Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine Review Facts
While most trainers are great for the regular surfaces runners find themselves traversing (pavement, concrete, and running tracks) these shoes are often too lightweight and lack the tread and tenacity needed to take on the great outdoors. For runners looking to take on the rocks, cross creeks, dig into the dirt, and travel over uneven surfaces found on fiercer trails and uncharted territories, mountain running shoes are often the only choice to protect their feet and aid in the long climb to the top.
For this high-octane pursuit, the Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine was designed. Salomon has been producing some of the most dynamic and tough trail shoes on the market to take on aggressive terrain since 1980 and have been an innovator in this specialized shoe ever since. A mountain shoe, the Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine provides excellent performance and protection when running high-altitude topographies. Made from durable and efficient materials, including its Gore Tex high-cut gaiter upper, stretchable Lycra that makes up its collar, and a dual-density compressed EVA for its midsole cushioning. Its carbon chassis provides firmness on the lateral and medial, while the XA Alpine’s outsole is made of Premium Wet Traction Contagrip®, a rubber material highly resistant to abrasion.
A versatile mountain trail shoe that’s suitable for alpine climbs, steep trail paths, and glacial traverses, its springy ride, and ferocious traction maximizes performance on the most difficult paths in nature so the most adventurous can hike and climb with confidence. A trail shoe fit for the mountains and optimized for high-altitude topographies, this model is a serious shoe that holds fast all the way through a climb. No matter the conditions, dry or wet, or the terrain, the Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine will have the most ambitious outdoor enthusiast feeling secure and safe with every step.
Maybe the most important part of a trail shoe
that runners and climbers alike depend on is the outsole. Its grip needs to be reliable and high-performance to get them up a steep incline and, more important, back down. The XA Alpine’s outsole addresses this crucial element
by having multi-directional gripping lugs that allow the shoe to hold onto various surfaces easily, clasping wet surfaces and digging into loose gravel to secure a hold. Made of Premium Wet Traction Contagrip®, a rubber compound that covers the outsole that’s long-lasting and prevents the various harsh surfaces an adventurer encounters from damage. The forefoot of the outsole features Salomon’s Climbing Zone, which is coated with an even thicker rubber compound and more aggressive lugs for even more aggressive traction to facilitate climbing mechanics and superior surface control when needed. With highly separated lugs to facilitate superior grip and responsiveness and a strategically designed forefoot to help with a climb, the XA Alpine’s outsole is one that can be depended on in a cinch.
The midsole of the XA Alpine is comprised of a dual-density compressed EVA, a long-lasting foam that provides excellent cushioning. In addition, it’s a responsive and springy material that climbers and runners alike will appreciate. The XA Alpine also has a carbon chassis platform design that helps prevent lateral and medial wobble while negotiating uneven topographies that keeps the midsole firm. The stiffness of the chassis helps during mountain climbing but doesn’t restrict the flexibility of the outsole, instead still allowing for natural foot
Built to withstand the harsh conditions that an extreme trail runner
and mountaineer may find while traversing rocky, rainy, and snowy terrain, the upper of the XA Alpine is constructed to stand up to the harsh elements. Its anti-debris mesh
material that comprises the main fabric of the upper, this strong and breathable material protects the interior from the variety of debris found on the trail. With a zip-up gaiter design that extends all the way up to the lower leg, runners and climbers alike will find this feature a convenient way to secure and remove the XA Alpine. The lyrca fabric collar secures the upper while locking down the interior foot chamber to prevent dirt, snow, and debris from entering but remains stretchable for comfort and flexibility. Its Endofit™ internal sleeve fits the foot like a glove and remains stationary against the foot for an irritation-free fit while the interior wall is made of a water-resistant textile, preventing moderate water infiltration and providing solid protection against humidity and puddles.
Listen: trail shoes are usually not lightweight running shoes. They are tough and durable constructions built to stand up against varied and extreme weather conditions and terrains. There have been a lot of advancements in footwear technology over the past fifteen years to make shoes of all types more lightweight
, and at 11.8 ounces/334 grams, the XA Alpine could be considered a relatively lightweight trail shoe. There are lighter shoes out there on the market, but with a tenacious outsole and solid upper construction, would you trade weight for ability when depending on your shoe in a clutch moment on challenging terrain?
For water-resistant high-top trail shoes with an ankle lock and a zipper closure, the XA Alpine has surprising breathability. Although it’s water-resistant it’s not airtight, which allows for some ventilation to keep the foot cool. However, trail shoes
are built to keep the foot protected from rain and snow so the XA Alpine, like many trail shoes, don’t feature the same amount of breathability as a running shoe.
Although a mountain running shoe, the XA Alpine fits and feels more like a regular running shoe. With a flexible upper and snug after zip-up, runners will appreciate its glove-like fit and sturdy outsole. The diagonal zipper keeps the shoe tight to the fit, and there is a velcro cinch at the top that closes the gaiter up. Although some may notice the chassis midsole and firm outsole has a stiffer feel than regular trainers, keep in mind that this stiffness is important when it comes to performance on a mountain or other harsh terrain. Besides this, those used to trail shoes will find the XA Alpine surprisingly comfortable shoes that feels more like a regular running shoe in many ways.
The XA Alpine was built for performance and functionality, and in those metrics it’s aces. The style of these shoes, however, may leave a little to be desired. It’s a no-frills approach to the aesthetic, as the nearly all-black exterior is only highlighted by a light blue slash that runs from the heel down to the forefoot. Yes, the XA Alpine may have all the style of a pair of galoshes, but what do looks have to do with how well they perform when you’re scrambling up the side of a mountain or descending down a steep, rocky incline?
In keeping with their hard-charging nature of being tenacious trail shoes that look to grip the earth and protect the foot from the elements, the XA Alpine is supremely durable. From the Premium Wet Traction Contagrip® rubber compound outsole that seeks to keep its traction even after the most hazardous of terrains have been encountered to its durable upper mesh made of synthetic materials to the EVA foam midsole that will retain its bounce long after first step-in, a pair of XA Alpines will keep the adventurous runner and mountaineer on the rough trails and rocky roads of the great outdoors
for a long time.
Since the Salomon S-Lab
XA Alpine is a trail shoe meant for the rough and unpredictable terrain of nature, it features excellent protection from the elements. With a thick outsole made of Premium Wet Traction Contagrip® that will protect the sole of a runner’s foot from the hazards of nature to its breathable but sturdy upper that protects up to the calf, runners can feel secure in the XA Alpine. Its lycra fabric collar cinches shut to keep debris out of the foot chamber, it’s water-resistant to keep the foot dry, and will keep the runner’s feet warm in the winter.
Thanks to its dual-density compressed EVA foam midsole, which is responsive and springy, and its lug-heavy outsole that’s firm in the forefoot for climbing but flexible for the runner to get a grip and have a great amount of surface control, the XA Alpine is a responsive shoe that may feel stiff at first due to its carbon chassis. After getting used to its mechanics, however, runners will find this a surprisingly responsive and dynamic trail shoe.
Made with neutral arch support
, this is a trail shoe for those with regular pronation and neutral
runners. That said, the support the XA Alpine offers is still solid, if not a bit stiff.
Ready to climb that mountain, take on that rocky, steep trail, or feel the ups and downs of traversing over uneven terrain? If so, the XA Alpine is the trail shoe for you. Built to perform in the varied terrains found in nature, from loose gravel to dirt paths to snowy inclines to wet grass, the XA Alpine seeks to boldly go where few trail shoes have gone before.
With such a great trail shoe that’s durable, dynamic, and can navigate a number of various topographies and environmental conditions, surely there must be a catch. And there is - its price. This is a relatively pricey shoe, even as trail running shoes go. However, if you’re serious about your off-road sojourns into nature and are looking for a shoe that’s not only dependable but literally just may save your life, the XA Alpine is priced as a lifesaver would be.
With Salomon’s proprietary Premium Wet Traction Contagrip® covering the outsole, which is outfitted with numerous tenacious lugs, and its Climbing Zone forefoot that has an even thicker rubber compound to facilitate even greater traction and surface control, the XA Alpine’s traction is aggressive and there to keep the runner and adventurer not just moving forward but feeling safe when negotiating extreme inclines and harsh weather.
While the midsole may feel stiff due to its carbon chassis platform, the outsole of the XA Alpine remains flexible enough for the runner to have a good amount of surface control, while its mesh upper offers a sock-like fit and enough flexibility for the foot to fit comfortably without too much tightness.
A well-balanced trail running shoe, this is also a shoe meant for neutral runners. Although its drop (6mm) is slightly lower than the average, it is not specifically a stability shoe
The drop of the XA Alpine is 6mm, which is slightly under the average drop for most shoes. It’s not a zero drop
shoe but just a slightly lower drop than the standard.
- Aggressive lugs and durable outsole that translates to excellent traction
- Sturdy build that translates to long-lasting performance and durability
- Carbon chassis platform allows for superior balance on uneven topographies
- A dynamic trail shoe that can work in various extreme outdoor conditions
- Protects the runner’s feet well against the elements
If you’re a runner that wants to strike out into more advanced and extreme trails, ones that will lead you to the mountaintop or down roads less traveled, or dirt pathways that end halfway through the woods, than the Salomon S-Lab
XA Alpine is the trail running shoe for you. Durable, with tenacious traction, and offering great protection against the harsh elements, the XA Alpine is a serious trail shoe for the serious adventurer. Although the price may be a little steep, when you’re coming down a similarly steep incline with only your wits and the shoes on your feet to keep you whole, you’ll be glad you picked this pair to trust in the more precarious moments of your outdoor adventure.