This is the 5th year of running this article. In the past we've had up to 150 athletes fill out the survey, but this year you fantastic people went above and beyond and we received 400 responses before closing the survey to compile the data. This is a much larger sample size, and hopefully provides a good picture of which shoes are best for Obstacle Course Racing. Thank you, to all who filled out the survey. We hope this information is useful to thousands more athletes in our sport!
If you'd like to see the results from previous years, they are linked here:
First we need to know what athletes are looking for in their shoes, so we asked:
What are the TOP 3 things you consider when purchasing your race shoe?
Grip/Tread and Comfort were pretty close overall, and then this is a steep drop off falling down to 3rd place with Quality/Durability. Every year the Price of shoes has received a small percentage of the vote...this year actually be the highest percentage of votes it's received. In any case, per usual, Brand Reputation, Reviews, and Appearance are toward the bottom of the list for reasons to purchase.
Now we need to know which shoe brand athletes WOULD race in if they had to choose a different one...this gives us an idea of what brands are thought of highly even if athletes aren't using them primarily. We asked:
If you were FORCED to choose a different brand of shoe to race/train in, which brand would you choose?
We have the same 3 brands leading the charge as athletes' back-up shoe brand. That being said, last year VJ Shoe was the #1 back-up, and Salomon and Invo8 tied for 2nd/3rd. This year, Invo8 took the lead back-up role pretty strongly, and Salomon is a good bit ahead of VJ Shoes. Hoka, Altra, and Saucony are the next "tier" of back-ups, and then Merrell, Brooks, Asics, and Nike fill out the top 10 for this list. We had over 20 brands listed, but the others received very few votes overall. We did have 2 respondents say that they'd rather run barefoot than in any of the shoe brands listed...to each their own.
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AND NOW...the THE TOP OCR SHOE BRAND IN 2023 (Top models are listed below for those interested). We asked:
Which BRAND of shoe do you PRIMARILY use for Obstacle Course Racing and training?
Salomon wins for the 4th year in a row! They have quite the streak going. Except for Altra breaking the tie with VJ Shoes to take 2nd place, we have the same exact results for the top 5 places as 2022. This year, Hoka climbed a few places up the ladder to take 6th place. Again, we listed tons of other brands, and athletes wrote in several more, but most of them received 4 or less votes. Some mentions were: Zero Shoes, Topo, Icebug, Scott, On, Vibram, and Adidas to name a few.
If you're looking for a shoe for OCR, this may be the most important portion of data for you. Below are the top 10 shoe models (as polled) in 2023. We asked:
What MODEL of shoe do you currently race/train in for OCR PRIMARILY? If you train in more than one, choose the one you use most or like most. We'd appreciate it if you'd write the Brand followed by the Model. (Ex. VJ Ultra 2)
1: Speed Cross by Salomon - 30 votes
2: Lone Peak by Altra - 15 votes
3: Peregrine by Saucony - 15 votes
4: XTRM by VJ Shoes - 14 votes
5: Speed Goat by Hoka - 13 votes
6: X-Talon by Inov8 - 11 votes
7: MT King by Altra - 9 votes
8: MAXx by VJ Shoes - 9 votes
9: Mudclaw by Inov8 - 8 votes
10: Ultra by VJ Shoes - 6 votes
(Model categories are combined above to avoid having every single yearly variation of a model)
I have to apologize to you, the readers. Despite the very specific question (listed above) to determine which MODEL of shoes athletes are using, numerous athletes responded without the model and many said they didn't know what model of shoe they wear for racing, so the data is not complete. The Speed Cross series would be on top no matter what based on the data, but there might have been several models higher/lower on the list if the model of shoe had been provided.
We hope you found the information you were looking for! We don't have a horse in this race, we just post the survey (in dozens of OCR Facebook groups) and report on the responses given.