Best Obstacle Racing Shoes Reviews

Many of you are coming here for your questions about the best obstacle racing shoes to buy. Here are some video clips that Obstacle Racing Media have posted in recent months. We hope you find these videos informative and entertaining.

For some more in-depth reviews, here is a previous article about the best shoes to buy for obstacle racing.

Spartan/Craft OCR Shoes

First up is the Spartan Craft Shoe, known as the RD Pro. Keith Allen took the Craft Spartan shoes out for a spin and gave us this video.

You can purchase the new Spartan Shoes, buy checking out the picture below.

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VJ Shoes USA OCR Shoes

Here is a delightful comparison video on VJ Shoes which are great for Spartan races and obstacle racing.

Hoka Evo Jawz OCR Shoe

Our Hoka Evo Jawz preview video is here, you can also read our complete review.

Inov8 Mudclaw G 260 OCR Shoe

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest
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The Ultimate Direction OCR Vest is as minimal as they come but stacks up against its competition, proving to be more durable and useful for race situations. This vest has nylon rip-stop fabric that stands up to wall climbing, mud, water, and any other surfaces you may get snagged on. You have the option of wearing a 2L bladder or placing a 600 ml water bottle in the front pocket or utilizing both water compartments with enough room in the zipper compartment to store gels or keys.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Features

Design: The design of this vest is super minimal, yet I was able to take along everything I needed even on my longer runs. I loved that even though I was able to pack this full, it never felt bulky like my other packs. It also has reflective strips in case you are running at night or darker areas.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

 

Durability: The nylon rip-stop is phenomenal. I have use this primarily on muddy trails where I have had to do some climbing and my vest still looks brand new. This is definitely the only vest I would trust to withstand a race environment.

Innovation: Instead of the possibility of losing a go pro or breaking a phone, the best has a roll-top, water-resistant pouch on the front to hold your smartphone. This allows you to take photos or video without destroying your phone. Unfortunately, neither my iPhone 8 or iPhone X would fit in the pouch, which was very disappointing considering it was one of the features I was most excited about.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Fit: I really love the fit of this vest. Even with my 2L bladder, extra clothing and gel packs loading it down, it was super light and never made me feel like I was lugging gear around. There was no sloshing or weird chaffing around the arms despite the vest being fitted to my body.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Usage

I took this vest out in on trails in the rain and mud, climbed while wearing it to test its durability and it held up way better than my other vests. I had been using the Adventure Vesta, another Ultimate Direction vest, for the wet and muddy trail runs and the OCR vest even keeps things dry better than other UD vests.

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Light Weight
  • Minimal yet holds a lot of gear
  • The most durable pack I have used

Cons

  • Water-resistant smartphone pouch is not suitable for more current, larger iPhones
  • No color options

Similar Products

Dolfinpack Hydration Pack

Orange Mud Gear Vest

Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra

Ultimate Direction OCR Vest Conclusion

This is an amazing vest if wearing a pack that can withstand the OCR elements. If you are like me, you may be disappointed that the smartphone holder didn’t come with a little more wiggle room for newer, bigger phones. However, don’t let that stop you from purchasing this vest as I am willing to bet that you’d be hard pressed to find another vest that will carry as much gear and come out looking like new, once you wash the mud off that is.



Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.

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VJ Sport XTRM Shoe Review

VJ Xtrm
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The VJsport “Xtrm” is the second model from the Finland based shoe company to find its way into the USA landing on many OCR courses in the coming months. After many saw OCR World Champion, Jon Albon, climbing wall, ropes, mountains and podiums in the VJsport Irock2’s, Jon and VJsport went back to the drawing board together in an attempt to create the perfect OCR shoe covering all necessary aspects including speed, grip and comfort. Did they accomplish this with the XTRM or fall short in designing the best shoe in the sport? I couldn’t wait to lace up this pair of XTRM’s, compliments of the Official USA VJsport distributors and see if I felt as good about them as they do.

VJ XTRM Features

Fitlock – I touched base on this feature in my Irock2 review and my stance hasn’t changed from then to now. This feature should be on all shoes, OCR and all other uses. The design of this lacing system allows the shoe to provide a secure midfoot feel without being too snug or loose. Very glad to see they carried this over to the XTRM.

Full Length Rockplate in Midsole – This feature wasn’t utilized in the Irock2 limiting the distance you could comfortably wear them for. Utilizing this in the XTRM allows minimal discomfort on varying terrains regardless of underfoot debris and surfaces.

Strengthened Rubber Toe-Cap – This may not be the first feature you look for in an OCR shoe but often overlooked. We’ve seen in models known for breaking down too quickly (All-Terrains) that durability in this area can be cause for concern in the sport with the excess pressure put on the toe-cap during downhill sprints, and quick stop movements. The look and feel of this feature instills confidence of durability over time.


Cushioning Units In Front and Heel – This feature is another upgrade on the Irock2 model that provides added comfort over longer periods of time which is practically a necessity no shame with more multi-lap and endurance options available in the sport than ever before.

VJ XTRM Usage

After a few short runs I could’ve easily concluded my review and provided all the necessary info you’d be looking for. But I wanted to be 100% sure I did everything possible to make sure this shoe was gonna live up the hype it would certainly get with the Albon name recognition. I’m sure Matthew Bardolph Davis would’ve liked to have this completed review weeks ago but I couldn’t resist testing them in the crazy Pennsylvania weather that was forecasted.


I was able to put in roughly 50 accumulated miles during rain storms, snow storms, ice storms, the aftermath of all listed conditions and then 60 degree perfection.


Uphill, downhill, mud, ice, streams, rocks and even wooden bridges were utilized to beat these shoes down and see where they stood after.

VJ XTRM Durability

Being a targeted area when creating this shoe, VJsport implemented varying failsafes to ensure durability and longevity. Between the added toe box space, strengthened toe-cap, Kevlar and polyester blend and added cushioning, they effectively made a shoe that won’t breakdown over time in typical harsh OCR conditions (Trust me, I tried).
VJSport-Xtrm-1
The medium last provides more room than the IROCK2 and combination of Kevlar and Polyester ensures increased durability im usual ocr shoe trouble spots.

Update: We now have a video comparing the 3 latest VJ models.

 

VJ XTRM Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fitlock lacing provides confident feel/fit
  • At 250g(8.8oz to Irock 8.4oz) light yet cushioned.
  • Aggressive 6mm lugs
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • lacking drainage qualities
  • Slick on varying wet wooden surfaces
  • Can’t find a third

VJ Xtrm Conclusion

They totally freakin nailed it with this shoe. The never-ending shoe debate has a new heavy hitter to be listed with Salomon, Merrell, Inov8, Altra, Reebok, Icebug, and Salming. The VJ XTRM may make that convo civil as more people get their feet in these shoes and come to the conclusion I have. They’re durable, grip well, comfortable, wick mud easily and if you can live with a slight drainage deficiency you’ll have your shoe for long or short races that will easily last a full race season and beyond.

If you want to take a peek at the new New Spartan Shoes, click here.

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Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.

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Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Review

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Hat
3.6 / 5 Overall
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I am a sucker for a hat. In fact, if I am running, hiking, grocery shopping, you name it, I probably have a hat on, so when I received the Headsweats Performance Trucker I was more than happy to put it to the test. I love the breathability of this hat and it’s not bad on the eyes either! They have really unique styles, which set them apart from other brands. I do, however prefer a lighter hat for runs but loved the features and breathability of this hat. .

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Features

Style: With so many unique styles to choose from, this line of hats is a breath of fresh air compared to other brands. They don’t just change the color; each Performance Trucker has a unique design with men’s and women’s styles available, as well as a custom option.

Breathability: The terry sweatband wrapped in Eventure knit provides an unexpected breathability. The Trucker hat is very sturdy so I expected it to be hot and uncomfortable, but it was quite the opposite. Even in 91-degree weather my head never felt hot and I didn’t feel sweat pooling on my forehead.

Dry Wicking: The terry sweatband really keeps the sweat out of your eyes and is the best dry wicking I’ve seen. It doesn’t just absorb the sweat and dries completely without any odors at all. I threw my hair in a pony ail under the Performance Trucker and my hair wasn’t a moppy, sweaty mess afterwards.

Fit: The Performance Trucker line fits like a glove. It doesn’t sit super high on your head like a traditional trucker does. No one wants to look like a complete goober with your hat sitting a foot off your head (me in my Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat). I really liked the compromise between the trucker look and fit that Headsweats provides, especially as a female where trucker hats can look downright silly. I love the way this hat looks. The feel of the hat isn’t as light as the Ciele brand I am use to so I definitely had to get use to running with it, but since the breathability and dry wicking are so great, I soon began reaching for it on all of my runs.

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Usage

The style of the hat I was given is called, “Misty Morning.” I have taken this hat on every outdoor run with me for the past month and a half. If you live in the south, you know that the months of August, September, and even the beginning of October are still hanging on to temperatures well into the 90’s. Headsweats’ terry sweatband in the hat is very unique. The Heatsweats Performance Trucker keeps the sweat out of your eyes not by gathering the sweat only to create a disgusting mess post run but the terry band is super dry wicking so you don’t have to deal with a messy clean up.

Headsweats 5-Panel Performance Trucker Durability

Unlike other lighter trucker running hats, Headsweats Performance Truckers are extremely sturdy. I have worn mine for 30+ runs now and it still looks and feels brand new. I have no doubt this hat will last!

Headsweats 5-Panel  Performance Trucker Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Highly breathable
  • Great dry wicking, did not absorb the sweat
  • Style allows crossover from runs to travel to trips to the grocery store
  • Keeps the sun out of your face
  • Super flattering on women

Cons

  • Though breathable, still not as light as other running hats

Similar Products

Patagonia Women’s Fitz Roy Bear Trucker Hat

Buff Trucker Tech Cap

 

Conclusion

I really like this style of the Headsweats trucker hat if not just for the breathability, for the versatility as well. I am hoping they may come out with more of a summer line that would be a tad bit lighter/thinner without compromising the dry wicking that the terry sweatband provides. I have actually purchased a second one of the Performance Trucker Hats already if that tells you how much I like the one I reviewed. I am looking forward to reviewing the Ultra Band they sent as well. I have a feeling it will come in handy this winter as a face mask because I HATE cold weather running. Check back in for that review!



Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.

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Breast Foot Forward; Optimizing Performance with the Right Gear

SPONSORED POST

According to the National Runner Survey, female runners compromise an astounding 63% of all running event participants surveyed in 2017. The average miles per week reported were reported 21 miles. With over 6,000 participants surveyed, that translates as thousands of boobs bouncing, slamming, sweating, and sloshing during training and events. And while there is no shortage of marketing campaigns surrounding gear for female runners and gym-goers alike, the modern day sports bra has changed dramatically since the Jockbra of 1977. Gone are the days of two jockstraps sewn together in an attempt to hold the girls up.  Despite the fact that modern sports bras are seen as an adornment, the sports bra has become an essential piece of gear for optimized performance and not just for busty girls either! You spend good money on the perfect pair of shoes to protect your feet and ensure optimal performance, so why would you skimp on a sports bra that protects an equally important asset?

 

Knix

Regardless of your chest size, gravity is working during exercise and I hate to break it to you, but it is NOT in your favor girl. Supporting your chest is crucial to not only performing the exercise correctly and as efficient as possible but also to allow you to focus solely on the exercise without having to worry about being uncomfortable up top. Whether you are performing high impact or low impact exercises, finding the right support is crucial. If you are busty up top and are performing higher impact exercises such as running or jumping, you may need to find a sports bra that provides a bit of compression to keep the girls in place. If you are reading this and think you don’t need to worry because you have a smaller chest, hold that thought! Before you reach for any old sports bra, think about your nipples! Running with a poorly designed sports bra can cause nipple chaffing. Ouch! Some women also experience chaffing from the bottom of their sports bras when they aren’t designed properly. Bottom line is no amount of chaffing cream before a race or event will outperform a quality sports bra, such as those made by Knix. So make sure you choose a sports bra that fits properly that provides support with performance-enhancing material. Your boobs will thank you!

Giant Gear Guide: OCR Clothing Tips for Tall Athletes

The Giant Abominable Snowman

Height seems to have a corner on most of the sporting world. From football to volleyball, track to….what’s that sport again….oh yea..basketball. Height seems to be a central topic in most of the sporting universe. There is one nook within the wide world of sports, however, that appears unconcerned with the topic altogether. Yes, our wonderful world of Obstacle Course Racing. It just makes sense; OCR athletes need to be nimble, agile and compact. Not necessarily the descriptions used to portray those of us that are a tad more “extended” than the rest. As a result, most of the best OCR competitors are not extremely tall.

So where does that leave those of us who are likely to drag our feet while hanging from the monkey bars? Perhaps, the reason that we haven’t seen more giants in the sport is even more simple than physiological parameters. Maybe it is because the Giant OCR athletes just aren’t able to find the right sized gear! We are going to change that. As probably one of the world’s tallest OCR athletes and as someone whose nickname around the office is “The Bumble,” I have spent 5 years curating and crafting the ultimate Giant Gear Guide.  Today, I’m going to share my top OCR Clothing Tips for Tall Athletes with you and the real Bumble alike! Let’s bounce right into it!

About The Giant Author

For reference and for the purposes of this guide, my vital measurements are as follows. I am 6’7” (2 meters), I wear a size 15 shoe (49 UK) with a 38-39 inch sleeve length and have a 36-inch inseam. I am a certifiable, if such things were possible, giant.

Giant OCR Shoes

Having an elongated frame tends to lead to feet in proportions that resemble those found on the cast of the iconic McDonaldland commercials.

Image result for McDonaldland cast, giant

Cast of McDonaldland 1986, smallest shoe size: 20.

 

To put it less eloquently, tall people tend to have large feet. At times they are called boats, sometimes shoe boxes, other times clown shoes…you get the drift. Size 14 and 15 large.  Coincidentally,  the single most important purchase Obstacle Course Racer’s of any variety can make is the combination of cloth and rubber that covers those lengthened hooves. So far, three brands stand above the crowd and provide amazing solutions to our unique requirements.

Altra Running

A staple in the Ultra Runner community and the recently announced shoe partner of Spartan Race, Altra shoes are a part of the “maximalist” movement that provides unbelievably cushioned shoes combined with a roomy footbed and ridiculous drainage capabilities. Fortunately for the giants, they are available in sizes 14, 15 and 16! (Pro tip: Altra’s Fit extremely true to size)

 

Photo of Altra Timp Trail Shoes

Altra Timp Trail Shoes-$129

Hoka One One

The founding architect of the hyper cushioned, maximalist genre, Hoka One One is a brand that offers shoes with top-notch cushion, super flashy colors and a more traditionally shaped toe box. The only reason they don’t receive top-billing is because when it came to hooking up the tall OCR athlete, they didn’t go the distance and go to a size 16. The good news is that their 14 and 15‘s are beyond amazing!

Product image for Black/True Red

Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 -$160

Merrell

On the other side of the “stack-height” conversation is a brand made famous for creating minimalist, lightweight footwear. Merrell now offers a wide variety of options for those of us who prefer to roll, jump and sprint in the mud. As an Official Sponsor of Tough Mudder and a brand with a history of innovation, Merrell offers up a slew of options in the size categories that readers of this article would be interested in. Size 14 and Size 15, respectively.

Merrell Trail Running Shoes

Merrell All Out Crush 2- $99

Giant OCR Socks

A great pair of socks makes a world of difference in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing.

If they are too short, it can lead to dirt building up in the footbed.

When they are too thin, it can lead to discomfort, blisters and a painful week following a race.

Should they be too small, they are simply too small and we live in a world where we no longer have to wear things that are too small!

The following brands understand and create giant-sized solutions to erase the aforementioned issues from existence.

Stance

Enter Stance, they specialize in high-quality socks of all varieties and types. From licensed NFL, NBA and MLB teams, to specific Athletes such as James Harden and Klay Thompson and musician Rihanna. They even have Seinfeld and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air socks, if those properties are of any interest. Suffice it to say, when it comes to gear for your feet, Stance has you covered. For running they offer a ton, but the type that rises above the rest of the fray is their selection of XL-sized, perfectly cushioned and stylish stockings. Stance XL Socks

UNCOMMON SOLIDS WOOL CREW

Stance Uncommon Solids Wool Crew – $22

Injiji

This stalwart in the Triathlon, Ultra, Trail Runner world should also be a constant part of your pre-race gear checklist. Injiji socks are unique in their design due to fact that they have individual sleeves for each toe. The hypothesis for this concept is that the design reduces the potential for blisters and helps to increase the breathability between toes in order to ensure a dry, comfortable and cushioned experience through whatever activity you are into. Lucky for us, these things are as a good as advertised and better yet, are available in over 23 glorious XL versions.

Injiji XL Sock

Outdoor Original Weight Crew NuWool- $18

Giant OCR Compression Shorts

Underwear. Most everyone wears them, but only in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing is it completely socially acceptable to frolic through the woods in them alone! If we giants are going to go this route, we need to protect ourselves not only from chaffing, but also our fellow racers being traumatized due to the gangly appendages on display while wearing traditionally sized offerings. That’s where these compression shorts for giants come in!

Under Armour

A brand built on making better undershirts has also perfected underwear. Under Armour’s Boxerjock line includes a version with a 9-inch inseam that is vital to helping us accomplish the aforementioned concerns. Wear them under shorts or as shorts, either way, your comfort is literally guaranteed. My personal favorites can be found at UnderArmour.com

Under Armour Clothing

Under Armour 9-inch Compression Shorts- $30

 

MudGear

With a name like MudGear, it comes as no surprise that this brand is focused on all things muddy. No Gear Guide for Giants would be complete without mentioning their 9-inch inseamed compression shorts! Find them here!

MudGear Base Layer Boxer Brief

MudGear Compression Shorts- $33

Giant Bonus Tip:

Giant Problem Solver: Lock Laces

If you are over 6′ feet tall, you know how difficult it is to bend over and tie your shoes on a non-race or training day. Now imagine your shoe comes untied in the middle of a race. The mud, water, and fatigue combined with bending over is sure to make you completely light headed and add costly minutes to your results. Lock Laces has the perfect solution! Simply install them before your run, slide the lock into place and never worry about your shoelaces coming untied ever again! That is, of course, unless that pesky Jack comes around to say otherwise.

Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk

Thanks to this Guide, the giant is ready to chase down Jack!

 

The Giant Finish

I hope that you, my fellow giants found this guide to be of use. Go gear up for a race in the near future and begin the inevitable process of Giant domination in Obstacle Course Racing! And if that domination never materializes, that’s o.k. too. At least you will compete in more comfort, more stability, and more confidence as a result of having the right sized gear! And if you have found anything that I should add to this list, please shout it out in the comments!