Drum Corps International

2024 Recommended Shoe List for Marching Musicians

Photo by: Drum Corps International

Guide to Shoes for Marching Musicians

For nearly two decades Dr. Tom Freeman, a podiatrist who works with DCI's 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 and the fall marching band. Freeman says of the updated 2024 list:

Welcome to the 2024 shoe list. This list is for the athletes in the marching arts. It is designed for one purpose: Get you on the field in May and off the bus in August without an Injury.

The most important piece of equipment we have over the course of the summer is the one that we rely on to connect us to the ground and prevent injuries. As the list is assembled it considers the shoes available, the athleticism of the activity, the environmental factors we encounter, and the rigors of the choreography involved. Over the winter we look at shoes, prices, past selections and wear patterns, injury reports and talk to factory reps and sales folks. We have come up with an extensive offering of shoes for this activity and its unique challenges which include choreography, running, lateral movement, heat and environment.

Whether you are a veteran performer or new to the activity, you will find this list helpful to avoid injuries. These shoes are our favorite choices you'll find to get you through the summer and avoid the sidelines. Running shoes are built for straight lines and do not have the lateral stability required for complex choreography. Forefoot cushioning is paramount considering the amount of time spent "on the platform" most choreography and drill techs demand. We have found the selections in segments of shoe designs to be well suited for our activity.

As always, the variety can be a bit baffling. We always advise you to take the list with you to the store and try them on. Many sales personnel will have suggestions, however in reality, their knowledge of our activity is limited. If you must explain drum corps to them, just ask if they have something off the list and if they can fit your foot. Some models like the New Balance 608, Asics Gel Venture or Nike Air Monarch are tried and true models that have held their own over many years. Try them on, they should have one thumb width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Individual shoes will vary with your foot type, your bodyweight and other factors. THERE IS NOT ONE "BEST SHOE" FOR EVERYONE. Everyone should try them on, and they should feel good. There is generally not a break-in period for modern shoes.

You will need at least 2 or maybe 3 pairs for the summer. Buy them now! Trying to find them on tour is much too late. The insoles we have had success with are the Spenco line but alternatives with PowerStep or others to replace the stock liners are advised.

Socks — we say "Cotton is Dead" and advise polypropylene fibers that are labelled "moisture control" or "moisture wicking" for this activity and the tour to prevent moisture related problems with fungus, ingrowns, blisters and other related problems. After wearing and evaluating the compression/injury prevention socks provided by Apolla, they were found to be a new addition to the activity that shows great promise.

Value shoes are not "cheap." Many of these are the best shoes we have found that will give you great service over the 6-12 weeks of their effective life. Go try them on, find the ones you are going to live with and have a great summer. If you have an injury, comment or find a fabulous new shoe drop us a text or email. Have a fantastic experience!

View full shoe list (link to downloadable PDF)

Recommended Shoe Buying Guide

We may earn a commission when you shop through the Amazon affiliate links below. Proceeds will support the ongoing work of the Marching Arts Safety & Health Project (MASH), including the MASH scholarship presented annually as part of the DCI World Championships. Pricing below may vary by style, color and size.


Women's Sizing

ADIDAS Tracefinder
Trail Rider
Terrex Two Flow
Terrex Agravic
Terrex Swift R3
Agravic Flow
ALTRA Lone Peak
ASICS GEL-Venture 8
GEL-Venture 8 Trail
GEL Excite Trail
GEL Venture 7 Trail
GEL Contend
GT 1000
Gel Venture 9
GEL Excite Trail2
BROOKS Cascadia
Cascadia Trail
Divide 3
FILA Grand Tier Trail
HOKA Challenger
Speedgoat GTX
Speedgoat MID
NEW BALANCE Fresh Foam X Hierro v8
Nitrel v5
Fuel Cell Summit
Fresh Foam X Hierro GTX
Fresh Foam X More Trailv3
410 v8
Hierro Mid
NIKE Air Monarch
Terra Kiger 8 Trail
Pegasus 3 Trail
Juniper Trail
PUMA Voyage Nitro
RYKA Sky Walk Trail
Summit Trail
Sky Stride Trail
Devotion XT Mid-Shaft
Ride TR
Xodus Trail
Aura TR
Peregrine Trail
Excursion TR

Men's Sizing

ADIDAS Agravic Flow
Terrex 3 Swift Hiker
Terrex Agravic Trail
Terrex Trailrider
Terrex Two Flow
Terrex Ultra
ALTRA Lone Peak
ASICS GEL Venture 8
GEL Venture 8 TRAIL
GT1000 Trail
Trabuco Max
Trail Scout
Gel Venture 9
Gel Venture 9 Trail
GT 2000 GTX
GEL Venture 8 Mid
BROOKS Caldera
Catamount 2
FILA At Peake 24
Grand Tier
HOKA Challenger Trail
Stinson 6
Trail Code GTX
Speedgoat Mid
Fresh Foam More v3
410 v7 Trail
410 v8
Fresh Foam X Trail
Fresh Foam Hierro v7
Fresh Foam Hierro MID
NIKE AIR Monarch
Pegasus TRAIL
PUMA Cell Surin
Twitch Trail
Voyage Nitro
SAUCONY Cohesion
Peregrine GTX
Peregrine Trail
Ride TR
SKECHERS Equalizer
SALOMAN Speedcross

Athletic Socks

Drum Corps International has joined forces with Apolla Performance Wear in an effort to elevate performance and performer health as part of DCI’s Marching Arts Safety and Health (MASH) initiative. 

“Apolla Performance Wear takes center stage as the recommended sock by DCI, a testament to our unwavering commitment to superior quality, comfort, and support,” Apolla CEO Brianne Zborowski said. “Designed for performers who push their limits, Apolla socks offer unparalleled arch support, ankle stability, and energy absorption, ensuring every step taken on the field is one of confidence and strength.”

Apolla socks are specifically engineered to meet the rigorous demands of marching arts performers. Their patented compression technology offers:

  • Arch support: Provides crucial stability and reduces strain on the plantar fascia.
  • Ankle stability: Minimizes the risk of ankle injuries and promotes confident movement.
  • Energy absorption: Reduces fatigue and allows performers to push their limits further.
  • Graduated compression: Improves blood circulation, boosting performance and recovery.


Learn more and order today

Orthotics & Other Accessories

Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Cushioning Arch Support Shoe Insoles
Spenco Rx Orthotic Arch Support Full Length Shoe Insoles
Dr. Scholl's Odor-X ODOR-FIGHTING Spray-Powder
NonScents Shoe Deodorizer (2-Pack)
Gold Bond No Mess Talc-Free Foot Powder Spray
Lotrimin Daily Sweat & Odor Control Medicated Foot Powder
pack all Water Resistant Travel Shoe Bags
Shoe Bag, Breathable Shoe Carrier Bag
Klitch Footwear Clip
HIJAJA Footwear Clip

Additional Resources

2024 Printable List of Recommended Shoe Styles

More from Dr. Freeman on the best shoes for marching music

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