A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a local outdoor shop (www.outdoorlook.co.uk in Macclesfield) with a view to reviewing an item from their website. I was in need of some new trail shoes as I’d worn out my previous Salomon shoes and fortunately Outdoor Look have an excellent range of Salomon trail shoes (and plenty of other brands). I selected a pair of the Salomon X-Ultra 2 Breathable Walking Shoes and they were delivered promptly the next day.
I have a mixed history with trail shoes. I used Inov-8 Terrocs and Roclites for a few years, but they just don’t last long enough. I got fed up of changing them every year and they’re not cheap, but they do feel great, especially in summer. I’ve had a much better experience with Salomon trail shoes, they seem to have a better balance of weight and longevity. So I was looking forward to trying these out.
I’m a size 11 in Salomon boots and shoes – and a 10.5 in everything else, so be warned, you may need a slightly larger fit in Salomon shoes. The ones that were sent are in a rather garish blue – or Fjord/Black/Ray if you prefer the official description and together they weigh 944g – just a couple of hundred grams heavier than a flimsy Inov-8 Roclite. As you can see from the picture left, the tread is quite aggressive and these shoes come with the Salomon QuickLace system.
I fell in love with this lacing system immediately. I’ve seen it before, but never used it and it’s a breeze! The laces are basically already done up, you just tension them with a pull and then lock them down with a slider. I did find that you have to tighten them a couple of times during a full day walk, but that’s a matter of a couple of seconds. The lace is made of a thin nylon material and I do worry about how long the system will last – it uses conventional eyelets, so I guess you could replace a broken lace with a normal lace if needed.
I’ve done about 60 miles in these shoes now and straight from the box they have felt great. The sole isn’t paper thin like some trail shoes and as they don’t have a waterproof liner they breathe really well. I’ve never seen the point in waterproof trail shoes, they aren’t cut high enough to prevent even shallow water from coming in over the top and once the water’s in, such a liner just tends to keep it in.
As well as a number of miles in local fields and along the tow path, I’ve used them for an ascent of Kinder, via a lovely scramble at the top of Jaggers Clough and they felt grippy and stable during that. Even stepping on the corners of stones, as I tend to do when descending rocky paths my soles didn’t feel abused, so I was pleased with the level of support they provided. They come with the standard Salomon insole, which is OK, but not great. I’m going to try them with my Superfeet insoles next weekend and see if that makes any difference.
The ultimate test of a trail shoe has to be how well they support you under a full backpack and I carried this test out last weekend, during a wander around New Radnor, bagging trig points and Nuttalls. A lot of the route was on forestry tracks and the uneven stony surface that that entails. I have to report the shoes were great. The soles were supportive and they felt comfortable all weekend. I loved the ability to slip them off and on when in camp too – the lacing system seemed to come into it’s element there.
I will do a follow-up review in a few weeks, as I think longevity of trail shoes is one of their downfalls, so it will be interesting to see how these fare over time.
Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free by Outdoor Look for review and I get to keep the shoes after the review.