Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX W ReviewMarch 20, 2018
- Above average stability & traction
- Exceptional surface & impact protection
- Very breathable
- No tie lacing system
- Designed to fit womens feet
- Some looseness over toe box
- Some wear on uppers
- Shifts in lace tightness
Support & Stability
Salomon has employed its proprietary “descent control technology” in the X Ultra 3 GTX W hiking shoe. This technology is comprised of a customizable, multi-point lacing system that helps cradle and hold the foot in place. Additionally the X Ultra 3 GTX W has an asymmetrical chassis inserted between the mid and outsole for a slightly stiffer, more stable ride, and an EVA shaped footbed to help hold the foot in place. We found that these features – alongside a mid-height ankle shaft, nicely ankle holding rounded collar and higher-cut tongue – provided great ankle stability and limited twisting. This was especially evident on challenging, off camber trails. The traction of the X Ultra 3 GTX W was also very good. Its Contagrip outsole and 4 millimeter lugs are constructed out of two types of rubber. The outsole’s middle section uses a harder rubber, for increased trail resistance. While the outsole’s edges use a softer, stickier rubber to help grab onto smooth or slick surfaces. Our testers found that these materials, along with the directional lug patterning, provided a good level of traction on the full variety of trail types the shoes were tested on. Surprisingly, even with its stiffer outsole, our testers found the Salomon X Ultra GTX to provide a very responsive, energetic ride.
Quality & Construction
The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX W hiking shoe is constructed completely from a mix of high-tech synthetic materials. These newer materials allow the shoe to be lighter than many of the other shoes included in this head-to-head test, while still being a good quality, protective hiking shoe. The Salomon X Ultra GTX W’s “tieless” lacing system was unique among the shoes tested. For hikers who dislike fumbling with knots, or tying and untying their shoes, this quick slide closure, and closure pocket system could be a plus. Although this system made tightening the laces a breeze, we ultimately didn’t find it to be a timesaver – as it takes a bit of effort to get the closure device in and out of its pocket. Additional, during longer hikes, we noted that the tightness of the laces tended to move from the toe box to above the instep. This helped control forward and backward foot slide, but led to a loose hold within this shoe’s already large toe box. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX W’s Gore-Tex inner membrane did a good job of keeping feet dry in wet conditions. We wore these shoes during a light rain, and the inside of the shoe stayed pleasantly dry. Overall, we noted very little wear and tear after miles of use on a mix of rocky, smooth, dry and moist surfaces on the X Ultra 3 GTX W hiking shoes. We did find some separation of the synthetic lace shafts from the mesh uppers after multiple uses.
Like some of the other hiking shoes in this test, Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX W is constructed on a female specific last. Salomon tested the design and garnered feedback from female customers to enhance the shoe’s women-friendly fit. Similar to some of the other shoes tested, the result is a slightly higher ankle and tongue cut and and comfortably supportive and padded ankle cuffs. The toe box in the X Ultra 3 GTX W is also cut generously, to accommodate a female foot. In our tests, we found the X Ultra 3 GTX W’s uniquely high and roomy toe box to feel a bit too large when used on steeper trails. Even with the shoe’s unique lacing system, it was difficult to attain a completely secure fit directly over the ball of the foot. This may be less of an issue wide footed hikers. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX W’s slightly stiffer sole, and asymmetrical inner chassis, did a great job of keeping the ball of the foot flat, and diminishing foot fatigue on rocky hikes. Feet felt comfortable on even the most rocky terrain with the shoe’s cushioned Ortholite insoles and injected EVA midsoles. The shoe’s large mesh panels offered great breathability, allowing sweat to escape and kept feet dry during long, hot hikes, but did increase sensitivity to side impact on rocky slopes. Lastly, despite the Ultra 3 GTX W’s stiffer sole, these shoes somehow managed to retain a springy, responsive ride.
One of the features that stands out on the Salomon X Ultra GTX W is its tall, highly protective toe design. The shoe’s thick rubber toe rand, with a small toe guard in front, did an excellent job of safeguarding the fronts of the feet from inevitable trail impacts, and cushioning any blows. Additionally, this unusually tall front of shoe construction left lots of room inside the shoe for the toes to move up and down comfortably while hiking. The X Ultra GTX W’s structural heel counter and hard rubber heel guard provided adequate back of foot protection, although not quite as thorough as some of the other shoes tested. The large mesh panels throughout the X Ultra GTX W’s uppers provided great breathability, but did lead to some side of foot susceptibility on rugged trails.
Weighing in at 11.5 ounces per shoe, the Salomon X Ultra GTX W hiking shoes were the second lightest of the shoes included in this head-to-head test. The use of all synthetic material allowed these hiking shoes to be lightweight while still providing a high level of performance and comfort. Primarily mesh uppers help with the weight and provide excellent breathability. Even with its stiffer sole we found the Salomon X Ultra GTX W hiking shoes to have a surprising degree of spring and responsiveness, which made them comfortable as a crossover shoe for trail running or bicycling.
To accurately assess the performance of a women’s hiking shoe, a number of testers put each product through rigorous hiking, on over 20 miles of varied terrain. During these hikes the testers pay close attention to the level of product performance across six factors most affecting a hiker’s foot comfort and risk of foot or ankle injury on the trail.
Lisa Altomare has been an outdoor enthusiast for as long as she can remember - escaping her job as an Art Director to hike, camp and ski as frequently as possible!