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Salomon X Ultra 4 review and lab test

The 4th edition of Salomon’s X Ultra line of hiking shoes has kept a lot of features from previous versions, with a couple of noticeable differences. 

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The base version (not the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX) is lightweight, supportive, and breathable. While the high heel counter may not be for everyone, there’s so much on offer with this shoe that it’s hard not to love it. 

Who the hiking shoe is for

The Salomon X Ultra 4 is a perfect shoe for day hiking and even some longer-distance, multi-day hiking. Thanks to its lightweight construction, and ample padding, it can keep you feeling fresh for longer. 

Who the Salomon X Ultra 4 is not for

There’s probably a better option out there for you if: 

  • You need something waterproof, Salomon has the X Ultra 3 GTX which comes in at a really good price now
  • You’re often hiking seriously muddy trails, go for something with more spacing between the lugs like the Salomon Cross Hike GTX
  • You’re worried about the high heel counter causing rub, a shoe more sneaker-like could be the answer, the Salomon OUTline is a much more streamlined silhouette

The Salomon X Ultra 4 can take you further

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Coming in at 12.5oz (355g) in US size 10, the X Ultra 4 is super lightweight, which is important in a hiking shoe. People spend a lot more energy just picking up their feet than carrying heavier loads, especially in longer days. 

A midsole that’s there for your protection

Not only does the X Ultra 4 feel featherweight, the chunky EVA midsole provides tons of cushioning, making my feet feel protected and comfortable throughout day-long hikes. 

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The midsole has a durometer of 51.5HA in the heel and a softer 46HA in the forefoot, meaning there’s added protection from impact and sharp objects in the harder heel, while the forefoot is softer and more cushioned.

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These add up and help long distances feel shorter on my feet and legs, which ultimately means more hiking!

Not a trail running shoe, and that’s okay

I’ve seen a lot of other reviews suggest that the Salomon X Ultra 4 is a perfect trail running shoe. While it may be lightweight for a hiking shoe, 12.5oz is pretty heavy for a trail shoe.

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Moreover, I would want to see more flexibility and specific support in a trail running shoe to help your feet make specific, fast-paced movements on the trail. I would argue that it’s safer to take a tougher trail-running shoe like the Salmon XA Pro 3d V8 GTX and use it as a hiking shoe than to use a hiking shoe to run in. 

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I’m not saying that you can’t take a few jogs downhill when you’re trying to get to the pub before closing, just that we’re in an age of specialist shoes, and it might be worth investing in an extra pair to suit your needs. 

Salomon lacing that works well if it works for you

Salomon’s quick lacing has long been one of my favorite lacing systems on the market. With a self-closing buckle, you can tighten and loosen the shoe in a second. 

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While a really useful system it does mean that the shoe has to fit your foot perfectly in order to be comfortable. I’ve been lucky to have average width feet and really like how the lockdown feels. 

If you have wider or narrower feet or need some specific adjustments, this system may not be ideal because it’s not customizable. Very few of Salomon’s hiking shoes offer normal lacing, but the X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex and the Outline Prism Gore-Tex do if you want the same shoe with more ankle support or another lightweight hiking shoe.

The Salomon X Ultra 4 is more supportive than most

One of the most noticeable features of the  X Ultra 4 is ADV-C Chassis, essentially a strap that connects the lacing to a hard plastic shank in the midsole. When the laces are tightened properly the strap apparently keeps your foot from rolling either way too much. 

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While I can’t actually feel the strapping keeping my foot in place, the shoe itself feels far more supportive than your regular hiking shoe. Over loose rock and roots, I felt more like I was wearing a pair of boots than shoes. 

Consistent grip

I’m incredibly impressed with Salomon’s outsoles, be it in their Trail Running Shoes, or hiking books, the Contragrip works wonders. 

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The rubber sole has 41 lugs that are 5.2mm deep. These, paired with the flexibility of the midsole allow the shoe to grip on lots of surfaces, from grassy to dusty, you can take it pretty much anywhere. 

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I will say, 41 lugs are quite a lot which can be great. It does compromise on the spacing of them though, which means less grip on super wet surfaces. So if you’re hoping to hike in consistently muddy terrain, these might not be as stable. 

An Achilles heel in the Salomon X Ultra 4

The heel counter is a topic of contention among users, and I do get the issue. Not just the high-flared heel tab, but the whole heel support itself seems a little high. I definitely felt quite a strong rub at first from the heel, but after wearing them in I no longer notice it. 

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This is definitely something I would put down to personal preference, but I think it’s part of the nature of the shoe. Salomon is clearly trying to make a crossover between the hiking boot and the hiking shoe, adding more ankle support so that you can be quicker over rocks. 

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As far as I’m concerned, the trade-off of a bit of wear in time is well worth the protection and stability you get from the shoe long term.

No Gore-Tex no worries

This is another personal choice matter, but I don’t know how much Gore-Tex is worth having in a hiking shoe. The caveat of this is that I want a hiking shoe that can do lots of miles through any terrain. 

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While Gore-Text might be a wonderful option to stop the occasional splash or dip in a puddle, water can still get into the shoe from long wet grass, rain, or a deeper puddle. Once it’s in, the challenge is letting it escape, breathability.

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There are reports of a lack of breathability in the Gore-Tex version of the X Ultra 4, which is something I had no issues with on the base model. Walking in Scotland, you come up against rain and puddles on a regular basis, and I found my feet drying quicker than my upper half, which is impressive. 

Conclusion

The Salomon X Ultra 4 is a really interesting hiking shoe. It’s not for everyone, with a high heel and not much room for different foot shapes. On the other hand, you have a super lightweight, supportive, and grippy shoe. If you don’t feel the need for Gore-Tex waterproofing, this will serve you really well for hundreds of miles.

Complete lab-specs overview 

  Salomon X Ultra 4
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 355
Drop (mm)

11

Flexibility of the shoe (N)

24.9

Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 33.2
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 33.3
Lace slip test with the knot (N) NA
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2.0
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2.0
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 14.1
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 101.2
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 78.7
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy) 2.0
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2.0
Thickness of Heel Counter (mm) 16.57
Toe Guard Yes
Durometer Toe Guard (Room temperature) (HA) 87.5
Tongue: gusset type None
Heel: pull tab None
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 106.8
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 84.2
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 20.5
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 31.5
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 51.5
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 9.7
Lugs Depth (mm) 5.2
Lugs (Amount) 41
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 85
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 5.2
Insole: removable Yes

Facts / Specs

Weight: Men 12.7oz / Women 11.1oz
Use: Day Hiking, Speed Hiking
Cut: Low cut
Features: Lightweight / Breathable / Orthotic friendly / Removable insole
Width: Normal
BRAND Brand: Salomon

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Author
Doug Turner
Doug Turner

Doug is a Scottish documentary and fashion photographer and filmmaker. Stumbling into the sneaker game later than usual, he started out behind a camera through long hiking expeditions around the world. Seeking a cleaner aesthetic, Doug now works mostly in fashion and sport, opting for outdoor locations rather than a studio.