Salomon X Ultra 3 Review Facts
In the world of high-end trail shoes, a few brands tend to stand out above the others. Merrell is one that often comes to mind due to their impressive catalog of hiking and trail running footwear. The North Face is another popular manufacturer, both for the excellence of their design and the fashion appeal associated with their brand. However, Salomon draws its own crowd of fans and dedicated customers more for their sense of style than for any other design trait. There’s a good chance that a trail running or hiking shoe made by this company will look completely different from any other product on the market since Salomon is one of the few offroad footwear companies that put this much emphasis on their sense of style. This isn’t to say that their other features are lacking in any noticeable way, just that they are often overshadowed by a captivating aesthetic. This same phenomenon can be observed with the Salomon X Ultra 3, although not to the same degree as fans of this brand may be used to.
The outsole of this Salomon hiking shoe is made from hard rubber, which is a predictable design choice for just about any trail running shoe or hiking boot. It’s such a popular material for this kind of footwear due to its ability to withstand punishment from harsh running terrain, and it makes sense for Salomon to implement it as a primary component in the construction of the X Ultra 3. The tread pattern for this shoe is heavily pronounced, once again along the same vein of design principles as can be seen in trail runners, for the purpose of ensuring a safe level of control
and traction for the wearer when navigating unsafe environments. The pattern in which the outsole’s treads has been redesigned from its predecessors to offer greater control and traction when hiking or running downhill; this change was made by making the rearfoot out of a single large piece with several deep horizontal grooves for flexibility.
The material used to construct the midsole of this hiking shoe is injection EVA foam. Although EVA is a nearly ubiquitous material for all but a few modern running shoes, the way in which it is molded can make a significant difference in terms of its performance
, appearance, and production cost. In lieu of the cheaper compression style of molding, Salomon adopted the injection style most likely due to its appearance. While compression-molded EVA tends to warp or show creases, injection-molded EVA is better for creating intricate designs. This style of molding is what allowed Salomon to create the many ridges, folds, and texture variations that are visible on the sides of this shoe’s midsoles.
The upper portion of the Salomon X Ultra 3 uses a speed lacing system instead of traditional shoelaces. Referred to by the manufacturer as Quicklace, this form of lacing is more commonly seen in running shoes, although it provides beneficial properties for these hiking shoes as well. This method allows wearers of these shoes to tighten or loosen their fit with a simple pull, removing the need to re-tie or re-lace. Additionally, the lack of long and thick shoelaces reduces visual clutter, further improving the X Ultra 3’s appearance. Some features of this shoe’s upper design that aren’t strictly cosmetic are a heel
and toe cap. These cover the rearfoot and forefoot respectively and offer greater foot protection for the front of the wearer’s foot while improving stability for the heel.
With a weight of roughly 13 ounces per shoe, these shoes manage to weigh a few ounces less than a pound on each foot. Without accounting for the fact that trail shoes are expected to weigh more than casual running or walking shoes, this places the Salomon X Ultra 3 on the heavier side of the spectrum. However, when you do account for this fact, these are among some of the lighter trail shoes currently on the market without sacrificing any functionality. This means that individuals who are already familiar with trail running and hiking shoes will find these to be lighter on their feet, but runners with experience using shoes intended for more casual environments may experience soreness
for the first few days spent wearing them.
The X Ultra 3 is a testament to Salomon’s versatility as a footwear designer since they showcase the range of trail shoes that they are capable of competently producing. While their unconventionally designed winter shoes offer excellent heat retention intended for use in the snow, these shoes manage to provide an experience that is ideal for the exact opposite kind of environment. Because of both its lower ankle cut and breathable
mesh upper material, these shoes can be worn comfortably in warmer environments and seasons. These two features allow for air to easily enter and exit the shoe, ensuring that its internal temperature doesn’t reach uncomfortably high levels. To be fair, the aforementioned heel and toe cap on these shoes prevents these Salomon hiking shoes from achieving their full potential in this regard; however, the added protection and stability from these components justifies the compromise.
Part of what makes the Salomon X Ultra 3 so comfortable is its relatively low weight, at least when compared to other shoes designed for use on trails and inclines. Thanks to this design factor, some individuals might confuse these shoes with trail running shoes. And while there are a few features that prevent these hiking shoes from being fully viable for this activity, comfort is not one of them. The excellent breathability provided by its mesh upper elements further improves its comfort, as this material manages to allow for excellent breathability while also serving as extra cushioning for the foot. One area in which these shoes conspicuously lack in comfort is underneath the wearer’s foot, due to the lack of any significant insole. Fortunately, the molded footbed and OrthoLite sockliner mostly manage this issue.
When it comes to shoes and fashion, the types of footwear that often put the most effort into their style are running shoes and basketball shoes. However, Salomon sets themselves and their products apart from their peers by also placing considerable emphasis on their shoes’ visual appearance. A great example of this is their winter trail runners, which feature a shape and color scheme unlike any other trail running shoe on the market. While the X Ultra 3 isn’t quite as visually distinctive as their Snowcross shoes, they are aesthetically pleasing to a degree that isn’t often seen in this kind of footwear. In a world full of brown and black hiking boots, Salomon is perhaps the only company to sell one in highlighter yellow.
As is custom for shoes intended for use on the trail, the Salomon X Ultra 3 is durable enough to withstand hundreds of miles of hiking on a variety of harsh surfaces. The majority of this impressive design aspect can be attributed to the underside of these shoes, since the hard rubber used for its outsole is extremely resistant to damage from abrasion. However, other design elements such as the heel and toe caps placed on this shoe’s upper provide additional durability benefits.
Since protection is such an important design aspect for any shoe intended to be used on hiking trails, it makes sense that the Salomon X Ultra 3 would offer such impressive defensive attributes. The toe cap placed on the upper provides valuable protection for the wearer’s feet, as flying rocks and overgrown roots can lead to painful toe injuries without its inclusion. The use of thicker rubber padding for this shoe’s heels also protects the wearer by allowing them to maintain a stable footing when walking on an incline.
It’s worth repeating that these are hiking shoes and not trail runners. For that reason they aren’t as responsive as shoes made with the intention of use for running; however, they still offer some design elements that provide beneficial effects to response time. One of these benefits comes from the lighter weight, since the need to expend less energy for each step improves the speed in which the wearer can move and react while the X Ultra 3 is worn. Another is the snug fit provided by the upper with the aid of Salomon’s Quicklace system, which also has a positive effect on its stability.
The bottom portion of the Salomon X Ultra 3 provides support for the wearer with its shallow heel drop and incline-focused outsole design. This offers balance on unbalanced surfaces, which is an essential foundation for providing any other form of support. Aside from this, most of the supportive elements found in these shoes can be located on its upper portion, such as the heel collar that keeps the wearer’s rearfoot from shifting or bearing uncomfortable weight. An OrthoLite sockliner manages to provide a supportive fit that affects the entirety of the wearer’s foot and a molded footbed on the top of the midsole targets the arch. Some runners and hikers with more sensitive feet may still need an orthotic insert, but the majority of people can get by without.
These are hiking shoes with an emphasis on supporting the wearer through a variety of harsh environments. Although they aren’t designed to handle excessively wet, icy, or cold surfaces, they are excellent at handling just about any other form of hiking terrain. Some reviewers have mentioned that the Salomon X Ultra 3 even manages to perform well on smooth surfaces, which is impressive considering their generous use of treading. This could translate into better than average performance on other forms of running terrain, such as a track or a field. However, this still isn’t recommended since their weight will inhibit runners interested in using them in this capacity.
The good news about the Salomon X Ultra 3’s price is that it’s lower than the cost of many trail running shoes while also being in a reasonable price range for above-average hiking shoes. The bad news is that availability for these shoes are limited, which means that many sizes and colorways for them feature grossly inflated prices, if they are available at all. It is entirely possible for a customer on a budget to find hiking footwear cheaper than these. However, these Salomon shoes are a sound investment, provided that the buyer is able to find a decently priced pair in their size.
The outsoles of these Salomon hiking shoes are advertised as having a ContraGrip design that emphasizes their traction. In practice, this translates into a decent grip provided by its treading that ensures the wearer is able to maintain a secure footing on various forms of oppressive hiking terrain. The heels of these shoes offer a specialized form of traction intended to improve its ability to maintain this grip while walking down inclines, which can go a long way toward preventing injury.
Due to the higher weight and multiple layers of protective padding implemented into the design of the Salomon X Ultra 3, flexibility isn’t something that potential customers should expect when considering this product. Although the midsole will offer some give, the multiple supportive accessories added to the top half of these shoes prevents them from feeling nearly as flexible as something made for more casual running. Still, those who are more experienced with trail runners have stated that these shoes are flexible in comparison to similarly made products.
While managing to provide a relatively impressive amount of flexibility, Salomon still ensures that the X Ultra 3 offers excellent stability as well. This is integral to the proper usage of a hiking shoe since a lack of stability can lead to a debilitating injury when walking on a jagged rock path or steep elevation with considerable altitude. Fortunately, the combination of a ContraGrip outsole and tight-fitting upper ensure that this isn’t an issue.
Salomon hasn’t provided an exact measurement for the difference in elevation between the X Ultra 3’s heel and forefoot. However, a estimate based on its appearance would place in at around 4 millimeters. This is a good heel drop for this kind of shoe, since it ensures that they are able to distribute the wearer’s weight evenly across the foot while also giving their heels a small amount of extra padding. This also allows for greater performance on inclined surfaces, which is something tougher to accomplish with a larger height discrepancy.
- ContraGrip outsole with emphasis on incline traction
- Injection-molded EVA foam midsole
- Quicklace speed lacing system
- Protective heel cap and toe cap
- OrthoLite sockliner for extra orthotic support
- Shallow heel drop
The Salomon X Ultra 3 is an excellent choice for anyone interested in a great hiking shoe at a reasonable price. While there are many other excellent hiking shoes with similar or even better prices, the thing that makes these shoes such a great choice over these other options is their sense of style. While they still may not be able to hold a candle to Nike or Adidas, Salomon’s fashion sense helps to cement their status as the off-road equivalent to these popular brands.