Our verdict

The Salomon Speedcross Vario 2 is an excellent trail shoe. Its flexibility is the key appeal! It made me more confident on different terrains, even on harder surfaces. Compared to road shoes, I found these shoes to be a little less comfortable and I needed some time to get used to them, but that initial investment reaps the rewards when the terrain gets tricky.

Pros

  • True to size
  • Wide fit
  • Superb traction
  • Lots of protection
  • Durable

Cons

  • Stiff
  • Tongue doesn't stay in place

Audience verdict

85
Good!

Salomon Speedcross Vario 2 review

A trail shoe is a different proposition to a regular road shoe. You want to be reassured in its sturdiness and durability, but you don’t want to feel like you’re running around in clogs—tough gig!

Opening and fit of the Speedcross Vario 2

Unboxing the Speedcross Vario 2’s, I found them sturdy but not too heavy. They feel rigid but not overly unwieldy and not noticeably heavier than a well-cushioned pair of road shoes.

Interestingly, these Vario 2 versions of the popular Speedcross come with laces while the standard versions have a bungee pull.

After speaking with other users, I learned that the bungee pull could be frustrating with cold hands and slippy conditions—fairly typical after a trail run. I have to say, it makes sense, and I do like the lacing option of the Vario 2.

In terms of sizing, these shoes are pretty true to size. I take a size 10 and have slightly wider feet. I find them a little snug width and lengthwise in the toe box compared to some of my road shoes, but not to an uncomfortable level.

Comfortable fit

The laces are well-spaced across the length of the shoe so that you can get a comfortable fit. The Ortholite inner wicks moisture and keeps the foot comfortable while also being water-resistant from the outside.

The midsole is injected EVA foam and relatively thin compared to some more cushioned runners.

It is ready for muddy stuff

This is where the Vario 2 derives its character. A lighter, smoother’ more friction-based sole’ is what connects you to the ground in these.

Pronounced lugs and a hard-wearing Contagrip sole make the shoe look rugged and ready for muddy stuff.

Performance of the Speedcross Vario 2

Lacing up and first run, the shoes were excellent. They felt reasonably light, not much heavier than a road shoe.

I’d bought them for a cross country race that day, so I had no time to break them in. I’ve since competed in several other events and run in them socially, and they sit well with me.

The big thing with trails shoes is the extent of the compromise to comfort and speed resulting from the adaptation to perform on slippery terrain. The Vario 2’s have minimal cushioning, so these feel quite hard, particularly on firm ground.

However, these are less pliable than road shoes, so these do not give much in terms of energy return. What they do provide is superb traction across terrains, wet grass, mud, leaves, rocks—you name it! These are shoes that can take you anywhere.

In one section of a cross country course, I could fly past people uphill wearing spikes because there was a paved section next to a muddy path. I could run normally on the running section whilst those in spikes had to persevere through the slower stickier mud.

This ability to deliver performance on harder surfaces was a key performance aim of the Vario 2. And while you wouldn’t go too far because of the firm insole, they will carry you well on hard, firm surfaces as well as on trails.

When it has been cold and wet, these shoes protected my feet well. I did feel them getting a bit damp, but that was later on in a wet cross country race, so it’s hardly surprising.

The only slight negative was, with medium thickness running socks and wider feet, the toe box did feel a little on the small side, particularly when running fast and downhill.

Also, the tongue position could be a little uncomfortable if it rolled around the right side. In reality, these are minimal intrusions, and once I was running, they settled fine and didn’t bother me.

These are not stylish shoes, but they are functional and brilliant at it.