Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX Review: My Off-Season Shoe

The Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX has been my go-to shoe for the past two winters. The GTX is the waterproof (via a GORE-TEX membrane) cousin to Salomon’s popular XT Wings 2. The shoe is chock-full of tech-y features, from the Salomon’s famous Quicklace system on top all the way down to its Contagrip outsole. I consider this shoe to be a winter bomb shelter: stuff your feet into a pair of these and they come out unscathed each time, every time.

Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX

The women's Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX

Running in a pair of shoes with a GORE-TEX membrane has its time and place. First, you’ll find success in wearing waterproof shoes when you’re running through snow or water that’s less than ankle deep. Any deeper, and snow or water seeps in from the ankle down. Second, while I believe in the permeability of waterproof membranes in both directions, I’ve found limitations in GORE-TEX’s outbound (As in, from the inside to the outside of the shoe.) breathability. If a heap of water flows in from the ankle, only some of it passes back out the waterproof membrane. And, if your feet sweat a lot, some of the sweat won’t permeate out of the shoe.

What I mean to say by all of this is that wearing a running shoe with a GORE-TEX membrane requires a certain set of circumstances. I get my best runs out of Salomon’s XT Wings 2 GTX when the temperature is cold and/or when I’m running on a packed-snow surface. I’ve also had good success with adding a waterproof gaiter atop these shoes for a run through shin-deep powder.

Salomon’s XT Wings 2 GTX shoes have become my trusty off-season running steed because of these specific-to-winter-running features:

  1. GORE-TEX membrane – The membrane allows me to run as long as I want with dry feet on a packed-snow surface, even on those slushy days when I sink in more than usual. Further, I’m convinced that a GORE-TEX membrane also slows the transfer of heat and cold. That is, I think the membrane keeps the heat of my feet in and the winter’s cold out much longer than a membrane-less shoe.
  2. Protective rubber toe cap and mud guard – This shoe has a rubber toe cap that I suppose was designed to protect toes from stubs on roots and rocks. In winter, the toe cap, as well as the mud guard that runs around the entire shoe just above where the shoe’s upper and sole meet, serve to put another layer between my feet and the snow. Further, the smooth surfaces of the toe cap and mud guard cause snow to slide right off.
  3. Flared sole – The back half of the sole flares out, creating increased surface area. This extra landing zone performs like a mini-snowshoe, giving me an extra square inch or so on each foot to distribute my weight. The effect is that, when I run on packed snow that has a bit of give, the XT Wings 2 help me stay on top of it rather than sinking into it.
  4. Sole stiffness – Overall, the sole is stiff, with only the expected forefoot give. For a run on packed snow, I sometimes strap on Yaktrax. The stiff sole maintains the shoe’s shape and integrity, no matter how hard the Yaktrax’s rubber pulls on them.
  5. Contagrip Outsole – The outsole has mostly small lugs that orient in almost every direction and that have wide spaces in between. This lug layout sheds snow and plows through slush like a steam train.

For those of you who extend your endurance ability into other non-running winter sports, the Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX performed perfectly for me as a backcountry snowshoeing shoe. A waterproof gaiter, these shoes, and a pair of backcountry snowshoes have been my ticket to some far-afield adventuring.

Snowshoeing Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX

Snowshoeing with the Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX

The technological goodness of these shoes comes with a price, a bit of extra weight and bulk. When I’m out for the long haul on a snowy, slushy, and cold winter day, I gladly pay that price for happy feet.

Call for Comments
If you’ve used the Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX, what have you used them for and what did you think?

Those who’ve worn the non-GORE-TEX XT Wings 2, what do you think of the shoe?

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com’s Senior Editor, the author of ‘Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,’ and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world’s wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

There are 8 comments

  1. Matt Smith

    I'm also a big fan of Salomon GTX shoes for winter running. I use the XA Comp GTX with a pair of low gaiters and have never had a problem with moisture build up or leakage. Even with a pair of MICROspikes or light snowshoes, the Salomons hold their shape and provide a sturdy platform.

  2. John Bidney

    As much as I wanted to like the Solomon's they just do not fit my foot and with the trails I run the gore-tex doesn't work for me. My first run ended with some small blisters on the outside of my big toes. On the second run I was falling in love with them until my first creek crossing. After going through shin deep water the gore-tex never really let the shoe air out. I also had trouble with the left insole repeatedly folding under my foot. I ended up taking it out completely after 6 times of straightening it out. I did love the quick lace more than I expected and I never had trouble with heal lift like I thought I might. The heal of the shoe seemed a bit high for me too.

    Overall I was really upset that they didn't work for me but I don't fault the shoe at all. I think it was just more a fault of my feet. I switched back to my Cascadias and I'm happy as can be. I guess if somethings working for you might as well stick with it.

    1. Meghan

      John, thanks for the comments! Sometimes, our feet are more particular than we'd like them to be. You're right, if something works, stick with it!

  3. Tina

    Nice review, Megan!

    Great to hear a report on a women's shoe. I've noticed that often times there's variations to the women's shoes that differ from the same model in men's shoes. Not sure if this applies to this shoe, but just saying in general.

    Sounds like this shoe could do nicely with a gaiter for my winter runs. Currently, I just wear my Salomon XA Comp 5 for snow, mud, and other wet conditions. My feet may get a little wet, but they drain and air out quickly, so it hasn't been much of a problem. However, for snow shoeing, and longer duration of time in cold wet conditions – the Salomon XT Wings 2 GTX sounds like they would do well.

    Probably the biggest drawback that I see about them (and my current Salomon's) is the 11mm heel to toe drop. (I'm currently opting for the more minimalist shoes… really enjoying my VFF's). I've heard that Salomon is coming out with a decreased heel to toe drop shoe in 2012. Perhaps when that model is made available, you can do a review on it. ;)

  4. Arthur Schultz

    How do you think Salomon xt wings 2 gtx will perform as a backpacking shoe. My pack will probably weigh about 30 lbs. and I'm planning all kinds of walking conditions and terrrain?

    Thank you

    Art

    1. Meghan

      Hi Arthur, thanks for the comment and question.

      I use exclusively trail running shoes for backpacking over every kind of terrain. The Salomon XT Wings and XT Wings 2's have been my go-to backpacking/fastpacking shoes since 2009. I love them!

      I gave up hiking boots about seven years ago and won't go back, too much weight on the feet for moving at the speed I like to go. That said, make certain that you have strong ankles before you go out backpacking in trail running shoes, as the stabilizer muscles of your ankles and low legs have to do a lot of work. But, if your body is ready to go, I don't think you'll regret using trail running shoes like these on your outing.

      Let us know how it goes if you end up going out in them!

      Meghan

  5. Lisa

    I think there needs to be more quality control with the shoe laces, at Solomon. I love the shoes. I am on my third pair, I have one pair that is non gortex, one pair that is gortex, and one pair which is worn but I keep for special occasions.

    So I got my third pair on Thursday, I didn't even think to check to see if the shoe laces were working. So during my first long walk I had to tighten them about 8 times, then when I got back, i checked the internet to see if I was doing the shoe lace tightening properly, I sat through some painfully slow but informative lectures on replacing the shoe laces,found a site where the instructions were blown up big enough for mere mortals over 30 to read them easily, and finally went back to the store, with laces still not staying tight, they said the shoe lace thing was not working, I could get my money back for the shoes, cause they didn't have another pair, and there isn't anywhere else that sells them here, so they got me to try another pair of shoes, with high uppers, but the shoe laces didn't seem to work on those either, and didn't have the cushion, so I asked them why they couldn't just give me new shoe laces and put them in for me, thankfully they did, and hooray, the new shoe laces work, but what a waste of time for me, and stressful. And it was lucky they weren't too busy to install the shoe laces.

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