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Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX Review

This boot brings the comfort of a trail running shoe but adds in the support you would expect from a hiking boot, resulting in a capable performer in all trail conditions.
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Price:  $165 List | $164.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfort of a trail runner with more support and stability, good all around performance
Cons:  Not as breathable in warm conditions, not great traction on smooth rock
Manufacturer:   Salomon
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 6, 2018
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Stability - 20% 7
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Water Resistance - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

If you are a backpacker who wants the comfort of a light trail runner, then the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX is the perfect compromise for you. Built on the same Advanced Chassis as the venerable XA Pro 3D GTX, the X Ultra Mid 3 wraps around your foot and ankle with the same performance fit and padded comfort, but delivers additional support in a mid-top height. This boot is not the lightest we reviewed, but it also doesn't sacrifice too much stability or traction for all-out low weight.

Less expensive boots exist in our reviews, such as the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid or the Best Buy-winning Keen Targhee II, but we kept gravitating back to the X Ultra Mid 3 GTX for its lightweight, on trail performance and out of the box comfort. Read on to find out why we liked it so much, and be sure to look at our Buying Advice article to help you decide if a lightweight hiking boot is right for your needs.


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Pros Comfort of a trail runner with more support and stability, good all around performanceComfortable out of the box, fast and nimble, great stability, support, and water resistanceBest choice for rock and snow travel, durable, breathes wellAmazing comfort, stable, great tractionComfortable collar, great support and stability, lightweight for its class
Cons Not as breathable in warm conditions, not great traction on smooth rockPotential durability issues with many seams, not as good for warm or hot environmentsWider fit, not the best lace locking systemNot as capable in off-trail terrain, rockered sole feels unnatural at firstNot our favorite lacing system, lots of upper seams
Bottom Line This boot brings the comfort of a trail running shoe but adds in the support you would expect from a hiking boot, resulting in a capable performer in all trail conditions.Our Editors' Choice Award winner blends comfort, stability and traction in a boot that fits well right out of the box and provides top-notch performance.For rock scrambling, alpine approaches and moderate snow travel, the Zodiac GTX is a light weight mountain boot disguised as a hiking boot.Feels like you are wearing pillows on your feet. With cushy soles and hi-cut protection, they are a great choice for those who value comfort on the trail.This boot is a midweight hiker that weighs just under 3 lbs, while its high collar provides excellent stability and water resistance.
Rating Categories Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX HOKA ONE ONE Sky Kaha Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Stability (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Traction (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
Weight (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Durability (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs Salomon X Ultra... Salomon Quest 4D 3... Scarpa Zodiac Plus... HOKA ONE ONE Sky... Lowa Renegade GTX...
Weight per Pair (size 11) 2.28 lbs 3.3 lbs 2.66 lbs 2.5 lbs 2.90 lbs
Boot Type Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight/Lightweight hiker Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Narrow, Regular, and Wide
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Gore-Tex eVent Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX
Upper Waterproof PU coated leather Nubuck leather and textile 1.8mm Suede Perwanger Waterproof leather Nubuck leather
Last Board/Shank Molded shank 4D Advanced Chassis BZ last None Full length nylon shank
Midsole Injected EVA Dual density EVA PU + 3D EVA-MP EVA DuraPU Monowrap Frame
Sole Non-marking ContaGrip ContaGrip Vibram Drumlin / Mont Vibram MegaGrip Vibram Evo
Warranty 2 year 2 year 1 year 45 days 1 year
Sizes Available 7 - 13 7 - 13 37 - 48 EU 7 - 14 7.5-15 US
Color Options Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Salomon X Ultra Mid offers the comfort of a low-top running shoe while providing the support of a high-top hiking boot. These mid-top boots are becoming increasingly popular and for good reason- hiking gear is becoming lighter and lighter each year, and as hikers shed weight from their packs, many find that they no longer need the support of a heavy-duty boot though some still may prefer the added stability of a boot like the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX.

Performance Comparison


A lightweight trip along the Sierra High Route was a great place to let the X Ultras run.
A lightweight trip along the Sierra High Route was a great place to let the X Ultras run.

Comfort


Right out of the box, the X Ultra Mid 3 GTX lock the foot into place through a speed lacing system as well as a padded collar that securely and comfortably wraps around the ankle. Salomon calls this their Sensifit system and is meant to give a customized, comfortable fit. With a fit true to size, the toe box is roomy enough to wiggle your toes, but not so wide to result in a sloppy fit. The predominantly nylon (and suede) outer flexes easily, without the necessary break-in period common to many hiking boots.

A short hike with a light load  the another perfect situation for the comfortable X Ultra Mid 3 boots.
A short hike with a light load, the another perfect situation for the comfortable X Ultra Mid 3 boots.

The X Ultra Mid 3 GTX has a Contagrip sole that does feel much thinner than the Editors' Choice Award-winning Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX; on rocky trails, this allowed us to observe more of the sharp rocks underfoot and resulted in more foot soreness by the end of a long day. The thick rubber cap on the end of the toe box was a nice addition and kept us from stubbing our toes as we tripped over rocks or roots on the trail.

Previous editions of the X Ultra Mid used metal eyelets for lacing which was preferred for speedier lacing and less friction. This iteration returns to fabric lacing eyelets which are adequate but not as user-friendly.

Stability


For a trail runner, the X Ultra Mid 3 is quite stable and supportive, and would score high marks in this category. As a hiking boot, though, this boot does not perform as well as taller, or more robust boots that are designed for heavier weight and rougher terrain. We acknowledge that Salomon is bridging the gap between the two categories with the X Ultra Mid 3, though, and so as long as your application is in line with its performance limitation, it is a good choice for lightweight hiking.

Hiking up a narrow canyon filled with slick rock and grassy ledges  the Ultra Mid 3 boots proved to be nimble climbers.
Hiking up a narrow canyon filled with slick rock and grassy ledges, the Ultra Mid 3 boots proved to be nimble climbers.

The X Ultra Mid 3 did succeed in keeping us from rolling our ankles on rocky and uneven terrain, though we docked points for the wide toe box and soft sole. While comfortable and roomy, we did not feel as confident when edging this boot, as it would tend to roll quite easily. We would tend to recommend this boot over a stiffer option such as the Asolo Power Matic 200 or the La Sportiva TRK GTX only when the load will be on the lighter side, and on non-technical terrain, as the torsional stability was one of the lowest in the review.

Traction


Salomon uses a proprietary rubber compound called Contagrip HT (high traction) for the X Ultra Mid 3 GTX sole, the same compound used on the high cut Quest 4D boot. The Contagrip sole featured on this model uses Descent Control lug pattern which improves its downhill performance from past editions and makes its performance on wet stone and mud slightly better.

The outsole on the Salomon shoes  a high traction compound  is useful on rocky hikes like this one in Death Valley
The outsole on the Salomon shoes, a high traction compound, is useful on rocky hikes like this one in Death Valley

The lack of stiffness in the sole, a boon to those putting down long miles with light packs on a good trail, also translates into a loss of traction when edging on firm snow or dirt. For these types of uses, we would instead take out a boot with more torsional stability, such as the Zodiac Plus.

Weight


With a verified weight of 2.28 pounds, the Salomon X Ultra Mid is incredibly lightweight for a mid-cut hiking boot, which Salomon achieves via an injected EVA sole and predominantly synthetic outer materials. While there are drawbacks to using such light materials, as noted above in the stability metric and below in durability, the result is a boot that hardly feels like it is on your foot, and allows the wearer to keep putting down the miles.

Deep in Kings Canyon in varied terrain  the X Ultras are supportive enough for long miles but light enough not to slow you down
Deep in Kings Canyon in varied terrain, the X Ultras are supportive enough for long miles but light enough not to slow you down

Water Resistance


Using a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort footwear liner, the X Ultra Mid 3 GTX did shed water, mud, and snow when moving quickly through streams and muddy bogs, but prolonged exposure allowed moisture to get in quicker than we would have hoped.

While wearing a thin sock, the waterproof/breathable liner did its job well, letting foot perspiration pass through its membrane. With a slightly thicker merino wool hiking sock, our feet got sweaty in warmer conditions and stayed sweaty, unlike while the Hoka One One Sky Kaha, whose eVent lining easily let our feet breathe on warm hikes.

The waterproof Gore-Tex membrane did a good job at keeping water and mud on the outside.
The waterproof Gore-Tex membrane did a good job at keeping water and mud on the outside.

Durability


By using a large amount of synthetic textile to build the X Ultra Mid's upper, Salomon compromises durability to lower the weight of the boot. This fabric is less resistant to abrasion and will get chewed up by rocks in a season.

There is a lot of stitching on the outer of this boot, so we recommend using an aftermarket seam sealing product to protect them from fraying and wicking water into the boot. The Keen Targhee II comes in a similar weight, at only .5 ounces more than the Salomon, and is much more durable with more leather protecting the outer boot (along with a notably clunkier fit).

In a hidden slot canyon  without any trail to follow  the X Ultras held up well to scrambling and off-trail travel.
In a hidden slot canyon, without any trail to follow, the X Ultras held up well to scrambling and off-trail travel.

Best Applications


The X Ultra Mid 3 GTX is a lightweight hiking boot built with running shoe technology. Its best applications are for people carrying lighter loads and are traveling mostly on trail, or on non-technical, off-trail terrain. This should is a good fit for those wanting the additional ankle support of a mid-cut hiker without the weight penalties and stiffness of a traditional hiking boot.

Value


With a retail price of $165, though commonly found through online retailers for much less, the X Ultra Mid 3 GTX is fairly priced. We felt that it provides great performance with good value, though the Keen Targhee II won the Best Bang for Buck Award with comparable performance at a lower price.

Conclusion


If you are a hiker who typically wears trail running shoes to backpack in, but wants more stability to carry a heavier pack, this is the boot for you. If you are a backpacker who wants to shed some weight off of your feet without sacrificing the support that you have been accustomed to in traditional boots, this is the boot for you. Casual hikers and day hikers will also enjoy the comfort and features of this boot, and will no doubt enjoy the good value at a reasonable price.

The X Ultra Mid 3 is a proven contender for all kinds of hiking adventures.
The X Ultra Mid 3 is a proven contender for all kinds of hiking adventures.


Ryan Huetter