I had a brief stint with an earlier version of the Speed Cross, or was it the S-Lab Speed, or the Fell Cross, maybe it was the Fellraiser!? I no longer remember, but’s it’s clear that Salomon has more than a few shoes in this class. The Speed Cross 4 is the latest iteration of that bloodline. It caught my attention while Salomon was aggressively promoting it earlier this year; as part of that promotion there were some giveaways and I was lucky enough to win a pair! The timing was great because the trails of Marin County are getting sloppy, as I expect they are in most places in the Fall/Winter months. This shoe has an very aggro outer on it and looks to be a good mud tamer. I fully intend to find out!
Speed Cross 4 Specs at a Glance
- Type: Trail
- Stack: 33/22mm
- Drop: 11mm
- Weight: 346g (12.2 oz/each) Size 12 US
- Appearance: Lots of awesome colors, I got the “Radiant Red & Black” for extra trail swagger
- MSRP: $130
The Speed Cross 4 is a neutral shoe with substantial cushion. The design is a bit of a conundrum actually! That beefy stack height includes 5mm of lugs. The shoes lack a rock plate and instead rely on the midsole foam to damp out any hits that your feet will take. After a quick run in them, this seems to work… but once those lugs wear down, there is going to be a lot less protection under foot. So, that’s one issue. The overall stack height is pretty high, and the drop is more than I’m used to. These are definitely negative factors as far as stability is concerned. Otherwise, the shoes are well designed. Salomon tech that we’ve come to know and love is abound… quick lace system, lace garage, Sensi-fit upper, Contra grip outsole. It’s all in there. The fit is pretty typical of Salomon, and leans toward the upper end of “medium width” (which is to say, a snug fit).
- Compared to the Speed Cross 3: The Speed Cross 4 is a very similar shoe. Salomon has increased the width slightly. They have also changed up the chevron pattern somewhat, in an effort to both improve grip and prevent tearing the lugs off (which was an issue with the previous version of the shoe). Other design differences seem minor on casual inspection.
- Compared to the Saucony Peregrine 5/6: The Speed Cross 4 has a more aggressive outer (the Saucony has many more lugs, which decreases bite, but improves stability), a narrower shoe, and is less than a quarter ounce heavier. The Speed Cross 4 lacks a rock plate, where Saucony employs a lightweight rock plate. The Speed Cross 4 has almost triple the heel-toe drop, rides noticeably higher, has much less proprioception, and is not as stable of a shoe, though it does offer superior grip on both wet and dry trail surfaces. The upper material of the Peregrine seems to breath better than the Speed Cross 4.
Here’s a photo comparison to backup some of the above observations…
Outsole Profiles – Click any thumbnail to compare.
Side Profiles – Click any thumbnail to compare.
Salomon Speed Cross 4 Rolling Review
I won them, so nothing paid! Always a bonus. More money for donuts and other fun stuff. Retail is $130, which may be a little steep, but I have already been seeing them for $99 on sale at various retailers – a bargain at that price.
Out of the Box
These are great looking shoes! When it comes to aesthetics, Salomon really knows how to make badass looking footwear! The fit is familiar but “high”… a quick walk around the house and I immediately noticed a feeling of being too high from the ground. Those lugs though… such beautiful aggressive chevrons that just beg to be taken onto steep, soft trails. I took them out for a 13 mile test spin and traction is without a doubt the forte of this shoe! Stability however is not!! I won’t post any more thoughts on those topics until I have 50+ miles in them, but I have a feeling that these will find a place in my quiver and I’ll reach for ’em when I’m headed out the door in the rain and/or the muddy aftermath of whatever storm just blew through.
First 50 Miles
It’s taken a little while for me to get here, mainly because I find the stability of these shoes to be sketchy. As far as grip goes, they offer a ton of it, but I don’t care for the way they handle hard uneven surfaces. The stack height combined with a pretty substantial drop and the nature of a lugged shoe makes them wobbly on rocky fire roads and technical trail sections. By far they excel in soft and wet conditions, which is where I really like them. There are certain local trail segments that I’ve grown used to sliding off the trail here and there, and it’s a gut reaction to brace myself, but with the Speedcross 4’s on, I don’t slip or slide in those spots… pretty cool. It will probably take me a while to get a longer term verdict, but for now I’ll say I like them on soft steep trails.
At 100 Miles
Ok, so I’ve been remiss in updating the site and I’m now actually approaching 200 miles on these shoes. They’ve grown on me! It’s been so wet and muddy the last few months here in Marin County, the trails have been absolutely trashed. It’s really been the perfect testing grounds for the SpeedCross. My longest run in them thus far is 25 miles. I could easily run a 50k in these shoes, and don’t see why I couldn’t go 50 miles or more. They have a moderate cushion that helps take the sting out of the trail. The grip is still really good, it only gets a little sketch if you hit something like algae covered smooth surfaces (yeah… I did say algae there). The wobblyness of them does bug me a bit though and I find myself being very cautious when the trail surface is hard and very uneven. One issue that has come up after running through a lot of creeks, then hitting steep downhill, the insole starts to inch forward and bunch up. I guess this will be solved with some rubber cement!
Verdict Thus Far
- Comfort: Good. They lack a rock plate though, so this may change as the lugs wear down.
- Durability: So far, so good.
- Drain & Dry: Average. They hold water a little longer than I’d prefer.
- Stability: Wobbly on hard uneven surfaces
- Grip On Roads/Solid Rock: Very good
- Grip On Loose Rock/Gravel: Very good
- Grip On Wet Surfaces: Very good on most surfaces, but they still slip on the slickest surfaces.
- Grip In Mud: Very good. The lugs have a lot of bite.
- For training use? Maybe. Personally, only when the conditions call for it. The lack of stability worries me.
- For use as hikers? Possibly. I think they could make pretty decent hikers, but I have not tested them with a backpack on.
About the Author’s Running Style/Locale
I’m typically a front of the mid-pack runner. I run fire roads and single track in the Marin County area, including Mt. Tam, the Marin Headlands, and all the under-respected hills north of there. Long runs on this hard-packed stuff can leave the feet fairly beat up. The surface consists of loose crushed rock, jagged bedrock, and hardpacked dirt. A typical run for me is 9-15 miles with anywhere from 1500-3000 ft of climbing. My “long” runs are in the 20-30 mile range, usually with 4000-7000 ft of climbing. I occasionally do trail runs/races in the 50 mile to 100k range. When I find a shoe I like, I tend to stick with it for as long as possible. I prefer shoes with 4-6mm of drop; I haven’t really adapted to zero-drop footwear. I also like a shoe right in the middle as far as cushion goes; I need to feel the trail under me. Essentially my shoe quest has been to find shoes that feel nimble and responsive, yet keep my feet from getting beat up by the rocks and distance. Hike It. Like It.