 (Best for narrow feet)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 8mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 315g(Men) 315g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Midfoot Strike

Features

Outsole: Like many other running shoes in muddy conditions in Inov-8 series, Roclite 315’s outsole utilizes their Tri-CTM technology. Tri-CTM technology is Inov-8’s outsole formulation.

It uses 3 different rubber (high abrasion, soft and hard) to enhance its grip and durability. It has a lug depth of 6mm, which is normal for a mud running shoe.

Other than that, Roclite 315 also uses their famously known graphene-infused rubber for their outsole construction, which is light, and durable. Some have claimed that the outsole remains strong after more than 1000miles.

Midsole: Do not expect Inov-8 shoes to give you a cushy ride. In fact, it is known to be quite firm. PowerFlow footbed isn’t the softest, but it does give you some level of shock absorption and energy return. A rock plate(META-SHANK) is placed between the outsole and midsole to protect you from sharp surfaces.

Upper: All Inov-8’s upper are designed with Met-Cradle technology. It’s a series of wraps that are connected to laces, when the shoes are tied, it locks down the midfoot for secure fit. A heel cage is present at the back of the shoes to enhance your foot stability.

Highlight(s): If you’re an experienced trail runner, you’ve probably heard of/familiar with Inov-8 series. All running shoes in this series are geared towards lightweight, durable outsole, and optimal grip. With 6mm lug depth, these shoes give you enough grip for all muddy surfaces, with a relatively lightweight construction.

Some have complained that the shoes are quite narrow, but most runners are happy with their choice, saying that it is an inexpensive durable shoe. 

Pro(s):

  • Durable
  • Good high/price ratio
  • Supportive Heel section

Cons(s): 

  • Some have complained about narrow toe box

2. ALTRA Lone Peak 4 Mid Mesh (Best for Wide Feet)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 0mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 349g(Men) 292g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Forefoot Strike

Features

Outsole: Multi-directional lugs (Dura Tread Rubber) provide grip for the majority of smooth and technical surfaces. Other than that, canted lugs that are positioned under the toe area are designed to provide you extra traction during toe-off phase. 

Midsole: The midsole is made up of EVA foam, which makes it relatively soft and comfortable compared to other mud running shoes. If you like a bouncy and soft ride, you’ll want to consider getting this. A 5mm contour footbed gives you that additional comfort during running. 

Upper: Quick-Dry Air Mesh enhances the breathability of the shoes. Many runners are happy with the upper design of this shoe. The upper is suitable in wet conditions, runners’ feet remain dry other than normal moisture build-up even during rain. 

Highlight(s): Designed for off-road running, Altra Lone Peak 4 has a good balance of grips, comfort, and underfoot protection. Many runners like the wide toe box feature of this shoe, it’s well-praised by runners who have wide-feet / morton’s neuroma.

With the slightly above average price, it’s not a tiny investment. But if you have wide feet, and prefer zero drop, lightweight boots, consider getting this shoe. 

Pro(s):

  • Wide toe-box
  • Durable grip
  • Cushioned Midsole

Cons(s):

  • Bouncy Midsole(For those who don’t like)
  • Above Average Price

3. Saucony Peregrine 10 (Best for responsiveness)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 4mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 303g(Men) 364g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Forefoot Strike

Features

Outsole: Peregrine series shoes always have aggressive tread patterns. “Aggressive and sticky outsole construction gives me traction in the mud without holding onto it.”said a tester. Arrowpoint pattern lugs pointing forward in forefoot while facing backwards in heel side.

This design is to ensure the shoes has without grip for up and downhill terrain. 5mm lugs are good enough to bite into any soft terrain. However, some runners complained that the outsole is too closely packed together, causing it to pick up mud. 

Midsole: The midsole is considered soft and responsive by trail running shoes standard. Shoes tester said that it’ll give you a cushy ride, but not too soft. A rockplate on the forefoot provides rigid protection against sharp rock and debris. 

Upper: Running on muddy trails can tear up a pair of shoes pretty quickly. Saucony redesign their upper with abrasion resistant material to add protection and durability to the shoes. As claimed by Saucony, The FORMFIT design from upper to outsole locks you feet down in any uneven terrain. 

Highlight(s): Saucony Peregrine 10 is suitable for runners who prefer stable and sensitive rides. The traction provided by the aggressive outsole allows it to perform on any uneven or soft terrain.

Some have expressed their dissatisfaction over the not-so durable outsole. However, with this affordable price, most runners are generally happy with their purchase. 

Pro(s):

  • Cushy midsole
  • Aggressive tread pattern
  • Customizable outsole

Cons(s): 

  • Outsole might pick up mud
  • Premature worn-out at heel section on outsole

4. Salomon SpeedCross 5 (Best Overall)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 10mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 330g(Men) 280g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Heel Strike

Features

Outsole: Speedcross 5 uses Contagrip® technology from Salomon to make up its outsole. It uses durable rubber compounds to provide runners excellent traction for a long time. The lugs are arranged directionally to provide both traction during uphill and downhill.

The unique tread pattern features deep sticky lugs to improve its grip on muddy surfaces. Spaces between the mud helps to allow water to drain away from the sole. Many runners praise its aggressive outsole, they love how the shoes handle loose dirt, mud and steep trails. 

Midsole: The cushioning is provided by the EnergyCell+ material, which is a piece of durable foam designed to give runners the right amount of responsiveness. It won’t be the softest trail running shoes, but it’s cushy enough to give you a comfortable ride, as claimed by many runners. 

Upper: Speedcross 5’s upper unit quickly became trail runner’s favourite soon after their release. The close-knit nylon mesh prevents debris from entering the shoes while having a good amount of breathability. The SensifitTM technology locks you feet up to ensure you’ll have a stable ride.

Their Quicklace lacing method that is made up of stretchy string allows runners to adjust the fit with a single pull. The upper is specifically designed for muddy and trail running condition, if you are into cross-country running, this pair of shoes definitely deserve to be in your shoes rotation. 

Highlight(s): Designed for cross country runners, Speedcross 5 is the top choice by many trail runners. Some even said the shoes “Answer the call of mud”. It’s super grippy in both smooth rock and muddy surfaces.

Durable upper and creatively designed lacing system satisfy many buyers. However, the midsole might be too hard for some people. Vast majority of runners recommend the shoes after purchasing, which it totally deserves. 

Pro(s):

  • Durable, breathable upper
  • Aggressive tread pattern that designed for muddy surfaces
  • Quick lacing system
  • Drain feature on outsole

Cons(s): 

  • Quite expensive

5. Inov-8 Mudclaw G260 (Best for OCR)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 4mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 260g(Men) 260g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Forefoot Strike

Features

Outsole: Like Roclite 315, the outsole uses graphene-enhanced rubber, which is claimed to be 50% more durable than regular outsole compound. The shoe has a 8mm lug, which is the deepest in the series. “This shoe has a Super Strong Tread” said by many users.

If you need extreme levels of traction, this trail running shoe won’t disappoint you. However, this also meant that the shoe cannot be your “all-around shoes”, it will not perform on a concrete surface due to its heighten lugs. 

Midsole: EXTEROFLOW technology makes up the midsole section of this shoe. It provides runners a great level of responsiveness during toe-off period, but it might not do good enough in cushioning wise. The great energy return is coupled with their lightweight feature, which makes it a fast trail running shoes. 

Upper: Kevlar upper is a little stiff compared to other upper, although it is quite flexible. Some runners say that it is completely okay, while some complain. The stiffer upper is due to the use of waterproof fibre, which is the excellent material in muddy condition. 

Highlight(s): Mudclaw G260 is well-praised by many off-road runners. The shoes might not be your regular trail running shoes, but it certainly is the best shoe for racing in muddy surfaces. Its responsive midsole and lightweight construction makes it a go-to shoe for OCR enthusiasts. If you’re into OCR, give this shoe a serious look! 

Pro(s):

  • Deep lug (8mm)
  • Grippy outsole 
  • Lightweight
  • Good for racing

Cons(s): 

  • Firm midsole
  • Stiffer upper

6. Merrel All Out Crush 2 (OCR alternative)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 6mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 228g(Men) 188g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Midfoot Strike

 

7. Salomon Xa Pro 3D V8 GTX (Best All-around shoes)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 8mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 370g(Men) 315g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Midfoot Strike

8. Inov-8 X-Talon 200 Unisex (Best for traction)

Check on Amazon(Unisex):

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 3mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 200g(Men) 200g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Forefoot Strike

9. Reebok All Terrain Craze (Best for Money)

For Men:

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For Women:

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Facts

  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 6mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 266g(Men) 198g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Midfoot Strike

10. ASICS Gel Fujitrabuco 7 (Best for hiking)

For Men:

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For Women:

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  • Terrain: Trail, Mud
  • Activities: Trail Running, Obstacle Course Racing(OCR)
  • Heel offset drop: 8mm
  • Pronation: Neutral pronation
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 361g(Men) 279g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Midfoot Strike

If you’re into OCR(Obstacle Course Race), mud races, or cross country running, you’ll know choosing the correct cross country running shoes is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. I’ve had some rough experiences with cross country running, many due to choosing the wrong gears.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I will be paid a commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase using the link in this post.

It is well-praised by many OCR enthusiasts, it checks all the boxes of mud running shoes’s criteria. Of course, it all comes down to personal preference and running style. Below are the 10 best mud running shoes:

What to look for cross country running shoes?

shoes for mud are built differently from most other type of shoes and it is important you know what to look out for in those shoes.

Traction (Deep lugs)

There’s no surprise that you’ll need extreme amounts of traction from your running shoes, to have a stable run.

Outsoles are the highlight of every shoes for mud. Generally, cross country running shoes that are suitable in muddy conditions have a 6mm-8mm deep lug. These lugs provide you with a strong grip when you’re in your wet trail running.

obstacle course race

However, deep lugs make cross country shoes unfit for regular road running, which is usually on a hard ground. Lugs on the outsole wear easily on concrete pavement, and they tend to be more rigid than regular running shoes.

There are some all around running shoes that allow you to run on different terrain, but there’s no shoes that can do extreme well in every condition. Usually, you will need different running shoes for your casual running and cross-country running or OCR. 

Easy to clean

I stepped into mud with my regular running shoes many times(I advise you not), dirt on the shoe’s surface just won’t come-off that easily unless you’re using special chemicals.

Soaking your shoes in chemicals and water for a long time damages the rubber and mesh material. Running shoes that are being washed constantly do not last long, at least this is my experience.

Unless you’re only wearing it for one time, you’ll want your running shoes to be cleaned easily.

Running shoes designed for muddy terrains uses waterproof material to construct their shoe upper. If you get the right mud running shoes, you’ll only need to wipe your shoes with wet clothes in most cases. The wired runner has a good article on how to dry your running shoes

Water Resistance/Drainage capability

Water resistance/drainage features in mud running shoes come from different usage of material and internal structure. Water resistance feature isn’t only important for easy cleaning. It prevents large amounts of mud/water to find its way into your feet.

Trail runners know the irritation comes from this situation. No cross country shoes can be 100% waterproof, but good running shoes make your experience so much better.

(Tips: Look for “waterproof: feature when you’re out shopping for running shoes)

Lightweight

Carrying wet mud with your shoes is already heavy enough. You don’t want your running shoes to add extra burden to you, especially if you want to stay a chance of winning in OCR.

Best OCR running shoes are usually heavier due to their heavy outsole design. But it’s not 100% of time.

This is not a must in choosing a shoe, but it’s nice to have if it meets all other criterias. Inov-8 X-Talon 200 is a good example of lightweight shoes designed for muddy conditions.  

Tight fitting upper

 Your chosen cross country shoes should hook your feet down securely. One way I like to test is by pressing my feet on the ground, and proceed to move left, right, forward, and backward.

If my feet are able to move without the shoes moving, I’ll know that the shoes are probably too big.

Some designs have fitting technology like Sensifit from Salomon SpeedCross 5 that secure your feet in the shoes in technical terrain. Your feet slide-off easily in a wet condition, a right fitting shoe should make your run more stable.

Wrap it up…

In regards to running shoes designed in muddy conditions, there tons of choice out in the market recently due to the rising popularity of trail running and spartan race.

After going through the research myself and trying out a few shoes, my personal favourite is Salomon Speedcross 5 due to its grippy outsole, and excellent upper design. Personally, I think it looks stylish too(Please don’t judge me).

If you are interested in spartan race events, check out race.spartan.com, tons of fun activities can be found here. That’s it, I hope you’ll gain tons of value from this post. See you on the run! 

“Make sure to follow me on Pinterest for more awesome content like this! (click on pinterest icon below)”. 

FAQ

What is an Object Course Race shoe?

Object Course shoes are those that have been designed with specific technical features and specifications to allow athletes to run over rough, steep, difficult and technical terrain. The use of such shoes is often an essential aid for cross-country running, orienteering and mountain marathons.

What makes Object Course shoes so different?

Every aspect of Object Course shoes is designed to enhance your performance by protecting your feet from stones and debris, but also allowing you the freedom of movement to keep moving even when racing over rough terrain.

You can see examples of such features in the heel counter design which will be stiff enough to ensure stability when pushing off against rocky surfaces, but soft enough to make a difference when it comes to comfort and shock absorption.

The shoe upper will also be very durable and adaptable, but the outsole will have been carefully designed with consideration of grip and traction, as well as angle, spacing and flexibility.

How do Object Course shoes differ from traditional running shoes?

Object Course shoes will be slightly heavier than traditional, everyday running shoes because of their durability and sturdier construction.

In addition, they have been designed to offer a certain level of water-resistance through drainage holes or edges.

The last major difference goes back to the idea that Object Course shoes are specifically designed to tackle difficult terrain – for instance, they will generally feature a rockered or curved outsole (which is designed to better adapt the shoe’s shape to the natural surfaces it encounters during your run), but also thicker and less pronounced lugs.

How do Spartan shoes fit?

Spartan shoes all feature a last that’s been designed to conform around your foot and offer superior comfort and control.

They also have an average stack height (the distance between sole and heel counter), which means there is no need for you to start off building up the cushioning in the shoe – it already offers the level of protection you need.

How are Spartan shoes designed?

Object Course shoes all follow the same design process, which begins with our designers working closely together to understand what conditions you will likely face over the course of your run.

As a result, they select only the best materials for each shoe, allowing them to create an optimal blend that is lightweight and highly durable.

For example, the outsole is manufactured with a special blend of rubbers and carbon to offer the best grip and traction possible on wet surfaces such as mud, rocks and sand – but also dry terrain like dirt trails or asphalt roads.

We then translate all this into an Object Course shoe that will never disappoint you – regardless of the conditions

What is the difference between Salomon Speedcross 4 and 5?

The Speedcross 4 and 5 are both built to handle any type of terrain you can think of, but the 5 model includes an upper that is slightly more adaptable.

The latest model also has a slightly better outsole grip on wet surfaces than its predecessor.

However, it must be noted that even the Salomon Speedcross 4 is one of the market’s best when it comes to Object Course shoe technology.

Are Salomon good for wide feet?

Salomon offers a variety of shoes that come in various widths (W, XW and XXW) to ensure that each runner can find their perfect fit.

What is MICR and OCR?

There has been a rise in popularity of Marathon & Obstacle course Racing, or “MOCR”, prompting brands to release their own line of shoes designed for this purpose.

“MICR” stands for Multi-terrain Inline Cushioning Racing, while the term “OCR” simply denotes obstacle course racing.

Is OCR a Recognised qualification?

Yes, OCR is now an official qualification that falls into the awards scheme of World Class.

Should I wear gloves for Spartan Race?

If you like, it’s certainly an option to wear gloves during a Spartan Race. However, we suggest wearing them only if the weather conditions (i.e., extremely cold or icy) require it; in most cases that we know of, competitors run without any protection on their hands.

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