How to Choose: Shoes

How to Choose: Shoes

Have your orienteering shoes finally bitten the dust? Hoping to find a pair that will suit your feet and your needs? Let the O-Store and our guest Emma Waddington, a national team member and ambassador for NVii shoes, help you find a pair of new O shoes! In this blog post, you will find some major ideas first, followed by an overview of the products available at the O-Store.


Key Elements to a Good Orienteering Shoe

As you can see in the picture, orienteering shoes are generally considered a “minimalist” shoe. They generally have a low “drop”, which is the difference between the height of the heel to the toe, and are narrow-fitting. The shoes are designed to be very lightweight, so that they do not become overly heavy when racing through swamps and creeks. All of these elements make orienteering shoes fully capable of moving through any kind of terrain efficiently and safely – narrow shoes ensure that your feet don’t slide around on side-hills, and low-profile shoes help keep a close contact with the ground and minimize ankle sprains. Let’s dive into some of the different features of the shoes provided to help you find your best pair.


Factors to Consider when Choosing Orienteering Shoes


Orienteering shoes come in two varieties: Metal studs or rubber dobs. Most shoe soles are built like very aggressive trail shoes with large dobs (4-8mm, generally), on which some shoes have small metal studs for extra traction. The need for metal studs compared to rubber dobs depends on a few factors. If you are going to be orienteering in wet, muddy, steep-sloped terrain, metal studs will make a huge difference in your ability to safely move through the terrain and minimize slipping in a wet forest. Our Icebug Spirit 5/7 or NVii Forest 1 shoes have metal studs. However, if you’re going to be orienteering in dry terrain, rubber dobs will likely do the job quite well. Often, rubber dobs are better in very rocky terrain, as they are able to mould to the rock better and give better grip. The Icebug Acceleritas 5/7, NVii Forest 2, and Inov-8 X-Talons have rubber dobs. Some lightweight rubber orienteering shoes are popular to use in sprint orienteering racing for their incredible grip in all kinds of terrain, both urban and park/forest. The Inov-8 X-Talon 210s would be best suited for sprint orienteering.


Orienteering shoes are designed to be light and to drain quickly, while not compromising foot protection in the forest. Shoe companies take considerable time to develop the best materials and elements to allow for adequate foot protection. The Icebug Spirit models have a specially placed upper material that is resistant to abrasions and rips to keep your feet protected and comfortable. NVii Forest models have a similar upper material for all-over toughness, and an added inner arch ProtectOR element that supports the arch and reduces impact in this area of the foot. Inov-8 shoes are known for their lightweight and fast draining materials, and the Inov-8 X-Talon 230 adds underfoot protection within the sole and footbed to keep the soles of your feet safe on rugged ground and does not reduce flexibility. The Inov-8 X-Talon 210 provides good side foot protection, but with its extremely light weight, is the least protective of our shoes.

Comfort and cushion

Orienteering shoes are lightweight and minimal, meaning that they have less cushion compared to regular road running shoes. Orienteering shoes are designed to get the most comfort out of their profile with advanced footbed technologies. In general, the heavier shoes will have greater support and comfort compared to lighter ones. Shoes with a higher drop will also provide more support and foot comfort, compared to the flatter shoes that will give a faster response and allow higher speed for running. In our models, the Icebug Spirit 5 and 7 will give the most cushion and comfort, followed by the Icebug Acceleritas, Nvii Forest models, Inov-8 X-talon 230. The Inov-8 X-Talon 210 provides the least cushion and support but is a very fast and responsive shoe.

Foot type

Your foot type plays a large role in what shoes you should be wearing. If you have flatter feet, joint issues or foot pain, you may require more supportive shoes than those who have high arches. The Icebug Spirit models have the most cushion and support of our shoes, followed by both the NVii Forest models and Inov-8 X-Talon 230s. Wider feet will require wider shoes. Of our shoes, the Icebug Spirit models are the widest, and the Inov-8 models are the narrowest.

Orienteering Events

The type of event you are going to be running will also impact your shoe choice. If you are running a fast sprint race, you want the lightest shoes possible with great grip (rubber). Shoes such as the Inov-8 X-Talon 210s or Icebug Acceleritas are good choices in these distances. For longer races, Rogaines, or for when you will be on your feet for a longer period of time, more supportive shoes such as the Icebug Spirit models are more suitable and will keep your feet and joints happy.


Final notes from NVii Ambassador Emma Waddington

There are many factors that go in to selecting orienteering shoes, but the most important thing is how the shoe fits on your feet. Your feet are arguably the most important part of your body, and when your feet are taken care of, the rest of your body will fall into place. Feet often get very battered during an orienteering race, so it’s important to take care of your feet beyond picking the best O-shoes. Having comfortable shoes and dry socks to put on after races, first-aid items for blisters, and products to help massage your feet and calves will help your feet and the rest of your body stay healthy. 

For Emma, shoe choice is extremely important due to a past history in foot injuries but also having a high priority for shoes that will help perform at an elite level in all terrains. Emma opts for the NVii shoes which offer great grip and support, but don’t compromise weight and protection.


Please see below an overview of all of our orienteering shoes.


 Spirit 5Spirit 7Acceleritas 5Acceleritas 7
Available FitsWomen/MenWomen/MenWomen/MenMen
Outsole GripCarbide tip studsCarbide tip studsRubberRubber
Weight260g470g (W), 565g (M)210g230g
Outer MaterialWoven polyester fabric, Protective PU

Bluesign® high abrasion Polyester mesh, TPU mudguard

Woven nylon, Protective PU™

Bluesign® high abrasion Polyester mesh, TPU mudguard

Cushioning and FlexibilityLight and durableLight, durable and protective without compromising comfortMinimal, Flexible and lightMinimal, Flexible and light
Price*$140 (SALE)$180$150$160
To OrderWomenMenWomenMenWomenMenMen


 Forest 1Forest 2
Available FitsUnisexUnisex
Outsole GripMetal studs6.5-7.5mm rubber dobs
Outer MaterialBreathable and durable SuperFrabric® materialBreathable and durable SuperFrabric® material
Cushioning and FlexibilityFlexible and responsive, less cushionFlexible and responsive, less cushion
To OrderClick HereClick Here


 X-Talon 210X-Talon 230
Available FitsUnisexWomen/Men
Outsole Grip8mm Rubber StickyGrip Dobs8mm Rubber StickyGrip Dobs
Outer MaterialLightweight, breathable and fast-draining upperLightweight, breathable and fast-draining upper
FitNarrow (2/5)**Narrow Precision Fit (1/5)**
Cushioning and FlexibilityFlexible and responsive, less cushionFlexible, responsive, and increased cushioning
To OrderClick HereWomenMen

*If price on chart and price on product page are different, price on product page will be taken as accurate.

**1/5 is narrowest