The Salomon Vaya Low GTX is a lightweight uniquely-styled hiking shoe with some nice protective features. With a very soft upper, it is a competent and comfortable option for day hikes on established trails. Though they repelled water successfully on damp hikes, these Gore-Tex lined shoes leaked significantly in our standing water test. The toe box is quite roomy, and the upper fabric is quite flexible, so this shoe is best for ladies with wider feet and for shorter day hikes with a light pack where support is not as critical.Editor's Note: This hiking shoe review now includes more details on the shoes we would recommend to a friend for different goals. This update happened on March 6, 2022.
Salomon Vaya Low GTX Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, generous toe box, flexible upper
Cons: Lacks support, not completely waterproof, medium traction
Compare to Similar Products
Salomon Vaya Low GTX
|Price||Check Price at REI|
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|$149.95 at Backcountry|
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|$140 List||$84.00 at Amazon|
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|$71.01 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Lightweight, generous toe box, flexible upper||Feels fast, lightweight, waterproof, great traction||Comfortable, stable, great traction, durable||Comfortable, lightweight, decent traction, inexpensive, vegan-friendly||Waterproof, great traction, breathable|
|Cons||Lacks support, not completely waterproof, medium traction||Average durability, not as protective underfoot||Upper absorbs water (but doesn't leak), a little heavy||Not waterproof, below average durability||Needs breaking in, runs short, awkward tongue, laces difficult to adjust|
|Bottom Line||The Vaya is a very lightweight and roomy hiking shoe suitable for day hikes but also has lower water resistance||This high-performing shoe is impressively lightweight and suited for hard-charging missions across versatile terrain||This beefy shoe features rugged durability and excels at day hikes, longer adventures, and tricky terrain||A budget-minded, lightweight, and comfy shoe for fair-weather day hikes when you know your feet won't get wet||Good at most things and great at some, this solid hiker meets most needs at a surprisingly low price|
|Rating Categories||Salomon Vaya Low GTX||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Oboz Sawtooth II Lo...||Merrell Siren Edge 3||Merrell Moab 2 WP -...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Salomon Vaya Low GTX||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Oboz Sawtooth II Lo...||Merrell Siren Edge 3||Merrell Moab 2 WP -...|
|Weight (per pair)||1.22 lbs (size 7)||1.37 lbs (size 7)||1.83 lbs (size 7)||1.41 lbs (size 9.5)||1.69 lbs (size 7)
1.71 lbs (size 10)
|Width Options||Regular||Regular||Regular, Wide||Regular, Wide||Regular, Wide|
|Upper||SensiFlex||Synthetic/textile||Leather/textile||Waterproof mesh, 3D-printed TPU||Suede leather, mesh|
|Midsole||EnergyCell||EVA||Dual density EVA||EVA||EVA|
|Lining||Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex||B-Dry||Mesh||M-Select Dry & Mesh|
|Outsole||Contragrip||Contagrip||Sawtooth||Vibram TC5+||Vibram TC5+|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Vaya Low GTX is one of the few hiking shoes we have reviewed that doesn't have a men's version. The marketing language says it "has been designed for active, outdoor women looking to re-energize and reconnect with nature." While this is a fine lightweight hiking shoe, the main difference between the Vaya and other women's hiking shoes is the distinct ombre color scheme that feels specifically feminine.
The Vaya is constructed of a proprietary material called "Sensiflex," that Salomon claims adapt to the foot. We found that the upper material is exceptionally comfortable out of the box, with no breaking-in required. The collar is padded, and the material is quite flexible, meaning no pinch or pressure points.
This model has a noticeably wider forefoot than other Salomon hiking shoes, and in conjunction with the flexible fabric, it feels a bit sloppy, especially if you have a narrow foot. If you prefer a wider toe box, however, you will appreciate the roominess and the flex of the upper.
The soles are rugged enough to protect from poking rocks, but there is not a lot of cushion under the foot in this model. After longer hikes, especially with a moderate pack, there was some foot fatigue.
The heels are pretty structured and reinforced with rubber laminate on the outside of the shoe, offering good support through the back of the shoe. Many women have narrow heels, causing shoes to slip, but the Vaya has no heel slipping! The wider last also makes for a stable base.
Interestingly, what makes the Vaya comfortable also makes it less supportive. The upper material is quite flexible, and that, combined with the wide toe box, makes them feel a bit sloppy, which ultimately feels less supportive. This will mainly be an issue for women with narrow feet, as they can't be cinched down snug around a narrow foot.
The shoe comes with a thin Ortholite insole that provides minimal support. There is also not a lot of built-in arch support, which becomes more critical for longer hikes or when you are carrying weight.
The sole on the Vaya is made of Contagrip, a grippy compound that works best in warm weather. We found the traction acceptable on trails of mixed surfaces, from sandy soil to rock to dirt. They also perform well on rock slabs. However, the shallow and regularly-sized lugs do not grab as well on loose surfaces and are not as desirable for steep hiking. In our rubble traction test, they felt pretty unstable.
While the Vaya looks like a beefy shoe, it is pretty light — one of the lightest we tested. The heel's rubber toe bumpers and laminations offer additional protection without weighing down the shoe. We measured this shoe to weigh 1.22 lbs in size US Women's size 7, which is on the edge of the most lightweight shoes of all tested models.
We wore these shoes in as many types of weather as possible to get real-world results. Additionally, we test for water resistance by wearing each pair of shoes in a water bath for 10 minutes, weighing them before and after soaking.
While the Vaya performed well in snow and wet trails conditions, with no leaks experienced, they failed in the water bath in less than 3 minutes. Water-soaked in through multiple seams on the left shoe. Additionally, the shoes held 1.5 ounces of water when soaked, significantly more than other shoes absorbed. The Vaya will do a fine job hiking most days since most folks choose not to hike in inclement weather. But we would not recommend them in very wet weather or on trails with lots of puddles or stream crossings or multi-day trips when the weather might vary.
As a comfortable, lightweight shoe, the Vaya is a favorite for short hikes and got in a lot of bonus tester miles. While the colors look less bright after many miles in the dirt, they otherwise show no indication of any abrasion, weak points, or de-lamination of the rubber. Synthetic materials, however, tend to be less durable over time. Additionally, there are some indications of compression of the EVA foam midsole. This is common with lighter-weight shoes and may indicate a shorter lifespan.
Should You Buy the Vaya?
The Vaya is a great, lightweight option for day hikes on less technical trails. The ombre color is fun, and the materials are solid performers in mixed weather and on mixed trail surfaces. It does not offer enough support for multi-day hiking but excels at shorter jaunts outdoors. The Vaya is a good-looking and functional all-around day hiker that is also very lightweight. These are a solid value with a purchase price below the average of the shoes we tested.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
For a slight bump in the price of less than a pizza price, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex - Women's is the Salmon shoe we prefer. We think you get a lot more for this shoe with an impressive overall score and performance for comfort, support, and traction than the Salmon competition. Alternatively, if you are working with a smaller budget, the Merrell Moab 2 WP - Women's is one to consider with a higher overall score than the Vaya and good traction, support, and comfort.
— Laurel Hunter
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