What to Wear For a Mud Run – The 10 Essentials!

I happen to believe that one of the best ways to prepare for a mud run is to know what to wear for it and these 10 essentials are without a doubt, recommended!

When it comes to mud runs, you’re going to see a lot of different ways people dress for it. Some dress normally, others reveal a lot of skin, there’s teams that have their own uniforms, and there’s some people that really want to show off (like men having tutu’s on which you will see).  

But what is the best clothing to wear for a mud run? 

While I like the humor and creativity of people who wear these kinds of things, in my experience, the best clothing is going to be the one that keeps you safe and after finishing 7 and a half races (1 was cancelled midway), I have found the following 10 clothes and accessories are going to do that and help you have maximum comfort when going through these courses:

  • They will keep your body protected from the dirt, scratches, possible infections and mud.
  • They are going to ensure your muscles stay warm, elastic and keep you moving further.
  • They are going to insulate heat and make sure you don’t get too cold or too hot.
  • They are going to make sure you minimize the chances of slips, twists and injuries.
  • And if you’re doing a mud run with electric shocks, these are actually going to reduce the damage too!

Here’s a preview of the clothing to wear (person not included lol):

The 10 things you need to wear when doing these races:

1: Proper sneakers.

If there is one thing at the top of the list of mud run wear, it’s proper footwear, sneakers in particular. Your feet are going to take the biggest punishment in the race and being on uncertain terrain where it can get slippery, muddy, dirty and elevations change over and over, you’re going to need something dependable. 

I’ve worn Nike’s (basketball shoes), sketchers and other types of sneakers on these events. I slipped a lot. I stumbled a lot and yet I was very lucky that these slips didn’t lead to broken legs or twisted ankles and believe me, I’ve had numerous close calls. 

When I finally decided I couldn’t keep playing with luck, I decided to research and buy a PROPER pair of mud running sneakers, which ended up being the Salomon SpeedCross (read my detailed experiences here). So far, here is how these sneakers have performed:

I’ve completed 3 MAJOR mud runs with these shoes (2 tough mudders and a Spartan Race that was 14 miles long). In addition to that, I’ve also worn the SAME pair for at least 5 different hikes I’ve done. 

Now because I’ve done these events a few years ago, the Salomon has evolved and a 4th generation model has come out, and it gets just as good of reviews as the 3rd generation did:

I’ve had my same pair for over 5 years now and they still perform as well as when I first got them. I just wash them when I get home, let them dry and BAM, they are ready for the next trip/race. That’s just how good the Salomon products are.

I’m still shocked at how extremely resilient they are, but that’s just what makes them so good beyond that, the comfort and convenience of running mud runs in these is night and day compared to the previous pairs I’ve worn. 

You just can’t compare it. These sneakers are without a doubt a MUST for anyone doing mud runs. Also, these sneakers come in different colors, for men and women, so you have a lot of variety to choose from while maintain the same level of quality.

If you wear the right sneakers, you’re going to slip less, have more traction and control when you run in the dirt and in wet, slippery areas and all of that is going to help prevent injury and keep your energy up. And I have to say, ever since I switched to the Salomons, I’ve never had to find another pair, this one is perfect.

mud run socks

2: Socks.

Do NOT ever wear cotton socks when doing these events, ever. You need to put on something that is made of polyester or is synthetic. Good socks ensure your calves and other muscle groups are tight and this will keep your muscles working longer. This is the pair I’ve used for at least 3 mud runs now and they are specifically made for mud runs by the way.

The first time I wore them, they were on pretty tight, but as I was trying them out on their first mud run, I noticed after several hours how much better my legs felt with them on. I was protected from the dirt, the cold, even the water and it was almost as though there was a protective layer of clothing keeping my lower legs well sheltered.

As I used this same pair on my next runs, I became more and more comfortable with them and never leave to a mud run without these being on. They keep my legs warm, my muscles elastic and able to withstand the long punishments of these races. See what other people who wear these say.

3. Compression pants (rash guards for legs).

I prefer most skin be covered up when doing a mud run because of the risk of running into something or falling and causing a bloody injury. You’re going to be running and swimming in mud. You’re going to get dirty.

No one knows what bacteria is in there and if you cut yourself accidentally, it’ll be much safer if you wear some kind of clothing that will prevent that. Compression pants are great for this because they won’t hinder the way you move, they’ll keep your muscles warm and if you get cut somewhere, there’s a better chance your leggings will be ruined than your skin and you getting a potential infection. 

My first race at MudManX, I actually cut my finger while trying to balance myself. There was NO anti-septic in the area or at the water stations and I could only use water to wash it off. I didn’t get any infection, but the more skin you have exposed, the more chances something can happen if you get hurt.

Here is a good deal for 3 compression pants. I also have to say that I have used the same compression pants for at least 3 races.

4: Rash guard (for the body): 

Compression pants will protect your skin in the lower body and a rash guard will protect the upper body. Get a rash guard that has long sleeves. The more protection you have, the safer you’ll be.

Something like this will be perfect for the race and it will suite you whether you do an even in the cold or warm weather.

One thing you will note is that if and when you do get into the water (and it will be cold, trust me), these will insulate your body heat very well and help you recover faster.

5: Nylon/spandex pants, shirt and shorts:

Something that is made of nylon and spandex is easier to wear and is more water proof. Even if it gets completely soaked in mud or water, it won’t weigh you down like other clothes will. This kind of clothing is good to wear under regular clothing if you’re doing a race when it’s cold. It’ll keep you warmer.

I wear these above the rashguard stuff I have on for extra protection, especially if I’m doing a mud run during a colder season.

6: Elbow pads: 

These will protect you if you fall on a hard surface and if and when you are crawling through mud where there’s probably a lot of rocks which you can hit, elbow pads will also protect you from getting injuries or getting dangerous scratches. 

These ones are the closest to the ones I used and I prefer these kinds because they are soft but also great at protecting my elbows.

7: Knee pads:

I was made fun of when my team saw me put knee pads on, but after the race ended and everyone’s knees were bruised and hurt while mine were fine (I wore these awesome pads), they knew I was right. Knee pads are extremely important, especially if you have issues there. Whether you fall from a height or also hurt yourself while going through mud and rocks, these will protect you.

One note about the pair I wore (still wear) is that it’s also extremely resilient to the weather and even when it gets wet, it seems to provide even better protection. Anyone who has knee issues doing a mud run NEEDS knee pads and for that matter, just wear a pair anyway if you don’t have it, otherwise your knees will get banged up, believe me.

8: Rash guard underwear: 

I always put these on for these events. No matter what happens or how much dirt I get into them, having these on feels light and I never get blisters from them. The last place you want to have issues is the groin area…

Here are ones almost identical to mine (I couldn’t find a link to the exact ones, but these are fine).

9: Gloves:

Usually nylon/synthetic gloves are good for grip for these events. I keep a pair handy with me, but have rarely had to use them. Usually the poles I have to climb or walls I need to scale don’t work well with the gloves, but having them with me anyway makes that still a possibility. I rely on training my grip with just my bare hands. But perhaps if there is a rope challenge, gloves will come in handy.

10: Put on a cap or hat if it’s very sunny outside.

I didn’t do that the last time I did the Spartan Race and I had a massive sunburn on my head. I also could have had a heat stroke if I wasn’t careful. Have something on to protect your head. If it’s very hot outside and sunny, you need to cover it up. If it’s very cold, you need to keep your head and ears warm so you don’t freeze. 

I wear all those 10 things (gloves are optional but I keep them just in case) and on my last race, not only did it protect me from cuts and injuries, but it also kept me warm, protected me from cramps and even the electric shocks!

whattowearforamudrun

Additional clothing tips: 

The color of your clothes matters!

Wear brighter material when doing these races in hot weather. They absorb less sunlight and will keep you cooler.

I tend to put on white/grey/green/yellow or any light color when doing a mud run in the summer. Darker clothing is better to put on when it’s colder.

Don’t buy the most expensive gear!

Everything you buy to use for these races is going to get dirty and damaged. The only expensive things you need to buy are really sneakers because they’ll keep you safer, but rash guards, socks, and all those other materials you need shouldn’t be very expensive. 

You can buy the most expensive things, but most of the time, they will last you up to 3 times before they are no longer usable. I have always used the cheap clothes when running these events and I was very comfortable. I even washed them several times. As long as they keep you safe and comfortable, that’s it.

You should try to “recycle” as much clothing as you can after the race. If you can wash it and make it look good again, you can use it for the next race you go through. If it’s torn up, you will have to buy another.

Beginners to mud runs should aim to buy cheaper clothing but ones that are appropriate for these. More experienced runners can buy more expensive things since they will know how to be more careful and know the obstacles course better. 

There’s always going to be people who will want to look flashy during these events, but there’s always a bigger risk of cuts and injuries if you’re not wearing the proper clothing. If you have those 10 things, you will keep yourself safer when going through these events, especially the more difficult ones like the Spartan Race and Tough Mudder!

Putting it all on:

Personally this is how I put everything on:

First layer: Rashguard underwear, compression socks, rash guard, long sleeve shirt.

Second layer: Rash guard pants (leggings), shorts, polyester shirt, cap and sneakers.

Third layer (optional): Gloves, hydration pack or other accessories like a GoPro. Note: If you use a GoPro, you’re going to need gear like this.

So there it is, the gear I put on for each race I partake in and let me tell you, I’ve been able to reuse the same clothing over and over. This stuff really protects you and lasts long too.

One more thing: This isn’t a mandatory piece of clothing, but it HELPS!

A small hydration pack like this will REALLY help you out in these mud runs people. They hold water, and important supplies so consider investing in one if you’re going to do one of the more tougher, longer events, especially if it’s hot outside or you get dehydrated easily!

10 thoughts on “What to Wear For a Mud Run – The 10 Essentials!”

  1. The first one I did, I wore a junky old pair of sneakers that let way too much mud in the shoes. And I didn’t think about the downsides of wearing cotton socks. I ended up getting so much mud stuck in the socks and it smushed up and got all hard under my arches and toes. My feet were in so much pain by the end of the race that I thought I would never do one again. Proper gear makes all the difference!

  2. Hello VitaliyG,
    I have lost 100 lbs by changing my lifestyle and have always wanted to try one of these events, but I always felt too fat and embarrassed. I think I will give it a try, it sounds really fun and a great way to burn off some calories for the day. I really appreciate these tips. I will be bookmarking your site until I find one available in my area. As a beginner, do you know what would be the best way to start one? Also, I’m curious, why did one of the events get cancelled midway? Thanks again.

    • Hi Billy, don’t be embarrassed, there are people I’ve seen who look in shape but couldn’t finish these races. If you’re going to do one, start with a regular 5K race that is NOT a Spartan Race. Do not rush through the course, go with people who will support you, train correctly and have a great time!

  3. I’ve never actually run a mud run before, but i have close friends who have. They have each complained about one or more things they were missing on this list lol

    Wrong sneakers, wrong socks, wrong pants, etc. I’m glad I found this info. That way when I do my 1st run and get drenched in mud I will at least have the advantage of helpful information on my side! Thank you kindly.

  4. Hey there, I actually have never done a mud run before because there was just never one around my area. I was just wondering where I could find one. I know a friend who did a mud run before and he had blisters near his groin and marks on his thighs and a bunch of bad stuff. Therefore, that kind of discouraged me and him. But now that I started to get interested in mud running, if I can find a mud run in my area, I’ll call my friend and we’ll definitely get this equipment and do that mud run! Great read and thanks for the information!

    • Your friend probably wore cotton clothing which led to the blisters Peter, this is usually what causes them, and the people who run these races always warn against wearing cotton. I know if you start wearing the suggested stuff here, you will be much safer as will your friend.

  5. Great article! I have only done a couple of mudruns, and never really thought of what to wear except for the shoes. I always told my friends to just wear the clothes they would not mind throwing away at the end of the run! LOL!

    I did wear right underwear though, not boxers! That at least I thought of. I never really thought about covering up my legs for protection. Maybe I should.

    I have a serious question. Why not cotton socks? I’d like to know. Also, don’t the knee and elbow pads get in the way? If not, what brand/type do you use?

    Thanks

    • Cotton socks adsorb moisture and with the dirt in it, you can really make running very difficult and possibly dangerous wearing those. I used these knee pads. You don’t have to wear them constantly, you can actually leave them down on your sneakers as you run and then when necessary just raise them up on your knees.

      While the advice you gave friends was good about clothing, if you do mud runs a lot, that can really add up to the costs, I’ve rarely had to throw out the ones I’ve worn, if you’re careful, you can really re-use the same ones on the next one you do.

  6. Wow, I never realized that so many different things need to be considered on for running a mud race! It has always looked like a ton of fun and I have some friends who have been trying to get me to do one with them. I’m planning to go the next time probably and I’m sure I’d have been one of the people in cotton and hating that choice later, lol! When I do go, I think I might go to the nearest Goodwill to buy clothing. On another note, I am an avid hiker who lives in Utah and the review on those hiking shoes was great. I’ve read other good things about them as well. I really like them but I have one quick question. You said that they weren’t that good crossing large, wet rocks. Do you think they are better or worse than regular sneakers at doing this? I guess carrying a pair of water shoes in a backpack for that purpose really isn’t that big of a deal; they take up very little room. Thanks for the info!

    • Hi Mia, yeah I’ve drawn up the conclusions on what to wear from making mistakes in previous mud runs and since I’ve implemented these 10 things, my experiences with mud runs have gone up in the fun level, improved in the safety level and have helped my physical focus be better aimed at the actual race and not being worn down by what i was wearing. 

      About the wet rocks, the salomons hold up better than regular sneakers for sure, but I would not recommend using them to hop wet rocks, use only water shoes for that and if possible, just avoid wet rocks completely on hikes. While water shoes are best for them, wet rocks can be so unpredictable when you step or jump on them that it’s just not worth risking unless you have no other choice.

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