The Salomon Speedcross line of shoes has been a part of my trail running and ultrarunning experience since it first came on the scene in 2006. In that long time span, there have been six iterations, and I’ve run in multiple pairs of every one of them.
It’s not an all-around or door-to-trail shoe per se, as it’s specifically tailored to technical, muddy, soft-ground trail and off-trail adventures where traction and foot-hugging agility are of prime importance. Over the years, Salomon has found a way to increasingly improve stability, particularly through the heel, the fit, and the comfort, without sacrificing the primary purpose of the shoe. In my opinion, the Salomon Speedcross 6 ($140) is the best-performing Speedcross version yet, and it’s one of the top picks in our Best Trail Running Shoes and Best Trail Running Shoes for Mud guides. However, another longtime Speedcross wearer on the iRunFar team found the Speedcross 6 to be less secure-fitting on narrow feet.
When the initial rumors of an update trickle through the internet, I’m always a bit nervous, but thankfully, Salomon seems to recognize it as the iconic shoe that it is and keeps the updates subtle, targeted, and specific. In the case of the Speedcross 6, the discrete improvements from 2019’s Salomon Speedcross 5 — see our in-depth Salomon Speedcross 5 review — focus on weight reduction, traction, and improved comfort of the upper.
The Salomon Speedcross 6 is offered in both a regular and Gore-Tex version for both women’s and men’s specific fit and is also offered in regular and wide widths. The regular version is the one tested for this review. This version features a 10-millimeter drop with a stack height of 32 millimeters in the heel and 22 millimeters in the forefoot. The outsole lugs are 5 millimeters deep, the same as the previous version. This heel drop is optimal for my body, and despite the higher stack height, I feel like I have ample ground feel and responsiveness to wonky terrain. Due to a change in the shape of the lugs, the traction and mud-shedding ability are improved while comfort over harder-packed sections is enhanced.
The actual weight has decreased to 10.4 ounces (295 grams) for a men’s size 9, which brings them under 300 grams for the first time and into a mid-range weight as compared to similarly focused shoes in the industry. The improvements in cushioning and toebox comfort of the Speedcross 5 are retained, and I find the change in the upper material makes them again more accommodating to my feet as miles and hours add up.
Sustainability and use of recycled products have remained a focus for Salomon, and the supply chain issues that have been a challenge the past three years seem to have resolved as a wide variety of sizes and colorways are available in both women’s and men’s versions of the shoes on their website and elsewhere both online and in stores.
I find sizing to be consistent for me with my usual Salomon size of women’s 8.5 (in a regular width), which is comparative to 40 2/3 European sizing for Salomon, or women’s 9.5 (41 EU) in La Sportiva, or women’s 9.5 in Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, and others.
Salomon Speedcross 6 Upper
The upper of the Salomon Speedcross 6 is constructed with the same Sensifit concepts and relatively more spacious toebox from the fifth iteration but now employs a tighter woven anti-debris mesh fabric with noticeably improved breathability and abrasion resistance. It almost has a very thin softshell vibe rather than the burlier mesh feel of former versions, and although it’s not officially water resistant, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how dry my feet stay in the snowy winter of Colorado, where I live. The familiar precise, hugging support that keeps the shoe at one with the foot is there, but the whole upper feels lighter and more accommodating, which has mostly eliminated the occasional hotspot I get on the medial big toe.
Salomon’s Quicklace system expertly keeps the shoe snug with a quick pull of the tab, and any excess lace can be stowed in the garage at the end of the tongue or routed beneath the laces toward the toe (my preference). The more slimly padded, now non-gusseted tongue stays in place beneath a sheath stretched between the medial and lateral welded overlays and lacing guides while protecting the top of the foot from any pressure points beneath the laces. The upper breathes better, dries quicker, and creates a more comfortable environment for the foot in the weather conditions I’ve encountered compared to all previous versions.
The ankle collar and Achilles notch are optimally padded and have just enough room to avoid any intrusion into soft or bony aspects of the foot and ankle regardless of how raucous of terrain I tackle. Intrusions into the sides of the shoe are warded off effectively by what is essentially a thin, welded rand that runs completely around the shoe and extends up higher on the toebox and around the heel. Pointy desert flora and jagged Rocky Mountains talus are deflected well, and the higher wrap of the lugged outsole onto the toe provides added protection and traction when the trail angle tilts up significantly, or rocks and roots rise up to meet me. These subtle changes have optimized the Salomon Speedcross 6 experience.
Salomon Speedcross 6 Midsole
The midsole of the Salomon Speedcross 6 utilizes the same EnergyCell+ compound as before, which Salomon describes as a high-rebound midsole. I love how this cushions and rolls from heel to toe without feeling like any energy is lost to inefficient bounce or squish. This durable cushioning has significantly improved the comfort of the Speedcross over the long miles compared to early versions as well. I have no difficulty running a mountain 50 miler or an equivalent day-long adventure in these if my traction needs require it, and I typically get 400-plus miles out of each shoe before the midsole seems to break down.
It is a significantly more comfortable shoe over the miles than something like the firmer and thinner Salomon Sense Ride 4 — see our Salomon Sense Ride 4 review for more on this shoe. The midsole, coupled with the aggressively lugged outsole, provides excellent protection on most terrain, with only the occasional pointy rock hitting in just the right spot to make you wonder if they should add a rock film in the forefoot.
Salomon Speedcross 6 Outsole
The changes in the Salomon Speedcross 6 outsole are perhaps only noticeable if you have a long history with the shoe, but I’ve been really happy with my own perception of the performance improvements they offer.
Salomon enhanced the rubber Mud Contagrip compound such that even the nasty clay mud common to places like Colorado’s Front Range, the Mogollon Rim of Arizona, and places I’ve run in Nebraska seems to shed more willingly. Clay mud is still the bane of trail running existence, and I try not to run on this type of trail when wet, but occasionally there are sections in otherwise runnable areas that one must go through, and the performance of the Speedcross 6 makes it somewhat less frustrating. Traction on loose and hardpacked snow, wet rocks, and roots is also better, even if said rocks are encased in snow or running water — less slippage, fewer odd catches, and an overall more confidence-inspiring experience.
The 5-millimeter lugs of mixed multidirectional chevron and three-pronged, boomerang-shaped lugs provide improved traction off-trail and both uphill and downhill on the ball-bearing slopes of eroding trails as well. The spacing of the lugs seems to protect the forefoot slightly better than the chevrons did in the Speedcross 5, but if hardpacked, dry, and sharp-rocked trails are more common where you are, then your ability to tiptoe through the tulips will need to be on point in the Speedcross 6, given that is not their target terrain.
Salomon Speedcross 6 Overall Impressions
The Salomon Speedcross 6 remains one of my all-time favorite trail running shoes for technical terrain where mud, snow, tundra, and rubble abound, and traction matters most, but comfort is close behind. I love this shoe in these conditions for distances up to 50 miles or an all-day big mountain adventure. With 16-plus years of mountain and trail adventures in a version of the Salomon Speedcross, it’s a joy to note that the sixth iteration, with its subtle changes in the upper and outsole, continues to improve the running experience for me, thus keeping my glowing five-star rating for this review and an extra pair stashed in my gear bag.
Call for Comments
- Have you run in the various iterations of the Salomon Speedcross? What’s been your favorite version thus far?
- Have you tried the Salomon Speedcross 6? How did you find it?
[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!]
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