Today, there has been a sudden rise in popularity of intense, trail running courses. Whether it’s the wildly popular Spartan Races or Tough Mudders, there is an assortment of courses all presenting complex challenges for participants.
With that being said, it’s critical that, before heading to any of these races or courses, that you are properly prepared with the right gear for a real warrior.
Primarily, while clothes and accessories can help – nothingi it’s quite as important as a high-quality pair of trail shoes ready to wear in the wet dirt.
Trail shoes are the secret success ingredient that helps to keep participants in control of their movement, maneuvering through rigorous and messy obstacles, and glued to the Earth’s surface.
So, in today’s article, we are going to provide a wealth of information regarding the absolute best shoes for any Spartan Race and Tough Mudders course alongside some tips and tricks to help participants purchase the best mud run shoes for their need.
As you will note in the below section, each of these shoes and footwear matches all of the requirements above, making each shoe worth your consideration for leaving you as a warrior for your next obstacle race or course. Continue reading below…
4 Best Shoes for Spartan Races and Tough Mudders
1. Salomon Speed Cross 4
- The Salomon Speed Cross 4 pair of shoes are incredibly lightweight.
- Contagrip outsole is provides great traction.
- Climashield feature helps handle any environment.
- The SensiFit system provides the control and stability for strenuous activity.
- Mud Run shoes comes in 9 different stylish and fashionable designs.
|Salomon Speedcross 4|
|Type of Shoe||Trail Running Shoe|
|Midsole Technology||Molded EVA|
|Outsole Technology||Contagrip Rubber with 6mm Arrow-Shaped Lugs.|
|Upper Design||SensiFit System with Anti-Debris Mesh.|
For the Speedcross 4 trail shoe, Salomon included a high-quality outsole innovation known as Contagrip rubber perfect for racers in any challenge like climbing or any kind of training.
This outsole feature does a great job at not only boosting durability and traction, but it also helps give runners and athletes the control they need to handle any obstacle and challenge course.
Additionally, the company included unique 6mm arrow-shaped lugs to enhance the level of grip to the Earth’s surface, whether wet, muddy, or dry, like in any tough mudder training.
When it comes to any obstacle course race or adventure races, it’s important that a participant’s pair of shoes have some degree of comfort.
The Salomon Speed Cross 4 trail shoes come built with a unique and comfortable EVA molded foam. This can help balance the rigorous surfaces that an individual might be faced with during the competition.
In an effort to provide consumers with a higher degree of fit and stability, Salomon included the SensiFit System in the Salomon Speed Cross 4 shoes.
Veterans of the brand might be familiar with this unique feature. This system, in partnership with the innovative anti-debris mesh material on the upper, help to keep a participant in control, comfortable, and at peak performance.
If there is one area where this shoe shines, it’s in the aesthetic appeal of the shoe.
For both men and women, consumers have the opportunity to select from a wide spectrum of stunning and vibrant colors for their new pair.
- Black with Everglade and Sulphur
- Dark Cloud
- Acid Lime
- Ranger Green with Martini Olive and Black
- Black and Everglade
- Black with Black and Black Metallic
- Arctic Blue
- Black on Black with Black Metallic
- Hawaiian Surf
- Tibetan Red with Sangria and Black
- Virtual Pink
- Bird Off Paradise
- State Blue with Spa Blue and Fresh Green
- Bright Marigold with Sangria and Rose Violet
- Deep Peacock Blue with Lime Punch and Grape Juice
- Blue Jay with Black and Infrared
- Dark Purple with White and Deep Lake
- Blue and Sulphur
- Lime Punch
- Blue Black
- Dark Purple and White
- Poseidon with Eggshell Blue and Black
Since Spartan Races and Tough Mudders adventure races require a certain degree of control and stability, it’s important to note the sizing and fit of a shoe.
The only downside to this widely popular shoe is that it runs small. Before purchasing the Speedcross 4, be sure to check the sizing chart to ensure proper fit.
The following sizes are what are currently available.
Pros and Cons
|Speed Cross 4 is very lightweight.||Speed Cross 4 typically runs smaller in size.|
|Shoe performs well in any environment; rain, snow, or mud.||This shoe does not come in a wide-option.|
|High-quality outsole promotes greater durability.||Anti-debris mesh could limit the amount of ventilation and breathability.|
|QuickLace system makes lacing up easier and quicker than previous shoes.||Exterior materials may not dry as fast as previous models.|
|Considered cheaper than the competition.|
|Endofit sleeve provides and added a layer of comfort and control.|
The 4Th edition of our iconic and aggressively lugged trail runner for tearing through the technical, soft ground with speed.
Why Purchase Salomon Speedcross 4?
Out of the many different shoes for Spartan Races and Tough Mudders, the Salomon Speed Cross 4 shoes have consistently outperformed the competition for racers.
With the Contagrip outsole and SensiFit upper, the Speedcross 4 shoes will help an individual conquer whatever the obstacle has in store.
The best part about these pair of trail shoes is that they come in a wide variety of colors and designs for both men and women.
So, when trucking through mud pits, not only will these shoes keep an individual on the course – they will also be doing it in style.
Read More: The Best Salomon Running Shoes Guide
2. Merrell Glove 4
- The Merrell Glove 4 is a fashionable and stylish shoe, featured in numerous colors.
- The Synthetic Breathable Mesh Upper does a great job at releasing moisture.
- The design of the shoe promotes greater flexibility in comparison to some competitors.
- The Compression Molded EVA Foam is supportive, keeping participants comfortable through-out an entire obstacle course or training.
- Shoe can handle many miles of performance, thanks to the high-quality Vibram TC5+ outsole.
|Merrell Glove 4|
|Type of Shoe||Trail|
|Midsole Technology||Compression Molded EVA Foam with a Non-Removable Microfibre Footbed.|
|Outsole Technology||Vibram TC5+ Outsole|
|Upper Design||Synthetic Mesh Upper with TPU Overlays.|
The outsole of a train running shoe speaks volume about the quality of the shoe and its capability.
- For Spartan Races and Tough Mudders, the Merrell Glove 4 offers participants the highly popular Vibram TC5+ outsole.
- For newcomers in the industry, this type of outsole is great for both traction, control, and maneuverability.
Additionally, they enhance the level of durability and traction even more – Merrell included abrasion-resistant rubber.
If there is one part of this shoe that shines, it’s the high-quality midsole technology.
Merrell utilized a unique compression molded EVA foam in efforts to provide participants with the maximum amount of cushioning and support during their performance.
What makes this inclusion such a great feature is that it also contributes towards the lightweight feature of the shoe and its durability.
Additionally, Merrell utilized a Non-Removable Microfibre Footbed to increase the degree of ventilation.
When it comes to staying in control of movement and releasing moisture, the Glove 4 shoe exceeds expectations.
It’s evident that Merrell took careful consideration with how the upper of this shoe would be created. To boost breathability and ventilation and minimize moisture and odor, these trail shoes include a unique synthetic mesh.
Additionally, there are TPU overlays, which is great for that added support and control.
If you are looking for a pair of shoes for a Spartan Race of Tough Mudders course that is stylish and fashionable, the Merrell Glove 4 is worth your consideration.
For both men and women, participants have a wide selection of designs and colors to pick from. So, whether an individual wants to use these shoes for other activities or casual purposes – they can!
- Molten Lava
- Bering Sea
- Space Black
- High Rise
- Very Grape and Astral Aura
The Merrell brand has built a reputation on providing consumers with some of the most impressively designed shoes in the industry.
With that being said, the Glove 4 has received a wealth of praise regarding it’s “glove-like” fit.
One word of caution: given the nature of the upper, some consumers might find there to be a lack of security that other Merrell shoes once provided.
Furthermore, here are the current sizes offered at the time of writing this article.
Read More: The Best Merrell Running Shoes [2021 Guide]
Pros and Cons
|The Glove 4 is a significant improvement from the previous shoe in the series||The Glove 4 is considered a zero-drop or minimalist shoe, which may present some challenges when first using this shoe.|
|This shoe is visually appealing, making it a desirable choice.||The upper material is considerably thinner than the rest of the shoe’s build.|
|The Glove 4 can be used for both obstacle courses or casual uses.||The outsole may not be strong enough to handle slippery surfaces.|
|Participants may find this trail shoe more flexible than other competitors.||The upper lacks the tight support that some participants may need for optimal performance.|
Features a high-performance rubber sole with unmatched durability, stability and slip resistance provides confidence on your feet. Barefoot shape with a glove-like fit providing natural comfort with minimalist construction. Zero drop from heel to toe for a natural stride.
Why Purchase Merrell Glove 4?
When it comes to either a Spartan Race or Tough Mudders – participants need a shoe that they can place their trust and faith in.
The Merrell Glove 4 is one of the only shoes on the market at the time of writing this article that can rise to whatever obstacle these courses can toss at a participant.
With a unique and lightweight midsole and upper, consumers can maneuver through any obstacle and stay suctioned to the ground due to the Vibram outsole materials.
3. New Balance Nitrel
- The front part of the shoe comes with Toe Protect, which is great for handling rocks or other sharp objects.
- The AT TREAD Hybrid outsole promotes great durability and traction across any surface.
- Upper materials help to release any build-up of moisture, minimizing any odors.
- The design of the Nitrel is sleek, appealing, and comes in multiple different colors.
- The entire shoe was made from high-quality lightweight features to help boost maneuverability.
|New Balance Nitrel|
|Type of Shoe||Trail Running|
|Midsole Technology||Injected Molded Eva|
|Outsole Technology||AT Tread Hybrid Outsole|
|Upper Design||Synthetic Mesh Upper|
If there is one thing that New Balance understands how to design, it’s the outsole of their shoes.
The Nitrel trail shoe features AT Tread Hybrid technology, which is great for both Spartan Races and Tough Mudders.
Reason being, this outsole material is designed to handle both road and trails, including both slippery, muddy, and dry surfaces.
To provide consumers with the comfort and support needed to stay in control and comfortable during an entire Spartan Race or Tough Mudders course – the Nitrel comes with a unique injected molded EVA foam padding.
In addition to this, New Balance included an innovative feature known as the REVlite midsole. This can further enhance any support and cushioning that the shoe currently has.
Like many trail running shoes, the Nitrel from New Balance is made with a synthetic mesh upper material. This material was carefully selected and included due to its breathable properties. This makes this pair of trail shoes great for individuals that tend to sweat a lot during obstacle races, which is almost everyone.
When it comes to the New Balance Nitrel Fuel Core trail shoe, participants will have the choice between some visually appealing designs and colors.
So, whether running through Tough Mudder’s pits or walking on the street, an individual can still be stylish and fashionable.
At the time of writing this article, the following designs and colors are available:
- Grey and Blue
- Black and Blue
- Black and Grey
- Red and Black
- Grey and Black
- Grey and Pink
- Sea Spray
- Grey and Turquoise
- Black and Purple
Any veterans consumers of New Balance can attest that one thing this brand does very well with is sizing and fit.
The Nitrel has received a wealth of praise for it’s comforting and snug fit, offering participants control and stability while balancing flexibility.
At the time of writing this article, this shoe is currently offered in the following sizes:
Pros and Cons
|The Nitrel shoes do not require a break-in period.||Some participants may find the toe box too small.|
|The entire shoe is made from primarily lightweight materials.||The tongue of the shoe is attached to the liner of the physical shoe.|
|The shoe’s fit is true to size.||Insole might not provide enough support or padding for participants.|
|Consumers can pick from visually appealing designs.||Not great for extensive all-day performance and exercise.|
Go where your run takes you in the Nitrelv3. These modern retro men's trail running shoes easily work on or off road thanks to AT tread. Revlite cushioning and a molded saddle also contribute to the ready-for-anything fit and feel.
Why Purchase New Balance Nitrel?
In the shoe industry, New Balance has built a reputation for constructing some of the most reliable shoes. The Nitrel is no exception to this.
These trail shoes offer the lightweight shoe that individuals need for obstacle races, like the Spartan Races or Tough Mudders.
Additionally, the shoe boasts great traction and durability, thanks to the AT Tread Outsole. For consumers that are looking for extra grip and maneuverability, this shoe is worth your consideration.
4. Inov-8 X Talon 200
|Inov-8 X Talon 200|
|Type of Shoe||Trail|
|Midsole Technology||Traditional Injected EVA Foam.|
|Outsole Technology||Patented Rope-Tech Outsole Technology|
|Upper Design||Synthetic Material and Reinforced TPU Overlays.|
- The patented Rope-Tech technology in the outsole maximizes participants grip to the ground.
- The entire shoe is made from all lightweight materials.
- The X Talon 200’s have a unique lacing system to improve fit.
- The midsole and upper materials are designed for maximum breathability.
- Naturally flexible trail shoe for tough and rigorous races and obstacle courses.
If there is one part about this shoe that shines, it’s the outsole. In fact, out of many shoes on the market, this specific shoe has received positive repour because of its traction and grip.
Inov-8 was careful in including the brands’ patented Rope-Tech innovation, which is known to maximize both traction and durability.
Additionally, should there be any stones, rocks, or sharp objects in the obstacle course, the shoe’s rubber toe bumper can help protect any participant?
To provide participants with the support and cushioning needed for any obstacle race, Inov-8 infused the traditional injected EVA foam into the X-Talon 200 trail shoes.
Veterans in the industry already know that this feature is great for shock absorption and boosting the rebound, both which are essential Spartan Races and Tough Mudders.
In the upper of the Inov-8 X-Talon 200 shoe, the company used a unique synthetic material to promote a greater sense of breathability.
So, if you are an individual that sweats profusely, this trail is most certainly worth your consideration.
In addition to this, the upper is made from a unique double water resistant coating and TPU overlays to boost durability, comfort, and durability.
In our opinion, the biggest downfall of the Inov-8 X-Talon 200 Unisex Sneaker is the limitation in colors and designs.
While the physical features, innovation, and value should be the forefront of any consumers decision, color and aesthetics do play a differentiation role. With that being said, this current shoe is only offered in one current color:
If you are curious, this remains true for many of the shoes offered by this company.
Out of the entire market at the time of writing this article, the X-Talon 200 offers one of the most unique sizing options.
For one, the shoe offers the traditional amount of space for both the toe and heel and the comfortable padding, thanks to the midsole.
The most unique feature of this shoe is that it’s considered a unisex trails shoe. Here are the current size options:
- Unisex – 5 M- 9M
Pros and Cons
|The lacing system of this trail shoe provides participants a snug fit.||Participants are limited to the types of colors they can pick from.|
|The outsole material does a great job at providing traction and grip.||There is not a wealth of sizing options.|
|The shoe’s toe box is not bulky like many other competitors.||The shoe may not offer the amount of durability as other shoes on the market.|
|Participants will not experience any major build-up of moisture of odors.||For some consumers, the insole may not provide enough padding.|
A flexible, lightweight racing shoe that delivers unrivaled grip over soft or extreme terrain and is super-fast on dry trails too. The number one choice for elite athletes wanting to run fast off-trail. Highly durable, quick-draining and packed with protection features that make it perfect for wet, Rocky off-trail running and obstacle course racing at high speed.
Why Purchase Inov-8 X Talon 200?
When it comes to any major obstacle race, it’s important that participants select a show that boasts lightweight features and offers the flexibility to maneuver around or in any obstacle.
This trail shoe not only provides consumers with both of these features, it offers great traction and grip and also the breathability for extensive performances.
Now, it’s important to know that the Inov-8 X Talon 200 is the beginning shoe in the series offered by the manufacturer.
For those that are seeking a more advanced trail shoe, check out the Inov-8 X Talon 250.
Why You Need Specific Shoes for a Tough Mudders or Spartan Race?
Before jumping into the best shoes for any rigorous obstacle courses – it’s important to understand the specifics behind why a proper shoe is necessary for that kind of challenge.
In truth, the biggest mistake that participants can make is using one of their previous running shoes for their course and not the right footwear and gear.
Typically running shoes are not designed for what Spartan Races of Tough Mudders have in store. It’s an under-exaggeration to say that each participant needs a special shoe for peak performance.
As you might already know, these courses are packed with water obstacles, rough terrains, smooth terrains, muddy obstacles, a lot of wet dirt and so much more.
Can you expect a real pair of shoes to handle these obstacles without breaking on your feet or wearing?
So, what type of shoes are needed for Spartan Races and Tough Mudders then?
When it comes to preparing for a Spartan Race or Tough Mudders course, it’s important to focus on purchasing a shoe that is incredibly lightweight.
The last thing that a participant needs is a shoe that weighs them down during the challenge.
In addition to this, there is a list of features that are pertinent and necessary:
- A high-quality outsole with strong, durable grips for all different terrains.
- Water-resistant with quick-dry technology or water-proof features to avoid a wet sensation on your feet.
- Low-maintenance and easy to clean materials (Hopefully washing machine friendly).
- Built with a balance of comfortability, stability, and control.
- Wear sneakers with strong and supportive midsole for athletes performance purposes.
Further Reading on Athletic Shoes
- Spartan Race vs Tough Mudder Compared – Which Obstacle Race is Better? - January 22, 2022
- Brooks Addiction Walker vs New Balance 928: Which is Best? - December 7, 2021
- Brooks Ravenna vs Adrenaline – Which is Best for You? - December 4, 2021