Battle Corps Shoe Review

You’ve just registered for an obstacle course race. You’ve trained. You’ve prepared. You’re ready. But, when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road – or, in this case, the course – you leave it up to your trusty worn-out running shoes to get you through. What were you thinking?
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Never fear…the Battle Corps race team is here!!! We have compiled an extensive list of shoe options for your race. Since all shoes don’t work for everyone, this list can help you decide which pair is best for you.


ReebokRaceShoe-1Reviewer: Leah Hensley
Shoe Name: Reebok All Terrain Extreme

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 8.25 oz. (US 9M)
Drop: 5 mm
Material type: Terrain skin upper and Kevlar inner lining
Retail cost: $150

Battle Test Debrief:

Pros: I love these shoes, which feature Duragrip technology on toe, an underfoot rock guard, and multi-directional tread pattern. The built-in drains and mesh overlay shed water easily, and the speed laces lock in place around the tongue to prevent debris from entering the shoe. This light-weight model provides strong traction, good drainage, and exceptional grip. These shoes handle it all…from climbing ropes, gripping loose terrain, and navigating obstacles.

Cons: One negative with previous Reebok models: the outer fabric ripped apart on my first pair. I wore these shoes for a few races, and the outer layer of mesh was ripped and blown out. I called Reebok, who quickly replaced them with minimal questions asked. Since then, I have not had any issues (it seems like the second pair has been improved upon from the first edition.)

Suggested Use:
I have worn these shoes for races of varying distances and terrain and have not had any issues. They drain well on a wet course, but have enough grip and traction to navigate a dry technical course with ease.


Salomon-Speedcross-3Reviewer: Nan Allen
Shoe Name: Salomon Speedcross 3

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 9.2 oz. (US 7 F)
Drop: 13 mm
Material type: Upper anti-debris, water resistant mesh, mud guard, and quicklace
Retail cost: $130

Battle Test Debrief:

Pros: These are the only OCR/trail shoes I have ever run in. They grip well, and I’ve never had a problem with slipping or going up muddy terrain. They also have great traction on inverted wall obstacles. The shoes are very comfortable, and I have never experienced foot or leg pain during any of the six events I’ve worn them.

Cons: The Quicklace feature. During races, the shoe laces loosen up, so I need to stop and tighten them.

Suggested Use:
I have worn these shoes at various types of races – from the Warrior Dash (3 miles and not very technical terrain) all the way up to the OCRWC (9+ miles and over-the-top technical terrain) – and I feel they can withstand anything.


Reebok-Spartan-All-Terrain-SuperReviewer: Ryan Steele
Shoe Name: Reebok Spartan All Terrain Super 2.0
Battle Corps Members: Also worn by Chris Balven

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 8.25 oz. (US 9M)
Drop: 5 mm
Material type: Cloth with rubberized coating
Retail cost: $120

Battle Test Debrief:

Pros: The shoe is extremely lightweight, drains very quickly, and has great traction (including a rock-guard to protect against sharp rocks.) They also include smaller lugs in the mid foot for extra grip on walls and ropes.

Cons:
The narrow toe box, which leads to tears in the sidewalls (an issue addressed in the Reebok Spartan Extremes.)

Suggested Use:
Perfect for any type of off road run or race…from small gravel to large boulders to muddy fields. It’s a comfortable shoe that’s great for running distances up to 15 miles.


icebugReviewer: Chris Balven
Shoe Name: Icebug Acceleritas4
Battle Corps Members: Also worn by Jason Rulo

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 7.0 oz. (US 9M)
Drop: 4 mm
Material type: Ripstop nylon upper with a quick dry mesh lining
Retail cost: $140

Battle Test Debrief:

Pros: At Cincinnati’s Battle Frog, the terrain was diverse and featured ravines, creek beds, grassy fields, and lots of steep hills. Within the first mile I noticed these shoes were very responsive. You can really feel the ground in them so, if you are use to a more minimal shoe, then you will love their low feel. In the woods there were many wet creeks you had to climb back out of, and the shoe’s grip was paramount in making a quick escape and getting back to running. The tread is similarly shaped to a tractor tire, which allows them to move the dirt outward on the shoe as you press for grip. As a result, they did a fantastic job biting into the soil yet not allowing it to heavily cling to the shoe (an important trait for an OCR-specific race shoe.)

I did not notice much slipping on the obstacle’s wood. I was able to easily scale the vertical rope wall and achieve solid footing on Battle Frog’s Tip of the Spear. The rig is the other major test point for me. I want to make sure the shoe does a good job biting into the ropes so you can rest the grip momentarily when you are working to traverse the length of the dreaded Battle Frog Platinum Rig. This shoe had a vice grip on the rope, and I was extremely happy with them.

I can’t speak highly enough about the ripstop nylon’s durability. I do not have a ton of miles in them, but they seem to be one of the more sturdy pairs of race shoes I have worn up to this point. They really protected my feet from rocks in the creek.

Cons: None to mention.

Suggested Use:

Perfect for short and mid-distance OCRs (anything up to 8 miles in length.) Due to the low amount of padding and no built-in rock plate, I would steer clear of using them on real rocky trails.


Inov8-Trailroc-255Reviewer: Marc Tiernan
Shoe Name: Inov8 Trailroc 255

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 9 oz. (US 9M)
Drop: 6 mm
Material type: Ripstop nylon upper with a quick dry mesh lining
Retail cost: $140

Battle Test Debrief:

Note: Once owned by Chris Balven and now I am literally using his same shoes. That being said, perhaps this shoe’s strongest attribute is durability. When my Under Armour shoes failed the test, Chris gave me these “old” shoes. I ran five races and finished in the top five in each race! This includes both at The Battlegrounds and at The Battleground’s Summer Splash race.


Pros:
These shoes are well suited for recreational and elite OCR runners alike (they also hold up during longer 10+ mile trail runs.) The soles offer solid protection, and the shoes lace up tightly for a good foot feel while keeping debris out. The roomy toe box allows my toes to spread out and avoid that crunched-up feeling you get with more narrow running shoes. These shoes are incredibly durable so runners can get more miles out of them. The rubber used in the soles –
combined with the soles’ surface area – makes traction great for trails and obstacles alike. Even after jumping into a pit of water and through the mud, these shoes can handle both warped walls and climbing.

Cons:
They tend to take on water and do not drain as fast as others (but there are very few shoes on the market that truly address this issue so it’s not a deal breaker for me.) They do drain while running, and what water they hold on to has not limited my performance.

Suggested Use:
Very durable for the cost-conscious buyer. Extremely versatile and can be used for both trail and racing. Great for dryer race courses that are hard and soft pack alike.


Saucony XodusReviewer: Jason Rulo
Shoe Name: Saucony Xodus

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 11.4 oz. (US 9M)
Drop: 4 mm
Material type: Nylon mesh upper with a quick dry mesh lining
Retail cost: $120

Battle Test Debrief:

Pros: These shoes are like a tank! I wore the same pair for the entire 24 hours at both the 2014 and 2015 World’s Toughest Mudders…and they are still going strong with only a few minor rips. They even won Runner’s World “Editor’s Choice” award in the October, 2015 issue. You get great traction on everything from mud to rock, and they are really comfortable to wear (even for 24 hours.) They feature a deep heel cup (something neither the Inov8’s or the Salomons can claim), which is perfect if your heel slips out of your running shoes. If you want a multi-purpose trail/racing shoe that is durable and comfortable but still race worthy, then this is your shoe. It’s like the Jeep Grand Cherokee of the obstacle racing world: a durable jack-of-all-trades!

Cons:
Due to the interior’s cushion and plushness, the fabric holds water. This means they will be a little heavier, especially with the beefier dry weight of 11.4 ounces.

Suggested Use:
This all-terrain shoe works great for the longer races, as well as for the harder pack and rockier surfaces. If the race is mostly dry, then this is the shoe you want.


Inov8-X-Talon-212Reviewer: Shanon Bote
Shoe Name: Inov8 X-Talon 212

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 7.5 oz.
Drop: 6 mm
Material type: Synthetic, TPU, and mesh lining
Retail cost: $120

Battle Test Debrief:

Pros: This shoe gives you excellent traction on muddy hills and rocky terrain. You will feel some of the rocks because the shoe is pretty thin, but I never experienced any real pain from it. They definitely held up well throughout a full year of racing. I am going to retire them now…not because I wore them out, but because the deeply-embedded mud has made them too stiff and difficult to put on.

Cons: It does hold water more than my Spartans, Reeboks, and other shoes I’ve worn…but not an unbearable amount. I’ve definitely had worse.

Suggested Use:
Perfect for all terrain – from 5k to 10-mile. They never let me down!


Icebug-ZealReviewer: Amanda Powers
Shoe Name: Icebug Zeal
Battle Corps Members: Also worn by Nan Allen, Chris Balven, Leah Hensley, Nan Allen, and Jason Rulo

Shoe Specs:
Weight: 7.4 oz. (US 7.5 F)
Drop: 6 mm
Material type: Nylon textile and polyurethane
Retail cost: $170

Battle Test Debrief:
Pros: Rated by many as being one of the best – if not the best – overall OCR shoe available. They have tremendous versatility for both short and longer races because they have all the features of a race shoe plus the added padding of a more traditional trail shoe. Their advanced rubber cleat-type tread pattern sheds mud easily but has the necessary bite needed for traction in the mud. The outer-most cleats also have a “tooth-like” piece that sticks out for added traction on things like walls where you need side-shoe assistance. The added Kevlar arch plate helps increase the shoe’s bottom support. On top of this plate is a plastic overlay that has small teeth to add mid-foot traction when climbing logs and ropes. Another benefit: the shoe’s upper part is made of non-absorbing fabrics.

Cons: It lacks drainage holes. The water does drain through the nylon’s upper mesh, but this process isn’t instantaneous. Another note: be prepared for the shoe to stretch once it gets wet. By mile two of most races, it is a larger shoe so make sure you lace it up tight. The toe box is also a bit wide, which is good for those with wide feet or for longer runs but can amount to some hotspots if your foot is really narrow.

Suggested Use:
I would suggest these shoes for pretty much any type of OCR. The added padding and width will be especially helpful during middle to longer distance races like Spartan Supers and Beasts. You also won’t have to worry about the terrain type because these shoes are suited for everything from mud to desert to very rocky trails.


Be prepared to purchase any of these shoes over the internet since, unfortunately, most retail stores do not carry any of these models. Your best bet: purchase one or two pairs from websites like www.zappos.com since they provide free returns.
We at the Battle Corps wish you luck in your racing preparation. If you need any help, we recommend checking out the official Battlegrounds training program at http://thebattlegrounds.com/train/. Not only will this all-encompassing program supply you with workouts to physically prepare your body for racing challenges, but it also will give you opportunities to train at The Battlegrounds course…and have direct access to the Battle Corps team members regarding questions before our next race.

Good luck to you all, and remember: Life is better when battled!

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