- Why you shouldn't be running a Tough Mudder in normal running shoes
- What you should consider before buying your Tough Mudder shoes
- The Reebok All Terrain Super OR – most professional obstacle runners' favorite
- The Salomon Speedcross 3 – is the king of trail running shoes an alternative?
- Merrell All Out Crush – are the official Tough Mudder shoes tough enough?
- The agony of choice – which is the best shoe in my specific case?
1. Why it's a bad idea to attack Tough Mudder with normal running shoes
Good shoes are essential to master obstacle races such as Tough Mudder.
You already have good running shoes?
You need special shoes for Tough Mudder, otherwise you might have to throw away your good running shoes after the event.
If you don't get why, let us remind you that Tough Mudder means…
- …jumping into water repeatedly
- …dealing with a changing and rough terrain
- …sometimes being stuck in thigh-deep mud
That's not what ordinary running shoes are made for! For this, you need special designed shoes.
You also wouldn't wear flip-flops to go ice skating 😉
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2. What you should consider before buying your Tough Mudder shoes
Talking about Tough Mudder shoes, we already have quite a bit of experience.
The photo above only shows shoes, Michael has tried so far (each of which have been through at least 2 Tough Mudders, some have been through so many more).
Alex, Sven, Viola and Basti have also tried quite a few brands. Therefore we can help you to find your perfect obstacle running shoes for your individual needs and preferences.
Following, we talk about the seven most important features your Tough Mudder shoes should have, and how to choose the right size.
7 Tips for your perfect Tough Mudder shoes
- Tough Mudder shoes should be as light as possible. After 12 miles, you’ll feel every ounce of weight you’re carrying.
- They should provide good grip on muddy and slick terrain.
- The shoes should be water resistant and fast drying.
- They should not only be comfortable, but also fit firmly. No kidding – some Mudders lose their shoes when getting stuck in the mud!
- Tough Mudder shoes should provide perfect support at climbing obstacles.
- They should be sturdy and easy to clean, so you can use them for many Tough Mudders and other obstacles races.
- It's not about the looks. But of course, great functionality AND good looks, never hurt no one either.
How to choose the right shoe size
Although Tough Mudder and other obstacle races become more and more popular, we're still talking about a niche!
Hence, it’s still hard to find suitable shoes for obstacle races in common sport stores. Which mostly results in searching for and buying shoes, online.
In that case, it's even more important to have a guidance for the right shoe size.
In general, it's advisable to order running shoes one size bigger than your sneakers.
During running, your feet tend to swell up and you need some additional space!
Michael wears size 9 in his everyday shoes. For the following shoes he ordered size 10 – and they fit perfectly.
This also applies for the rest of the team.
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3. The Reebok All Terrain Super OR – most professional obstacle runners' favorite
The All-Terrain-Super models have been with us since our first Tough Mudder run. Therefore, Basti and especially Michael have been running quite a few Tough Mudders with the 1.0 and also the 2.0 versions.
Meanwhile, the new All Terrain Super OR* has been released. Just as always Reebok focuses on well-tried features with few small upgrades. Sven and Viola could convince themselves already.
Reebok is the main sponsor of Spartan Races and strives after market leadership for running shoes for obstacle races.
They spared neither expenses nor effort to work on the development of this product, together with some of the best obstacle course racers of the world.
The result speaks for itself!
The shoe is ultra light, you hardly feel it when you wear it. Due to its H2O-Drain-Sytem the water doesn't stay inside but it runs off immediately.
You don't believe us?
Then have a look at the following video from our Mudder buddy Thorsten at the London West 2016 event. He's wearing them right there:
In contrast to its predecessors, the All Terrain Super OR* has a fast-lacing system. If you prefer ordinary ones, just cut off the laces and replace them.
For this model, Rebook uses CORDUNA®-upper material, which makes the shoe even more durable.
The material is dirt-repellent, which makes it easier to clean and which also keeps the weight as light as possible during the whole run.
A definite plus point for a trail running shoe.
The Reebok All Terrain Super OR is comfortable with a firm fit. It has great grip on the trail and in mud. It also gives great support at climbing obstacles.
Flat surfaces (especially when wet) are a minor weakness of this shoe. These include obstacles such as Everest 2.0, which can be a quite slippery business, when it starts raining.
But this is only complaining on a high comfort level.
Fortunately, these shoes don't just convince with their functionality but are also an eye catcher with their really loud colors and design.
Different color ranges for men and women make sure that everybody finds a style to their taste.
Therefore, we view the Reebok All Terrain Super OR* as the ultimate running shoe for Tough Mudder and similar obstacle course races.
The money is also spend well, as this pair of shoes looked like newly bought after we've put them in the washing machine. It's going to be a long and muddy love affair with this one.
To get a feeling of what we're talking about, take a look at Michael's 1.0 ‘s after 6 Tough Mudder runs. He probably could have run another 10 in these, easily.
Ordering options for the Reebok All Terrain Super OR
Unfortunately, availability is an issue with this shoe!
Normally amazon is your best option but you can also buy directly from Reebok.
Here you can find the links:
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4. The Salomon Speedcross 3 – is the king of trail running shoes an alternative?
A great alternative is the Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX*, which is the non-plus-ultra concerning trail running shoes. This one is available in a dozen different colors for both, men and women.
As we see so many people running in Salomons, and as Viola swears by her Salomon Fellraisers, Michael decided to test this brand as well at Tough Mudder NRW 2016 and Scotland 2016.
NRW, in Germany, is being labled as the toughest Tough Mudder event in Europe. Scottland is about average, so these were great events for a test.
What's the result?
First you have to know, that the Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX* wasn't explicitly made for Tough Mudder or other OCRs, but it's a trail run classic.
Therefore, this shoe is a bit heavier but also a lot sturdier than the All Terrain Super OR from Reebok (Hint: on the scale on the left you see the 2.0 version from Reebok, but that doesn't make a big difference to the new model).
Compared to the official net weight, the scale here shows a higher weight. Maybe a bit of Tough Mudder still remained in these shoes 😉
Hard to imagine, but the grip on muddy and slick terrain and up hill is even better than with the Reebok model.
Concerning water, it definitely follows a different approach.
Whereas the Reebok focuses on quickly releasing water from inside the shoe, the Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX* focuses on not letting water inside, in the first place.
Even if running trough snow it keeps your feet dry. The Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX really is extremely waterproof.
Which is great in general but not a great advantage at any obstacle involving water, where there is no way around getting soaked feet. It takes forever to run off the water inside this shoe.
Yet, this was the GTX – gore-tex edition – and actually made for the extremes of winter. The other editions, should do better.
In NRW, Michael's inner sole of the shoe scooted forward a bit forming little crinkles, when the shoe was filled with water. A little research here, also proofed, that this happened to some other Mudders as well.
No drama, just taking a bit off the comfort points.
On smooth surfaces this shoe's performance was just about as average as the All Terrain as the rule of thumb says: The more grip on the trail, the less traction on smooth surfaces.
Here the profile of the shoes by comparison:
The Speedcross 3's fast-lacing system is actually really handy and of higher quality than the Reebok All Terrain Super OR's (Sven and Michael compared these two).
As mentioned before: if you don't like it, just remove it and replace them with ordinary laces.
Speedcross 3, Speedcross 3 CS or Speedcross 3 GTX?
Whoever decided on getting a pair of Salomons for Tough Mudder is spoilt for choice between
- the standard Speedcross 3*,
- the Speedcross 3 CS* (climate-shield, partly water resistant) and
- the tested Speedcross 3 GTX* (gore-tex, completely waterproof and more robust).
We've researched for hours and came to the conclusion, that the differences are not that huge. Hence, we've decided on the GTX, as it seemed more flexible (runs in snow, hiking, etc.).
Also, – even if it might sound a bit girlish – it comes in so many different colors. 😀
Tip for smart spenders:
If you're not focused on a certain color or style, click through the different ones. Often there is a huge difference in the pricing.
Personally, we would buy the GTX again, but feel free to also have a look at the other models of this series on Amazon. In our opinion, all of them are a good choice.
You can also start researching for hours, with the result of not really being much smarter than before. 😉
Ordering options for the Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX
Here is an overview of the Speedcross 3 series. Follow the links to Amazon:
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5. Merrell All Out Crush – are the official Tough Mudder shoes tough enough?
Since 2016, Merrell is Tough Mudder's main sponsor and therefore launched the official Tough Mudder shoe. The All Out Crush*!
Next to the colors black and orange the Tough Mudder logo is very present on this shoe.
To be honest, we were quite skeptical, when we first saw them, as we thought this is more a marketing sort of thing and that these shoes won't get their muddy job done.
Luckly, we were wrong!
Although Merrell didn't have much time to invest in the development of a new obstacle course shoe, they produced a competitive shoe with the most important features.
It surely wasn't a bad thing that the product manager himself has finished more than 20 Tough Mudders.
In the following interview you can already get quite a good overview of this shoe's main features:
At the same time the shoe doesn't hold on to dirt and mud, which keeps its weight light even after many miles.
In many aspects the Merrell All Out Crush* is quite similar to the Reebok All Terrain Super OR.
It is a bit heavier, but still lighter than the Salomon Speedcross models.
The shoe's sole profile is very well-thought-out. Due to the multi-directional lugs, they give you optimal grip even for sideway movements and great support at the obstacles.
Similar to the All Terrain, there are drainages in front and on the sides to get rid of water inside the shoe very quickly. The water doesn't drain off as quickly as with the All Terrain, but still quite fast.
Not only is the upper very robust, but the cushioning is also better than of our so loved Reebok.
This makes this shoe very interesting for longer distances, for people with knee problems and people who are overweight.
You definitely have to break these shoes in very well, as they are quite “hard” in the beginning.
And the weak points?
And again it's time to complain on a high level.
The shoe laces are less than optimal. They are simply too thick, which causes them to untie themselves while running. Not that great when wearing gloves and when the shoes are clogged with mud.
Thinner shoe laces or a solid fast-lacing system would do the job better.
We would also be thankful for an additional set of holes for the laces to tie a so called “runner's tie” or such.
All in all, respect to Merrell. We are already curious to see the improvements of future models!
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6. The agony of choice – which is the best shoe in my specific case?
To make it clear – if you are looking for a shoe that is good for obstacle races or especially for Tough Mudder, you can't do anything wrong with any of these.
With all of the above we've made great experiences and can advice all of them. They beat any common running shoe by far.
There is almost no quality and price difference, therefore it’s absolutely legitimate to base your decision on style preferences!
If you don’t care too much about design and only put emphasis on the features, you can follow these recommendations:
- If you’re looking for a shoe solely for Tough Mudder, don't mind a minimal cushioning and want to go fast, you'd choose the Reebok All Terrain Super OR*. This one is a pro.
- If you are looking for a shoe that combines all important features for running a Tough Mudder and if you are willing to lose some speed for some more cushioning, take the Merrell All Out Crush*. Same counts if you just dig the Tough Mudder logo on the shoe.
- If you are more looking for an all-rounder, you should choose the Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX*. The grip is simply great, your feet stay dry under normal circumstances and they are also of great use on a hike.
Michael likes to train with his Salomons but most of the time he uses his Reeboks and the Merrells for the Tough Mudder events.
No matter which one you choose – you won't regret it.
For sure you'll earn envious glances, when you fly through deep mud and up hill, while the rest has to let you pass as their shoes have reached their limits.
Don't wait too long for your order though!
It happens, that your size and color is not available at all times, especially when big running events are right around the corner.
Additionally, we highly recommend to break in your shoes to get a good feeling for them and to avoid blisters on the big day.
Once again, here are all the links you need:
Reebok All Terrain Super OR
Salomon Speedcross 3
Merrell All Out Crush
Have fun with your new Tough Mudder shoes 🙂