Sunday, January 10, 2016

Outdoor Retailer W16: Salomon Premium WET Traction Contagrip Outsole. S-Lab XA Alpine Ascent & Trail Run Hybrid

Premium WET Traction Contagrip Outsole
Traction on wet rock and ice was a big theme at Outdoor Retailer with Vibram and its partner Wolverine Brands: Saucony and Merrell all showing shoes with Arctic Grip outsoles( see Saucony Razor Ice+ here. I tried it on an inclined very wet slab of ice, one foot in Arctic Grip and the other a more conventional sole. Very, very noticeably improved traction on that type of surface with Arctic Grip.

Well, Salomon quietly and without promotion, until Outdoor Retailer, has its own amazingly superior wet traction product: Premium WET Traction Contagrip. They set up a slab of very wet, very slick inclined marble and had me try a normal Contagrip  on one foot vs. a WET shod S-Lab Wings  I found so effective on wet rock late last year in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Salomon Premium WET Contragrip 
Salomon Premium WET Contragrip 
Different surface conditions than the Arctic Grip ice but equally compelling. I had to sign a release before trying and I could see why... I had almost no traction with the conventional outsole and very good confident traction with the WET Contagrip. Part of the description of the S-Lab Wings calls out its prowess on technical, steep downhills, I agree, but they didn't say exactly how. Now we know a big part of the answer. The WET outsole will be rolling out to models beyond S-Lab Wings including the Fall 2016 Speedcross 4 GTX.

S-Lab XA Alpine
Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine

One of those upcoming shoes with WET Contagrip is an amazing running and high alpine ascent hybrid, the S-Lab XA Alpine. Only 12.2 oz, so lighter than many trail shoes,  the exterior "gaiter" is breathable and padded at the ankle, the interior is a Salomon Sense upper, the midsole has an embedded carbon plate from toe flex area back for mid foot integrity, the outsole is the WET material with a climbing zone upfront. Pick it up, flex it, etc... and it feels like a decently light running shoe but one that can also clearly climb, including with compatible crampons. 6mm drop, 22mm heel/16mm forefoot. $250.  Coming Fall 2016.

See our post on Salomon sister company Suunto's amazing Ambit 3 Vertical GPS watch, the perfect companion the XA Alpine here

See the rest of our Outdoor Retailer Reporting and Coverage: New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Suunto and more here

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