The Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 is, as the name suggests, the fourth iteration of this popular rugged walking shoe. Designed for women, it's built around a female-specific last and has all the features you need for walks, hikes and scrambles in a range of conditions. But can it compete with the rest of the models in our best women's walking shoe roundup? Read on for our full Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 walking shoe review.
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Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 walking shoe review: design
Designed for women, the Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 has a number of specific features that differentiates them from the men's version of the shoe. Specifically, they are built around a female last which is surprisingly rare in the outdoor footwear market, which means they have narrower heel cup and a wider shape in the forefoot area. Other specific elements include softer material around the ankle and heel cup collar and a lighter, lower density chassis.
The upper features welded seams, Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and Salomon's new ADV-C chassis which provides additional support along and around the outer edge of the shoe to increase stability.
An additional mesh layer under the laces and above the tongue prevents debris from getting into the shoe, and a water-repellant treatment, alongside the Gore-Tex membrane, is design to ensure the fabric doesn't absorb loads of water in wet conditions which can add weight as well as make them slow to dry.
Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 review: performance and comfort
The Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 is one of the lightest walking shoes we've tested, but it's no less rugged for it. The Gore-tex waterproofing does a first-rate job of preventing rain and puddle water getting in, while the thinner fabric of the upper keeps its structural integrity while allowing the foot to breathe.
The fit is, for the most part, great, though one women's specific design element we didn't get on with here is the softer ankle cuff material, which simply folded over on itself when putting the shoes on. There is a heel pull tab but this isn't located on this fabric so while it helps get the shoe on, it doesn't pull this material out of the way, so we ended up fishing around to try and pull it out again. That said, once on it was nice and soft against the ankle and didn't rub or feel rough.
The tongue is shorter than on most other walking shoes we've tested and is only anchored to the shoe at its base which meant that it had a tendency to migrate off to one side while walking which was irritating. The shortness also meant accessing the mesh pocket where the lace pull tabs are designed to be stowed was a bit awkward. Another few millimeters length here would make all the difference.
Sharp-edged chevron-shaped lugs do an outstanding job of providing grip in slick conditions while the reinforced toe bumper and heel pad protect the foot from rough ground and rock strikes.
The lace closure system uses a pull-cord design with sliding lock which makes tightening the shoe nice and easy, particularly if your hands are cold, wet or in gloves. The fine laces provide a good, even spread of pressure across the foot without having to fiddle with laces, however the top laces sit over the top of the clasp when it's in the mesh pocket on the tongue which can cause a pressure spot.
While these don't feel as instantly cushioned in the sole department as other comparable walking shoes, they have a firm supportive insole and sole which provides a nice blend of feedback and protection.
Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 review: verdict
Comfortable, rugged and waterproof walking shoes designed for women, there are plenty of great features here that make these a great choice for walks and rambles in all four seasons and on a range of terrain. Grip on grass, mud and slick conditions is confident and reliable, and the shoes ward off water impressively. They also clean up well when they do get filth covered; a hose down cleared off most of the muck without having to scrub.
While the mesh covering does a great job of preventing stones and grit getting into the shoe, we'd like to see more work done on the tongue which proved to be one of the major issues in our tests. Likewise, while the softer ankle and heel cuff was comfortable on, it was irritating to actually put on, and perhaps moving or extending the rear pull tab to the top of this section would help. (Note: our reviewer testing the male version of these shoes didn't have the same issue, so this might depend on the particular shape of your foot.)