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OCR Shoes 2020 - What 100 OCR Athletes Think

HUGE THANKS to everyone who filled out the survey! You all are the best!


Last year we ran a survey of 100 OCR athletes with multiple questions asking them about their shoe of choice for OCR, what factors led to them choosing it, and so on. Even though 2020 has only held a few races, there have been some, and since we released our last article with the results of the 2019 survey in June last year, there was a whole half of last year where people raced and tried different shoes. We thought it'd be worth updating the article and giving athletes more information about what shoes people are wearing and why.


We shared our survey into about 35 OCR groups on Facebook and had recipients from all over the world! The first 100 responses were the ones we are using for data below; it was a first come, first served situation. We hope that the information in this article helps to inform you regarding the best shoes for OCR (according to those surveyed) and what to look for in a good shoe for the sport.

DISCLAIMER: All of the data provided is EXACTLY from the results of the survey. We are not promoting any brand above another. We are simply showing you the 2020 results and comparing them to the results from 2019.

QUESTION 1: What brand of shoe is your CURRENT, PRIMARY race shoe?

The results are very interesting! In 2019, Inov8 blew the competition away with 44 people choosing that brand. Second place in 2019 was Salomon at 32 votes. We dramatically expanded the number of brands on the list this year because there were 20 athletes who chose "Other" last year. Reebok took a steep dive from 9 votes last year to 2 in 2020. This year, for whatever reason, the votes were spread far more evenly between brands. Since the sample size is small (100 athletes), it's hard to draw any real correlations, but it is interesting none-the-less.

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The two most interesting points of contrast between last year's data and this year's data are the results from Salming and VJ Shoes. In 2019, VJ Shoes had received 14 votes, while Salming only received 6. Because of how many pro athletes in OCR now wear VJ Shoes, we thought they might receive the most votes of all shoe brands this year. However, they only received 9 votes out of 100, while Salming jumped up to 15. Again, it's just an observation, and doesn't necessarily say anything about exactly how many people own and use those shoes in the WHOLE of OCR.


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

This was supposed to be a "Top 5" of most popular models listed by those surveyed, however, we had a tie at spot number five, so there are technically 6 results!


In 2019, the Inov8 X-talon was the most popular shoe model with 22 votes. This year, it's ranked number four with 7 votes. The Salomon Speedcross jumped out of second place in 2019, to first place this year! The VJ Shoe Maxx and the VJ Shoe Xtrm switched places this year, with the Maxx on the popular model list. The Xtrm, which had 5 votes last year, only had 2 this year.


Salming stole the spot that Inov8 held last year by having two different models fall in the Top 5 of votes for models being used primarily. Not to be neglected, Altra's King Mt. popped into second place this year and increased their votes from last year (6) to 11 this year.


QUESTION 3: What are the TOP 3 things you consider when purchasing your race shoes?

Remember, it's asking for the TOP 3 reasons, so there are 300 total responses. 3 per person. We decided to upgrade the questions in this section to be a bit more concise compared to the 2019 survey. However, the similarities are as follows:

  • Purchasers are looking less at price, and more at function/ability of a shoe.

  • Personal recommendations aren't one of the top reasons for purchases.

  • Brand reputation matters, but again, it's not a TOP consideration.

Athletes want a durable shoe with great grip and comfort.


QUESTION 4: If you HAD to choose a different shoe brand than the one you currently wear, and you HAD to wear that brand for 1 race only, which brand would you choose?

The list shoes up in Alphabetical Order for this question, which is how we had it displayed on the survey. First, the funny note. We gave the option for people to choose, "I'd rather run barefoot". One of the surveyed athletes loves the brand they use so much that they'd rather not wear another brand if they were forced to! hahahaha. It's a fun world! Inov8 and Salomon stole the show here. They are, almost without doubt, the two largest and well known shoe brands in OCR, so it's not surprising that athletes would choose one of them if they had to ditch the current brand they use.


VJ Shoes, Altra, Hoka, and Merrell all did very well as "second options" in people's minds, so we think that's a positive thing for those brands!


We gave the opportunity for our respondents to tell us a little bit about why they like and use the shoe that they do. We've featured reviews for the models that fell in the Top 5 (technically six because of the tie).


Salomon Speedcross: "Salmon Speedcross 4, 2 years old, 20+ OCR races from sprints to beasts, very durable and drain great. Great traction in wet conditions, climbs, and obstacles. Only small criticism is I wish they were a bit lighter."


Altra King Mt: "Altra MT 2.0 has become my favorite shoe for any race 13 miles or less. Great water drainage and grip. At the WV Beast 2019 I did a demo, brand new out of the box, and they delivered on the entire course! No blisters, no slipping, no falls, roomy in the toe, light as a feather. Amazing!"


Salming Elements: "Salming Elements are an excellent shoe for OCR. They have incredible grip for terrain running and dry quickly for water obstacles. They are also very light so not to weight you down while running and completing obstacles. Great value for the money!"


Inov8 X-talon: "Inov8 X-talon great grip, tight fit, responsive & light. Great in any weather."


VJ Shoe Maxx: "VJ Maxx...not only the best grip on the planet but well made, comfortable and can stand up to any terrain."


Salming OT Comp: "Salming OT Comp. Basically the only shoe that hit all my check box marks. Build low to the ground for best feel and stability. It drains well after every water obstacles. And most importantly, the Michelin rubber grips on anything!"

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