Salomon Speedcross 3 Review

[For the latest on the Speedcross family, check out our review of the Salomon Speedcross 5.]

After giving the Salomon Speedcross 2 high marks way back in 2010, I was looking forward to trying out the follow-up version, the Salomon Speedcross 3 ($125). Hoping that my favorite aspects of the shoe would remain the same, I was happy to see that Salomon made tweaks in all of the right places.

Upper
When I first put on the Speedcross 3 I noticed that the toe box felt just a bit roomier, which was a nice change over the somewhat narrow Speedcross 2. The Speedcross 3 retains the 2’s snug fit with great midfoot and heel lockdown, but my toes had just a bit more wiggle room.

Salomon kept the same ripstop nylon upper, which in my opinion, is the most durable trail shoe upper I’ve ever worn. The weave of the nylon is especially effective at keeping dirt and debris out of the shoe and cholla cacti, my sworn enemy, at bay. The Speedcross 3 also does great at keeping your feet warm in cold, wet, and snowy conditions as the dense weave really seems to lock heat in. Conversely, I struggled with the Speedcross 3 in very warm conditions above 80 degrees and the upper drains more slowly than a shoe with a more open mesh. Drainage problems seem to be exacerbated by the Ortholite footbed that, while adding cushioning, seems to soak up water pretty well. The reinforced toe area acted as an effective toe bumper when I nearly took some headers and saved me from some blackened toenails.

The Speedcross 3’s medial upper. Photo: iRunFar/Tom Caughlan

The overlays were basically kept in the same places on this update with all overlays being incorporated into Salomon’s Quicklace system. However, the overlays on the Speedcross 3 are completely welded on and seamless which decreases the weight of the upper and makes the upper more flexible. Salomon enlarged the lace pocket which helps tuck a little bit more of the excess lace out of the way. I still prefer to wrap the excess Kevlar lace around the lacing closest to my toes which keeps them out of the way.

Midsole
While Salomon did not change a whole lot in the EVA midsole of the Speedcross 3, it did lower the heel drop from 12mm to 9mm. Stack height remains basically the same (only the heel was lowered), but the lowered heel drop was definitely noticed and seemed to add stability and sure-footedness on technical trails and descents. Salomon got rid of the dual-density foam (pronation insert) on the medial side of the Speedcross 2 which qualified the Speedcross 2 as more of a lightweight stability shoe. Instead, injected EVA foam runs the length of the shoe and provides more than ample cushioning and protection. To be honest, I didn’t notice the Speedcross 3 lacking in stability when compared side-by-side with the Speedcross 2 due to the lower drop. Also, getting rid of the stability features seems to make the Speedcross 3 a bit more flexible through the foot strike.

Also noticeably absent in the design is a rock plate. Salomon stuck with what worked for the Speedcross 2 and the generous cushioning in the Speedcross 3 gave my feet more than enough protection on rocky terrain.

Outsole
An already simple and effective outsole design was slightly improved for the Speedcross 3. Salomon updated its Mud and Snow Contagrip design using the same chevron lug pattern, pointing forward on the forefoot and toe and pointing backward on the heel area, but used slightly larger lugs with a bit more spacing between them. I found that the spacing helped the Speedcross 3 shed mud and clay quite well. Also added are little rubber nubs that poke out of each chevron lug like a small rubber spike. They are small enough not to notice while running on the roads, but I do think that they helped a bit on wet ground and packed snow/ice, although this could just be the placebo effect at work? These little nubs are tough as well, as they show no wear after well over 100 miles of mixed trail and road running.

The Speedcross 3’s outsole. Photo: iRunFar/Tom Caughlan

Overall Impression

The weight of the Speedcross 3 stays basically the same as its predecessor (11.2 oz on the mail scale for men’s 9.5). This puts it a little outside the weight class of “racing shoe” in my opinion. I think we’ve seen a shift in the market toward an attempt at getting many trail shoes below 10 ounces. I tend to gravitate toward this shoe for short, technical, faster runs or runs with a lot of technical vert where I will value the extra grip.

The improvements in the Speedcross 3 are great, especially the slightly lower drop and wider toe box. Folks that liked the Speedcross 2 will like the improvements as I did, and my Speedcross 2’s have to be a testament to the durability of these shoes. (Mine have over 1,000 miles on them and they are currently my “screw shoes” for icy trails). However, from the durable comes hot feet. I was reminded of this recently when I wore some very thin Merino wool socks with the Speedcross 3’s on a 65-degree day. A week later, I was thankful for the thick weave of the upper while post-holing through snow. One thing is for sure, Salomon has continued to improve this proven technical trail shoe which will not disappoint.

Tom Caughlan: is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

View Comments (58)

  • Thanks for the review, Tom. I too was really looking forward to the Speedcross 3, as I was a big fan of the Speedcross 2. After a couple of runs, I am a little disappointed. I bought the same size as my 2s, and the 3s seem a bit too small. I don't know if my old 2s are stretched or the sizing is just different, but they just seem shorter. I also can't tell the difference in the heel height either. That said, I still love the traction of the outsole and the foot-hugging upper.

    Also, as my runs have gotten longer, I have started to miss not having a rockplate. These have great ground feel, but on very rocky terrain, the bottoms of my feet start to get sore. Overall, I agree that they are good for shorter faster technical runs where you need excellent traction. Just watch the sizing!

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  • I have been wearing the Speed Cross 3s for a few months. I have nothing bad to say about them. The 12 seems roomier then the Cascadia 6s I wore previously. The tread pattern is great for our Eastern Mud. They make a great winter and mud shoe. They fit my foot just soooo perfect. No awkward pressure points or uncomfortable spots. Im happy with them, and will buy them again. I match them with Drymax trail socks, im 6'2" and weigh about 174 for comparison. The tread pattern has not made my feet sore, or bothered me, I think they feel great. Now I have done many 20 mile days now in them, but nothing much further yet, heading for a 25 on Thursday.

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  • Is the review for the Speed Cross 3CS, or just the 3's? The reason I ask is because you mention that they do not drain well, and run hot. I am looking at these for a winter shoe running in snow, but would also use them in the summer months.

    Thanks

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    • This is a review of the standard Speedcross 3, not the Climashield (CS) version.

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  • The shoes have been great for short technical trails, only significant issue has been the inner sole sliding forward and bunching at the toes causing toe crunch and discomfort. The grip of the shoes is awesome but enables fast and technical descents, the inner sole is to flimsy to support the foot. I will be glueing the inner sole, but should that really be necessary?

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    • I have these trainers and have no problem with the insoles bunching and i run through rivers and some hilly terrain in the peak district...but..my brother has them and his did this the other week running with me and he was just wearing football socks not running ones which hold on the foot better, so im wondering if the problem is the socks bunching which is making the insole slip????

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  • I haven't tried the Speedcross 3 (nor do I plan to), but if they're anything like the Speedcross 2 I have to question their durability. The mesh across the forefoot on mine blew out quickly and dramatically and are now (barely) being held together by rubber silicone. Maybe they're just not built to handle Alaska trails. Not too poo-poo the S-Lab, but I also think the lug size and heel support are overkill, as well as the price. Overrated if you ask me. Was glad I won a pair and didn't fork the cash over.

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    • just curious Matias, what do you run in?

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      • Yea Matias what does a tough Alaskan runner like yourself run in? HA!

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        • Ha ha Hone the Alaskan defector! I'm forever on the quest for the perfect Alaska shoe. The Adidas Swoop (orange and black ones) predated the low profile craze and held up well, but are not available in U.S. any more. I still have a pair and wore them today actually.

          I-Nov8 Talons are good for Alaska mountain races but not so much for super long jaunts.

          NB 100 blew out. Sportivas (black ones, forget name) blew out. Sportiva XC are holding up so far. Verdict not yet out on Brooks Pure Grit because they haven't seen scree. Adidas Adizero blew out but I probably shouldn't have introduced them to scree. Haven't yet tried Romney's Painted Dansko Clogs - maybe those would work.

          Any suggestions?

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          • The Speedcross 3 is much more durable than the Grits. One 93k race in the Grits and the toebox is almost chewed thru...

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  • Have owned 3 pairs of the SC2's, and loved them, but they need a rock plate. Loved the fit of the shoe right out of the box. Tread is great, and never felt uncomfortable with the heel height - appreciated it on long down hills. Would just love to see a SC version with a rock plate.

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    • Question for the entire gang...Does any of Salomon's running shoes have a rockplate? I don't think the XT Wings 3 or 4's have one.

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  • I recently switched to the SC3s in preparation for the rain here in NorCal, but it's been mostly dry. However, the shoes perform very well for me and I have had no manufacturing problems with them. I appreciate the change in the sole that allows one to wear a gaiter strap under the foot if needed. The SC2s did not provide that. Overall, a quality shoe.

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  • I love the look of those lugs, very Inov-8-ish.

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    • Inov8 only cares about crossfit now. Those lugs are for traction on the gym mat while working on the squat thrusts. jk

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      • Just the F-lite series. The rocklite, flyroc, mudroc, X-talon, o-roc, and terrafly shoes are all trail specific. And the F-lite series still makes for a good lightweight shoe on puffed out trails.

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  • I am the proud over of the SC'2....in the right conditions?! Chillier temps rain/mud/snow....all day long and totally perfect.....but once the temp heats up here in SF and the surrounding area they are not my go to as the nylon upper traps all of the heat in and then you sweat like crazy?!......don't talk to me about leaving these beauties in a hot car all day after a morning run.

    I Will absolutely purchase the SC3 for the winter/spring season and looking forward to all o the updates.

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  • Almost perfect winter running shoe. I found a pair of these online for less than half price, so I had to buy them. They are insulated (Climasheild) and are plenty warm until, your feet get wet. I think Goretex would have been a better choice. I just replaced four of the rubber spikes with Ice Spikes and they are unbeatable for traction here on the Ice Coast. I tried to slip and slide but to no avail even with two dogs pulling me down hill on icy canted roads.

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  • Has anyone else noticed if these run a bit small. A friend of mine said he had to go one size bigger. I wear a size 9 in the Cascadia 6, but in order for me to get a pair of these, I had to order them.

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    • I have to order them makes more sense :)

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  • Hi Tom, thanks for the review and for sharing this wonderful shoes. This is perfectly fit for adventurer like me. Someone that loves the outdoor adventure and needs a full support with a very comfortable feeling of wearing shoes. I love this one and looking forward of having this sooner.

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  • Not to mention Mudclaws and Bare-Grip 200 . . .

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  • I think the opposite... maybe it depends on your foot size/shape. ? ;O) I had a 12 in the Cascadia's and now I have a 12 in the Speed Cross 3s. I feel like there is more room in the speed cross 3. There is a roomier toe box too. The Cascadias 6s, had a tighter more uncomfortable feeling. I have a high arch and a medium with for comparison.

    greg

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  • Thanks for the review Tom, and I am with the few folks that mentioned that this shoe needs a rockplate. However, after running in two pairs of the SC2's, and one pair of the 3's my biggest wish is a lower heel, a much lower heal. The heal just always feels like overkill, especially in comparison to the other two shoes I run in, the NB 101's and most recently the TrueGrit. On a positive, Salomon has the sexiest trail shoes out there.

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  • I love my speedcross 3's. My only complaint is with the insole,when my shoes are wet the insole will bunch up if you have to run alot of down hill before the shoe dries out. Other than that these are by far the best shoes I have ever put on.Thanks for the review.

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  • all xt wings(1+2) & xt wings slabs (1,2,3,4)

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  • Yes, they do feel slightly small for me. I've been using quite a lot of other Salomon shoes and nearly always settle on the euro size 43.3, so I mail-ordered that size in SC. I manage but if I could rewind the clock I would try to find a shop that stocks them and try on the next size up. In ASICS I would usually use a 44 trail shoe too.

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  • I ran the Gobi March in 2011 with a pair of Asic Fuji Gels. Hated them. Looking at the new Speed Cross 3 for the upcoming Jordan race. The Jordan shouldn't get NEARLY as hot as the Gobi, maybe around 30 Celsius. Just wondering if my feet will bake in these or if I should instead go with a more mesh shoe like another Asics. I tried these on and the felt GREAT. Don't imagine TOO many rocks on this years course.

    Would you buy these for a warmer race?

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    • If you've got satisfactory options, I'd go with another shoe for racing in Jordan.

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