With the changing of the seasons comes rain. With rain comes mud. It’s a fact of life that we must live with, but as runners we aren’t about to let a little slop slow us down. Running in muddy conditions can be fun, but it requires some extra consideration when it comes to your shoes, as your choice in footwear can be the difference between actually going on a run and a several mile slip n’ slide.
Before we get into the best running shoes for mud, it’s important to note that running on muddy trails may actually be harmful to the trail, and that more sensitive trails may suffer lasting damage with use in wet conditions. Be sure to know your local trail conditions and when in doubt, stick to the roads during and after any rainy weather.
The main feature to consider when choosing your muddy run kicks is the outsole. Deep outsole lugs (look for 4-6mm or more) will sink into the mud, anchoring your foot and reducing the likelihood of slipping backwards upon toe-off. Equally important is the spacing of the lugs; lugs positioned farther apart from each other will allow mud to shed off the bottom of the shoe, preventing mud from accumulating on the shoe and weighing you down.
Though less critical, the material of the upper is worth paying attention to. A closed mesh upper, though less breathable than a traditional open mesh, will help keep mud and other debris out of your shoes for a more enjoyable running experience. Also, look for a shoe with a low profile platform (outsole lugs not included), which will bring your foot closer to the ground and offer increased stability over uneven and soft ground.
A Few Mud Masters
- Inov-8 Mudclaw 265: This shoe, as its name suggests, is intended solely for use in muddy conditions. It features a large, 8mm average lug depth and a synthetic, Ripstop-like closed mesh upper. For those who want a lower and lighter option from Inov-8, the zero-drop Bare-Grip 200 is a good alternative.
- Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 2: Like other S-Lab offerings, the Fellcross 2 is tuned for performance. Salomon’s patented chevron-shaped lugs provide unrelenting grip while a debris-free upper keeps your foot protected from the trail. Another nice option from Salomon is the Fellraiser, designed to perform well over soft ground.
- La Sportiva Anakonda: Likely the most versatile shoe in this list, the Anakonda features v-shaped lugs that will grip pretty much any terrain, while a forefoot rock plate provides additional protection when the trail transitions from mud to something more technical.
- New Balance Minimus Trail Zero v2: Though not available until April 2014, the Zero v2 looks to be a good choice for muddy conditions, featuring a low profile midsole and an average lug depth of 6mm.