Now a popular trail running model, the Salomon XA Pro was designed originally for adventure racing. This shoe is a beasty tank of a shoe that offers optimal protection on any trail. It is one of only two shoes in this review that professes to offer motion control, and the added support in the arch is both noticeable and welcome for those who over-pronate. While it is a very heavy model, it doesn't skimp on protective features and is a good choice for those who feel that they need more shoe than the average traditional shoe has to offer.
Salomon XA Pro 3D Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great motion control, amazing foot protection, very durable
Cons: Super heavy and burly, feels like a hiking shoe
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Salomon XA Pro 3D is a shoe that is designed to be indestructible. And for many new trail runners, this is exactly what they need in a shoe. Whether coming from a road-running background, or from a mountain or trail hiking background, trail running has a learning curve which will include plenty of abuse to the feet. This shoe will protect you better than any other in our review, and as such is a great option for a first-time trail runner.
One tester described this shoe as a "total tank." This shoe literally feels like it would stomp all over the low-profile shoes in the review, just think of a monster truck rolling over its competition. For this reason, we rated it 10 out of 10 in this metric. The midsole rockplate is solid and inflexible, giving unprecedented underfoot protection, while the upper is made almost completely of multi-layered synthetic leather. Simply put, no other shoe will protect your foot like this one, except for perhaps the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR which uses a completely different tactic, going all in on cushioning.
The outsole of the XA Pro 3D is made of similar Contagrip rubber as the Salomon Speedcross 4, but with a much different pattern. In contrast to the Speedcross 4's single piece of rubber with large spaced out lugs, the XA Pro 3D's sole is made of a couple pieces featuring smaller and more closely spaced lugs. The stickiness is good on rock, but we believe that Contagrip is soft and wears down quickly relative to other shoes. The shorter lugs don't perform quite as well on snow or mud as the Speedcross 4.
This shoe is one of the more stable ones that we tried, and indeed even includes "stability control" in the midsole. This control can be felt inside the shoe as added arch support, which helps keep the foot from over-pronating. Additionally, the cinch lacing system does an incredible job of tightening the shoe comfortably over the top and sides of the foot, holding the foot perfectly in place. Those interested in the "stability control" feature should also consider looking at the ASICS GEL-Kahana 7.
Comfort is going to be a very relative category for this shoe, probably dependent on how much you like the added arch support. This shoe needs to be broken in, and until we did so, we had complaints of pinching and just a really stiff upper overall. The shoe runs wide in the toe box, a quality welcomed by some people.
With great protection comes a distinct and noticeable lack of sensitivity. When running on trails we appreciate a shoe that makes us feel light and nimble on our feet, and the Salomon XA Pro 3D felt instead like a tromping shoe. With this shoe, there is no need to dance over the rocks, just crush them into submission.
In our opinion this product feels more like a hiking shoe than a running shoe. Make that a hiking shoe that one can still run in. We think it would do great on long mixed hike-runs, burly multi-day events where foot care is important, backpacking, or for people who specifically need motion control.
This model runs $130 per pair, which is more expensive than most of the shoes we reviewed here. You certainly get much more shoe for your money, but not higher performance. Considering its durability, this shoe could net you a ton of miles for what you pay, but we would probably rather spend our money on a shoe that made us feel like a better runner.
It is hard to consider the Salomon XA Pro 3D a high-performance trail running shoe, and yet we can't deny that it includes many admirable features for that purpose. Its foot protection and durability are second to none, and it also offers stability control and pretty good traction. While we wouldn't anticipate running our very best race in these shoes, we love them for tromping around in the mountains.
— Andy Wellman