The Salomon Speedcross 3 has been around for a long time (in shoe years). In fact, we reviewed the shoe way back in 2012 and since then the shoe has remained largely unchanged – if it a’int broke, don’t fix it. This year however, Salomon has decided to update the extremely popular trail running shoe and so today we’re going to look at the 2016 Speedcross Pro.
The outsole of the Speedcross is and always has been a pretty straightforward setup with 6mm deep, chevron-shaped lugs that are directionally arranged to account for ascending and descending. One of the issues with the lugs on the Speedcross 3 is that the perimeter lugs were cutoff when the rubber of the outsole ended, leaving only a portion of the full chevron behind on the edge. “What’s wrong with that?” you might ask, well, this means that the structure of the lug is compromised as well as reducing the amount of rubber in what are typically high-abrasion areas. So, these partial lugs would wear more quickly than the rest of the outsole and the performance of the shoe could be sacrificed. However, in the 2016 Speedcross Pro (as well as the Speedcross 4 and S-Lab Speedcross) this problem has been addressed by making some almost imperceptible changes to the lug layout which now consists of only full lugs. Traction in this shoe is built for climbing some pretty technical trail and it kills it in this job.
Another big change for the outsole of the Speedcross Pro which escapes the naked eye is the updated Contagrip rubber used. This new rubber is Salomon’s “mud & snow Contagrip” which I first has the chance to check out at the Outdoor Retailer show (OR) this past January. On wet surfaces, this stuff is markedly changed from its predecessor and the amount of grip is truly impressive. I’ve certainly given this shoe the business on dry terrain and the grip there is extremely solid but on wet ground, particularly rocks, this material shines.
I’ve got to admit that when I see something as luggy as the Speedcross Pro (and it’s siblings) I’m quite skeptical of its durability. However, color me surprised with just how well this shoe has done. With about 60 miles (all trail) on it there’s very little wear to speak of. Impressive to say the least.
The midsole of the Speedcross Pro uses two main technologies working together to keep the trail under control and your feet comfortable. These technologies are and injection-molded EVA and LT Muscle – both of which provide cushioning with the particular aim of the LT Muscle being to add flexibility.
While I’ll leave most of the talk about feel and such to the ride section below, I do think it’s important here to mention the geometry and how it affects my run. First, the stack which on the Speedcross Pro come in at 30mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot for a net drop of 10mm. This is a bit higher than my preferred 6mm-and-under standard but since on a trail more time is spent on the forefoot than on a road, it wasn’t a huge deal. With that said though I will say that the heel has a more volume that I think is necessary. If you’re a hardcore heel striker (first, why and second, good luck with that going up a hill) then you may get some use out of the both wide and high-ish heel unit but otherwise, I think it could be trimmed down and thus save weight and unnecessary bulk in that area.
Some of the biggest changes from the Speedcross 3 into this shoe appear in the upper. The first of there is the inclusion of welded overlays which are part of the Sensifit system which we’ve talked about in Salomon running shoes in the past. Not only do there overlays save weight by being more closely attached to the shoe but I felt as though there gave an even closer wrap around the foot. If you look closely, you can see that the overlays on the higher side of the shoe are part of the full wrapped overlay and mudguard that covers the midsole and extends all the way down to the outsole.
Underlying all that welded goodness is a debris-killing and water-resistant main mesh which, despite the very tight weave, does have some breathability – though not a ton. Further aimed at keeping debris out, there is a stretch mesh tongue cover which kind of acts like an external gusset of sorts and does its job well. The foot is tied down by Salomon’s Quicklace, ghillie lacing system – and its requisite lace pocket at the top of the tongue – which ties directly in to the external Sensifit I mentioned above. On the interior the Speedcross Pro includes Salomon’s Endofit, which is a direct compliment to the Sensifit on the outside and is marked by a soft, elastic sleeve which attaches under the sockliner and over the top of the midfoot.
As I alluded to above, the toe cap of the Speedcross Pro is integrated with the overlay material and does a very good job – especially when combined with the portion of the outsole which comes up over the toe – of keeping toes in place and unbroken. At the rear of the shoe, the heel counter is rigid and it backed up not only by internal bracing but also by some of the midsole material extending up the sides of the heel.
This upper has held up very well and while it does shoe a bit of dirt thanks to some of the fine Colorado dust that I throw at it constantly, it’s actually fairly clean as well. While it may seem like an odd thing to notice, I feel like the upper of this shoe is very complimentary to the entire running experience with the way the overlays are integrated with the sole unit. it creates a cohesive feel and function which does a nice job of enhancing the overall experience.
Here’s the thing about Salomon running shoes; they can be on the narrow side. This is not always the case but getting used to the more “Euro” fit of their shoes can take a second. For me, the Speedcross Pro and other shoes that run just on the narrower side of average, this actually give a more race-tuned fit. If you’ve got a wide foot, I’d definitely recommend trying this shoe on before committing all the way (and keep in mind that some online retailers have great return/exchange policies so even then it’s not a problem).
As for sizing, while some may try to go up by a half size to account for more width, I fit just fine into my standard size 11’s.
The ride of the Speedcross Pro is probably one of the most interesting that I’ve felt because of a bit of cognitive dissonance. On one hand, with 30/20mm of material underfoot I would expect a bit more comfort when putting in more cruise mileage. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it handles groomed single track very well and I didn’t have any specific problem with it but I just feel like I should feel a little more cush.
On more technical, rocky and loose terrain (both wet and dry) I felt like the Speedcross Pro tore it up. While there is no rock plate in this shoe I didn’t really notice that fact since the lugs and midsole material kept me protected. Ground feel was quite good for a shoe with the underfoot material here and the weight of the shoe, while not light, didn’t feel clunky on my feet.
One of the things I’ll mention here because there simply wasn’t a place to do so above is the weight of the Salomon Speedcross Pro which comes in at 12.8 ounces in my size 11’s (11.4 ounces in a size 9 according to Running Warehouse). This is not light. I think there are plenty of places to shave over an ounce or so without sacrificing any of the quality or structural integrity of the shoe. Of course, that could be exactly what’s done in the S-Lab version of this shoe!
There is a reason that the Speedcross 3 was/is such a popular shoe; it’s a solid trail shoe with a killer pedigree. I do think that there are some people who run in this only on groomed trails and that is probably a bit of an overkill but if it makes you happy and comfy, then go for it! I’m impressed with the changes and updates to the 2016 Speedcross Pro and I think that if you’ve got $150 to drop of a good trail shoe – which is actually quite reasonable, for Salomon – then this should certainly be on your radar.
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Born and raised in the great state of Virginia, Brandon is a former opera singer (true story) who’s had the outdoors flowing through his veins since day one. Brandon now lives in Colorado with his daughter Sydney (AKA, Baby Gearist).