Barefoot Shoes

Running In Off Road Crocs™

I’ve personally witnessed firsthand over the last two years a marathon runner, Alexander Pachev, race the Rocket City Marathon in my home town in a pair of Crocs™. Alexander not only raced in Crocs™ he raced very fast! A brief inspection of his running log shows that he’s run several marathons in the 2:35-2:45 range in Crocs™!


I’ve been a Crocs™ owner for many years; they’ve been my go to post race footwear of choice. There is just something about the ample toe room and massaging, beaded, foot bed that is just so relaxing. While some disparage the looks of the clog, writing them off as gardening shoes, I for one actually like the relatively simple design. I’ll admit that while I loved wearing my Crocs leisurely after a race or around the house I never once thought seriously about hiking or running in them.

The first I’d ever heard about somebody actually running regularly in Crocs™ was from an ultrarunning friend of mine. She knew of a fellow ultrarunner who, as a last resort, tried running in Crocs™ because she suffered from a non-functioning Achilles tendon in her left leg. Long story short when she runs her heel slams down very hard and no shoe was capable of getting her past 10 miles. With Crocs™ she’s now returned to the sport she loves and has amassed quite a respectable running resume over the past four years.

In addition I’ve personally witnessed firsthand over the last two years a marathon runner, Alexander Pachev, race the Rocket City Marathon in my home town in a pair of Crocs™. Alexander not only raced in Crocs™ he raced very fast! A brief inspection of his running log shows that he’s run several marathons in the 2:35-2:45 range in Crocs™!

I became even more curious so I just did some general Google searches about people running in Crocs™. From what I learned, turns out that there are many people who do so with mixed results. So I thought what the heck? I’m in the middle of my brief ultrarunning off season so why not give running in Crocs™ a try for myself?

What follows is a report on my own experiences—Read on!


First to put some hard numbers on what I tested. I ran in the Crocs™ Off Road Clog. Except mine is an ugly olive drab with bright orange straps! According to my own rough measurements I came up with the following vital statistics:

  • Weight: ~150 g (~5.29 oz) for Men’s 8.
  • Stack Heights:
    • Forefoot: ~12.7 mm (0.5 in)
    • Heel: ~20.6 mm (0.81 in)
    • Net Drop: ~7.9 mm (0.31 in)

So as can be seen, these Crocs are extremely lightweight but does have significant heel-to-toe drop yet the stack heights are well within the realm of shoes reviewed on this site that are considered minimalist or in the broader category of reduced or transitional shoes. The Classic version of Crocs™ is significantly thinner so it would be noticeably lighter though I’d expect the net drop to be roughly the same.


I knew from past use that my pair of Crocs™ would be difficult to run with as they were since there is so much volume in the clog and I typically wore the adjustable heel strap very loose. So, as I usually run in a pair of arch support insoles in my running shoes I placed a pair of Montrail Enduro-Soles in my Crocs™ to help fill up some of the volume. I next donned a pair of socks, slipped the clogs on and adjusted the Velcro heel-strap until I felt like my feet were fairly secure in the clogs. By fairly secure I don’t mean jammed tight with my toes smashed into the ends of the clog; I’ve run enough miles in a pair of huaraches so I know the importance of not going too tight with the fit. Interestingly I found online some other creative ways to deal with the Crocs™ that don’t have adjustable heel straps.


What follows is a summary of my experiences after about 14 miles of running in my Crocs™ on pavement, cement and wet and dry trails.

So what was it like? I’d describe overall “feel” of running in Crocs™ to be like a mix between a Hoka One One and a Luna huarache sandal both of which I have experience running many miles in. Yes a battle of extremes!

They felt Hoka-like because the foam is extremely soft and cushy while at the same time being very stable because of the wide footprint. Like the Hoka, ground feel was greatly reduced and I could barely feel any of the smaller rocks and trail debris I was stepping on. But for those interested in a plush ride Crocs™ certainly don’t disappoint!

Simultaneously they felt huarache-like because of the huge amount of toe room and the heel strap allows your foot to move more naturally within the clog but still keeps you in contact with the shoe throughout the ground phase of my stride. The clogs were fairly flexible; however, like huaraches they were not quite as good on off-camber terrain as I did have some foot rolling and movement inside the clog in some situations.

However, as most of my running routes were reasonably level with lots of straights I often forgot that I was running in a clog that was not specifically designed to be run in! In my experience the sign of a comfortable shoe is one that you don’t constantly notice!

While my overall experience of running in Crocs™ was favorable there were some things I didn’t like about running in them. The biggest issue that would potentially cause issues down the road is that while in most cases I didn’t experience much foot movement inside the clog, I’d on occasion feel my toes impacting the end or inside top of the toe box; especially on downhills.

After a couple runs I could definitely feel some of my toes took a bit of a beating; unchecked I think this abuse could lead to blisters or loss of toe nails! Ouch! In my case my toes next to my big toes are significantly longer so I’m more sensitive to toe box issues. I think the main culprit here is that this clog has nearly 8mm of heel-to-toe drop! With a lower drop clog I’d imagine my toe impact issues would be significantly less. In addition, being used to zero or low heel-to-toe drop shoes I found it somewhat of a challenge to easily run with a solid, full foot strike in these clogs. Another thing I didn’t like about running in Crocs™ was that the metatarsal flex point felt a bit strange. I think this has something to do with the fact that I was using a full length arch support in the clog and that the entire clog is one solid piece of foam and so everything seems to flex and stretch as it bends. Hard to describe what’s going on but the faster I tried to run the more this bend-flex-stretch effect was pronounced; when I just slowed down and shuffled along the phenomenon wasn’t as noticeable.


As a relatively inexpensive way to experiment with reduced shoe running Crocs have a lot going for them: lightweight, huge amount of toe room and relatively low stack heights compared to traditional running shoes. The downsides include: difficulty in establishing a secure fit, 8mm of heel-to-toe drop makes it a challenge to maintain a full foot running form and the metatarsal flexing behavior is a bit odd.

In conclusion while I’ve had a lot of fun running in these clogs and will continue to do so I think I’ll restrict my Crocs™ running to single digit mileage on easy or recovery training days. Your mileage may vary.

By Rob

I'm originally from Sacramento, California but now live in northern Alabama. My wife and I have travelled all over the world to compete in races; even as far away as Antarctica. I'm a computer programmer by day to pay the bills. I've been running since the summer of '91 and am an avid ultrarunner and off-road unicyclist (yeah, you heard right!). I've competed in some of the most difficult ultra marathons in the world including the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, the Barkley Marathons, the Hardrock 100 Mile and the Badwater Ultramarathon. I even completed a supported speed-hike of the 335 mile Pinhoti Trail in record time. So I have a lot of experience with shoes, what works and what doesn?t. Get to know me better via [url=]his interview here[/url].

19 replies on “Running In Off Road Crocs™”

Rob, Well written as always but I’m struggling with finding the words to type… Maybe I’m too much of a purist, but I just can’t see how these fit into what this site has promoted over the years and I actually find it upsetting. “Cushy” and “plush” do not belong in a world where the benefits of ground feedback, body mechanics, and allowing your feet to be feet should be the ultimate goal…. I’ve never questioned the validity of any article on this site until now… I’m on the road every week for business and always in VFF’s or barefoot and I’ll be embarrassed if any of the hundreds of people that I give BDS information to come here for the first time and see crocs on the home page……

Interesting post.

I came across the site a while back and found the concept of running in Crocs really interesting. I have yet to try it myself, but it seems like the front ankle strap would aleviate the problem of your foot slipping forward. The site provides quite a bit of good information on running in Crocs.

You mentioned that your Crocs have an 8mm drop. Is that standard for Crocs? I have never come across a heel/toe drop measurement for Crocs before and assumed them to have a smaller drop.

I’m sure this post will get a lot of undeserved comments bashing Crocs. They
have their place and serve a distinct purpose very well. Yes, they are kind of ugly, but so are Five Fingers and most other minimalist shoes. If you can appreciate how a shoe fits and functions, it is easy to get past how it looks.


I totally get your reaction to this article. Crocs as minimalist shoes? What a crock of @#%!! For the record, Rob didn’t ever call these shoes “minimalist.” The only comparison he notes is that the stack height is within similar parameters to some shoes that are considered minimalist (but that in and of itself doesn’t make Crocs minimalist).

Ultimately, a post like this is, to me, very interesting and challenging, which is why I was excited when Rob brought the idea up.

It’s challenging because if you can run in Crocs without it destroying your body or your form, that raises questions around the dogma that you have to run barefoot or run minimalist to run right.

It strikes at the idea that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to running, too.

Could I run in Crocs? Not likely. My form degrades rapidly when I don’t have really good ground feedback (ideally barefoot). My biomechanics would likely take a beating, too. But that’s just me.

I’d go on to say that a lot of people who have found running in minimalist shoes to dramatically improve their form over traditional, cushy shoes might be similar to me.

A huge number of readers here reap the benefits of minimalist shoes; however, that’s not the only way — armed with a trained running form, you could probably run in just about anything.

So that’s part of what’s interesting about this post. It’s a reminder that the shoe doesn’t necessarily make the runner.

The other part is that Crocs are, like it or not, pretty interesting shoes as a case study in what makes healthy footwear.


Even though Crocs aren’t minimalist, they have traits that are minimalist/barefoot-minded. They have a huge toe box (you can wear Correct Toes in them!). They’re super lightweight. Those two traits go a long way to keeping feet healthy and happy — even if they give a softer ride to the foot due to the EVA foam used in the shoes. It’s for these reasons, I’d guess, that so many people (and kids!) love wearing Crocs. They’re comfortable on foot.

That should tell us something.

Of course, Crocs aren’t without problems. A thicker sole and the overall structure of EVA make for weird shoe dynamics. The heel-to-toe drop is going to muck with natural biomechanics (as well as the walking style due to the clog-design).

For me, I’d like to see a zero-dropped, maybe 10mm stack height Croc — could be interesting. Could actually be minimalist.

So anyway, I think it’s worth discussing. What do you think?

Although I’ve been wearing Crocs for 13 years, I began running in Crocs in early 2008, mostly because I didn’t want to spend the money on VFFs, and I already owned Crocs and had read about Lorraine running in Crocs. I do also run in lower drop running shoes and minimalist running shoes (my running is mostly trails and ultra distance). Although they pick up a bit of grit, especially on trails, I still like them in my rotation. The numbers you have for heel drop might not fully represent where the heel actually sits within the shoe. Because the heel sits down low inside the heel cup area, the drop would actually be less than the measured amount. Crocs can be deceiving because they look thick soled, but the foot actually sits low inside the shoe. But I love the simple cushioning, wide toe area, and general loose fit. Thanks for your report. Happy running in Crocs.

@Aaron: I’ve not come across any official stack height figures for Crocs anywhere in my basic research. I arrived at the stack heights I listed based on my own measurements of my Off Road Crocs, I could be off slightly. However, I’ve owned a pair of Classic Crocs for many years (they are well worn because they are comfortable, especially after a long run or just kicking it around the house) and I’m pretty sure these have significantly less stack height (heel and midfoot) than the Off Road. I’ll attempt to take some measurements and report back. My intent was to go for a few runs in the Classics and provide and update to this story; but that may be a while from now…

@barefootin: I totally agree that Crocs are not “minimalist” with respect to ground feel and heel-to-toe drop however, as Justin explained, they are extremely light-weight (lighter than a lot of the VFFs ) and have more toe room than ANY shoe I’ve come across; even the Altras. My larger point is, and it’s something Justin touched on, is that with proper foot/gait mechanics it really doesn’t matter what you put on your feet and run in! 🙂 Sort of a counter argument to the current feeling that “thou must wear the most minimalist foot wear (or go barefoot) in order to run *correctly* and avoid injury, improve form, etc…” I too would like to see a zero dropped Croc with reduced stack height as well; preferably with a more secure upper to hold your foot in place much better.

Been lurking here for about 6 months. Great site.

I have transitioned from “normal” running shoes, then running one year in Teva sandals, and now 5 months in Vivobarefoot EVO’s.

And I used to wear Crocs a lot.

Now, I find my Crocs uncomfortable to wear for too long around the house. Never mind running in them. I think it’s because of the squishy footbed – my feet get “tired” fast. Too soft.

I sometimes consider going back to Tevas for a “cushy” ride. Mostly when I don’t keep up with my calf stretches and my Achilles complain 🙂 That never happened running in Tevas.

I wouldn’t run in Crocs.

My two cents.

@Kim (and others): The method I used to estimate the stack height measurements was to use a steel rod of fixed length. First I placed the rod flush against a wall and made a mark at the top of the rod on the wall. This was the baseline measurement. Then I placed the Croc against the wall and placed the rod in the the middle of the heel cup area and made another mark on the wall. Repeated the technique with the rod plunged through the top into the metatarsal area (low spot) and made another mark. So with these three marks on the all I could easily determine the heel stack height, metatarsal stack height and thus the over all heel-to-toe drop which I estimated to be 8mm. Try it for yourself. Again this was with the Off Road Croc and I suspect the Classic would be a bit less as the Off Road was purposely made thicker for off road use.

Count me in as another one who was rather surprised to see this review when I opened up BirthdayShoes today. I had to make sure I did not do a Rip Van Winkle and wake up on April 1. And it is not just because I despise Crocs.

It is really pushing it to say that Crocs could sort of be minimalist because they “fit some minimalist requirements” in my opinion. I know there is no set standard for what is minimalist, but certainly it seems to be pushing it to say that a shoe with a “soft and cushy footbed” and a 20mm heel stack height/8mm heel to toe drop is anywhere near minimalist. 10mm is already really stretching it for me and the only footwear I have that approaches that is my Phoenix Boots. I certainly would not pick 10mm for anything other than a winterboot where the snow and cold ground is unforgiving. It takes more than lots of toe room to make a minimalist shoe. Just as it takes more than a thin sole or zero drop to make a minimalist shoe. It’s not about the individual parts, but rather the sum of those parts.

I am a little lost on the point of this review. We all know people can run in other things. They run in cushy running shoes, combat boots, flip flops, and so on. But this is, or at least I believed it to be, a barefoot/minimalist oriented site that is intended to buck against that. It is not a site for a review of all the unique kinds of footwear one can run in. I don’t come to this site for a review on the non-minimalist footwear I can run in and it seems bizarre to me to have this as a review on the actual blog. If as a regular member I was somewhat confused by this, I can only imagine what a new body stumbling into the site might think.

I recognize that I am a bit of a purist in that I am barefoot/minimalist ALL the time with the exception of very specialty footwear (like for cycling, skiing or snowshoeing where there is no foot flex wanted or desired). The comfiest footwear for me to put on AFTER a run in my VFFs is either more VFFs or my Ramblers or something. I know not everybody is near-or-at 100% minimalism or desires to be, but I am sure even those people don’t come to BirthdayShoes for their “non-minimalist footwear” reviews.


I don’t think anyone is saying Crocs are even “sort of minimalist.” They do have uncommon traits in common with minimalist shoes: namely they are lightweight and have a roomy toe box. That’s interesting and it differentiates them from most non-minimalist shoes.

That doesn’t make them minimalist — not even sort of minimalist.

If a reader is confused, I guess I’m ok with that. Confusion leads to questions and seeking answers to questions leads to acquiring a deeper understanding (hopefully).

I think a common vein in the minimalist/barefoot community is that you must run in minimalist footwear or barefoot in order to run without injury.

I don’t personally agree that this is true but neither statement has been proven, so we really just don’t know.

And not knowing is okay.

Anyway, I really appreciate your feedback and understood that this post would stir up some controversy. Glad folks are paying attention!

And finally, you shouldn’t expect to see non-minimalist footwear being reviewed on this site with any regularity. Hope that at least allays some concerns.

“I think a common vein in the minimalist/barefoot community is that you must run in minimalist footwear or barefoot in order to run without injury.”


I just wanted to comment on that phrase by saying that it is not because it does not create an obvious injury that it is good for the feet. There is a large spectrum between injury and allowing your feet to develop into their best selves through maximum stimulation and minimum restriction. So anytime I can I will choose the most minimalist option available for any given task they have to accomplish.

Ans Aaron R., how we think they look is very subjective: I do think the Crocs are ugly, but not Fivefingers, which I always found really cute. And to someone else it might be the opposite.


All good points and I understand. I’m a purist in the sense that it works for me. I’m too dense to run in any footware. Heck, KSO’s allow me to cheat and anything with cushion is just painful due to genetic issues. The minimalist way has helped my quality of life. Is it better than conventional footware? That’s not for me to say. Is it for me? Yes. Should everyone embrace it, quite frankly, no. Should everyone at least try it, why not… Either you will love it or you won’t. I support the cause and those who believe in it like me. If one chooses to be shod or if someone wants to run next to me in tight laced, cushioned, narrow boxed, large drop sneaks, I’m fine with that if it works for them. I know guys that keep perfect form in such obominations :-)… If I was wearing them, they would be carrying me home.
I would have just giggled if I saw this on one of the running sites I visit. I was just totaly thrown off by seeing a pair of Crocks in my place of solace…. To some, that’s what your site is. It doesn’t preach which way is right or wrong, but it provides those with the common interest a place to interact and get reviews of what’s out there for us. I would have had a similar reaction to other foot coverings as well, but even Ronald McDonalds original shoes would have been better ( ). Now THAT is a toe box!!

Keep the articles and reviews comming as I appreciate what you do.

A bit of history and then an observation from a long time “non-minimalist” runner (ahem, myself). I’ve been frequenting almost from the beginning, before I myself knew about the new definition of “minimalism”. To me, having been a runner for over two decades, we considered ANY shoe that was less substantive than your common, clunky, beefy trainer to be “minimal”. We’d already long figured out that you can get away with running in racing flats (know known and rebranded as “minimalist” shoes) just about everywhere if you had good form and mechanics. Thanks to “that book” there are many more folks figuring this same thing out.

Ok, a bit of a tangent, but my observation has been, from the forums on this site and others is that the folks who are relatively new to the minimalist movement tend to be fanatical and hard line; they go ALL IN. However, after a time, either after sustaining injuries from that approach or once they start to desire to train or race longer distances they start to accept the fact that they NEED a bit more protection underfoot than their minimalist shoe can offer. It’s for these folks that my reviews of the thicker shoes like the Skechers, Altras and yes, even the Croc Off Road are intended. Ok, the Croc review was sort of a joke because I honestly thought there is no way I’d enjoy running in them. But I did and I admit that there are many short comings in the product that would deter a would be runner. Namely the large stack heights and heel-to-toe drop and lack of secure fit. I honestly believe, as Justin mentioned, that if a Croc were made (or modified) to reduce the stack height and heel-to-toe drop (should be pretty easy to do manually actually) that the Croc would make just a viable “minimalist” alternative shoe and many of the products reviewed on this site.

So, I finally got around to reading this article, and at first I was slightly confused about the topic of Crocs as a running shoe on the birthdayshoes website. The one thing that tipped me off that the author is not a minimalist runner was from the Setup section when he said “as I usually run in a pair of arch support insoles”. That should tip you off that he doesn’t consider these or any other shoe he uses to be a minimalist shoe.
I think I echo Justin’s comment above: “It’s a reminder that the shoe doesn’t necessarily make the runner.” Read the author’s bio at the end and see if you think he has the ability to judge whether a shoe is worthy to be run in.

Ironically, I’m wearing Crocs at the office today, because my Softstar moccasins don’t work in this awful wet weather we’re having this week.

Justin, what do you wear on soggy Atlanta days like today?

For those who like the concept of Croc’s, you might want to check out the Vivobarefoot Ultra’s. They are made with similar eva foam, but they have a much more natural foot position, as well as a very short stack height that Vivobarefoot is known for. Check em out.

Thought I’d add my voice to the conversation.

Year and a half ago, I started running. Went to a running store and they gave me a ‘special’ shoe because of my gait after we did some tests.

Ran great until I started pushing 7 miles…so I would do my runs each morning and then run 1/2 mile barefoot at the end. I started doing research and went full fledged barefoot running about 1-2 miles then 2 miles in my mocassins.

I ran in my flip-flops, mocassins, water shoes, barefeet, etc. I’d run in anything I could get my hands on to test it out just to see how I felt running.

Saw a pair of crocs for $20 bucks so I figured why not since I had read about a few people using them. I’m a size 11 shoe but bought size 10 to keep it tight enough for no sliding but enough room to give my toes the space they wanted.

2 Half marathons later, I’ve worn them down enough that my feet go perfect in them and I’m getting another pair to work in the rotation.

I don’t know why I like running in them but they seem to work for me. I’ve logged about 400 miles in them but I don’t really run more than 10 miles at a time.

Pretty sure someone will say I’m doing something wrong but I don’t care, I’ve been injury free since I started running in my Crocs and for a budgeted father, $20 makes me and my family happy.

I have been running for many years.
I would like to try running in crocks.
What type of crocks should one purchase?

I found that under normal conditions Crocs do not need anything special to stay on even at sprinting speeds. I have run a 28 low 200, while my son has done 27 low, and a quarter in 55.9 – all in Crocs. Never had a blister in them when wearing socks, and neither has my son. The only time I had an issue with them was when there was a lot of snow on the ground or when it rained very hard and my feet were so cold that I partially lost the feeling which made it hard to keep them on. Once I got my feet warm and resumed running I had no problems.

Love this site. Thanks for all you do.

Crocs feel good on my feet. So, I wear them (not for running) but becuz they have room for Correct Toes and are easy to get on and off.

Have you or anyone you know hacked their Crocs to reduce the difference in height between the heel and toe? I saw somewhere that you might melt them a bit. I was thinking more along the lines of shaving the sole down with knife or saw.

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