Last month I was delighted to be asked by Salomon to be part of the "trial team" for the new Speedcross 4 shoe. Having reviewed shoes for other brands before, I was really looking forward to getting an off road shoe to trial, something that was new to me. This was something that was open to anybody to apply for, I saw it through an advert online & applied. I had actually totally forgot I'd done this until I received the email confirming I had been chosen, along with a handful of other runners.
I have had the previous model of the Salomon Speedcross, the Speedcross 3, as well as other Salomon shoes in the past. The Speedcross is, from my own observations, the most popular model of Salomon shoe, at fell races anyway! These were one of the first shoes I noticed as they seemed so widely used by the running community, both for trail & fell, so surely a shoe that is well trusted throughout the sport.
One of the aspects of the new model is the colour range that they are available in. If they weren't a noticeable shoe before, they definitely are now! As I mentioned earlier, a handful of us had been selected to trial the shoe and Twitter was awash with other users sharing their pictures of the shoes! Blue, yellow & green seemed to be the prominent colours, I myself had been given the green. Great colour choice as I could really #PlayWithColour and have some fun on the fells with the green ones. Now time to run in them!
Box fresh Speedcross 4's
Preparing for the maiden voyage...
The Speedcross had a noticeable improvement, even before actually running in them. As any fell runner would, the first thing you check on a shoe is the lugs! Salomon have upped their game here with one very important aspect. Previous models had some lugs that were 1/3 or 1/2 of a full lug as they were on the outer edges of the sole but this time they have made sure that each lug is a complete one, providing much better grip and all round general traction improvement.
I made sure that I tested them on basically all surfaces to be honest. Both for my own benefit and to provide Salomon with an all round method of feedback. I know they are built as a trail/fell shoe but I don't think I have ever done a fell race that has one uniform terrain for the whole race, they will always have at least some part rock/trail/path/grass/mud thrown in the mix and depending on the conditions on race day, these could be wet or dry...so there's plenty of options to consider, probably why a lot of runners struggle with shoe choice these days!
My local trail, that leads to the open moors, provides a huge variety of technical terrain and varies massively depending on the conditions (wet/dry). On a dry day, it can provide you with fast tracks and paths, albeit technical ones, but ones you can easily skip off and pick up some good speed. On the other hand, a wet day will provide you with sodden tracks and mud patches that are 6 inches deep, something for the sternest shoe test...perfect!
As with all the Salomon range, the distinct arrow shaped lugs are recognisable to the trained eye of a keen trail/fell runner in the mud. This is something that doesn't need adapting and with the little tweak in terms of full lugs now making their way on to the sole, the grip is great and now a lot more durable than before due to the even spread of the lugs.
The Speedcross offer great protection to the foot, so if like I mentioned before, you are faced with rough, rocky terrain, the toe protection will prevent/reduce injuries where possible (and only to a certain extent, of course!).
The heel stack is the usual for the Speedcross, something that won't be fancied by runners who like a low drop but for all others it's something that provides huge comfort and would be beneficial over long distances.
The fit and sizing is similar, if not identical to the Speedcross 3's, I always go half a size up in Salomon shoes to give myself more room in the shoe as my feet aren't narrow. If you have narrow feet then I would recommend your usual size.
Well tested on the muddy trails & on the fells...
Overall, the Speedcross 4 is a definite improvement on the 3, something Salomon can be proud of. The shoe, I imagine, will continue to be a popular model, if not increasingly popular, amongst the fell and trail running community. The improved grip and traction is a winner and if you want a long distance shoe that provides comfort, grip and vivid colour, the Speedcross 4 would be a great addition to your shoe collection!
Many thanks to the Salomon Trails team for the opportunity to trial the Speedcross 4's and allowing me to connect with others through social media, it looks like we all had fun while trialling them and there are some epic pictures on the following hashtags; #PlayWithColour #PlayWithGrip #FindYourAdventure & #TimeToPlay and you can also follow @SalomonTrails for the latest news on the trail running scene from Salomon themselves.
Speedcross 4's at my favourite place - Darwen Tower