top of page

OCR Shoes 2021 (What 110 OCR Athletes Think)

Updated: Jun 13

Our 3rd annual "OCR Shoes" article is here! We know it's a small sample size each year, but it's been helpful to athletes in our community in the past, and each year shoe companies are coming out with new models and variations, so we like to keep it updated. Next year we hope to expand the sample size even more so we can get a broader view. For now though, we had a bunch of awesome OCR athletes fill out our survey, and the results are below! Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey!

To view the most recent results, visit Best Shoes For OCR 2024 (250 Athletes Polled).

If you find value in this article, we'd love to have you Like our Facebook Page so you have easy access to articles like this one published weekly. Also make sure you turn on the "Follow" setting so you never miss a post!

You can view results from previous years using the links below.

Question 1: What brand do you currently, primarily race in?

We had 20 shoe brands to choose from for this category. The ones listed in the chart are the ones that received votes. Those listed on the survey that did not receive votes were: Adidas, Icebug, New Balance, Nike, On, Reebok, Topo.

Salomon holds it's place 2 years running as the most popular brand in our poll. Altra remained in 2nd place, but this year Inov8 took 3rd place over last year's Salming. VJ shoes was 5th place in 2019 and 2020, but they skipped up into 4th place for 2021; ahead of Salming. All of the other brands listed faired about the same. It's clear which brands are the most popular for OCR. Let's look at the models now.

Question 2: What model shoe do you currently wear as your primary race shoe?

Here are the 10 most popular models from the survey. Of course, there are different generations of models that people specifically put down, but these are the groups that they fall into. The Salomon Speed Cross has been a big favorite in OCR since I can remember, and still holds a ton of traction based on 3 years of running this poll. Altra's King MT series is doing very well, and the X-Talon for Inov8 was once again a popular choice. We've heard awesome things about both VJ shoe models (XTRM and MAXx) and having personally spent about 2 years racing and training in Salming's OT Comps, I'm happy to see them on this list still as a reliable model for OCR. I was a bit surprised that there were so few using the Inov8 Mud Claw and the Hoka Speedgoat. Of course, it isn't a huge sample size, so they may still be as popular as I think they are. Who knows!

Question 3: What are the top 3 things you consider when purchasing a race shoe?

In previous years, I had more options listed in this category, but they got so little votes the past 2 years that I pulled them out. Virtually everyone was making their decisions based on these 6 options.

I was a little surprised to see most people choose Grip over Comfort as their top choice. I would personally choose comfort first, but that's just me! Quality/Durability and Water Drainage are obviously very important, so we see them in 3rd and 4th. What's not at all surprising is that Price was, for the 3rd year in a row, was not a very important factor for most people. OCR athletes want a good shoe, and when they find one, paying a bit more is almost always worth it.

Question 4: If you had to choose a different brand of shoe than the one you currently wear, which brand would you choose?

Here are the Top 10 alternate shoes people would race in. Apparently everyone wants Inov8 and VJ Shoes...if they aren't in their favorite shoes, that is. I guess you can't go too wrong with most of these tops brands in the sport. Lots of good shoes out there, and it's interesting to see which people would choose if their favorite brand wasn't an option. I'm sure a lot of it comes down to how the shoe fits and what athletes are comfortable with.

Question 5: Have you ever tried a shoe brand for OCR and hated it? If so, which one, and why?

With this question, we wanted to see if there was any particular brand/model that athletes simply were not happy with. These are purely the opinions of some OCR athletes, so don't take it too much to heart - do you hear me, shoe brands? Don't come crying to our door :). Note: Most people simply said, "No".

"Icebug. They are really narrow and I didn't find the as comfy or as grippy as inov8. But it could have been that particular model"

"Craft / spartan. They fell apart after one race"

"Inov8 - too soft and flimsy, no foot support"

"Reebok Spartan trail shoes and VJ trail shoes. They are all too narrow and some dig into my heel causing blisters."

"Yes, Altras. The wide toe box leaves a little too much room for my feet, and drainage is less than ideal"

"Salomon - poor drainage"

"Altra - 0* drop isn't for me. Hurts my knees too much"

"Merrel “tough Mudder” version. I didn’t like them because they were too minimalist for technical terrain, and grip was not good especially in wet conditions."

"Inov8 TrailRoc. Too small of lugs, poor grip, heavy, poor drainage."

"Craft - not very comfortable or durable"

"Salomon speedcross 4, felt like I was running with bricks" "Salomon, holds to much mud, gets heavy when wet"

Those are a handful of the responses we received. There were more, but they were all about similar issues with similar brands/models. Again, take them all with a grain of salt. A shoe that may be uncomfortable for one person may fit perfectly for another. It takes testing to find the right shoe for you. Hopefully this article gives you some insight into which shoes most OCR athletes are using and why.

Thanks for checking out our 3rd annual "OCR Shoes" article. If you found this helpful, let us know in a comment or email ( As long as athletes in this sport and getting value from these articles, we'll keep updating them each year. Next year we'd love to expand the sample size and see what results we get.


We have amazing OCR Training Programs! Our programs are customized to fit your specific race goals, current fitness level, and equipment/time availability!

Featured Program:

5 Training Days Per Week

The Champion is for the OCR participant who wants to be standing on the Age Group or Elite podium. This fully customized program is designed to get you in the best OCR shape for winning the race.

We've linked the shoes and brands above to Amazon using affiliate links.

3,619 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page