The Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is an impressively structured and capable hiking shoe that is supportive and comfortable right out of the box. The traction is grippy and reliable on wet, loose, and rough surfaces. While the shoe may not be as durable as other options, we think the lighter weight and agility are worth the trade-off. The Quicklace lacing system provides speed and convenience for donning and removing the shoe. For aggressive hikers who are planning light and fast missions into the mountains, these are highly recommended. Remember that they run long, so you might need to order down a half size.Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 7, 2022, to include additional insights to help readers make the best buying decision.
Cons: Limited adjustability, average durability, runs narrow and long
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Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex - Women's
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|Pros||Fast, nimble, excellent traction, waterproof, supportive midfoot||Great traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, well-priced||Excellent cushioning, roomy toe box, great traction, stable, supportive||Spacious toe box, great traction, waterproof, durable, stable||Waterproof, lightweight, very supportive|
|Cons||Limited adjustability, average durability, runs narrow and long||Bulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyelet||Hard footbed, a little heavy||Heavy, hard footbed, not the most breathable||Not super breathable, durability concerns with the soft rubber soles|
|Bottom Line||This high-performing modern hiker is impressively stable, supportive, and responsive, well-suited to narrow feet on hard-charging missions across versatile terrain||Supportive, affordable, and highly durable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to every type of foot, hiker, and hiking experience||The perfect balance between strength and softness, with exceptional cushioning, deep tread, and a roomy yet supportive base||A burly, reliable trail partner with a wide base and sticky traction for when trips run long, and durability, stability, and waterproofing are important||Looking like a trail runner and performing like a hiking beast, this shoe is waterproof, lightweight, and supportive enough for multi-day adventures|
|Rating Categories||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...||Oboz Sawtooth X Low...||Keen Targhee III Low||Adidas Terrex Swift...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...||Oboz Sawtooth X Low...||Keen Targhee III Low||Adidas Terrex Swift...|
|Weight (per pair)||1.7 lbs (size 10)||1.8 lbs (size 10)||2.0 lbs (size 10)||2.1 lbs (size 10)||1.5 lbs (size 7)|
|Width Options||Regular||Regular||Regular, Wide||Regular||Regular|
|Upper||Synthetic textile||Leather, mesh||Oiled nubuck leather, Cordura fabric mesh||Oiled nubuck leather, mesh||High-abrasion resistant synthetic mesh|
|Midsole||EVA||EVA||Rubber-blended Adaptive Cushioning Technology foam EVA||Dual density EVA||EVA|
|Lining||Gore-Tex||Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane||B-DRY waterproof/breathable membrane||KEEN.Dry waterproof, breathable membrane||Gore-Tex|
|Outsole||Rubber Contagrip||Vibram TC5+ rubber||True Tread rubber||KEEN All-Terrain Rubber||Continental|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We have been fans of the X Ultra line-up for years due to the apparent dedication to creating shoes perfect for getting after it in the backcountry. The latest version, the X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex, is our favorite of the bunch, with its improved stability, wider toe box, and lighter-weight materials. The Quicklace lacing system might be polarizing, but we think many hikers will see and appreciate its benefits.
Knowing that comfort is critical in a hiking shoe and subjective to fit, we evaluate the qualities that impact everyone, regardless of foot shape. We found the X Ultra 4 to be very comfortable right out of the box, requiring no break-in hikes. It features soft materials, including a padded collar and heel that provide a nice cushioned feel below the ankle. The upper is constructed from a pliable synthetic material strategically reinforced with protective and supportive overlays. And the midfoot is cradled by the Advanced Chassis, which delivers excellent structural support both laterally and through the arch. While the toe box is roomier than previous iterations, it still delivers a longer and narrower fit than many other options.
The proprietary Quicklace system ensures speed heading out the door, but the design proves less practical when it comes to adjustability and securing fit, as there's little in the way of flexibility to cater to individualized needs, and the lock loosens easily once in motion. Anyone with a wider forefoot is unlikely to appreciate the merits of this shoe, while those with very narrow or flat feet may not find them to be quite adjustable enough to get a good fit. Be sure to test drive a pair well before taking the plunge. And remember, European sizing (Salomon is a French company) doesn't quite match up to standard American sizes, so you may want to size down one-half of a size for length.
The Ortholite insole is molded and perforated to add a surprising level of cushion (and breathability) in a thin package. It rests on top of a midsole of EVA, which makes for a responsive and cushioned hiking experience. When the fit was right, we were blown away by the high level of comfort this model provided, even on jagged rocks and steep descents. It's not plush, but it blends strength, rigidity, and moderate cushioning well to make rocky and uneven terrain more comfortable on your feet.
The X Ultra 4 is made with a thin synthetic upper, incorporating the strategic placement of welded overlays, rubber, and heavier materials to provide support and protection. One of these is the "ADV-C Chassis," which manages to support the lateral movement of the foot without making the whole shoe too stiff. This was a much-appreciated feature on trails with uneven rocks and surfaces.
Each piece of this carefully engineered hiker, from the outsole to the upper and everything in between, works harmoniously to provide a stable, protective, energized foundation for the whole foot. One tester reported it felt like putting on a custom-made shoe; the support is perfectly snug without binding or creating hot spots. Strategically placed, slightly wide lugs in the sole provide extra stability, especially when hiking uphill. The midsole is also soft enough to endure long days at speed.
The Quicklace system makes it easy to pull the shoes on (or off) with speed. However, the laces themselves are thin and without stretch, making them a static element across the top of the shoe. They are also not set up for individualized adjustability. If you like to play with your lacing to achieve a perfect fit from heel to toe, you will be disappointed. We also noted the laces themselves were prone to loosening once any activity was engaged. So while the "locking" pull tab looks impressive and tightens quickly, in function, it can become a nuisance (requiring many stops to retighten one's shoes en route).
The X Ultra 4 also features "Active Support" wings — essentially a pair of thick, wide structural straps with tubular eyelets sitting across the top of each shoe. These tighten around the midfoot, just before you engage the last set of eyelets at the ankle, and their use disperses the topside pressure from the laces to increase overall stability and support and allow the shoe to easily adapt to the foot's shape and volume while in motion. A nice feature, particularly given the micro-thin design of these specialty Salomon laces.
Equipped with Contagrip, Salomon's proprietary sole material, and multi-directional lugs, the X Ultra 4 traction is bomber. Salomon has roots in trail running, and we felt secure on a surprising variety of surfaces. Even in icier and slick conditions, our movements seemed less sketchy than expected.
One thing of note: the rubber is soft and grippy, not the stiffer rubber of alpine-oriented shoes. These shoes are up to the task while crossing rocky talus fields, but if this is your primary terrain, you might prefer a more specialized shoe with harder rubber.
Weighing in at 1.7 pounds per pair for a size 10 US, these shoes are reasonably light, especially considering all the great features and support they offer. For fastpacking, it is a highly recommended option.
With a Gore-Tex membrane, the X Ultra 4 proved to be completely watertight in our bucket test (standing in 3 inches of water for five minutes).
Of course, a hiking shoe will always provide less protection than a taller boot, but for excursions in wet conditions and crossing puddles or shallower streams, this pair ought to do the job.
If the X Ultra 4 has a shortcoming, it may be in its durability. One of the Quicklace storage pockets tore almost immediately in early testing. More importantly, we saw some early compression signs in the midsole. While the shoe otherwise held up very well overall, especially considering the lightweight materials and rugged testing environment, and we would expect them to provide many miles of support, they may come with a shorter lifespan than others in the collection deliver.
All the pairs we've tested, no matter the color, have stayed relatively dirt and dust-free even after miles across the desert Southwest and California's Sierra Nevada. They all have also easily cleaned up with a simple wipe-down.
Should You Buy the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex?
The X Ultra 4 is agile, supportive, and lightweight but runs both long and narrow. In the latest iteration, designers doubled down to balance comfort with integrated support features. While this model may not be our first recommendation for hikers who carry a heavy pack, it would be a great choice for all kinds of outdoor excursions, especially when one has to move light and fast over rugged terrain. Its price falls right in the middle of the pack among our test collection. Considering its high-performance nature, we think that's a great value.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If finding a supportive and comfortable shoe with traction is your thing, then it is hard to beat the X Ultra. However, if you want a step up in midsole cushioning and increased durability for your dollar, the La Sportiva Spire GTX might be a better bet. Both score highly and are noted as top performers among fast and light models, so the right one depends on your preferences, budget, and hiking style. If you want to hit the trail without breaking the bank, the Merrell Moab 3 WP is an excellent bet.
— Myrha Colt and Laurel Hunter
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