Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Amazing traction on mud and snow, protective and versatile
Cons: Lugs wear down quickly, warm shoe that doesn’t shed water well
Best Uses: Adventures, or any run where traction is a priority
A tried and true design that has remained essentially unchanged for a number of years now, the Salomon Speedcross 3 is a popular high-performance shoe. The massive arrow-shaped lugs on its Contagrip sole offer traction rivaled by no other shoe we tested. An extremely durable upper and a well-cushioned and comfortable ride make this a great choice for long trail or mountain adventures, and it even performs well in the snow. While still quite expensive, the Speedcross 3 is more affordable than Salomon's high-end S-Lab line of products, making it perhaps the most popular Salomon shoe on the market today.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Speedcross 3 is Salomon's quintessential "do everything" traditional style trail running shoe. It excels in the mountain environment and all the conditions that accompany it - dirt, rocks, mud, snow, scrambling. Compared to the Salomon XA Pro 3D, it is not as protective or as durable, but is designed for higher performance.
While this model does not include a rockplate underfoot, it does have a ton of cushioning which offers pretty decent protection. The heel is among the most cushioned we tested, and thus it felt great for heel-striking or on downhills. The upper is a burly mesh with thick and protective overlays, especially around the toes.
Our testers rated this product a 10 out of 10 for traction, claiming it was the best that we tried. The outsole features large arrow-shaped lugs that are widely spaced across the entire sole. The Contagrip rubber is soft and sticky, which also gives it good stick to rocks. On snow and mud, this shoe is superb. Our only complaint is that the lugs have a tendency to wear down quickly and the ones on the edge of the sole easily rip off if used on rocky terrain.
Compared to the other shoes we reviewed, the Salomon Speedcross 3 is one of the least stable. The 10mm heel-toe drop combined with the very high heel made us feel like the shoe had a tendency to roll laterally, especially on downhills. A similar traditional-style shoe which felt far more stable was the Brooks Cascadia 9.
While this product is well padded and very cushioned, the fit will surely not be for everyone. In runs fairly narrow in the forefoot and is pointy in the toe box, meaning for certain types of feet it may not work well. As a contrast, a shoe which is similar to the Salomon Speedcross 3 but has a very wide forefoot area is the Mizuno Wave Kazan. The shoe is also warm, and was amongst the worst we tested for water retention, meaning it is very absorbent. We also repeatedly noticed that when wet the Ortholite footbed liner tended to bunch up in the toes.
The Speedcross 3 weighed 24.3 ounces per pair for a size 11 fresh out of the box. This was a couple ounces heavier than the lightest and most minimal shoes, but lighter than the other comparably "burly" shoes.
This shoe is a bit of an enigma when it comes to sensitivity. With a very high and cushioned heel one cannot feel much. However, there is no rockplate and thus there is decent trail feel in the forefoot, especially as the lugs begin to wear down a bit.
This product is advertised by Salomon as a racing product, and certainly it is a good mountain running shoe, especially where there are adverse trail conditions like severe mud. It is a great all-around shoe that will do well in any terrain, and has enough cushioning and protection for those ultra distance efforts.
The MSRP for this model is $125, making it only slightly more expensive than most of the shoes in this review, and significantly cheaper than the majority of Salomon's product line. With the exception of the soft traction lugs, this is a very durable shoe which should last you for many miles, making it a good value for the money.
Salomon trail running shoes are amongst the most popular in the world, especially in Europe, where the mountain races tend to cover steeper and more technical terrain than in North America. Their shoes tend to reflect this European bias, and the Salomon Speedcross 3 is no exception. This is a shoe designed for tough mountain terrain, and used in that medium, it is hard to find a shoe that will outperform this one.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's is the women's version of this shoe.
— Andy Wellman
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Most recent review: December 16, 2014
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