Salomon Speedcross 5 - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Salomon Speedcross 5 stands out for its impressive performance on sloppy terrain and steep mountainside surfaces. It touts good stability for its high heel, excellent traction, and one of the most rugged outsoles designs we have ever seen.
Protection in a trail shoe is essential to keep toes from absorbing the impact of kicked rocks or stepping on sharp things while moving over the terrain. This shoe offers reliable protection and will keep you happy for miles; it's designed to carry you over technical terrain and does just that with ease. The Speedcross 5 suits those that enjoy a cushioned heel and a traditional heel-to-toe drop of 10mm.
So, what construction features provide protection? While the Speedcross 5 does not have a rock plate integrated into the midsole, the deep lugs and hard exterior Contragrip rubber offer a boundary of reprieve from sharp objects. We tested other shoes that provide excellent protection without a rock plate, but this is the one shoe where it truly didn't phase us. We still prefer one, but this shoe's other features outweigh this perceived con.
The heel contains 20mm of responsive cushioning, which translates to exceptional protection, especially if you're a heel striker. The forefoot has only about 10mm, which is 1cm. You can feel the trail, and sometimes little sharp rocks can be felt underfoot, which inherently causes you to adjust your body correctly, preventing injury and rolled ankles. Because of the plush stacked heel, this is our go-to recommendation for narrow to average width heel strikers.
The welded overlay bumper running around the edge of the shoe is bomber. It is welded onto the breathable overlay and covers a tough toe cap. When we say a tough toecap, we mean tough. The lugs even ascend up the toe in a way that is unlike most traditional running shoes. The somewhat breathable upper is a tightly woven mesh that does not allow even the finest particulates to pass through, which comes in handy when running in desert conditions.
We've taken this shoe running in both the desert and snow. In the desert, silt and sand typically enter a shoe with an upper that is more breathable with larger holes in the weave. However, the upper on the Speedcross 5 doesn't allow this. The beautiful construction boasts a welded seam that promotes a continuum of protection all around the shoe, making it an excellent option for cold running on the beach or in the sand.
This shoe offers some weather resistance but is far from waterproof. The overlay at the base is relatively water-resistant to dry snow; however, if you find yourself running through puddles or heavy rain for long days, expect the upper to get a little wet. Though expected because of its textile, we were pretty stoked about how quickly the upper nylon mesh dried after getting saturated.
The outsole is simply incredible, making this shoe stand out among other top performers in this metric. Composed of ContraGrip rubber, the lugs and outsole are super sticky, making scrambling up rocks and ridges stable and reliable. The long chevron-shaped lugs are designed to take on deep mud and snow, biting in so you don't slide around. The new spacing sheds mud better than it did before.
When hiking and running up hills latticed with mud, rocks, and snow, the Speedcross offers excellent performance, scoring high across the contenders. The chevron triangle lugs point forward on the forefoot and backward on the heel. This bi-directional design prevents slipping on the downhill and won't leave you spinning your wheels on the uphill. This shoe offers okay performance on a smooth single track but is not suited for pavement because the ContraGrip rubber lugs wear down quickly. However, it's right at home on rocky scree slopes with the odd snowfield.
Typically a super protective shoe isn't the most sensitive, but the Speedcross 5 still earns relatively high marks in this category. While the heel cup offers ample padding, the forefoot is wonderfully sensitive to allow you to float down the trail easily and correct for surfaces that are a bit off-camber. There is a good stack of cushioning in the forefoot and heel (25mm, 35mm), so it's not the most sensitive option on the market. But if you want an epically tractioned and adequately sensitive shoe, look no further.
If you're a heel striker, you may not notice the sensitivity offered as the shoe protects from impact with substantial cushioning. However, if you primarily strike the ground with your forefoot, you'll immediately sense the lack of a rock plate in the forefoot; the responsive cushioning is only about 1cm thick. The thinness of the forefoot will keep you dancing around obstacles on the trail — as it should.
While running trails in Southwest Colorado, we encountered many sharp rocks, snow, and roots. While rolling over them, we noticed that we could feel sharp rocks when stepping down on the forefoot. This sensitivity caused us to adjust our positioning for the next step, ultimately being protective. This sensitivity in the forefoot is similar to other sensitive contenders. However, it doesn't earn a score as high in this category because the heel is super cushioned, and you can't feel much.
A stable shoe offers a wider landing surface balanced with a low center of gravity to prevent rolled ankles and injury. It should also fit snugly to prevent the foot from moving around too much. The newest updates to this shoe enhance its stability through several features—the most notable being its newly designed forefoot that is wider, offering a wider landing pad. The collar around the back of the shoe also comes up a little higher to cradle the ankle, offering better lateral control. We also love the precise fit that keeps the foot in place. While these new updates lend to more excellent stability than we've seen previously, it's still not comparable to the most stable options out there.
The caveat of this model is the height of the high heel in conjunction with a 10mm heel-to-toe drop. While this offers excellent cushioning for the heel striker, it doesn't feel as stable as others with a wider forefoot or less drop. That said, once you get used to the feel, you'll be flying down unstable terrain without a problem. If you are prone to ankle rolls, this might not be your best bet as something with a less dramatic heel-to-toe drop or a wider base of support might keep you safer on the trail. All told, we didn't have any trouble with the stability of the Speedcross, though we noticed a difference in the way we held our bodies as we flew downhill.
Comfort and Fit
We love the comfort of this shoe, but the fit is best for only some. Loaded with responsive cushioning, it's easy to break in right out of the box. The collar provides superior support around the Achilles but is lower around the ankle bone, preventing potential hot spots — at least for us. Everyone is configured slightly differently, so we acknowledge that our experience with this isn't exactly universal. The tongue of the shoe is attached at the front of the outsole, allowing you to position it easily. We also like the mesh overlay that helps to keep the tongue in place while you run. Between this and the standard Salomon lace design, we never needed to adjust the tongue or laces as we ran.
However, the classic one-pull lacing system is a feature that some love and others don't. You can tuck the excess cord into a small pocket on the tongue, so you don't have to deal with floppy laces. The problem is that the lace pocket lacks functionality. To be clear, it is only the pocket we take issue with, as we have grown to love this style of lacing.
The lacing eyelets are wide enough from one another that they can be cinched down to accommodate a narrow arch or left loose for those that don't have one. If you like to lace your shoes in a specific way, you can cut the laces out and add your personal favorites. A caveat to this system is the pull string can get gummed up if not cleaned properly.
The Speedcross is not a breathable shoe either. As a trade-off for protection, the mesh is tight, which doesn't allow heat to escape readily. It's not our top choice for hot days in the summer and is better suited for cool alpine weather or winter running. Even still, on moderate coastal days in California, we never had any issues with our feet overheating.
The new design is far more accommodating for wider footed runners or those that appreciate toe splay. The arch width is pretty narrow and will hug your foot, while the high heel cup is deep enough to wrap your foot sufficiently. While the forefoot area inside the shoe is wider than previous versions of this shoe, our narrow-footed friends have mentioned that it still works for them. We will even say that it has a 'regular' fit that is far more versatile for more foot shapes. One of our testers never wore the previous version of this shoe because of its slim design, but now, she's reaching for the Speedcross when the rain pours down, and mud is what she'll be encountering on the trails. Our other tester, who has a more narrow foot, finds this shoe to be a dream come true for techy, sloppy terrain because of how streamlined the profile is.
When putting this shoe on the scale, we were a bit surprised. While it weighs 9.52 ounces per shoe for a women's size 7 US, it doesn't feel heavy on foot due to its prime weight distribution. Furthermore, a lot of the weight comes from the outsole, lugs, and heel cup, and we appreciate the burliness of these features.
The Speedcross 5 feels streamlined and will fly up or down any trail. This shoe is a heavy trail runner in comparison to the ultralight options on the market, though. Nonetheless, we think it still has applications for short and long-distance trail runs.
Should You Buy the Salomon Speedcross 5?
The Salomon Speedcross 5 bites into the sloppiest surfaces and keeps you moving forward. This burley trail shoe is built for steep, scree-filled mountains that'll throw mud and snow at you; it's at home in cold environments and not suited for hot summer days on the pavement. It is a top-scoring shoe that should be highlighted for its excellent traction and protection.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
The Speedcross 5 seems well-built with no significant durability issues except the lugs wearing down on super hard surfaces after just one or two runs. As a product of Salomon, you can assume it'll last you hundreds of miles if you keep it on the technical trails it is made for. It is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to its price tag, and frankly, we are willing to pay up again and again for this rugged piece of running gear. However, if you want a shoe with more crossover capability, the HOKA Torrent 2 is a great shoe. If the trail-specific aggressive build is precisely what you're looking for, but you aren't sold on the Salomon, the Dynafit Feline SL is worth checking out as well.