Best OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) Shoes in 2020

People who love obstacle course racing know that performance doesn’t come overnight. It takes a lot of practice, dedication, and focus on getting the level of performance you aim. It also takes the proper gear, and the shoes you’re wearing can help you win/lose a race. Finding the best OCR shoes for you could mean a lot of trial and error, so check our selection to make an idea about the best models available at the moment.

Top 5 Pairs of OCR Shoes

1. ALTRA Women’s Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe

Designed especially for women, the ALTRA Women’s Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe makes an excellent option for women who love obstacle racing or running outdoors. They’re made with Fit4Her technology, which means that they’re customized for the female foot’s perfect fit.

ALTRA Womens Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe

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PROS:
  • They’re comfortable and ready to wear out of the box.
  • The grip and traction on rugged terrain are impressive.
  • They don’t give blisters.
  • They’re loaded with features for outstanding performance when obstacle course racing.

CONS:
  • Some doubt the durability
  • Runners who love more padding on their shoes may want to look for another choice.

The shoes come with many features that recommend them for the challenges of obstacle course racing. They’re comfortable to wear right out of the box and don’t need to break in. They push the heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground, which will give your proper and low-impact form while you’re running. The design is well thought, and the compound under the foot returns energy, lowering ground impact and improving your spring with every step.

The 4-point gaiter trap with the hook-and-loop tab ensures strapless gaiter attachment so that debris won’t build up beneath your shoe. We should also notice the stone guard between the EVA midsole and the A-Bound, which provides flexible protection from challenging terrains, as it deflects rocks into the midsole. The runner experiences a smooth and stable run.

The Maxtrac provides the grip and traction you need for obstacle course racing, without sacrificing durability. The trail claw with canted lugs that are well placed beneath the materials will provide the necessary traction.

The toe box is roomy for natural spreading and stability while climbing or descending.  The shoes run true to size and give no blisters.

Regardless of the inherent flaws, the shoes make a safe and reliable for women who like OCR on any given day.


2. Inov-8 Men’s X-Talon G 210 – OCR Shoes

Inov-8 Men’s X-Talon G 210 – OCR Shoes are designed especially for obstacle course running, so it makes perfect sense that they have features that help runners perform better.

Inov-8 Mens X-Talon G 210 - OCR Shoes

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PROS:
  • The outsole is made with Graphene, which is rigid and elastic.
  • The cleats are aggressive and ensure a good grip on all surfaces.
  • The upper part is breathable and drains water efficiently.
  • The shoes are lightweight, yet durable.

CONS:
  • The arch is a bit high for some.
  • They come on a two on the fit scale (1 is narrow, five is complete). Make sure that it’s the proper width for your foot.

First of all, the shoes are made with Graphene outsole, which is enhanced rubber, and it’s 50% stronger, 50% more elastic, and 50% longer lasting than regular rubber. The outsole will provide a fantastic grip, taking intense use for a long time. It’s one of the most rigid grips to have in obstacle course running shoes.

The shoes also feature 8mm studs claw (really aggressive) that bite through soft terrain and hold tightly on the more challenging ground. You will be able to wear the shoes on the most challenging terrain confidently.

Construction of the shoes sustains the performance, and the shoes are made with lightweight and non-water absorbing materials. The 3mm drop makes them ideal for fast running over gradients and distances.

The upper part is breathable and lets any water/sweat run through it thanks to the breathable materials. The shoes are lightweight and comfortable.

Tough, yet lightweight and comfortable, the shoes take obstacle course runs for a reasonable amount of time.

Casting thoughts aside, the shoes will become the best pair of obstacle course running shoes for many.


3. Salomon Men’s Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes

The Salomon Men’s Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes could easily win a popularity contest amongst runners, but they don’t disappoint obstacle course runners.

Salomon Mens Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes

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PROS:
  • They’re lightweight and provide excellent traction.
  • They’re versatile and long-lasting.
  • They’re comfortable and dependable.
  • They offer a standard fit.

CONS:
  • They’re not waterproof.
  • Breathability can be improved.

As a matter of fact, the aggressive grip with excellent protection and real foothold make the Salomon Speedcross 5 one of the best options for the OCR shoe category. The lugs are sharp and deep, which gives an impressive grip on various surfaces. They are more massive lugs with more space and new geometry, a more effective push-off grip, and braking grip, no matter the type of body.

The dynamin upper ensures a good fit and improves stability, so Salomon 5 should be on your shopping list when completing your running gear. The upper is entirely welded and has dissociated SensiFit arms, moving naturally with your feet for increased comfort. The heel unit cradles the heel, leading to a clean foot strike and stability throughout your run.

Versatility isn’t skipped, and Salomon 5 makes an excellent choice for both the challenging obstacle course runs and the smooth rides in town. No matter if you hike, backpack, mountaineer, or go trail running, Salomon 5 is a dependable pair of shoes.

Lightweight and comfortable right from the beginning, Salomon 5 provides a great fit and a quick lace system for faster use.

Loaded with good qualities, we ignore the minor flaws, and we recommend the shoes no matter where your trails will take you.


4. Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 – Trail Running Shoes

There are many good things that the Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 – Trail Running Shoes bring to the table, but it’s the complete package that makes these shoes a reliable model for your obstacle course running.

Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 - Trail Running Shoes

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PROS:
  • They’re durable and tough.
  • They’re lightweight and comfortable.
  • The traction and grip are excellent for the obstacle course running.
  • They’re dependable for both wet and dry surfaces.

CONS:
  • They fit better narrow feet.
  • They’re not for streetwear.

The shoes come with a Graphene outsole, meaning that they’re 50% more elastic, more durable, and stronger than regular rubber outsole. The impressively strong yet flexible, the outsole is completed with aggressive 8mm studs, which leads to a high-performance grip on both wet and dry ground. As a matter of fact, you will notice that the shoes provide excellent traction on both dry and wet surfaces, biting indeed of the soft and challenging terrain.

The midsole technology is also unique, absorbing, storing, and releasing energy to push you through the next cycle. The rough and tough outsole is combined with the challenging yet breathable mesh upper materials for a longer lifespan and insane comfort. You will feel the shoe lightweight, but you will trust the grip and traction over the obstacles thanks to the challenging features.

The 4mm drop will ensure a natural and less strenuous running form so that you will finish your obstacle course run. There’s a medium range of motion for the ankle joint, which will lower the pressure for calf and Achilles.

Should you sit on the fence about which model to get, you should get down with it and buy them.

Bear in mind that these shoes will be a reliable choice for obstacle course running on any given day, so only buy them if you’re ready for your run.


5. VJ XTRM OCR Shoes

Truth be told, the color combination will be the first thing you notice on the VJ XTRM OCR Shoes. These shoes will draw attention no matter where you go, but they’re a lot more than meets the eye.

VJ XTRM OCR Shoes

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PROS:
  • They’re made with Kevlar and plastic.
  • They’re comfortable, tough, and durable
  • The cleats are aggressive
  • The traction is efficient

CONS:
  • They run small
  • Should you have wide feet, these may not be a good fit

The shoes are made with 48% Kevlar and 52% polyester and will take the excess use and wear that obstacle course running causes. Comfort is excellent right from the beginning since the shoes have padding elements both in the front and heel. As a side note, you should go up a ½ size to enjoy the best comfort level with these shoes.

Protection is essential when taking the rough trails, and these shoes feature-complete length Rock Plate in the sole. This feature will protect your feet from sticks and sharp rocks.

The cleats are 6mm with a 4mm drop and provide excellent grip on all sorts of surfaces. Stability isn’t compromised in any way, thanks to the fiberglass build. The toe cap is made with strengthened rubber for more effective protection.

The insole feels firm but remains flexible for the best comfort. The shoes come in vibrant colors, standing out with both looks and performance.

Tough, yet comfortable and easy to wear, these shoes are what you need to stand out with looks and performance at your next obstacle course run.


What aspects should you consider when picking your OCR shoes?

Obstacle racing is a challenging activity, with you running on different types of surfaces. You may think that your regular running shoes will do, but some specific features make running shoes reliable for running obstacle courses. Durability, traction, good grip on all surfaces, and efficient water drainage are the first to come to mind, but you should pay attention to many other aspects.

You want your OCR shoes to take at least one season, so you shouldn’t make compromises. Keep reading to find out how your shoes should be to take the obstacle course racing.

Effective grip and traction

Your obstacle course racing will have you go over all sorts of surfaces, so you want your OCR shoes to provide grip on both wet and trail surfaces for more speed and stability.

Look for running shoes with large and aggressive lugs outsoles, aggressive treads, and sticky rubber. Some of the best OCR shoes feature Graphene, which is a more robust and more flexible rubber. You want features that reduce the risk of slipping on steep hills and obstacles, with stability and protection from rocks, dirt, roots, and muddy hills.

Reliable drainage and breathability

The chances to run through water and some muddy pools are relatively high with obstacle course running. Therefore, you should look for shoes that drain water efficiently, letting it out as fast as possible. The feature improves the breathability of the shoes and lowers the risk of absorbing water. Briefly put, your shoes remain dry and just as lightweight as they were when you put them on. Highly breathable shoes are made with Gore-Tex, which protects against moisture and reduces blisters’ risk. Even if it’s not Gore-Tex, you should look for shoes that keep your feet dry, no matter where your course takes you.

Lightweight

You don’t need to be a professional runner that your shoes’ weight will impact your performance. After running for a long time, your feet will feel heavy and tired, especially if the shoes are on the heavy side. Look for OCR shoes that are lightweight, without compromising on the protection, grip, or traction.

Protective from roots/rocks

Toe bumper, rock plates, thick foam, or shoelace tongues are features that protect your feet when coming in contact with roots and rocks. You don’t want debris to enter in your shoes as it may rub your feet and cause blisters. The uppers should be made with durable yet flexible materials that take tear and wear for a fair amount of time.

Provide stability

As you’re going to run over various types of surfaces, you want shoes that provide stability no matter the body. You don’t want your feet to twist nor your ankles to get hurt. Look for trail running shoes with thin soles for the best stability.

Heel-to-toe drop

Heel to toe drop refers to the difference between the toe’s height and the heel, ranging from 0 to 12mm. Flat shoes come with zero drops, whereas minimal running shoes drop from 2 to 4 mm.

Maximalist shoes will present high heels over 12 mm. You need to choose shoes according to your running style, as some land on their toes, and some on heels.

Either way, zero or low drop shoes make the better choice for people with sensitive knees, whereas high drop shoes (over 8mm) will be better for calf issues.

Stack height

Stack height refers to the total height of your shoe underfoot, midsole cushioning included. It will ensure protection for ankle and joints, improving your speed. Barefoot, minimal, moderate, and maximum are the four-level of cushioning for running shoes.

Heel strikers with no calf problems or knee issues should go with high heel drop (more than 8mm) with padding for protecting the knee, softening the impact associated with running.

If you’re a midfoot or forefoot striker, zero or low heel drop with minimal padding will work for you the best.


FAQs

Q: Should you try your OCR shoes?

A: It depends a lot on your feet’ width and how you like to feel in your shoes. Ideally, you should go in the evening (your feet get swollen throughout the day) and see how the shoes fit. You may still buy online, but it’s good to try them in-store too. Look for sellers with the acceptable return policy to stay on the safe side.

Q: Do you go up a size or not?

A: Your feet will swell from running, so it’s wise to go up a size when buying your OCR shoes. They will provide the extra space you need around the toes. Keep in mind that the foot will naturally expand throughout the day, but don’t buy the most comprehensive shoes. You don’t want the OCR shoes to be too loose, as you will lose support.

Also, put on the socks you plan to use when running when you go in-store to try shoes.

Q: How long should the shoes be?

A: You should get OCR shoes that provide around a half-inch of space between the longest toe and the shoe’s end. You have to be able to wiggle your toes and bend the feet inside the shoes too.

Q: Is there an ideal shape for the OCR shoes?

A: People’s feet differ a lot, and there are many shapes of shoes to try. Straight, semi-curved, and curved are some of the forms to choose from. You need to know which shape works best for you when running. Tracing your foot by hand will help you figure out which foot shape you have.

Q: How often should you clean your OCR shoes?

A: After racing, you should clean your OCR shoes if necessary. Good OCR shoes come with self-cleaning outsoles, so even if they collect mud throughout the running, they also lose it by the end of the race. Dirt-repellent shoes are great and have a porous surface that is easy to clean.

Q: Is it safe to use regular shoes on your obstacle course running?

A: It’s not a good idea to wear regular shoes. Unless your running shoes already can be defined as OCR shoes, or at least trail shoes, you should never wear your running shoes on obstacle course runs.  You will repeatedly run into the water, and you may get stuck in thigh-deep mud and deal with various surfaces. Your shoes should be able to perform in any of these situations.

Q: Can you use road running shoes?

A: Road running shoes are made to help you run fast on smooth, well-groomed surfaces with little to no rocks. Some of their features could work for the obstacle course run (flexibility, lightweight and breathability), but they don’t provide the aggressive treads on the outsole. The grip isn’t reliable, and the support is minimal, especially when it comes to difficult surfaces.

Q: Will your trail running shoes work?

A: Trail running shoes are made to help you run on rugged and rough surfaces, especially on trails with rocks, muds, water, etc. They’re durable and have aggressive outsole, providing you the traction, stability, and support you need throughout your obstacle course run. They tend to be heavyweight and less breathable, which is why you need to buy OCR shoes.