Snow, talus, scree, slickrock, mud, gravel, trail — these shoes carried me over all of it.
Up to now, my favorite all-terrain “shoe” was a pair of hybrid hiking-work boots. They had gnarly lugs, full-grain leather, and thick insulation. In the wild, they were great. Everywhere else, I got used to sweaty feet and sounding like a monster truck driving by when I walked.
Then I gave Salomon’s 2017 XA Enduro “hard-core mountain” runners a spin. Specifically, I hiked them up the rocky, snow-specked slopes of Paiute Peak, ran down the loose scree along Pawnee Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park, and gave ’em heck along rooted trails in Deer Valley, Utah, and Minneapolis, Minn.
In short: The XA Enduros tackle mountain and trail terrain with aplomb. They’re lightweight, but stiff enough to provide support on uneven footing. The low-profile lugs, combined with the wet-compound rubber, provide excellent traction on wet or dry ascents and descents.
Salomon XA Enduro: Fit and Function
For starters, no shoe is perfect for absolutely everything. If you’re looking into the XA Enduros, you should:
- Be someone who runs
- Run on varied, off-road terrain
- Enjoy running in all conditions
Sound like you? Read on.
There are a host of features and trademarked technology on these shoes, but here are the main callouts:
- Fairly wide toe box, great for long runs and foot-splaying
- Salomon’s “Sensifit” and quick-draw lacing provide snug support
- Integrated gaiter keeps loose rock and gravel out of the shoe
- Rubber and tread are excellent for virtually every off-road condition
I tested these first on some narrow trails and switchbacks in Deer Valley. For a few days, I broke them in through rain and mist, along meandering, rooty trails, and up (and down) muddy scree slopes.
Note, these are not waterproof, nor resistant. In rainy conditions your feet will get wet.
But I also tested these along bouldery talus and dry singletrack in the Rockies. Here, my feet felt cool; they still sweat, but the inside of the XA Enduros was not boggy.
Salomon XA Enduro Review
In all conditions these shoes hugged my feet, kept debris out, and above all gave excellent traction. And I was impressed they didn’t twist torsionally on uneven terrain, despite being relatively thin and breathable.
While these are not super lightweight shoes, listed at 10.5 oz. for a men’s size 9 (my size 14s weighed 13.9 oz.), they are meant for long runs. As such, they didn’t feel weighty in my tests.
That’s in part because the sole isn’t overwhelmed with lugs. The bi-directional tread pattern bit into the trail when I took off uphill, and it snagged footing when I braked down wet terrain.
One important thing I learned while running with Salomon’s designers: The brand builds these shoes for runners. That means that to really utilize the tech — like the wet-traction rubber and bi-directional lugs — you should run with confidence.
These shoes are designed to provide optimal traction with proper running form and speed. Going down a wet slope, I had the most grip when I leaned forward and planted with my full foot.
The gaiter is a tad on the loose side, allowing a pinky finger’s gap at most. But when running with a sock, no debris worked its way in over the 100-plus miles of testing. The slight slack was just enough room to breathe and didn’t rub my Achilles.
Final Thoughts + Specs
For hardcore runners and shoe nerds, here are the technical details on the XA Enduros, which came to market this spring:
Salomon XA Enduro
- Stack (heel): 25mm
- Stack (toe): 17mm
- Drop: 8mm
- Weight: 10.5 oz. / 300g (men’s 9)
- Lacing: Drawcord
- Gaiter: Yes
- Type: Trail, off-road running
- Cost: $160
This is a terrific all-terrain running shoe. There are lighter weight, less aggressive shoes if your primary path is paved, singletrack, or predominantly flat.
But if you like your runs rutty, uneven, and unpredictable, the Salomon XA Enduros are (literally) a good fit.