What are the Best Obstacle Course Shoes?

Running is one of the purest forms of exercise you can perform.  When you run, you are using the body’s natural movements to propel yourself forward at high speeds —  it is exhilarating, rewarding, and challenging.

Obstacle course running makes the act of running even more exciting!  It involves running over all kinds of terrain, climbing obstacles, and jumping over barricades.  Obstacle running is a form of running that feels much more enjoyable than running in circles on a track or dodging traffic as you jog in the city.

However, obstacle course running is also an extremely demanding form of running that requires a lot of skill.  It also requires better equipment, including a great pair of running shoes that are suited to many different types of terrain including sand, dirt, rocks, cement, and mud.

This guide will offer some tips for buying the right pair of running shoes before highlighting 5 of the best obstacle course shoes on the market!

Choosing the Right Obstacle Course Shoes

Here are a few simple tips to help you choose a great pair of obstacle course shoes.

Get shoes made for running.

Find a shoe that is right for your foot

Only wear shoes that feel comfortable immediately

Look for shoes with a tight heel fit and room at the front

Choose shoes with excellent traction

Look for shoes that address any issues you have

Don’t spend too much — or too little!

Get a pair that is slightly larger than you would normally wear

Choose shoes with a tough and resilient upper

Don’t worry about the looks of the shoe

Light shoes do work best

Inov-8 X-Talon 212 Trail Unisex Running Shoe

Inov-8 X-Talon 212 (S) BLK/Yellow/Blue-U, Black, 7 M/8.5 W
  • All-terrain trail running shoe with tight-knit and abrasion-resistant textile upper featuring removable 6mm insole and...
  • Injected EVA midsole
  • Heel pull loop

The Inov-8 X-Talon 212 is a reliable and highly durable shoe that was first released in 2013.  It is specifically designed for obstacle course and cross country running, and is packed with useful features.  It has become a best seller for Inov-8 and are used by many obstacle course racers.

The shoe is primarily made from fabric and synthetic materials, with a natural rubber sole.  It is a tight-knit shoe to reduce the risk of water ingress and the textile upper is abrasion resistant — ensuring the shoe continues to look great for a few years.  If water does manage to enter the Inov-8 X-Talon 212, its quick draining system will take care of it.

These shoes come with a 6 mm removable insole, allowing the wearer to tweak the fit.  The midsole is made from injected EVA, which adds to the comfort of the shoe.  The sole features very deep cleats, which are perfect for wet conditions.

PROS

  • High sole tread depth makes them ideal for wet conditions
  • Solid construction
  • Super grippy tread

CONS

  • Not a studded shoe

Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe

Salomon Men's Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe,Black/Black/Silver...
  • Seamless upper with SensiFit construction
  • QuickLace system with lace pocket
  • Injection-molded EVA midsole

This is another very popular shoe amongst obstacle course racers and you will regularly spot it out on the trail.  The popularity of the Salomon Speedcross 3 is based upon its incredibly durability, and performance.  This shoe is also a fantastic all-rounder — if you are unsure about the weather or trail conditions, you can wear these shoes and be prepared for anything.

This shoe is packed with useful features including anti-debris mesh to keep crud out of your shoes and the quicklace speed lacing system.  This lacing system uses Kevlar fibres and a plastic pulley system to lace up your shoes and lock the laces into place.  This system seals the shoes well and makes putting them on a breeze.

The Speedcross 3 has a well padded heel, so it is an excellent option for runners who experience some heel discomfort.  This shoe has a synthetic, seamless upper with SensiFit construction.  This is a seriously well-made upper that will do well in any weather conditions.  The sole is synthetic and has a sole tread depth of 3/16 inch.  It has an aggressive tread pattern which provides excellent traction on most surfaces.

PROS

  • An incredibly durable and tough pair of shoes!
  • An excellent warranty against defects
  • A huge range of colors!

CONS

  • The drainage on this shoe could be more effective
  • The heel drop might be too high for some people

ASICS Men’s GEL Fuji Runnegade 2

ASICS Men's Gel-FujiRunnegade 2-M, Mediterranean/Flash Yellow/Black,...
  • Rear foot gel cushioning system attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance
  • Trail specific outsole reversed lugs provide uphill and downhill traction on all types of terrain
  • Seamless construction the use of seamless materials reduces the potential for irritation and friction caused by...

ASICS recently updated its Fuji Runnegade line, making a number of improvements which make the shoe even better for obstacle course running.  The ASICS Fuji Runnegade 2 how has a better sole and an anti-gravel tongue to prevent debris from entering the shoe.

The latest version also has better drainage and breathability, which makes this shoe a great choice in wet conditions.  The Fuji Runnegade 2 has a Solyte® midsole, which reduces the weight of the shoe.

ASICS shoes are usually very comfortable and the Fuji Runnegade 2 is no exception.  It has a thick heel gel cup and plenty of cushioning in the shoe itself.  The excellent support provided by this shoe makes it a great choice for people with weak heels or ankles.

PROS

  • Extremely comfortable to wear, with great ankle support
  • Lightweight
  • Suitable for all weather conditions
  • Strong mesh material that protects the feet well

CONS

  • The grip isn’t as effective as some Innov-8 shoes.

Reebok Men’s All-Terrain Super OR Running Shoe

Reebok Men's All Terrain Super Or Running Shoe, Motor...
  • All-terrain running show featuring speed-lacing system and Cordura Skin full upper application for durability and...
  • H2O Drain technology for water release through the sidewall
  • Midfoot teeth for traction and protection on ropes

Rebook appears committed to produce a great pair of obstacle course running shoes.  They have been regularly modifying their All-Terrain Super OR shoe based on user feedback since it was released.

The latest version of the shoe features a super-tough Condura® upper, which uses high tenacity synthetic fibers.  This is a huge improvement over the original All-Terrain Super OR, which had issues with ripping.

This shoe uses a speed lacing system that is simple-to-use and effective.  It helps to reduce the amount of debris that can enter the shoe while running.  If any fluid does enter the shoe, it is quickly removed with the Reebok’s H2O Drain technology.  Other useful features include mid-foot teeth for additional traction while climbing and an underfoot rock guard.  This is a great all-rounder shoe that will perform well in any conditions.

PROS

  • Extremely lightweight (219 grams)
  • Works well on any terrain
  • Strong mesh material that protects the feet well and excellent drainage

CONS

  • Slightly more expensive than competitors

Inov-8 X-Talon 190

Inov-8 X-Talon 190 Blue/Blk/Yellow-U, Black, 11 M US
  • Trail running shoe with water-repellent upper in textile and synthetic materials featuring reinforced toe and minimally...
  • Removable 3mm insole
  • Low-profile injected-EVA midsole

This is another great pair of obstacle course shoes from Inov-8.  These shoes are designed for competitive runners and are very lightweight.  Because they are designed to minimize their weight, they have less padding than most obstacle course shoes and the heel drop is only 3 millimeters.

Other features include a water-repellant textile upper, thick teeth on the sole tread, a toe guard, a removable 3 mm insole, the TPU Lacing System, and a minimally-padded tongue.  These shoes have a low-profile injected-EVA midsole, making them somewhat shorter than most other pairs of obstacle course shoes.

If you are interested in racing competitively, these shoes are an excellent choice — just be aware that because they are lighter, they are less durable than other obstacle course shoes.  If you regularly run in extreme conditions, you will see these fail earlier.

PROS

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • A great choice for runners who want to race

CONS

  • Not much cushioning, which makes them unsuitable for very long runs
  • Expensive

Our Verdict

Best Value for Money Obstacle Course Shoe

The Inov-8 X-Talon 212 Trail Unisex Running Shoe usually retails for less than the other shoes reviewed here.  Despite it being an affordable option, this is a well-made shoe that is highly durable and performs well.

Best Competitive Obstacle Course Shoe

The Inov-8 X-Talon 190 should improve your performance on the track because it is so lightweight.  While the X-Talon 190 is an excellent shoe, remember that it hassles padding than other models.  It is best suited for short to medium length competitive races.

Best Obstacle Course Shoe Overall

It is a tough choice, but the best obstacle course shoe overall goes to the Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe.  It has the perfect combination of features, price, and quality for obstacle course running.

We hope you enjoyed reading our guide to the Best Obstacle Course Shoes.  These shoes will deliver many hours of fun on the trail! Make sure you check out our obstacle course ideas for adults

Featured image via Unsplash