Salomon’s OUTline mirrors the modern trends: it’s essentially a trail runner up top with hiking shoe tread on the bottom. At 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the pair, the shoe is lighter than the popular X Ultra 3 and has a sleeker look that can be readily worn around town. We took both the Low and Mid versions of the OUTline hiking on the PCT in Washington’s Cascades, and below we break down our experiences. To see how the OUTline stacks up to the competition, see our articles on the best hiking shoes and hiking boots.
Table of Contents
- Stability and Support
- Waterproofing and Breathability
- Build Quality and Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
More than any other pair of Salomons we’ve tried, the Salomon OUTline Low GTX feels like a running shoe. It’s extremely light on the foot, the ankle is cut noticeably low, and the flat laces are less bulky than the Quicklace system found on other models. As covered in more detail below, the fit is somewhat narrow, and particularly in the toe box, which wasn’t ideal for one of our regular-footed testers. But out of the box, and particularly for those with narrow feet, the OUTline is a comfortable shoe.
On the trail, the OUTline has limitations. We tested it on what we thought would be a perfect scenario for the shoe: a 13-mile day hike on the PCT in the Cascades. The trail was well-built and wide, and although we crossed some rocks and the occasional boulder field, the hiking conditions were good throughout (many of the thru-hikers were wearing trail running shoes like the Altra Lone Peak and Brooks Cascadia). By the end of the day, both testers had tired feet and felt the impacts of the trail more than anticipated. It’s possible the OUTline requires a gentler break-in period (we took them straight from the box to the trail), but the lightweight nature of the build means less cushion, protection, and support than other Salomon models. Accordingly, we would categorize the OUTline as a fine option for short-to-moderate day hikes, but even our 13 miles pushed the boundaries in terms of comfort.
At 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the Low GTX men’s version, the OUTline undercuts Salomon’s popular X Ultra 3 GTX (1 lb. 10.8 oz.) and XA Pro 3D V8 (1 lb. 10.1 oz.). For those who want to cut even more weight, Salomon’s X Raise GTX saves you 1 ounce for the pair, or you can go with a trail running shoe like the non-waterproof Altra Lone Peak 5 at 1 pound 6.2 ounces. And for a comparable hiking shoe with waterproofing, the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX is the exact same weight as the OUTline.
If there is a strong suit of the OUTline, it’s traction. Some of Salomon’s previous lightweight shoes like the Odyssey Pro fell short in this regard (and the newer X Raise isn’t much better), but not in this case. The in-house Contagrip outsole features relatively deep 5mm lugs with generous spacing. The tread gripped nicely on everything from rocks to light mud, although the softer flexing design does mean it doesn’t hold as nicely in off-camber sections as the X Ultra (more on this below). For the vast majority of hikes and backpacking trips, the OUTline’s outsole does the trick.
As mentioned above, the Salomon OUTline is built like a running shoe. Even the “Mid” model has a more flexible, lower-cut ankle than many other “Mids” we’ve tested, and neither are intended for carrying a heavy pack or hiking off trail. Having said that, we didn’t experience turned ankles or any other stability-related issues. The sole of the OUTline has the stiffness of a light hiker, traction is impressive for such a nimble shoe, and our 20-liter daypacks didn’t weigh us down and make us feel less confident. However, for those carrying a heavier pack or covering more distance, we would recommend a shoe with more support. Even the 2-ounce-heavier X Ultra 3 feels noticeably more secure with its wider base, as do most other lightweight hiking shoes.
The OUTline Low comes in both waterproof and non-waterproof versions, while the Mid currently is only offered in a GTX. In our testing, both the Low and Mid performed as we’ve come to expect from industry-leader Gore-Tex. The shoes breathed well on a warm and smoky day in the Cascades, and after submerging them in multiple stream crossings, our feet remained dry and the mesh-like uppers dried quickly. Given that many people will be using the OUTline for short hikes in good conditions, the non-waterproof version is a nice way to save $20 and a tiny bit of weight (.8 ounces for the Low, to be exact).
Of all hiking footwear brands, Salomon is at the top of the heap in terms of build quality—we’ve had very few issues with the brand to date. Out of the box, the Salomon OUTline Low GTX was noticeably light in its construction but seemed to be right in line with what we’ve come to expect. However, after our initial hike, we noticed that the low-profile rubber toe cap already had begun to peel away. On one shoe, it’s already separated, and simply pushing down on the toe of the other caused it to separate. In our opinion, that’s unacceptable and something that shouldn’t happen until way down the road when the rest of the shoe is starting to give out. No other part on the shoe indicates durability issues, but we sincerely hope that Salomon improves the connection point at the toe cap.
Lacing and Tongue
Salomon is known for its Quicklaces, which is a single-pull system that we find works great for tightening down the shoe quickly and evenly. You’ll find Quicklaces on other shoe models like Salomon's X Ultra 3, XA Pro, and Speedcross, whereas the OUTline has flat, low-profile laces that are much more traditional in nature. We like these laces just fine, but the tongue is noticeably different. It’s padded and almost pillow-y with felt-like material at the top. We did notice some slight bunching when the shoes were tied tightly—particularly on the boot model—but overall the laces were comfortable and did their job.
In general, Salomon shoes tend to run a bit narrow, and the OUTline is no exception. The shoe is on the snug end of the spectrum both in the middle of the foot and toe box, and does not come in wide sizes. If you have narrow feet, this shoe likely will fit you well, and those with regular feet should try them on beforehand to make a determination. In terms of sizing, the OUTline fits true. Our testers bought their regular sizes (9 and 12) and both were the correct length. Finally, we recommend wearing these shoes around town or at home before hitting the trail. Some lightweight hiking shoes manage to fit great out of the box, but we had some mild discomfort after putting in a decently long day right off the bat.
Other Versions of the Salomon OUTline Low
Like their popular X Ultra 3 Low, Salomon offers both Gore-Tex and non-waterproof versions of the OUTline Low. The two shoes are identical except for the lining in the GTX model that increases weight by less than an ounce per pair and adds $20 to the bottom line. You can also get the OUTline Low in a women’s-specific fit and unique colorways, but the overall design is otherwise the same. Due to sizing differences, however, the women’s OUTline Low GTX is a little lighter at 1 pound 5 ounces.
Low Version vs. Mid Version
As mentioned above, we took out both the Salomon OUTline Low and Mid for testing. The Low seems like the more logical choice: it’s light on the foot and feels like a running shoe while still retaining good traction. The OUTline Mid GTX, on the other hand, weighs 5 ounces more and offers a tad more stability, but that’s not why you would choose this shoe in the first place. The OUTline is most at home on short day hikes on established trails and without a serious pack, and the flexible construction of the Mid wouldn’t convince us to take it off-trail or on an overnight trip. As we cover below in our “Competition” section, there are better options for those types of excursions.
- Lightweight and thoughtfully designed. The OUTline has the feel of a running shoe but with the sole and traction of a hiker.
- Cheaper than Salomon’s X Ultra 3 and XA Pro 3D v8.
- A sleek look that has more everyday appeal than most hiking footwear.
What We Don’t
- Not super comfortable when covering serious ground. The OUTline performs best on short day hikes on established trails.
- Limited support, although we didn’t experience any turned ankles.
- The toe caps began to separate after just one hike, which is unacceptable.
|Salomon OUTline GTX||$130||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 8.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX||$150||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 10.8 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Salomon X Raise GTX||$130||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 7.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Merrell MQM Flex 2||$110||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 9 oz.||No||Mesh|
|The North Face Ultra 111 WP||$120||Hiking shoe/trail runner||1 lb. 14.2 oz.||Yes (DryVent)||Synthetic|
|Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX||$140||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 8.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
The Salomon OUTline was designed as a light and comfortable option for day hiking. In this category, we prefer Salomon's own X Ultra 3, which is our top-ranked hiking shoe. The X Ultra 3 offers better support, cushioning, and protection around the foot, all while weighing just 2.2 ounces more per pair. It’s true that the X Ultra 3 costs $20 more at $150 for the GTX version, and it can’t match the sleek, urban look of the OUTline, but we find it to be the more versatile and trail-ready shoe.
Another lightweight design from Salomon is their X Raise GTX. This shoe is competitively light at 1 pound 7.6 ounces and has a thick midsole that mimics a cushioned trail runner. Both shoes are pretty flexible and don’t excel over technical terrain or when carrying a heavy pack. The X Raise does include Salomon’s Quicklace system, which can be a bit polarizing, but we think it’s the far better shoe. The soft foam underfoot is significantly more comfortable, especially as the miles add up, and its wider toe box is a better match for most backpackers. Unless you need a narrow fit, the X Raise is the clear winner for us.
Moving outside of Salomon, Merrell’s MQM Flex 2 falls into almost exactly the same category as the OUTline: it has the upper of a running shoe but with the sole of a lightweight hiker. The Merrell is the identical price at $110 for the non-waterproof model (the GTX version is $140), weighs almost the same, and has a similar build. All in all, the Merrell is more comfortable and better suited for long days on the trail, but we have some concerns about the very flexible lugs wearing and being torn off over rough surfaces like granite (time will tell here). Other than that potential issue, the Merrell strikes us as the superior all-around shoe.
The North Face’s Ultra 111 WP is labeled as a trail running shoe, but we consider it more of a lightweight hiker like the OUTline. That said, overall performance and trail feel are quite different: while the Salomon feels like a running shoe, the Ultra 111 is noticeable stiffer and more stable, which makes it the more capable and durable option when hiking through tricky terrain. In terms of downsides, the TNF shoe weighs a fairly hefty 1 pound 14.2 ounces, and its thicker build and in-house waterproof liner falls short of premium Gore-Tex when it comes to breathability. In the end, both are popular low-top hikers for a reason, but we give the overall edge to the Ultra 111 for its better protection and support at a lower cost.
A final hiker to consider is a long-time favorite from Adidas: their Terrex Swift R2 GTX. The two shoes have the same listed weight at 1 pound 8.6 ounces but differ a lot in performance. The Adidas is almost approach shoe-like with its semi-stiff build and tacky tread, while the OUTline is softer and flexier. We also found the Terrex to offer protection and better cushioning over long days, and we’d reach for it over the Salomon for backpacking trips. It’s true the Terrex Swift may feel like overkill on a well-maintained trail, but it’s hard to knock its comfortable and capable design.
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