Best OCR Shoes

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Icebug Zeal
Test Winner: Icebug Zeal
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Obstacle Course Racing, or OCR as it’s called, is a unique way to get out there, have fun, and get some serious calorie burning going. You may be wondering what OCR is, as it’s not necessarily the most typical and everyday kind of sport; however, we assure you, it’s an adventure you won’t want to miss once you try it.

In short, Obstacle Course Racing consists of challenges that can be compared to military training. You may come across anything from barbed wire, mud pits, balance boards, and even rope swings, and you are timed against other contestants to finish as quickly as possible.

Basically, when you participate in an OCR, you are a modern-day warrior. It’s tough, but the challenges are well worth it, as the spoils can bring cash and the golden feeling of accomplishment. This guide gives you a list of top 10 OCR Shoes.

Standout Picks

Salomon Speedcross 4
Salomon’s Speedcross 4 Shoes bring you one of the best options in OCR shoes on the market today. Made with excellent traction and durability, these shoes can handle technical trails and obstacle courses so well that you’ll feel a performance boost.
Amazon Link
Backcountry Link
$129.95
See Deal
Inov-8 X-Talon 200
The Inov-8 X Talon 200 is the trifecta of OCR shoes. It's lightweight, flexible, that also delivers great grip for racing. This shoe is meant to be fast and has a strong grip so that you can run on both soft and pavement surfaces, like trail and road.
Amazon Link
Icebug Zeal
Icebug’s Zeal OLX shoes are made for handling trails and obstacle courses with ease and provide you with a lightweight, comfortable shoe. Designed to keep your feet in place with a great fit, you’ll be able to perform well in any obstacle course with these shoes.
Amazon Link
$29.99
Merrell Glove 4
With a barefoot feel, the Glove 4 is a great OCR shoe. It is impressively comfortable without compromising style. The traction of the shoe is provided by 3mm lugs and a Vibram TC5+ sole.
Amazon Link
Icebug Pytho 3
Built with a lot of comfort, durability, and traction in mind, Icebug’s Pytho 3 shoes are designed to boost your performance on the obstacle course. You’ll both feel great and look great in these stylish shoes, and you’ll be able to get the job done easily.
Amazon Link
La Sportiva Mutant Backcountry
La Sportiva’s Mutant Backcountry Shoes brings you a lightweight, breathable shoe that can handle obstacle courses well. The stability, control, and traction on these shoes can help boost your performance so that you meet your goals.
Amazon Link
$135.00
Backcountry Link
$101.25
See Deal
Vibram V-Run
You'll notice that Vibram is quite a popular name in the trail, hiking, OCR, and walking shoe world. They are famous for their impressively grippy soles. The V-Run is a great barefoot option for OCR. It is lightweight and breathable while providing great traction and energy return.
Amazon Link
$103.94
Inov-8 Terraclaw 250
The Terraclaw is a beauty of an OCR shoe. These shoes feature a unique lug release system that minimizes debris from getting caught in the bottoms stay clean of distracting pieces of debris.
Amazon Link
Reebok All Terrain
Made for handling long-distance obstacle course trail runs with ease, the Reebok All Terrain Super OR Shoes have a lot of cushioning and stability to help boost your performance. With effective shock absorption and a great fit, you’ll get a lot of comfort out of these shoes.
Amazon Link
Altra Superior 3.5
One of the most popular shoes on the market today for technical terrain and obstacle course runs, the Altra Superior 3.5 Shoes will give you the comfort and grip you need to help you succeed. With good traction and an affordable price, you’ll love these cost-effective, high-quality shoes, check the best Altra running shoes, here.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

Comfort is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting the best OCR shoes since obstacle courses require a good deal of impact training, and you want the right cushioning and shock absorption to prevent fatigue.

Many of the shoes on our list are built with EVA midsoles, which do a great job of absorbing impact and keeping you going strong all day long. You’ll also want to make sure your shoes provide a lot of ankle support and stability as well. If your shoes don’t help you with the support and security you need, you’re likely to wind up with injuries from the impacts you encounter, and nobody wants to experience that.

The lacing system on your shoes can also affect your comfort level. Most shoes either use a quick lace system or a traditional lacing system, and while neither one is better, you want to pick the lacing system that makes your shoes feel like they fit well. The snugger and the better the fit, the better performance you are likely to get out of your shoes in the long run.

Fit becomes a critical thing to think about when you want to buy a comfortable pair of OCR shoes. Making sure your OCR shoes fit well is important because the better the fit, the better you are likely to feel when you’re hitting the obstacle course. You don’t want shoes that fit too large since they are likely to rub and create other problems. If you aren’t sure what your size, make sure you get this checked out by a professional, so you get the right fit for you.

The support level you need will also be a comfort factor, but this can vary widely from person to person. Some obstacle course racers need shoes that have a great cushioning system if they suffer from injuries or know they perform better with more cushion. Better cushioning systems in shoes also offer you more stability and support and can help prevent fatigue. Sometimes there is a tradeoff in OCR shoes between comfort and weight, but if you know you need the cushioning more than a lightweight shoe, then go for the support.

Traction

A sound traction system becomes a real necessity on obstacle courses since you don’t know what type of terrain or obstacles you might have to hit depending on the races you intend to participate in. Since you don’t want to climb over challenging terrain and lack good grip and traction in your shoes (which can cause you to slip and fall), you’ll need to look into shoes with a sound traction system.

After all, not only does nobody want to fall when they are participating, nobody wants to experience injuries because of these types of mishaps. When looking for an excellent traction system, check out the lugs on the outsole area of the shoes. Most good OCR shoes are made with rubber outsoles that feature durable lugs on the bottom of them for extra grip. The bigger the underfoot and traction system on the shoes, the less slippage you are likely to experience when you hit the obstacle course.

So, lugs become an essential factor since they are meant to give you more grip, which can prevent slips and falls on steep terrain. However, you also want to make sure your shoes feel right, and like the grip you get on them is controllable, so you can always trust the way your feet feel during your races.

Try to avoid shoes with metal lugs, since those can damage obstacles, and go for shoes with a grippy rubber outsole and good lug pattern design. If you have both of those things in the shoes you want to buy, then you are likely to wind up with a good pair of shoes that can grip well when you’re actively participating.

Durability

Participating in obstacle course races means you’ll need a durable shoe since this type of activity will expose your shoes to lots of abuse. Most OCR shoes are built to handle these difficulties, but some still come with more durability than others.

High-quality materials designed in your shoe is one vital factor to look for when selecting your OCR shoes. Also, making sure that you purchase shoes from a well-known brand such as Salomon should give you more peace of mind about how long your shoes will last when you use them in obstacle course racing.

When you’re looking for high-quality materials on your shoes, you need to focus on the outer area of the shoes. You want shoes that won’t quickly get holes ripped into them, or that can’t handle rocks well, because that can affect the lifetime of your shoes (if interested in climbing shoes make sure you check this guide). Many shoes feature durable protective materials on the outer area of the shoes which protect not only your feet but also your shoes, from the type of abuse you’re likely to encounter on the trails. Shoes made for OCR activities should have some features on the outside of the shoes that help boost the overall durability.

Value

The value of a product is always in the back (or at times, the forefront) of our minds. No one wants to invest or overpay for a sub-par product. For this reason, we took a look at the overall value of the shoe, and not just the price. We considered the materials used, features, and durability. All of these factors, then compared with the price, gave us the overall value of the shoe.

On this collective list, we have included a few expensive shoes with every feature imaginable and a few more basic, but more affordable, versions. Depending on what you are looking for and knowing in which terrains and hardships you will be using the shoes will help you decide which pair will be the most valuable to you.

Top 10 Picks

1. Salomon Speedcross 4

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Backcountry Link
$129.95
See Deal
Salomon Speedcross 4
Salomon Speedcross 4
Salomon Speedcross 4
Amazon Link

Salomon’s Speedcross 4 Shoes bring you one of the best options in OCR shoes on the market today. Made with excellent traction and durability, these shoes can handle technical trails and obstacle courses so well that you’ll feel a performance boost.

Read more

Comfort

Designed with a molded EVA sole, these shoes will mold to give you plenty of padded comforts and fit snugly so you have enough support and stability to get the job done. These running shoes are lightweight and flexible and do an excellent job of keeping your feet protected from the trails.

Traction

The traction on these shoes features a rubber sole with a Speedcross lug pattern to help you handle the hardest obstacle courses and the most difficult terrain. These shoes will help prevent slips and other potential mishaps when you’re active.

Durability

Made with techno fabric and a weatherproof Gore-Tex overlay, these shoes are built to last and also come with good weather protection. You’ll get a lot of use out of these shoes.

Value

These shoes come priced in the average range, and for what you get, they are certainly worth it. Salomon’s Speedcross 4 Shoes are built to last many seasons, so you’ll get a good value with these shoes.

Amazon Link
Backcountry Link
$129.95
See Deal

2. Inov-8 X-Talon 200

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Inov-8 X-Talon 200
Inov-8 X-Talon 200
Inov-8 X-Talon 200
Amazon Link

The Inov-8 X Talon 200 is the trifecta of OCR shoes. It's lightweight, flexible, that also delivers great grip for racing. This shoe is meant to be fast and has a strong grip so that you can run on both soft and pavement surfaces, like trail and road.

Read more

Comfort

As far as weight goes, these shoes are about 212 grams, so they are super lightweight, but also, they are built to be flexible to offer your feet a better range of motion. A rand wraps around the upper part of the shoe to offer your feet and the shoes better protection.

Traction

This shoe is made for Obstacle Racing, off-trail running, and mountain running, so it offers a wide diversity of benefits. First of all, the 8mm rubber studs that are on the bottom of this shoe makes sure that you stay gripped on looser terrain, but also, they hold steady on firm ground.

Durability

It has been said that these shoes take about one week to break in. The rubber and textile fabrics are strong and reliable and will keep your feet safe for many years to come. To top it all off, these shoes also feature water repellent coating that will prevent wet feet.

Value

These versatile and water-repellent shoes have been claimed as one of the best pairs available on the market. Combine that with their affordable price tag and you’re all set.

Amazon Link

3. Icebug Zeal

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$29.99
Icebug Zeal
Icebug Zeal
Icebug Zeal
Amazon Link

Icebug’s Zeal OLX shoes are made for handling trails and obstacle courses with ease and provide you with a lightweight, comfortable shoe. Designed to keep your feet in place with a great fit, you’ll be able to perform well in any obstacle course with these shoes.

Read more

Comfort

These shoes have an EVA midsole designed into them that also uses HGM2 technology to hold your fit snugly, giving you a lot of support and cushioning. The PU upper and reinforced area also help to provide you with the protection you want while you are on an obstacle course.

Traction

Icebug’s Zeal OLX shoes come with a rubber outsole that features 16 studs so that you get all the grip you need when you are hitting the obstacle course. These shoes also shed mud and debris easily off the studs, so they’ll give you the traction you want.

Durability

Icebug’s Zeal OLX shoes are built to last and are made out of long-lasting, synthetic materials. These shoes have enough durability to last several seasons.

Value

Since these shoes are built to last and run in the average price range, you do get value when you purchase them. You’ll be able to get a lot of bang for your buck because of their durability.

Amazon Link
$29.99

4. Merrell Glove 4

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Merrell Glove 4
Merrell Glove 4
Merrell Glove 4
Amazon Link

With a barefoot feel, the Glove 4 is a great OCR shoe. It is impressively comfortable without compromising style. The traction of the shoe is provided by 3mm lugs and a Vibram TC5+ sole.

Read more

Comfort

If there is one thing that (almost) all reviews can agree on, it’s that this a comfortable pair of shoes. They almost have a barefoot feel, which is thanks to their zero drop. They feature 4mm of cushioning and a regular lace-up system that is easy to adjust. The top of the shoe is made from mesh with a thermoplastic urethane covering, proving great breathability and drainage. As a pair, the shoes weigh about 12-ounces.

Traction

The traction on these shoes is quite impressive. They feature a Vibram TC5+ sole that performs well on many terrains. Additionally, you’ll be pleased with the 3mm lugs.

Durability

Reviewers have been impressed by the longevity and durability of the Glove 4. As mentioned before, these shoes have a Vibram TC5+ sole that helps to make them a long-lasting shoe. Additionally, there is a trail protect pad that provides underfoot protection. They are not waterproof, but because of the mesh, they do drain quickly.

Value

These shoes are averagely priced. Considering the comfort, durability, and protection that they offer, we think they are a great investment. They can be used for OCR, hikes, workouts, or casual exploration.

Amazon Link

5. Icebug Pytho 3

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Icebug Pytho 3
Icebug Pytho 3
Icebug Pytho 3
Amazon Link

Built with a lot of comfort, durability, and traction in mind, Icebug’s Pytho 3 shoes are designed to boost your performance on the obstacle course. You’ll both feel great and look great in these stylish shoes, and you’ll be able to get the job done easily.

Read more

Comfort

Icebug’s Pytho 3 Shoes offer a lot of flexibility while still featuring the right amount of cushioning to absorb shock as you move. Even the tongue on this shoe is padded, which adds an extra element of protection to your performance.

Traction

Designed with a BUGrip sole, these shoes have a lot of technology built-into them to bring you the right amount of grip. Also, these shoes are very flexible and respond well to what you need while you are active, so you’ll get the right amount of grip and stability with them.

Durability

Built to be long-lasting, these shoes have a lot of durable materials manufactured into them to make them handle abuse. You’ll be able to get a lot of use out of these shoes.

Value

These shoes do cost a bit more but offer a lot of good benefits and features for the price. However, compared to some other products on our list, they do run on the expensive end.

Amazon Link

6. La Sportiva Mutant Backcountry

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$135.00
Backcountry Link
$101.25
See Deal
La Sportiva Mutant Backcountry
La Sportiva Mutant Backcountry
La Sportiva Mutant Backcountry
Amazon Link

La Sportiva’s Mutant Backcountry Shoes brings you a lightweight, breathable shoe that can handle obstacle courses well. The stability, control, and traction on these shoes can help boost your performance so that you meet your goals.

Read more

Comfort

These shoes have a lot of cushioning in them, which is impressive considering how lightweight they are. Packed with effective cushioning that will help with shock absorption, you’ll be able to handle all types of terrain with ease.

Traction

Designed with a FriXion XF outsole, these shoes are very grippy and hold their own with stability and support. They also feature an Impact Brake System to prevent slips, giving you a bonus traction system.

Durability

Built to last, these shoes earned the Editors’ Choice award from Outside Magazine for Trail Runner and Gear of the Year shoes, in part because of their high-quality materials. So, you’ll get an award-winning, long-lasting shoe.

Value

These shoes run in the more expensive price range, but considering their stability and durability, you’ll get a lot of use out of them. So, the cost balances out well with the amount of use you’ll get out of these shoes.

Amazon Link
$135.00
Backcountry Link
$101.25
See Deal

7. Vibram V-Run

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$103.94
Vibram V-Run
Vibram V-Run
Vibram V-Run
Amazon Link

You'll notice that Vibram is quite a popular name in the trail, hiking, OCR, and walking shoe world. They are famous for their impressively grippy soles. The V-Run is a great barefoot option for OCR. It is lightweight and breathable while providing great traction and energy return.

Read more

Comfort

This is a true barefoot running shoe that is a great option for OCR. The shoes are made from polyester lycra stretch mesh microfiber. This blend of materials offers great breathability and comfort. The Vi-lite midsole features 4mm of EVA cushioning. Additionally, you’ll find 2mm of EVA cushioning in the antimicrobial drilex sock liner insole. It should be noted that the shoes tend to run a size larger than other Vibram models. For a comfortable fit, you should size down. Also, there is an adjustable pull tab closure to adjust the tightness.

Traction

As expected from Vibram, the traction of these shoes is impressive. The specialized grip pattern mimics your foot, but with more grip. The flexibility of the shoe allows you to uniquely grab walls and hills.

Durability

This is where things get tricky. Many reviewers rave about the craftsmanship and durability of these shoes, but others are less impressed. It seems as though if you have a wide foot or the wrong size, you can quickly rub holes in the shoes. However, these shoes offer the user a bit more durability in themselves. The shock-absorbing cushioning allows you to run longer without outputting all of your energy.

Value

Whether you think it’s fair or not, the bigger the size, the higher the price. So, price-wise, the value of these shoes depends on your shoe size. Overall, this is a great OCR shoe that can also be used for running or trail exploration.

Amazon Link
$103.94

8. Inov-8 Terraclaw 250

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Inov-8 Terraclaw 250
Inov-8 Terraclaw 250
Inov-8 Terraclaw 250
Amazon Link

The Terraclaw is a beauty of an OCR shoe. These shoes feature a unique lug release system that minimizes debris from getting caught in the bottoms stay clean of distracting pieces of debris.

Read more

Comfort

The Inov-8 Terraclaw for women features a mesh upper that is covered with a thin film to allow maximum airflow but keep debris out, and this is just one feature of the Terraclaw shoes that will have you ready for your race.

Traction

They feature a Terraclaw rubber sole that delivers optimal grip and stability for you.

Durability

The 3 Area Shoc-Zone makes sure that your feet stay stable, while the shoe provides shock absorption. This allows your running experience to be as gentle as possible, without too much strain on your feet when you hit the ground running.

Value

These shoes are about average price.

Amazon Link

9. Reebok All Terrain

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Reebok All Terrain
Reebok All Terrain
Reebok All Terrain
Amazon Link

Made for handling long-distance obstacle course trail runs with ease, the Reebok All Terrain Super OR Shoes have a lot of cushioning and stability to help boost your performance. With effective shock absorption and a great fit, you’ll get a lot of comfort out of these shoes.

Read more

Comfort

To help breathability and assist with the shoes staying dry, these shoes feature drainage ports which help give great ventilation.

Traction

Designed with a grippy rubber outsole, these shoes have a lot of traction that will keep you safe on the trails. Designed with mid-feet teeth for extra grip, you’ll feel a lot of stability and support.

Durability

Made with a DuraGrip upper, these shoes have technology built into them that help to extend the life of the shoe and protect it from damage. Since these shoes can handle a lot of abuse, you’ll get a lot of use out of them.

Value

This shoe is priced in the average range, and considering the amount of technology you’ll get out of them that increases their shelf life, you’ll be able to use them for a while. So, with the amount of durability here, these shoes are well worth the price.

Amazon Link

10. Altra Superior 3.5

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Altra Superior 3.5
Altra Superior 3.5
Altra Superior 3.5
Amazon Link

One of the most popular shoes on the market today for technical terrain and obstacle course runs, the Altra Superior 3.5 Shoes will give you the comfort and grip you need to help you succeed. With good traction and an affordable price, you’ll love these cost-effective, high-quality shoes, check the best Altra running shoes, here.

Read more

Comfort

These shoes should keep you comfortable as they are designed to allow for natural foot positioning and toe splay. To ensure maximum comfort, the platform is designed with ZeroDrop technology.

Traction

If you find that your Obstacle Course Running takes you onto a trail, the sole features a TrailClaw, and there is also a StoneGuard to protect you from rocks.

Durability

These newly designed runners have returned with accurate sizing to assist you in your choices with minimal trouble. The upper has also been made to be stronger so that you're feet are properly supported. On the sides, there is a tiny lateral flare to assist in overall stability.

Value

Altra takes it's customer feedback very seriously, and this is why they have made so many adjustments to the new Superior 3.5's. Coming in at a similar price point but with more advanced features, these shoes are quite impressive.

Amazon Link

Sources

  1. Fierce Edge, Complete Guide to Choosing Shoes for an Obstacle Course Race, Informational Running Website
  2. Alex Brown, How to Choose the Best Shoes for your Mud Run, Informational Running Website
  3. ATHLETICFOOTGURU, A Guide to the Best Shoes for Spartan Races and Tough Mudders, Buying Guide
  4. Editing Team, BEST 12 SHOES FOR SPARTAN RACE SEASON 2019, OCR Blog