Salomon is a clear frontrunner in the hiking footwear market, with an extensive collection that ranges from capable backpacking-ready boots to light and nimble low-top shoes. At the time of publishing, their hiking lineup comprises 12 core models—many of which are offered in multiple styles and variations—so there’s a lot to consider. To help you better navigate Salomon’s offerings, we’ve broken down each product below to highlight where it excels (or doesn’t), what type of terrain and hiker it’s best for, and how it compares to other Salomon models. For more information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the write-ups. And for a wider look at the market, see our articles on the best hiking boots and best hiking shoes.
Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Standout mix of weight, comfort, and on-trail performance.
What we don’t: Relatively thin underfoot and lower ankle height than Salomon’s Quest.
The X Ultra is Salomon’s flagship hiker and has gained remarkable popularity over the years for its combination of weight, price, and long-distance comfort. Recently updated to the “4,” the latest version carries the torch: the mid-height boot is nimble, light at under 2 pounds, and flexible while still fully capable of shuttling a light pack on multi-day backpacking trips. Build quality and traction are top-notch as well, with hardwearing materials that have stood up impressively well to testing and a trustworthy Contagrip outsole that does a great job biting into everything from deep mud to slippery roots and logs. At $165, Salomon managed to pack in a ton of performance at a very reasonable price point.
All that said, for carrying a heavy pack over technical terrain, the X Ultra falls short of Salomon’s Quest below in a few key areas. Most notably, the fairly thin padding underfoot can lead to foot soreness when covering longer distances over hard and rough surfaces, and the collar sits fairly low for a backpacking boot and can let in trail debris and water more readily. The Quest is also the stiffer design, which translates to increased stability and support when navigating tricky trails. But for backpackers and hikers who travel light or stick to maintained paths, the X Ultra 4 Mid puts it all together better than most (in fact, it's our top overall hiking boot this year). Importantly, the line also includes the low-top variation below, as well as the leather X Ultra Trek... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX See the Women's X Ultra 4 Mid GTX
A Tougher and More Protective Boot for Rough Terrain
Weight: 2 lbs. 14.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Tough, protective, and supportive for shuttling a pack over technical terrain.
What we don’t: Fairly heavy and overkill on smooth and maintained trails.
As we touched on above, Salomon’s Quest is a step up from the X Ultra in stiffness, coverage, and overall protection but still plenty comfortable over long distances. This combination makes it a great match for backpacking trips that involve navigating rough and rugged terrain, where the added support and cushion do an excellent job taking the sting out of harsh impacts. We’re also big fans of the Quest’s confidence-inspiring lacing system, which makes it easy to get a secure fit and keeps the heel snugly in place even on steep and extended climbs. Finally, as with the X Ultra, the Quest is well-built and very grippy over most surfaces.
Backpackers embarking on multi-day trips with a heavy load will likely find little to complain about with the Quest, but it’s decidedly overbuilt for traveling fast and light on easier terrain. For this, we would turn to the aforementioned X Ultra for its much lower weight (by just over a pound) and sprightlier feel. Alternatively, Salomon sells a lighter variation called the Quest Prime (outlined below), although you do make some small concessions in support. All in all, the standard Quest truly is a winner from a performance perspective, and the added heft is a reasonable tradeoff for those who need the bump in protection and stability... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon Quest 4 GTX See the Women's Salomon Quest 4 GTX
Standout On-Trail Performance in a Low-Top Design
Weight: 1 lb. 11.5 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Similar all-around performance to the X Ultra Mid in a lighter, low-top design.
What we don’t: Raised collar can lead to ankle rubbing and discomfort.
For those who don’t want or need the added ankle coverage of the X Ultra 4 Mid above, the low-top variation is similarly competitive. Overall performance is very comparable between the two models, including an excellent balance of support and flexibility, high-quality and durable materials, and enough cushioning for day hiking and light backpacking. At 1 pound 11.5 ounces, the X Ultra 4 GTX is a little heavier than some of Salomon’s other hiking shoes, including the 1-pound-8.6-ounce OUTline below, but it’s far and away the more capable design.
Like the Mid, the X Ultra 4 GTX shoe got a recent revamp, with notable changes including a modernized look, revised Quicklace system and chassis, and a higher-volume fit in the toe box. Salomon also raised the collar around the front of the ankle, which some users have reported to be a source of rubbing and discomfort. We didn’t experience this issue ourselves when testing the shoe, but it’s best to try it on before you buy, even if your feet have fit well in prior versions. This complaint aside, the X Ultra 4 remains one of the most competitive and well-rounded hiking shoes on the market. And unlike the Mid variation above, the low-top X Ultra 4 is also available in a non-waterproof option for a boost in breathability and slight drop in weight and cost... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX See the Women's Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX
Excellent Cushioning and Comfort at a Low Weight
Weight: 1 lb. 7.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Plush but supportive cushioning provides excellent comfort over long distances.
What we don’t: Disappointing traction in wet conditions.
Light and flexible hikers often sacrifice some performance to shave weight, but Salomon’s X Raise Low GTX doesn’t succumb to the normal pitfalls. At 1 pound 7.6 ounces, it’s around 4 ounces lighter per pair than the X Ultra 4 above but still plenty capable for most easy to moderate backpacking trips. Comfort in particular is excellent, with a generously padded collar and underfoot cushioning that nicely balance plushness and protection for long days on the trail. Added up, the X Raise is truly a standout among fast and light designs, including the similarly intentioned OUTline below.
Salomon’s X Raise is in many ways a beefed-up running shoe, with added durability and support for shuttling a pack over long distances. However, stacked up against the X Ultra 4 above, the X Raise is less confidence-inspiring for navigating more technical trails, and it’s not as protective or grippy. We found traction to be especially disappointing while hiking over wet rock, where the shoe was surprisingly slippery and hard to trust. Given these experiences, we think the X Ultra 4 balances its priorities a bit better, but the X Raise is a nice alternative for hikers who put a premium on comfort and want a flexible, trail runner-like feel... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon X Raise Low See the Women's Salomon X Raise Low
A Sleek and Modern Shoe for Day Hiking
Weight: 1 lb. 8.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: The feel of a running shoe with the sole and traction of a hiker.
What we don’t: Limited cushioning and support.
The OUTline is another one of Salomon’s running-inspired designs, with a light and decidedly modern build that wears well around town (not something we say often about hiking shoes). Traction is also well-suited for trail use, with relatively deep and generously spaced lugs that gripped well on everything from rocks to light mud. And compared to the shoes above, the OUTline is the sleekest and most urban-friendly design of the bunch. Available in options ranging from a non-waterproof shoe to a mid-height Gore-Tex boot, all OUTline models offer a nice combination of flexibility and bite.
Despite their similar pricing and weight, the OUTline and X Raise above have very different personalities: while the X Raise is noticeably plush and well-cushioned for long-distance comfort, the OUTline has very minimal padding, and both of our testers experienced foot soreness during long day hikes. On the same outing, the toe cap also began peeling back after just 13 miles on the trail, which makes us think Salomon went a little too far in shaving weight. To be sure, the OUTline is a fine option for short outings on established paths, but it lacks the comfort and durability for anything more serious. For more ambitious trips into the backcountry, we would instead stick with the X Raise or X Ultra 4... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon OUTline Low See the Women's Salomon OUTline Low
Running Shoe-Like Agility with Ankle-Height Coverage
Weight: 1 lb. 11.9 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Despite the mid-height cut, the Cross Hike is very agile on the trail.
What we don’t: Lacking in support and durability.
Salomon’s Cross Hike Mid slots in as another agile and sprightly design but with ankle-height coverage and protection. Like the X Raise and OUTline above, the Cross Hike clearly showcases Salomon’s trail running roots, with a nimble personality and low weight (1 lb. 11.9 oz.) that undercuts the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX above by around 2 ounces per pair. Another standout feature is the contemporary design and styling, which includes Salomon’s single-pull Quicklace system for quickly and easily cinching things down on the trail. Comfort and traction are good as well, with a nicely cushioned interior and deep, multi-directional lugs that perform well in mud and dirt. Unlike most other designs here, the lugs also extend over the front of the boot for maintaining contact on steep slopes.
However, in testing the Cross Hike, we found it to be less well-rounded than the X Ultra 4. In particular, the lacing system is overly simplified and doesn’t extend high enough on the collar, which causes the boot to gape open and allow trail debris in at the top. We also experienced premature delamination issues, including the upper separating after just a couple outings. Additionally, similar to the X Raise above, the Cross Hike’s traction suffered over wet rock, and it’s noticeably less stable than most traditional hiking boots. In the end, the Cross Hike is a step up in overall performance from the OUTline Mid and a better match for longer day hikes, but we’d go with the $5-pricier and barely heavier X Ultra 4 for more demanding hiking and backpacking... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon Cross Hike Mid See the Women's Salomon Cross Hike Mid
A Quality Leather Upper at a Great Price
Weight: 1 lb. 15.7 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Cheaper than the X Ultra 4 and includes quality and durable nubuck leather.
What we don’t: Falls short of the X Ultra in comfort, stability, and traction.
Coming in just under the X Ultra 4 in price and performance is Salomon’s OUTward Mid GTX. The biggest news with the OUTward is its quality nubuck leather and mesh upper, which has proven to be impressively hardwearing and long-lasting throughout testing. Weight is also competitive at under 2 pounds, which gives the OUTward a responsive feel (not common among leather hikers). At $150, the OUTward adds up to a solid value considering the high-quality materials and decent all-around trail chops, and it’s stylish and good-looking to boot.
All that said, for $15 more, we still prefer the X Ultra. The OUTward is noticeably less plush and cushioned underfoot, which translates to reduced long-distance comfort. The minimalist interior also led to issues like a pressure point under the tongue and hot spots and rubbing at the heel, which were especially bothersome on extended climbs. In terms of support and stability, the OUTward has a narrow heel that made it feel a bit less planted on the trail than the X Ultra, and traction is a slight step down as well. And a final downside is the lack of variety: the OUTward is only offered in a waterproof, mid-height version, which is limited compared to the rest of Salomon’s lineup... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon OUTward Mid See the Women's Salomon OUTward Mid
A Light but Rugged Boot for High-Mileage Trekking
Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Cheaper and lighter than the Quest without a major compromise in performance.
What we don’t: It still feels pretty heavy and bulky on the trail.
We covered Salomon’s burly and backpacking-ready Quest boot above, and the Quest Prime shaves a considerable 6.2 ounces per pair without sacrificing much in the way of performance. To accomplish this, Salomon used suede rather than more robust nubuck leather for the upper, employed a slightly different Contagrip rubber compound that prioritizes stickiness (at the sacrifice of a little durability), cut some height off of the ankle, and utilized a lighter-weight chassis. However, the Quest Prime still retains ample comfort, durability, and support for long-distance trekking and backpacking. And at $40 less than the standard Quest, we consider it a great value too.
As we touched on above, the Quest Prime’s pared-down build doesn’t have a major impact on performance, but you do get less lateral support. This is largely due to the slightly lower cut and streamlined chassis, and we also had issues with dialing in fit (the boots were big on our tester) and the laces loosening over longer distances, both of which detracted from overall security. Finally, despite the lighter weight, we still found the Quest Prime to feel fairly cumbersome and bulky on the trail. If you prefer a nimble feel but still want over-the-ankle coverage, we’d opt for the X Ultra or Cross Hike instead. Added up, the Quest Prime is a little less confidence-inspiring than the standard Quest for navigating truly technical routes with a heavy load, but the lower heft and cost nevertheless are enticing for most modern-day backpackers who travel fairly light on designated trails... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon Quest Prime See the Women's Salomon Quest Prime
Salomon’s Women’s-Specific Hiking Boot
Weight: 1 lb. 7.3 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Light weight and quality build at a reasonable price.
What we don’t: Less stable and confidence-inspiring than the X Ultra 4.
The Vaya is Salomon’s women’s-specific collection, ranging from a lightweight, non-waterproof model to an insulated, faux fur-equipped winter version called the Vaya Blaze Thinsulate. The Mid GTX model listed here is our favorite of the bunch, combining a light weight with quality materials at a reasonable price point. The SensiFlex synthetic upper is designed to stretch to accommodate natural foot swelling, while the soft and nicely padded collar gives it a foot-hugging feel. The Vaya won’t be confused for a rugged trail-worthy backpacking design like the Quest or Quest Prime, but it’s reasonably supportive and protective enough for easy to moderate trips.
How does the Vaya compare to other Salomon models? It’s a little lighter than the women’s version of the Cross Hike Mid GTX but costs $10 less, boasts standard laces rather than Quicklaces, and has a lower stack height that offers a step up in trail feel, although the tradeoff is a little less cushioning. Alternatively, the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX checks in a bit heavier at 1 pound 11.2 ounces per pair (again for the women’s version) and costs $5 more but comes with sizable boosts in support, durability, and traction. This makes the X Ultra our preferred option for long and challenging days on the trail, but the Vaya has its place for those aimed at moving quickly and efficiently over less aggressive terrain.
See the Women's Salomon Vaya Mid GTX
Salomon’s Most Affordable Hiking Shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 7.6 oz.
What we like: A well-rounded entry-level option at a great price.
What we don’t: Decidedly basic build and middling on-trail performance.
At $80, the Pathfinder is Salomon’s most affordable hiking shoe and a great entry-level option for those just getting started. The design is decidedly basic with a standard lacing system (no Quicklaces), no waterproofing, a synthetic upper, and none of Salomon’s premium midsole or outsole upgrades, but it’s perfectly serviceable for day hiking and the occasional short backpacking trip. Weight and styling are competitive too, with the Pathfinder checking in at 1 pound 7.6 ounces per pair and featuring relatively modern styling that looks similar (at first glance) to the premium X Ultra.
From a performance perspective, however, the Pathfinder falls well short of that shoe. In comparing it to the non-waterproof version of the X Ultra, the Pathfinder has a less aggressive outsole with shallower lugs, lacks Salomon’s ADV-C chassis (read: less stability), and uses less hardwearing materials along the upper. The X Ultra does cost a considerable $40 more than the Pathfinder, but the added investment is well worth it for hikers and backpackers who get out regularly. And if you want waterproofing, unfortunately the Pathfinder doesn’t come in a Gore-Tex model. But for the occasional national park trip or those who stick to well-maintained and smooth trails, it’s an undeniable value and a standout among entry-level options from other brands.
See the Men's Salomon Pathfinder See the Women's Salomon Pathfinder
A Popular Crossover Trail Runner/Hiker
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Comfortable and light while stilly fully trail-worthy.
What we don’t: Lacks protection at the top of the foot and interior feels a little dated.
Technically designed for trail running, Salomon’s XA Pro 3D v8 arguably is best suited for fast-and-light hiking. The tongue and collar are well-padded and comfortable, and the SensiFit system, which extends from the midsole to the mesh upper, creates a snug and secure hold around the foot. Despite its running focus, protection is also surprisingly good thanks to a large and burly toe cap, rigid heel cup, and solid 3D Advanced chassis, and the shoe proved to be more supportive and stable than anticipated as well. Added up, you get the comfort and weight of a running shoe with the traction, durability, and protection of a hiker—a very competitive combination for hikers and backpackers carrying loads of around 35 pounds or less.
However, the XA Pro does have its downsides for hiking. First, it’s not stiff enough for technical terrain or when shuttling a heavier pack—for that, we’d upgrade to the X Ultra or Quest. We also found that it felt a little outdated and unpolished along the interior, which is especially noticeable when worn back-to-back with sleeker, bouncier, and more modern designs like the X Raise. And finally, the XA Pro is pretty thin at the top, which can lead to abrasion and tears through the fairly minimalist mesh upper. This tweener status makes the XA Pro a fairly niche shoe—it’s heavier and stiffer than most trail runners and not as durable or stable as Salomon’s other low-top hikers—but we do like the versatility. Note: Salomon’s XA offerings also include the XA Wild and XA Collider, but we consider those designs better trail runners than hikers... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Salomon XA Pro 3D v8 See the Women's Salomon XA Pro 3D v8
Long-Distance Comfort and Durability for ULers
Weight: 1 lb. 9.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Purpose-built for covering a lot of ground quickly.
What we don’t: Those carrying heavier packs will likely find the shoe lacking in support and stiffness.
Salomon’s Odyssey collection is designed with long-distance comfort and durability in mind. In terms of construction, the low-cut waterproof model here boasts a wide tox box to account for natural toe splaying, a seamless interior and stitch-free upper to minimize pressure points, a “stability rocker” to maximize contact with the ground, and Salomon’s versatile Contagrip MA compound for traction over a wide variety of surfaces. The rectangular-shaped, closely spaced lugs aren’t particularly aggressive for covering technical ground, but they’re plenty capable for moving quickly over easy to moderate terrain.
We tested Salomon’s since-discontinued Odyssey Triple Crown a couple years ago, which shared very similar intentions and a nearly identical overall build to the current Odyssey. On an ambitious trip into the Grand Canyon, we found that shoe to be very comfortable and breathable, although the soft midsole was lacking in support and stiffness on more challenging surfaces and led to foot soreness on long days. But for those whose main goal is to cover a lot of ground quickly—including thru-hikers, ultralight backpackers, and fastpackers—the Odyssey is a purpose-built tool for the job. Other variations in the Odyssey lineup include a non-waterproof shoe, mid-height waterproof boot, and “Advanced” model that adds a beefier midsole and outsole inspired by some of Salomon’s earlier designs.
See the Men's Salomon Odyssey GTX See the Women's Salomon Odyssey GTX
A Quality All-Rounder for Light Trail Use
Weight: 1 lb. 8.7 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Quality and hardwearing materials for $30 less than the X Ultra.
What we don’t: Less of a high-performance design.
On first glance, the X Crest looks strikingly similar to the X Ultra above. In fact, the fit of the shoe is based on the X Ultra series, with a cushioned but supportive build for maximizing long-distance comfort. Other notable features include a quality Gore-Tex liner, mesh and textile upper for added breathability, and protective toe cap and heel counter for shrugging off direct hits to rocks and roots. Additionally, the PU-coated leather along the upper is designed to withstand rugged trail use, and the SensiFit system (shared with the XA Pro 3D above) cradles the foot and provides a snug, customized fit all around.
In parsing out the differences between the X Crest and X Ultra, the X Crest has a less aggressive outsole design and uses Salomon’s Contagrip MD rubber rather than the MA compound, which sacrifices a little stickiness for added durability and longevity. It also utilizes a less premium insole and lacks that shoe’s solid chassis, winged eyelet that connects the lacing system and midsole, and single-pull Quicklace system. The net result is less stability, support, and grip, which limits its appeal for truly rough terrain, but you still get great all-around protection and high-quality materials that should stand up well to moderate use. And the clincher for some will be cost: at $30 less than the X Ultra 4, the X Crest is an excellent value for hikers and backpackers who don’t need the X Ultra’s high levels of performance.
See the Men's Salomon X Crest GTX See the Women's Salomon X Crest GTX
A Modern and Athletic Shoe for Easy Terrain
Weight: 1 lb. 4.5 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Well-cushioned, modern-looking, and the lightest design here.
What we don’t: Not very protective or aggressive.
The final hiking shoe in Salomon’s 2021 collection is the X Reveal, which is the lightest design on our list at a scant 1 pound 4.5 ounces for the non-waterproof version. In addition to weight, the X Reveal also stands out for its cushy build and sporty styling—it looks much more like a running shoe than a traditional hiker. Tack on a stich-free upper to minimize pesky pressure points and rubbing, bouncy EnergyCell midsole for absorbing impacts, and woven mesh upper, and you have a nicely executed and stylish design for everything from running errands around town to moderate summer day hikes.
The X Reveal is most similar in design and intentions to the X Raise and OUTline above, with a decidedly modern and running shoe-like look and personality. In comparing the non-waterproof variations, the X Reveal is the cheapest of the grouping at $90 and the lightest. That said, it's also the least performance-oriented: the X Reveal sits well below the ankle, has only minimalist toe and foot protection, and its upper material is more prone to tears over time. As a result, the shoe is best suited for easy trails and smooth paths. But the X Reveal's sub-$100 price tag and versatility are enticing for occasional hikers that want a shoe they can wear around town.
See the Men's Salomon X Reveal See the Women's Salomon X Reveal
|Salomon Shoe||Price||Weight||Waterproof||Upper||Outsole||Non-WP available?|
|X Ultra 4 Mid GTX||$165||1 lb. 14 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather / textile||Contagrip MA||No|
|Quest 4 GTX||$230||2 lb. 14.2 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather / textile||Contagrip TD||No|
|X Ultra 4 GTX||$150||1 lb. 11.5 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic||Contagrip MA||Yes|
|X Raise Low GTX||$130||1 lb. 7.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic||Contagrip MD||Yes|
|OUTline Low GTX||$130||1 lb. 8.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic||Contagrip MD||Yes|
|Cross Hike Mid GTX||$170||1 lb. 11.9 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic||Contagrip TD||No|
|OUTward Mid GTX||$150||1 lb. 15.7 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather / mesh||Contagrip MD||No|
|Quest Prime GTX||$190||2 lb. 8 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Suede / mesh||Contagrip MA||No|
|Vaya Mid GTX||$160||1 lb. 7.3 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic||Contagrip MD||Yes|
|Pathfinder||$80||1 lb. 7.6 oz.||No||Synthetic||Contagrip MD||N/A|
|Xa Pro 3D v8||$130||1 lb. 8 oz.||No (GTX available)||Synthetic||Contagrip MA||N/A|
|Odyssey GTX||$160||1 lb. 9.8 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic||Contagrip MA||Yes|
|X Crest GTX||$120||1 lb. 8.7 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather / textile||Contagrip MD||Yes|
|X Reveal||$90||1 lb. 4.5 oz.||No (GTX available)||Synthetic||Contagrip MD||N/A|
- Cushioning and Comfort
- Stability and Support
- Outsoles and Traction
- Waterproofing and Breathability
- Lacing Systems
- Competing Brands and Hiking Footwear
Reasonably low weights have been a long-time staple of Salomon’s hiking lineup, and that holds true with their 2021 collection. The picks above range from the light and agile X Reveal shoe (1 lb. 4.5 oz. for the non-GTX version) to the burly, backpacking-ready Quest GTX boot (2 lbs. 14.2 oz.). Weight correlates closely with each shoe’s intentions: for instance, the synthetic, running shoe-like X Reveal is best suited for day hiking on smooth and well-maintained trails, while the more traditional leather Quest is purpose-built for covering rough and rugged terrain under the weight of a fully loaded pack. Designs like the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX (1 lb. 14 oz.) strike a nice middle ground, combining a reasonably light build with quality materials and excellent comfort, traction, and on-trail capabilities.
Keep in mind, however, that cutting weight often translates to reduced durability, as evidenced with the OUTline Low GTX (1 lb. 8.6 oz.) and Cross Hike Mid GTX (1 lb. 11.9 oz.), both of which suffered premature delamination issues. Fast-and-light designs like the aforementioned X Reveal and Odyssey GTX (1 lb. 9.8 oz.) also fall short in support and stability, which is perfectly fine for short outings but will suffer over longer distances under heavy loads. In the end, a final decision will come down to your objectives and what type(s) of terrain you expect to encounter. If you’re headed out on a demanding, multi-day backpacking trip with a full pack, it’s simply hard to beat the protection, coverage, and support you get from beefier leather designs like the Quest or Quest Prime (2 lbs. 8 oz.).
As with weight, cushioning and comfort vary within Salomon’s collection and line up closely with each model’s intended use. At the extreme end is the soft and trail runner-like X Raise, which impressed us with its highly padded interior and long-distance comfort. Moving toward the middle of the spectrum, you have well-rounded options for hiking and backpacking, including the X Ultra and Quest, which nicely balance cushion and support for carrying a heavier pack. And on the minimalist end, there’s the relatively thin OUTline, which is best suited for easy trails and we dealt with foot soreness over longer distances. The trail running-focused XA Pro 3D v8 is another shoe lacking in plushness, with a fairly dated and rough-feeling interior that gave it a stiff and cumbersome feel. We always recommend trying on shoes before you buy to ensure a good all-around fit, but it can also help a lot with evaluating the amount of padding underfoot and gauging what feels best to you given your objectives.
Stability and support are the result of a number of factors, including the height of the shoe or boot, the amount of flex in the design, the snugness of the lacing system, the level of cushioning underfoot, and overall weight, to name a few. For instance, the X Raise has a trail runner-like feel and lightweight build, but we found it to be noticeably lacking in stability—the soft midsole flexed more than we’d like on extended climbs, and it was harder to trust than the X Ultra 4 while hopping across boulders with a pack. In the mid-height category, the lightweight Cross Hike was also disappointing, with a loose collar and laces that slipped slightly over long distances. On the flipside, the burly Quest 4 is a standout when it comes to support, with a tall build, snug and secure lacing system, wide base, stiff heel, and sturdy, planted feel. To help you gauge a shoe’s abilities, Salomon has a helpful graphic on each product page that highlights the level of support, ranging from flexible to stable.
Salomon is known for their in-house Contagrip rubber, but the shoes above still vary widely based on lug depth and spacing and the type of compound used. Their Contagrip MA compound (used on designs like the X Ultra 4 and Quest Prime) is the most versatile and focuses on traction over a wide variety of surfaces, while the TD variation (found on the standard Quest) trades a little stickiness and flexibility for a firmer, long-lasting rubber. Finally, designs like the X Raise, OUTline, Vaya Mid, and Pathfinder use the MD compound, which is short for "most durable" and accordingly prioritizes longevity over all-out aggressiveness.
As we mentioned, lug design also has a big impact on traction and grip. For instance, Salomon’s X Ultra 4 has deep, chevron-shaped lugs that are easy to trust and do a great job biting into most surfaces while not being overly flexible or prone to premature wear. Wider spacing, like you get with the Cross Hike, is better for deep mud and softer ground, although that shoe suffers some on wet rock. Similar to support above, you can take a look on Salomon’s website to see what type(s) of terrain each shoe is designed to handle (easy paths, mixed, or technical terrain).
As we mentioned previously, weight is a good indicator of a shoe’s durability, but it’s not the only factor to consider. The type of materials used also play a key role, with burly leather models like the Quest and Quest Prime sitting at the top of the heap. The OUTward Mid is another quality option, with a mix of nubuck leather and mesh that nicely balances weight and durability. And the X Ultra 4 Mid uses a similar combination of PU-coated leather and synthetic materials that have proven to be plenty hardwearing and robust for everything from day hiking to light backpacking. At the other end of the spectrum are designs like the OUTline and Cross Hike, both of which utilize light synthetic uppers to cut weight and suffered premature delamination issues very early into testing. Again, not everyone will need the assurance of a full leather boot, but it’s important to evaluate your priorities closely before committing to a truly lightweight design.
We often prefer Gore-Tex shoes given our roots in the rainy Pacific Northwest, but waterproof designs do tend to suffer when it comes to breathability. To be sure, Gore-Tex is best-in-class in terms of balancing these two conflicting priorities, but our feet do grow sweaty from time to time during the heat of summer. Thankfully, Salomon offers many of their designs in both waterproof and non-waterproof variations, including the ultra-popular X Ultra, X Raise, OUTline, Vaya, XA Pro 3D v8, Odyssey, X Crest, and X Reveal.
Our take is this: If you live in an ultra-dry climate or plan to ford deep bodies of water, go with a non-waterproof design. These models tend to dry out much quicker should they get submerged and will save you a bit of cash and weight too. For example, the non-waterproof X Ultra 4 costs $120 and checks in at 1 pound 9.4 ounces while the Gore-Tex version is $150 and 1 pound 11.5 ounces. For hiking and backpacking in areas with consistent rain or snow, it might be worth spending up for the Gore-Tex-equipped option. For more background on this topic, see our article: Do You Need Waterproof Hiking Shoes?
One of Salomon’s signature features is their single-pull Quicklace system, which is featured on a number of the designs above, including the Cross Hike, X Raise, XA Pro 3D v8, and low-top version of the X Ultra 4 (the Mid uses standard laces). The main advantage is convenience: it’s easy to get an even cinch with a single pull, and everything tucks away nicely into a stretchy pocket on the tongue. In practice, we’ve had very few issues with the system loosening on the trail, and many appreciate the quick on/off process and user-friendly nature.
That said, the Quicklace system does have its drawbacks. Most notably, you can’t customize the fit around different parts of the foot like you can with traditional laces, which can be an issue for those with finicky feet or who prefer added looseness or snugness in a certain area. Additionally, the added moving parts mean more potential points of failure over time, although we haven’t experienced any durability issues throughout years of testing. All in all, it’s not a deal breaker for many, and Salomon’s single-pull design is the smoothest and most user-friendly that we’ve tested to date.
Salomon is a leader in the hiking footwear market, with an impressively comprehensive and well-rounded collection of boots and shoes for everything from short day hikes to demanding multi-day backpacking trips. That said, there are a number of formidable competitors in 2021. Two long-time rivals are Merrell and KEEN, both of whom have similarly well-executed lineups that cover the hiking and backpacking realms. Merrell in particular has a number of high-quality options, including the legendary Moab (a popular first hiking shoe or boot for many folks) and fast-and-light MQM Flex. And KEEN’s signature Targhee series has been a best-seller for years for its great out-of-the box comfort, tough construction, and wide range of styles and colorways.
That said, neither brand is as much of an innovator as Salomon, and the sheer number of available styles and designs are limited by comparison. Oboz is another big name in the market, although we’ve found that many of their boots have more of a traditional look and feel than Salomon’s more modern designs. A few final (albeit more specialized) brands to have on your radar are LOWA, La Sportiva, and Vasque, but again, their collections aren’t as well-rounded or wide-ranging. For a more detailed breakdown of the market, see our article on the best hiking footwear brands.
Back to Our Salomon Hiking Footwear List Back to Our Hiking Footwear Comparison Table