Top Five Minimalist Mud Run Shoes

Are you a minimalist mud runner? Looking for the best minimalist mud run shoe to use in your mud run training? Wondering what the heck a minimalist mud run shoe is, anyway? (Scroll down to get right to the good stuff.)

Hey Paul! So i wore my NB Minimus Trail Shoes this past Saturday @ TM Wintergreen, VA! BEST DECISION I made! No slipping – was able to hit the the slopes – both up and down with ZERO problems! My partner was jealous because she was slipping and sliding both up and down the hills (or mountains in my opinion)! Thanks for all the info! Love. love love!!!!! 🙂

Minimalist shoes have little or no cushioning in the heels and a low sloping heel-toe drop. At first glance, this type of shoe appears awkward at best and seems to offer little in terms of protection and durability. Quite frankly, a minimalist shoe may seem like the last thing you would want to slip your foot into for an all-terrain mud run.

However, any barefoot or minimalist runner will tell you this is not the case. The design of a minimalist shoe encourages runners to move naturally through a stride cycle. Unlike heel strike runners, the minimalist runner strikes first with the forefoot or mid-foot before making impact with the heel. This allows the runner to push-off over the toes and generates minimal initial impact without sending a shock wave through the runner’s body. To learn more about the biomechanics of minimalist and barefoot running, check out this Harvard study.

For heel-striking mud runners accustomed to standard running shoes with heavily padded heels and thick soles, moving to mud run training in a minimalist running shoe too abruptly can put strain on muscles, tendons and tissue in the legs, feet and core. If you fall into this category, it is imperative that you use caution during this transition and give yourself ample time (at least 8-10 weeks) to adjust to minimalist running and your new mud run shoe prior to your next mud run.

The good, the bad, the ugly.

Whether you’ve already made the switch to a minimalist shoe for your next mud run or think this is something you might want to in your mud run training, I’ve put together five of the best (men’s and women’s) minimalist trail running shoes on the market as recommended by you, the mud run maniac. If you like what you see and wish to buy one of these shoes, simply click one of the links or images to get to the item listing on Please note, these are affiliate links by which I may earn a small commission on your purchase, which I would really appreciate. Also, by clicking these links there is absolutely no risk or obligation on your part.

1. New Balance MT101 Trail Running Shoe

mud run training best choice

The New Balance MT101 Trail Running Shoe is a low-profile, super-lightweight trail shoe designed for a neutral pronation running style. The toe is embedded with a puncture-resistant material to protect your foot from sharp rocks and debris and features a durable and breathable synthetic/mesh wrap. This shoe is highly recommended by mud runners, climbers, long-time trail runners, and Cross-fit athletes.
lightweight, durable, affordable
Cons: seam near pinky toe may cause rubbing (although NB suggests an alternative lacing technique to fix)
Men’s » | Women’s »

2. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove Barefoot Running Shoes

The Merrell Men’s Trail Glove Barefoot Running Shoes is an ultra-lightweight, Vibram®-soled trail shoe constructed from microfiber and breathable mesh. Its “Omni-fit” lacing system creates a snug, “glove-like” fit. A rubber-embedded toe provides durability and protection from rocks and sharp objects. These are very similar to the New Balance MT101. Users of both this shoe and Vibram® Five Fingers seem to favor the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove due to greater overall protection.
comfortable snug fit, solid protection, machine washable
Cons: poor wet traction
Men’s » | Women’s »

3. New Balance MT20 Trail Minimus Shoe

The New Balance Men’s MT20 Trail Minimus Shoe is yet another awesome trail running shoe by NB designed to be worn with or without socks. Like the Merrell Trail Glove, this shoe is super-light and comes complete with a Vibram® outsole and a snug-fitting upper made from a synthetic/mesh material. The shoe is designed to provide a natural footstrike, which will benefit the neutral pronation runner, those with over-pronation issues, as well as runners seeking to correct their form to prevent injury.
breathable, durable, improves running form
Cons: poor wet traction
Men’s »
| Women’s »

4. Inov-8 Roclite 319 Urban Runner

The Inov-8 Men’s Roclite 319 Urban Runner is a lightweight running shoe designed with support and comfort in mind. The shoe is a bit heavier than the Merrell and New Balance Minimus, due to its Nordic Walking Sticky Rubber Compound outsole and dedication to providing minimal cushioning. This shoe is a solid choice for neutral or over-pronation runners seeking to make the switch from heel-strike running to forefoot or barefoot running. It’s recommended for mountain running, trail and road combo running, and running on wet terrain.
good transition shoe, great protection, good wet traction
Cons: mediocre rubber outsole durability
Men’s » | Women’s »

5. Vibram Fivefingers KSO Trek

Let me just say it, the Vibram Fivefingers KSO Trek is an incredible minimalist mud run shoe. It will definitely take adequate time and patience to adjust to these. But if you have already made the switch to barefoot running, then is the perfect shoe to keep you at your best forefoot or mid-foot striking form and provide a good amount of protection against trail-like terrain. The Trek is built with a thicker and more durable sole than other Vibram models and features a microbial layer for odor prevention.
closest thing to barefoot running, made with kangaroo leather upper
Cons: long, sometimes difficult break-in period, on the ugly side
Men’s » | Women’s »

The Other Minimalist Shoe – a Good ‘ol Pair of Sneaks’

mud run training old shoe




When we are talking about minimalism, we should also consider a few other factors like price and practicality. If you are a one-and-done mud runner and/or plan on donating or disposing of your shoes at the finish line, then you might want to spare yourself the effort and costs involved with moving into a true minimalist shoe. Just break out those stinky, beat up Nike’s or Puma’s and get mudding!

Bonus: Get the right socks! – Merino Wool
A pair of merino wool socks is perfect for wearing under your mud run shoes because the material is both moisture-wicking and warm, and keeps heat retaining ability even when wet.

Injinji Merino Wool Mini-Crew Toesocks

Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool No Show Cushion Sock


Mud Run Maniac wants to know what you think! Are you a minimalist or barefoot runner? What shoes do you plan to wear for your next mud run? Please no spam-mongers. Happy mud run training!

Meet the Author

Mud Run Maniac
Mud Run Maniac

I'm the proud owner of, specializing in mud run training and tips! The mud run community is growing fast and I’ve made it my responsibility to keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest mud running topics.

42 comments… add one
  • Gary Redifer Oct 5, 2011, 9:09 am

    I’ve run a Warrior Dash (3.25 mi) using the KSO Treks and liked them a lot…. plan n=on trying the Merrell Trail Gloves for the Central Tx Tough Mudder on Oct 8th…. will let you know what I think after the event.

  • Denny Heydorn Oct 5, 2011, 1:11 pm

    I own both Vibram five fingers (Komodo Sport) and Merrell (True Glove) and have trained in both for a while. Both are very comfortable but I prefer the Merrells for running. I haven’t ran a mud event with either yet. I used a pair of old sneaks for the Warrior Dash. I plan on running the Tough Mudder Indiana in the Merrells in November.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 5, 2011, 1:32 pm

      Hi Denny. Thanks for the comments. I haven’t tried the Merrells, but most seem to agree that they are a great shoe. My last two TM’s, I used an old pair of low-grade Under Armour sneakers. I actually used the same pair twice, so I got my money’s worth! Lately though, I’ve been training barefoot on grass and on the beach, but I haven’t made a full switch to a minimalist shoe. I like the minimum support that the NB’s offer, but I might not have enough time to break them in for Tri-State. I’m hoping to make the switch at least by the time Bear Creek rolls around (next April). Let us know how you make out in Indiana.

  • Jessica M. Oct 6, 2011, 10:47 am

    I wore the women’s New Balance Minimus Trail shoe for my Tough Mudder (NorCal 2011 in Squaw). They were great – not too heavy when soaking wet, enough traction/protection when running over the rocky trail, dried pretty quickly after the race, and cleaned up nicely after a few rounds in the washing machine! Of course, if you’re new to “low profile” or “minimalist” shoes, you should train in them (jumping, running, etc) to avoid foot/achilles/calf injuries.
    My husband wore his Minimus Trail shoes for this year’s race, but wore a cheap pair of water socks for the race in May (SoCal at Snow Valley). They were thrown away afterward just because they were “throw-aways” to begin with. Again, he’s used to running in the Vibram KSOs, so that makes THE difference. I definitely recommend training/racing in minimalist shoes, if for no other reason than because they’re so much lighter, drain water better, and still protect the soles of your feet from sharp/rough stuff on the ground!

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 6, 2011, 1:27 pm

      Awesome advice Jessica! Glad to hear you are having success with the NB Minimus, and it’s really cool to know that you and your husband run TM’s. Just curious, do you run on the same team or separate ? I’m dying to try the SoCal and NorCal TM’s. Hopefully in the next year! All the best – Paul

  • Matt Oct 6, 2011, 11:14 am

    A lot of people buy those shoes when they shouldn’t… the minimalist shoes are really only for feet that have moderate to high arches and aren’t over-pronators, otherwise you need a certain level of support and cushioning so you don’t lose footing (better control prevents injuries). Minimalist shoes take a long time to transition into – it’s usually “fad” mentality or over-eagerness in initial training in them that leads to injuries.
    Make your own decisions, though; opinions about these are just that. Experiences vary – while I like/have raced in the Inov8 Bare-grip & NB Minimus Trail myself (and have developed far better calf strength and never rolled an ankle), that’s just hearsay. The science behind their efficiency is encouraging, but they’re not for everyone, and should be broken in carefully. Hope that was helpful.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 6, 2011, 1:20 pm

      Hi Matt, great insight here and I couldn’t agree with you more. Switching to minimalist shoe is definitely a move that should be taken with extreme care and caution, if at all, and surely not for everyone. Like you said, the science alone is worth consideration, and I tend to agree that once proper minimalist running form is established, those types of injuries (rolling ankles, etc..) are less likely. Great discussion. Thanks for your comments!

  • JT Patten Oct 14, 2011, 11:31 am

    Great post. I use the Roclites while I am transitioning. Long runs in Kahanas, half that distance runs in Roclites, and Merrill Trail Gloves for my shorties. For TM, depending on weather and field conditions, I will end up using Roclites or Innov-8 mudclaw.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 14, 2011, 11:46 am

      Thanks for the great info JT. You sound like you really know your stuff when it comes to running equipment! I’ve been training barefoot (beach and grass only) and in my NB Minimus trails, pavement, etc. What do you recommend for mountains? I heard a lot of people complain about their FiveFingers while running up the rocky hills at Bear Creek.

  • Philip Oct 14, 2011, 7:14 pm

    Great write up! thanks for sharing. I have run 2 5k mud runs, and a Tough Mudder- for the Tough Mudder i ran in Vibram Komodo Sports and had a positive experience, but i am also interested in some other types of light weight minimalist shoes for future event, so this article was very helpful.

    • Philip Oct 14, 2011, 7:14 pm

      sorry for the run-on sentence…

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 14, 2011, 10:25 pm

      Thanks Philip! 2 5k’s and a TM? Sounds like you’re on your way to being a mud run maniac too! 🙂 I really like my NB Minimus…it’s a great fit and the heel cups around the foot really well. Also, the Vibram tread provides great support for trails and most rocky surfaces. Keep mudding!

  • Bruce Oct 21, 2011, 5:17 pm

    My first 5k mud run was run in trail sandals. Aside from almost losing them in some thick mud they were great. However, I caught the bug and decided to move to the FiveFinger KSO shoes for my next adventure. Wore them around to get used to them and then busted them out for the MS 10k Mudrun in Philly & in New Jersey. Both runs were great and featured various terrain (hills, rocks, sand, road, MUD, etc…). In the past month or so my wife and I have run in the Warrior Dash in Virginia and another local 5k MudRun. She uses Addidas Kanadia Trail Runners. Both of our shoes have been excellent (sturdy, comfortable, clean up great). I love my KSO’s and look forward to wearing them in November for our final 10k MudRun of the year…
    We are most certainly Mud Run Maniacs… just wish we had the funds to do more!

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 21, 2011, 6:32 pm

      Wow! Quite a resume you and your wife have there Bruce! Thanks for the great feedback on the shoes. This post has been getting a lot of reads, so I’m sure your comments will be very helpful! I’m running a 10k in NJ in November also that could be my last of the year. Undecided on Worlds Toughest Mudder, running laps around same course for a 24 hour period sounds like a unique experience, but a bit too expensive at this point.

      Hope you keep up with the site and please feel free to check in and let us know how your runs go.

      Best of luck and keep mudding!

  • mike mcgee Oct 22, 2011, 5:46 pm

    Great article. I was going to wear my Vibrams for the TM, but now I think I’ll go with my NB MT101s. The Vibrams were an old pair of sprints.

  • MikeRyan Mike Ryan Oct 27, 2011, 5:08 am

    Hey Paul,
    I love the insight into minimalist shoes and appreciate your insight on racing with this type on footwear.
    I’m making the transition from Ironman tri’s to mud runs, I’ve only trained in Vibram Five Fingers.
    I’ve competed in 3 Original Mud Runs that require high top shoes. What aee your recommendations for over-ankle mudder footwear.
    I love your site, thanks for sharing!

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 27, 2011, 12:08 pm

      Hey Mike,
      Thanks, I really appreciate the feedback.
      The only trail boot that I have any experience with is the Merrell Ventilator Moab. I tried this one on at Sports Authority and it seemed to be pretty lightweight and VERY comfortable. Most of the Merrell’s that I’ve tried really provide a nice fit, decent heel support and great tread. These are great because they actually have little holes that lead moisture away from your foot, making them ideal for wet weather or when you’re forced to step in a puddle or two. Once the water gets in, I doubt they’ll keep your foot completely dry, but IMO seem be a better choice over a waterproof option that will trap the water inside. One thing on the Merrell’s…the one’s that I tested varied with their lacing options…some came with standard tie-up laces and others had draw string ends so you wouldn’t actually tie a knot. I would lean away from the drawstring laces (or swap them out) because you won’t be able to secure them as well as you would with a knot. One sticky mud pit and you might lose your shoe!

      Another option, which I’ve been looking into a bit more is a “tactical jungle boot,” which are simply a type of combat boot with nylon web sides (instead of leather) and drainage/ventilation ports in the arches. Some you can check out are the Garmont Tactical T8 jungle boot, Wellco (they actually use running shoe technology in their boots), Altama, and Corocan. Depending on the distance of your run, these could be ideal because they lace pretty high up your ankle, which will likely keep the mud out much better than a lower cut.

      I’m doing a little more research on this, so I’ll let you know if I find more info.
      Thanks for reading and for your great questions!

  • michael internoscia Oct 31, 2011, 1:24 pm

    I train now in the new NIKE free H2O sneakers, very comfortable and waterproof. i did a mini mudder race in Fort lauderdale to get a feel for the tough mudder and the shoes feel great. I believe a great in between to the five finger shoes.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Oct 31, 2011, 2:01 pm

      Hey thanks for the info Michael! I’ve actually checked these out, but was a bit turned off by the “water-proofing” because I was concerned that once submerged, water would get trapped inside. Also, Nike’s tend to run narrow for my foot. They have ventilation, but it didn’t seem like enough to dispel the water. I’m just curious, did you get a chance to try them in deep water conditions? Totally agree that they are a great midway shoe between ultra-minimalist and heel-striking sneakers, especially a good fit for those looking to make the switch to a minimalist shoe over time. Very lightweight and super-stylish (as is expected from NIKE). A really great shoe I would agree…just maybe not perfect for Tough Mudders. Then again, no shoe is really perfect for TM’s! 🙂

      Keep mudding!

  • James T Nov 10, 2011, 6:41 pm

    I appreciate this thread. I’m a mild overpronator, but have been considering getting some minimalist shoes for quite some time. I’m going to pour over this page again and see if one of these recommendations suites me. I’ve run three mud runs in the last three months, all in the same pair of Saucony trail shoes I was lucky enough to get a monster deal on. At the last one, the Primal Mud Run in VA, I went ahead and donated those, so they’re no more. Question: Of these shoes, do any of them hold up better than the others to washing them? I know some shoes don’t take very well to being tossed in the washer, but I’m definitely going to have to if I’m wearing them in a Mudder. Any recommendations on that point?

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Nov 10, 2011, 7:28 pm

      Hi James,
      Thanks for checking out the post. I used the NB Minimus in two mud runs and haven’t had to toss them in the washer yet. I can say that on several occasions I rinsed them with a little scrubbing in my slop sink and air dried them by shoving newspaper inside. They rinse off really well and don’t retain too much water. After washing them this way I’m able to use them a day later. The material seems really durable, and mud rinses through the mesh sides with little effort. I suppose if they are too muddy to rinse down after TM (Sun), I’d feel pretty confident tossing them in the wash. But honestly, I haven’t tried that yet. I’ll follow up with you after TriState this weekend.

      All the best and good luck in you mud run!

  • BobChase Nov 14, 2011, 12:42 pm

    Did TM TriState in the NB Minimus MT10’s (went with a lightweight wool running sock too). They were awesome. Drained well and plenty of grip when I needed it. I was worried about slipping on the quarter pipe obstacle but I bombed it. And afterwards they cleaned up really well.

    But such is the case with minimal shoes, you MUST put in the training time and ease into them.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Nov 14, 2011, 1:16 pm

      Hi Bob, I had a similar experience with my NB Minimus. They really did the trick going up the half-pipe and pushing-off on the 2x4s on the Berlin Walls. Also great for navigating up and over the cargo nets. I did have quite a bit of mud between my injinji toe socks, so I’m thinking of grabbing the Darn Tough merino wool socks for next time. Rinsed them off in my slop sink and they are now stuffed with newspaper air drying…should be back on my feet tomorrow!

      Agree with you…get used to the form of minimalist running before you buy the shoe!
      Thanks Bruce!

      PS: Stay tuned for full review on TriState this week.

  • David M Dec 29, 2011, 2:12 am

    Thanks for article Paul! I been doing heaps of reading in a quest to find the best shoes for Tough Mudder. TM is happening here in Australia in March 2012 for the first tine and I have entered already. I am really excited about it and driving my wife nuts with all my “research” and talk about TM. Anyhow, sorry to bang on… In your article you mention the transition from heel padded shoes to minimalist shoes saying, “it is imperative that you use caution during this transition and give yourself ample time (at least 8-10 weeks) to adjust to minimalist running and your new mud run shoe prior to your next mud run”. I have several questions for you. Firstly, I do a bit of running but I don’t know if I am a heel runner of not, how do I tell? And secondly, how would I go about transitioning to minimalist shoes? Then finally, what are they like in sand? I suspect quite a bit of sand dune running in the first TM “downunder”, probably up one of the many sleep sand dune on Philip Island, Victoria Australia.
    Thanks Paul!

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Dec 29, 2011, 11:18 am

      Greetings David! To answer your first question about “how to tell if you are a heel runner or not”…basically, just try to focus on your foot placement as you run. If you are not currently a minimalist or barefoot runner, you likely wear shoes that have a good amount of heel padding. This is the case with the average running shoe, which are designed to provide cushioning for when your heel strikes. Another way you can check is to take a look at the bottom of your sneaker…your heels should have a decent amount of wear if you are a heel striker. Last you could always take a short film of your feet while running and watch it in slow-mo! My guess though, is that if you wear a typical running shoe with heavy heel padding, then you are a heel-striker or a mid-foot striker. Either way, if you are looking to transition to a minimalist shoe, first ask yourself, “why?” I made the switch because I used to experience frequent knee and joint pain and wanted to see if altering my running style would help. Also, minimalist shoes are very helpful for me in mud run events because they dry fast, are flexible and very lightweight, which helps in things like climbing walls and ropes and such. To make the switch, definitely review this site from Harvard University:

      When I run in sand, I typically run barefoot, unless it’s very cold or very hot. Minimalist shoes work great on the beach because they drain well if I step into the water…same for mud.

      Hope that helps! Best of luck in your mud run down under!

  • Cameron Jan 25, 2012, 12:30 pm

    I did the Colo. TM last year in my Merrell Trail Gloves and LOVED them! Traction, light, shed water/mud, stayed on my foot, and cleaned up well (Still running in them).
    I’m already signed up to to TM Colo. again this year and am contemplating the GoRuck Challenge in Boulder.

    *** Does anyone have any advise if the GoRuck would be ok in my Merrells or should I have something more sturdy? I’m not sure what to expect so I wanted to ask you all.***

    Thanks for any replies.

    • Cameron Jan 25, 2012, 12:31 pm

      Oh, and I did wear my short Smarwools and would HIGHLY recommend ya’ll wear wool for these wet and cold runs.

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Jan 25, 2012, 12:50 pm

      Hi Cameron, I would advise against a minimalist shoe for the GORUCK Challenge. Remember, you will be rucking with at least six bricks, the group weight, whatever coupons your team picks up along the way, plus buddy carries. A participant in the last GRC I completed in DC who wore NB Minimus ended up quitting about 3/4 of the way through. Again, given the 10-20 miles you will ruck with weight on your back, I’d wear something with more support like a regular running shoe or else your good livin’ might go bad.


      • Cameron Jan 25, 2012, 4:02 pm

        Thanks a heap Paul!
        I thought I’d want a little extra protection due to the increased ‘abuse’.
        Honestly, the GRC is pretty intimidating. I’m on the fence on whether I can cut it. I’m 6’2′ – 160lb and not a very ‘strong’ guy. I’m athletic, but muscle, a bit lacking. I want to do it to show myself that I can keep going when the going gets real tough and sucks.
        (Not sure if this is a question better posed on another thread)
        Do you have any thoughts that might help?

        • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Jan 25, 2012, 4:43 pm

          No problem Cameron…the best advice I can give really (which was told to me before my GRC) is to not overthink it. Keep things simple. Each GRC is a team experience and the goal is to finish as a team. Do not worry about your shortcomings…as your weakness is likely to be another guy’s strength. I’m about ready to post my GRC experience from last December in D.C. which will give you a better inside perspective. But, honestly, if you think you can do it, you can. It’s all mental.


  • emma Jun 8, 2012, 10:54 am

    Do you really need an expensive pair of clogs for mudrunning? I think a decent pair of trainers with some deep grips are all you need – this sport is least concerned about fashion that any other I know! I’ve seen people try and run in Hunter boots and they filled up in the first 20 yards!

    • Mud Run Maniac Mud Run Maniac Jun 8, 2012, 1:26 pm

      Hi Emma, to answer your question, Hell no! You definitely do not need an expensive pair of running shoes for a mud run. That’s why I included the good ol’ worn out pair of tennis shoes as an option here. If you are a “minimalist” runner already than these Top 5 are some recommended options, most in the $100 range or less. And honestly, if you’re a frequent mud runner, it’s not a bad (and small) investment. I’ve used my $90 pair of NB Minimus for over 10 runs now. I like them because they don’t retain water, they’re incredible lightweight and the Vibrams soles give me good protection from small rocks and rough surfaces. They’re also a blessing when it comes to climbing obstacles and they rise off easy and dry fast. I’ll add challenges to my mud runs in other ways, like hauling a loaded ruck or carrying a heavy “coupon”, but I don’t mess with my feet if I don’t have to. That’s one area I like to make sure I’m taking care of. But again, you don’t need a fancy pair of running shoes to conquer a mud run and I’d recommend against minimalist running shoes if you have a front foot or mid foot running style to begin with.

      Thanks for your great question and best of luck in your muddin adventures!

  • James Jun 10, 2012, 2:52 pm


    I couldn’t agree more with your choice of the New Balance MT101s–they are an amazing shoe. I’ve been running in these for about 6 months and have loved every step. The hardened nylon rock plate has been the most amazing trail help ever. Wednesdays I run a 4.5 mile riverside trail and on Saturdays a 7.5 mile ex-sand quarry/ swamp course. A few weeks ago I had a broken limb puncture the nylon of the toe box on my right shoe. I almost cried. This is really only an aesthetic issue, because the shoes are still in perfectly good running condition, but it did prompt me to head to Amazon to get another pair (because, hey, these shoes are so inexpensive I can afford it) only to find out that they’ve been discontinued and they’re no longer available in my size. A VERY SAD DAY.

    It was then that I began researching what NB replaced them with and came up with the NB MT110s which I promptly purchased from REI during their anniversary sale. I’ve been running the riverside trail in the 110s and the sand quarry in the 101s (the 110s are still too pretty for the quarry–it is a shoe destroyer).

    They’ve widened the toe box a bit and added some extra cleats to the bottoms. The uppers are extremely breathable and a nice wrap-around rubber toe gives some nice to protection. They’re extremely flexible and comfortable. The new cleats stamp the phrase “Keep Up” into the ground with each step.

    If you love the 101s and can’t get them any more, the 110s are amazing!!!

  • Mac Jun 19, 2012, 10:01 pm

    Hey guys I need non-minimalist trail running shoes that have good traction yet are breathable enough that being submerged in water isn’t going to be a problem. I did the Zombie Run in Zigtechs and they were awful. Pretty much became 20lb weights on my feet and the mud sucked them off my feet like 5 times. Any ideas? I haven’t made the adjustment to minimalist yet so I don’t want to rush into that. Especially since I under-pronate and I am flat footed.

    • James Jun 20, 2012, 12:29 am

      Hi Mac,

      I ran 3 races last year in a trail variety of the Saucony Grid line. They were great and didn’t add a ton of extra weight. I ran the MD Zombie run which was quite muddy without issue. I personally am in love with New Balances at the moment. Go to Amazon, type in New Balance MT and see what sticks out to you. The NB’s are very breathable and shed water quickly. Make sure you wear good socks that aren’t going to slide or bunch when wet, and pay extra attention to how you lace up. Using those top eyelets can really help keep your shoes on.

      I will say though–don’t discount the low-profile shoes entirely. I’m a fairly big guy–6’1″ and about 210. I was convinced that low-pro and minimalist shoes were a fad and that I needed Stability+ w/ Cushioning. That’s just not the case. I run 10 to 15 miles of trails in a week in low-profile trail shoes and do sprints and lift in the Vibram Bikila–honestly my legs and feet have never felt better. And that’s no band wagon opinion.

      Good luck finding the shoes that work for you.


      • Mac Jun 20, 2012, 11:23 am

        Thanks! I appreciate the response!… I definitely want to transition into minimalist shoes but I have another race coming up in a few weeks and everyone talks about how its very easy to injure yourself if you jump into minimalist shoes too soon. So I figured I would start slow by jogging barefoot a few times a week to get used to it.
        But in the mean time, I will definitely check out the NBs especially since you say they shed water quickly. And I never realized how much socks matter till I ran the Zombie Run too!

  • Chris Sep 10, 2012, 4:00 pm

    I just completed a tough mudder in Merrell Trail Gloves. I tried with and w/o socks. w/o socks was a horrible experience (and many others I talked to along the way wearing trail gloves agreed). Little pebbles get in your shoes and it is a pain. With socks was fine, but I sized my shoes for no socks, so my toes were touching the front, but that is my fault, not the shoe. I can probably look for better wicking socks but doing a mudder in socks kinda sucks. They stay wet and soaked in water and mud the whole course. If you ever tried doing a crazy long mudder like the world’s toughest mudder, your feet would end up being a mess. I wanted to know who is doing mudder with barefoot shoes and has positive experiences w/o socks. I want a barefoot shoe that keeps the little pebbles out.

  • Mike Jan 6, 2014, 9:28 am

    I’ve been doing some serious ‘off-road’ ‘journeys’ and feel that sockless is best and have gone with sandals however, the ‘terrain’ is very tough on them and I find the straps pull out of the soles. At least those irritating ‘little pebbles’ can generally be easily shaken out with a backward leg-shake. (I’m currently looking at Teva and Chacos websites for ‘hiking sandals’.

    Just a further comment from nearer the top about barefoot running and stuff and the comment that they land on the ball of the foot making contact with the heel afterwards. Am I the only human that understands the heel is part of the leg and not the foot ? Even kangaroos don’t walk on their ankles!

  • Heather Sep 20, 2015, 4:32 pm

    I’m looking for the best shoe to keep mud/tiny pebbles out of my shoes. I’ve run 3 Dirty Dash’s and the pebbles in my shoes was my only complaint. The Vibram 5 fingers are intriguing to me as they look pretty form fitting, but does the top fit snug enough to keep out the rocks?

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