Top 5 Shoes For Obstacle Racing – 2018

We often get questions like:

What are the best shoes for a Spartan Race?  What shoes are best for a Tough Mudder? What shoes are best for Rugged Maniac, Warrior Dash (or insert almost any race name here)?

At some point this is a question 99% of Obstacle Racers have asked. What we have done at ORM is round up the best shoes we have used, and other OCR Pro’s have used, to give you a simple list of the top 5 Obstacle Racing Shoes from our experience. Here they are, not in order of one to five but, just the top 5.


Hoka One One Evo Jawz – Hoka’s first foray into creating a mud shoe is an instant success. The Jawz has a flyweight nylon upper, a surprisingly cushioned midsole, and a heavily lugged Vibram Megagrip outsole. To keep the weight down and keep the shoe flexible, Hoka made cutouts in the outsole which, unfortunately, drastically cuts down the durability of the shoe.The forefoot is a little bit wider than a standard trail shoe but once you get used to it you’ll love them. You’ll also get kudos from Steve Hammond, which makes it worth every penny.
The Evo line is Hoka’s Research and Development team in France working in conjunction with their athletes to quietly pump out some of the highest performing shoes out there.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  3mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  7.2 0z)

Salming OT Comp-They are fresh to the OCR world and have come on strong. Savage Race has made them the official shoe for their race series. They made this shoe just for mud runs and wicked terrain.  The Michelin soles and their extreme lugs hold their own to any shoe out there to the metal while maintaining traction through the mud.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  4mm  Lugs: 7mm  Weight:  9.0 0z)

Merrell All Out Crush 2 –  Merrell really hasn’t pushed it very hard and created a better looking version with BOA. This shoe has decent lugs and it runs pretty well. Honestly it doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally but does everything reasonably well. If I was to get one shoe for training and racing everything between a sprint and a 24 hour race this would be it.
*The BOA version unfortunately has experienced issues with the BOA clogging up and loosening or no longer working altogether.
(Drop:  6mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight: 8.5 0z)

Inov-8 X-Talon 200 –  This shoe was developed for obstacle course racing after inov-8 botched the update to the classic 190. This super heavily lugged shoe excels in shorter races with lots of mud and grass. It probably isn’t enough shoe for most people in races over an hour.
(Drop:  3mm  Lugs: 8mm  Weight:  7.1 0z)

Altra King MT – If you need a really (really) wide forefoot this is the shoe for you. With a velcro strap across the top of the foot this shoe looks a little funky but goes downhill better than the rest of Altra’s lineup. This shoe has a full length Vibram Megagrip outsole which makes it feel pretty firm and a little rigid.
See our in-depth review here.
(Drop:  0mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  9.7 0z)

Honorable Mention

Inov-8 X-Claw 275 – The 275 is the longer distance version of the 200. More cushion, a little more durable, and a little wider toe box. This shoe would be better for someone looking for more of a traditional trail shoe with some OCR grip.
(Drop:  8mm  Lugs: 8mm  Weight:  9.7 0z)

Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib – Salomon designed this shoe for swim-run races in Scandinavia and accidentally created a phenomenal OCR shoe. A non-removable insole coupled with open mesh drainage ports this shoe drains better than any other shoe on the market. The midsole is on the firmer side and geared for slightly longer races. The outsole is Salomon’s Premium Wet Traction Contra-grip which is not quite as grippy on wet obstacles as Vibram Megagrip. The fit is a little bit on the snugger side in the forefoot and the shoe sports Kevlar Quick-lace to guarantee your laces won’t come untied. This shoe would hold up great for racing and training.
(Drop:  4mm  Lugs: 6mm  Weight:  7.8 0z)

Got a shoe we missed?


What is your favorite OCR shoe?

Reebok All-Terrain Freedom Review

Reebok All-Terrain Freedom
2 / 5 Overall
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The Reebok All-Terrain Freedom is Reeboks 2017 more general purpose trail running shoe offering to pair with the aggressive All-Terrain Super 3.0. Last year they had released the Thrill which was a great middle ground shoe that maintained many of the similar features to the Super, but this shoe is not as similar in its pairing. One of the notable design changes you will notice in the All-Terrain Freedom is the lack of drainage ports which has been a long time staple of the All-Terrain shoe series along with the fully one piece upper.

Reebok All-Terrain Freedom Features

Seamless Upper  – The big update to the All-Terrain Super 3.0 was the seamless upper and they mostly mirrored that design in the All-Terrain Freedom. One thing that makes this stand out is that while the Super had a flap that allowed for more variation in upper sizing this one does not. It is truly one piece as you can see from the photos.

Grooved Sole With Deep Lugs – Another slight deviation from the normal copy and paste style design was a revision of the lug design. They kept similar core center lug style but changed the perimeter completely.

Minimal Drop – The drop has been measured at 5mm which will be a welcome middle ground for many people. While 2-3mm is generally considered a low drop shoe this comes in just above that. It is a great shoe drop to transition from what is a more commonly used 8-9mm drop on your way to a no drop or truly minimal drop shoe.

Reebok All-Terrain Freedom Usage

What you will notice as soon as you slide your foot into the stretchy one piece upper is a critical flaw in the one piece upper design for the All-Terrain Freedom. Unless your foot is the exact diameter of the opening, or slightly larger, there will be bunching when you tighten the laces. This is incredibly uncomfortable, impractical, and shocking that this passed the many stages that it must take to design a shoe at a company. Did no one ever try these on and say, “Let me tighten the laces so the shoes don’t move around while I run on a trail.” ?

This flaw basically precludes the rest of the usage section. I swear I tried to run in these shoes and I run in many shoes for review that are generally uncomfortable, but I couldn’t run in them more than twice. The All-Terrain Super 3.0 had this problem solved by doing a pseudo one piece upper, why didn’t these? Was it the same reason they removed the drainage ports – to prevent debris?

I’m left with more questions than answers after using the All-Terrain Freedom. The grip felt about standard and cushioning felt in line with a cushioned trail shoe. The cushion stack may have ridden a little tall for my preference when it comes to trail shoes but this is more of a personal preference.


Reebok All-Terrain Freedom Pros and Cons


  • Minimal Drop at 5mm


  • Poorly designed upper
  • No drainage ports

Similar Products

Reebok All Terrain FreedomReebok All Terrain Super 3.0Reebok All Terrain Thrill
Heel Drop5mm5mm13mm
Metal StudsNoNoNo
ORM ReviewYesYesYes

Reebok All-Terrain Freedom Conclusion

If you are wondering still if you should buy this shoe or not, I would suggest not to. There are many great cushioned trail running shoes out there, even the Reebok All-Terrain Super 3.0 that these were modeled after – but often a copy isn’t as good as the original. The one way that I can suggest these shoes is if you try them on in person to see if your foot fits the upper exactly when tightened, or from a website with free returns. The Reebok All-Terrain Freedom is clever with the one piece upper, but maybe a little too clever for their own good.

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Dario is a long time distance runner and OCR athlete. When not on the roads and trails logging miles he can be found drinking coffee while reading bad science fiction books.
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TomTom Adventurer GPS Watch with Bluetooth Headphones Review

TomTom Adventurer
4.3 / 5 Overall
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The TomTom Adventurer is a one stop shop for all your workout needs. Bold statement, right? It is. But if you read into what I said you see there is specific wording in there. For working out, running, and most of your every day workout needs the TomTom Adventurer has you covered. Unfortunately this is a review for an obstacle course racing website and the watch has a flaw or two that it has had since before it evolved from the TomTom Cardio to the TomTom Spark to now.

TomTom Adventurer Features

Music  – Part of what makes this watch awesome is that it has the ability to store your music and play it to bluetooth headphones. If you use the headphones that TomTom includes it is a breeze to get it paired. If you use your own it will be a little laborious but you will pair them eventually. The other thing of note for the music is that you can sync the watch to an iTunes playlist. I’m a mac user so for me that is a big surprise since Apple doesn’t play nice with most outside companies.

Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor – This is not a new feature for GPS or exercise watches but it works and that’s great. Its part of what makes this a full featured workout watch.

Elevation Tracking – With a built in barometer you can track your elevation without needing to have your phone or see if based on your route when you sync to a computer. If you are training for many of the OCR events that take place on out of season ski slopes, elevation will mean a lot to you in training.

TomTom Adventurer Usage

On the initial unboxing my complete excitement for the features was tempered by seeing that the watch itself was the mostly the same exact design they have had for a few years now. It is a bit sad because TomTom has made their watches functionally so much better every time they update their product line but they have stayed with the same poor ergonomics. I would even hazard to say this watch took a slight step back in comfort and look.

The casing that you separate the watch body from is hard in the center and has bulky pivoting flexible arms to wrap around your wrist. They bands feel like an afterthought and the watch is generally not comfortable to wear if you aren’t working out. The looks are pretty much the same, even the black version has an orange loop around it to secure the extra part of the secured watch band – orange is out of the question for my everyday life.

Then there is the fact that you more of less need to dismantle your watch every time you want to plug it in by usb.  It isn’t hard to do but it’s the only device that I have used, reviewed, or owned that is like this. My final touch on the ergonomics is the one centered button control. TomTom – please, please, please stop using this design. When I’m running it doesn’t feel intuitive and when you are crawling in mud you will get little bits of debris stuck in there.

Let’s get positive because this is a good watch with a ton of features. I wanted this watch so bad because of what the Apple Watch 2 didn’t do. I love tech and will often kickstart things that have a huge upside for my daily life without ever having them in hand or reading the fine print. The Apple watch 2 falls into this category, it had what is basically the feature set of the TomTom Adventurer minus a few things like a barometer. I bought it because I wanted a one stop watch for working out it ended up being a nightmare to pair and unpair headphones, get music on it, use the GPS and many more gripes. This isn’t an Apple watch review but I’m saying this to point out that the TomTom Adventurer does all of the things that the Apple Watch 2 failed to do for me.

When you use the TomTom Adventurer you will notice it makes things in life easier. After you unplug your the watch from your computer just grab your headphones and hit the road/trail/ski slope. You can do additional things like add in GPX based routes for hiking but most people will use this to workout. It never fails to sync my heart rate accurately, with gps and the altimeter tracking my movement, while the bluetooth headphones play music from the watch itself. This is the watch I have been waiting for in the tech department.

TomTom Adventurer Pros and Cons


  • All in one watch – GPS, Music, HRM, Altimeter
  • Affordable for what you get at just under $300
  • Works well with iTunes


  • Watch strap is bulky
  • USB plug feels like an afterthought

TomTom Adventurer Conclusion

Here we are at the overarching question, should you buy this watch? I can’t say definitively one way or the other to buy the TomTom Adventurer, this is really a matter of what your intended use case is. If you plan on using this for ultra running and very muddy obstacle course races I would suggest looking elsewhere. If you need a watch with all the features baked into one for every day usage, buy this watch. You can’t go wrong with this watch if you plan on exercising with it every day.

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Dario is a long time distance runner and OCR athlete. When not on the roads and trails logging miles he can be found drinking coffee while reading bad science fiction books.
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Roll Recovery R8 Review

Roll Recovery R8
3.7 / 5 Overall
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The Roll Recovery R8 is a product I have had my eye on for a long time before getting to review it. It really stood out to me for a few reasons, for starters it is a deep tissue massage that applies the pressure for you. This is similar to the idea of Normatec Pulse Recovery boots but on a much simpler level. The R8 doesn’t need to be plugged in and have you setup in a chair, it is a spring loaded device that you just clamp on to a body part and move around. Another reason I really like the automatic applying pressure of a hand operated tool is for basically the reason I have just stated; self massage is tiring and sometimes makes my hands and forearms feel like they need a massage afterwards. With the Roll Recovery R8 you don’t exhaust your hand muscles to get a good deep tissue massage.

Roll Recovery R8 Features

Self Adjusting Pressure  – What make the R8 special is the basic concept of the spring loaded pressure. When you place this on a part of your body the tension in the spring is based on the amount that you are opening it. The more you open it, the more pressure it will apply. This is how springs work.

Soft Rollers – The rollers that apply pressure to your body are made of a nice soft gel feeling wheel. They are basically just soft inline skate wheels but they are nice ones. If I had to guess I would say around 68a hardness based on a durometer rating.

Roll Recovery R8 Usage

As soon as I unboxed the Roll Recovery R8 deep tissue massage I stopped what I was doing and started to massage my legs. I was a bit surprised by the power of the R8’s spring and a little concerned too. I say this because when you have a base level of spring power there is no lessening it. The flip side of that is that if it’s too weak you are back to using a bunch of arm strength instead. From what I noticed the R8 was usually right for me, for most areas I wanted to massage out. When I was hitting areas that were really sore, and not as meaty like around shins, I actually had to pull outwards on the springs so that I wasn’t screaming in pain. I’ve spent a good amount of time in the ol’ pain cave and the level of pressure was too much for me at certain points.

Other than these few instances of it being too much pressure the Roll Recovery R8 was a pleasure to use. I would just slap it on my quads and hammy’s and go to town on them. The ability to spend less effort and get a deeper massage was definitely a game changer.

See the image below for the semi-scientific analysis I did of the amount of variable pressure as the spring widens.  As you can see with the amount of opening for an ‘average’ leg you end up with about 20 pounds of squeezing power.  The distance between the springs for the picture on the left is on MongoDB rubik’s cube,  scale, and console top – measuring at about 4.25″.


Roll Recovery R8 Durability

Durability will not be a concern with this item. I see no way in which this item could wear out within my life time of usage. I bet I could use this on a rhino every day for 10 years and it wouldn’t show much signs of wear. It is built with thick materials and a relatively simple design with few moving parts.

Roll Recovery R8 Pros and Cons


  • Deep tissue massage with little effort
  • Simple design, no batteries required


  • The price tag is a little steep for some people $100-120
  • Base pressure of the springs can be a little high for some people

Similar Products

I am a self massage fanatic (see  also –  frequently injured) and here are a few of my current tools that I have used in the past:


MobilityWOD Gemini
Lacrosse Ball
Massage Roller Stick (I own 3 versions)
Foam Roller

Didn’t Like:

Hand Massager Glove
Orbit massager
Mobility WOD Supernova
Spikey Massage Ball
Gridded Foam Roller

Your style may vary from mine so it’s worth even checking out the ones I didn’t like. Most of them were referred to me by one person or another that also enjoys crushing out some muscles.

Roll Recovery R8 Conclusion

This product is a must have for my self massage arsenal. Besides every day usage I normally travel with a roller stick and lacrosse ball in my bag, the Roll Recovery R8 is being added to the travel bag. The ability to get a deep massage without much hassle is a big win. One thing you should take into consideration as stated above – if you don’t like deep massages this might not be the tool for you – this R8 goes really deep. If you can manage the $100 price tag ( think of skipping on a massage or two) you will have an invaluable tool added to your recovery kit.

Have you tried the R8? Got another massage tool not mentioned here? Leave a comment below.


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Dario is a long time distance runner and OCR athlete. When not on the roads and trails logging miles he can be found drinking coffee while reading bad science fiction books.
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Best Gloves for an Obstacle Course Race

Running Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, and other Obstacle course races can be tough business for the hands. You might train for hours a day in a gym or at the box but nothing can simulate crawling through rough muddy rocks under barbed wire or doing a hundred plus burpees on terrain ranging from mud to pavement. I workout a few hours a day, I feel tough, and my hands feel tough but after some races without gloves I realized my hands were not that tough. Here’s our top suggestions for the best glove to get you through a Spartan Race and to let your stop asking, What are the best gloves for an obstacle course race?


6. Mad Grip Pro Palm Glove ($14.99)

best-gloves-obstacle-course-race-4These made the list mainly due to the low cost and simplicity of them.  The plus side of these compared to the ones in hardware stores is that they’ve managed to mold in some more aggressive grip.  They are also cheap enough that when they become saturated in mud and debris you can discard them or relegate them to garden gloves.  Unfortunately, they are very low performing because when they get wet the gloves will hold all that water in the cotton backs of the gloves.  They also don’t cinch with any type of wrist strapping so they could possible fall off.



5. Mechanix Wear M-Pact Gloves ($25.00)

best-gloves-obstacle-course-race-3Mechanix is a glove brand you will see all over all Spartan Races, Tough Mudder, and so on.  They are durable and made out of synthetic materials that don’t absorb water too much. Another benefit to Mechanix type gloves is that there is so many versions to fit your personal preference.  This version is basically the most bad ass type of them.  They have rubberized palms, protected knuckles, wrist strap tighten-able, and they are made of a breathable material.  I’ve thrown away other versions of the lighter kinds in the past but these are some of my favorite for the colder weather. When it’s warmer they also have the fingerless version listed below.  When in doubt of your specific needs buy these gloves in your size and favorite color.

Fingerless Version: Mechanix Wear M-Pact Fingerless Gloves


4. Spartan OCR Neo Grip Gloves by Fit Four ($29.95)

These are a collaboration between fit four and Spartan Race. They took an interesting approach by throwing out all of the “extra” part of the glove and just adding the grip part where you hands would mostly grip on obstacles. Fit Four also made them of neoprene similar to wetsuits which was a great choice and I wish that more OCR type gloves would take this approach.

Full Review on ORM: Fit Four Glove Review




3. Warrior Elite II Half-Finger Gloves ($25.00)

Warrior Elite II gloves are a another new entry to the obstacle racing glove world. They are a glove designed just for adventure and obstacle course racing. The overall glove material is meant to not absorb water and shed it when it does. They also used grip similar to wide receiver gloves in the NFL which has its obvious benefits.

Full Review on ORM: Warrior Elite II Glove Review




2. Under Armour Men’s CTR Trainer HF Gloves ($29.99)

best-gloves-obstacle-course-race-1Under Armour always manages to come through with the best performance gear and these are no exceptions.  If you see me racing there is a very good chance I have these on.  They are super thin all around so even when the quick drying material gets soaked there isn’t much to absorb it with all the mesh panels.  On the fingers and palms they also have little strips of this sticky type material that is comparable to the stuff on football players gloves to help them catch footballs.  But they didn’t stop there with all the features you might need, they added a soft place on the back of the thumb so that you can wipe your nose or brow without scratching it too bad. The only possible rub against these gloves is that the wrist is just a tight elastic material and doesn’t have the ability to cinch.  I’ve never had a problem due to this but it’s worth noting.  If you want a performance based glove that makes it feel like you have almost nothing but a second skin on your hands you should get these.


1. Under Armour Men’s Flux Half-Finger Training Gloves ($22.99)


These are still conceptually the same glove as the CTR with a few slight differences. Most notably they grip pattern on the palms has changed to a more spread out pattern instead of stripes.

Another change is that the palm is not the same mesh but instead just a perforated section which seems like a nice improvement since it means less seams.

The final change is the wrist enclosure is a little longer and more elastic based than previously. This has the added benefit of the glove staying on your hand even better. I suggest you buy the old gloves (CTR) while you can and these to test out which work best for you. I prefer the updated version and like that Under Armour didn’t just scrap the entire concept of these gloves since they are uniquely fit for obstacle course racing.


Honorable Mention:

Under Armour Men’s UA Nitro Football Gloves – These gloves have great grip and are lightweight but they don’t deal with mud and water as well as the gloves mentioned above. They are also less breathable and more expensive.

Gloves to stay away from:

Mechanix Wear 0.5 Original Style Glove– Held water like you wouldn’t believe and provided almost no grip when wet.  I would even go as far to say they felt quite a bit more slippery than bare hands.
True Grip Suede Cowhide Glove with Mesh Back – These are gardening gloves, not obstacle course racing gloves. Unless you plan on planting tomatoes by the nearest wall jump please avoid these. I have seen people wearing all types of gardening gloves at the beginning of races but never at the end of races; this is not a coincidence.

Got a glove you like, or hate? Comment below!

If you enjoyed this article you may also like our article on Best Shoes For An Obstacle Course Race.

Obstacle Course Racing Holiday Buying Guide

Coming up to another years holiday season when you think, what do I buy my OCR loving friend/spouse/relative/booty call for Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Other Winter Holiday?

We at Obstacle Racing Media are here to help.

Check out our holiday buying guide and let us know in the comments if we missed a must buy.

Stocking Stuffers: Under $25



Under the  Tree / Menorah: $25 – $100



Video Humblebrag Moment: $100 and up

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