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Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex Review

This is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking trips
Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex
Photo: Backcountry
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $150 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Excellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, support
Cons:  Cuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favorite
Manufacturer:   Salomon
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 22, 2021
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 16
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 9
  • Support - 15% 8
  • Traction - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 10% 7
  • Water Resistance - 5% 8
  • Durability - 5% 6

Our Verdict

There has been a long lineage of X Ultras that have preceded the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex. We have loved all of them, and in turn, they have continued to impress us as the lineage matured into one of the most known and respected hiking shoes. So it is no surprise that when this new iteration was released, we had high expectations. The X Ultra 4 exceeded every one of these expectations. These solid shoes are built for rough and rugged trails, holding their own on challenging terrain that so many other models will shy away from. They are stiffer and thus slightly less comfortable than other softer shoes, but this is a small price to pay for the structure, support, and traction that these bad boys bring to the table. While a wide range of shoes will satisfy on short, easy hikes, these are the shoes to get if you're after the top performance in challenging terrain.

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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
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Pros Excellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, supportExcellent comfort and traction, waterproofExtremely comfortable, lightweight, supportiveGreat value, waterproof, versatileLightweight, breathable, great dry traction, inexpensive
Cons Cuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favoriteExpensive, not the most durableNot as cushioned as previous Hoka models, some traction issuesAverage support, lacks long-term durabilityDurability concerns, not good for wet weather
Bottom Line This is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking tripsA versatile hiking shoe built with the comfort and agility of a running shoe without losing a beat in hiking prowessA blend of top-notch comfort with support in a lightweight package that makes them an excellent choice for long-distance hikers looking to shave weight and increase mobilityThis shoe is a great value for the all-around performance as well as waterproofness that it providesA budget-friendly hiking shoe that is a perfect choice for those hiking in dry climates
Rating Categories Salomon X Ultra 4 G... La Sportiva Spire GTX HOKA ONE ONE Toa Go... The North Face Ultr... Vasque Juxt
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (25%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Support (15%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Traction (15%)
9.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Versatility (10%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Water Resistance (5%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
1.0
Durability (5%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Salomon X Ultra 4 G... La Sportiva Spire GTX HOKA ONE ONE Toa Go... The North Face Ultr... Vasque Juxt
Weight of Size 11 Pair 1.76 lbs 2.06 lbs 2.03 lbs 2.04 lbs 1.90 lbs
Upper Synthetic, textile Abrasion-resistant mesh Synthetic Performance mesh Suede leather
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular, wide
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex membrane Gore-Tex Surround Gore-Tex membrane DryVent membrane None, just gusted tongue
Flood Level (inches) 3.25 in 4.75 in 5 in 3.25 in 2.5 in
Last Board/Shank ADV-C chassis Molded EVA EVA ESS Torsion stability TSS
Midsole EnergyCell 5mm Ortholite Insole, Compression Molded EVA, TPU inserts Rubberized EVA EVA
Outsole Contagrip MA rubber Vibram XS Trek with Impact Brake System Vibram MegaGrip UtrATAC Vasque OTG

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our review team tested these shoes in a range of conditions, from the Sierra Nevada to Death Valley's canyons to the mucky trails of the Pacific Northwest. The shoes are rich with innovative features. The stability gained from the ADV-C Chassis as well as the snug Active Support system makes this shoe very supportive. Its unique lacing system stows away leaving a clean look and removing the potential to trip on laces.

Performance Comparison


Up for anything you can dream up, the X Ultra 4s are a favorite for...
Up for anything you can dream up, the X Ultra 4s are a favorite for all things hiking.
Photo: Jen Reynolds

Comfort


This is an incredibly comfortable shoe, thanks to several advancements in their hiking shoe technology. Slipping into these shoes is easy thanks to how wide the gusseted tongue can open up, and once inside, the Ortholite Sockliner adapts to the contours of your foot, diminishing any feeling of the inner seams or stitching, and cradles the foot without smothering it.


The Quicklace lacing system, long a standard feature found on Salomon shoes, snugly secures the foot in place, and though it is a bit of an acquired taste with some loving it and others feeling a bit more lukewarm towards it, it does its job and then stows away neatly inside the tongue pouch making the lacing very streamlined. Our testers are fans of this lacing system. They are quick and convenient. If you need to remove pebbles or sand from your shoes, or just crawl in and out of a tent, having these shoes on and off in seconds is pretty great, instead of spending time tying and untying traditional laces. We've tested many pairs of X Ultras with this lacing system in the past and only had one break due to a chew-happy puppy. We tied a knot in the lacing system, and have continued using the shoe for over a year now. If the plastic lock on the laces were to break, though, it would be more difficult to field repair, but we see this as unlikely to occur and has not been an issue in our experience.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

When the laces are snugged up, side panels are pulled into place around the foot, providing a secure fit from the midfoot down to the toe. A molded toe cap keeps you from inadvertently stubbing your toe on a rock or a tree root (though it won't keep you from tripping on it in the first place). The only issue regarding comfort we had was due to the height of the ankle cuff. It is just barely higher than a standard low-cut cuff, so we had a bit of rubbing that was solved by just wearing a thinner sock.

Great comfort thanks to the embedded technologies in the X Ultra 4.
Great comfort thanks to the embedded technologies in the X Ultra 4.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Weight


We were astonished to put these on our scale and see that they only weigh 1.76 pounds. Nearly a quarter of a pound lighter than their above-average predecessor, this new and improved model is among the lightest hiking shoes on the market, yet they do not have nearly the same diminished support or stability that is so often in these lighter weight shoes.


This weight is going to have noticeable impacts on your day-to-day fatigue, as you won't be picking up any extra weight on each footstep. How did Salomon achieve this crazy drop in weight with the X Ultra 4 GTX? The EnergyCell foam EVA midsole is a place to drop a lot of weight, and the shank that is used, an ADV-C chassis is much slimmer than other thicker TPU shanks that impart structure and stability to a hiking shoe.

1.76 pounds for a pair of US Men's size 11.
1.76 pounds for a pair of US Men's size 11.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Support


As mentioned above, the addition of some new and innovative technologies has allowed Salomon to continue to provide top-level support even while shaving weight. The ADV-C Chassis is the platform upon which this shoe is built, and it is evident from the first steps in this shoe that there is much more support and structure than found in your average hiking shoe. Stiffer than the majority of its competition, this is a shoe that will provide the right kind of support for trips where you might be carrying a heavier backpack.


The laces pull the Active Support wings in, aiding in compression...
The laces pull the Active Support wings in, aiding in compression and stability.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

In addition to the stiffer shank, there is also a comfortable EnergyCell EVA foam midsole, providing additional support and foot comfort from the rigors of long days on the trail. A new addition to this model is the Active Support side wings, which are panels of material that wrap securely around the foot when the lacing system is engaged, making the interface between the foot and the footwear much less perceptible.

One of the most supportive shoes in our review, we feel confident...
One of the most supportive shoes in our review, we feel confident traveling over varied terrain.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Traction


The outsole is made up of a Contagrip MA rubber compound, a Salomon proprietary blend. The MA format falls in the middle when it comes to stickiness and durability, making it a great choice for this all-around hiking shoe that will likely have to tackle a variety of terrain types but also last for longer than just a couple of hikes. The rubber is soft enough that we found confidence smearing on slabs of smooth volcanic tuff and durable enough that we could kick steps into looser surfaces.


The Chevron lug pattern on the gives great gripping power when charging uphill, and slows you down as you are braking your way down steeper descents. The lugs are sharp and well-defined, are deep enough to dig into soft slopes, but are spread out enough that getting caked with mud and snow is less of a concern.

This lug pattern is the definition of solid traction.
This lug pattern is the definition of solid traction.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Other shoes that have less pronounced lug patterns with more surface area contact proved to be better at pure rock climbing, but these still did surprisingly well in advanced-level scrambling.

Capable in all terrain types from smooth faces to loose scree.
Capable in all terrain types from smooth faces to loose scree.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Versatility


This is a hiking shoe through and through, and we recommend it in all uses from casual walks around parks and local trails to longer trips that involve carrying overnight backpacking gear. The support and structure that this shoe offers makes it great for those who might be on the fence about trying a hiking shoe versus a full-blown boot.


That same support does impact how soft and flexible these shoes feel, however, so we don't think they offer as much versatility as a trail running or workout shoe as others we have featured in this review.

We like these shoes for nearly any hiking and camping application...
We like these shoes for nearly any hiking and camping application, while it's not the best for taking off on trail runs.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Water Resistance


The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX uses a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane to keep water from seeping through and getting your feet wet. The flood height of these shoes is 3.25 inches, which is average for a low-top shoe. We had no issues with the waterproof lining failing during our testing period, as long as we kept from trying to walk through streams that were too deep for the flood level protection.


The upper material is treated with an additional water repellent coating, which will help to shed water before it can soak in and impact the Gore-Tex's ability to allow perspiration from inside the foot to escape.

The waterproofing on these shoes keeps us dry in all but the deepest...
The waterproofing on these shoes keeps us dry in all but the deepest immersions.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Durability


There are a lot of lightweight synthetic materials used in constructing the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX, so that is going to be an obvious point of concern when considering long-term durability, but during our testing period, we have experienced no concerning issues.


Most of the seams that connect the upper's materials are welded rather than sewn, which should help to stave off premature wear.

The lack of exposed seams will potentially give these shoes a bit...
The lack of exposed seams will potentially give these shoes a bit more longevity.
Photo: Ryan Huetter

Value


This is not the most expensive shoe in our review by a long shot, though it is the top scorer. That tells us that this shoe is a screaming deal, and we think the value provided by its proven performance is one of the best in this review.

Conclusion


It is hard to think of another hiking shoe that could provide the same high-level performance across all the testing metrics that the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex does. Comfortable and user-friendly as a day hiking shoe, it is also supportive and dependable on longer trips where a range of conditions may be encountered. This, in our minds, is the epitome of what a hiking shoe should be, and we feel strongly that you can't do much better than this all-arounder.

Ryan Huetter