Best Shoes for Tough Mudder?

If you have decided to try your luck at a tough mudder competition, you will need the right gear. When competing in the events or competitions, you do not want to worry about your shoes being untied or the clothing being too baggy and catching on equipment and such.

What shoes do you want to have on hand when you participate in these events? The average everyday athlete shoes is not going to give you the support you need to get through the course. In fact, you will most likely be worried about your shoes giving out on you the farther you get into the course.

The shoes you want to wear for tough mudder are OCR shoes. They need to be light and comfortable so you can handle the long roads. You will be running up and down the different terrain while maintaining your endurance and drains the mud and water.

OCR shoes are recommended as it is approved for obstacle course racing. These shoes are made to handle tough terrains and won’t easily fall apart. You need a shoe that can pick you up out of water or push you through as you crawl underneath a barb wired fence.

What is OCR Shoes?

There are so many shoes available on the market today, and it’s hard to make your mind up on which shoes you want to wear to the store, to work, or to the gym. If you participate in Tough Mudder competitions, you don’t want the average footwear to help see you through each level; you want a shoe that is going to be so comfortable and provide all the support needed so you can focus on the competition. 

OCR shoes, or obstacle course racing shoes, are lightweight because it’s important that you don’t waste energy trying to pick up a wet, muddy shoe with every step you take. This added energy can make a difference in how you finish the competition.

The OCR shoes have a design that is specific for all types of terrain. They are lightweight, so you have less weight to pick up with every step, they were specifically designed to handle all terrain, and they are low cut. The unique design fits your foot like a glove so you can focus on what matters the most.


Shoes need some way to hold them together, snug against your foot, so they don’t fall off. Laces can come undone and leave you stopping down on your course in order to tie them back up, or they may come undone and get caught somewhere on the obstacle course, such as caught on the barb wired fence. You can’t have this type of delay in the competition, and that’s why a good OCR shoe has a lock laces, so they don’t get caught.


The fact that you are going to be traveling through sand, dirt, mud, and water, you don’t want to wear a shoe that is going to be heavy and wet with water for the entire competition. You need a shoe that has drainage built in. This drainage system will allow the water to drain out of your shoe and allow air to circulate throughout the shoe so that they can dry easily.


You want a shoe that is comfortable enough to get you through the entire track. Your feet need room to move around. Because this sport is so physical, your foot may swell a little during or after the competition. Your shoes need to account for this additional size and be flexible around your foot. Otherwise, your foot is going to hurt even worse because there is no room for the swelling, which ultimately puts pressure on the swollen foot even more.

What to look for in OCR shoes

If you know you want to compete in the Tough Mudder events, you will want to begin training for this well in advance. You want to make sure you are able to endure such a course prior to entering.

It’s important that you understand what you should look for when choosing the right OCR shoe to wear for this type of competition. Knowing what you need will make the selection process easier. Here are a few factors to consider when buying a Tough Mudder shoe:

  • Visually inspect each shoe around the seam to ensure that there are no rips, tears, or openings that can affect the quality of the shoe. Shine a light inside the shoe while holding the shoe up to eye level. If you don’t see the light shining through around the seams, then the shoe will also be able to keep out any water.
  • Look for a small drainage hole in the shoe which should be located around the seam of the shoe. This will allow for water to get out when the track takes you through the water holes. This hole will also allow air to circulate through to help dry up your soles quickly.
  • There will be lots of running through the grass and rocky terrain and going through both water and mud. OCR shoes are specifically designed to handle this type of multiple terrains. 
  • Consider a shoe with less cushion. While the comfort may be nice, the more cushion in the bottom of the shoe, the longer it will take to drain and dry when wet. The added cushion will make it difficult to find good grabbing motion when you need it. The less cushion, the easier it will be for you to move your foot to balance your body on steps or rungs along the way.

The Right Fitting Shoe for Tough Mudder

When choosing a shoe for competition, you will want to try it on to ensure the right fit. You may wear a size seven in a tennis shoe, but you need to consider the added cushion that is in the shoe which takes up room. You may actually be a half size smaller when it comes to the Tough Mudder shoes.

The treat on a Tough Mudder shoe should be designed to handle a different type of terrain every time. There has to be balance in the tread. If the tread is too deep, the mud will get caked inside it, making every step much heavier than it has to be. You also need a tread that would be able to secure your step during the most critical times in the competition or event. Therefore, the tread should be a personal preference. If you are sure footed, you don’t need as much traction as someone who is not.

Men’s Tough Mudder Shoes

You want to find a shoe or boot that is lightweight on your foot. Trying on shoes will be the easiest way to determine what is the right pair for you. The shoe should not have laces, no thick soles, and the tread should be one that will help you maintain your balance and give you extra security with every step.

Women’s Tough Mudder Shoes

You need extra balance, so a light soled shoe should be the right choice for you. Be sure the tread is good enough to grab hold of the smaller rungs or rope and be able to remove mud as it dries.

Why Not Wear a Tennis Shoe for Tough Mudder?

You can wear tennis shoes during Tough Mudder, but it may be the deciding factor on whether you win or lose the competition.

Tennis ShoesTough Mudder Shoes
Made for support and comfortMade for endurance
Thick solesSoles are thin for better grip and balance
Designed to walk all day longDesigned to handle different terrain
Not to heavy to walk inLight enough to pick up your feet and to run

How to Prepare for Tough Mudder

Before you compete, practice running in different terrain in your shoes before the actual competition. You will want to make sure that you can handle the weight of the shoe, and the shoe can hold you when you need the balance. If the shoe doesn’t help you feel secure, consider another type of shoe before the competition.

It’s difficult to select the right shoe based on what you see and read. You must allow time to try the shoe on and get used to the way that it fits prior to competing.

If you are used to wearing tennis shoes all the time, this type of shoe will take some getting used to. Even the difference in the weight is going to take a little getting used to.

Be sure to go out of your home and run track or go hiking in your shoes in order to test the feel of your new Tough Mudder shoes to ensure that you are comfortable in them, and you don’t have to worry about them during the competition.