Shoes in Salomon’s Speedcross range have always been muscle-bound snarly, toothy beasts – like shoes impersonating Rottweilers – but with version 5, they have gone full wolf face. And like a wolf with prey in its sights, these are killers on tight, technical terrain – biting down hard on the neck of singletrack trails. Just steer clear of the sealed stuff, where wild wolves never tread easy.
Did I mention grip?
High stack, meaning less ankle stability
Harsh ride on anything firm
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The Salomon Speedcross 5 is all about grip, grip, grip and more grip. Oh, you’d like extra grip with that? Certainly. How about with a side of grip? Yeah, sure, steroids are bad for you. And illegal. But not when they are injected into your shoes. Totally legit.
The Salomon Speedcross 5 delivers with extra bite and comfort to boot. Just don’t try running them on anything firm: these are out-and-out soft ground slushers, and great if you are feeling a little short – they push a 5’11” bloke like me over 6-foot, adding to a boost of confidence already delivered by their agility on technical trails. Hopefully you’ve been doing weights, however, as they are a little on the heavy side, and a traditionalist’s high heel stack makes weak ankles a red flag.
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• RRP: $130 (US)/£120 (UK)
• Weight: 320g/oz
• Materials used: Contagrip sole, EnergyCell midsole, Sensifit upper
• Drop: 10mm
• Compatibility: muddy trails, soft ground, wet, technical trails, mountains and fells
On the trails
These things munch on earth like its candy. Your foot sticks to the ground like the hand of Tarzan gripping Jane while swinging high on a vine over a deadly African jungle. Above crocodiles. Pummelling down a mountain, or gritting it out up a slope, where technical is the terra firma special of the day, these inspire confidence in your footing that directly translates to speed. This is the Speedcross DNA, and the lab boffins have drilled directly back to their source code here, but amped it up a few notches.
The sole has larger, more aggressive lugs with more space between them and an updated geometry, delivering better push-off and braking grip in most (but not all) surface conditions. The lugs are so stud-like and aggressive, I reckon you could actually play football in these. I laced up for extended testing in the technical, soft-playgrounds found across England’s Lake District and Yorkshire Dales , on a Coast-to-Coast run across the country. It is the kind of terrain where you want to be one hundred percent confident that when you drop your foot it’s going to stay planted where you placed it until you push off again, and the Speedcross delivers that reassurance in spades, which made me fall quickly prey to its charms.
For those who haven’t been, the endless Yorkshire bog is wet, muddy and sucky, and the scree is almost vertical coming high off Haystacks. It’s fell running territory – and without belief in your footing, you will be grated up like Parmesan, picking shale from your nethers for weeks. The Speedcross had one job – to keep upright – and they did it with aplomb.
The catch? Big, luggy grip comes at a price. These are not all-rounders, and when the trails started buffing out, firming up and – lump in throat – turning to hard-boiled bitumen on backcountry English lanes, these things got a little twitchy, and even began to bruise me. They are certainly no door-to-trail shoes. Rather these are for those sublime trails where it’s all singletrack. If you’re intending to run mixed terrain routes, with any extended bits of road or even constant wet rock bounding – then go for another shoe.
I still feel the Speedcross is too beefy underfoot with a 30mm/20mm stack height and 10mm heel-to-toe drop. It’s ripe for traditionalists with strong ankles, but I’d love to try these in a lower heel. Another bug bear – when these got wet the Ortholite inners scrunched, creating rub zones. So the bog-zone got a little irritating. They also weren’t the best at draining.
Australia-based Chris mastered his outdoor gear reviewing technique as an editor of outdoor and adventure magazines, including Walk (UK), Outer Edge and Trail Run Mag (Australia), and as a contributor to the likes of Australian Geographic Outdoor, Wild, Adventure NZ, and Lonely Planet adventure titles. He mostly knows what he's doing. Apart from that time he was helicoptered out of the Bhutanese Himalayas. Or evacuated from the Australian desert to hospital. Or... well, let's say he tests his gear with gusto.
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