What Shoes to Wear for a Tough Mudder

By Dana Baardsen | May 24, 2018


Wondering if you’ve got the right shoes for Tough Mudder race day? When it comes all the stuff you need to pack, no gear is more make-or-break than your mud run shoes. They need to be durable, comfortable, broken in (you know not to wear a brand-new pair of sneakers to a Tough Mudder...right?), lightweight, and with killer treads that’ll take you through the Tough Mudder trails and won’t slow you down for a second, no matter what obstacle you’re gearing up to charge through. So keep these four things in mind when you’re choosing your next pair of Tough Mudder shoes:   

1. Go for OCR shoes

The average sneakers just aren’t made for a mud run. While you certainly can cross the finish line with a regular pair of sneakers, you’ll better set yourself up for success if you’re wearing lightweight kicks specifically designed for conquering difficult trails (and with more companies offering OCR shoe options, it shouldn’t be hard to find a pair that’s right for you). Wearing regular sneakers, a change in terrain might trip you up, but proper OCR shoes will not slow you down. Your ankles will thank you, too, since trail running shoes are often lower-cut around the ankle area.

2. Drainage is important

You’ll be moving fast through different obstacles and terrain, making your way through water, dirt, and climbing obstacles. That means unless you want to propel yourself off of soggy, heavy, water-logged sneakers, you’ll need shoes that feature superior built-in drainage. (Drainage will also help when you’re doing the post-event shoe hose-down and trying to get your kicks clean.)

MORE: What to Wear to a Tough Mudder

3. Rethink laces

Seriously, pay careful attention to your laces before taking off at a Tough Mudder. Not only do you not want to trip on your own laces, but you don’t want untied laces to get caught during obstacles or slow you down. Look for OCR shoes that feature lace locks, so you don’t have to think twice—or lose your shoes in the mud. (No surprise, we recommend the Merrell All Out Crush Shoe 2.0, with its lace lock closure system, as the best shoes for Tough Mudder.)


4. Cool and comfortable is key

You’ll want to find a pair of mud run shoes with ventilation and padding. Your feet should have room to move and breathe, especially since they might start to swell as you make your way through the race.