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Salomon XA Enduros review

26-Jul-17

Last updated: 20-Aug-18

By Steve Diederich

A serious trail shoe that thinks it is a boot - or is that the other way round?

Features

Now, Salomon is obsessed with naming every component so that it sounds like a mission plan to Mars, but have no fear, I have translated the key features.

  • Quick-lacing system with storage for closer
  • Elasticated cuffs
  • Breathable tops
  • 9 mm drop (19mm/10mm)
  • Light chassis
  • 300g weight (manufacturer states for size 8.5). Tested shoe – size 45
  • Dual density midsole

 

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As you may know, I am a fan of Salomon’s Speedcross in all its variants. For me, it is the benchmark for an all-round, lightweight trail running shoe. They have fine tuned these shoes to an incredible level of function and elegance.

Opening the box on the XA Enduros after using the Speedcross was a bit like bumping into that skinny kid at school who has reinvented himself as a body-builder. Whooah, these look like they could hike somewhere gnarly, and I bet you they could. The form, build and features look tough as … well tough as boots.

What Salomon has to say “Time to run off the beaten track. The XA Enduro shoe is designed to hug and stabilize your feet on hard-core mountain terrain. It keeps the grit out. Who needs trails? The mountain is all yours, play with it, run all over it.”

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And if the above was the design brief, then the design team should be paraded on the shoulders of mountain runners through the streets of Chamonix. I took these to some rocky trails in Greece to see how they performed on rough, loose, sketchy trails.

First impressions when on: I love the forward and rear loops on the cuffs to pull the shoes on. The immediate difference once your foot is in the shoe, is that you notice they aren’t as narrow in the foot as the Speedcross, which is pure heaven for me. The relaxed forefoot and toebox area really suits both this style of shoe and my foot shape.

Pros: What’s good about the Salomon XA Enduros

Although I am not used to such a high drop shoe (I normally run in 6mm drop shoes), the forward articulation and the 19mm rear cushioning really inspires confidence on the steeper stuff.

Whilst other shoes provide this level of underfoot layering, the XA Enduro’s sole ensures that you maintain feel rather than that marshmallow dead bounce that you get with other cushioned shoes.

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This sure-footed feel was supported by the excellent soles. Whilst they don’t have the stickiness or the aggressive tread pattern of the Speedcross 2s, they work well on dry and loose surfaces, and a brief forage into wet rock has shown them to be more than adequate. I arrived back at the end of every run with all debris shed from the sole. The big improvement for me is that early indications look like the sole will last better than the Speedcross sole. This is a big boost in my book as it helps justify the substantial price tag.

The designers have obviously worked on stability as the shoe is stiffer than I would normally choose to run in. Also, the wider forefoot, midsole rock plate and strong supporting heel cup have created a shoe that allows you to dance over rocks on longer trails. This is balanced with some decent toe protection

The excellent lacing system, high-cuff inner and “Endofit” (I wish they wouldn’t do that) sock liner also ensure the comfort we have come to expect from a premium shoe at this price.

Having mainly tested the shoes in hot conditions, I can also testify that due to the material choice of the tops and cuffs, they are really breathable. This is not an easy job when using high cuffs that seal around the ankle. Talking of which, I ran through gorse, heather, stubble and some sharp rocks and both the shoes and my ankles and feet arrived home in good condition.

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Cons: What’s not so good about the Salomon XA Enduros

I am a little short of cons on these shoes. Other than the obvious price tag, there is little to not like about them. The cuffs could be more elasticated to suit a narrower ankle perhaps, and the heel cup could be a little narrower to hold the heel tight. I sorted this by cinching down the laces and this worked for me. The colour scheme in a shoe this size is a bit garish - a comment from others - not that it bothered me.

Conclusion

Definitely geared to the more technical mountain runner, the XA Enduro is a really solid shoe offering stable, all-day comfort to those wanting to storm over rough terrain in something more solid than the average trail shoe. These shoes excel when others would be pushed beyond their limits.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 9/10
Performance 9/10
Value 7/10
Total 8.5/10


Other shoes you may want to consider:

Merrell All Out Terra Trail
La Sportiva Bushido
Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine
La Sportiva Akasha

All images RunUltra.

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“Opening the box on the XA Enduros after using the Speedcross was a bit like bumping into that skinny kid at school who has reinvented himself as a body-builder”

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