Verdict from 4 experts and +100 user reviews

8 reasons to buy

  • The lugs are heavy-duty without being clunky, according to one user.
  • Several runners agree that the shoe is very comfortable to wear even without socks.
  • A couple of buyers said the shoe fits true to size.
  • It performs greatly on technical trails and even muddy terrain, as stated by a reviewer.
  • Many buyers were impressed with the lightweight disposition of the S-Lab XA Amphib.
  • A number of people admired the excellent drainage system by the shoe.
  • Another user observed that the XA Amphib did well in both wet and dry conditions; it apparently didn’t cause discomfort or hotspots to the foot.
  • The heel box is snug and fits perfectly without any unnecessary movements, one user noted.

2 reasons not to buy

  • Some runners mentioned the shoe has a tight entryway and is difficult to get the foot on and off
  • One user was not satisfied with the traction delivered by shoe on rocky terrain.

Bottom line

Efficient in adapting to the running environment, the S-Lab XA Amphib is made to deliver a fast ride and a precise support from wet to dry ground. The lugs do a decent job of providing grip where needed, while the upper is reliable in keeping the foot dry and ventilated.

Tip: see the best trail running shoes.

Our reviews

89
/100 by , posted on .

If you are looking for a shoe that can handle muddy trails and water while still being able to drain efficiently, this is the shoe for you.

After hearing many opinions and seeing some of the best runners on the planet wear Salomons, I finally decided to buy a pair and see what hype was about.

I chose the S-Lab XA Amphib first because of the traction and the draining capabilities.

 

Specifications & Fit

With a weight of 7.6oz or 215 grams, the Amphib is a lightweight shoe that has minimal support and cushioning but still comfortable. I was surprised that the shoe did not require a break in period like most new shoes.

The shoes have a tight entryway when putting your foot inside initially, however once inside, the insole provides a snug fit and prohibits your socks from sliding.

Unlike most shoes, the outer material of the shoe is comprised of a plastic-like “Energy Cell” outsole, which is durable, surprisingly comfortable, and does not feel like plastic.

The grip of the shoe is the same as all S-Lab shoes, being made of the Contragrip lugs, which offer extreme traction on both dry and wet terrain. The heel height is similar to all Salomon S-Lab shoes at a height of 18mm and heel drop of 4mm.

 

Upper & Lacing System

The Asymmetrical Quicklace system made from durable Kevlar fibers has its very own lace pocket found on tip of the tongue of the shoe.

This pocket is meant to store the shoelaces so they will not become inconvenient.

 

Durability & Performance

I have ran over 100 miles on trails in my Amphibs and the sole and the Contragrip lugs are still as good as new. Salomon advises runners to avoid using this shoe on the road because it will wear down the tread rather quickly.

The Energy Cell material shoes show no sign of damage after 100+ miles and many races. I primarily use this shoe as a race shoe rather than a training shoe, due to its expensive price and sole sturdiness.

This is my go-to shoe when I compete in obstacle races and low mileage trail runs that I know that will have muddy conditions. However, I cannot detest to how this shoe would perform in snow.

The grip, ability to drain water, and light weight are the best features of this shoe. The toe box is spacious enough to provide ample room for my toes, while still maintaining minimal yet sufficient cushioning.

The ventilation is excellent and is probably the best I have ever experienced in any shoe.

 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Superior ventilation
  • Durability
  • Simple lacing system
  • Exceptional grip
  • Drains water efficiently

Cons

  • Expensive price
  • Not suitable for training
  • Minimal cushioning

Conclusion

I have never found a shoe that is more suitable for racing in wet and muddy conditions than the Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib. The Contragrips lugs are excellent for gripping slippery terrain.

The shoe runs true to size and the quick lace system offers a secure fit that will not loosen during use. The cushioning and support of the shoe is minimal but still offers decent comfort and impressive durability.

The cost is the main drawback, but I would say the shoe's performance makes up for the price tag.

Overall, this is an excellent shoe and is worth the price if you compete in obstacle racing or trail runs with wet conditions.

| Level 3 expert Verified
Hello there! I've been running all my life, but in the last 5 years, I have gotten more serious about it. I love racing all types of distances but primarily stick to trail races and obstacle course racing, averaging at 40 miles a week. I am periodically running more ultra events and have plans to complete my first Spartan Ultra-Beast in the coming months. My favorite running shoe brands are Salomon, Scott, New-balance, Mizuno, and Inov-8.

Good to know

  • The Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib is a versatile running shoe specially designed for swim-run activities. On dry ground, the shoe offers adequate support and protection for efficient, long-distance runs. In wet conditions, it provides fantastic traction and ventilation.
  • This shoe can navigate both torso-deep river crossings and steep uphill trails. The Premium Wet Traction Contagrip lugs enable a powerful and effortless grip on wet and watery surfaces.
  • The open mesh is excellent in maintaining optimal ventilation even in wet conditions, while the draining windows efficiently drain water and moisture. It allows the foot to keep a steady stride, even on wet rocks.
  • An all-new material called EnergyCell+ is featured in the midsole and provides a snug fit, resulting in a high-energy rebound.

The XA Amphib is a neutral shoe that fits runners with a medium-to-low volume of the foot. While it fits true to size, the toe box height runs relatively small as it aims for a precise fit and encourages a relaxed wearing sans socks, so it’s not recommended for wearers who prefer a wide shoe.

Being a unisex shoe, the width profile available is D – Medium for men, while the women’s equivalent of it is D – Wide.

Made of a durable rubber compound, the outsole covers the platform of the shoe and prevents abrasive trails from damaging the underside of the shoe.

Just like in the popular Salomon Sense Ride 2, this shoe features the Premium Wet Traction Contagrip, an outsole that delivers non-slip, highly-rugged traction on a variety of terrain, either wet or dry. This enables the wearer to focus on running without the distraction of wet ground.

The XA Amphib’s massive lugs are made deep and tough, which help get a grip and shed mud when exiting mud trails, enhancing climbing mechanics and surface control. The lugs are emphasized in the forefoot and heel area to give an emphasized level of traction.

Introducing the EnergyCell+ dual-density compressed EVA, the midsole enables a maintained cushioning and reduced underfoot shock. This high-quality foam provides substantial cushioning and support throughout the running session. It is a platform design that prevents the foot from wobbling laterally or medially.

The OS Tendon System is a running construct acts like a real tendon by flexing to provide stretch and balance during the heel-to-toe transition, thus resulting in a better and easier rebound.

The Profeel Film is the XA Amphib’s midsole frame made of TPU, which provides protection without the loss of ground feel. It supports the foot and roll of the shoe during the first steps.

The integrated sock liner allows the runner to wear the shoe comfortably even without a sock. It’s soft and it adds a bit more cushioning.

Featuring an open rubber mesh, the upper is made breathable and quick-drying, well-suited for wet-to-dry trail encounters as it evacuates both water and humidity. The mesh stays lightweight even when wet and dries fast on the ground.

Throughout the upper are strategically placed draining windows for efficient water drainage, especially when transitioning from swimming to running.

The upper also features Endofit, Salomon’s original internal fit sleeve designed to wrap the foot like a sock, thus improving feedback.

Meanwhile, the Sensifit are the overlays on the upper act as a cradle-like protection for a close, secure fit. This technology carries the foot from the midsole to the laces.

A protective synthetic toe cap keeps the toes safe from bruising while on the trail.

The closure system is an asymmetrical quick lace technology made from durable Kevlar fibers, which enables a one-pull tightening move to ensure the shoe is on and off the foot with little effort. The laces can be tucked in the Lace Pocket to prevent snagging and getting caught while running.

Rankings

How Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 42% trail running shoes
All trail running shoes
Bottom 35% Salomon running shoes
All Salomon running shoes
Top 42% neutral running shoes
All neutral running shoes

Popularity

The current trend of Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib.
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Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com