Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Comfortable out of the box, makes you want to move fast, great stability and support
Cons: Lots of seams to wear out, a little too aggressive for casual hiking
Best Uses: Fastpacking, muddy and snowy spring trails, snowshoeing
The Quest 4D GTX, our Top Pick for Fastpacking award winner, exemplifies the latest design innovations in hiking boots. Salomon has built a midweight hiking boot that remains true to the comfort and function of their award winning trail runners, while providing the support and stability that hikers and backpackers expect from a boot. 'Fastpacking' applies the modern alpinist's light and fast approach to backpacking. By carefully selecting the minimum amount of lightweight equipment necessary for self-sufficiency, fastpackers cover long distances quickly. Sometimes breaking into a run when terrain allows, they may cover 20 miles in a day, often many more. It's not uncommon to cover 150 miles in a week when fastpacking, a term used interchangeably with ultralight hiking.
From the ground up this is a high-performance boot. Nimble enough for running, and stable enough for harsh terrain, it eats up the miles. The Contagrip sole provides excellent traction across a range of surfaces on the trail and off. The 4D Advanced Chassis gives foot support and great torsional stability. The uppers combine several materials that are flexible and supportive at the same time. The lacing system was our favorite, and the comfortable ankle collar gave us peace of mind when bombing down steep grades.
Does it sound like we like this boot? WE LOVE IT!
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Quest 4D GTX is a trail running shoe on steroids. It earned our Top Pick for Fastpacking in our old review and took home this award once again in our updated review. We absolutely loved it for comfort and stability while moving fast in rough terrain. The unique raised heel design wants to push you forward faster and faster! The Vasque St. Elias GTX, our Editors' Choice winner, hit the ball out of the park as the perfect modern upgrade of the backpacking boot, and the Keen Targhee II Mid is unrivaled for comfort and affordability amongst lightweight hikers. That said, the Quest 4D is the footwear you want if you're planning to sprint through the mountains and forest with your pack as fast as you can.
Salomon's expertise designing trail running shoes has been translated into a boot that feels great on the foot. The first thing you'll notice when standing in this model is the raised heel design. It might take a minute to get used to, but feels great when crushing miles. The forefoot is nice and roomy, while the heel cup captures the ankle bones to achilles well.
The collar - one of the tallest of the hiking boots we tested - is surprisingly comfortable, and feels great snugged tight around the lower shin. It provides amazing ankle stability without the stiff feeling of traditional hiking boot designs. The lacing system used is perhaps the best we tested. Four lower eyelets allow you to custom fit the forefoot of the lower boot, which is very flexible. Folks with wide and narrow forefoots praise the fit of the Quest's toebox. The middle eyelet has the best positive lock we tested, and its large radius makes it easy to use. Two upper eyelets complete the lacing system. The design of these upper eyelets is top notch; they capture the laces is such a way that having them pop loose is out of the question, but the laces can still slide freely as your ankle flexes.
This product was the most breathable of the midweight hikers we tested. Its upper incorporates nylon mesh panels, which allow the GORE-TEX liner to breathe. Salomon footwear has a well-earned reputation for offering water resistance while remaining breathable, and this model lives up to the expectations set by its trail runner cousins.
Hikers focused mainly on comfort should consider lightweight hikers, especially the Targhee II and Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid. However, those seeking an aggressive midweight hiker will find the Quest super comfortable and highly supportive.
The 4D Advanced Chassis provides the base that propelled this model to a top score for stability. Combine this foundation with the tallest ankle collar of the boots we measured, and it's no surprise that this boot earned the highest score for all-around stability. While wearing this hiker, we felt confident jumping around in the talus and moving fast over muddy trails full of roots. Moreover, the combination of materials Salomon uses for the ankle collar are comfortable but firm.
The sole at the forefoot fell right in the middle of width measurements. It seems that some manufacturers make up for lack of stability in the ankle collar with a wider forefoot; however, we think this model has struck a perfect balance. Torsional stability is also a strong point of this product. The only hiking boots that provide a stiffer forefoot are the Asolo Power Matic 200 and Oboz Beartooth, which are both much heavier. How is it that a boot with this much support and stability can be so comfortable? Thank you Salomon!
This was the best product we tested heading up and down steep loose gravel. The lugs of the proprietary ContaGrip sole ate this terrain up. This product also performed exceptionally well in mud and slushy snow. We felt confident in its ability to keep us well-connected to the ground wandering around high in the mountains in the messy, early summer conditions. While this hiker stuck to wet granite well, it underperformed during our test on dry granite slabs. Overall, it received the highest score we awarded for all-around traction, which certainly influenced our decision to award it a Top Pick.
This was one of the heavier boots we reviewed, and right in the middle of the midweight hikers. But it also has the tallest ankle collar, and overall is a formidably constructed boot. The only other boot awarded a top score for stability, the Power Matic, is a full one pound heavier. When considering the support and stability provided by the Quest 4D, it is quite light for what it delivers. While it's true that many boot-wearing fastpackers on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails prefer featherweight models like the Targhee II or the Moab Ventilator, the average fastpacker isn't looking at covering 3,000 miles in four or five months. We think that most fastpacking folks will benefit enough from the added ankle stability and forefoot support provided by the Quest that it's worth a bit of extra weight.
This model has one of the highest flood heights of all the hiking boots we tested, and it was one of the only ones we tested whose uppers beaded water right out of the box. Salomon uses the industry standard GORE-TEX Performance Comfort Footwear membrane in this liner. However, the upper's ability to bead water breaks down quickly though, and regular applications of a waterproofing treatment will keep the upper from soaking up water.
There are also tons of seams on the Quest, and it was one of the products that leaked just a little at the toe when we were splashing around in the lake; however, you can help prevent leaks like these by applying a seam sealer upon purchase. Due to its hybrid construction on the upper, this model breathes better than most of the comparable midweight hikers. Overall, we awarded it an eight for water resistance.
We awarded this piece a seven for durability. Salomon uses a combination of suede leather and nylon mesh on the upper, and there are a lot of seams. These seams in the forefoot area are weak points for wear, and eventually the waterproof liner will be compromised here. That said, we were still satisfied with its durability. This is another product that will benefit from a liberal application of Seam Grip.
This is the boot we chose for fastpacking trips in sloppy conditions, or over rough terrain, but it would be a great choice for any backpacking trip. Sized appropriately for wearing a thick wool sock, it's a perfect snowshoeing boot as well. Overall, we highly recommend this product.
At $230, this model is reasonably priced. It delivers great performance, but in this price range there are more durable boots. The Vasque St. Elias, our Editors' Choice winner, provides the best bang for your buck amongst midweight hikers. If you're looking for something even lighter and less expensive (but less durable), lightweight hikers like the Targhee II and Moab Ventilator are even more affordable.
Buy this boot for fastpacking and backpacking in sloppy conditions. Do your friends have trouble matching your hiking pace? They'll never catch you in these fast movers! Are you making the transition from running shoes to a hiking boot? The Quest will feel like a natural step up. We loved the all-around performance offered by this midweight hiker.
The Quest 4D GTX - Women's, $230, is the women's version of this shoe. If you're looking for a waterproof low cut Salomon shoe, check out the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 or the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX - Women's.
— Brandon Lampley
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Most recent review: July 12, 2014
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