Monday, 06 March 2017 09:29

Salomon XA Enduro – Tested and Reviewed

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When I think about Salomon running shoes, the ones that pop into my head are the iconic Speedcross, the Sense series and the Fellraiser. For the XA, all I would think is “well built walking/approach shoe”. With the latest incarnation of the XA, that has all changed though says our tester Matt Brennan.

 What Salomon say:

“Time to run off the beaten track. The XA Enduro shoe is designed to hug and stabilize your feet on hard-core mountain terrain. It keeps the grit out. Who needs trails? The mountain is all yours, play with it, run all over it.”

xa endurance

Features:

  • Breathable open mesh uppers
  • Protective stretch gaiter helps keep debris out
  • Sensifit lacing system hugs the foot for a precise fit
  • Quicklace locker and lace pocket for clean adjustment
  • Friction free lace eyelets
  • Dual density EVA midsole
  • Midsole height: 19mm/10mm (9mm drop)
  • Profeel Film mid-to-forefoot TPU insert protects on technical terrain
  • Advanced chassis is light and maximises motion control
  • Premium Wet Traction Contagrip gives superior grip in wet, muddy conditions
  • 300g (single shoe size 8.5)

 

On Test:

When I was told I was going to be testing some new Salomon shoes, I was quite excited. I’ve had a few pairs of Speedcross, and a long lasting love/hate relationship with some Fellraisers (Love the grip on muddy surfaces, love the longevity...hate the lack of grip on rock). I opened the parcel back, saw XA on the label, and if I’m honest, my heart sank a little. XA’s, aren’t they for walking in?

xa endurance Closeup S

I opened the box, and to my surprise, there was an actual pair of pretty good looking running shoes, although they had something weird sticking out the top – a built in gaiter. I was slightly concerned that it was going to turn into a massively irritating gimmick, but time would tell.

The shoe is solidly built, but this doesn’t come through in weight, being only 300g in weight (from Salomon website).

xa endurance Both Front

They come equipped with QuicklaceTM, ProFeel Film and SensiFitTM for a locked in fit, with no hot-spots and day-long comfort and protection from rocks.

They also come with some pretty serious tread.

xa endurance Grip

Over the the last couple of months I’ve put somewhere over 50 miles on a lot of varied terrain. Here’s what I’ve found.

The initial feel was good. They are very easy to pull on as the gaiter has tab on the front and back to help you get your foot in.

xa endurance Side View

Once it was on, the QuicklaceTM was easy to tighten, and put away in the pocket. At the start of the run, I could feel the laces on the top of my foot, which I was concerned about as over time that could lead to soreness/bruising, but after 5 minutes the feeling disappeared and hasn’t returned, although if you have sensitive feet it may be something to consider.

The gaiter, fortunately, I didn’t notice at all – but would it actually keep stuff out? The comfort was amazing, and handled road and hard packed trail sections with aplomb.

They also have a wider forefoot fitting than Speedcrosses, which will be great for longer distances.

xa endurance Front and Bottom

As a final test, I took them to the Tigger Tor fell race. As a final testing ground it was perfect, as it had everything. Road, trail, wet grass, rock, dirt, snow, mud, bog and heather. Here’s how it went on all of the different surfaces:

Road – Firm, but not uncomfortable. I couldn’t feel the tread through the sole, and the mile+ road section they felt like a firm racing flat.

Trail – Comfy, grippy, fantastic. On here they came into their own, sure footed and I had no worries about where I put my foot as the stayed planted, and sharp rocks were no bother either.

Wet Grass – Better than I expected. There is some grip there, but I would like to try and race them off the side of e fell.

Rock – Mixed. On dry rock, and gritstone, they were great. Full of confidence for rock hopping, and no having to focus on every footstep like the Fellraisers. On some of the more well-worn rocks the grip was not so great, but then again nothing really is.

Snow: Great. Secure foot placement, and with the gaiter, no snow down the front or back of my foot!

Mud – To be honest, wasn’t expecting much here. It is, after all, a trail/mountain shoe. On shallow mud they were fine, and even for the muddy downhill sections they weren’t too bad, giving a controlled slide rather than nothing at all.

Bog – They stayed on my feet. Nothing more could be asked.

Heather – The real treat. This stuff gets inside socks for goodness sakes. But not on this race. The gaiter is good. See photo for evidence!

xa endurance Muddy

Overall Verdict: I’m really impressed with these shoes. Salomon have come up with a shoe that innovates, and that will be cushioned and supportive enough to run long distances and massively cut the risk of stone/dirt ingress. So impressed, that they will be my shoe of choice for the Lakeland 50 and the CCC this year (but not the Old County Tops!)

To check out the XA Endurance in person get along to Ellis Brigham, sole stockists for the first couple of months.

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 March 2017 15:01

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