Salomon has seen the evolution of hiking from a means of locomotion in the outdoors, to a sport in itself where mobility and speed are prized. This shoe is aimed at anyone looking to cut down on the weight but increase the protection and ankle stability of their hiking shoes, bearing in mind that 80% of hiking injuries are ankle sprains.
The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is aimed at that sweet spot between the best trail running shoes and the best men's walking shoes, but does it hit the mark? Let's find out. Read on for our full Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoe review.
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX men's: design and features
Most walking shoes struggle to offer good support for the ankles (which is why you can opt for a mid-cut or a boot) but Salomon do try to address this with the ADV-C Chassis in the X Ultra 4 GTX, which they say targets articulations in the outer foot to optimise stability without limiting mobility.
A Contagrip MA outsole locks onto the ground while the sizable toecap offers good protection at the front. The upper features Activesupport ‘wings’ connecting the lacing system to the chassis, to bring even more stability without adding a whole heap of weight. The Quicklace fastening system is a great addition for anyone who likes lacing to be fast and efficient, even in horribly wet weather.
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX men's: performance and comfort
The thing that stands out about the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is it looks and feels like it’s built like a tank, while at the same time being very lightweight and easy to wear. You never feel like you’re clumping around in these. In fact, while I wouldn’t ever run in them, they do port over some of those trail running shoe characteristics that encourage you to get all ‘mountain goat’ on the trails.
In short, this shoe gives you the confidence to step forwards into rougher terrain rather than second guessing your footing all the time, which can in itself lead you into instability issues. I doubt if a shoe can really ever give you the ankle protection of a mid or boot, but in use, this shoe does at least feel as if it’s been engineered with this in mind.
The fact that the heel cup is sturdy and well shaped to lock onto your heel definitely helps with stability. I never felt that my foot was loose or sliding around in the ADV-C Chassis, even on the steeper descents, which traditionally reveal that kind of thing.
Having used many Salomon shoes and boots I generally find them quite a narrow fit. So, I was pleasantly surprised by the roomy toe box of the X Ultra 4 GTX, which meant there were no pressure points to build up into discomfort over long miles. Everyone is different of course, but for me, the close fit around the arch, instep and heel balanced out the additional room elsewhere.
As a chronic boulder-kicker I also appreciated the fact that despite being lightweight (390g) this shoe has a beefy toe protector and very solid rear chassis. So, if you’re looking for a walking shoe that does more than just encase your feet in armour, then the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX could be the one.
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX men's: verdict
A cunning balance of sturdiness and stability combined with light weight and decent cushioning means that the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX should be on the list of anyone looking to prioritise movement and speed on the hiking trail. The waterproofing is a nice addition, but you’d need gaiters to stop the water getting in over your ankles – or do what I do and rock waterproof socks! This walking shoe definitely delivers on the promise of durable agility…