There are a wide range of reasons why you might choose a shoe over a boot, they are great for those who hike on low level trails, who want to move quickly along the trail, or who are looking for something smaller and easier than a boot to pack when travelling. I have really come to love hiking shoes over the last year or two, because I can have all the technical credentials of a decent hiker in a lighter and more nimble item for every day.
The Salomon X Ultra GTX women’s hiking shoes.
I’ve been trying out these Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX hiking shoes on and off the trail for two or three months now, and I have found they are excellent for walking the hills and the trails both on well-formed paths and more rocky terrain. I have been quite impressed with the fit and feel, and I am certain I will get a lot of use out of them as time passes.
What the Catalogue Says
Salomon say they make shoes (and other gear) for women who love to walk in the mountains, providing comfort, protection and lightness. And who doesn’t want a pair of shoes that will take you as far as you want to go, or maybe even further?!
On paper the Salomon X Ultra have a lightweight upper with Gore-Tex for waterproof protection, exceptional stability and support thanks to the Advanced Chassis, a gusseted tongue to keep debris from entering the shoe, a SensiFit system that cradles the foot for a precise fit, and an EVA foot bed for lightweight cushioning.
I’ll start with the fit, because that’s arguably the most important element when choosing footwear of any type, and especially with outdoors shoes.
While these look like a wide shoe they are actually not, I was surprised now tight they felt when I first put them on. Being a material upper, it took one or maybe two walks around the block for the upper to soften and expand to the shape of my foot. The “Advanced Chassis”, which sounds like it should be on my car not my shoe, means the shoe has an intentional close fit, leaving no room for unnecessary movement. Of course this is a very good thing; both in terms of a reduction in blisters from the shoes rubbing, but also because you need to feel secure in a shoe that you’re going to wear up a mountain.
On the trail in Lincolnshire. Yes, a hill!
It took me a while to get the laces set in the right place. The Quicklace system is designed so you can tighten the laces and set them in place so they don’t budge over time on the trail. The system definitely works in that once you’ve locked the laces they stay put, but actually getting them set properly took a bit of trial and error. I did think I would just change them to bog standard laces, but now I have worked them out I’m very happy with them.
I’ll be honest and say that now I’ve got them sorted, I very rarely untie the laces to remove the shoe, I just leave the laces set where they are and slip them off and on. If I was a trail runner I would probably want them a bit tighter, and so would need to loosen the laces to remove the shoe, but I’m not and I don’t. This does make them incredibly convenient, as I don’t have to worry about the laces at all.
Silly selfies are okay sometimes!
On the Trail and in the City
The reason you own any pair of shoes is to wear them, and I am pleased to report that in practice these shoes do exactly what you might expect – keep your feet comfortable and happy when out and about. That close fit I described above comes into its own on the trail, providing you with great comfort and stability when bounding along any kind of path over the hills or through the woods.
I was particularly impressed with the soles on these shoes. As good as any of my hiking boots for grip, I could always find a good footing whatever I was walking along. Even on a particularly muddy day. They are also flexible so you can feel the ground beneath your feet, important when hiking because it’s easier to keep your balance when you know what’s going on the ground.
The Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX are a waterproof shoe, thanks to a Gore-Tex liner, and I have had the pleasure of putting this to test in a lovely heavy rain storm on a hike a couple of weeks ago. Lovely. Being a fan of Gore-TexI wasn’t worried about my feet at all, I slipped on my waterproof over-trousers on and just kept moving. It was all good – my feet stayed dry and I remained a (reasonably) happy hiker. I probably don’t need to point this out, but I will, that as this is a shoe and not a boot, you can’t just bound along in wet conditions without dodging puddles or streams, or even just long grass; water will very easily creep in from above. Get water inside a Gore-Tex shoe and you are in trouble, because there is no way for it to get out – and no one likes the feel of a shoe with a puddle in it! Believe me, I’ve been there! So don’t worry about the rain, but if the weather is horrible or the ground sodden, maybe leave these at home and grab your boots instead. Especially if it’s boggy.
Harvest time in Lincolnshire!
But the pull to a shoe over a boot for me is the fact that it isn’t confined to the trail, it is also the perfect accompaniment to a day in the city, a day in the car, or an evening in a pub. Some women will tell you they need a minimum of six pairs of shoes when travelling to have something for all eventualities; I’ve become very good at packing just one or maybe two for a trip – and having something that will do for hiking as well as more casual wear is an absolute must. I love the look of these and have no problem with making them my “one pair” when going away, or my go-to pair by the back door for whatever reason I’m leaving the house. And I would say that is praise indeed.
The Salomon X Ultra 2 is a great shoe with all the technical features you would expect from a brand such as this, and I thoroughly enjoy wearing them. They are indeed lightweight, incredibly comfortable for walking on concrete and very stable on the trail, with a lacing system that works a treat once you’ve got it set where you want it, and they have a tough build that I am certain will last a very long time. But, know that while these do have decent support for the ankle and heel, they are no match for boots if you have trouble with your ankles or are a little bit clumsy on the trail.
My Salomon X Ultra 2 are perfect for both getting my outdoors fix on the trail, but also just as a general shoe when I’m travelling – I think they work well enough with jeans/casual trousers to be suitable enough not to need a second pair of shoes. Nice job, Salomon.
Coming in at £115 RRP (but available loads cheaper at the moment – I spotted them for just £69 online yesterday), these are a very good purchase if you’re in the market for a great hiking shoe.
A farm track in Lincolnshire.
If you are struggling to choose walking shoes, check out my how-to guide.
A special thanks to Millet Sports who sent me the Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX shoes to try out. As always, receiving an item for free is in no way linked to my opinion of that item. Words and photos are my own.