Despite having recently ran a Ragnar Trail race, I don’t normally do much trail running, but I’ve always been intrigued by the possibility of using a trail-running shoe as a lightweight hiking shoe. I needed a shoe with enough traction, stability, and support to justify setting aside my trusty hiking boots. The Salomon XA Pro 3D satisfies all those requirements, and more.
Before I continue with the review, I will describe how I use these shoes so that you can read the review with the proper context. Primarily, I use these shoes for “training” hikes—hikes that are short (under two hours and less than about 1,500 vertical feet) and mostly just for the purpose of getting some exercise. I’m not backpacking or climbing peaks in these shoes. I don’t consider these shoes a replacement for a sturdy hiking boot.
I like using these shoes for my “training” hikes precisely because they are not sturdy hiking boots. The ways that they are less substantial than hiking boots should help strengthen my feet and ankles. They are, however, substantial enough to be a significant improvement over a more traditional running shoe (i.e., sneakers).
For a low-cut shoe, they have good lateral support. They are sturdy. When I’ve hiked in my Altra Lone Peak 2.0 trail-running shoes the rigors of hiking make it feel like my feet could bust through those shoes at any moment (especially going downhill). That’s not a problem with the XA Pro 3D. Their underfoot shock absorption is good enough for short hikes. I do not recommend these shoes for hikes longer than about two hours.
If you’ve never worn Salomon shoes before, they are known for having narrow heels and wide toe boxes. The XA Pro 3D is no exception to the typical Salomon fit. I’ve been a fan of Salomon shoes because a narrow heel and wide toe box is exactly the fit my feet require. These shoes also have a wide width option.
I was able to go up a half-size with these shoes (to accommodate my width) without sacrificing a secure fit around my heel. They may be slightly longer than ideal, but they fit perfectly otherwise. If the width is a problem for you in your typical size, I highly recommend trying a half-size larger to see if that will work.
- Salomon Quicklace System – With the Salomon XA Pro 3D you’ll never have to tie your shoes because it features Salomon’s patented Quicklace system. The system is not noticeable in the picture above, so here’s a video on YouTube demonstrating how to use the Quicklace system. The name of the system indicates one of its advantage over traditional laces. It allows you to quickly get a tight fit with your laces. The laces cannot come untied; however, they can become loose. In fact, I have found that proceeding downhill without first stopping to cinch the laces tightly will have your feet sloshing around significantly.
- Support/Stability – These shoes really lock your heel in place, even when hiking downhill (if you’ve remembered to tighten your laces first). The cuff has significant padding to create a pocket for your heel. Furthermore, the heel section is surrounded by hard plastic to ensure that awkward steps don’t overpower the shoe’s support.
- Weight – The XA Pro 3D weighs about 12 ounces less than my Salomon Quest 4D GTX hiking boots.
- Traction – The wide outsole (especially under the heel) provides a solid foundation and there appears to be a small heel brake. I’ve been pleased with their traction, although the lug pattern is rather unremarkable and the lugs’ depths are somewhat shallow.
- Salomon Quicklace System – This is my first pair of Salomon shoes with the Quicklace system. Will it last? Will it continue to work well?
- Shock Absorption – These are not hiking boots. You will feel rocks underfoot. They will challenge your feet more so than even a lightweight hiking boot.
- Ankle Support – These are low-cut shoes, so the ankle support is going to be relatively lacking. These shoes make up for the lack of ankle support in their stability, but you will certainly be more likely to roll an ankle hiking with these shoes than a high-cut hiking boot.
- Not Waterproof – Lack of waterproofing can be considered a positive or a negative based on personal preference, your location, the season, and even the type of outing. What they lack in waterproofing will be made up in breathability, however. I included lack of waterproofing as a con only because it’s a feature that is lacking compared to my hiking boots. Salomon does offer a waterproof version of these shoes (the XA Pro 3D CS WP), although wide widths are not available.