Article by Jana Herzog and Jeff Valliere
Salomon Wildcross ($130)
Editor’s Note: We welcome Jana to the RTR test team with this her first review and for a shoe right in her specialty of high mountain runs often off trail.
Jana Herzog took up running in 2016, after her back injury. Prior to that she was a speed skater, but due to back pain and doctor's recommendation, she transitioned into running. Since then, she started with shorter ultra distance races, and quickly evolved into an avid long distance and unsupported mountain runner.
She also loves to take on challenges/races in arctic and subarctic climate, mainly in unsupported and semi-self supported style. She runs about 100 miles per week: 40 miles on road and 60 miles trail mostly at high elevations. She currently lives in Utah/Wyoming.
Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.
Jana: Salomon shoes, mainly trail but also road, have been a staple in my shoe rotation for years now. Light weight, comfort, great fit, breathability, and steady performance in any terrain are just a few signature trademarks of the Salomon running shoe family. My all time favorite has been the S-Lab collection, both Sense and Sense SG line. From dusty/dirt trails to technical ridgeline crossings, they have delivered comfort, stability, and performed well in all conditions.
The Salomon Wildcross is built to navigate steep, muddy, snowy, and rocky terrain, maintaining a steady grip in all kinds of weather conditions. As a mountain runner, I put this shoe to a great test and enjoyed it very much.
Jeff V: The Wildcross is a lower priced version of the Cross Pro, with the only discernible difference being the upper, sharing identical outsole, same weight and stack heights (though the midsole differs slightly). While both shoes have many similarities, they also look, feel and perform quite differently.
Jeff V: Traction, secure fit, overall protection, all mountain/off trail performance, breathable
Jana: Fast drying and still lightweight while wet, great traction, secure and easily adjustable fit, breathable
Jana: None that I found.
Jeff: Lacing/overlays a bit tricky to dial in, could benefit from Profeel Film
Official Weight: men’s size US 9 - 10.2 oz/290 grams, women’s size US 7 - 8.8 oz/250g Samples: men’s US10 - 11.25 oz./319g, men’s size US8.5 - 9.95 oz ./282g
Stack Height: 29.5mm/21.5mm (8mm drop)
Available Now $130.00
First Impressions and Fit
Jana: If you like the Speedcross, you’ll like the Wildcross. The forefoot is wider and gives toes enough room to wiggle, which makes it more comfortable than shoes in the Speedcross line, as well as the S-Lab Speed. Being used to feeling the ground under my feet while running or hiking in the Speedcross/S-Lab Speed, the Wildcross does offer more cushioning while still maintaining the low profile feel.
Jeff: I was attracted to the Wildcross right out of the box, with aggressive, deep and effectively designed lugs, a generous stack height for cushioning and protection and a very good upper, providing a nice balance of accommodating room in the forefoot with confidence inspiring security. While one can’t help but compare to its sibling, the Cross Pro, I default to a comparison with the Speedcross 5 and can immediately tell that the Wildcross will be better suited to fast movement over tricky and technical terrain than the Speedcross 5, which I find great for hiking and slower runs on moderate terrain, but too unstable for fast movement off trail or technical trails.
Wildcross fit is slightly wider than the Speedcross and less tapered which will accommodate a wider range of feet.
Fit is true to size and even though my narrow low volume foot does not really need more room than a Speedcross, I find that the wider fit is very welcome for longer outings, yet with no penalty in security.
Jana: The upper of the Wildcross is very comfortable. I was worried that the additional DreamTex wings would make them less breathable, but turns out they perform well. The same goes for retaining water/moisture. They drain/dry out really fast and well. The extra rubber layer as a toe guard does not affect the shape of the forefoot and gives extra protection against wear/tear.
I particularly like the wings system, as it gives me more flexibility to loosen or tighten my shoes fast, without causing chaffing or any other issues. The integrated quick lace system has always been a great addition to comfort and performance as well.
Jeff: The upper of the Wildcross is exceptionally comfortable and secure, breathable and more roomy in the forefoot than the average Salomon. The quick laces and MultiFit Wings integrate perfectly to provide a very comfortable, forgiving, yet secure fit.
While the tongue is not gusseted, the upper is somewhat booty style (external and down low on the tongue with the tongue sitting below that, helping to keep out debris. This said it does not offer the added slip in ease and security of the Endofit found on other Salomon models. Upon first glance,and especially when comparing side by side with the Cross Pro, the upper appeared to be somewhat on the thick side, but after a few runs, I came to truly appreciate the thicker and more durable materials, especially as they broke in some.
I find foothold and security to be excellent, completely locked in while running fast in technical terrain, steep downhills, off camber and cornering. Fit is listed as standard fit on the Salomon site vs. slim fit for many other models including the Cross Pro, which makes a significant difference in room for splay and swelling, but not overly so, so a great blend of being accommodating, yet secure.
While the lacing, MultiFit Wings and Sensifit are quite effective, I find that it takes a little bit of additional lace pulling to achieve the tighter and more precise fit that I desire vs. some other Salomons where I can achieve in one quick pull. A minor quibble, but the end result is very good.
Jana: With more cushioning than S-Lab Speed, the absorption of impact is far better, thus creating a more comfortable ride. In comparison to the Speedcross line, and as a lover of the ground feel, I find Wildcross more comfortable then Speedcross 5 despite lower cushioning. Overall it has a better anatomical fit and feel then its Speedcross sibling.
Jeff V: The Wildcross features Salomon’s EnergyCell+ midsole that provides more energy return along with a more substantially cushioned feel than the EnergyCell EVA foam midsole found in the Cross Pro.
I find the EnergyCell+ to provide a much more forgiving and somewhat more lively ride even than the EnergyCell found in the Cross Pro, at least when comparing side by side in these two models.
Cushioning, while not plush by any means, is firm without feeling harsh and is ample for long days on the trail and protective from most obstacles underfoot, however if running primarily on rocky terrain, the XA Alpine would be a more logical choice.
While I did not initially imagine this to be a fast shoe based on weight, I have had some surprisingly fast runs in them, completely unaware of them on my feet and just easily and subtly doing their job performing the task at hand cruising and even pushing hard on technical trails and loose off trail. Only when done I had a realization that it was a really fast run and I was not in a shoe I would first consider to be a PR type of shoe.
Jana: Salomon’s signature Contagrip is well tested and has great traction. And with new multi directional lugs, you’ll get plenty of steady footing in soft terrain such as snow or mud, as well as a firm grip on steep slopes. And after crossing through muddy terrain, they remain light, resisting clogging.
Jeff V: The Contagrip TA outsole is outstanding and one of the best, if not the best loose and mixed terrain outsoles I have yet to use.
The 6mm lugs are deep, sharp, cleverly designed and spaced apart, while the compound is sticky.
I have run on rocky technical trails, talus, scree, steep loose dirt and off trail duff, sand, decomposed granite on hardpack and even high alpine July snow and I never once felt a slip or any trepidation.
I have also tested on slab and wet slab, some scrambling as well and grip is good, but given the sharp profile of the lugs, surface contact is minimal, so the WildCross does much better where the outsole can bite vs. smear.
Durability is thus far proving to be about average given the rocky terrain I frequent, but on softer surfaces, I think wear will be very minimal.
Jana: Like my other Salomon shoes, Wildcross is very comfortable, with a smooth and stable ride. The outsole and midsole is protective enough against rocks without a rockplate. I have tested them on various mountain ridgelines, talus and scree fields, with and incredibly stable and comfortable feel.
Jeff V: Like Jana, I find the ride to be very smooth, stable and predictable with a firm midsole, yet cushioned and compliant enough for longer distances with overall good protection. Response, while not immediately impressive, is active and lively when pushed and can certainly rise to just about any occasion on mountainous terrain.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Jana: I really enjoyed Salomon Wildcross. It is a shoe that is built to tackle challenging terrain, regardless of conditions. Mud, snow, river crossings, dirt trails, or steep rocky slopes, the stability and comfort they offer will keep you moving to your destination. As a female I do hope to see more color options available.
Jana’s Score: 9.4/10
Ride 9.5 / Fit 9.5 / Style 9 / Traction 9.5 / Value 9 / Rock Protection 9.5 / Weight 9
Jeff V: The WildCross is a great new addition to the Salomon line up, a less expensive and while less racy in fit, look and weight than the Cross Pro, is a more logical option for myself and many I suspect. The forefoot is roomy to accommodate a wider range of feet and provide relief on longer runs, yet the upper is secure and sturdy enough to fend off rocks and sticks while remaining flexible and breathable. While not a featherweight, I find the weight to be of little consequence on the foot given all that this shoe offers and is a fine pick for anyone looking for comfort, protection, traction, security and rough trail/off trail competency. I also think it is a fine alternative to the ubiquitous Speedcross for those looking for a slightly more forgiving toe box, greater stability and even better traction.
Jeff V’s Score: 9.3/10
Ride: 9 Fit: 9.5 Value: 9 Style: 9 Traction: 10 Rock Protection: 8.5 Weight: 8.5
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Salomon Speedcross 5 (RTR Review)
Jeff V: The SpeedCross 5 has 0.5mm more stack in the heel, yet 1.5 less in the forefoot for a 10mm drop which is noticeable, with the SC5 feeling as though it has a high and tippy heel. While both shoes have deep lugs and perform well in loose terrain and snow, the rubber compound of the WildCross is stickier and gives far better traction on wet surfaces and adheres better to rock and anything solid underfoot. The WildCross is much more stable with an overall more balanced feel and is lighter, more agile and more responsive. While both have a “Standard Fit” as per Salomon’s description, the WildCross toe box is slightly wider and less tapered.
Salomon Cross Pro (RTR Review)
Jeff V: Both shoes are listed as the same weight and stack height, with the same outsole, but there are key differences here. The Cross Pro weighs 14 grams or a half ounce less, with a more streamlined Matryx upper. The Matryx upper is built in gaiter like around the cuff with overall less padding and protection but is more comfortable than the WildCross. I really like the minimal feel and slight stretch of the Matryx on the Cross Pro, though breathability is not as good as the WildCross. The WildCross has a wider more accommodating forefoot, is $30 less and also has a more forgiving, responsive midsole.
Salomon S/Lab Speed
Jana: I have run many miles in Salomon S-Lab Speed, mainly during late Fall, all the way through late spring snow and mud, and on many technical mountain ridgelines. I have never run a race in them, however. Up to 30 miles in the mountains the most in a day I do in them. I loved every minute in these shoes. With the new Wildcross version, I feel I have gained yet another great addition to my shoe rotation. They are definitely wider and with a more comfortable fit, sturdy and versatile at the same time.
Salomon XA Alpine: (RTR Review)
Jeff V: The XA Alpine is better suited to high alpine adventures where talus hopping, slab negotiating and scrambling will be key elements of the day. The bomb proof underfoot protection and more scramble friendly outsole design, featuring a climbing zone in the forefoot for grippy edging is superior in these circumstances. The XA Alpine is not quite as quick and has a more firm feeling midsole, while the WildCross is more flexible, compliant and more responsive, and better suited for loose terrain. Fit is comparable.
Salomon SuperCross: (RTR Review)
Jeff V: The SuperCross also has deep aggressive lugs, but weighs a bit more, has a very relaxed upper (not nearly as secure) and is not as quick, agile or performance oriented.
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