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Best Running Shoes for Muddy Trails in 2022

 

Mud is part of trail running, especially when it rains. If you don’t want your run schedule to be interrupted, you’re going to just have to run through it.

Which is why choosing the best running shoes for muddy trails is a good idea. Not only can the shoes handle the mud, but they’ll also provide more traction while running through muddy or slushy conditions. Nothing worse than falling in the mud!

If you’re likely to be running muddy trails any time soon, we recommend the Salomon Speedcross. It’s got an anti-debris upper, a rock plate for protection, and great grippy lugs underneath.

Check out the full list to find something you really like!

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Salomon Speedcross 5

 

  • Anti-debris mesh
  • Rockplate in the midsole
  • High-rebounding midsole
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Hoka Stinson ATR 6

 

  • Comfortable and secure upper
  • Oversized outsole
  • Reinforced toe cap
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

La Sportiva Akyra

 

  • Stability features for secure footing
  • Uniquely-shaped lugs underfoot
  • Burly toe cap
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

Best Overall

1. Salomon Speedcross 5

Salomon is one of the most popular trail running shoe brands, and the Speedcross 5 is one of their top trail shoes. Its traction makes it ideal for muddy conditions.

What We Like

The mud will have a hard time broaching these shoes, thanks to their anti-debris mesh upper. Pair them with a trail gaiter, and no mud can get to your feet or lower legs at all.

Underneath, the deep, wide lugs made of Contagrip rubber offer excellent grip that will help you power through mud without slipping or getting stuck. They’re also really nicely spaced, so you don’t have that annoying build-up of mud between the lugs.

We really like the bolstered heel counter. It wraps up around the heel, keeping it firmly in place and works well with the firm arch support to keep the foot aligned.

The arch is made up of EnergyCell foam, which isn’t just supportive. It delivers super energy return, providing plenty of bounce to propel you on the trails. Your joints will also be happy with the cushion, which absorbs shock and eases vibration.

Why We Like It

It’s extremely mud-protective, but can handle other conditions too. The shoe is also very supportive of your feet on harsh terrain. It’s an excellent option for navigating both mud and dry, rough terrain.

What’s New

The Salomon Speedcross 5 has a few noticeable changes from the 4. Firstly, and importantly on the trails, the lugs underneath the 5 are broader and a touch longer, as well as slightly differently spaced to prevent mud packing in between them.

Secondly, the rubber compound itself is stickier underfoot to keep you safe on smooth surfaces, too.

There’s also a much more prominent heel counter on the 5. Also, there’s a nice bit of cushioning at the Achilles, and the comfort of the shoe has been boosted a bit.

PROS:

  • Anti-debris mesh and gusseted tongue provides a secure fit
  • Rockplate in the midsole protects the feet from jagged rocks
  • High-rebounding and responsive midsole cushioning
  • Deep lugs provide grippy traction over dry, wet, or muddy terrain

CONS:

  • A touch heavy, at 11.6 ounces
 

Top Runner-up

2. Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 V2

Inov-8 is aptly named, and their Mudclaw range has gained a ton of praise for how they handle muddy terrain. The brand describes the Mudclaw G 260 V2 as “the world’s toughest shoe for the world’s toughest muddy mountain runs.”

What We Like

Inov-8 isn’t the first brand that rolls off the tongue when talking trail running shoes, but these mud-busters feature rubber lugs of a chunky 8mm.

These multidirectional miracle-grippers are reinforced with grippy graphene, so whether you’re slogging through mud or sailing over smooth ground, you’ll be sound on your feet.

The outsole is exceptionally durable, too. It’s layered with graphene, which is approximately 200 times the strength of steel. And then there’s a lightweight but flexible rock plate, so your feet are extremely well-protected from the ground.

The mesh upper fits like a glove and it can easily accommodate wide-footed runners without feeling sloppy on others. It’s nice and breathable, pretty durable, and has a gusseted tongue.

Exteroflow foam in the midsole gives the shoe excellent shock-absorbing properties. It’s a pretty low drop, at 4mm, which takes pressure off the calves and Achilles, especially on rough ground.

Why We Like It

These shoes are called Mudclaw for a reason. Those 8mm lugs could almost walk you up the side of a mountain, and the graphene paired with the rockplate protects your feet from everything.

What’s New

Inov-8 fans will be happy to know that the monster lugs and graphene rubber remains on this version of the Mudclaw. The only change is the addition of microfiber material in the forefoot, for durability.

PROS:

  • Accommodates wider feet
  • High level of cushioning
  • Graphene-reinforced rubber outsole with 8mm lugs
  • 4mm drop reduces tension on calves and Achilles

CONS:

  • The 4mm drop may not be comfortable for everyone
 

Most Cushioned

3. Hoka Stinson ATR 6

Every runner knows that if you’re after extreme cushioning, Hoka is the way to go. With close to 40mm of cushion in the heel and not much less in the forefoot, the Stinson ATR 6 is what cushion-loving trail lovers need.

What We Like

There’s a gigantic chunk of cushion in these shoes! They feature a 4mm heel drop, and the men’s has 39mm of foam in the heel, while the women’s has 38mm. For some perspective, World Athletics caps the legal stack height for competition at 40mm.

Ideal for heel strikers but still pretty good for others, the CMEVA midsole is surprisingly lightweight, with the whole shoe weighing just 11.7 ounces for the men’s and 9.8 ounces for the women’s. It’s also got a rocker shape, which makes it easier to roll forward nicely despite their lack of ground feel.

Like most Hokas, the platform is wide and accommodating. A reinforced toe cap protects your sensitive digits from accidents on the trail, and the engineered mesh upper features a plush collar and overlays that work with the laces to lock your foot down good and solid.

4mm lugs featuring zonal rubber help you zoom through mud like it’s not even there. If the mud is thick it may clump together between the lugs, but it’s not likely to be an every-run problem.

Why We Like It

The Hoka Stinson ATR 6 has the most cushion we’ve seen on a trail shoe. As well as its superior padding, it has grippy, 4mm lugs underfoot for mud-wading and a reinforced toe so you have no chance of injuring your toes in mud-covered hazards.

What’s New

The latest Stinson is a bit wider than its predecessor, designed this way to offer a firm, stable base for its gigantic stack height. On the upper, newly-designed eyelets help you to get a better lockdown, and they now use recycled fibers, making it an environmentally-friendly option.

For comfort, the ankle collar has been made a touch more plush. Lastly, the tread underneath now features larger lugs (although still 4mm thick), and they’ve been placed a little closer together for increased grip.

PROS:

  • Comfortable and secure upper
  • Oversized outsole provides additional stability and traction
  • Reinforced toe cap provides extra protection for the toes
  • Great for long runs across varied terrain

CONS:

  • Stack height may feel unstable for some
 

Best Stability

4. La Sportiva Akyra

It’s a bit easier to turn your ankle on an uneven, muddy trail than it is on even ground. Although it doesn’t have traditional stability features, trail runners who overpronate will appreciate the security it offers, and it gets through the mud quite easily.

What We Like

Despite a bit of extra weight, this shoe is really stable. It has a wider platform than most La Sportiva shoes, which bodes well for those with a less stable gait.

For a solid lockdown on the feet, there’s a midfoot cage that tightens around the foot when you lace it up, giving you a great, stable feeling.

The whole shoe is fairly stiff. There’s very little chance of the shoe twisting, so you can run with confidence on uneven ground. A planted heel and pretty decent arch support add to the stability of the shoe.

When it comes to mud on the trails, the outsole is more than ready. Uniquely-shaped lugs with intelligently-placed FriXion and Trail Bite rubber keep you going no matter what’s underfoot. Trail Rocker2 tech also offers support by reducing foot fatigue and helping the foot to move naturally through its gait.

The MEMlex EVA cushioning is firmish, but that just adds to the underfoot support. There is a nice bit of responsiveness to it too.

Why We Like It

It’s seriously stable! Between that and the great, mud-gripping lugs on it, your trail runs will take on a whole new, good feeling.

PROS:

  • Stability features for secure footing
  • Protective but firm MEMlex EVA cushioning
  • Uniquely-shaped lugs underfoot
  • Burly toe cap

CONS:

  • A little on the heavy side
 

Top Wide Toe Box

5. Altra Lone Peak 6

If your toes need space to wiggle and breathe, then the Altra Lone Peak is a great choice. With more than enough forefoot space and excellent mud capabilities, this is a super shoe to have on your feet in muddy conditions.

What We Like

Altra shoes feature a uniquely-shaped toe box, which allows for plenty of wiggle room. The outsole lugs follow a similar pattern, providing treads in a pattern that matches up with the metatarsals.

Those lugs on the MaxTrac outsole are arrow-shaped and sufficiently thick to provide good grip both in mud and on rock. Paired with the lugs is a StoneGuard rock plate to stop you from hurting your feet on hazards (especially those hidden in mud).

Although it’s got a thinner sole than some of the others we’ve reviewed, it’s still sufficiently cushioned. Blended Altra EGO foam manages to hit a great balance between responsive enough to feel speedy and soft enough to be comfy.

You should note, however, that like all Altras, this shoe has a zero-drop platform. It’s not for everyone, but it does take stress off the Achilles and calves.

The Quick-Dry mesh upper is both breathable and tight enough to prevent debris from getting in. Drainage holes in the toe box help liquid to escape.

It’s worth noting that the ankle collar is an unusual square-ish shape that might be uncomfortable for some runners.

Why We Like It

The Lone Peak 6 is the perfect fit for those who need space in the forefoot while they’re navigating mud-laden trails. A well-treaded outsole keeps you safe in mud or on smoother surfaces.

What’s New

Not a lot has changed since the last version of the shoe. The 6 is a tiny bit lighter than the 5, although it’s not likely to be very noticeable.

The lacing system, drainage holes, and StoneGuard plate have all been minorly updated, improving the durability and effectiveness of the shoe.

PROS:

  • Plenty of wiggle room in the toe box
  • Soft and responsive midsole cushioning
  • Provides a secure, locked-in feel
  • StoneGuard rock plate in the sole

CONS:

  • The zero-drop platform may be off-putting for some runners
  • Unusual ankle collar shape may be uncomfortable for some
 

Best for Variety of Terrain

6. Saucony Peregrine 11

If you’re looking for an all-around shoe that can handle mud with the same ease as it handles sand, rock, and puddles, the Saucony Peregrine could be your new best friend.

What We Like

A decently-lugged outsole provides excellent grip, with arrow-shaped lugs that offer excellent traction on loose, slippery, muddy, or wet trails.

Tight mesh on the upper keeps debris and sand out, and the FORMFIT tech helps the upper conform to your foot to provide the best possible fit.

Drainage holes underneath allow water to escape easily, which means if you run through a puddle or on a rainy day, your feet won’t be sitting in water.

You can also add screws or spikes to the outsole, which makes it an excellent choice for running on snow or ice as well as mud and dry surfaces.

PWRRUN cushioning offers good support underfoot and has a decent amount of bounce. Not overly speedy, but not sluggish either.

Why We Like It

It’s the Jeep of the trail running shoe world. You can go anywhere with these shoes on your feet, whether you’re fighting through mud, speeding over sand, or running over dry, smooth terrain.

What’s New

Let’s get the increased weight out of the way. The 11 is a bit heavier than the 10, and although that’s not likely to be noticed by many runners, it does count as a slightly negative update.

On the bright side, the upper has been revamped to increase the breathability and durability. But that’s about the extent of the changes.

PROS:

  • Built-in rock plate protects your foot
  • Durable mesh upper keeps debris out
  • Great for technical trails, muddy areas, gravel, and moderate trails
  • High-abrasion rubber
  • Screws or spikes can be added to the outsole

CONS:

  • May not be a good fit on wide feet
 

Top Waterproof

7. Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Gore-Tex

The Pegasus is one of Nike’s most loved shoes, and their trail shoe is just as beloved. It’s ideal for hitting muddy, uneven trails while keeping your feet safe and looking stylish at the same time.

What We Like

A closed mesh upper complete with Gore-Tex membrane keeps water out of your shoe, taking away the need for things like drainage holes. You can run through puddles, streams, and pouring rain and your feet will stay pretty dry and warm.

As well as being waterproof, the outsole is nicely lugged and can handle mud pretty well. The lugs aren’t the deepest, but this does help to prevent mud from sticking between them.

Full-length React foam feels softish but balances it nicely with a touch of bounce. With 36mm in the heel and 26mm in the forefoot, it offers a good bit of protection against stones too.

While it retains the narrow midfoot fit that Nike’s known for, it does have a more accommodating forefoot than usual. Wide-footed runners rejoice! A midfoot band helps you keep a tight lockdown and the Peg’s previous heel slippage is a thing of the past.

Lateral stability is increased in this shoe, thanks to a more robust, midfoot-supporting midsole/outsole design and overlays on the heel for extra stability.

Why We Like It

You won’t need to worry about wet feet with this shoe on your feet. In addition to the waterproofing, it’s got good lugs underneath to deal with mud and rough trail conditions.

What’s New

The Pegasus 3 features an improved fit on the upper and heel counter and a roomier toe box than the previous version.

PROS:

  • Closed mesh with Gore-Tex membrane
  • Moderately soft, responsive React cushioning
  • Added lateral stability
  • Spacious toe box

CONS:

  • Runs slightly warm
 

Most Breathable

8. Brooks Catamount

The Brooks Catamount is nice and versatile, but will handle muddy trails with ease. It’s also highly breathable, keeping your feet as cool and dry as possible while you’re working up a sweat.

What We Like

The light, open, breathable upper is a definite pro of this shoe. The trails can be warm and muggy, and this upper will provide your feet with a constant supply of air. Despite being nice and breathable, it doesn’t let debris and mud in.

Talking about mud, the sticky, lugged outsole does well to push you through muddy conditions, as well as staying grippy on other, less slushy surfaces.

With 31mm of DNA Flash foam under the heel and 25mm under the forefoot, it offers plenty of shock absorption and a high level of comfort. It also gives you a nice bit of energy return, while being lightweight on the feet.

To protect your feet from stones, thorns, and whatever other hazards you may come across on the ground, there’s a rock plate in the shoe that allows you to go wherever you want with boldness and no worries of bruising or poking.

There’s also an invisible midfoot cage inside the upper material, which works with the laces to give you a secure lockdown in the midfoot. The thin and well-padded heel helps with heel lockdown, too.

Why We Like It

The upper is light and breathable but remains supportive. For mud-skipping, the grippy lugged outsole and decent stack height help you to move through thick or sticky mud more easily.

PROS:

  • Excellent breathability
  • Secure fit in the heel and midfoot
  • DNA Flash midsole is lightweight and responsive
  • Multi-directional lugs underfoot

CONS:

  • Runs slightly large
 

Best Lightweight

9. Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2

The Arc’teryx brand isn’t the most well-known but the Norvan SL 2 is a sleek, good-looking shoe. It weighs next to nothing, so those looking for a lightweight, minimalist shoe will love these.

What We Like

These shoes are shockingly light, at just 6 ounces for an average-sized men’s and 5.6 ounces for the women’s!

It may be a fairly minimalist shoe, but it’s got a decent amount of cushioning. 19mm of foam in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot still gives you enough protection from the ground.

To give the forefoot even more protection, there’s a TPU plate in the forefoot, which serves as an effective shield against stones and hazards on the ground.

The upper is made of extremely light, breathable, and flexible TPU mesh. Light overlays and a traditional lacing system help to provide added stability.

A thin ankle collar hugs the heel, and it also features siping behind each ankle so you can use a carabiner hook to carry your shoes around if you aren’t wearing them at the time.

On the outsole, Vibram Megagrip rubber delivers excellent grip. Multi-angled, diamond-shaped lugs scattered across the sole assist with traction.

Another bonus is that the sole is repairable and replaceable, so if there is an issue, you don’t necessarily need to buy a whole new shoe.

Why We Like It

They certainly won’t weigh you down on the trails. It’s the closest thing you can get to being barefoot on the trails while still being protected. And they’re bright and fun colors, too!

What’s New

The SL 2 is ever so slightly lighter than the SL. Also new is a revamped, more flexible upper, a newly designed collar to keep debris out, a tougher but lighter midsole compound, and a lighter outsole.

PROS:

  • Lightweight, breathable TPU mesh upper
  • TPU plate in the forefoot shields your foot
  • Tacky outsole provides excellent grip
  • Extremely lightweight

CONS:

  • Somewhat pricey
 

Buyers Guide – Trail Shoes for Mud and Soft Ground

Not all trail shoes are created equal. Here’s what to look for when shopping for running shoes for muddy trails.

Grippy Outsole

There are two things you should be looking at on your outsole. One, decently-sized lugs. Two, a grippy rubber compound.

Aggressive, multi-directional lugs will be your best bet on muddy ground. They’ll be able to grip both thick and slushy mud enough to keep you safe and not slow you down as you tackle rough ground.

The sticky rubber will help your feet grip better to rocks, sandy ground, and terrain that isn’t covered in mud.

Anti-Debris Upper

Running with stuff in your shoes can be highly annoying. Whether it’s a bit of sand, twigs, or dried mud, debris can cause chafing and discomfort.

The upper of the shoes should be fitted enough around the ankle collar and tight-knit enough to not allow debris into the shoe.

However, this shouldn’t come at the expense of breathability! The mesh should still allow for good airflow.

Quick-Drying

Running in wet shoes can also cause friction, blisters, and general discomfort. Not to mention making you cold if the weather is on the cooler side. Mesh uppers are generally quick-drying, but make sure before you buy.

Often, anti-debris uppers take a bit longer to dry than others. Depending on the shoes you’re looking at, you may need to decide between anti-debris and quick-drying.

Good Fit

If your shoes fit slightly too big, they may slide around in mud and won’t give your feet the strong, sturdy support they need. On the other hand, if your shoes are too small, they’ll most likely cause pain and discomfort.

Double-check your size before buying and make sure you’re getting the right support for your arch. There should be an effective lacing system and enough support in the heel too, to keep your foot firmly in place.

Lightweight

Nobody wants to be weighed down by their shoes on the trails. Choosing a lightweight shoe is a good idea, as it will allow you to stay light on your feet throughout your run and not feel like you’ve got bricks on your feet.

FAQs

Wondering how to choose the best running shoes for muddy trails? Here’s some answers that may help you to make your final decision.

How Do Trail Running Shoes Differ From Road Shoes?

Trail running shoes are built for harsher conditions than road shoes. The biggest difference is usually the outsole, which is smooth on road shoes but aggressively lugged and much more tacky on trail running shoes.

Also, road shoes’ uppers tend to be more loosely-knit to allow for breathability, while trail running shoes are often tighter-knit to prevent debris sneaking in.

Lastly, trail running shoes often have a lower heel-to-toe drop, making it a bit more of a stable platform for uneven ground.

Why You Should Use Trail Running Shoes?

Road running shoes aren’t designed to handle the hazards of the trail. Trail running shoes, on the other hand, are created with specific features that not only help you move on rough terrain more easily, but also provide more protection for your feet.

Can Trail Shoes Be Used to Run on Roads?

You can run on the road with your trail shoes, but we don’t advise it. The oversized lugs on trail shoes aren’t likely to be comfortable on the road, and you may actually find yourself tripping over stuff rather than running smoothly.

Also, the road will wear down the outsole of a trail shoe faster than the trail will. If you’re using the same pair of shoes for both road and trails, you can expect it to have a much shorter lifespan.

Are Trail Shoes Good for Sand?

Mud is just wet sand, right? But don’t be fooled – running in sand is quite different and you probably won’t need the same kind of shoe as you do for running in mud.

Mud requires heavier lugs to do the dirty work. Sand, on the other hand, doesn’t. In fact, you can run through sand in just about any shoes, including barefoot shoes.

Think of running on the beach. It feels completely different to slogging through mud. While you can run through sand with aggressive lugs, you may be better off choosing a lighter-traction shoe.

The Wired Runner
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