Salomon Speedcross 4 ReviewSeptember 29, 2016
- Colossal grip
- Protective uppers
- Long, narrow fit
- Speed laces
- No tongue gusset
With its deep lugs and protective upper, the Salomon Speedcross 4 is an aggressive trail runner best suited for soft ground, muddy trails, and rocks. The new version receives only minor updates to last year’s Speedcross 3, including a slight change to the toebox, tongue, and tread. For sloppy conditions and rocky terrain, nothing beats the Salomon Speedcross 4.
Salomon’s Speedcross model is renowned for being an aggressive off-road shoe designed to tackle rocks, roots, mud, and other challenging terrain. The new Speedcross 4 includes minor updates to the previous version, most notably a slightly rounder toe box, more padded tongue, and full triangular lugs across the entire width of the outsole. The previous Speedcross 3 had a pointier, more constrictive front end, more stripped-down tongue, and half-lugs on the edges of the outsole. More refinements than full updates, the changes to the Speedcross 4 hone and polish what was already a legendary trail runner. Runners who already own the Speedcross 3 will be able to upgrade without losing anything they love and ought to be pleased with the changes. Wear-testers praised the Speedcross 4’s sticky grip and protection, but some disliked the narrow fit through the midfoot and had difficulty securing the shoe with the stock speed laces. The upper shell also repels some wetness, but when water intrudes over the heel or tongue, the shoe is slower to dry than models with a traditional mesh upper. For runners who need even more protection, the Speedcross 4 is also available in a more water-resistant Climashield version (Speedcross 4 CS) and a fully waterproof Gore-Tex version (Speedcross 4 GTX).
Although the Speedcross 4 excels in challenging conditions, our wear-testers found the narrow fit slightly uncomfortable. As one noted, “it feels narrow throughout, especially in the midfoot, and also runs long for its size. Salomon stuck with their winning recipe; I just wish it came in a slightly wider version.” The uppers are made with an external layer of dense ripstop nylon and a seamless inner layers of softer material, which makes the interiors comfortable but can lead to trapped heat on particularly warm days. Additionally, Salomon uses Ortholite insoles, which feel dynamic underfoot and resist compression.
On arduous trails and messy conditions, the Speedcross 4 is about as fast as they come. The aggressive, toothy outsole paired with a responsive, well-cushioned midsole, makes it a viable choice for challenging ultramarathons or other all-day efforts. The lugs provide too much grip for smooth, well-groomed trails though, and the result is a slower-feeling turnover when the terrain is gentler.
Security of Fit
Our wear-testers had some gripes with the Speedcross 4’s narrow fit through the midfoot, which one called “suffocating”, as well as the speedlace system. As one wear-tester noted, “there’s nothing speedy about it when you can’t customize where you have it looser and tighter. It also tends to loosen over time, making you stop to readjust everything all over again.”
As one wear-tester put it, “Salomon is known for its deeper tread and larger lugs, and the Speedcross 4 is no exception.” On challenging, technical terrain and in wet, muddy conditions, few shoes compare to the Speedcross 4. At the same time, however, our wear-testers found the oversized lugs to be overkill for smooth trails, easy gravel, and pavement.
For a burly, aggressive mountain shoe, the Speedcross 4 has a lively, responsive ride. On the trail, it doesn’t feel dead or sluggish. According to our wear-testers, it’s a shoe that is both obviously designed for maximum protection in tough conditions but also nimble on the trail.
The full-contact rubber outsole combines with a thick midsole to provide plenty of protection from the trail, and the wraparound toe guard and lateral guard are integrated seamlessly. Our wear-testers also praised the heavy duty ripstop upper, with one commenting that it “does a fabulous job keeping dirt and debris out.” Our wear-testers were concerned that the Speedcross 4’s tongue isn’t gusseted, however, which allows water to intrude. The upper is so thick and dense that once water is inside the shoe, it dries much more slowly than any other shoe in this round of wear-testing.
Jason is a trail runner and ultra-marathoner who lives with his wife and children in the frozen tundra of northeastern Wisconsin.