The 9 Best Shoes for Spartan Races of 2023

Altra Lone's Peak 5 Trail Running Shoe contours to the shape of your foot

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If you’re a Spartan race runner, you've learned how to run, crawl, jump, and swim, all while immersing yourself in the great outdoors. Your footwear plays a crucial role in your performance on race day—and how much you enjoy it.

When looking for shoes for Spartan races, you'll want shoes that protect your feet, but also drain any unwanted water, provide cushioning, and lend support, stability, and control. We researched dozens of shoes for Spartan races and evaluated them for material, comfort, support, drainage, and price.

Here are the best shoes for Spartan races on the market.

Best Overall for Women

Altra Women's Lone Peak 5 Trail Running Shoe



  • Roomy toe box

  • Quick-dry air mesh

  • Solid rock protection

  • Tends to run wide

We chose this shoe as the best overall because it has zero-drop cushioning, which is meant to cushion your heel and make your stride feel more natural, whether you're navigating your way through different terrains or just working out on reliable ellipticals. This particular shoe is also extra lightweight so you can move with speed on the course, but it's also super durable thanks to the lugs on the bottom that protect your feet and stop you from slipping through each step. It's available in women's sizes 5.5 to 12 and in a variety of colors, including Ice Flow Blue, Balsam Green, Plum, Black, and Khaki.

Price at time of publication: $150 for Plum

Best Overall for Men

Salomon Men's Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe

Salomon Men's Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe


  • Comes in regular and wide widths

  • Deep lugs provide an improved grip

  • Laces stay tied

  • Tends to run small

  • Inside heel tends to wear down

With the Salomon Men's Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe, you won’t have to worry about untied laces—just pull the strings as tight as you want them, and you’ll be set for the day. The lugs underfoot also make them stand out from the crowd in terms of traction—they're designed to help you tackle soft ground, so your feet grip the surface. The mudguard and GORE-TEX finish keep your feet dry and warm in case you battle any water obstacles or extra-muddy conditions

Available in men's sizes 7 to 14 and in regular or wide widths, they also come in a variety of colors, including colorful options like Hawaiian Ocean and Sulfur Spring.

Price at time of publication: $130

Best Unisex

Reebok Unisex-Adult Sole Fury Trail Running Shoe



  • Available in a wide variety of sizes.

  • Lightweight

  • Zip-up front closure

  • Tends to run small

Just because we're offered gender-specific shoes, doesn’t mean we have to go with those choices. If you’re ready to break the gender roles, go ahead and start with Reebok.

The sizes for the Unisex-Adult Sole Fury Trail Running Shoe brand are listed as men’s sizes. A general rule for women interested in this stylish shoe is to subtract two sizes from your usual size in women’s shoes. For example, if you’re usually a size 8 in women’s, try a size 6 in men’s.

Available in sizes 3.5 to 13 and in multiple colors, these shoes also feature a zip-up front closure for easy on and off.

Price at time of publication: $40 for Grey/Rosette/Toxic Yellow

Best for Wide Feet

Salomon Speedcross 5 Wide Trail Men's Running Shoe



  • Deep lugs provide an improved grip

  • Excellent water drainage

  • Shoes dry out quickly

  • The "wide foot" tends to feel narrow

  • Limited colors

If your feet run a little wide, you’ll appreciate the toe box of the Speedcross 5 Wide. The roomier fit in the toe box allows space for your toes to splay while hiking trails, tackling mountains, or navigating mud-filled water obstacles.

It is constructed with deep and sharp lugs to improve grip and dynamic upper for better fit and stability, perfect for treading through obstacle course challenges. It also is noted for its substantial traction, reducing slippage on icy or wet terrain.  

Available in sizes 7 to 14, it comes in two colors—Black/Black/Phantom and Grape Leaf/Black/Phantom.

Price at time of publication: $130

Best for Narrow Feet

La Sportiva Men’s Mutant Backcountry Trail Running Shoe



  • Breathable

  • Lightweight

  • Provides stability and control

  • Tends to run small

  • Comes in one color

The La Sportiva Men’s Mutant Backcountry Trail Running Shoe contains a lot of cushion in a sturdy but ultralight package. It is a durable shoe, for hiking, mountain climbing, or running, making it ideal for moderate-to-technical terrain.

Its Integrated Fusiongate Lacing Harness with High-Frequency reinforcements and Spyraltongue technology present a snug, stay-put fit, reducing friction and making it ideal for a narrow fit. It remains comfortable for high mileage trail running.

Available in sizes 7.5 to 13, it comes in a single standout color—Carbon/Flame.

Price at time of publication: $155 for Carbon/Flame

Best Cushioned

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Trail Running Shoes



  • Comes in regular and wide widths

  • Contructed to make feet feel stable

  • Vibram Megagrip keeps foot secure

  • Expensive

  • Sharp tongue material without padding

Because of Hoka's trademark cushioning, the Speedgoat is equipped with cushy shock absorption for the long, ultra-distance trail running. With Hoka's bucket seat design, your feet sit lower in the midsole, making them more stable. It is constructed with a robust Vibram Megagrip outsole with 0.19-inch lugs, which keeps your footing secure with dangerous terrain. Built with a 0.18-inch offset, it offers you an even platform as you navigate the trails. 

These shoes come in sizes 5 to 11 and in regular and wide widths. The color and styles offered are very trendy, appealing to diehard Spartan runners and beginners alike. They come in many standout colors, including Majolica Blue/Heather, Outerspace/Hot Coral, and Provincial Blue/Luminary Green.

Price at time of publication: $145

Best Style

Salming Men's OT Comp Trail Competition Trainers



  • Reliable adherence on slippery surfaces

  • Rear foot stability

  • Limited colors

If you're looking for a shoe that looks as top-notch as it performs, the Salming Men's OT Comp is the pair to snag. They come in two striking color combos and are sure to make a statement out on the course. But this pair is so much more than just looks: Salming teamed up with Michelin to create powerful, durable soles to help you excel on whatever terrain the race throws your way.

The lugs are designed for maximum traction to keep you from sliding on slippery surfaces. At the arch of the shoe, the tread design helps boost your stability on even the toughest obstacles. An added bonus: The mesh in this self-cleaning shoe allows for your feet to air out while you're on the move.

Available in sizes 5.5 to 10, the shoes come in Deep Teal/Aruba Blue and Poseidon Blue/Yellow colors.

Price at time of publication: $53

Best for Wet Conditions

Topo Athletic MTN Racer Trail-Running Shoes - Men's



  • Roomy toe box

  • Solid traction

  • Lightweight

  • Midsole too firm 

  • Limited colors

It’s not a Spartan race without a water obstacle. When undergoing muddy challenges, we want to know our shoes won't slip on wet surfaces. These anti-slip shoes also feature technology that allows for unwanted water to drain out of the shoes.

The Topo Athletic MTN racer is lightweight, with ripstop mesh uppers offering a secure fit. Wet conditions make slipping easier, but the Vibram Megagrip outsole won't slip on wet surfaces. With drainage ports that accelerate dry times, you can attack the muddy puddle, confidently knowing the features will speed up dry time.

They come in sizes 8 to 15, with a stylish red/orange design. While Topo Athletics shoes are typically more expensive than other picks, they are performance-tuned for racing and offer firmer cushioning than other brands. 

Best Lightweight

Brooks Men's Cascadia 15 Trail-Running Shoes



  • Rubber outsoles stabilize grip

  • Lightweight

  • Tends to run small

  • Open weave of upper lets in dirt

When it comes to running shoes, Brooks has a loyal customer base. If you’re considering buying a pair, chances are you’ve worn one of their shoes in the past. If you’re new to the brand, check out the Brooks' lightweight and airy Cascadia 15 Men's Trail-Running Shoes.

Runners appreciate the Lightweight BioMoGo DNA cushioning, which provides a responsive feel in every step. The four-point pivot system equips runners with all-terrain stability, helping them navigate different terrains.  

These shoes come in sizes 7 to 15 and are available in many stylish colors.

Price at time of publication: $180 for Black/Raven/Cherry Tomato

Final Verdict

With its tailored, women-specific technology mimicking the shape of your foot and providing zero-drop cushioning, the ALTRA Women's Lone Peak 5 Trail Running Shoe is a top-notch choice. It's equipped with features for durability and comfort, making your stride feel more natural.

For men, look no further than the Salomon Men's Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe. The precise grip and foothold provide unmatched traction. And its deep, sharp lugs offer an enhanced fit and smooth stability throughout your run. 

What to Look for in Shoes for Spartan Races


For Spartan races, you need shoes with good grips on the soles. Look for sticky and rubbery lugs, which are soles made of rubber that have deep indentations for extra grip strength. This helps as you encounter slippery terrain from mud, water, and ice on the race course.


Because of the changes in terrain on a Spartan course, you will need a shoe with good cushioning for the beating your feet will take. This helps you avoid black toenails, blisters, and plantar fasciitis, all of which can occur if you do not wear properly fitted and cushioned shoes. For those with flat feet, adding insoles for flat feet to your shoes will provide extra support.

Quick Drying

For outdoor challenges like Spartan races, you need shoes that drain water and dry quickly, as you will undoubtedly wade through water or mud on the course. If your shoes retain moisture, you may end up with painful blisters.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should you train for a Spartan race?

    Spartan suggests following four basic rules for your first race:

    1. Build up a good base for running. You will be running between obstacles, and you should be able to complete the full length of your race while running/walking (whatever distance you would like to achieve).
    2. Train for grip strength. You can do this through pull-ups, monkey bars, and rock climbing.
    3. Practice other movements you'll use in obstacles. This includes jumping, trail running, running through mud, and climbing.
    4. Set a goal. Set a time in which you would like to finish to give yourself a goal to aim for.
  • What kind of socks should I wear for a Spartan race?

    For Spartan races that have you running through all kinds of terrain, water, and mud, wear moisture-wicking socks. They promote evaporation as moisture moves down the fabric and away from your skin. This helps keep your feet from getting blisters, which can impede performance and recovery.

  • How do I clean my shoes after a spartan race?

    After a Spartan race, your shoes will most likely contain mud and rocks. If possible, rinse them in water available at the finish line to remove this dirt; be sure to bring a change of shoes to wear home.

    Once you are home, you can clean them according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Using bacterial disinfectant wipes, clean the soles, insides, and outer material of the shoes. Leave them outside to dry if you can.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Mallory Creveling has been covering the fitness industry for more than a decade, often writing about workout equipment. She’s also a personal trainer who’s tried tons of at-home equipment. She knows what moves work best with added weight, and what to look for to get the most out of your gear.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Simone M. 4 tips to train for your first Spartan sprint. Spartan.

  2. Tasron C, Thurston CJ, and Carre MJ. Frictional behaviour of running sock textiles against plantar skinProcedia Engineer. 2015;112:110-115. doi:/10.1016/j.proeng.2015.07.184

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doffing PPE: disinfect your shoes.