The Rundown

The Salomon Speedcross 5 is a durable, smooth-running traction fiend for any and all trail conditions.

Surface
Trail
Stack Height
High

Salomon’s heritage shoe is somewhat sacred and the brand rarely tampers with what is now more than 15 years of success. There wasn’t much of a “Speedcross 1,” per se, but the Speedcross 2 was wildly popular and quickly became the brand’s definitive trail running product. Back then, always in all black, it stood out for its cleat-like appearance with an aggressive lugged outsole and speed lacing. It was also a shoe often seen standing on top of trail race podiums, from short mountain events to ultras, and all around the world.

The tweaks over the next three iterations have been mild refinements and cosmetic because Salomon knew better than to mess with a shoe that had such a dedicated following. This newest model is a more extensive upgrade than usual but it retains the Speedcross’ relatively high heel-toe differential and the cushioning that one would suspect comes with that. The forefoot is now also more protective, making it a better option for longer or more burly trails than its predecessor.

Photo: Adam Chase

The Specs

Weight
9.9 oz (W), 11.6 oz (M)
Offset
10mm
Heel/Forefoot
30mm/20mm
Midsole
EnergyCell+ high-rebound
Outsole
Updated chevron lugs and Contagrip rubber compound
Upper
Welded with mesh
Price
$130

100 Miles In: The Review

Winter was the ideal season to test the Speedcross 5. Scratch that. Any season would be the ideal time to test the Speedcross 5. The shoe’s purchase on snow, ice, mud, slush, dirt, roots, grass, leaves and rock is outstanding, boosting confidence on the most technical of trails. The full and partial chevron lugs, updated in size, geometry, and compound, gave the feeling of surefootedness that helps maintain speed on otherwise slippery descents.

Photo: Adam Chase

The tread held up well except for one of the half-lugs on each foot: the lateral fore lug. Since, as a rare “natural forefoot runner” I both land and take off from that point most every step, that lug was completely sheared off after 100 miles. Since this is the case with shoes from a wide variety of brands, I have learned to refrain from placing blame on the shoe or the manufacturer. I view this phenomenon as more a function of personalizing my shoes to accommodate my running form; it isn’t wearing out but, rather, wearing in or adapting the shoe for my gait—and that isn’t a bad thing. That lug simply shouldn’t be there for me, so it was summarily removed in relatively short order. All other lugs remained seemingly untouched from the accretion of miles.

One problem I did experience, however, was with the speed lacing, called “Quicklace.” The lace simply came loose because the clasp wouldn’t hold the cable, instead slipping and loosening on most steep descents, a time when you most need security. After running in Salomon shoes for 17 years as a once-sponsored athlete for the brand, I’ve probably worn close to 100 pair of their shoes and this was the first time I’ve ever experienced any issues of slippage until these.

I checked in with the company and learned that the patent for Salomon’s old speed lacing clasp had expired, that this was a new toggle, and, in the early versions of the Speedcross 5’s production run, they had these faults. Fortunately, the clasp’s shortcomings have been addressed and by the time this review is published the laces will remain secure, as they always have for me with this one exception. 1 out of 100 ain’t bad.

Photo: Adam Chase

That aside, I had a lot of fun in the Speedcross 5 and took it on many runs during the test period. It even performed well on road, where the shoe didn’t feel overly luggy or stiff the way many trail shoes do. The Speedcross has always had a smooth heel-to-toe transition and the 5 is no exception.

The fit is known to be on the long and narrow, low-volume side of the spectrum but, unlike predecessor models, it felt as though the new, welded upper was more accommodating in the toe box so that those with wider feet might be able to wear the shoe comfortably. The foothold surrounds gently but securely for a natural lockdown that is enhanced by a modified cradling heel unit. This Speedcross 5 is quite friendly to heel strikers, and, in this iteration, Salomon finally gives a nod to forefoot runners with the addition of a thin protection layer up front.

Looks count, and the Speedcross retains its smartness with this latest from the line that put trail running shoes on the feet of rock stars. The welding and monocolor don’t hurt the eyes either.

There’s The Rub

While the fit is fine for lower volume feet, it is still not a shoe that wide feet or those that have grown accustomed to a roomy toe box for full splay will take to kindly. While that concern is lessened by the new upper fit, the Speedcross 5 retains its longer, narrower, soccer cleat-like last.

Speed lacing is loved by some and not by others so there’s that, personally I find it provides an adaptive security that moves with the motion of the foot.

Finally, at 10 mm, the offset is rather substantial and takes the shoe out of any minimalist category, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a lack of feel for the trail.

TL;DR

The Speedcross 5 is Salomon’s way of primping its workhorse, the iconic trail running shoe that helped define the category. The newest Speedcross remains the quintessence of off-road footwear, well suited for any surface or distance. The price is reasonable for this quality shoe and it delivers many a fluid mile of technical trail running. Already one of the best traction shoes on the market, the latest version only makes it better.