This Salomon shoe review is from Steven Benesi who is a Tahoe-Truckee area mountain athlete. His passions for running, peakbagging, hiking, and snowboarding carry him into and on top of the stunning terrain with which the Tahoe area is blessed. Currently, he is happily suffering through the transcendent vistas of Bob Burd’s OGUL list and running somewhere.
On a map, many of my runs look relatively straightforward: 15-30 miles along trails in the Sierra Nevada unrolling over topo lines that suggest the wonderful feeling that ample vertical gain bestows. However, maps are only a hint of reality, and 15-30 miles can hold many surprises. Lately my runs have been geared towards bagging peaks around the Tahoe area, and this usually involves ditching the trail altogether. Clambering through manzanita, crossing talus fields, surfing pitches of scree, splashing through streams, and class three climbing all have the tendency to show up in my longer days. Fortunately, Salomon’s Speedcross 4 exists to carry me across it all.
Let’s begin by getting this fact out of the way: this is not a road shoe! The lugs on this shoe are nearly a quarter-inch tall, which is fantastic for traction on soft ground, but a bit destabilizing on smooth pavement. I also experienced a bit of slipping on smooth granite, but if the surface has any texture at all the lugs maintain traction. At first glance I thought they would be falling off quickly, but after 80 miles each one is still firmly in place.
The shoe incorporates Salomon’s Sensifit technology, which hugs the foot from the midsole to the eyelets of the laces and provides a snug, secure feeling. This feature, combined with the Quicklace system, creates incredible stability that ensures your foot stays in the shoe and only moves where and when you want it to. The Quicklace system has other perks in and of itself. The ease and speed at which the shoe can be removed, poured out (trail dust, loose scree, etc.), and put back on is great. As an added bonus, when stopping to filter water or take in a view, the shoe can be rapidly loosened, giving the foot a quick breather before it’s time to get on with the run. A lace pouch is on the tongue of the shoe for storage.
Salomon’s Speedcross 4 is a bit of a tank. It has a drop of 11mm, which may turn off the minimalist runner, but I love. I’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis throughout the summer and extra cushioning for my heel is invaluable. I recently spent three consecutive days of 8+ hours in these, and didn’t have a flare of heel pain the whole time. The toe cap also provides great protection without adding excessive bulk. I hit my toes on countless rocks while descending from Raymond Peak in the Ebbett’s Pass area and didn’t feel any worse for it at the end of the day. Hopefully you’re more graceful than me, but if you’re not, the Speedcross 4 has you covered. The tongue of the shoe is also quite padded, which protects the front of the ankle from kicked up rocks. Even with all this muscle, the shoe still feels relatively agile and I didn’t notice the extra weight at all.
The big test for these shoes came in the form of three days running, scrambling, and climbing in off of Ebbett’s Pass near Markleeville, CA. The weekend held five peaks, all involving serious vertical gain, 10k plus trail run approaches, hours of cross country travel, side-hill traverses, scree fields, and broken ridgeline travel at elevation. As far as a shoe test goes, I don’t think there could have been a better designed. On the trail this thing hauls. Switchbacks are easily navigated while holding speed as the lugs bite the soft ground and prevent skidding. The toughness of the shoe prevented sharper stones from penetrating it and getting through to my foot while descending steep pitches of scree. At one point in the trip there was a bit of third class climbing with a couple fourth class moves. The shoe was narrow enough to jam into some cracks when necessary and provided solid footing on the side of a not-so-solid cliff. By the end of three days, I had crossed about five miles of ridgeline composed of broken, volcanic rock, and the shoe remains intact (despite some negligible fraying of the rubber on the sides). Finally, the shoe’s ankle cup was stiff enough (without being high), to keep my ankle happy after hours of side-hill travel.
Truly a shoe that can handle it all, the Salomon Speedcross 4 has earned a place in my running quiver. It’s adaptability to varied trail and conditions make it invaluable for those runs/adventures where you’re just not sure what might happen. Put these on and get to the mountains!