The Salomon X Ultra is the favorite hiking shoe of fellow guide Dave Eitemiller, and it’s one of my recommendations for high routes, early-season conditions, and Alaska. It stands out for its durability, traction, support, and protection, all in a reasonably lightweight package.
The X Ultra 4 will be released in spring 2021, and it has undergone significant changes from the third-generation X Ultra 3.
The X Ultra 4 will be available in three styles:
- X Ultra 4 ($120, 12.6 oz)
- X Ultra 4 GTX ($160, 13.7)
- X Ultra 4 GTX Mid ($165, 14.9 oz)
Each style will be available in WIDE sizes.
Salomon rightly expects that that the GTX Mid will be the top-seller in this family, because most hikers and backpackers still think that they need a waterproof shoe to keep their foot dry (even though they don’t work) and a mid-top to prevent ankle sprains (which isn’t really the best solution). But for nearly all three-season backpacking, I’d recommend the basic breathable low-top version — it’s the lightest and least expensive, will be the most comfortable in mild or warm temperatures, will dry out most quickly, and will provide about as much stability as the mid version.
What has (not) changed?
Most visibly and perhaps most superficially, the aesthetics have been updated, with a cleaner, sleeker and more streamlined look. Salomon’s trail running shoes have undergone a similar transformation in recent years, and this look is now migrating to its hiking/backpacking footwear.
The most significant structural change is the new ADV Chassis, which according to Salomon “maintains the stability, control, and protection in the heel while cutting weight.” The shoe is lighter (by 0.5 ounces), but I can’t yet verify if this is a game-changing feature, marketing hype, or (probably) something in between.
The outsole retains its aggressive lug pattern, but the rubber compound will be a slightly stickier Contagrip MA (Mixed Adhesion), for better performance on rocks and trails, and in wet settings. Typically, stickier rubbers are also less durable, though I don’t think this is a reason for concern here — the X Ultra 3 outsole is very hard-wearing.
Importantly, the fit has not changed, with no difference in the last or volume. So if you liked the fit of the X Ultra 3, you will probably also like the fit of the X Ultra 4. Salomon reports that some wear-testers have said that the toebox feels roomier, and suspects this is due to the overlays/structure of the upper and how it rests on one’s foot. The X Ultra tends to fit average-sized feet — hikers and backpackers who can’t comfortably wear the small-volume La Sportiva Bushidos or the large-volume Altras.
The X Ultra 4 still has QuickLaces, which are convenient but which can be a liability in gritty environments.
Questions about the X Ultra 4?
Leave a comment. I can inquire with the media rep, and may have some first-person experience by March 2021.