Are you looking for the best obstacle course shoes? If yes, then congratulations – you’re at the right place!
You probably already know this, but for those who don’t, obstacle course races (or OCR) are courses through which participants must run, cross suspended ropes, climb obstacles or crawl under them, etc. Oftentimes they wade through water or mud, carry heavy objects, and even jump over fire.
Wow! Let me just take a moment and say how admirable you are!
It’s one thing to go on a light jog in the morning or to participate in a marathon, but a whole another to partake in obstacle course races. At least that’s how I see it. I have always admired it, even when I was a kid, sitting in front of the TV and watching American Ninja Warrior.
I remember thinking how, one day, I’ll participate in it too, since it appears to be so easy.
Fast forward a few years and I cannot manage to make myself go for a run, let alone participate in OCR. I no longer live in a unicorn world, and I’m well aware that this activity is no joke!
One of the many concerns of OCR participants is what equipment they need. More specifically, what footwear to opt for? If you’re struggling with the same dilemma, this article brings you the 10 best obstacle course shoes that will most definitely find a place in your heart. And in your wardrobe!
So, without further ado, let’s see what this article has in stock for you!
What are the criteria by which the best obstacle course shoes are chosen?
Every shoe ever designed was designed with a specific purpose in mind. We have come a long way since the earliest pair of shoes known to us was created (dating back to 7000 or 8000 BC), and we can only imagine what the future of footwear has in stock for us.
The world of shoes tries to come up with models which can accompany any human activity, whether it be walking, running, hiking, cooking, roofing, or even diving, and which can make them more enjoyable and easier to do.
Best obstacle course shoes are deemed the best due to their unique features which significantly impact one’s performance during that specific activity. You will never participate in OCR while wearing kitchen shoes, right? You’ll need something a bit more durable and grippy.
Below, I have listed 5 main features the best obstacle course shoes simply have to have. Based on those, I have selected the 10 best OCR shoes which you will be able to see later in this article.
And if you happen to dislike the 10 pairs provided here, these criteria can help you find your own pair in the store. Just make sure the shoes you pick met all the necessary conditions.
This is probably one of the most important features a good pair of obstacle shoes have to have. Without the right fit, none of the other features listed below, like durability or traction, really matter. If the fit of the shoe is off – you simply won’t receive any of the shoe’s intended benefits.
First of all, make sure you have the right size for a certain model of shoe. Not all shoes have the same sizing, and just because you’re a size 6 with one, doesn’t mean you’ll be the same size with others. It’ll be best if you could go directly to the store and try the shoe in person.
But if you prefer online shopping, almost every site offers a shoe sizing chart. Just make sure you pay enough attention to it and measure everything correctly.
The shoe’s lacing system is also very important. There’s nothing more annoying than when you have to stop every now and then to tie up your laces. Especially if you’re in the middle of a certain competition.
Chose a model of shoe whose lacing system works for you, doesn’t easily untie and provides you with the most secure fit ever.
Also, make sure the shoes you opt for are not too tight. The best obstacle course shoes should have enough room for your toes to wiggle freely around.
Durability is another important feature of a good pair of OCR shoes. When we decide to invest in high-quality footwear, we want a pair that will serve us for a long time and won’t wear off after one race. That’s why most attention is put toward durable outsoles.
The best obstacle course shoes have outsoles made out of heavy-duty rubber that can survive everything that comes her way. These kinds of shoes can often feature a mudguard for added protection and a reinforced toe box, so the toes are safe from any external impact.
3. Drainage and water resistance
Another important feature to look for is the shoe’s ability to provide a serious drainage performance. It’s important for OCR shoes to be lightweight on the feet. If they are overly soaked, the water can make them heavier and seriously slow you down while racing.
Also, the water can cause a lot of damage to the shoes like ripping the seams due to water-weight. So, it’s important that the shoes are made out of material that is lightweight and dries quickly.
Also, water-resistant features are a must! Nobody wants to deal with the feeling of wet feet while racing. So, the best obstacle course shoes have to also be waterproof.
Obstacle course terrains usually feature some demanding and challenging conditions, like slippery walls and rocks and muddy pathways to get through. Because of this, OCR shoes have to have enough traction, so you don’t fall and injure yourself.
It is common to see lugs on OCR shoes because they optimize traction and ensure a firm grip on technical terrain. It’s not necessary that they have those hard-core metal lugs or spikes. Those are more desirable in cross country but are actually not allowed in some states.
Some OCR shoes also feature rock plates which ensure stability and good traction while also protecting your feet without sacrificing comfort. Rock plates protect your feet from lugs dining deep into them while you run. One less thing to worry about, for sure!
Every human being on this Earth likes a good bargain. I know I do. However, it should never be our top priority if we’re buying stuff we actually need and know we’re going to use often.
It doesn’t do us any good if we buy cheap shoes which claim to be good for the obstacle course, and later we end up with blisters, foot pain, ankle sprains, and destroyed shoes.
When you think about it, by opting for a cheaper model, you’re actually spending more money, because you end up buying new shoes after every race and getting pain relief medicine, bandages, or even expensive doctor appointments.
Many important things are at stake, so please invest in your OCR shoes. If you want to spend less money, you can wait for Black Friday sales or get some browser extensions that are designed to find coupons or notify you when there’s a sale on a certain site.
What are the best obstacle course shoes?
Now that we have gone through some of the major features every OCR pair of shoes needs to have, it’s finally time to move on to the list of the 10 ultimate best obstacle course shoes. Hopefully, you’ll find the pair that suits your fancy, so you could be ready for your next race.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the list!
1. Altra Lone Peak 4
We’re starting strong with the Altra Lone Peak 4 model. These shoes are usually classified as trail running shoes, but they can be counted among the best obstacle course shoes as well. Armed with these ones, your victory is guaranteed!
These shoes feature the FootShape tech in the toe box which ensures your toes have enough space. Thanks to the heel padding, they will wrap around your feet and provide you with amazing stability and comfort.
When it comes to drainage – these bad boys are your number one option! There are drainage holes all around the shoes, so you’ll never have to worry about water seeping in.
These shoes do have one drawback, though. Durability is not their strongest suit. Depending on how you take care of them, they should serve you well between 100 and 300 miles. The midsoles of these shoes can withstand a lot, but after a certain point, many people notice some wear and tear.
This is a bummer because these shoes do cost a lot. You can pay up to $150 for them, which is a price you agree to when all the qualities are met. Nevertheless, many people enjoy these shoes and don’t mind that they’re not that durable. Maybe you would be one of them.
2. ASICS Men’s Gel-Quantum 360 4 Running Shoes
There are plenty of reasons why this ASICS model of shoes is considered to be one of the best obstacle course shoes.
First things first, these shoes are cushioned with 360 degrees of signature GEL technology which brings together multi-directional stretch mesh with reinforcements that improve their responsiveness to the movement of your feet.
You’ll love the lightweight comfort and lock-down support of the woven upper, while the customizable eyelets allow you to customize the fit to meet your particular needs. Also, these shoes feature Solyte midsoles, which reduce the weight of the shoe and make them exceptionally lightweight.
ASICS shoes are usually very comfortable, and this model is no exception. It contains a thick gel heel cup and plenty of cushioning overall which provides stability and support and is a great choice for people with weak heels and ankles.
This model has better drainage and breathability than the previous ones, which makes them perfect for wet conditions.
3. Icebug Acceleritas 5 RB9X
(Source: OCR Fit)
These ones are said to be one of the best obstacle course shoes because they are so lightweight. Many people who wore them said that it feels as if you’re running barefoot with these ones. But much better!
The upper of these shoes is made out of quick-dry polyester mesh which ensures comfort, lightness, and no skin irritation. Their midsoles are made out of compression-molded EVA foam because of which they are extremely supportive.
Their outsoles feature Rubber 9 Extreme technology. They are designed with a special pattern that optimizes traction on various surfaces. The outsoles are surrounded by RB9X, which ensures even more grip.
These shoes are also great when it comes to keeping the water out. And when it comes to their durability, they are designed to last you several OCRs. And they cost around $140.
4. Inov-8 Men’s Mudclaw 300
Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 shoes are highly durable and considered one of the best obstacle course shoes on the market. This model is Inov-8’s best-seller since it’s designed for all terrains, and can be used for both OCR and cross country.
These shoes are made out of fabric and synthetic material, and their soles are made out of natural rubber. The upper is abrasion-resistant which means these shoes will look great for a long time, and it’s treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR). This is a tight-knit model, so the water can hardly get in.
However, if the water finds its way to sneak in, these shoes have a great drainage system that can deal with it without any issues.
Their midsoles are made out of injected EVA which means these shoes are extremely comfortable. They come with a 6 mm removable insole, which allows you to adjust the fit according to your liking. This model has Inov-8’s distinctive 8 mm lugs which ensure amazing grip and traction.
5. Inov-8 X-Talon 212
Another Inov-8 model of shoes. It says a lot about a brand when you include it multiple times on the list of the best obstacle course shoes. This brand is certainly one of the most loved brands of running shoes in the country!
This model is relatively lightweight and flexible, which is desirable in any good pair of running shoes. With its mesh lining and synthetic upper, this shoe offers great breathability and comfort without sacrificing protection.
These shoes feature sticky rubber studs which ensure amazing traction on any kind of terrain, whether it be soft dirt trails or rock-covered and rough paths.
When it comes to drainage, these shoes have a water-repellent coating which keeps the feet safe and dry, even when you run through puddles or in rain. This means these shoes are exceptionally waterproof, too.
This model offers neutral arch support. Even though these shoes are lightweight and consequently offer little protection, they are still highly supportive and offer a lot of stability.
Their only drawback is that they are not very durable. Don’t get me wrong, they will not tear down after the first race. But, some people have complained how these shoes do not hold up particularly well after heavy usage.
Nevertheless, this does not undermine their performance on the trail. And they cost around $115, which is pretty acceptable for a solid obstacle course shoe.
6. Merrell All Out Crush 2
This Merrell model stands out as one of the best obstacle course shoes because. No, really. They literally stand out. This model, like many previous ones, features reflective details for visibility which makes them perfect for those who do a lot of running in low-light conditions.
Thanks to their Uni-Fly impact absorption system, which distributes the impact and encourages a stable bounce. This allows the shoes to fit great and provide amazing shock absorption.
These shoes also feature M Select Fresh technology which prevents sweat and moisture from damaging them, making this model exceptionally durable. They also have a great drainage system, so you won’t have to worry about water getting in while running. Their traction and grip are truly out of this world!
When it comes to the price, this model can be found for $100 to $140.
7. Reebok All Terrain Super 3.0
These shoes are designed for challenging terrains and obstacle course races. They feature a breathable and durable system that ensures free foot movement but also provides maximum protection and support.
The upper of these shoes is made out of extremely breathable materials and includes an optimal water drainage system. They dry quickly and ensure runners don’t worry too long about their feet getting wet.
These shoes feature a bungee lacing system which will provide you with the most secure fit ever. Outsoles of these shoes have an aggressive lug system whose purpose is to provide superior grip and traction on any terrain.
Midsoles are made out of durable CMEVA foam. This foam provides more cushioning and a better landing pad, which is said to be better than the standard EVA foam. These shoes are extremely durable, protective, comfortable, and breathable.
8. Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2
Why are these Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 considered to be the best obstacle course shoes on the market? Well, because they have many amazing qualities it’s actually impossible not to include them in this list.
Due to their Sensifit technology, Endofit capability, and Quicklace features, these shoes have a customizable fit and provide you with enough security and comfort you won’t have to worry about blisters.
Thanks to their Premium Wet Traction Contagrip technology, they offer you amazing traction, ensuring you conquer every obstacle during the race without any slipping or falling. The only time you’ll fall is when you fall in love with these shoes!
They are highly waterproof and offer efficient and effective drainage. They’re also really protective but breathable. Therefore, your feet will be safe and aired out perfectly! And they are also extremely comfortable, due to the EnergyCell Plus midsoles which provide optimal cushioning.
9. Salomon Speedcross 5
These ones are often referred to as “the beast for rugged trails.” Featuring highly aggressive and deep lugs, these shoes are a great pick when you want an excellent shoe for traction. Contagrip TA rubber compound makes their outsoles stickier than ever.
Due to SensiFit, these Salomon Speedcross 5 shoes wrap around your feet and feel like a glove. This ensures maximum support, especially on uneven terrain. When it comes to comfort, these shoes feature OrthoLite insoles which deliver great cushioning, breathability, and durability.
These shoes are great when it comes to foot protection, too. With these ones, no sharp rocks will ever harm your feet.
Another interesting thing about these shoes is that you don’t have to break them in. They will be your comfiest option straight out of the box.
These shoes have two drawbacks, though. The first one is that they have limited use. It’s hard to wear them anywhere else besides OCR. And the second one is the fact that this model is not waterproof. But, if you wish to have a waterproof addition to your closet, you should check out Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX.
This model is usually priced at $140 but you can find them on sale for less.
10. Salming OT Comp
Salming is famous for being a brand that produces quality, outdoor sports equipment. So, it comes as no surprise that we included this model among one of the best obstacle course shoes. Not only do these shoes look amazing and feel great, but they are also suitable for various uses!
These shoes provide a secure fit, even though it’s pretty hard to find the right size for you. But once you do, these shoes will fit like a glove and be extremely comfortable. They are very lightweight and have a 4 mm drop, which is perfect for those who prefer to be lower to the ground.
These Salming OT Comps were made for rough terrain. Therefore, their traction and grip are impeccable. They are also great with water encounters. The drainage system of these shoes is exceptionally effective and the water dries out almost as quickly as it appears.
These shoes are also built to last you a long, long time. Their outsoles are made out of durable rubber and the rest of the shoe is made out of quality mesh and synthetic materials. So, these shoes will not tear down that easily.