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Hands-on Gear Review
Salomon Quest 4D II GTX Review
Cons: Lots of seams to wear out, might be too aggressive for casual hikers
Bottom line: Our Editors' Choice award winner is a very versatile boot that combines unsurpassed ankle and foot protection, stability, and water resistance with a comfortable design, without being too heavy.
The Salomon Quest 4D II GTX, our do-it-all Editors' Choice 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 ankle 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 covering 20 miles or more in a day.
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 one of our favorites, and the comfortable ankle collar gave us peace of mind when bombing down steep grades. This boot begs to be pushed to the limit, and it delivers time and time again.
The Salomon did not go unchallenged in our review, facing fierce competition from the previous Editors' Choice winner, the Vasque St. Elias GTX, as well as the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid. Both are excellent midweight hikers, with the Renegade weighing a few ounces less, and that St. Elias over-stepping the Salomon in durability. If you stick to moderate trails and backpacking ventures, the much lighter and more comfortable HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra Hi WP is right up your alley. For more midweight hikers, and several lightweight models, be sure to check our complete review of Men's Hiking Boots.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Hiking Boots of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The $230 Salomon Quest 4D II GTX has earned our Editors' Choice Award, continuing to be a favorite of ours over several years of combined testing. We have always loved it for outstanding comfort and stability while moving fast in rough terrain, as well as some of its more subtle features. The unique raised heel design wants to push you forward faster and faster! It also has great breathability, and proved to be one of the most water resistant models in our review. All these qualities combine to make the Quest 4D II a very versatile, functional boot that overall performs better than the rest.
Salomon's expertise designing burly 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 slightly 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. This boot grabs onto your ankle and foot to give you very confident stability without sacrificing comfort.
The ankle 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.
This model's lacing system 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 both a wide forefoot and a narrow forefoot praise the fit of the Quest's toe box. 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 in such a way that having them pop loose is out of the question, but the laces can still slide freely as your ankle flexes. Only the Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid has a similar lacing system, though we liked the Quest's a tad better.
This product was the most breathable of the midweight hikers. Its upper incorporates nylon mesh panels, which allow the GORE-TEX liner to breathe. Furthermore, the Ortholite insert is perforated up front, allowing air to circulate under the foot and through the toe box. Salomon footwear has a well-earned reputation for offering great water resistance while remaining breathable, and this model lives up to the expectations set by its trail runner cousins.
Hikers interested in extreme comfort and lightweight properties might be better served by the Tor Ultra Hi WP, HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit Mid WP, or KEEN Targhee II Mid. However, those seeking an aggressive midweight hiker will find the Quest sufficiently comfortable and highly supportive, even under the weight of heavy backpacks on rock-filled trails.
The 4D Advanced Chassis and a wide 4.625-inch forefoot provide the base that propelled this model to the top score for stability. Combine this foundation with the tallest ankle collar of the boots we measured (tied with the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid), 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.
Torsional stability is also a strong point of this product, which strikes a great balance of a flexible upper and a stiff, supportive outsole. The only midweight boot that provides a stiffer forefoot is the Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX. How is it that a boot with this much support and stability can be so comfortable? Thank you Salomon!
The Salomon Quest 4D II scored at the top of the heap in our steep scree and gravel tests. The lugs of the proprietary ContraGrip sole ate this terrain up, and the stiff sole with thick and durable toe protection dug into scree easily.
This product also performed exceptionally well in mud and slushy snow, similar to the St. Elias. 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 rocks very well, it underperformed during our test on smooth, dry rock inclines. Overall, it received a high score for all-around traction, which certainly influenced our decision to award it our Editors' Choice. For supreme grip on rock, our Top Pick for Scrambling, the Asolo Jumla GV, has you covered.
This was the third-heaviest pair we reviewed, weighing in at 3.24 lbs. for a size 11.5 US. But it also has the tallest ankle collar, and overall is a formidably constructed boot. The Renegade matches the collar height of the Quest 4D II, but at a significantly lower weight.
When considering the support and stability provided by the Quest 4D II, 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, the average fastpacker isn't looking at covering 3,000 miles in four or five months. We think that most rough terrain fastpackers 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, measuring 6.125 inches. It also beads water off, straight 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.
The Quest 4D II tied with the St. Elias and Lowa Renegade for the best score in this metric. The only drawback we found was that when we completely soaked this boot inside and out, it took approximately 27 hours to dry out in indirect sunlight, where the other two competitors above dried much faster.
We awarded this piece a seven for durability. Salomon uses a combination of nubuck leather and nylon mesh on the upper, and there are a lot of seams. These seams in the forefoot are weak points for wear as we saw happen in the Merrell Capra Venture Mid GTX, and eventually, the waterproof liner could be compromised here. That said, we were still satisfied with its durability.
After 3 months of use, these boots still looked and performed like new, except becoming even more comfortable after being broken-in. This is another product that will benefit from a liberal application of Seam Grip if you plan to beat them up off trail. The highest scorers in this category were the St. Elias and the Mountain Trainer.
This is the boot we liked especially for fastpacking trips in sloppy conditions, or over rough terrain, but it would be a great choice for any backpacking trip. This hefty boot is best used for carrying medium to heavy loads, but is comfortable enough that you can take them day hiking as well. Sized appropriately for wearing a thick wool sock, it's a perfect snowshoeing boot too, and fits with strap-on crampons as well. Overall, we highly recommend this product for an expansive variety of applications in the backcountry.
At $230, this model is reasonably priced. Its hi-tech design delivers top notch performance, although there are a few boots in this price range that will more than likely last longer, such as the St. Elias or the Mountain Trainer Mid. If you're looking for something much lighter and less expensive (but also less stable and supportive), lightweight hikers like the Targhee II and Tor Summit Mid WP are even more affordable.
If you want to get the highest performing hiking boot to handle whatever terrain you put in its path, this is the boot for you. It combines comfort, excellent stability, traction, and water resistance in a very agile and speedy package. Do your backpacking friends have trouble matching your pace? They'll never catch you in these fast movers! Come rain or shine, warm or cold temps, talus or mud, river crossing or dry desert, we think you'll love the all-around performance the Salomon Quest 4D II offers.
— Ross Robinson and Brandon Lampley
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