Salomon is a major player in the world of hiking footwear, so it’s a pretty big deal when they release a brand-new shoe line. For 2018, the 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 their comfort, weight, traction, stability and support, fit and sizing, and more. To see how the OUTline stacks up, see our articles on the best lightweight hiking shoes and hiking boots.
More than any other pair of Salomons we’ve tried, the OUTline Low 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 (1 pound 10.8 ounces) and XA Pro 3D (1 pound 11.5 ounces). In Salomon’s hiking lineup, only the Odyssey Pro comes in lighter (1 pound 6.6 ounces), although that shoe only is made in a non-waterproof design (for comparison, the non-GTX version of the OUTLine weighs slightly more 1 pound 7.8 ounces). It’s worth noting that the traction on the OUTline is noticeably improved over the Odyssey Pro, which was one of our main gripes with it. You get a more substantial sole with deeper lugs, and the results are noticeable. For those who want to cut even more weight, a trail-running shoe like the non-waterproof Altra Lone Peak 4.0 comes in at just 1 pound 4.4 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 real breakthrough with the OUTline, it’s traction. Salomon’s previous attempt at going lightweight, the Odyssey Pro, is cushy and comfortable but not a great option for varied trail conditions. Unlike the waffle iron tread pattern on the Odyssey Pro, the OUTline features relatively deep 5mm lugs with more generous spacing. Simply put, we got a lot more “bite” out of our OUTline, and that’s a good thing. It’s worth noting that the upcoming Odyssey Triple Crown has a similar tread pattern as the Pro, which it will replace in Salomon’s lineup in 2019.
As mentioned above, the Salomon OUTline is built like a running shoe. Even the “Mid” model has a more flexible, lower-cut ankle than 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.
Waterproofing and Breathability
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 OUTline 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 Salomon shoe models like the 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.
Low Version vs. Mid Version
As mentioned above, we took out both the 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 Mid, 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.
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 hiking models 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.
What We Like
- 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 Odyssey Pro.
- 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|
|Altra Lone Peak 4.0||$120||Trail-running shoe||1 lb. 4.4 oz.||No||Mesh|
|Merrell MQM Flex||$110||Hiking shoe||1 lb. 7.7 oz.||No||Mesh|
|Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX||$135||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 lightweight 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.
Salomon’s other lightweight alternative is the Odyssey Pro, which was built with thru-hikers in mind. The shoe weighs 1 pound 6.6 ounces, only comes in a non-waterproof version, and has a thick midsole that mimics a cushioned trail runner. We appreciate the innovation but weren’t overwhelmed by the Odyssey Pro, which still falls short of the ultra-popular Altra Lone Peak 4.0 in just about every way. The Altra is lighter, nimbler, and now has a new Maxtrac outsole that should be more durable than previous versions. For minimalist thru-hikers, the Lone Peak is preferred over either Salomon shoe.
In terms of comparable hiking shoes, the new Merrell MQM Flex falls into almost exactly the same category as the Salomon 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, weighs almost the same (ours was 1 pound 7.7 ounces), and has a similar build. All in all, the Merrell is more comfortable and better suited for long days on the trail, but has surprisingly shallow lugs that show signs of wear too quickly. Instead of the Merrell, we would pick the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX, which weighs the exact same as the OUTline GTX at 1 pound 8.6 ounces, provides better support and comfort, and costs only $5 more.
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