Salomon released the new Speedcross 5, laying claims of better grip, improved fit, and increased stability. We can't vouch for these claims on our Top Pick winning trail runner just yet, as we've yet to test it out, but check out this side by side comparison of the two shoes, with the newest version, the 5, shown first.
We link to the updated shoe, but be aware that the following review tells about the previous version.
Hands-On Review of the Speedcross 4
The Salomon Speedcross 4 is a high-performing trail running shoe that excels in sloppy mountain terrain and leaves you without slippage over any surface. We awarded this traditional-style shoe our Top Pick Award for Sloppy Surfaces.
This Top Pick can tackle soft and sloppy surfaces without a second thought. The widely spaced chevron lugs on the sticky outsole grab any trail, while the durable and quality craftsmanship of this shoe will have you tackling mile after mile.
A few choice features make it fairly protective, but not the most protective out there. The continuous upper design does not utilize a mesh and is impenetrable to any type of trail debris. Even after running for 20 miles in the desert, nothing breached the upper barrier. The midsole is stacked with 20 mm of foam in the forefoot and 30 mm of foam in the heel. The molded EVA foam is protective and responsive. That said, this shoe does not have a rock guard.
When running over a trail in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we could feel the sharp rocks poking through the bottom of the shoe. While we didn't experience any bruising from these rocks, we certainly could see how it is a possibility as the foam in the forefoot doesn't provide a whole lot of protection. We think this shoe could be made a little more protective by integrating a rock plate.
The continuous upper provides protection from pesky trail debris. It isn't very porous keeping feet protected. That said, this upper is not waterproof and hardly water resistant, but it dries quickly.
Aside from the overlays and the midsole, protection also comes in the form of a super protective toe cap. This thing is HARD, keeping toes protected from unsuspecting stubs on the trail.
This toe is ridiculously hard and protective..the bumper sheds mud and trail crud easily.
Overall, foot protection is essential. We tested this shoe over so many different surfaces and believe that it provides an above average level of protection, though there are more protective options out there that integrate a rock plate and thicker cushioning.
The overlays do an amazing job of protecting from the sloppiest slop on the trail. They shed mud quickly and aren't very absorbent.
Blowing the competition out of the water, the Speedcross 4 is has a specialized outsole designed to tackle the sloppiest of conditions. Rain, mud, snow, creeks? No problem! Steep, flat, uphill, downhill? Absolutely. This outsole inspires confidence on the trail, keeping you balanced and upright. We tested this shoe on the loosest and most unnerving surfaces…think - gravel over a rock slab on a 35-degree angle, snow slopes, sand, heavy mud, and more. In all these tests, this shoe proved to be superior to the rest. Here's why…
The Premium Wet Traction Contragrip Rubber is soft and pliable, molding to rocky and uneven surfaces. In snow, the rubber continues to hold its shape and traction. The lugs are about 6 mm in length with a tri-tipped shape.
The outsole provides a larger surface area to tackle the soft and sloppy terrain. The lugs are widely spaced, shedding mud and other stuff quite nicely.
This provides traction when going uphill, downhill, and for any kind of lateral movement. We found ourselves rounding steep, sandy, switchback corners at full-speed with ease, knowing that the shoe would grip. In addition, the lugs are widely spaced.
The lugs in the point in a different direction than the forefoot, providing additional stability and traction while moving up and down the steepest terrain.
While mud might stick for a minute or two, once it gets too heavy, it sheds off in one big lump…a test that many shoes in this review failed. Overall, we found that we got superior traction while moving up, down, and side-to-side on a variety of trail slope angles. This particular feature of the Speedcross 4 earns its Top Pick award. That said, it's no surprise that the lug rubber is not durable on the pavement. They wear down too quickly and will rip off. This is a trail shoe through and through!
The traction sticks to mud and propels you forward!
With an average level of stability, we are happy with its performance on technical terrain. Descending scree fields can be done in confidence…most of the time. This shoe sports a high stack height (30mm in the heel) and a narrow fit towards the front. As a result, the higher stack height to width ratio had some of our testers feeling a little less stable than lower profile contenders.
One design feature that we notice (and like) is that the heel of the shoe is wider than the platform, enhancing balance around the heel. That said, this is not true for the forefoot. Regardless, we felt that the shoe offers decent lateral and medial stability when charging down the trails.
Here we see the lacing system that attaches to the stability harness that wraps around the top of the foot. With one pull, it wraps the upper around your foot for a precise fit. This enhances stability and ensures no foot slip on the trail.
Comfort & Fit
Our Top Pick winner offers a decent level of comfort. Fitting a narrow foot best, we found that the extra EVA foam in the midsole, OrthoLite foot molded sock liner, one-pull quick lace system, and comfy rip-stop nylon uppers work together for a fantastical trail experience. With a zero to nil break-in period, we were able to run 10 miles in them right out the box. The more we wore them, the more the liners and midsole molded to the foot, making for quite a comfortable ride.
The midsole is responsive, providing a lot of bounce-back and doesn't break-down over time. Even though the Speedcross 4 scores well in most categories, it lost points in this one for breathability. While the continuous upper is impervious to particulates, it's also really hot. This shoe is definitely not our first choice for a hot day but is an excellent option for cold weather.
The one-pull lacing system tab fits snugly into a pocket on the tongue of the shoe. While this is a convenient system, it doesn't allow a lot of versatility in the way you tie up the shoe. That said, the system can be cut out and replaced with thin laces.
The one-pull quick lace system is nice and simple to use. In a lot of ways, we like that its quick with the cinching mechanism easily fitting into the tongue of the shoe. That said, it's not perfect. If it doesn't get cleaned properly (daily), it can easily get gummed up, not allowing you to fully cinch down the shoe. The lacing system does not allow versatility in lacing design either; you're stuck with the traditional lacing design unless you decide to cut it out. Aside from these qualms, the way the lacing system is connected to the uppers makes for an exact fit that our testers love.
This shoe has a narrow fit throughout with added arch support and a 10mm drop...perfect for both heel and midfoot strikers.
Given the streamlined and narrow fit of this shoe, it's best for those that prefer a tight or narrow fit. The forefoot is voluminous from top to bottom, but it isn't side. The heel fits nicely in the heel cup, while the 10mm drop offers additional cushioning in the heel on the go. That said, it has little to no arch support. Overall, we'd recommend this shoe for those that prefer a narrow, precise fit with a traditional style.
The cushioning on the uppers and tongue are soft and comfortable. They wick away water and aid to keep out nasty particulates from entering the space of the shoe.
With a dry weight of 10 oz, the Speedcross 4 is comparable in weight. Not too bad right? We learned that they aren't too absorbent either, absorbing only 3.55 oz of water in our water submersion tests.
When checking out their performance at a local stream, we noticed that the shoe does absorb water on the upper, but will wick away a drizzle. Because of its lesser affinity to absorb water and its quick-to-dry properties, this makes it a good option for wet weather and stream crossings.
If you've been meaning to plan a date with your feet and the trail, this shoe will help facilitate it.
With only 20 mm of foam in the midfoot and no additional rock plate, it boasts sensitivity. You will feel every rock and root as you move ahead on your adventures.
Testing the sensitivity on this shoe on the Hayden trail in Ouray CO. On it we encountered rocky surfaces, downed trees, mud and more. Here we run it out to the lake to take a quick dip.
Specialized for long distances in the mountains, the Speedcross 4 does best on soft and sloppy trails settings. It has a streamlined fit that suits narrow feet best with a minimal amount of arch support. Even though it did best in the mountains, it's great for training runs over any terrain. We would recommend it for any kind of trail; just avoid the pavement. Take it winter running or on your next big trail race. As a bonus, if you like a little splash of color, there are a lot of great options to choose from!
Even though this is a Top Pick for sloppy surfaces, this shoe does well on a plethora of other trail surfaces as well. Heather enjoys it will running the mountains in Colorado.
A high-performance trail running shoe for just $130? Who'd have thunk? Through our testing, we didn't notice any sort of abrasion or wear and tear after 200 miles of running! As a bonus, many shoes of the same construct, but last years colors are on sale, making it an even better value! With a reputation for great durability, expect to get lots of miles on these bad girls.
The Salomon Speedcross 4 is specialized for the hardest, steepest, and burliest of trails. Run with confidence through the sloppiest stuff that mother nature can throw at you.
Take this Top Pick in the sloppiest terrain you can find. Its protection and traction will keep your feet happy.