Well-known and well-loved for an aggressive outsole design that has defined this specialty trail runner for nearly a decade, the Salomon Speedcross 6 continues to earn our admiration for its unrivaled traction. After a major redesign a few years ago, this newest iteration includes only minor tweaks to improve upon performance. Salomon updated the rubber compound of the outsole to pair even better with the fine-tuned sagittate pattern of the deep, 5mm lugs. Designers shaved a few fractions of an ounce off each shoe while incorporating more mesh into the upper for improved breathability. Although this specialty off-trail runner isn't ideal for hardpack conditions, they remain our go-to choice where traction is paramount: through slick mud, up rocky scrambles, over steep grass, and across snowy mountains.Editor's Note: The Salomon Speedcross 6 was added to our lineup on October 20, 2022.
Salomon Speedcross 6 Review
Cons: Aggressive heel-to-toe drop, lack of stability
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Salomon Speedcross 6
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|Pros||Unparalleled comfort, unrivaled traction, ample foot protection||Unbeatable fit, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, very stable||Ultralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agile||Well cushioned, comfortable fit, sticky rubber grips rock very well, decent price||Affordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option|
|Cons||Aggressive heel-to-toe drop, lack of stability||Expensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garage||Loose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feeling||High heel counter, not the lightest||Soft upper is unstable, lacks energy, inconsistent traction|
|Bottom Line||A legendary shoe that gets better by the year with minor tweaks to improve the performance of this specialty off-trail runner||The cream of the crop for trail running shoes delivers fine-tuned long run performance||An ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever tested||A very well cushioned shoe that is optimal for heel strikers and makes for a great option for everyday training as well as ultra distances||A comfortable, consistent, and approachable shoe for those looking to crossover from roads to trail running|
|Rating Categories||Salomon Speedcross 6||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Sense Ride 4||Brooks Divide 2|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Salomon Speedcross 6||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Sense Ride 4||Brooks Divide 2|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||21.4 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)||18.3 oz (size 9.5)||20.7 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||32 mm, 22 mm||26 mm, 18 mm||23 mm, 18 mm||27 mm, 19 mm||25 mm, 17 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||10 mm||8 mm||5 mm||8 mm||8 mm|
|Lug Depth||5 mm||4 mm||5 mm||3 mm||3 mm|
|Upper||Synthetic mesh, Ripstop, TPU||Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner||Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU||Synthetic mesh||Mesh, TPU|
|Midsole||Salomon EnergyCell+ EVA||Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection||HOKA ProFly: dual-density foam||Salomon Optivibe||Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam|
|Outsole||Salomon Mud Contagrip||Salomon Contagrip MA||Rubber||Salomon Contagrip MA||Brooks TrailTack|
|Lacing Style||Quicklace||Quicklace with garage||Traditional||Quicklace with garage||Traditional|
|Wide Version Available?||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Sizes Available||7 - 14 US||4 - 13 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 14 US||7 - 15 US|
Our Analysis and Test Results
When it comes to the famous Speedcross line, Salomon has rightfully adopted the mantra, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The newest iteration, the Speedcross 6 sees only minor design tweaks to help improve its already incredible performance in the alpine. While designers cut down the lugs from 6mm to 5mm, they fine-tuned the sagittate pattern to provide even more grip over rocky terrain. The Salomon design team changed the rubber compound to create their proprietary Mud Contragrip, specifically designed to shed mud more efficiently. Finally, a slight change to the upper design removes some TPU to shed weight and improve breathability.
If you're not already well-acquainted with the Speedcross lineup, you will be hard-pressed to notice any minor updates applied to the new Speedcross 6. The stack height tapers from 32mm in the heel to 22mm in the forefoot, offering an excellent balance of cushioning through the midfoot and sensitivity in the toes. Although this newest iteration loses 1mm off the lug depth, it gains 2mm in the stack height, resulting in a slight improvement in stability and a negligible change in underfoot protection.
The high heel counter and 10mm of heel-to-toe drop are welcome for heel strikers. Even for mid- or forefoot strikers, the fat stack adds underfoot protection while the aggressive profile allows you to still push up steep terrain. Although the upper drops a strip of TPU over the metatarsals, it is replaced with a tighter mesh weave that does a better job of keeping sand and dust out of this shoe than ever before.
Simply put, the Speedcross 6 continues to deliver the best traction in the business. This is an ideal shoe for nearly any mountain runner, regardless of conditions. But it particularly excels as a winter running shoe or in the shoulder seasons when you might experience anything from snow to mud to wet rocks and roots. While the redesigned outsole compound makes this shoe a mud master, we find that it still excels when the weather dries out and the trails get tough. Although consistent running over hardpack will eventually wear down the softer lugs, the redesigned lug pattern seems to help cushion the blow of each foot strike. The Speedcross 6 is better now than ever on loose, rocky scrambles.
For those familiar with the previous versions, the redesign of the lug pattern changes the performance of the aggressive toe — but don't worry, it's for the better. Although the lugs have been cut down by 1mm, the third, lower lug extends further up the toe bumper. The result is a more even pull when you're on your tip toes, like during a steep hill climb. Even with these changes, we still consider the Speedcross 6 a specialty shoe, well-suited for off-trail travel and mountain runs, more so than daily cruising on city trails.
The Speedcross series has always done a fantastic job of balancing foot protection and sensitivity, and the Speedcross 6 is no exception. Although the thick 32mm cushion underneath the heel prevents much trail feel, there is substantial sensitivity through the mid- and forefoot. The tight taper of this shoe allows you to engage your toes fully and moves through technical terrain with agility.
Often, there is a trade-off between sensitivity and underfoot protection, where one of these traits will ultimately suffer in exchange for the other. The Speedcross 6, however, walks a fine line that manages to keep a foot in both realms. This balance of protection and proprioception makes it a nearly ideal shoe for mountain athletes, who draw upon all of their senses to avoid injury in technical, alpine terrain.
Concerning stability, a broader platform allows your foot to splay out, making it easier to make quick corrections with each foot strike and thus improving landings. The snug fit of the Speedcross 6 eliminates any slop within the shoe, allowing you to make those agile moves through technical terrain like rock gardens. The stability issue is not so much related to fit as to the high stack height and profile of this technical trail runner.
The 32mm stack height in the heel and an aggressive 10mm heel-to-toe drop can make the Speedcross 6 feel somewhat stiletto-like. This is most noticeable on steep downhills, where the high heel counter doesn't allow you to flex this shoe forward as steeply as other models without that feature. Shoes with a more neutral profile tend to be more stable, which is certainly not the case here. If you haven't run in these shoes before, the nearly imperceptible 1mm difference in lug height may go unnoticed — it has, indeed, changed the feel for the better. However, these shoes may still feel cleat-like for the uninitiated, especially over hardpack terrain.
With the previous model, one of the most notable changes was increasing the width of the forefoot and toebox. That change was for the better, so we see no further updates to the last or shape of the Speedcross 6. These shoes present what we refer to as a "nearly normal" last, with a higher volume through the midfoot and instep. Paired with Salomon's Sensifit construction around the midfoot and this shoe's speed lace system, the result is a well-padded, technical trail runner that fits like a glove.
We invite you to find a more comfortable shoe straight out of the box as the Speedcross 6. These shoes require almost no break-in time and do a fantastic job of cradling your foot regardless of the roughness of the terrain. While we found issues in the past with breathability, the upper's updated design incorporates slightly more mesh than before. Even on hot afternoons in our high desert climes, there was never a moment where our feet felt too sweaty.
Previously, the weight of the Speedcross was a knock against this shoe. However, even as shoes continue to get lighter and lighter, we don't always want to trade structure and stability for an ultralight option. This is especially true for many mountain runners, who will gladly keep the extra fraction of an ounce for added padding and protection.
Despite the market shift in the ultralight direction, the scale weight of the Speedcross 6 (21.4 ounces per pair for a men's 9.5 US) is mid-range in our lineup. While the extra padding makes them feel more substantial than other models, again, we will gladly make this trade-off any day based on the comfort and performance it provides for off-trail adventures.
Should You Buy the Salomon Speedcross 6?
If you live and run in a wet climate, in soft, loamy conditions, or regularly venture off-trail over alpine terrain, then the Speedcross 6 may be the only shoe you will ever need. Even for those who live in drier, high-desert climes, the combination of traction and comfort makes this a beloved option. This newest version remains the archetype for traction in the trail running category.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
As a specialty shoe, the Salomon Speedcross 6 performs well in particular ways but isn't our first choice for a daily cruiser. For comparison, a shoe that offers a similar level of traction with increased sensitivity is the Saucony Peregrine 12. For mountain runners who need a bit more stability, consider this shoe against the equally legendary Brooks Cascadia 16.
— Aaron Rice
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