Our verdict

The gist concerning the Outpulse from Salomon is a simple one—it's laser-focused on propelling every step forward. We found it to be a dreamy trail shoe for warm weather that envelopes the foot in absolute comfort, making us think less and hike more. Minor nitpicks aside, the Outpulse helped us crush those hiking miles in speed and style.

Pros

  • Grippy and durable lugs
  • Extremely breathable
  • Lighter than average
  • Protective and bouncy midsole
  • Great for long hikes
  • Speedy and tenacious
  • Comfortable and high-quality upper construction
  • Secure lockdown
  • No break-in required
  • Performs consistently in the cold

Cons

  • Not ideal for wide feet
  • Tongue slippage

Audience verdict

85
Great!

Who should buy

We recommend the Salmon Outoulse as a great choice for hikers: 

  • In the market for a lightweight and nimble shoe to tackle the trails with speed
  • Who face a variety of surfaces during their hikes
  • In hot climates looking for a shoe that’s comfy and breathable
  • Looking for a versatile shoe that can also tackle light trail runs
  • In need of a durable and long-lasting shoe

Salomon Outpulse 1

Who should NOT buy

The Outpulse isn’t stable enough underfoot to support carrying a heavy pack for extended distances over uneven surfaces. For backpackers embarking on multi-day treks with lots of gear, we recommend the Merrel Moab 3 as a true beast of burden. 

While the Outpulse performs extremely well in our freezer tests, we don’t recommend it for winter hikes in extremely cold climates as its well-ventilated nature will likely lead to frost-bitten toes. We recommend the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX as a truly weatherproof alternative that can better tackle the tundra. 

Salomon Outpulse fweuibe

Breathability

To test the airflow of the Outpulse, we subjected it to our state-of-the-art smoke test. As we can clearly see from the video, the whole shoe releases plumes of smoke almost immediately and continues to do so throughout the twenty-second test. This stellar performance earns the Outpulse a perfect 5 out of 5 for breathability. 

However, inspecting a backlit cross-section of the shoe’s upper left us somewhat perplexed as the material doesn’t allow any light to shine through. This usually indicates a poorly ventilated shoe. 

Turning to our microscope for answers, we can see that the upper is made up of two layers of mesh. The outer layer is made up of a grid of interwoven braids that open up to form a pattern of regularly spaced perforations. These gaps reveal the lower layer of a more densely woven grey mesh with lots of micro-gaps that encourage airflow through the shoe.

Salomon Outpulse f2liubf2

Salomon Outpulse Breathability
Test results
Outpulse 5
Average 2.8
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

First up to face the Dremel in our battery of durability tests is the toebox. We fired up the tool to 5K RPM and applied its grinding element to the most vulnerable area of the toebox with 3.2N of force. Things don’t look good at first as our tool immediately rips into the reinforced section of the toebox. 

However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that we hadn’t blasted through the toebox after the four-second test. Our grinding element only manages to leave an unsightly crater in the reinforcing material, leaving the mesh below relatively intact. This leads us to give the Outpulse a toebox durability score of 3 out of 5 which means that we shouldn’t fear accidental snags or tears when taking this shoe through untamed and bushy trails.

Salomon Outpulse Toebox durability
Test results
Outpulse 3
Average 3.5
Compared to 11 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

We fired up our Dremel for a second time and took aim at the Outpulse’s heel counter. This time our tool seemed to have absolutely no effect on the shoe, with its grinding element impotently skating off the shoe’s lining material throughout the four-second test. 

With the heel counter looking very much as it did before the test, we are left with no choice but to give the Outpulse a perfect 5 out of 5 for heel padding durability. This means that even after numerous grueling hikes, the shoe’s heel padding won’t be compromised and should still provide a snug and comfy rearfoot lockdown.

Salomon Outpulse Heel padding durability
Test results
Outpulse 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 10 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

To measure how hard the Outpulse’s outsole material is, we pressed our durometer against one of its lugs and got a reading of 85 HC. This is within the average range for hiking shoes and implies a good balance of grip and durability, the latter of which will be tested in the next section

Salomon Outpulse Outsole hardness
Test results
Outpulse 85.0 HC
Average 84.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
65.0 HC
Outsole hardness
94.1 HC

Outsole durability

This time spinning at 10K RPM, we applied our Dremel to one of the Outpulse’s lugs for a total of twenty seconds. After the rather uneventful test, we used a tire tread gauge to measure the indent our tool had created and found that only 0.32 mm of material had been shorn away. 

This is a much better performance than the average hiking shoe, which loses almost four times the amount of material in this same test. As a result, we expect the Outpulse to last a good thousand miles before noticing any major signs of wear and tear.

Salomon Outpulse Outsole durability
Test results
Outpulse 0.3 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 10 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Using our caliper, we measured the outsole between the lugs and the midsole to be ever-so-slightly thicker than average at 2.8 mm. This means that we have plenty of material to wear through once the lugs are compromised, which theoretically improves the longevity of the shoe. However, with the hardiness of the rubber as demonstrated in the previous section, we think that Salomon could have skimped on some material here in order to shave some more weight off this shoe without sacrificing durability. 

Salomon Outpulse Outsole thickness
Test results
Outpulse 2.8 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.9 mm
Outsole thickness
4.0 mm

Weight

Weighing in at 11.6 oz (330g), the Outpulse is quite a bit lighter than the average hiking shoe. Apart from the use of lightweight materials in the shoe’s upper, the Outpulse’s lively and bouncy midsole further contributes to the shoe’s lightweight feel during our test hikes. As such, the Outpulse feels more like a trail running shoe which makes it a great choice for those who enjoy speedier hikes.

Salomon Outpulse Weight
Test results
Outpulse 11.61 oz (329g)
Average 13.47 oz (382g)
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
6.49 oz (184g)
Weight
17.14 oz (486g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

We measured the Outpulse’s stack to be 30.3 mm thick at the heel. While this is shorter than average, there’s still plenty of foam underfoot to provide well-cushioned landings no matter how harsh the surface below is. 

Salomon Outpulse Heel stack
Test results
Outpulse 30.3 mm
Average 31.0 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
9.9 mm
Heel stack
39.0 mm

Forefoot stack

At 20.1 mm according to our caliper measurements, the Outpulse’s forefoot stack is just shy of our current lab average. This amount of foam underfoot provided us with a good balance of comfortable cushioning and ground feel that kept us going mile after mile during our test hikes.

Salomon Outpulse Forefoot stack
Test results
Outpulse 20.1 mm
Average 20.6 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
31.0 mm

Drop

The difference in our stack measurements leaves us with a drop height of 10.2 mm, classifying the Outpulse as a high-drop shoe. This is advantageous for those with calf or ankle issues or those prone to Achilles tendon injuries as it puts more stress on the knees and hips rather than the lower leg. 

Salomon Outpulse drop

Conversely, those with sensitive knees or hips should consider a shoe with a less drastic offset like the Danner Trail 2650.

Test results
Outpulse 10.2 mm
Average 10.4 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
15.9 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

While hiking shoes tend to boast rather firm midsoles, the Outpulse falls more in line with the average road running shoe with a durometer reading of 22.6 HA.

Salomon Outpulse eriu3riufr3

This level of softness allows the midsole to compress under our weight and provide excellent impact-dampening without feeling too squishy or unstable whether going uphill or down. 

The midsole also returns to shape with a snappy rebound that feels responsive and can facilitate speedy walks or even light runs with ease.

Test results
Outpulse 22.6 HA
Average 27.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
13.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

To see how the midsole foam reacts to the cold, we let the Outpulse chill in our freezer for twenty minutes. With a post-freezer durometer reading of 25.9 HA, the Outpulse’s midsole remains much softer than the average hiking shoe’s under similar conditions. This means that no matter how frigidly cold the weather gets, the Outpulse will still feel soft and forgiving underfoot. 

Salomon Outpulse Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Outpulse 25.9 HA
Average 32.8 HA
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 HA
Midsole softness in cold (soft to firm)
49.3 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Becoming only 14.4% firmer in cold conditions means that the Outpulse’s midsole is much more consistent than average as the seasons change. However, the shoe’s ample airflow, as demonstrated in our smoke test, means that we do recommend pairing this shoe with a pair of thick socks to avoid frosty feet during winter hikes. 

Test results
Outpulse 14.4%
Average 18%
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Insole thickness

At 3.9 mm thick according to our caliper, the Outpulse’s insole isn’t as plush as our current lab average but still provides a soft enough surface within the shoe to feel comfortable during our test hikes. 

Salomon Outpulse Insole thickness
Test results
Outpulse 3.9 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 16 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.6 mm
Insole thickness
8.6 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

The Outpulse does have a bit of a lateral roll when shifting our weight from side to side in the shoe. While this shouldn’t be a problem on average day hikes, we don’t recommend using this shoe for backpacking as it's not stable enough for carrying heavy loads over uneven terrain. 

The Merrel Moab 3 is a more sure-footed alternative that we recommend when busting out the overnight packs for those extended multi-day hikes.

Torsional rigidity

We faced an average amount of resistance when we attempted to bend and twist the shoe in our hands, leading us to give the Outpulse a 3 out of 5 for torsional rigidity. This level of rigidity allows the shoe to twist along with our foot to a certain extent over irregular surfaces while also providing a good amount of support.  

Test results
Outpulse 3
Average 3.4
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Squeezing and prodding the Outpulse’s heel counter reveals that it is also moderately stiff, earning it a score of 3 out of 5. This is neither too stiff nor too flexible and comfortably holds our heel in place without putting too much pressure on our tendons. 

Test results
Outpulse 3
Average 3.7
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

We measured the Outpulse’s midsole to be 107 mm wide at the forefoot which is narrower than our current lab average. While this does contribute to the shoe’s nimble feel underfoot, this lack of a broad base explains the tippiness we felt in the lateral stability test. 

Salomon Outpulse Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Outpulse 107.0 mm
Average 110.3 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
103.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
117.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Conversely, the midsole is slightly wider than average at the heel; measuring 88 mm wide. This means that our landing felt very stable during our test hikes, with the wide surface area of sharp lugs really biting into the surfaces as we trudged along. 

Salomon Outpulse Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Outpulse 88.0 mm
Average 87.3 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
64.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
101.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We secured the Outpulse to our workbench and used a force gauge to measure the amount of force needed to bend the shoe 90 degrees and got a reading of 24N. This is significantly more flexible than our current lab average and means that the Outpulse is able to conform with the natural flexion of our foot with relative ease. As such, the shoe feels very comfortable and forgiving on the foot, even after long and arduous treks with frequent inclines and declines. 

Test results
Outpulse 24.0N
Average 30.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.8N
Stiffness
54.0N

Stiffness in cold

We also repeated the stiffness test after leaving the Outpulse in our freezer for twenty minutes, this time finding that 27.4N of force is now needed to bend the shoe to the desired point. This is much more flexible than the average hiking shoe under similar conditions and means that the Outpulse should feel just as easy on the foot during winter hikes. 

Test results
Outpulse 27.4N
Average 41.1N
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.5N
Stiffness in cold
75.5N

Difference in stiffness in cold

With only a 14.1% increase in stiffness between warm and cold conditions, the Outpulse is a remarkably consistent shoe that remains comfy and protective no matter the season. 

Test results
Outpulse 14.1%
Average 34.2%
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

The Outpulse’s lugs fall within the average range for hiking shoes at 4.1 mm according to our caliper measurements. Their distinguishing feature is their configuration; with the varied and multi-directional shapes forming a somewhat irregular pattern along the outsole ensuring that we enjoyed excellent traction over a multitude of surfaces, whether wet or dry. 

Salomon Outpulse Lug depth
Test results
Outpulse 4.1 mm
Average 4.0 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.1 mm
Lug depth
5.0 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

We measured the Outpulse’s toebox at its widest point to be 97.2 mm wide. While this is narrower than our current lab average, we didn’t find the shoe to feel too snug during our test hikes. However, those with very broad feet will likely feel constricted by this shoe, especially towards the end of longer treks when feet tend to swell as a result of repetitive impacts. For a shoe with more real estate in the toebox, we recommend the Adidas Terrex Trailmaker instead. 

Salomon Outpulse Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Outpulse 97.2 mm
Average 100.6 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
95.4 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
107.7 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Moving up to the area around the big toe, we measured the Outpulse’s toebox to taper down to 74.6 mm. This is also narrower than average which, on the one hand, lends the shoe a more aerodynamic silhouette than usually found on hiking shoes but, on the other, means that those with broader Roman or German foot shapes are likely to experience hotspots or blisters in this shoe. 

Salomon Outpulse Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Outpulse 74.6 mm
Average 81.5 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
68.8 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
108.6 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The Outpulse’s non-gusseted tongue is one of the main bugbears of this otherwise excellent shoe. We would have appreciated at least a semi-gusset to stop the tongue from slipping during our speedier hikes. 

Salomon Outpulse Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Outpulse None

Comfort

Tongue padding

At 6.4 mm according to our caliper, the Outpulse’s tongue is significantly less thick than the average hiking shoe’s. However, this is still enough padding to provide a comfortable and secure midfoot lockdown without any hint of lace bite. 

Salomon Outpulse Tongue padding
Test results
Outpulse 6.4 mm
Average 9.5 mm
Compared to 17 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
5.0 mm
Tongue padding
17.0 mm

Heel tab

The flared heel counter features a stylish pull-tab that makes slipping the shoe on easier and looks pretty cool too!

Salomon Outpulse Heel tab
Test results
Outpulse Pull tab

Removable insole

The Outpulse’s insole isn’t glued in, so those in need of custom orthotics can use them with this shoe. 

Salomon Outpulse Removable insole
Test results
Outpulse Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Outpulse doesn’t feature any reflective elements whatsoever, so we recommend exercising caution and using high-vis gear if hiking along a road at night. 

Salomon Outpulse Reflective elements
Test results
Outpulse No