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Review: Salomon Odyssey Pro || Hiking shoe with strong running pedigree

The Salomon Odyssey Pro looks and feels like a running shoe, but its voluminous outsole should greatly extend its lifespan when used for hiking.

The Salomon Odyssey Pro was introduced to me at Outdoor Retailer as “a thru-hiking shoe with running shoe design cues.” That sounded interesting and right up my alley, so I asked for a review pair to test while leading trips this summer in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Our routes were a mix of on- and off-trail, and included portions of both the Pfiffner Traverse and Kings Canyon High Basin Route.

Review: Salomon Odyssey Pro Hiking Shoes

The Odyssey Pro is ideal for hikers and backpackers that want a lightweight, comfortable, and quick-drying shoe combined with a robust outsole. It is more suitable for on-trail than off-trail hiking, and it will best fit average/large foot widths and average/large foot volumes.

The Odyssey Pro looks and feels more like a Salomon running shoe than a Salomon hiking shoe. It’s lightweight, at just 11.1 oz (men’s size 9), which is only 1.3 and 1.4 oz heavier than my current favorite trail running shoes, the Salomon Sense Ultra and Hoka One One Speedgoat 2.

Its upper consists of airy and supple mesh with TPU overlays and a reinforced toe bumper; and its midsole touts Vibe Technlogy, Energy Cell + EVA foam, and Opal Technology. These materials, construction techniques, and features are found throughout Salomon’s running shoes, but not in its hiking shoes.

The feature that most distinguishes the Odyssey Pro as a hiking-specific shoe is its outsole. The volume of high quality Contrgrip rubber seems like it should endure a 1,000-mile summer, not the usual 300-500 miles that I expect of more thinly endowed trail running shoes.


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History

This is not Salomon’s first attempt at a “hiking shoe” with a running pedigree. In 2012 Salomon released the Synapse, which it had developed with former Appalachian Trail speed-record holder Jennifer Pharr Davis.

I wore the Synapse extensively while scouting the Kings Canyon High Basin Route and guiding off-trail trips in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The first generation needed a few tweaks (e.g. more airflow, substitution of the Quick Laces for conventional laces, and improved outsole manufacturing to prevent peeling lugs) but it was generally an excellent shoe.

Yet the Synapse struggled to gain traction, and it was dropped. I suspect one challenge — perhaps the main one — was at the retail level: Should the Synapse be grouped with other hiking shoes, with which it has little in common; or with running shoes, where hikers can’t find it?

Before rolling out the Odyssey Pro, I wonder if Salomon first learned to crack this nut.

Odyssey Pro specs

  • Weight: 11.1 oz (316 g) in US 9M, 13.1 oz (371 g) in US 11.5M
  • Upper: Breathable mesh with TPU exoskeleton and reinforced toe bumper
  • Outsole: Significant volume of High Traction Contragrip, waffle iron pattern
  • Stack height: 31 mm heel, 21 mm forefoot
  • Drop: 10 mm
  • Midsole: Energy Cell + EVA foam, Vibe Technology, Opal Technology
  • MSRP: $140
  • More information

Fit

My narrow and small-volume feet were an immediate mismatch for the Odyssey Pro, which has a wide last and generous toebox. To get a secure hold on my mid-foot, I had to take nearly all of the slack out of the laces.

If the Sense Ultra, Hoka Speedgoat 2, or La Sportiva Bushido fit you like a glove, you should pass on the Odyssey Pro. Whereas if you have a positive history with the Salomon XA Pro, Altra Lone Peak 3.5, and Merrell Moab 2, the Odyssey Pro is a promising prospect for you.

To their credit, the Odyssey Pro is not offensively sloppy for smaller feet. I have reviewed other oversized models (e.g. Altra Lone Peak 3.0) that feel too squirrely for anything beyond pavement or gravel bike trails. Whereas with the Odyssey Pro, I felt reasonably sure-footed on steep granite slabs and Class 3 passes (although not as secure as I would have with the Bushidos).

Testing grounds for the Odyssey Pro: A loose Class 3 gully below Paiute Pass, at the head of Thunderbolt Creek on the Pfiffner Traverse.

Uppers

The mesh + TPU exoskeleton has proven a winner on Salomon running shoes. It’s light, airy, quick drying, and supple; and it’s capable of contouring around the foot perfectly. When I have retired Salomon running shoes, the killer has been the outsole (which becomes bald) or midsole (which flattens out). The uppers are still in great shape after 500 miles — Salomon seems to have the materials and construction dialed.

However, in a hiking application, I doubt these lightweight uppers will fair as well, because the shoe will be subject to more abrasion and it will be soaking wet more often. In addition, the toebox is only moderately protected, using some stiffer TPU. I’d be willing to kick steps across snow and scramble up short pitches in the Odyssey Pro, but I wouldn’t want to do it everyday or on very high-stakes terrain.

Bottom line: the Odyssey Pro is most well suited for on-trail hiking, not off-trail routes and/or borderline mountaineering in early-season conditions. For hiking the AT, PCT, CDT, etc., this seems like a good candidate.

The uppers are made of breathable mesh and TPU reinforcements, which has been a winning construction for Salomon running shoes. The toebox is moderately reinforced.

The mesh is very airy, making them ideal for warm temperatures and wet conditions (when quick-dry is key). In sandy environments like Escalante, the porosity will be a liability.

Lacing

The Odyssey Pro features conventional laces, not the Quick Laces that are a hallmark of Salomon running shoes. This is a positive: the Quick Laces tend to fail if exposed long-term to sand, dust, or mud, because the grit abrades the lacing sheath. Of course, hiking shoes are constantly exposed to these elements.

Unfortunately, Salomon chose a linguini-shaped lace that is floppy and difficult to tie. I would happily accept a thicker lace that that is more hand-friendly, even if it absorbs more water.

Midsole

The Odyssey Pro midsole features a lot of fancy-sounding technologies, e.g. Vibe, Opal, and Energy Cell +. I generally understand them, but I think the gains can probably only be measured in a lab. In the field, the sensation is within the range of normal, and I don’t think a 15-mile-per-day hiker will suddenly be keeping pace with Joe (“Stringbean”) McConaughy.

It’s a well-balanced midsole, and overall very comfortable. The Odyssey Pro is lightly cushioned: not marshmellowy like a classic Hoka, or stiff like the Bushido. With a stack height of 31/21 mm (heel/toe), there is enough foam to absorb impact, but it’s not top-heavy. For comparison, the Bushido is 25/19 mm; Lone Peak 3.5 is 25/25 mm; and Speedgoat 2 is 32/27.5 mm.

Insole

A perpetual complaint I have with Salomon shoes is the insole. A branded insole, Ortholite, is often used, and bizarrely they are often made of open-cell foam. Yes, they are soft and comfortable. But they absorb an unacceptable amount of water, and when wet they lose structural rigidity and sometimes “accordion” under the toes.

It’s a small detail, but it needs to be done better.

Outsole

Many backpackers prefer trail running shoes instead of conventional hiking shoes or boots. Count me among them: trail running shoes are lighter, more comfortable, more breathable, faster drying, etc.

But trail running shoes are not optimized for hiking. In particular, the outsoles usually wear out too quickly.

With the Odyssey Pro, Salomon applied a hiking-worthy outsole to what is otherwise a trail running shoe. It has a considerable amount of rubber that should last closer to 1,000 miles than the normal 500. The square lugs with 90-degree edges bite well into all surfaces.

Unlike conventional trail running shoes, the Odyssey Pro features a voluminous outsole of high quality rubber that will endure considerable mileage.

Buy now: Salomon Odyssey Pro

Have questions about or an experience with the Odyssey Pro? Please leave a comment.


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13 Responses to Review: Salomon Odyssey Pro || Hiking shoe with strong running pedigree

  1. Jesse October 16, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

    Great review. I like the design of this shoe. How would you describe the arch height or compare it to other shoes you mentioned like the Lone Peak or XA Pro?

    • Andrew Skurka October 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

      I hadn’t even thought about the arch height, if that tells you anything.

      It’s been a few years since I wore the XA Pro, but my recollection is that it felt similar to the Odyssey Pro. For me, it almost fit, but never like a glove. The Lone Peak I struggle with more. In terms of volume, it’s probably a little bit bigger than the Odyssey Pro, but I feel like it’s a much sloppier fit.

  2. Jim October 16, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    I just finished 2 days in the S-Lab Wings SG (sale/old model). Love the aggressive grip, light (sz 9.5: 10.1 oz without 1.6 oz Superfeet), and good cushioning/toe protection. These seemed loose/wide. I have a low volume foot.
    Does Salomon have wide and narrow lasts, and do they report which they use?

    • Andrew Skurka October 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

      Salomon has a range of last sizes. They don’t publish them outright, but sometimes you can read between the lines, or extrapolate if you know the product history/inspiration. For example, XA models (e.g. XA Pro, XA Enduro, Odyssey Pro) are wider and roomier, whereas the Sense lasts (e.g. Sense Pro, Sense Pro 2, Sense Ultra) are narrower.

      If you have a narrow and low-volume foot, you will be well served by reading my shoe reviews. I can speak to that foot type very well.

  3. Brad R October 16, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    On a side note regarding insoles – I have found that both my old shoes (Salomon XA Pro 3D) and current shoes (LaSportiva Ultra Raptor) have open cell foam insoles that soak up water and do not dry nearly as fast as the rest of the shoes. Do you have a recommendation for insole replacements that are similar to the stock insoles (ie – not rigid like Superfeet Green) but are not open cell foam?

    • Andrew Skurka October 16, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

      When I have a shoe like that and when I expect the shoe to get wet, I simply use an insole from another shoe that I like better. Many of my shoes have about the same last shape and length, so this substituting seems to work pretty well.

  4. Mark Fowler October 17, 2017 at 12:33 am #

    I loved the Synapse and currently have a pair of X-Ultra 2’s waiting for my final pair of Synapses to expire. How would you compare the Odyssey Pro to the Synapse – is it a closer replacement compared to the X-Ultra?

    • Andrew Skurka October 17, 2017 at 7:46 am #

      The Synapse fit me better (narrower and lower volume) and was more cushioned, but its upper had far less airflow and absorbed much water water (because it was made of more materials and had more open-cell padding, like in the tongue). Also, the Quick Lace is a liability.

      The X ULtra fits more similarly (i.e. wider), but it has a stiffer and more absorbent upper, and a less natural foot transition because of the midsole foam or the outsole rubber or design. It’s also quite a bit heavier.

      • PStuart October 17, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

        Not sure what you meant by “less natural foot transition,” but I find my X Ultra 2’s more comfortable because of (1) more cushioning for rocky trails and (2) XA Pro 3D feeling like an abrupt drop between the heel and forefoot, with little cushioning under the latter. I’ve been looking for a shoe with the cushioning of the X Ultra 2 but the quick-dry uppers of the XA Pro 3D.

        • Andrew Skurka October 17, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

          Shoes are so personal.

          The Odyssey Pro feels about as cushioned as the X Ultra and its uppers will dry even faster than the XA Pro.

  5. Andy October 17, 2017 at 9:21 am #

    After getting my XA Pros wet all through the Spring the insoles started to ‘accordian’; mostly after getting wet, sometimes on steeper decents. Maybe my foot has gotten fatter, but the newer years seem to fit a little tighter across the toes as well.

    My solution- I just took out the insoles and have been hiking most of the summer like that. I honestly like them better. A little roomier, still get a good heel lock, and comfortable.

    YMMV but it works for me.

  6. AlG October 31, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

    Highly recommend the Columbia/Montrail Enduro inner soles to transform the XA Pros:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HCHG6ZQ/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  7. Paul S November 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    In my experience the midsole wears out before the tread, so having tread last 1000 miles doesn’t help when the midesole loses all support at 400 miles. Any idea how long they would last in the Odyssey? Or any runners that have long-lasting support? I’m resigned to buy multiple shoes every year at this point.

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