7 Best Mud Running Shoes in 2024

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
7 Best Mud Running Shoes in 2024
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Obstacles come especially when running on trails. One usual kind of obstacle is mud. With that being the case, we created this guide to highlight the features that differentiate mud running shoes from all other shoes. This way, we can ensure safety over accidents when running.

The best advice is to look for shoes with deep, sticky, and rubbery lugs. We have acquired them all in our lab and performed a series of tests on them. We also wore them in our actual runs on muddy tracks. After that, we examined which ones are the most terrific. Now, you’ve got your top picks in 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 our guide.

How we test 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.
  • We are dedicated runners who 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. We also split the shoes into pieces so we can inspect all of their parts and sections.

Best mud running shoes overall

What makes it the best?

We conquered muddy tracks with confidence in the Peregrine 14. With a seamless combination of reliable traction and a compromising midsole, all in a lightweight package, we felt like we could run all day on any pavement with this pair. In the lab, this Saucony proves its versatility and emerges as our top mud running shoe.

The key to ensuring safety on the trail is having deep, sticky rubber lugs. Peregrine 14 goes beyond the 3.5 mm average with lugs measuring 4.7 mm deep. This didn’t go unnoticed in our runs since the outsole bit through slippery trails, effectively preventing mishaps. What’s awesome about the pattern is that it prevents the mud from getting stuck in the outsole.

Helping us lift our feet off the soil easily is the shoe’s light weight of 9.4 oz (266g). With a similar feel to road running shoes, it stands 9.5% lighter than the average trail shoe. 

We felt nimble with the low-to-the-ground and resilient midsole that easily adapted to our natural strides and uneven terrains. We stayed in control since the shoe didn’t give much resistance, confirmed by our flex test with an average result. 

With its humble cushioning, Peregrine 14 feels harsh for long distances. We recommend checking other options if plush comfort is a priority.


  • Natural running feel
  • Superb value at just £150
  • Flexible and comfortable
  • Heel security
  • Plusher tongue
  • Cushioned insole
  • Rock plate
  • Highly versatile


  • Limited energy return
  • Somewhat firm
Full review of Saucony Peregrine 14

Mud running shoes with the best grip

What makes it the best?

We ran with ease through muddy tracks and dirt trails with the Salomon Speedcross 6. It’s our top performer in terms of grip among mud-running shoes, excelling in soft and wet conditions with its robust lugs and outsole. It satisfies our need for speed in difficult terrains with its highly agile yet stable platform.

Speedcross 6 features the reliable Contagrip outsole, confirmed by our durometer at 93.9 HC, one of the hardest we've measured. Its exceptional grip is evident even on the slickest and softest surfaces, thanks to its 5.8 mm deep, aggressively spaced lugs that provide unquestionable traction and effective mud shedding.

Tackling technical terrains is a breeze with its fluid and loose nature. In the lab, it emerged 37.7% more flexible than average, validating the sense of nimbleness in our runs. Not only does this boost comfort for longer efforts, but it allows us to adapt quicker to unpredictable trails too.

The firm midsole offers stability and ground sensitivity, measuring 44.7% denser than average per our durometer, shielding us from sharp debris. The insole is curved so that we sit inside it for added support, rather than balancing on top.

With a thin 22.4 mm cushion separating our forefoot from the ground and a steep 14.1-mm drop, we find Speedcross 6 more suitable for heel-strikers.


  • Superior traction on wet, technical trails
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • Impressive durability
  • Quick mud shedding ability
  • Lightest Speedcross yet
  • Secure lockdown with QuickLace system
  • Enhanced ground feel in the forefoot
  • Agile and responsive in fast corners


  • Midsole feels like concrete
  • Extremely poor breathability
  • Not suitable for midfoot and forefoot strikers
Full review of Salomon Speedcross 6

Best long distance trail running shoes for mud

What makes it the best?

Our adventures with the 5th Merrell Agility Peak truly felt delightful as grueling miles rolled by without us counting. Its soft and substantial stack offers immense comfort and exceptional muscle protection, while its first-class Vibram outsole delivers unwavering traction. Through rigorous testing in the lab, this trail shoe cements its position as the ultimate long-distance mud running shoe.

Our heels are caught by a plush and generous 39.2 mm stack, 7.0 mm above average. Other than immense comfort for long runs, the cushion protects us from debris underfoot. Providing additional protection is the rock plate in the mid-to-forefoot areas. The platform's remarkable softness, which registers 16.3% softer than the average, fuels our motivation to chase more miles.

Underneath is the stellar Vibram Megagrip outsole, which we believe is the best rubber for trail running based on our lab tests. It further reinforces its tailored for technical terrain with its 4.5-mm deep and sticky lugs, widely spaced apart to be able to shed off the mud. It displays unquestionable traction in puddles and proves it’s built to last as it performs better than average in our brutal Dremel test.

Unfortunately, the heel drop is a steep 13.4 mm because of the modest forefoot. This pair may feel uncomfortable for mid-to-forefoot strikers. 


  • Outstanding Vibram Megagrip outsole
  • Easily handles tough trails
  • Performs well on both downhills and uphills
  • Extremely durable upper with numerous TPU reinforcements
  • Suitable for year-round use
  • Loads of recycled, eco-friendly stuff
  • Great for long-distance runs thanks to its cushioning
  • Wonderful for heel strikers
  • Excellent all-terrain shoe


  • Heavier than expected
  • Actual drop deviates significantly from what's stated
  • Could be more affordable
Full review of Merrell Agility Peak 5

Best waterproof running shoes for mud

What makes it the best?

Our quest for the ultimate waterproof mud running shoe concluded with the discovery of the Salomon Speedcross 6 GTX. Lab results confirm our verdict: it fulfills the adventurer’s needs with unmatched grip, complete protection from moisture and cold, and a secure ride.

Starting from the top, our microscope reveals a tightly knitted upper with a full Gore-Tex membrane. Even as we traversed through wet mud, our feet remained warm and dry. In our smoke test, it trapped the air inside and received a 1/5 breathability rating, confirming its protective nature.

In the midsole, we find a firm cushion with exceptional torsional rigidity, enhancing stability. Our durometer confirms the foam is 23.7% harder than average, preventing bottoming out. On uneven paths and inclines, we felt remarkably surefooted, with minimal risk of rolling our ankles. Its rigidity was evident in our manual twist assessment, earning a perfect 5/5 score.

Speedcross boasted unquestionable grip even on the softest and most slippery grounds we tested. The outsole is lined with 5.0 mm chevron-shaped lugs, 1.4 mm deeper than average, and serves as our brakes on steep descents. What’s even more impressive is its ability to shed mud effectively due to its spacing.

Unfortunately, the shoe weighs a heavy 11.5 oz (325g). Those who prefer a lighter option should explore further.


  • Fully functional Gore-Tex membrane
  • Ample cushioning for long adventures
  • Excels in challenging, technical terrain
  • Rapidly sheds mud
  • Agile and tenacious grip on twisted trails
  • Remarkable durability
  • Ideal for heel strikers


  • Completely lacks breathability
  • Midsole could feel overly firm for some
  • Exceptionally heavy
Full review of Salomon Speedcross 6 GTX

Best lightweight running shoes for mud

What makes it the best?

We effortlessly navigated the mud with Saucony's Endorphin Rift. Our lab tests confirm it's the top lightweight mud shoe, capable of going fast and far with its responsive cushioning, adaptable midsole, and deep, adhesive lugs. Its array of features ensures agility across diverse terrains, giving us a sensation akin to flying. 

Its airy build enhances our speed. At 9.0 oz (255g), it exhibits unmatched lightness, making it quicker to move than carrying the average trail shoe (10.4 oz/294g). It features the well-loved bouncy PWRRUN PB cushion and the brand’s Speedroll technology which promotes smooth forward transitions and higher cadence. This combination feels undoubtedly energetic and maintains our momentum.

Endorphin Rift has a nonresisting midsole that keeps us nimble on sticky ground. It’s easy to maneuver with its 9.9% more flexible-than-average midsole as per our bend test. This means it needs less effort to bend the shoe as we stride. Even twisting our feet feels effortless as our manual assessment reveals a 3/5 torsional rigidity.

Its PWRTRAC rubber outsole has stable traction, inspiring surefootedness in our runs. Lined with 4.5 mm lugs that bite the ground, we didn't slip on puddles. Amazingly, the chevron lugs are spaced enough for mud shedding.

The thin and ultra-breathable mesh upper isn't ideal for running in deep, wet mud, as it is more susceptible to getting the feet wet.


  • Fantastic PWRRUN PB midsole technology
  • Ideal for summer runs due to its breathable upper
  • Capable of handling muddy terrain with ease
  • Upper and outsole showcase incredible durability
  • Sufficiently cushioned for ultra-marathons
  • Exceptional cushion-to-weight ratio
  • Sock-like upper provides a fantastic fit
  • Excellent heel lockdown
  • Handles faster paces effortlessly


  • Tongue design needs enhancement for ultras
  • Lugs could be slightly shorter
  • Price point is probably too high for some budgets
Full review of Saucony Endorphin Rift

Running shoes for mud with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

As seen in its name, Fresh Foam X More Trail v3 is all about more foam and luxurious comfort. It delivers a solid amount of bounce, combined with a flexible midsole and reliable outsole that allows us to stay agile on muddy tracks. Our lab and run testers wholeheartedly agree — this shoe wins the best cushioning among mud running shoes.

Its very thick 38.6/31.5 mm slab of foam in the heel and forefoot rises 6.8/7.3 mm above the average trail shoe. Our durometer says it’s one of the softest trail shoes we’ve tested — sitting 45.6% above average. This combination makes it a solid impact dampener, protecting our legs from feeling beaten up. The shoe is also surprisingly stable with its wide base.

The midsole doesn’t resist our movements, allowing us to maneuver through the mud. Our flex test in the lab confirms it’s 11.4% more malleable than average. 

Its Ecostep outsole and chunky lugs help us cruise through tracks by providing good grip on soft dirt and moderate trails. Its lugs are 1.5 mm deeper than the average trail shoe, making it more capable of biting into mud.

This shoe isn’t the best option for technical trails since its mega-stack gives us less ground feel.


  • Insanely protective even without a rock plate
  • Soft cushioning without feeling mushy
  • Solid amount of bounce
  • Incredibly stable
  • Plush and airy upper
  • Roomy fit
  • Good grip on mild to moderate trails
  • Durable outsole
  • Light on the run
  • Really smooth ride
  • Best for easy days and long runs
  • Sustainable


  • Upper could use more support
  • Not great for technical trails
Full review of New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail v3

Running shoes for mud with the best foot protection

What makes it the best?

Endorphin Trail is Saucony’s trail killer that lets us run through rocky terrains and soft mud without hesitation. It's built like a shield with its thick and dense midsole, tough and grippy outsole, and bootie upper that prevents anything from getting in. Our actual runs and lab tests prove it provides the best foot protection for mud running.

Its tall 36.2/31.1 mm stack is max-cushioned for road running shoes and even more for trail shoes that only average 31.8/24.2 mm. It serves as a thick buffer to mute the friction from the ground and to protect the foot from sharp debris. It's surrounded by a mesh to prevent the midsole from wearing out. 

The bottom is lined with a tough 87.5 HC rubber, harder than the 85.1 HC average. We can easily cross muddy puddles since the lug design is super grippy and aggressive. At 4.5 mm, the lugs are 1.0 mm deeper than average.

The top of our foot is hugged by a sock-like bootie upper, providing a snug fit. This ensures small rocks in the mud won’t penetrate in.

The upper is so protective that it blocks proper airflow too, making the shoe feel like a sauna on a hot, humid day. We recommend exploring other pairs for tropical weather.


  • Amazing grip
  • Sock-like fit
  • True to size
  • Aggressive
  • Peppy midsole
  • Rock protection


  • Heavy
  • Not breathable
  • Poor draining
Full review of Saucony Endorphin Trail

6 things to look for in mud running shoes

These are the features you want in a mud shoe. Maybe not all of them (amplified to the max), but the more the merrier. 

Features of mud running shoes

You might have gone through your trail-running life so far without knowing the difference between traction and grip, but that ends here. In mud shoes, you need both.


1. Sticky outsole (grip)

To look for grip in running shoes means to look for the outsole that will cling onto the running surface. Grip essentially depends on the material. Stickier rubber has a better grip but, since it’s softer, it suffers more abuse in traction.

A good grip will get you from snow to puddles to muddy trails.

A perfect example of this is using trail running shoes with soft rubber lugs on harsh technical trails - you will see signs of wear immediately after your run. Or, this is why you change from winter car tyres to summer car tyres. To make your winter tyres last longer. 

Brands tend to have their own technologies, but mainly it’s all sticky rubber

  • Salomon calls it Contagrip® TA, 
  • ASICS has AsicsGrip™ which is a sticky and flexible rubber, 
  • Inov-8 comes with Endurance Rubber Compound or Sticky Rubber with high adherence to the ground,
  • Saucony uses PWRTRAC which is a durable and abrasion-resistant outsole material, etc. 

2. Multi-directional deep lugs (traction)

To look for traction in running shoes means to look for the outsole that resists sliding. Or mudslides. In mud shoes, this is accomplished by multi-directional lugs (cleats on the outsole). 

Lug patterns

They are usually 6-8 mm deep. This opposite-facing design means the shoes allow for both uphill and downhill sections. That’s why they can be odd-shaped like pentagons, triangles, diamonds, chevron-shaped stripes, etc.


regular trail shoe lugs (top) vs. mud-ready shoe lugs (bottom)

Why do they need to be multi-directional? Because running through mud means unpredictable terrain and varying inclination. That’s why one-directional lugs wouldn’t be of help here - they are good for downhills only, or forward motion only. Running in mud asks for multi-directional traction. 

3. Snug fit 

Mud is sticky. You don’t want your shoes stuck in mud or your feet sliding in the shoes. The better (snugger) the fit, the better control you’ll have. 

This isn’t only about the tightness of the shoe. Sock-liner material matters a lot. It should not be slick, so make sure to try the shoes out with your running socks. You need friction happening there, not slippery slopes. 

4. Quick-drying shoes

Look for a mesh upper. It dries rapidly. 

Where there’s mud, there’s water. Your feet will get wet and, in order to keep running and not get weighed down by your shoes, they need to dry out quickly. And, if you know you’ll be running through puddles (or even larger bodies of water), you should look for a really breathable upper and maybe even drainage holes.


The diamond-shaped drainage ports help to push the water out of the shoe.

If you dive into shoe specs, you’ll probably find these materials as “nylon mesh”, “mesh fabric”, “no-sew mesh”, “anti-debris mesh”, “3D mesh”, “air mash”, etc. The overall idea for this material is to be breathable, keep the foot as dry as possible, prevent trail debris from entering the foot chamber, accommodate for natural swelling, resist wear and tear.


Robust material that still allows for some ventilation. 

Drainage holes work wonders when washing the shoe too, stick a hose in it and watch the water flow through them. 

5. Light weight 

The average weight of mud running shoes is 10.6oz or 300.25g. The lightest one weighs 7.2oz or 204g.

Weight matters because, along the run, your shoes will get heavier. It doesn’t matter whether they are water-resistant or draining really well. The heavier the shoes, the more difficult the run. If there’s any way to shake off a few grammes, do it. 

6. Anti-debris design

This depends on your run - is it mud only or is there a possibility of anything else getting into your shoes? If you want no tiny rocks, pieces of branches, ground pieces, etc. in your shoes - look for shoes designed to keep the intruders on the outside.

Examples of anti-debris design elements in mud and trail running shoes

Sock-liner: Shallow or deep. Prevents the debris from entering the shoe around your ankle.


Gaiter attachments on the shoes and gaiters themselves: These are protective covers that can be attached to your shoes. In winter conditions, they are great for keeping the snow on the outer side of the shoe. 

Make sure to pay attention to the design - it should not allow for mud to clog your gaiter attachments and weigh you down. Shoes should have attachments for gaiters. If not and the gaiters go underneath the middle of your shoe, the shoe outsole must not be flat. It should be arch-shaped so the gaiter attachment can fit under the arch. Otherwise, it will clog mud.


Unexposed laces: Accomplished with lace garages or lace covers. Let’s face it: it’s easier to wash the cover than the laces. Plus, the debris and mud have fewer chances of entering the shoe around the laces. And the laces won’t flap around and annoy you. 

Bonus things to think about (if you’re feeling nerdy about your mud runs) 

  1. In case you’re up for running not just through mud, but rocks (technical sections) and mud, a rock plate will save your feet. It will prevent them from feeling all beaten up. It offers additional protection from roots and rocks. 
    Rock plate in running shoes
  2. Do you wear socks on your mud runs? Reviews are filled with remarks saying “but you need to wear socks with these shoes”. This is up to you. But if you don’t want to wear socks, make sure that the shoe is perfectly comfortable and that it creates no hot spots. 
  3. You can find waterproof mud shoes. While they have a membrane that keeps the water outside of your shoes (up to a point), this doesn’t mean water won’t cascade down your leg and find its way inside your shoe surreptitiously. They are less breathable than non-waterproof mud shoes and water won’t get out of them easily. Read more about the pros and cons of watery features in mud shoes at the end of this guide. 
  4. Want to wash your shoes in a washing machine? Some mud shoes were made with that in mind. Brands usually promote this, so you won’t miss it. 
  5. The trouble of lacing up! So far we’ve seen Salomon mud shoes and Saucony mud shoes equipped with laces that don’t need to be tied in a knot but tightened only using their special designs. Rather than obvious pros - quicker lacing up time and no possibility of loose laces, these are also easier to clean. 
  6. When you’re done with the mud run, try resisting taking the shoes off before loosening up the laces. This will, in time, destroy your heel collar and heel counter and cause heel slipping. Then, you’ll have to get new shoes sooner than planned. 

Mud running shoes vs. other running shoes

Sure, there are trail running shoes that might work, but if they try to cater for a bit of everything, they fail at being mud proficient. Worst case scenario: you use road running shoes

Mud run shoes vs. other running shoes
What might happen if you stick to your regular trail or, god forbid, road running shoes? Why did this happen? 
Losing a shoe (in mud). The shoe was too loose-fitting. 
Constantly slipping and/or falling. Traction and grip failing you. 
Shoes become too heavy and might even cause muscle aches due to weight you aren’t accustomed to.  Drainage and drying out issues. Mud-shedding issues. 
Being too cold and soaking wet. Drainage and drying out issues. 
Destroying your shoes.  They weren’t durable enough. 
Feeling every little bump and hurting your feet.  The shoe is too soft and doesn’t offer enough protection.
Having to stop every now and then to empty your shoes.  No anti-debris protection. 

How to clean mud off running shoes

Here are a few tips on what to do after a mud run. These 3 rules always apply: 

  1. Do not put your shoes in the washing machine unless you know they can take it (based on the brand’s specifications). 
  2. Also, air-drying is your friend. Don’t put your shoes next to a radiator, in the dryer, or in direct sunlight. 
  3. Baking soda will keep weird smells away from your shoes. You can sprinkle small amounts of it inside your shoes, but don’t overdo it if your shoes have fancy membranes (like Goretex) - these are too fine and need to keep breathing. 

How to clean mud off running shoes

Option A: your shoes are still fresh from the run (you just finished your mud run or an obstacle course race). 

  1. The more mud you have in and on your shoes, the less time you want to spend not cleaning them. Take out the insole, stick the hose into your shoes and let the water flow. 
  2. Then clean the outside of the shoe and your insoles as well. The same applies to your sink in case you don’t have a hose, but make sure not to clog your pipes. If needed, use a soft brush. 
  3. If there’s a lot of mud, you might need to wash the laces separately.
  4. Usually, water is enough because it’s only mud and mud shoes were made of materials that are easy (or easier) to clean and dry. 

Option B: mud on your shoes dried out and is stuck. 

  1. Beat your shoes against each other or any hard surface to get as much mud as possible off the shoes.
  2. Remove laces and insoles (if needed based on the amount of mud and where it got stuck) and wash them separately. 
  3. Using an old toothbrush or a sponge (softer side), remove as much mud as you can. Don’t rub the shoe too hard and damage it. 
  4. If mud isn’t gone yet, rinse the shoe and keep brushing with a toothbrush. You can use lukewarm water. 
  5. If water got inside your shoes, let them dry at room temperature. To speed up the process, put crumpled newspaper in the shoes. Change it every few hours. 

How to dry mud running shoes

Follow these instructions: 

  1. Let the shoes dry out naturally. Air-drying is the best way to go. 
  2. If it’s too cold/moist, use a hairdryer on low heat. 
  3. Don’t put your shoes directly on the radiator or next to a strong heat source. 
  4. Putting a crumpled newspaper in the shoes will help a lot. Especially if you change it a few times - putting new, dry newspaper inside. 

Wash your hands, take a shower. After each muddy run or a race.

As pointed out in this study, an outbreak of Escherichia Coli was linked to a mud obstacle race in England. It’s up to organisers to inform participants about the chances of contracting a gastrointestinal disease. It’s also up to them to ensure that livestock is removed from the course 28 days before the event. 

While runners and competitors are usually healthy and strong, fit individuals, extreme efforts suppress the immune system and make the organism more susceptible to infection. If you’re passionate about mud runs and obstacle course races, this study offers an in-depth insight into possible risks and is worth reading.

Can you use mud running shoes for obstacle course races? 


Just by looking at the top mud shoes and obstacle course race shoes - they are the same or really similar. What mud shoes won’t offer you is obstacle-specific protection, e.g. for rope climbing.

Do you need waterproof mud running shoes?

To make this decision easier for you, we will list possible scenarios and whether the waterproof mud shoes would do you good or harm.

Features of waterproof mud running shoes

Keep in mind that there are different levels of waterproofness. The upper can be made of, in order of low-to-high water protection, water-resistant, water-repellent, or waterproof materials. 

When (not) to use waterproof mud running shoes and why
Light trails with some mud and a few puddles Yes They will keep the water and mud on the outside and your feet will stay dry. 
Running through a lot of mud and possibly large bodies of water.  No No membrane can withstand this amount of water, plus water and mud will enter your shoes around your ankles. Powering through large puddles asks for nonwaterproof mud shoes. 
Running through high wet grass No Without gaiters, the water will cascade down your legs and enter the shoe anyway. The waterproof membrane isn’t as breathable as the mesh upper and the water will be stuck inside. 
Obstacle course races  No There are mud and water all over the course. Nothing will save you from them. Better find the most breathable mud shoes out there. 
Light rain during the run or a race.  Yes The waterproof membrane will keep your feet dry during light rain. The moment it gets to moderate rain or showers, it’s a matter of minutes before your feet get wet. 
Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic
Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.