Salomon Speedcross 5 Review

The Salomon Speedcross trail running shoe has been one of my favorites since I tried the first version of the shoe many years ago. I’ve always had a Speedcross shoe in my quiver, and it’s one I consistently trust to deliver a toothy, protective, yet agile ride for the more technical training runs and races I do. They reliably perform every time. The updates to the shoe over the past four versions have been incremental enhancements but no grand changes. However, in the Salomon Speedcross 5 ($130), Salomon went back to the original intent of the shoe and honed in on what makes it truly special as it tackles and excels in the technical, muddy, and soft terrains. From this comes three significant changes, dare I say improvements, that really take the shoe to the next level—improved grip, a more dynamic upper with a wider forefoot, and enhanced stability and protection on technical terrain. The basic specifications of the shoe remain pretty similar. The heel-toe drop is still 10mm. The weight of a women’s size 7 is 280 grams/9.9 ounces and the men’s size 9 is 320 grams/11.3 ounces. And the cost remains competitive for its quality, versatility, and durability.

The Salomon Speedcross 5. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Salomon Speedcross 5 Upper

The upper of the Salomon Speedcross 5 is made from the incomparable anti-debris mesh that allows almost no debris to enter even on the sandiest trail while still remaining decently breathable. It’s an entirely welded construction in this fifth version which means there are no stitches and an even smoother glove-like fit and feel on the interior of the upper. The protective toe cap and rand connect from the upper all the way to the outsole from the front of the shoe through the back of the midfoot where it meets the heel support, thus eliminating potential entry points for thorns or sharp, jagged rocks attempting to intrude through the lower aspect of the shoe.

They are still not the coolest shoe in super-hot weather nor the quickest to dry, particularly through the substantial tongue and ankle collar, but the muck stays out. With the relatively smooth interior, I still have no issues at all with hot spots or blisters forming on my feet whether the shoes are wet or dry. I continue to appreciate the cut of the ankle collar and Achilles notch where the padding is ample yet the geometry stays away from irritating my sensitive ankle bones and tendons.

The tongue hasn’t seen significant changes though it feels like perhaps there’s a bit more padding there protecting the foot from the Quicklaces. It’s still not gusseted, but it has a natural arc to it that conforms to the foot perfectly and stays exactly where you position it. It’s now separated from the laces by one more layer of durable but breathable mesh. This has eliminated the tongue region as a point of entry for trail debris. The lace garage is still dependable on the proximal end of the tongue as is my option of looping the lace tail through the most distal horizontal lace. I continue to have great success with the Quicklaces despite mud, snow, ice, dirt, sand, streams crossings, or baking sunshine—they are perfectly dialed in and, as yet, have never failed.

For the first time in the history of Speedcross, the forefoot is noticeably wider and more accommodating to wiggly toes. It’s still a Speedcross, mind you, but it’s now likely to be able to fit a wider variety of feet. Because of the narrow heel and SensiFit cradle that wraps the foot from the midsole through the laces, it’s still very customizable ensuring a snug and secure fit around the entire foot. The Speedcross 5 has enhanced the dynamic fit through the upper by disassociating the SensiFit arms, making it even easier for the shoe to naturally conform to the foot as you flow over technical terrain.

The last component of the upper that has seen a significant transformation is the heel cup. It’s always been substantial and kept my foot securely connected inside the shoe, but now there’s a wide, firm overlay along the bottom half which adds to the stability of the heel counter over the slippery, technical trails common with the changing seasons. Happily, it stabilizes without making you feel like your foot and ankle are being forced in any certain direction. I’ve never had an issue with my foot wanting to slide off the shoe platform in the Speedcross on weird angles of rocks and roots, but now I feel just a bit more support and stability as I lumber, no, as I dance, over the wonky-sized shapes and tippy platforms that our fabulous ‘dinner plate’ rocks and ‘snakey roots’ provide.

I’m really glad they didn’t change the final component of the upper that I do love so much about the Speedcross line—the molded OrthoLite insole. The arch support it provides and the comfort it ensures for the life of my shoe and beyond remains perfect in all of its off-the-shelf glory, at least for me. It’s still able to dry overnight after a particularly drenching day and doesn’t lose its shape as I stuff it back into my shoe for another go.

The Salomon Speedcross 5 lateral upper.

Salomon Speedcross 5 Midsole

If you’ve ever felt that the midsole, particularly in the forefoot, has been too thin on the previous editions of the Salomon Speedcross, lament no more. There’s still no rock plate, but the cushioning in the forefoot has been enhanced. Now, coupled with the lugs, it’s significantly less likely you’ll notice those pointy rocks taking aim at the space between the lugs particularly as you loosen up and fly on the declines. The EnergyCell+ compound provides high-energy return while still cushioning the foot well enough that a rock plate isn’t perhaps required. Whether you’re a heel or midfoot striker, you should feel adequately protected from the ground forces. This has been a really key change for me as the balls of my feet would often feel pretty pounded at the end of 50k-plus races in Speedcross where the shoes were perfect in every other way. Currently, at 350 miles in my shoe, I still feel the cushioning doing its job, and I continue to be amazed they’ve shown no signs of deadening just yet.

The Salomon Speedcross 5 medial upper.

Salomon Speedcross 5 Outsole

It’s tough to beat the grip of the Speedcross on muddy, soft, loose, and technical terrain. The Speedcross 5 has perhaps even better traction with the new slightly wider-spaced sharp, toothy lug pattern made from their excellent Contagrip TA compound. The durability of the outsole is impressive, and there is very little wear evident on my pair at 350 miles of use where most of these miles this summer have been on the dry rubble and rocky terrain in the Colorado mountains. The slightly wider multidirectional lug pattern means the clay mud sheds a bit more easily while the large ‘teeth’ are well-able to dig into snow, slush, and goopier mud. I’ve never had a rock get stuck in the outsole like I have with closer-together lugs, and the ‘sticky’ nature of the compound still offers a lot of confidence on larger off-camber slabs when a bit of scrambling is required. With winter coming to the Front Range perhaps sooner rather than later, I have full confidence in these shoes to get me through most conditions right up until the MICROspikes become mandatory, but typically that’s not until spring when the ice builds. These are the shoes for mixed-conditions mountain explorations for me almost every time.

The Salomon Speedcross 5 outsole.

Salomon Speedcross 5 Overall Impressions

Overall, I’m really impressed with the new Salomon Speedcross 5. The optimized fit that still hugs the foot but offers more room in the forefoot, the improved cushioning and comfort particularly through the metatarsals, and the outstanding technical performance of the shoe has widened the range of terrain and distance where I can choose this shoe without thinking twice. I think the increased width and stability of the shoe may make it possible for more people to have an opportunity to try it out. Make no mistake, these are not road shoes or even 50k-dirt-road shoes unless that dirt is really soft and muddy, but if your miles take you into sandy, rocky, rubbly, tundra-y, or mucky terrain, the Salomon Speedcross 5 may just be your perfect match.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Are you wearing the Salomon Speedcross 5? What do you think of the shoe overall?
  • Have you worn previous Speedcross models? If so, how do you compare this fifth version to previous ones? In particular, what do you think of the updates to the upper, the increased midsole cushioning, and the updated outsole compound and lug patterns?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

The Salomon Speedcross 5 view from the top.

Kristin Zosel

is a mom, wife, ultrarunner, physical therapist (on sabbatical), and transcriptionist for iRunFar.com. Her love of steep uphills, high mountain environments, and Swiss “lovely cows” keep alpine visions dancing in her head and strong cappuccinos in her mug.

There are 4 comments

  1. Steve

    “proximal” and “distal”…the fact that i know them from suffering a proximal humerus break trail running a month ago makes me wonder if their use is common to this audience for trail mishap reasons.

    1. Kristin Z

      HA! I think about this every time I use the terms (I’m a physio), but it’s just so much faster to say “proximal” rather than “the aspect of the shoe closest to your anterior tibialis tendons… I mean, the large tendon in the front of your ankle that picks up your foot”… :). so I go with it and hope people remember to use google/dictionary in case they haven’t been injured enough times to know the lingo. I’m sorry you have, but… handy knowledge nonetheless. Hope you’re healing well–that’s not a fun one to rehab… but you’ll be able to and will be pinwheeling your arms on fast downhills sooner rather than later. :)

  2. The Woodsman

    Having run exclusively in Speedcross 3s and 4s for years, I went “all-in” on the 5. Picked up my first pair in early spring when they first came out, immediately followed by two more pair. Really, really like them except for one glaring problem: THEY DON’T DRAIN!!! If you get your shoes wet in a stream crossing in the morning, they’ll be wet the rest of the day. This causes blistering (never happened to me before) and horrible odor issues. I have nearly a thousand miles between the three pair now, including several over nighters where drying out is kind’a important (80-mile Uinta Highline, Gannet Peak, Wasatch 100, portions of the Moab 240 when I wasn’t wearing Speedgoats- thinking this is my new “go-to” shoe).
    I tried an experiment, filling the 5s and an a pair of 4s with water to watch them drain. They don’t. The 4s are empty after a couple minutes while the 5s hold water like my dog’s water dish. I can’t believe a huge, successful company like Salomon missed this point…. on a shoe designed for muddy, loose and technical terrain no less. I only wear them now when I’m expecting dry conditions.

  3. Olga

    Kristin, your reply cracked me up.
    Never ran in any of the latest Salomon shoes (well, since 2008),so can’t help with comments, but back in a day their problem for me was being narrow in the forefront of the foot.

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