Salomon OUTward Mid GTX
Weight: 2 lbs. 0.4 oz. (men’s size 9)
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Quality leather upper at a great price; good-looking for a hiking boot.
What we don’t: Missing some cushioning and not very capable on difficult terrain.
See the Men's Salomon OUTward See the Women's Salomon OUTward
For 2020, Salomon has added yet another boot to their already expansive lineup in the OUTward. Slotted just under the popular X Ultra 3 in price and performance, the boot features a stylish leather and mesh upper, 2-pound weight, and decent support for lightweight hiking and backpacking trips. We put the OUTward to the test on an all-day hike in Patagonia and subsequent day treks back home in the Pacific Northwest, and below we break down its comfort, weight, traction, stability and support, durability, fit and sizing, and more. To see how the OUTward Mid stacks up, see our article on the best hiking boots.
From a comfort perspective, the Salomon OUTward Mid GTX is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the boot is quite a bit more cushioned and offers better shock absorption than Salomon’s own OUTline model. There’s decent padding around the ankle, and I didn’t experience much foot soreness following a 15-mile day in Patagonia (a problem that cropped up with the OUTline). In addition, the boot’s locking eyelet at the top does a great job keeping your foot securely in place and has required no readjustments due to loosening. And the OUTward is plenty light and flexible enough to remain comfortable while hiking quickly over fairly moderate terrain. I even briefly broke out into a jog on steep descents and a few climbs without the boot feeling ungainly or clumsy.
All that said, the OUTward isn’t a standout in the comfort department. It’s clear that trimming down weight and bulk was a priority, and the boot felt noticeably less plush and cushioned around the foot when worn back-to-back with Salomon’s uber-popular X Ultra 3. In addition, when cinched, I experienced a pressure point under the tongue where it overlaps with the upper on the inside of my ankles. Loosening the laces reduced the issue, but it never really went away, even after the boots were completed broken in. Further, not tightening the laces as much as I wanted left the boots a little too loose around my heel, which resulted in some light hot spots and rubbing on extended climbs. This is the first pair of Salomon shoes in which this has been a persistent issue, but it heavily impacted overall comfort for me.
As I touched on above, the OUTward Mid GTX felt light and nimble on the trail, and my scale confirmed this with a men’s size 9 coming in at 2 pounds 0.4 ounces (Salomon lists the weight as slightly lower at 1 lb. 15.7 oz.). That puts it in hiking shoe territory, as the La Sportiva Spire low-tops that I recently tested only weighed about 1 ounce less. And among lightweight boot alternatives, the OUTward stacks up very competitively. It has the same listed weight as Salomon’s X Ultra 3 Mid and undercuts popular competitors like the La Sportiva Nucleo (2 lbs. 1.6 oz.) and Vasque Talus AT UltraDry (2 lbs. 3 oz.). You can go lighter with a trimmed-down build like Salomon’s OUTline GTX (1 lb. 8.6 oz.) or Hoka One One’s Sky Toa GTX (1 lb. 14.2 oz.), but those boots compromise in support and durability. In the end, we’d gladly trade a few more ounces for better cushioning, but it’s hard to knock the OUTward’s impressively low weight.
As with all Salomon hiking footwear we’ve tested, the OUTward features an in-house Contagrip rubber outsole that grips well over a variety of terrain. We wore the boot in conditions ranging from dry, dusty trails in Patagonia to mixed slush and mud back home in the Pacific Northwest, and the boot performed admirably across the board. There’s nothing particularly impressive about the tread—it’s not extremely tacky and grippy on rock, nor does it bite especially well on a loose descent—but it’s fully capable for most trails. We still find the X Ultra 3 to be a better performer, but the OUTward isn’t too far behind.
With a low cut that sits just over the ankle, relatively thin padding, and minimal reinforcement, the OUTward won’t be confused with Salomon’s more substantial and technically capable Quest 4D 3. My biggest area of concern is the narrow heel, which makes the boot feel a little tippy and less planted on the trail. This feeling was confirmed by placing the OUTward next to the X Ultra 3 Mid, where the difference in width was clear. Again, this move likely helped keep the boot’s weight down, but we think Salomon would have been better off matching the wider platform of the X Ultra. But all things considered, the OUTward still is a noticeable step up from a low-top hiker and should be plenty sufficient for most day hiking and lightweight backpacking trips.
Waterproofing and Breathability
From our extensive experiences with Gore-Tex waterproofing, you can expect two things: solid protection in the wet and a warm interior in summer-like conditions. Both of these held true with the OUTward GTX. The boot’s mixed nubuck leather and synthetic upper do a nice job repelling moisture from mud, snow, and wet grass, and the Gore-Tex lining hasn’t leaked through numerous creek crossings. It’s worth noting the tongue separates from the upper at the base of the ankle, so you won’t want to submerge the boot in anything deeper, but there’s still ample protection for the vast majority of uses.
In terms of ventilation, my feet did grow sweaty as temperatures cleared 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, the thin upper helps the boot breathe better than thicker builds I’ve worn, including the Quest 4D 3. We’d love to see Salomon add a more breathable, non-waterproof model like they offer with the X Ultra Aero. But at the time of its release, the OUTward is only available in a GTX version.
It’s too early in the OUTward’s testing to make a final call on durability, but all signs are positive that these boots are hardwearing and long-lasting. They’ve seen a wide mix of terrain and conditions, and I’ve had no concerns crop up—something we didn’t experience with the lighter OUTline, whose toe cap began to peel away after just one long hike. By contrast, the OUTward’s toe cap is stitched in place and looks like new, the tread feels burly and isn’t wearing down, the interior lining is in great shape, and the upper should hold up particularly well with large swaths of nubuck leather covering a good portion.
On a related note, Salomon clearly put some thought into styling, and it admittedly is one of the better-looking hiking boots I’ve worn. The mix of nubuck leather and mesh, exposed stitching, and classy colorways give it a clean aesthetic that translates well to around-town use. There are signs of cost-cutting with the cheap, thin insole and minimal cushioning, but the $150 MSRP certainly belies the OUTward’s overall look.
I’ve tested a lot of Salomon hiking footwear, and their popular products like the X Ultra and Quest trend towards the narrow side of the spectrum. The OUTward GTX, however, is a bit more generous in both the heel and toe box and should be a nice match for those with average-width feet. The lengthwise fit is also good, and I was happy with the amount of space in my usual men’s size 9. Finally, as I touched on above, the locking eyelet at the top is a highlight of the design and does a great job keeping your feet in place—provided you don’t have the pressure point issue that I dealt with along the inner ankle.
Women’s Version of the Salomon OUTward GTX
We put the men’s Salomon OUTward Mid GTX through its paces for this review, and Salomon makes the shoe in a women’s-specific version for the same price. The women’s OUTward Mid GTX features an identical build but weighs slightly less at 1 pound 11.5 ounces and is only offered in two colorways (the men’s is available in three). As we mentioned above, neither model is sold in a non-waterproof version yet, but we hope Salomon adds a more breathable, non-GTX design to the collection in the future.
What We Like
- 2-pound weight and flexible design give the OUTward a light and nimble feel on the trail.
- Salomon shoes often run narrow, but the OUTward is a bit more generous and a great match for those with average feet.
- More stylish than much of the hiking boot competition.
- At $150, it’s also a good value when you consider the quality of the materials and Gore-Tex waterproofing.
What We Don’t
- Less plush and cushioned than the X Ultra 3 Mid and not as capable over technical terrain.
- When cinched, I experienced a pressure point under the tongue where it overlaps with the upper.
- Only available in a waterproof version.
|Salomon OUTward Mid GTX||$150||Lightweight||1 lb. 15.7 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather / mesh|
|Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX||$165||Lightweight||1 lb. 15.7 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Suede leather / nylon|
|Salomon OUTline Mid GTX||$150||Lightweight||1 lb. 13.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX||$199||Lightweight||2 lbs. 1.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather|
|Vasque Talus AT UltraDry||$150||Lightweight||2 lbs. 3 oz.||Yes (UltraDry)||Leather / mesh|
As a leader in hiking footwear and with an expansive collection, it’s not too surprising many of the OUTward’s direct competitors come from within Salomon’s own lineup. Topping our hiking boot round-up this year is the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX, which weighs the same as the OUTward at 1 pound 15.7 ounces and features a similar just-over-the-ankle fit. Otherwise, however, the two designs are quite different. For starters, the OUTward is more stylish but only moderately capable on technical terrain and not as comfortable as we’d like. The X Ultra 3, on the other hand, puts it all together: excellent cushioning, solid protection, and reliable traction. For $15 more, we’d spend up for the more well-rounded X Ultra.
Another Salomon model to consider is the trail runner-inspired OUTline. Both sport Contagrip outsoles, Gore-Tex waterproofing, and come in at under 2 pounds (the OUTline is 1 lb. 13.6 oz.). However, after testing both the low-top and mid-height versions, we came away surprisingly disappointed. The OUTline has a decidedly narrow fit, left our feet sore at the end of a long but non-technical day hike, and multiple toe caps on the shoes started peeling back early on. Compared to the OUTward, the OUTline Mid also falls lower on the ankle and offers less support. In this case, it’s an easy decision for us: the new OUTward outperforms the OUTline across the board.
Outside of Salomon’s lineup, La Sportiva offers an intriguing alternative to the OUTward in the Nucleo High GTX. Clocking in at 2 pounds 1.6 ounces, the Nucleo provides surprisingly good stability, support, and protection, and we found it to be impressively comfortable right out of the box with little break-in period required. Our only notable complaints were related to fit and cost: the Nucleo runs on the narrow side with no wide sizes available, and the Sportiva is pricey at $199 ($49 more than the OUTward). Both are capable lightweight designs, however, and a final decision will likely come down to cost and styling (the Nucleo isn’t as modern-looking as the OUTward).
Last but not least, Vasque’s Talus AT UltraDry is a quality, budget-friendly boot to have on your radar. Both the Talus and OUTward have leather uppers that stand out nicely (arguably the Salomon works better for occasional around-town use) and hit a great price point at $150. The OUTward gets the leg up in weight by over 3 ounces for the pair, and you also get Gore-Tex waterproofing rather than the Vasque’s in-house UltraDry liner, which runs warmer in the heat. But the Talus has better cushioning and more of it, feels more planted on the trail, and offers better comfort. It’s a tough call between two capable and nicely priced boots, but we give the slight nod to the Vasque.
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