Salomon is a major player in the trail market not only with their shoes, but with well supported international teams, high quality video content, and full apparel and pack lines they are arguably the most recognizable brand in the trail running world. Their shoes, however, have not fit my tastes very often aside from a few of their very expensive S-Lab line, namely the Fellcross 3 and Sense 3 (which I still struggle with on a few areas).
I was a little leery giving the Speedcross Pros a review (disclosure: the shoes were provided free of charge from Salomon) since I really don’t like the Speedcross 3, which is most likely their best selling model of all time. It has been around unchanged for quite some time and, while I can understand its initial popularity years ago, I can’t seem to grasp why it is still as popular given all the great options these days that are just as grippy, yet much more nimble and comfortable. The good news is, even if you don’t like the Speedcross 3, the Speedcross Pro modernizes the Speedcross line, while still retaining most of what folks probably like about the Speedcross 3 (for good or bad).
Weight: 400 g (14.1 oz) in my size 13, 323 g (11.4 oz) in men’s 9 and 283 g (10 oz) in women’s 8
Stack Height: 29mm heel, 19mm forefoot
Specs from Running Warehouse
Upper and Fit
The upper on the Speedcross Pro is likely the best and most significant upgrade from the Speedcross 3. It is completely stitch free and features the Endofit sleeve that connects with the tongue (pioneered by the Sense series). I’m still pretty indifferent on how much this improves the fit of Salomon shoes, and in many models I only feel that it adds unnecessaryweight and thickness to the upper. That said, I didn’t have any problems with it on the Speedcross Pro, and since the upper is a pretty closed cell material it is going to run hot anyway. Overall, I think the upper quality is right up there with their S-Lab products, and probably a little more room in the fit compared to the Fellcross 3 and Sense 3. The upper should hold up well under rough conditions, and will be comfortable in the colder/wetter type of use it is designed for.
As usual, I did cut the speed laces off and replaced them with regular laces which helped with getting a little better lock down, and relieved pressure on the top of the foot. This is one area that Salomon really needs to improve on though; they always run speed laces and usually, especially in their S-Lab product, have a very thin neoprene-like tongue material that just doesn’t distribute any pressure from the static speed laces. A little thicker/stiffer tongue material like the Dynafit Feline SL helps a lot to relieve speed lace pressure and would help improve the comfort in Salomon shoes especially on steep downhills.
Midsole and Ride
While the Speedcross Pro is an improvement in the ride department compared to the Speedcross 3, this is the main area where I feel the shoe doesn’t meet my expectations in a mountain shoe. The Speedcross 3 has a very odd mix of a soft, flexible, low forefoot and a stiff and chunky heel. The combo makes sense only if you are trying to retain high levels of heel cushion, and yet still have enough proprioception in the forefoot to handle technical terrain. While hard heel strikers may appreciate this, I think most runners who run in technical terrain frequently adopt a much more nimble stride and when you do, the heel on the Speedcross 3 is just in the way and actually downright unstable.
The good news is that in the Speedcross Pro this midsole characteristic is subdued a little compared to the Speedcross 3. The bad news is that it is still there in a pretty noticeable way. The Speedcross 3 was pretty much not runnable on technical terrain for me whereas the Speedcross Pro is usable, but definitely not the type of ride that inspires confidence running sub 6 pace on steep and loose terrain. The heel is still too chunky and wide and the forefoot still a little soft. The ride is more forgiving than many other mountain/off trail shoes out there, but the problem is that it comes at the expense of its stability on uneven terrain. With a shoe with as much lug as the Speecross series has, this is a tradeoff not worth making, in my opinion. Either reduce the lug and make it more of an all around shoe, or sharpen up the ride for steep terrain.
The outsole is slightly different from the Speedcross 3 and more akin to the Fellcross 3 in design (with shallower lugs). I found the outsole adequate for a varied set of conditions and the traction is good all around. The biggest fault is really on the midsole not being stable enough to use all of the grip. Other than that, the outsole is simple and solid in design and, while the Contragrip rubber is not the best on the market, it is still a fairly high quality rubber. I’m also not sure I’m entirely sold on the Chevron lug shape for some situations (side-hilling in particular), but it isn’t a huge problem and generally functions well.
The Speedcross Pro is a great improvement to, in my view, the outdated Speedcross 3 and is much more closer to the S-Lab models in build and function (a good thing!). Regardless, some of the negative aspects (unless you love the Speedcross 3 that is) is a very beefy, heavy and unstable feel and ride for the end use it is designed for. Unless, for some reason, you like having lugs on more mellow terrain, the shoe is overkill for the type of terrain it performs best on. On moderate trail, it really does ride smooth and comfortable, something shoes with this much lug rarely do well. However, as soon as it gets genuinely steep, loose or uneven, I felt that the lack of control and stability really holds the shoe back. The $150 price tag is something that also holds it back, as there are better shoes from Dynafit and inov-8 out there for less money. That said, if you like the Speedcross 3 a lot, I think the Speedcross Pro is a very refined iteration of that shoe, which, for some, may make it a fantastic option.