Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots Review
As a gear junkie, one of the pieces of gear that gets more than its share of my obsession is footwear and in this case specifically boots. It is wonderfully satisfying to have the perfect boot that matches exactly what is needed in terms of fit and function for an adventure.
I recently found myself back on the market for a pair of hiking boots. I have been wearing out trail running shoes for years, but my hiking boots haven’t seen much action. With an upcoming November trip to Leadville, CO, I decided to take the plunge and bought a pair of X Ultra 3 from REI. In this review I will tell you why I selected these boots and how they have performed.
Before I get into the boot review, I have to make a plug for REI’s virtual consultation process. As I was shopping on their website, a pop up gave me the opportunity to schedule a 1 on 1 session with an expert. It turned out to be time well spent. Ann was ready at our appointed time slot and had already done some pre-work to make a list of boots to compare. We talked about how I was going to use the boots, how much I wanted to spend and my history with other boots. We settled on these boots, and I was able to order them right away. I highly recommend this service if you are on the fence about any outdoor gear purchase.
Ok...on to the boot review.
Cost: $165.00 at REI.com
The X Ultra 3 boots have performed well in a variety of conditions including snow, water, rock crawling and skree. If you don’t want to spend big bucks for a top of the line pair of leather boots, these are a great fit for most adventures.
Contragrip tread is great on dry rock and snow
Gore-Tex water proofing is reliable
Durability is not as good as the more expensive leather boots out there
Tread is soft and therefore won’t last forever.
Insulation is limited. Not great for true cold weather conditions.
One of the main attractions for me was the Salomon fit. I have been wearing Salomon Speedtrak trail running shoes since they were originally launched as Fellraisers about 5 years ago. I always have a pair of newer ones for running and a pair of old ones for everyday wear. The Salomon X Ultra fit is very similar to the Speedtrak. The toe box and instep felt almost identical. I don’t like the extremely popular, Salomon Speedcross shoes because the instep is too narrow, but the X Ultra instep was sufficiently large to give my flat feet a nice ride.
Sizing was true to Salomon size charts that tend to run a bit small. However, my typical 11.5 mens size is a bit snug with good hiking socks. I might go up a ½ size on my next pair.
I haven’t worn out these boots yet but have used them in a wide variety of situations. I have hiked about 25 miles in winter conditions that included ice, snow and rock with about 12,000 ft of ascent and descent. I have also used the boots in warm weather conditions that included technical terrain and creek crossings.
These boots are the best I’ve ever had in terms of performance.
Traction: The Contagrip tread provides extremely secure footing. The boots are solid on rock and the feel to the ground underfoot is great. On snow the tread digs in and provides solid traction buth up and downhill. It is hard to find any shoe that will suffice on solid ice alone, but these come close. I use Kahtoola microspikes, and they fit well on these boots. With the microspikes, ice was no problem.
Waterproofing: The Gore-Tex waterproof liners work flawlessly. I have taken the boots through deep snow, streams and stood in the Rio Grande and stayed perfectly dry. I haven’t hiked on a truly hot day, but I would expect that the breathability is pretty good based on what I have done so far. However, the boot liner doesn’t do all of the way to the top of the boot. If you are in snow that is going to be over the top of the boot, I definitely recommend gators.
Insulation: These are not cold weather boots. They were good in 20F in the snow with a pair of Merino wool socks, but if you step in a stream you are going to immediately feel the cold. If you are going to be in truly cold weather, these are not the boots.
Durability: This is one of the concerns I had when buying these boots. Being that they are lightweight and made with ballistic material rather than leather, they are not going to be the lifetime type of boots that you get resoled over and over. However they are holding up really well so far with about 100 miles into them. My only concern is what looks like some separating of the materials at the back of the toe box. I am used to seeing this on my Salomon Speedtraks, and I am concerned it may grow.
The tread is great for scrambling because it is soft and the Contagrip design is aggressive. These same features, however, make it a less durable sole. The soles will probably be good for about 500-600 miles.
These boots are well worth the investment. They are great lightweight boots for most adventures. If you are in cold weather or looking for a long term boot, you may want to spend more on a thicker, leather boot. Alternatively if you like Salomon shoes and want a boot that is good for moving light and fast, this is a great choice.
Dave is the owner and a guide for Top Out Adventures. His outdoor background is rooted in ultra-running, which has given him the chance to run around the world in the Rockies, Himalayas, Alps and Andes. He is also experienced in mountaineering and scuba diving, anything to get keep him out of an office. Feel free to reach out to him on Facebook at Dave Smithey or e-mail him at DaveS@TopOutAdventures.com