In just a few years time, mud runs and similar obstacle races have taken the fitness world by storm, redefining what it takes to test athlete's physical and mental stamina. Straight from shows like Survivor and Wipe Out, you don't have to be on reality tv to slop around in the mud or swim through an ice bath this weekend.
The start of Under Armour-sponsored Tough Mudder in 2010 has paved the way for other endurance races like Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, and Muddy Buddy to create a new kind of sport—one that naturally requires its own category of footwear to compliment it. Coming off of the Spring 2013 previews, brands will start to churn out mud-specific kicks, but until then these are the best suggestions to help you channel your inner mud monster.
No. 10 - Brooks Adrenaline GTX
The Adrenaline GTX features all the traits of a solid off-road shoe. It's light enough to keep you moving forward, but also protects against potential injuries caused by rocks and uneven surfaces--making an excellent option for mud runs.
Best For: Hill Climbs
Technical Advantage: The versatile sneaker is equipped with a breathable, waterproof GORE-TEX membrane, making it a perfect sneaker for splashing around in the mud.
Where to Buy: Brooks Running
No. 9 - Merrell Trail Glove
The flexible and unified design of the Trail Glove gives it excellent maneuverability on any obstacle course. The sneaker has a built-in drainage system to ensure mud has a way out.
Best For: Balance Beams
Technical Advantage: What the sneaker lacks in traction in muddy conditions, it makes up with its light weight and water draining abilities.
Where to Buy: Merrell
No. 8 - New Balance Minimus 10 Trail
It's minimal design gives the NB Minimus 10 Trail an advantage in virtually any obstacle race. The 10 Trail has excellent ventilation to help keep your feet somewhat dry, along with a Vibram outsole to ensure you can overcome anything the course throws at you.
Best For: Water Gauntlet & Crawls
Technical Advantage: The ventilated design of the Minimus 10 Trail allows for water to drain through properly, resulting in a lighter feel.
Where to Buy: New Balance
No. 7 - Keen A86 TR
The Keen A86 TR is one of our favorite trail running shoes of the year, it is designed to take on the toughest of off-road trails. The sneaker feature shark tooth-like lugs on the outsole that dig into the earth and help you propel forward. Not even a pool of mud can slow down the A86.
Best For: Hay Hurdles & Parking Lot Obstacles
Technical Advantage: With a fast-drying upper and a reinforced toe, the A86 is ready to hit the ground (or in this case, mud) running.
Where to Buy: Keen
No. 6 - Salomon Speedcross 3
Salomon claims that the Speedcross 3 can take on the worst of muddy and snowy conditions, and we believe them. The mid-top sneaker is completely weather-proof, and features bungee-style speed laces that wont soak up moisture and weigh your feet down.
Best For: Water Crossings
Technical Advantage: The high-traction rubber outsole on the SpeedCross 3 is designed specifically to conquer muddy or slushy conditions.
Where to Buy: Backcountry
No. 5 - Saucony Kinvara TR
The trail running edition of the Saucony Kinvara features an EBO plate for added protection against debris. The sneaker gives you the confidence to tackle such obstacles like ladder walls, and balance beams without skipping a beat.
Best For: Ladder Walls & Rope Climbs
Technical Advantage: The Kinvara TR features an External Bedrock Outsole, which protects the foot from rocks, stones, and whatever else may cross your path.
Where to Buy: Saucony
No. 4 - Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon LS
The FiveFingers Spyridon LS has become a popular choice for mud racers, and for good reason. The aggressive tread design on the outsole delivers sure-footed grip in all directions, while molded nylon mesh in midsole adds a “rock block” effect, dispersing impact over a wider area. Unlike the other shoes on the list, the Spyridon LS is completely machine washable, so getting all that mud off your kicks won't be a problem with this one.
Best For: Low Crawls and Tunnels
Technical Advantage: The Spyridon LS is ideal for obstacle races that require swimming. A vibram outsole ensures solid footing on the worst of surfaces.
Where to Buy: Vibram FiveFingers
No. 3 - Saucony Razor 2
The Razor 2 from Saucony is the ultimate shield against the elements. It's wrapped in a waterproof membrane that just screams mud runs. Put this bad boy on for you next race and you won't be sorry.
Best For: Mud Pits
Technical Advantage: The eVent fabric used for the Razor 2 ensures one-way moisture transfer, so sweat escapes, and of course, mud has no way in.
Where to Buy: Saucony
No. 2 - Under Armour Charge RC Storm
With a name like the Charge RC Storm, it's as if the folks at UA designed this specifically for obstacle races. While it features a low profile, the RC Storm has an array of performance technology designed to keep you on the track. The Carbon spring plate on bottom of running shoes transfers heel-strike energy forward, so getting through the mud won't be a monumental task.
Best For: Marine Hurdles
Technical Advantage: All-weather UA Storm technology gives the Charge RC protection against the force of mother nature. Paired with an ultra-responsive carbon rubber sole, this UA sneaker has Tough Mudder written all over it.
Where to Buy: UA
No. 1 - Inov-8 Mudclaw 300
The Inov-8 Mudclaw is designed for one thing, and one thing only: to get you out of the mud. With a waterproof membrane, and rows of spiked lugs on the outsole, needless to say, the Mudclaw 300 is the shoe you want for your next mud run.
Best For: Steep Hills and Mud Pits
Technical Advantage: The aggressive Mudclaw sole ensures proper grip in the steepest, muddiest and most extreme conditions.
Where to Buy: RunningWarehouse