Take an off-road truck and meld it with a racecar; turn that into a shoe — you get something like the S-LAB Fellcross 3 from Salomon. Made for running on muddy trails, grass, sand, and snow, the Fellcross was designed to be fast in places where most footwear slips or fails.
I tested the high-tech, high-price shoes this month as snowdrifts melted into mud. The grip underfoot, bolstered by more than 40 quarter-inch lugs, is unsurprisingly solid. Here are some testing notes and observations from the trail.
The Gear: S-LAB Fellcross 3 from Salomon ($170; available now)
Fell Running Roots: As its name says, this is a fell-running influenced shoe. Fell runners often have knobby soles for grip but a minimal midsole — you don’t need cushion when running on fells (hills) where grass, dirt, and off-trail terrain are common.
Traction + Flex: On the Salomon shoe, the sole is flexible despite its aggressive sole. The compressed EVA midsole is thin, letting the shoe flex and meld to the terrain; if you step sideways on a hill, for example, the shoes form to the contour, giving grip where a stiffer shoe would get less purchase and slip.
Upper: The shoe body is water-resistant but not puddle-proof. The shoe hugs your foot in a soft but tough synthetic material with welded overlays and dense mesh. A Kevlar lace cinches them tight.
Fit: Not made for wide feet. The overall fit was precise for me and more narrow than many trail-runners I wear. Try them on to dial in the fit; I needed to reduce one-half size for my foot.
Weight: My test shoes in size 12 U.S. weighed 11.3 ounces each. This is not lightweight for trail-runners (it’s about average) but this is a beefy, durable shoe with a lot of rubber underfoot for grip.
Testing Grounds: On the trail, the Fellcross gave confidence where things got sloppy. Steep paths with loose footing, as well as variable off-trail forest or alpine terrain, is the venue for these specialty shoes. With 4mm of drop, the shoe promotes a natural mid-foot stride.
Don’t Use Here: Avoid pavement and compacted trails. There is little cushioning by design, and the shoe is not made for hard surfaces (though the rubber lugs do absorb some impact).
Athlete-Designed: Salomon created the new version of the Fellcross with its professional trail-running team, and the company markets them as giving “performance our top athletes demand for racing in mucky conditions.” We love that this company builds such niche and high-performance shoes.
Pricey Footwear: They come with a pro-level price tag of $170. Look to the Fellcross if you’re a serious runner in need of a shoe for seriously steep, sloppy, muddy terrain.
Who Should Buy It: Orienteers, adventure racers, winter (snow) runners, cross-country racers, Tough Mudder addicts and obstacle racers, or serious runners who need this specialty item in their quiver.
Contact Brand/More Beta: S-LAB Fellcross 3 from Salomon
–Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © MonopointMedia.