Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Salomon: Speedcross 4 Shoes and Trail Gaiters Review


If you’re into trail running, then chances are you’ve heard the brand Salomon many times. I’ve done a lot of reviews on Salomon products and quite frankly I still couldn’t get enough of them. Once you tried one of their products, you might find yourself getting another one. They’re that great!

Trail running is up again and if you’re on the market or looking to upgrade your shoes then I suggest that you visit their website, they have tons of selections to choose from. It took me few days to decide on which one to get but at the end I fell for the Speedcross 4. The Speedcross 4 (4th generation) is the much and long awaited upgrade of the Speedcross 3. The S3 has been around since 2012 and I’m not sure what took them so long to do the update. If you fell in love with the S3, then you’ll surely love the S4 as well.


Description
The Speedcross 4 is just one of the many trail running shoes from the Salomon’s line up. The shoe weighs in at 10.9 ounces (310 grams) for size 9. The heel to toe drop is 10mm (Heel height: 30mm, Forefoot height: 20mm). It is lightweight, highly cushioned with a deep monster grip traction to keep you planted on the ground. As for fit, the shoe is on the narrow side but the size 10 that I normally wear just fit fine with me, more on the fit below.

Technologies
·      Sensifit: Works to cradle the foot providing a precise and secure fit.
·      Lace pocket: provides easy storage for the lace
·      Quicklace: one pull system lacing
·      Molded EVA: provides cushioning, stability and anatomical support
·      Mudguard: protective material around the base of the shoe
·      Anti-debris mesh: avoid debris to be trapped between the foot and the footbed

Upper
The Speedcross 4 is built to tackle rough mountain trail conditions so it’s obvious that it must employ a highly durable material. The upper is made of very tightly woven fabric that is tear resistant. Though this version is not full waterproof (click here for the Gore-Tex version) it is still capable of handling light precipitations that can keep your feet dry. It has a 360-degree mudguard around the base that sits high enough to protect your feet from those shallow puddle and mud from getting in. The toe cap is very robust and it feels like it is equipped with a steel inside, you can literally kick rocks with this toe cap and easily walk away from it without injuring yourself.


With 10.9 ounces per shoe, it does feel a bit heavy, but there’s a good reason behind it. Salomon filled it with molded EVA foam to deliver that cushiony ride and anatomical support you’ll need to lessen the impact to your joints and body.


When it comes to the toe box, don’t expect that you can splay your feet in it like Altra or Topo. I found that all my toes are snug together, but not too constrictive even when my feet tend to swell during the run. If you have a narrow to average feet, then you’ll feel at home with the S4.


Salomon is fond of using the quick lacing technology, you can find this in almost all of their shoes. Though it has its pros and cons (ask any runners about it), I found it OK and it provided the right amount of hold to secure my feet. Though I have to admit that I did adjust the tension after two miles since I felt a little bit of a hot spot on the top. The lacing they used are thin and light and does not absorb water. At the very top of the tongue is a lace pocket that you can store and hide the rest of the lace and prevent it from dangling around that could lead into getting snag on some roots and branches.


It has an anti-debris mesh (screen protector) on top of the tongue that is sewn right underneath the lace hooks that prevents unwanted objects like twigs, pebbles and rocks from getting in to your footbed. The tongue has a decent amount of padding for cushion to prevent hot spots in the event you overtighten the lace.


The heel collar is surrounded with a good amount of padding that doesn’t irritate and cause no chafing on my heel. Like the toe cap, the heel cap (lock) is solidly built, it’s firm and robust that provides a snug hold preventing my heel from sliding out especially on the ascent when I start to push off with my forefoot.


Salomon loves their SENSIFIT™ technology, it’s a great feature that cradles my foot providing a precise and secure fit. So how does it work? One of the issues I have on some of the shoes I tested was that my foot tends to slide forward especially on a downhill regardless of how snug and tight I do my laces. This helps eliminate that issue and never did I experience my big toe stabbing the top of my shoe.


Sole
Just look at the lugs profile, their aggressive! This is where the S4 shines. Make no mistake, the traction of the S4 is one of a kind that will surely keep you planted on the ground. Whether you’re going uphill, downhill or side hill, you’ll be confident that you’re not going to slip and slide… you just plant and go! Thanks to the deep-set of lugs (chevron) measuring 6mm that are strategically placed (directional opposing lugs) all over the soles. The front lugs are positioned to provide traction when going uphill, while the lugs on the heel area are angled for downhill traction. Regardless of the soil condition even with slippery leaves, the sole will claw its way to give you that outstanding grip, balance and stability.


The Ride
I ran with these shoes right after a full week of heavy rain at Hidden Falls where the soil was still muddy and slippery. Despite the condition, these shoes just stick wherever I landed my feet. Going uphill was a breeze as the front of the toe just digs right thru the soil. The traction was even more impressive as I ripped the downhill section without sliding even an inch.

When it comes to weight, I found this shoe on the heavy side but that’s because of the molded EVA that they inject to deliver that cushy ride to absorb the impact of the soil, which is more crucial in my opinion especially for longer or ultra-marathon races.

Note that Salomon did not incorporate a rock plate protection on this shoe due to the fact that the bottom sole is solidly built and can handle any sharp or pointed rocks. The stiffness of the sole is sufficient enough to protect my feet from sharp edges. So, no worries on that matter. However, the stiffness of the sole can backfire. I had a hard time at the gravel section, it was a challenge maintaining my balance the fact that the bottom sole is so rigid and it just floats on the rocks, it’s a little bit unsteady in my opinion. So just be cautious not to trip or twist your ankle when you get into this kind of section as you might need to find a good balance.

When it comes to the lateral stiffness, the shoe is excellent and it didn’t cave in even when approaching a fast turn and twist on the trail. One thing that really surprised me most is its forefoot flexibility (despite the sole being so rigid) that I thought it would need to be broken in first. Nope not at all.

When it comes to breathability, I never had any issue with it (but in fairness, it was cold when I tested it). I’m not sure how will this perform when the temperature starts to rise. I’m guessing that it will not ventilate well due to the density of the material used.

My Verdict
There is no question that Speedcross 4 is built to tackle tough terrains regardless of its condition. These shoes are made where traction is all that matters, whether it’s mud, grass, leaves, steep ascent and decent, side hills and rock cropping these shoes are stellar. Some may find the lugs too aggressive especially for those trails that is not too technical to traverse. For some who loves technical trails then these shoes are for you.

The Speedcross 4 comes with a price tag of $130 but Salomon slashed the price down to $91, with that price, there’s no reason not to get one. I highly suggest that you take advantage of it and bring the joy with you as you blaze the trail with these shoes. You can purchase it directly on their website or at retail stores near you.

Gaiter
Is a simple piece of fabric that wraps around the ankle to keep the debris from getting in. There’s nothing more annoying than getting something stuck inside your shoes while running. The Salomon gaiters come in two distinct sizes, the high and low gaiters. Depending on what type of running and where you normally run will decide which one you should get. I personally prefer the high for extra protection.

This is a “wrap-around” gaiters that utilize a Velcro system for closure. It has a reflective logo and two padded areas to protect the upper bones of the ankle from accidental brushing from stones or trail hazards. It has a very robust and dense rubber that goes underneath the shoes for security. Unlike other gaiters, these don’t have a lace hook closure on the front and velcro for gaiter trap. Instead, Salomon used the elastic fabric to make it secure around the shoes and the ankle to have the closure. Take note that these gaiters are left and right specific, and the markings can be seen on the tag.

Running can sometimes be complicated and I love that Salomon didn’t add anymore complication on that. Simplicity is what this gaiter is all about. I was really impressed with how it performed and provided the protection that I really needed. Getting it on and off the shoes is a breeze and once it’s on, it stays on. It simply disappears out of my mind that I was wearing it.

These Gaiters sells $42 and $32 respectively.

Below are some of my in-depth reviews on Salomon products that I reviewed in the past.
·      S-Lab Light Jacket
·      X-Scream 3D shoes

I love to hear your feedback so be sure to let me know what you think of the shoes and the gaiters. Thanks again for reading…run fast but be safe!

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