Shoe review: Salomon XR Crossmax
The Salomon XR Crossmax sets out on it’s journey this month in the running stores up and down the UK. It sets out to cross that tricky precipice of shoes that are road > trail and then trail > road – a place which has been a tricky domain for shoes in recent times…
Don’t get me wrong here, there probably isn’t a shoe out there that manages to satisfy all of the ravenous needs of the hardened off-roader. But the XR Crossmax is the most significant trail running shoe that Salomon has produced in the last few years and ticks a lot of those boxes.
As a mountain sports and outdoor company Salomon is approaching the sphere of trail shoes in a different direction to many of the bigger brands. The ‘white shoe’ companies tend to adapt a road platform to the trail, and thus implement technologies with their dna in road running and adapt them to the trail. Salomon start from the dirt up, so enter the XR Crossmax.
Ask any of the guys and girls in the brand HQ deep in the French Alps in Annecy about the epitome of the XR and they will all give the same catchphrase – “door to trail”. But what does that mean?
Well, it is true that trail running differs greatly across the world. In Tahoe you may come across dusty singletracks, in the German Alps rocks and mud and similarly the UK. However, all trail runners have one thing in common in their majority – that they need to transition to that trail via a road or stretch of tarmac – and this is where the XR means something.
Its prowess on the road gives a smooth ride, the Oversized Tendon midsole component provides a smooth cushioned ride with energy return technology. This allows a definitive spring in the stride when in action, and it really is noticeable that your heel to toe transition is improved in its efficiency.
Contagrip outsole is a great mix of hard and soft compound rubbers that do the right things at the right time, and with a grip aggressive enough to handle most trails of a less severe nature, but not a hindrance on the flat stuff – the balance seems just right, ensuring precise grip on virtually any surface.
As far as comfort goes you get the same great Salomon feel. New technology on the forefoot uppers offer a greater level of ‘snugness’ due to the addition of what Salomon call Sensiflex, a reinforced upper with a flexible rubber material that perfectly forms to the foot. Additionally, much of the shoe’s upper is welded and has little in the way of traditional stitching, meaning that there is even less opportunity for abrasion.
The XR Crossmax also comes in two versions – the Neutral and Guidance. These terms are perhaps self evident in that the neutral shoe is, well neutral, in that it offers no extra stability control in the midsole. Whereas the Guidance model has a control/stabilty post for those runners that need it.
In action these shoes are good. I’ve been running in this pair of XR Crossmax neutral for a few weeks now (my second pair). Of course in the harsher UK hills and uplands I would go for the Speed Cross shoe, but on the everyday trails and forest roads that I frequent the Crossmax handles all but heavy mud with grace and agility – they really are that good.
Best of all is that I now use the XR’s for a lot of my road running too, as their relatively light weight means that I can use them for most sessions, and I dare say that some runners may even use them for road races too.
Overall this is highly significant shoe for the trail running sector and a firm indication that the Salomon brand is developing the tools that will offer new shoe options to off-road disciplines, oh, and of course, the road you take to get there.
This article first appeared on the Salomon Running UK site in February, 2011