Saturday, June 06, 2020

Salomon Cross /Pro Review: Big Grip, Precise Foot Hold!

Article by Jacob Brady and Jeff Valliere


Salomon Cross /Pro ($160)

Stats

Weight: 10.2 oz / 290 men, 8.8 oz / 250 g women.

Sample: US men’s 10:10.75oz./305g, US men’s 12: 11.64/330g

Stack Height: 29.5 mm heel, 21.5 mm forefoot, 8 mm drop, 6mm lugs

Available now including at Running Warehouse US here.  $160


Introduction

Jeff V:  I had been eager to review the Cross Pro since first being introduced nearly a year ago at Summer OR in Denver.  The booty style Matryx upper combined with a crazy aggressive outsole that rivals the SpeedCross 5 in a more trimmed down, lighter, more flexible package.  I really like the SpeedCross 5, but it is more of a shoe for slower speeds or for me, hiking, mainly due to the very large and somewhat tippy heel.


Jacob: The Cross /Pro is a new model from Salomon designed for muddy and soft terrain. It has a full-coverage, aggressive outsole, similar to the popular Speedcross, but with softer, stickier rubber and greater flexibility. The Cross /Pro is also defined by its use of a unique four-way stretch bootie upper, supported by Matryx panels around the midfoot (the same lightweight, high abrasion, durable material with Kevlar like threads used on several  Hoka ONE ONE models, such as the EVO Speedgoat and EVO Mafate).

Pros:

Jeff V:  Traction, secure Matryx upper, comfort, protection, light weight for all that it offers

Jacob: Traction, especially on loose terrain

Jacob: Midfoot lockdown

Jacob: Great balance of ground-feel, flexibility, and protection


Cons:

Jeff V:  Would prefer a lace garage.

Jacob: Somewhat blocky, firm heel

Jacob: Nearly overly constricting in the midfoot


Tester Profiles

Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He runs every day and averages 50 miles per week. Jacob recently ran a PR 2:51 marathon and just wrapped up his first season of ultra/trail running which included two 50km trail races and two mountain races

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


First Impressions and Fit


Jeff V:  The Cross Pro is a great looking shoe, the Matryx upper appears to be a very modern and effective design and I love the aggressive tread pattern with 6mm lugs. The booty style design is a pleasure to slip into and the quick laces tighten effectively on the first try without having to re-adjust tension.

Fit is true to size, though very snug and precise, almost glove like, yet the Matryx has just enough stretch/give as to not feel constricting or confining.


Jacob: Like every Salomon shoe I’ve tested, the Cross /Pro has noticeably great build quality and a sleek design. On foot, the sizing is perfectly precise with a snug, smooth, and seamless fit. The Cross /Pro is on the narrower side (“slim fit” in Salomon’s terms), but with the stretch-bootie upper, the tightness is sock-like and still fairly comfortable for my medium-width foot. Those with wide feet would likely have issues.

The dense EVA midsole and thick rubber outsole are fairly flexible, but stiff and dense enough to provide good protection and stability. Compared to the shoes I’ve been running recently (Topo Runventure 3, Altra Timp 2, Merrell MTL Skyfire), the Cross /Pro heel feels blocky and a bit tippy. However, this feeling is less notable than in the Speedcross series. The Cross /Pro heel cup is also very pronounced and the hold/feel is quite dramatic compared to the looser, freer feeling shoes I’m used to. The hold is slightly overdone for my preferences.


Upper

The Cross Pro features a 4 way extensible sock-like upper with Multi-Fit stretch mesh, the first more generally available such upper to come out of Salomon ME:SH custom shoe efforts.  The upper conforms and adapts to your foot, wrapping the midfoot with a kevlar like mid foot Matryx fiber exoskeleton. The Matryx part is non proprietary to Salomon as the Hoka EVO Mafate and EVO Mafate had a non stretch full Matryx upper.

Jeff V:  I am not sure I can think of an upper that rivals that of the Cross Pro.  The Multi-Fit material is soft to the touch, is flexible, and has just the right amount of stretch to provide a snug and secure fit, while not feeling confining.  Nor does the stretch sacrifice any performance on rough, technical terrain, steep off trail or off camber sidehilling.  My foot always feels locked in with no movement.

The heel collar is low and minimal with no padding, but the stretch Matryx material is supportive and secure.  The heel counter is similarly thin and minimal with some flex, but simultaneously supportive, integrated with a high rubber rand for added support and protection.

The toe bumper also integrates seamlessly with the upper material over rubber for a very clean look and smooth visual transition.

The “wing like” exoskeleton of Matryx overlays are stiffer and more sturdy than the underlying material for added security and support, while still providing very good flexibility.  The quick laces snug up and secure these overlays effectively on the first try without ever having to re-adjust.  There is no lace garage as is almost always standard fare, yet in place of the lace garage are two lace loops to tuck the excess lace.  I find it takes a bit of extra time to secure the laces and long for a lace garage, a very minor and my only “complaint” (if you can call it that).

Jacob: The Cross /Pro upper is simple and unique. It is primarily a thick, four-way stretch bootie. I haven’t seen a knit-bootie upper on a trail shoe before and the material is thicker, more water/mud resistant, and less easy to stretch than this type of upper on a road shoe. However, what makes the design work are the totally static Matryx panels on both sides of the midfoot. The laces pull these panels tight and provide exceptional midfoot lockdown while retaining the foot-comforting feel of the bootie upper.

The heel is also well locked-in as there is a rigid heel counter and the midsole walls rise up around the sides of the heel. Slipping the Cross /Pro on—which is a bit hard to do—the heel snaps into the heel cup like a ball into a socket.


Foothold is overall solid and the fit is precise, if a bit constricting-feeling. However, the forefoot in front of the Matryx panels is not as well-held, and I experience some sliding here due to lack of support on sharp turns, angled forefoot landings, or sidehilling. Also, if I lace too tightly, I experience discomfort around the midfoot—not from lace bite, but due to tightness all around, especially notable under the arch. It’s not the most comfortable shoe overall for me.


Midsole

Jeff V:  The midsole is very firm and not the least bit cushy or plush, but I don’t find it to be overly harsh either.  While not particularly responsive or inspiring, I find it is perfectly sufficient for rough terrain, technical trails, off trail and very deliberate all mountain running and is quick on it’s intended terrain.  I don’t find there is enough cushion and absorption for long distance trail cruising, but that is clearly not the intent of this shoe.


Jacob: The Cross /Pro uses Salomon’s classic EnergyCell EVA midsole. EnergyCell is dense, stable, and protective, but uninspiring in regards to ride characteristics. The stack height and density of the midsole provides a good balance of moderate flexibility and protection. I can feel the existence of rocks, but not in a negative way. There is minimal rebound and the Cross /Pro feels a bit flat on smooth surfaces.


Outsole

Jeff V:  The Contagrip outsole has aggressively deep, sharp, angular 6mm lugs which bite amazingly well into soft ground, loose dirt, off trail scruff, mud, etc….  

The rubber compound is sticky, providing excellent grip on rocks and slab and performs well in the wet.  The timing of the review period did not coincide with snowy or icy conditions, but suspect excellent performance there as well.  The outsole of the Cross Pro is among the very best I have tested for loose conditions underfoot.  Durability I think is overall average, but if using primarily on rocky terrain, such as I do, expect some accelerated wear.

Jacob: The outsole is full coverage Contagrip TA with well-spaced, sharp, multi-directional lugs. The rubber is fairly soft and wraps up around the midsole on both sides of the midsole. The outsole is designed for soft and loose terrain. On sand, gravel, pine needles, leaves, mud and dirt, grip is outstanding. For these surfaces, it’s the best grip I’ve experienced. It is also notably sticky on slabs of rock and pavement. On pointy rocks and roots, however, the lugs are too soft to hold well and I can feel them bend/slide.


Ride

Jeff V:  The ride is uninspiring, not particularly responsive nor particularly cushioned, but considering the intended usage of the Cross Pro, I find the ride to be adequately predictable and more than sufficient.  The Cross Pro is not made for long distance easy cruising or top speed running, but instead for steep and rough technical terrain where predictable stability and a firm ride is paramount.


Jacob: The Cross /Pro has a consistent, stable, but unexciting ride on smooth, hard-pack. The midsole characteristics are more tailored towards hitting a good balance of flexibility/ground-feel/protection than towards providing a propulsive or exciting ride. This is reasonable though given the terrain the Cross /Pro is intended for, and it does have a good balance of flexibility and protection. 

On mud, sand, and loose rock, the foam characteristics are no longer noticeable and the Cross /Pro cruises confidently and consistently over trails that would be challenging in many shoes.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff V:

The Cross Pro is for sure one of my favorite offerings from Salomon and one of my favorites this year.  The Multi-Fit stretch mesh upper combined with the Matryx panels makes for a remarkable well fitting, comfortable and secure upper with good breathability.  The ride, while not harsh, it not plush either. This is definitely not an everyday trail cruiser.  I see it more as a shoe best suited to all mountain use.  I reach for the Cross Pro when I want maximum traction, security and protection, specifically rough and loose trails, loose and steep off trail, muddy or perhaps even snowy trails in the winter.  I think there is enough cushion/protection to use the Cross Pro as a daily trainer, but primarily if you frequent rough terrain.  I do not really see the Cross Pro as a racer due to the lack of response and perhaps weight, but if the race course necessitated maximum traction, security and protection, then I would not hesitate (if I could race Mt. Marathon, or just run the course again, this would be my first pick).

Jeff V’s Score:  9.5/10

Ride: 9/Fit: 9.75/Value: 9.5/Style: 9.5/Traction: 10/Weight: 8


I would be nitpicking to really come up with any deductions.  I would like a bit more soft cushion underfoot, but fear that it would jeopardize the off trail or rough trail competency.  A little lighter would be nice, but it is not a heavy shoe per se and would not want to risk protection in favor of a weight loss.  A lace garage would be nice, as I prefer it over the loops.


Jacob: The Cross /Pro is a high-quality, uniquely designed shoe that is exceptional on loose terrain and solid on most technical terrain. Due to its plain, just “fine” ride on smooth terrain and fit on the narrower, tighter side, it’s more of a specialty shoe and likely will not have mass appeal. If you’re looking for a do-it-all trail shoe or have even moderately wide feet, there are more comfortable and versatile shoes out there. However, if you want a precise-fitting, race-able, loose/soft terrain shoe with exceptional traction, the Cross /Pro is a top-class performer.


I tested the Cross /Pro in a bit of  Northeast United States spring mud but the snow was gone by the time I received the shoe. However, from what I’ve experienced, I think the Cross /Pro could be a great early spring shoe when there is a mix of snow and dirt/mud. On another note, one of my test runs involved a half mile on loose rock and sand at low tide on the Maine coast—areas that were under water at high tide. The feel of the terrain beneath the foot as well as the grip made me curious about the Cross /Pro’s potential as an ÖtillÖ or Swimrun shoe. I didn’t get to take it into the water to test the drainage/drying ability, but will update this section once I have that opportunity.


Jacob’s Score: 8.32 /10

Ride: 7.5 (30%) Fit: 8 (30%) Value: 8 (10%)  Style 8.5 (5%) Traction: 10 (15%)  Rock Protection: 9.5 (10%) 


Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Salomon Speedcross 5 (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  The Speedcross 5, while having similar dry traction in loose terrain, I am uneasy in such terrain due to the blocky and tippy heel and wet traction is not as good as the Cross Pro.  The Cross Pro is much more agile and competent for moving quickly through tough terrain.  The Speedcross 5 however is a better pick for long days at slower speeds, with more cushion underfoot and the upper is a bit more relaxed.


Salomon Sense Ride 3 (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  The SR3 is a plush, all day cruiser intended for more moderate terrain and a great door to trail shoe, where the Cross Pro has a more limited scope.


Salomon SuperCross (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  The SuperCross, while having similarly deep and aggressive lugs, has a more relaxed and roomy upper (less secure and not ideally suited for rough, all mountain use) and because of that is better suited for more moderate terrain.


Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 2 (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  The SU2 is lighter and more responsive, with more compliant cushioning (though still not plush or quite enough for all day use as the “Ultra” name implies) and more versatile tread.  


Salomon XA Elevate Pro (RTR Review)  :

Jeff V:  The XA Elevate Pro and the Cross Pro are aimed for all mountain use and either could substitute for one another on any given terrain, BUT, if there are more sections of loose terrain, mud or snow, pick the Cross Pro.  If running on a lot of rock, slab and particularly in the wet, or if steep rock scrambling, the XA Elevate Pro is superior with a bit more rock protection underfoot, better overall surface contact and a climbing zone in the forefoot.


Salomon S/Lab Sense 8 SG (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  Not really an appropriate comparison, but some will ask.  The lighter Sense 8 SG in my opinion should be reserved for uphill races where traction is needed, or a race day shoe for soft trails (up to ~ ½ marathon).  The Cross Pro offers superior protection and durability and better fit too for me as while the Sense 8 SG has a stretch mesh built in gaiter, the Cross Pro is more secure and protective.


La Sportiva Bushido 2 (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  A toss up, Bushido 2 perhaps better for long days on rock and talus, where Cross Pro better in the loose stuff.


VJ Maxx (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  I would say the VJ has better wet traction and is more in line with the Bushido 2 and XA Alpine Pro.  The Cross Pro superior In terms of overall build quality and comfort though.


Jacob: I agree with Jeff that the Maxx has better wet traction. It is also softer underfoot with a more solid feel on roots and uneven, jagged surfaces as it has shorter, more numerous lugs. I’d pick the Maxx for wet conditions and the Cross /Pro for loose terrain. Both are speciality, “traction first” shoes for me that I’d choose only for specific terrain. Both true to size but the Cross /Pro is narrower/tighter overall.


Inov-8 X-Talon 212  

Jacob: The X-Talon was for over a year my top shoe for mud and loose, unpredictable terrain, including Swimrun and one spectacular snow/mud mix dirt-road race. The X-Talon has a simpler, freer-feeling upper, more flexibility, and a less blocky heel. The construction and traction of the Cross /Pro however is superior. The Cross /Pro is also better suited for longer runs with more cushioning especially in the heel. Both are precise, narrower shoes but fit true to size. I’m having a hard time picking a favorite overall.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. 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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4 comments:

Jeff Valliere said...

Following

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff & Jacob,

How's the fit comparing to Bushido II and VJ Maxx? Also if I need one pair for wet rock/talus and one pair for muddy/loose terrain, which combination would you guys think better: Cross pro + bushido II or Cross pro VJ Maxx?

Thank you!

Jeff Valliere said...

I think the Cross Pro fit is just slightly more accommodating than VJ Maxx and Bushido II, but really just splitting hairs. For wet and talus, I prefer the Bushido II to the VJ, as traction is comparable and the shoe for me is overall more pleasant and appealing to run in.

Anonymous said...

What are those mountain design socks?
look great!