Monday, January 16, 2017

Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine Shoe Review


If you are into mountain sports like skiing, boarding, or mountaineering, you’ve probably heard of Salomon.  Born in the French Alps in 1947, Salomon has made products that portray their passion for the progression of mountain sports.  They are always striving to provide great new products with top quality materials and manufacturing technologies.  Their brand has grown to cover mountaineering, hiking, skiing, boarding, and trail running.  Salomon is really popular with ultra and trail runners because of the comfort and durability of their products.  I reviewed the following products from Salomon in the past and have been really impressed with everything I’ve tested (click on the links below to read my reviews). 


S-Lab XA Alpine Shoes

The S-Lab XA Alpine Shoes are a shoe and gaiter built into one unit. The inner shoe is very similar to the Sense Pro 2 trail shoes I tested in the past. The big difference is the gaiter that helps to keep snow, mud, and other debris from getting in your shoes. 

I have tested other completely waterproof shoes from other brands in the past.  I would stand in a creek and see if they are indeed waterproof.  The XA Alpine shoes are not listed as waterproof, but they sure look like it.  The website lists it as having a “water resistant textile” and the zipper looks like it has taped seems.  It was raining when I tested these shoes for the first time and the trail was rather muddy.  I was about 3 miles into the run when I found a great creek.  I step into the creek and all of the sudden, by feet start to get wet.  I guess they aren’t waterproof, for what it is worth. 

The gaiter is breathable and zips up on the side.  You simply put on the shoes and use the awesome Quicklace system to tighten your shoes in one easy pull.  There is a pocket in the tongue for you to store the extra lace.  Then you just zip up the gaiter and you are ready to go. 

My favorite feature of the XA Alpine shoes is that it provided the most grip of any shoes that I have tried on trails.  There were some really muddy areas and I could see that most other people were slipping in the area.  I ran through that section with no slipping at all.  In fact, I didn’t slip one time, the whole 12 mile run.  I am thoroughly impressed with the Contagrip outsole.  I ran both on and off the trail and felt confident that the shoe had my back (or feet).  It was designed for superior traction in wet and muddy conditions, and it definitely passed the test.  The protective toe cap did a great job of protecting my toes from those “toe grabbing” rocks. 

The XA aren’t an ultra-plush shoe, but do provide enough cushion to make your run enjoyable without making them unresponsive.  This is made to be an alpine shoe.  It can handle running on and off trails as well as on some very rocky areas.  The XA Alpine shoes felt lighter than they really are (350 grams or 12 ounces) and provide plenty of protection.  There is a protective ankle pad and the gaiter seems durable enough to be able to handle scrapes from jagged rocks as you are running.

The shoes have a midsole height of 22mm in the rear and 16mm in the front, which gives them a 6mm heel drop.  The XA retails for $250 on the Salomon website, which is a little pricey but if you run off trail and want to skip having an additional gaiter, these are a great choice.  I was able to find them on Amazon in my size for $187.39 with free shipping and returns (for Prime members). 

Pros:
Awesome fit
Built in gaiter keeps out snow, mud, debris, and some moisture
Excellent breathability in the gaiter
Fairly Lightweight (12 ounces)
Amazing traction in wet and muddy conditions
Quicklace system
Very durable

Cons:
The retail price of $250 can be a little much (but you can find them cheaper)

Salomon’s Social Media Links

The XA Alpine shoes, like Salomon’s other products has left me utterly impressed.  I am always blown away with the level of innovative technology, comfort, and materials and this shoe is no exception.  While it isn’t completely waterproof, it is water resistant and can handle any terrain you throw at it.  Give some Salomon gear a try and see what you’ve been missing.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

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