Salomon Toundra Pro CSWP Review
Cons: Stitching durability, expensive, very large
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The elephant in the room when it comes to these boots is the issues that multiple online customer reviewers have described about the seams that rest over the crease point on either side of the forefoot. As these reviews have described it, these seams come apart over time and from repetitive wear, some in as little as a week, and others have quoted a timeframe of an entire season. Regardless, these are expensive boots, and nobody wants to invest in a boot that is simply going to fall apart.
We will say that during our testing period, we noticed no issue with these boots at all, or the seams that others have mentioned as being suspect. Our seams, and boots, remained watertight to the end, quite literally, as we conducted our dedicated waterproofness test right before publishing this review and found them to be 100% waterproof while standing in a lake for over 10 minutes. What you read below, then, is simply our findings, not those of others who had issues. We also point out that the positive customer reviews online outweigh the ones who claimed to have a durability issue. Furthermore, as far as we can tell, Salomon has declared these issues to be production defects, and has covered complaints under their two-year warranty. There are numerous online reviews and comments saying that Salomon was good to work with during this process. With this in mind, we feel that if you are interested in these boots, there is little reason to be scared away, and virtually no risk in purchasing them considering their warranty.
The insulation used inside these boots is Aerogel, an insulator invented by NASA and touted as one of the most effective ever made. The most remarkable property, especially when used in footwear, is that it doesn't compress, and even if it does, loses none of its insulating properties with compression.
In our comparative testing we found them to be one of the best for warmth. When submerging them in an ice bath and measuring the internal temperature every three minutes with a laser thermometer, we measured 18.3 degrees of temperature loss in 12 minutes, with a final temperature of 44.7 degrees. This wasn't the best performance for this test, but it was pretty good. However, in our second comparative test, where we tested warmth with our foot inside the boot, we anecdotally felt that this was perhaps the warmest feeling boot, with plenty of room inside for wiggling our toes around to stay warm. We have no reason to suppose that these boots wouldn't meet the -40F temperature rating that Salomon has given them.
To test water resistance, we waited until the end of our testing period, after the boots had been used many times and hiked around in plenty, then stood in an icy lake for over 10 minutes with water up to a depth of five inches. We found these boots easily withstood this test, with literally not a drop of water on the inside. At least for us, fears that the front seams would delaminate or come apart and allow water to enter were unfounded. Combined with a high stack height and gusseted tongue that makes the lowest possible water entrance point at eight inches, these are easily some of the most waterproof boots that you can find, a solid choice for tromping through slush or in wet climates.
Fit and Comfort
We found the fit of this boot to be accurate to size, so no need to think about sizing up or down. Whether we were wearing a thin or thick sock, we felt that our foot had plenty of room to wiggle about to stay warm, while we were also impressed with how it felt cradled and secure. The inside of the boot is lined with a smooth and tough synthetic fabric, while the top three inches of the cuff are lined with soft and fleecy faux fur, a nice touch if you aren't wearing high socks. Although these boots have a high cuff that comes up well above the ankle and to maybe halfway up the shin, we find it to be very flexible, not impeding mobility at all, especially compared to some far stiffer high cuffed boots we compared it against. While they are really large and even a bit clunky due to their over-size, our pair only weighed 3.5 lbs, a good bit less than many others, so they aren't too fatiguing to walk around in all day.
Ease of Use
The Toundra Pro is by no means a difficult boot to use, but compared to the competition, it is among the most complex to completely lace up. The tall stack is tightened down by three hooks on each side, so after pulling the laces tight over the top of the foot, you must cross and hook them three times before tying them at the top. As we said, this isn't too challenging really, but also means that they aren't super convenient compared to slip-on models, or even those lace-up boots that simply need to be pulled tight once and tied. We liked the adjustability for fine-tuning the perfect fit when going for a hike, but would prefer a much quicker boot for using multiple times a day for going outside in the snow.
The outsole of this boot uses Salomon's Contagrip rubber, fine-tuned for winter to be stickier and give good grip in very cold conditions. We found that it grips well on smooth surfaces, but the lug pattern was not as effective as some more aggressively lugged outsoles on snow. The sole features many large lugs that have sharp, square cut edges for biting in well, and large flat tops to provide plenty of surface area with the ground. That said, there is not a ton of negative space between lugs, which helps an outsole bite more effectively into soft surfaces like snow.
Using the high end insulating Aerotherm Aerogel technology and coming from Salomon, a company not generally associated with producing the most affordable products, it should come as no surprise that these boots rank up there among the most expensive that we tested. We think they provide good value, however, as long as they hold up as intended. If they don't, you may have to deal with a minor hassle of filling a warranty claim, but Salomon stands behind their products, so there is little risk.
The Salomon Toundra Pro CSWP is a large, burly, and very warm boot that is also surprisingly light and comfortable. Salomon uses innovative Aerogel technology for their insulation, and they are rated to -40F. While they're fit for all uses, they will serve best as a winter hiking or snowshoeing boot, and are also a great choice for snowmobiling.
— Andy Wellman