Hitting the trails as Autumn arrives is one of the best ways to get outside. There’s nothing better than running on single track trails through the forest as the leaves change to countless shades of orange, and the temperature begins to drop. Having the right footwear for winter trail running is essential though. Road running trainers won’t handle the rough terrain and inevitable autumn precipitation. Trail shoes are essential.
So when I received a pair of Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX trail running shoes, I couldn’t wait to try them out.
As the name suggests, the XA Pro 3D GTX is a Gore-tex lined trail shoe, featuring Salomon’s 3D advanced Chassis, QuickLace system, ContaGrip sole and Ortholite sockliner. That’s a lot of techy systems to be included in a shoe. All this added tech means that the shoe weighs in at approximately 385g, placing it on the heavier side for a running shoe. However, what the shoe lacks in lightness it more than makes up for in stability and ruggedness.
The outsole of the XA Pro 3D GTX features Salomon’s Contagrip sole with a semi-deep tread that offers high levels of grip on the wettest of trails. The lugs on the sole are two directional arrows which provide excellent grip regardless of how uneven the terrain is. They even grip surprisingly well on greasy roots and leaves too.
On craggy mountain terrain, the sole is firm enough to give you confidence in your footing. I’ve worn the shoes scrambling up Tryfan and the sharp crags were no problem for these shoes. Hopping from rock to rock you can have complete confidence that you won’t feel any sharp rocks under foot.
As a running shoe, however, the XA Pro 3D GTX is a little too firm for running any real distance in my opinion.
The exotically named ‘3D Advanced Chassis’ system is featured in the midsole. Salomon claims that it maximises security and stability, as well as provide motion control, energy management and push through protection. I’m not sure whether all of this is just spiel, but the shoes definitely feel supportive and stable on all terrain. They feel much more at home on forest trails and mountain tracks than tarmac paths. Compared to other dedicated running shoes, the XA Pro lacks cushioning for distance road running.
The fabric upper of the shoe is lined with Gore-tex membrane to keep your feet dry in the worst of the British weather. I’ve worn them out running in the wet a few times and my feet have stayed bone dry every time, unless water goes over the sock line and into the shoe that way. The QuickLace system is extremely strong despite looking quite thin. By pulling the toggle and sliding the clasp into place, the whole shoe tightens around your foot, providing unrivalled stability. The QuickLace system tucks neatly into the tongue so it’s completely out of the way when running. Not having to worry about the laces coming undone and getting dragged through the mud is also a bonus.
Salomon shoes are renowned for being comfortable straight-out-the-box. The XA Pro are a fine example of this and gave me no issues on my first foray. As always, I broke them in with a wear around the house, followed by a short walk, and finally a steady run through the local woods. The Ortholite innersole is extremely comfortable and gives a good amount of support to the in-step. I have dropped arches and the inner certainly helps to support this part of the foot.
With regards to sizing, they are pretty true to size. One consideration to make if you’re just getting into trail/fell running is to get a half size up to save your toes on the down hills. Having shoes that feel the right size on the flat will soon feel too small when bounding down hill as your toes are pushed to the front of the shoe.
As a trail shoe, the Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX are a great all rounder. Waterproof and supportive, they will handle almost every trail you take them on. What’s more, they look good too! Some trail shoes can look pretty terrible but the Salomon’s look good, if not slightly bulky. The added support and stiffness is beneficial on rough mountain terrain but it does mean that the shoes are slightly on the heavy side and a touch cumbersome. I’d suggest that for dedicated distance trail running there are other more suitable models, but for occasional trail running, fast packing and hiking, the XA Pros are ideal.
The retail price of the Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX is £130, putting them on the expensive side of the spectrum. However, you can pick them up from other retailers for between £60-80. Like with any performance footwear, you get what you pay for, and as the saying goes; buy cheap, buy twice.
For more information, visit https://www.salomon.com/uk/men/running-shoes