For nearly two decades Dr. Tom Freeman, a podiatrist who works with the Marching Arts Safety & Health Project, has created an annual list of recommended footwear designed to stand up to the rigors of participating in a summer season of drum corps.

Freeman says of the 2021 list (which is viewable and downloadable below):

Well, 2021 is here. Now that the new lines are out and the shoes have been coming into the country with supply lines back in place, we have released our annual recommended list knowing you will be able to find them at Kohl’s, Shoe Carnival, Dick’s and similar retailers in stock.

This season will be shorter but just as intense and the need for the right shoes is still a concern to prevent injury and keep you moving. We have assumed many have not worked out as much through the pandemic, and we have to do all we can to protect our performers. Having medical teams see performers will be a challenge so we are really pushing you to get the right shoes and socks and take care of yourselves.

If you are new, there is a reason we go through the trouble of finding and evaluating the right shoes for this activity. Just like other sports such as track, basketball, football, and volleyball, for example, every activity needs specific shoes. Performing arts, particularly at this level demands the right shoe gear. If you have used this list before we welcome you back. The goal is still the same. Find shoes that will protect your connection to the earth. Stability, cushioning, shock control, lateral strength and uppers that will keep your feet cool and provide protection.

This year’s list has many tried and true old friends like the Nike Air Monarch, the New Balance 608, and several others. They offer good value, great stability both in straight line and lateral movement. They accept insoles like the OTC Spenco orthotics or polysorb cross trainers we have used for years, or custom orthoses your doctor may have prescribed. The materials are durable and well-constructed. Usually we advise you use three pairs of shoes during the summer. One for (spring training) and two for the tour. This shortened summer we still advise that you buy two pairs. One pair for “move-ins” and “pre-tour” and one pair to get you through the rest of the summer.

The shoes lists also see a number of new and impressive offerings. The Topo, North Face and Salomon were impressive in many categories.

2021 list of recommended shoe styles

Additional resources