Salomon XA Pro 3D Trail Runners

It all started with a post I saw on Mark Owen’s (@markowenseal) Instagram feed. Nothing even over the top really, just a bunch of dudes, wearing Salomon XA Pro 3D shoes with Multicam pants. At the time, I was in the market for some new trail shoes so obviously, this piqued my attention. When a former member of DEVGRU posts a photo like this and says “ Best mid weight shoes ever”, I knew I had to check them out. I don’t imagine Mr. Owen was paid by Salomon to endorse their shoe, but considering at least his demographic, they couldn’t have asked for a better endorsement.


Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m at Mountain Equipment Coop in Toronto walking around, not necessarily wanting anything, but wanting everything at the same time. I see the grey and green shoes on the shelf and think to myself… wait a second. I pull out my phone to check out the Instagram picture again, and sure enough, they are the same shoe, just an older generation. Part of me thought I was going to have to go to some sort of online tactical store to grab these. I’ve got wide, flat feet so buying shoes without being able to try them on usually makes me fairly hesitant. To make my day even better, I found out that they came in a wide version, and most importantly they were comfortable! I remember after watching a video a number of years ago that described a pair of Vasque shoes that were worn by one of the other operators during the UBL raid, I was motivated to seek them out only to find out my foot and that shoe were never meant to be.

It’s been a few years since that fateful day at MEC, and I’m currently on my second pair. I use these shoes for everything from running to hiking. I even used them for a 24-hour Goruck Heavy event last year. I’ve heard plenty of times over the years that ankle support is necessary for extended hikes, especially with heavy weight, but personally, I’ve never had a problem, but your mileage may vary. On the other side of the argument, which I’ll dig into in a second, is the idea that lighter shoes will reduce the aerobic demand of running. At .75 lb (340g.) per foot, they aren’t the lightest shoes around, but the support, protection, and considering how much lighter they are compared to my boots, I’m definitely a fan.



In the early 1980s, Dr. Jack Daniels (How could you not like this guy), was working with Nike and presented to the World Congress of Sports Medicine his findings that adding 100 grams to the shoe increased the aerobic demand of running by 1%. In practical terms, that means that if you can run a mile in 5:40, reducing your shoe weight by one ounce, Daniels found that you could shave .83 seconds per mile.

Shortly after this Daniels’ presentation in 1983, the US Military conducted a similar test which questioned the energy cost of running and walking in boots versus shoes. They found that even tiny increases in the weight of footwear could add up to significantly higher energy expenditures in subjects when walking or running no matter if they were experienced or inexperienced runners. The consensus was that carrying an amount of weight on the feet required between 4.7 and 6.4 times as much energy as carrying that same weight on one's back. So if you believe the research that the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts is correct, then when someone says “one pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back”, you can probably say with some confidence that it’s correct.


Before you go out and buy the lightest shoes possible, consider one more thing. Going back to our good friend Dr. Jack Daniels, his research went on to find that when the shoe weight went too light, it would usually mean that the weight savings was coming at the cost of midsole cushioning, and that the runner’s muscles had to start absorbing more landing shock, and that costs more energy. The surface you run on obviously makes a difference too. Running on asphalt is not the same as running on an artificial track. One shoe they tested had a midsole that was over one inch thick and was made of a sponge material similar to what you would wash your car with. They weren’t the lightest shoes they tested, but they absorbed so much of the impact they dubbed them “marshmallow shoes”, and said that they were a joy to run in. The problem though was that if you pronate, the marshmallow shoes exaggerated the problem.

Ok ok, this is a write up regarding XA Pro 3Ds, not a history lesson in nerdy running research right? I’ll bring it back, and explain why I went off on this tangent. I have wide flat feet, and very low arches. People with low arches, tend to over pronate when they run. This means that when I am running, my heel makes initial ground contact, and then the foot rolls inward more than 15%. This also means my feet and ankles have problems stabilizing the body, and the shock isn’t absorbed as efficiently. At the end of my gait cycle, the front of my foot pushes off the ground using mainly my big toe and second toe, which then must do all the work. While the XA Pro 3D’s dual-density EVA midsole features full-length cushioning, it also provides unprecedented support, energy rebound, and pronation control. Whether or not the shoe helped me is hard to say for sure, but I’ve easily walked and run a few thousand kilometres with these shoes which is well over the recommended amount before needing to replace shoes. Knock on wood, but I haven’t had any injuries yet.


To add to arch support, I sometimes wear Superfeet (above in green). Moreover, I found that when really wet, the Salomon inserts can bunch up under your foot which would surely result in a blister. Superfeet are less prone to bunching.
I am by no means fast on my feet, be it running or walking. So when I am out rucking with my friends, or hiking through the forest, I want comfort, foot protection, and something light because I need all the help I can get! I’ve used the Salomon Comet 3D Goretex boots in the past and they are, conveniently for this article mathematically, one pound heavier than the XA Pro 3Ds per pair. Given that when I go for a ruck or a hike, I’m out there for more than an hour at a time, the added performance I get from weight savings means it doesn’t take as much effort to catch up or keep pace with my buddies, and that I’m burning significantly fewer calories.

What really caught me by surprise is how much I like the lacing system. The shoe itself is designed in a way that you don’t actually need them laced too tight. Even with the quick-pull fully disengaged, I can walk and run casually around the city or campsite without any issues, but when it’s go time, it is very easy to tighten and then stow the pull handle in the tongue pocket so it doesn’t flop around. Inside of each of the lace eyelets is a hard piece of polymer which allows the whole lacing system to self-equalize. Coupled with the ease of use of the quick-pull system, it’s simple to make micro adjustments so that you’re feet are always comfortable.



As with all my reviews, I try to look at a few negatives too, and this write up is no different. One thing that I have noticed, as well as one of my Ontario Geardo teammates, is that the sole of the shoe have a tendency of separating more easily than other shoes we’ve had. We are both on our second pair though, which should say something about how much we like them. I’d say that wearing these almost exclusively, they started falling apart in just under a year. The treads are fine, perhaps it’s just the adhesive that Solomon uses to glue their soles on. So realistically, a year of use isn’t unreasonable in my opinion.

It looks as though Salomon has updated their XA Pro 3Ds for 2017, as well as the colours. It’s a bit of a shame since I really liked the green and grey combo. The new line has something similar, but not in the wide lineup. For those of you that don’t have feet that resemble flippers like I do, you will also have a nice all black option, and for extra cool points, you can look into Salomon Forces, which is their military line. The Forces shoe is all black and is made of Goretex, and their midcut boot have black and coyote colour options, but no Goretex.



Review by Mike C.
Photography by Rey

28 comments:

  1. I am a big fan of Salomon shoes. This is my 5th pair. The shoes fit great and seem well built. First time I wore them, I was just working out in the park. Wore them for about 2 hours, running, climbing, and crawling. They were very comfortable and my feet were not tired when I was done.

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