Monday, November 04, 2019

Salomon SpikeCross 5 GTX and SnowSpike CS WP Review: Superb Winter Traction, Comfort and Protection

Article by Jeff Valliere

Salomon SpikeCross 5 GTX ($185) & SnowSpike CSWP ($215)

New spiked models for this winter, the SpikeCross 5 GTX (low top) and SnowSpike CSWP (high top) are built on the SpeedCross 5 (RTR Review) platform. Both are very similar to SpeedCross 5 in design, sizing, stature, midsole, outsole etc… but with waterproof/resistant uppers and the addition of 12 carbide studs implanted in the deep and aggressive lugs.

The SpikeCross 5 GTX and SnowSpike CSWP are nearly identical, with the primary differences being the SnowSpike CSWP features a built-in gaiter for added protection from snow, ankle bumps and for added warmth.
Pros:  Traction, Waterproof, Warm, Comfort, Security, Protection, Quality, Fit
Cons:  Weight, Blocky, high and sometimes unstable heel

Jeff  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.

Spikecross 5 GTX 

Weight: 12.9 oz/365 g (US  M9)
Sample Weight:  US Men’s Size 10: 13.5 oz / 382 g
Stack Height: 34 mm heel/24 mm forefoot (10mm drop)
$185.00. Available Now

Snowspike CSWP 

Weight:14 oz/400 g (US M9)
Sample Weight:  US Men’s Size 10: 14.6 oz / 415 g
Stack Height: 34 mm heel/24 mm forefoot (10mm drop)
$215.00. Available Now

First Impressions
Both shoes are striking in looks in loud, but attractive coloring, toothy aggressive outsole with additional studs for maximum traction.  Both shoes rightfully appear ready to tackle just about anything Winter can dish out. A touch on the heavy side, these are not high speed racers, but the added weight is of little consequence given the all around protection and purpose.


Both uppers share the same precise fit of the SpeedCross 5, though both of these uppers are designed to protect from moisture, with the low top SpikeCross 5 featuring a Gore-Tex membrane and the SnowSpike CSWP instead using Salomon's own ClimaSalomon Waterproof membrane.

While fit is very secure and precise, true to size, like the SpeedCross 5, there is just enough room for swelling and splay, and in these winter versions, this slight bit of extra room is just enough for a mid weight winter sock. I very often size up 1/2 size in a winter shoe, but do not feel as though I needed to here.

The Sensifit upper provides very secure, yet comfortably snug wrap over the midfoot, utilizing the usual Salomon Quicklace system.  I am a fan of the Quicklace, but appreciate it even more so in the winter when my hands are cold and can operate it with glove liners or even heavier gloves.

The Gore-Tex overlay on the SpikeCross 5 GTX is very waterproof and I have not found any wetness penetrating from extended use in snow or even in slushy conditions.  Warmth is excellent as well. Same for the CSWP and I honestly cannot detect any discernible difference in real world performance between the two, as they are both waterproof and warm. I have worn both shoes in deep snow and in temperatures down to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit, wearing a mid weight wool sock. I was mostly fine for two hours, with only a little bit of coldness at the mountain summit where the temperature was probably below zero in the predawn.

For temperatures below zero F and/or a longer duration than 2 hours, I would look to a more insulated shoe, but otherwise, for the majority of cold winter runs, both of these shoes are plenty warm.

The SnowSpike CSWP has an integrated gaiter with a secure and durable lateral zipper, culminating with an almost comically large snap.  

The large snap is designed to be secure and to be easily operable with gloves.  The snap is embedded within a reinforced nylon for added strength.  Below the snap, you can see the padding that is positioned on either side to help protect the ankle bone.

Above, the built in gaiter fits well enough around my skinny ankle to not let in any snow. The overlays are welded/stitch free, with thick synthetic toe cap for protection.  This can be help when thrashing in deep snow, but is particularly useful on the inside of the ankle to help buffer hits when wearing supplemental traction such as Microspikes or running crampons (under certain conditions, like deeper continuous snow, I’ll add Microspikes). Evident here as well on both shoes is what Salomon calls “Feather Construction”, which is “A construction that extends the upper material over the midsole, to create a super-precise wrap of the foot and improve the feel.”

The tongue is well padded, and step in is relatively easy, with a nice pull tab at the heel and quicklace for ease.

One thing I really appreciate is the well padded heel collars of both shoes. 

I have found that some other winter shoes, particularly ones with built in gaiters have struggled with how to integrate the gaiter and the heel, instead just leaving a somewhat uncomfortable and less secure heel with awkward stitching.  Salomon however has found a way to integrate without sacrificing comfort or security. Additionally, like most of Salomon shoes, both models use a molded Ortholite footbed for added comfort/cushion.

The heel collar is high and well padded like the SpeedCross 5.


The EnergyCell + is the same as in the Speedcross 5 where I described it as follows: “The Energy + midsole with Profeel film in the mid foot provide a high level of firm, yet comfortable all day cushioning and protection from sharp rocks underfoot. Response is moderate at best, never really nudging to go fast, but can handle short stints of speed.”

With Winter shoes such as the SpikeCross 5 GTX and SnowSpike CSWP, I am less concerned about midsole performance, given the consequent slower paces and often softer footing in the snow.The EnergyCell + is perfect for this application.

The outsole is almost identical to the SpeedCross 5, with very deep and aggressive trademark Salomon chevron lugs. The difference is that both the SpikeCross and SnowSpike have 12 carbide studs on each shoe, each one securely embedded into a larger, more secure lug for greater durability.

While the deep aggressive lugs do provide superior traction in snow, mud, off trail dirt and scruff, the addition of the carbide studs adds a yet higher level of performance on hard packed snow and ice.  I find them to be very welcome in mixed conditions with intermittent ice and frozen slush. However, I think that once very hard bulletproof ice sets up on the steeper sections of trails, these studs are a bit too short to provide adequate bite for high speed and confident running on such terrain.

Aside from the steepest, hardest packed ice though, the studs are a very useful addition for the added traction they provide.

The previous studded shoe offered by Salomon was the SpeedSpike CS (left above).  

The SpeedSpike CS featured 15 studs vs.the 12 we now see on both models here and they are also a bit more prominent, which I have found give them a better bite on hard ice.  

If you run steeper trails at higher speeds on hard sheet ice, you will notice the difference. For most other winter use however, you likely will never notice. The cost of the previous version's more pronounced spikes was durability, as with 137 (very rough) miles, I have lost 3 of those studs. The newer models on the other hand embed the studs a bit deeper and on a larger lug, thus lessening the shear forces, so strongly believe they will be more durable over time.

The conditions above, not super icy,  are ideal for the SpikeCross 5 GTX and SnowSpike CSWP. The tread and spikes bite nicely into the frozen surface.
When trails ice over like in the above photo (and worse), the studs are helpful, but care still must be taken to not take a slip.  For this, I would love to see at least 15 studs and have the studs be a bit more prominent to bite into the ice more securely.

The ride really depends on what you are running on, snow?  Ice? Slush? Like the SpeedCross 5, I maintain “The ride is smooth, supportive and protective and is a workhorse shoe for long days on rough terrain, but definitely this is no speedster.”

Conclusions and Recommendations
Both the SpikeCross 5 GTX and SnowSpike CSWP are excellent choices for winter running and snow hiking.  They are both very durable/high quality, warm, comfortable, waterproof and provide superb traction on snowy, icy, slick surfaces.  Fit is excellent, very secure, with just enough room for a midweight sock, however if you wear very thick socks, you may want to size up a half size.  Both shoes are definitely on the heavy side, but when using them, I find the weight to not be so much of a concern, as I appreciate the added warmth, waterproofing, protection and traction.  If there were room for improvement, I would reduce the height/size of the heel, as I find these shoes to sometimes be a little tippy when running over technical, unpredictable surfaces (snow and ice covered rocks/roots specifically).  I would also appreciate more studs underfoot and more pronounced in height, as the Speedspike CS had but with the deeper stud anchor of these models for greater durability.

Which of these models to choose?  You can’t go wrong with either really.  If you prefer a little less weight and have gaiters you like to add, or if you just run on packed trails, then the SpikeCross 5 GTX would be the ideal choice.  If you prefer the built in gaiter, but don’t mind the extra weight and can reason the added expense, then the SnowSpike CSWP is an appropriate choice. If I had to flip a coin, I would hope for the SnowSpike CSWP, as I like the built in gaiter.  I run in fresh snow, deep snow, off trail and am not always good about remembering to bring a gaiter for my daily runs and I also appreciate the ankle padding for added protection.
Jeff V Score:  9.7/10
Ride: 9.5 Fit: 10  Value: 9 Style: 9.5  Traction: 10 Rock Protection: 10  Weight: 8

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

La Sportiva Blizzard (RTR Review coming soon)
The Blizzard is lighter, lower, more agile/nimble, more stable and more responsive, is Gore Tex and has a built in gaiter. Traction is excellent, but only 9 studs vs. the already too few 12 studs in the Salomons. The Blizzard however is not quite as warm or overall protective, particularly when compared to the external gaiter with padding as found on the SnowSpike CSWP. Must size up at least half size.

La Sportiva Uragano (RTR Review)

Gore Tex, built in gaiter, lighter, quicker and more agile, but no studs (though hobnails can easily be added). Must size up at least a half size.

La Sportive Lycan GTX (RTR Review)  

Gore Tex upper, lower, lighter, quicker, but again, no studs (though hobnails can easily be added). Must size up at least a half size.

Icebug Anima 5

Much lighter and with a whopping 19 studs, traction is amazing and the Anima 5 is very quick and agile. I do find though, that even with a thick sock, fit is not particularly dialed or precise.

The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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SpikeCross 5 GTX Unisex HERE
SnowSpike CS WP Unisex HERE
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SnowSpike CS WP Unisex HERE
SpikeCross 5 GTX Unisex HERE

SnowSpike CS WP Unisex HERE

SpikeCross 5 GTX Unisex HERE

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Bobcat said...

I wished Salomon would base the Snow/Spike-cross on the Sense SG platform rather for a lower drop, lighter, more stable platform.
That said I like my XA alpine 2's in the snow.

Jeff Valliere said...

Yes, me too. The Speedspike CS was lower and more stable, with better traction, important when working through snow covered technical terrain, having that added stability.

mdotts said...
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mdotts said...

IZts touched upon how its recommended for days longer than 2 hours in single digit/freezing temperatures that shoes with more insulation are probably more ideal. As far as I can tell, the Sportiva Blizzard is 1 of the only true direct comparisons for a hardcore winter mountain running shoe and it says the SnowSpike is insulated and warmer.

My question is, other than wearing wool socks, is there a mountain trail running shoe that even exists that would be warmer than this?? Thanks!!

mdotts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Valliere said...

Hi mdotts, I apologize, it is nothing personal, I saw your question and because it would take me a little time to research vs. draw from memory, I intended to get back to it and forgot. None of us review professionally, it is just a side hobby and we all have jobs and families and things have been particularly busy for me at work and at home with 9 year old daughters, the holidays and everything surrounding the holidays.

To answer your question, I am still not sure. Truly insulated running shoes start to morph into the winter boot classification. I do know that the Hoka Tor Ultra Hi WP is the warmest running shoe/boot that I have:

The Speedgoat Mid WP or the soon to be reviewed Speedgoat 2 Mid GTX are also warmer than the Salomons and Blizzard.

Sorry again and thanks for reading.

Jeff Valliere said...

mdotts, please let me know all of the other questions I overlooked, you can email me direct at [email protected] and I would be happy to answer. Sorry again!

mdotts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Valliere said...

The Crossover 2.0 is not really any warmer than the Salomon. I also have heard they have been discontinued. Check out the Hokas I mentioned, they are warmer and also the maximal stack makes a difference in insulating from the cold snow/ground underfoot.

Oystein said...

I'm considering to get the Spikecross 5 shoes. I have limited Salomon experience, but I own a pair of older Salomon Speedcross Vario. Just wondering if you would happen to know how the soles and stiffness of the Spikecross 5 compare to that model? Again, I'm pretty new to the Salomon world so comparing those two might be irrelevant, but just in case.

I find the speedcross Vario very stiff and unresponsive, like hard hiking shoes in which I lose all contact with the surface. Almost like running with clogs. So I guess what I'm asking is if you know if the Spikecross 5 are designed for more aggressive running than the speedcross Vario was.

I understand one has to sacrifice some flex and control to gain insulation and ice grip, but still for me I think I'd like the balance to tip towards thinner yet high grip soles like the inov roclite gtx or even hoka speedgoat, which is thicker but still flexible, rather than extreme ice grip and extra support. The Speedgoats and roclite gtx are the two other shoe models I currently use.


Jeff Valliere said...

Oystein. While I have no experience with the Speedcross Vario (only the SC 5 for me) the SpikeCross 5 and Snowspike are both very stiff and have an exceptionally blocky and high heel. Your clog like reference is apt. I like both of these shoes, but find them best for more casual use and slower runs, as if I push the pace at all and it is the least bit technical, they feel shaky. Have you considered the Speedgoat Mid GTX? They are not studded, but you could add EXOspikes, they are warm, waterproof, flexible, stable, etc...

Anonymous said...

The Salomon Spikecross and Snowspike are stiff like the Speedcross but with purpose. Here in Park City we run snow covered single track trails through the Winter and the stiffness reduces fatigue in your feet in the soft stuff. You do not need spikes in this snow but the trails are hiked a lot and become sheets of ice near the trailheads. Speedgoat's have minimal traction in these conditions and nothing on the ice.

So it's more terrain dependent and personal preference. Currently the Adidas Agravic Tech Pro strikes a great combination of built in gaiter, no spike but good lugs and flexible. The only downside is cost at $250 but maybe you can find them on sale.

But to answer your question, the Spikecross and Snowspike's are stiff.