10 Best Mud Running Shoes in 2021
Chances are you got stuck in the mud or you’re trying to avoid that. This guide highlights the features that differentiate mud running shoes from all the other shoes. This way we let Bon Jovi be all slippery when wet and keep you grippy when wet.
The best advice is to look for shoes with deep, sticky and rubbery lugs. We have gathered them all in our lab (over 20 models) to perform all possible wear tests. Now you’ve got your top picks in five different categories depending on what you need the most on the trail.
For more in-depth information on the peculiarities of mud shoes, check out the sections below top picks.
Overview of this guide
- 1. How we test for the best mud running shoes
- 2. Best overall
- 3. Best waterproof
- 4. Best grip
- 5. Best for ultra
- 6. Best lightweight
- 7. 6 things to look for in mud running shoes
- 8. Bonus things to think about (if you’re feeling nerdy about your mud runs)
- 9. Mud running shoes vs. other running shoes
- 10. How to clean mud off running shoes
- 11. How to dry mud running shoes
- 12. Mud-related health risks you should be aware of
- 13. Can you use mud running shoes for obstacle course races?
- 14. Do you need waterproof mud running shoes?
How we test for the best mud running shoes
How do we know which trail shoes will keep you surefooted when it gets muddy? Through an extensive review process and our RunRepeat shoe lab:
- First of all, every tested shoe is purchased with our own funds. We receive no free shoes from brands.
- Our dedicated runners take each pair to a rough test on wet trails for at least 30-50 miles.
- Over 30+ parameters, including lug depth, are measured at our lab. This is where we translate “traction,” “durability,” and “flexibility” into comparable data.
- In addition, 230,000+ expert and user reviews for 50+ trail shoes for mud have been included in our final score.
A CoreScore from 0 to 100 is given to each mud running shoe. This is where we nitpick the best ones.
Wow! The Salomon Speedcross 5 is everything we needed to run with confidence even on the slickest mud. If there’s one thing it’s king of, undoubtedly, it’s the EXTREMELY grippy traction it possesses.
This shoe does a darn great job at conquering the most challenging conditions like snow, crusty ice, and of course, mud. It sweeps through everything with ease. And whether it's steep downhills or uphills, it’s a no-sweat effort for this trail monster!
And its fit makes everything 10x better. It wraps around the feet like a glove, giving us all the support we crave, especially on uneven terrain.
Protection? This is easily the best of the best on the market! From the bottom up, you don’t have to worry about sharp rocks poking your feet because this shoe is a literal tank that will mute out everything underneath.
And if you’re thinking this makes this shoe stiff and uncomfortable, well, it’s got a few surprises. There’s really NO need to break it in. You can run in it straight from the box without any issues.
We put our shoes through the wringer, and the Salomon Speedcross 5 is no different. We beat it up real good. And 70 miles in, it’s proven itself the superlative of sturdy. The outsole is practically unbreakable!
If you’re looking for a trail shoe that’s going to eat up everything you throw at it, nothing does it better than the Salomon Speedcross 5.
Seriously, choosing between the Peregrine 11 ST and the Speedcross 5 was the most challenging task for us. They’re both great, and they beat the competition when it comes to traction!
Yep, this shoe has grip written all over it. On deep snow, mud, sloppy slush, and sand, it’s been nothing short of SUPERB. This shoe latches on the ground so well, not once did we feel like we were slipping.
And if it’s a certified solid shoe you’re after, this is THE shoe. It’s well-built and its protection is top-notch. The midsole and outsole work hand-in-hand to shield the feet.
But despite all the protection it gives, it’s NEVER harsh. So much so, we are confident to run in it all-day long!
Fit is an easy 10/10. From the rear to the midfoot, it’s snug, while there’s generous room in the toe box for toe splay and foot swelling (especially after long runs).
And just when we thought things couldn’t get better, this shoe’s style made us think twice. Among all the trail shoes we’ve tested, it’s the most sporty, modern-looking model we’ve ever put on!
Salomon Speedcross 5 is THE king of all mud running shoes in our arsenal, and it’s even made better in its GTX version!
And these are not just throwaway words. On creek crossings, this shoe has done a beautiful job in keeping our feet dry all throughout. And having tested waterproof shoes in the past, we can attest that this is a solid A1.
Of course, grip is just as fantastic! On mud, technical single track, loose scree, and off-trails, it swallows everything. It bites into the ground, and it does so flawlessly.
If you want to run with confidence on the roughest, gnarliest terrain, this shoe is more than capable of fitting the bill. The traction is already a star, but when the supportive midsole comes to play, this shoe beats everything else!
And nope, if you’re thinking it’s a dull and brickish ride, it’s anything but that. Surprisingly for a trail shoe, it’s got some pop for a fun and lively sensation.
Even better, it’s as tough as it can get. After 100 miles of rough wear testing, it has withstood the challenges of the trails with flying colors! It’s unscathed.
For all the goods it lays on the table, it’s NOT heavy on foot. One paper, it’s one hell of a hefty shoe at 12 oz. But on the run, it’s rather nimble and does not drag the feet down.
Salomon just keeps coming up with the best trail shoes ever, and we are LOVING it!
The Salomon Wildcross GTX didn’t just keep our feet free from moisture, it had us swooning over its versatile grip. As in, it’s terrifically sticky on muddy and technical trail conditions.
Like a true Salomon, it's a heavy-duty shoe. We paced it through the unfriendliest trail we can find, and it’s been nothing but a showstopper! It's THE exemplar of durability.
And unlike other trail shoes we’ve tried, it’s a rockstar in the comfort arena. The upper is soft and plush, and there’s ample space for the toes to splay.
This shoe is just a bag of treats! Yes, the upper’s fit is already impressive as it is. It has kept our feet locked securely in place, but what really won us over was how quick and easy it was to fasten the laces.
With the shoe’s Quicklace system, tightening the fit is a breeze!
If there’s one thing that held it back as our top pick, it’s the shoe’s challenging foot entry. But with all the security we got from it, it’s one that we can move past.
The Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 is the shoe that lives up to its name, and it does so exceptionally well! When it comes to traction, nothing comes close to this shoe. And that’s a statement we stand by with confidence.
This shoe’s grip is by far THE stickiest that we’ve encountered. On muddy surfaces, it’s proven itself a champ. And although mud got stuck in the outsole, NOT once did we feel like our steps were compromised.
Even better, the outsole’s strength is far out! It’s graphene, meaning it’s 50% stronger than other compounds on the market, and we couldn’t disagree.
After hammering this shoe in the rough terrains, it came out unbruised. Simply, it’s a trail tank that’s ready to swallow just about anything.
Confidence-inspiring is the name of the game. Not only through its grip, but also through its fit. It’s a solid ace! In this shoe, we had ZERO issues with slips and wobbling. If anything, our feet were locked securely in place.
The upper takes everything to a whole new level with its flexibility. It may be built tough, but it has some give to mold into the feet, especially when they start to swell.
What’s more? It's a featherlight shoe. It may pack a lot of protection, grip, and durability, but it sure doesn’t load it all up on the feet!
It didn’t just stun us on the mud, it also amazed us on the most demanding technical terrains. Seriously, we just can’t get enough of the Salomon Wildcross!
Confident is an understatement on how we felt running in this trail devil. On soft, muddy, steep grassy surfaces, and forest tracks, this shoe has been nothing but a winner. We were surefooted as heck in each step.
And the midsole only makes everything better. It’s stable and it cushions the feet so well, we had NO concerns for instability nor discomfort.
At 10.2 oz, it’s also among the lightweight trail shoes we’ve come across. More importantly, it’s not only light on paper, it’s also super light on the run.
What’s also great about it is that the fit makes comfort out of this world! It’s snug, but not in any sense, restricting. Even more, the upper is soft and is very cushy in the heel. And up front, the toe box is very roomy.
Whether you’re running short to medium distances, it’s an easy feat for the Salomon Wildcross.
Best for ultra
If we had to pick one shoe that’s first-class when it comes to protection, the shoe that comes to mind (and rightfully so) is the La Sportiva Lycan GTX.
We always like to put our shoes through the wringer, and this one is no exception. And after logging tens of miles in this shoe, all we can say is, our feet have never been this well-shielded. All the jagged rocks and roots underfoot are muted.
And after long sessions on the trails, our feet and legs felt just as fresh from mile 1 down to the last.
Even better, comfort cements its name in the ultra running scene. It’s MIGHTY cushy and stable, there’s really no need to break it in.
And its traction is the epitome of excellence. On muddy, rocky, and snowy terrains, this shoe bit its way through with utmost ease!
On steep ascents and descents, we were surefooted as ever. Apart from grip, its fit has been terrific. The heel and midfoot were locked-in AF!
To really seal the deal, the La Sportiva Lycan GTX is a waterproof shoe. So, whether you’re running in sunny or rainy conditions, there’s really no need to fret.
Just when we thought trail shoes will always be dull and stiff, the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 made us change our minds. It’s lively and it’s friendly to the feet, it’s a no-brainer it makes it to this list.
The midsole is the star of the show. It’s got a blend of softness and rigidity to keep responsiveness and comfort balanced. And that’s exactly how we felt on the run.
And it only gets better in the traction department. On mud, slush, snow, and thick gravel, this shoe rocks!
Don’t get us wrong, this shoe looks like a trail behemoth. It’s massive, but it took us by surprise when we laced it up. It’s NOT clunky on foot at all!
Lack of weight does not mean skimping on protection. You’ll get all the protection you need alright. The toe bumper kept us bruise-free, and the heavily cushioned midsole dampened the ground’s harshness, keeping our strides comfortable.
Even more, this shoe is just as solid when it comes to fit! The constant feeling we had in it was supported.
And if you want a shoe that’s got the looks, you won’t go wrong with the MTN Racer 2’s sleek and modern aesthetic
At 7.2 oz, we never thought trail shoes could be this light, until the Hoka One One Evo Jawz happened.
Hoka shoes tend to be very cushioned, but this is the opposite of that (but all in good ways). Trimming down the foam also meant that this shoe goes on a diet, which is a big plus for us.
It skimps on weight, and ONLY on weight. The rest of the shoe's features are just as mud-ready as any other trail shoes in this list.
Its grip is to die for! On mud, it excels, and does just as great on steep uphills and downhills, slippery roads, and wet trail sections.
And if you want to blaze through the trails, nothing can do it better than the Evo Jawz. Apart from its ultralight weight, it also enables faster turnover. You can beat the competition with no sweat.
The upper takes everything to a whole new level. Not only is it comfortable, it’s also VERY supportive and durable. It wraps around the contours of the foot nice and tight, excess movements aren’t at all in this shoe’s vocabulary. And after putting it through harsh wear testing, the upper has proven itself sturdy.
Overall, if you want a shoe that’s performance-ready without being bulky on foot, take the Hoka One One Evo Jawz. And if you want to catch some attention, it’s a stunner in the style arena.
It’s even lighter than the average running shoes we’ve lab tested (8.1 oz vs. 9.4 oz)! Wow, the Salomon S-Lab Cross sure does something right, and we’re here for it.
Despite having minimal cushion, it doesn’t shy away from keeping the feet protected from abrasive trail elements. On our test runs, we did NOT feel any rock poking the underside of our feet.
And when it comes to traction, it’s got a claw-like grip on the muddy, wet, and loose surfaces. We were as surefooted as ever!
To really up stability, the upper keeps the feet from rolling far off to the sides. It fits like a glove, we had NO issues with slips at all.
What really blew our minds was how great this shoe’s moisture-wicking ability is. Although it’s not a waterproof shoe, it has kept our feet dry even after some sessions through wet grass and shallow creek crossings.
Even better, it’s got the makings of a dedicated trailblazer. It’s light and responsive, running with speed is a piece of cake!