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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?