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Salomon Speedcross 5 Review

A very popular shoe known for its excellent traction, redesigned to not be so prohibitively narrow
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $130 List | $97.46 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Extremely grippy traction on all terrain, wider than previous versions, comfortable right out of the box
Cons:  Warm, doesn’t breathe or drain water super well, high heel counter
Manufacturer:   Salomon
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 24, 2019
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 19
  • Foot protection - 30% 7
  • Traction - 20% 10
  • Stability - 15% 5
  • Comfort - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 3
  • Sensitivity - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Highlighted by insanely aggressive and deep lugs that have defined this shoe for almost a generation, the Salomon Speedcross 5 is our Top Pick for Traction. This infrequently updated shoe saw a solid revision in the winter of 2019 and is now better than it has been for many years, in our opinion. While the characteristic arrow-shaped lugs remain and are as effective as ever, the Contagrip TA rubber compound was updated to be even stickier than before, offering unrivaled grip on both wet and dry rock, and further cementing this shoe's place as one of the best off-trail technical mountain shoes. The steeper and rougher the terrain, the better. We love these shoes for off-trail missions in the alpine tundra of Colorado, and they are also our go-to choice for winter running on snow. Any conditions where traction is of critical importance, such as steep grass, slick mud, or rocky scrambles are an ideal use of this shoe. If you wear it on firm dirt surfaces too frequently, you will, unfortunately, watch the lugs wear away pretty quickly.

New Colors

A current color choice for this Top Pick Award winner is pictured above. The shoe design remains identical to the model we tested below.

March 2020

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

While the Speedcross has always featured 6mm deep arrow-shaped lugs that offer among the best grip on slippery terrain like snow, mud, and steep grass, the pattern, and size of these lugs has changed over the years. With this update, the lugs have been made larger and spaced farther apart, a design that is meant to help prevent the buildup of mud on the bottom. Further apart lugs don't accumulate as much mud, but in our experience, the type of mud you are dealing with has far more to do with whether it builds up on the bottom of a shoe, and if there is the right amount of clay involved, no lug pattern will prevent the mud pancake. The best thing about the Contagrip TA outsole, however, is that it is stickier than previous versions, and in our intensive testing gave pretty remarkable grip on wet rock, not something that is easy to find in a running shoe.

Greatly increasing our joy and comfort is the wider forefoot and toe box design, allowing those without the narrowest of feet to revel in the running pleasure of this shoe as well. If you are a longtime fan of the Speedcross, we think you will be as pleasantly surprised with the newest version as we are, and if you are looking for a new trail shoe that will stick to anything, the Speedcross 5 is the best place to start your search.

Performance Comparison


The Salomon Speedcross 5 are our top choice for traction  largely in part to how extremely well they stick to rock! This shoe is also more protective in the upper and is made a bit wider than previous versions for a more comfortable fit.
The Salomon Speedcross 5 are our top choice for traction, largely in part to how extremely well they stick to rock! This shoe is also more protective in the upper and is made a bit wider than previous versions for a more comfortable fit.

Foot Protection


For those who have run in the Speedcross before, you will notice very little to no difference in the feel underfoot of the newest version. It has a stack height of 20mm in the toe and 30mm in the heel, meaning that the heel is extremely well padded, but in the toes and forefoot there is quite a lot of trail feel. Some of the protection under the forefoot is provided by the large lugs, and as these wear down over time, the underfoot protection diminishes a bit. Chronic heel-strikers and those who can handle and love a rather large (10mm) heel-toe drop will like this shoe better.


When it comes to protecting the top of the foot and shoe, the Speedcross is one of the best. Combining the protection of the upper and the foam underfoot, we feel that this shoe is slightly better than average.

Comparing the uppers of the new Speedcross 5 in blue  versus the older 4 in black. The upper of the 5 is far more protective  with an expansion of the welded overlays to cover more of the black mesh. Among uppers  this is one of the most protective and durable that you can buy.
Comparing the uppers of the new Speedcross 5 in blue, versus the older 4 in black. The upper of the 5 is far more protective, with an expansion of the welded overlays to cover more of the black mesh. Among uppers, this is one of the most protective and durable that you can buy.

Traction


Simply put, these shoes offer the very best traction that you can buy. They are an ideal shoe for winter and spring running in the mountains and desert when conditions are often snowy, muddy, rainy, and downright slippery. The only thing they won't grip is ice, but what will? They have deeper, larger, and stickier lugs than any of their aggressively lugged competitors.


There is a small downside with the traction on these shoes, and that is how soft it is. In order to be as sticky as possible, softer rubber is used, as very hard rubber simply doesn't grip as well.

Comparing the traction on the newest Speedcross 5 on the right  versus the older Speedcross 4 on the left. The lugs are bigger and spaced further apart on the newer version  while the rubber is softer and stickier  but seems like it may wear down a bit faster. You can also see a slight shift in the shape of the mid and outsole  with a slightly narrower arch and wider forefoot landing pad in the 5 on the right.
Comparing the traction on the newest Speedcross 5 on the right, versus the older Speedcross 4 on the left. The lugs are bigger and spaced further apart on the newer version, while the rubber is softer and stickier, but seems like it may wear down a bit faster. You can also see a slight shift in the shape of the mid and outsole, with a slightly narrower arch and wider forefoot landing pad in the 5 on the right.

With softer rubber comes faster wear times, and so we recommend these shoes for off-trail adventures, but don't necessarily think they are the best choice for simply cruising trails day in and day out, as the lugs will slowly wear down or tear off if you use them this way.

The softer Contagrip TA rubber compound grips extremely well to rock  making this a great shoe for scrambling in the course of the run.
The softer Contagrip TA rubber compound grips extremely well to rock, making this a great shoe for scrambling in the course of the run.

Stability


One of the most notable changes made to the new Speedcross 5 is that the forefoot and toe box is significantly wider. We would even venture to call these shoes nearly "normal" width, and they are far higher volume than the super thin and narrow previous versions. In terms of stability, a wider forefoot landing platform allows the foot to splay out more, and makes it easier to land properly without twisting an ankle. The Sensifit upper combined with a quicklace system easy allows you to cinch these shoes down to the perfect fit for your foot, ensuring that there is no slop and the foot stays firmly locked into the shoe. A shoe that fits snugly and securely is far more stable than a looser fitting shoe that allows the foot to move around inside.


The one downside to the stability of this shoe is the very high heel combined with a large 10mm heel-toe drop. Especially when running downhill, we find this combination to be a bit unstable. A smaller heel-toe drop makes for a more stable landing platform. Of course, a much lower stack height, that is, less material underfoot, also greatly reduces the chances of rolling an ankle. Simply put, the design of this shoe is less stable than most others.

On slippery surfaces like this deep mud  having a shoe that is stable to land in is very important. This shoe is not the most stable landing platform of any we have tried  but we really appreciate how tightly it holds our foot in place  fusing the shoe to foot  which greatly helps stability.
On slippery surfaces like this deep mud, having a shoe that is stable to land in is very important. This shoe is not the most stable landing platform of any we have tried, but we really appreciate how tightly it holds our foot in place, fusing the shoe to foot, which greatly helps stability.

Comfort


This shoe is remarkably comfortable straight out of the box, and we challenge you to find a runner who disagrees. They require no break-in time and do an excellent job of cushioning your foot on all sides with comfortable foam padding. New to this iteration is a high heel pad that cradles the Achilles tendon area on the back of the foot gently.


Our only complaint when it comes to comfort is that these shoes really make our feet sweat. While there is some breathable mesh, there is nowhere near the amount found on an average trail runner. Much of the mesh is covered by the durable overlays. For this reason, it also doesn't drain water very effectively. This shoe is more comfortable in colder weather and isn't our top choice for hot summer days at low elevations.

Very comfortable straight out of the box! One design feature added to the newest version  on the right  compared to the older 4 on the left  is the high heel/achilles tendon pad. In general  these shoes are very well padded on all sides and super comfortable.
Very comfortable straight out of the box! One design feature added to the newest version, on the right, compared to the older 4 on the left, is the high heel/achilles tendon pad. In general, these shoes are very well padded on all sides and super comfortable.

Weight


On our independent scale, our pair of men's size 11 US shoes weighed 24.4 ounces. A few years ago that may not have seemed remarkably heavy, but as shoes keep getting lighter and lighter, these are now easily one of the heaviest shoes in our review. Salomon shoes tend to run heavy in general, and you are certainly getting added padding and protection for the added weight, so there is a trade-off to be decided upon.


We don't think these shoes feel like clunkers on the feet. Indeed, their sleek design makes them feel rather fast. However, if you are looking for the lightest and most nimble shoes you can find, these would not be our first choice!

Not exactly the lightest shoe in this review  in fact  it is pretty much tied as one of the heaviest.
Not exactly the lightest shoe in this review, in fact, it is pretty much tied as one of the heaviest.

Sensitivity


When it comes to sensitivity, these shoes have a very solid balance with foot protection to offer a fair bit of both, without sacrificing on either. Most of the sensitivity can be felt under the forefoot, as the thick heel cushioning allows little trail feel to come through. In that way, they feel virtually identical to the previous versions of this shoe.


The most sensitive shoes that we have tested offer very little in the way of underfoot protection and require delicate foot placement to avoid injury on rough terrain. We think this shoe offers an ideal balance for the off-trail gnar that it is designed for.

Great shoes for running away from chasing dogs! The Speedcross 5 are a solid mix of protective and sensitive underfoot  with the forefoot offering great trail feel and the heel giving a lot of foam cushioning.
Great shoes for running away from chasing dogs! The Speedcross 5 are a solid mix of protective and sensitive underfoot, with the forefoot offering great trail feel and the heel giving a lot of foam cushioning.

Value


While the retail price of these shoes used to be what we would consider as top end, prices of trail running shoes have been trending upward the last year or two, and so they are now roughly average in terms of price. Used on the right kind of terrain, we think they perform really well, and therefore present excellent value. As an everyday trail runner, you will likely get more miles out of many other shoes, and they therefore wouldn't necessarily be our top choice.

We like the Speedcross 5 best for when conditions warrant extra traction  such as on snow and mud. We also like it more in colder conditions  as it tended to make our feet sweat excessively in hotter weather.
We like the Speedcross 5 best for when conditions warrant extra traction, such as on snow and mud. We also like it more in colder conditions, as it tended to make our feet sweat excessively in hotter weather.

Conclusion


The Salomon Speedcross 5 has seen some very welcome updates that make it better than previous versions. It is wider in the forefoot and now features even stickier and grippier rubber, something we didn't know was possible. For this reason, it regains our Top Pick for Traction award and is our first recommendation if traction is your first priority.

We love combining running workouts with little scrambles to mix things up and keep it interesting. The Speedcross 5 is the perfect shoe for this. Here crossing over asterisk pass at Smith Rock State Park on a cold winter day.
We love combining running workouts with little scrambles to mix things up and keep it interesting. The Speedcross 5 is the perfect shoe for this. Here crossing over asterisk pass at Smith Rock State Park on a cold winter day.

Andy Wellman