Gear Review: Salomon Speedcross 5

The Salomon Speedcross 5 trail runner, a stalwart of Salomon’s trail-running line, gets an upgrade for 2019. Wider lugs on the soles give better traction, and a toe rock plate beefs up toe-stubbing protection. The drop stays the same: ten millimeters.

Salomon Speedcross 5

MSRP: $130
Weight for two: One pound, 7 ounces for men; one pound, 4 ounces for women.
Drop: Ten millimeters.
Style: Ankle high trail-running shoe.
Intended purpose: Trail running, hiking.

Women’s model available here.

The big lugs give solid traction on trails.

Circumstances of Use

True confessions.

I read books with pages that turn. I listen to CDs.

And I wore hiking boots. Until now.

The Salomon Speedcross 5 are worthy trail runners to set your feet free from the confines of boots.

The Speedcross have deep lugs on the soles, providing aggressive traction on trail with Contagrip rubber. The Contragrip technology is a mix of several compounds, with denser, more durable layers on the outside where the sole meets the trail, and spongier material closer to your feet.

I’ve worn the Speedcross in snow and ice (hello, Smokies) and mud (be there soon, Vermud). In short, everything a New England spring could throw at me. I scrambled up and down rocks (Whites, anyone?) with a sure-footedness that I never felt in boots. And the cushioned toe box saved my feet from occasional stubs. I’ve taken them on long hikes carrying a moderately heavy pack. They handled the load without punishing my feet.

They’re comfortable, and easy to put on and take off with Salomon’s Quicklace single-pull laces. The pull tab at the end of the lace tucks into a mesh pocket at the top of the tongue, and is easy to remove when it’s time to take off the shoes.

The Quicklace system makes tightening the shoes easy. And the lace tucks into a pocket at the top of the tongue.

They’ve kept my feet warm in snow, and I’ve found them to be nimble while navigating icy trails.

The ten-millimeter drop on the Speedcross 5 is meant for heel strikers; that is, people who put down their heel or midfoot first when running or walking. Most of us walk and run that way—elite runners tend to land forefeet first—and Salomon says it has increased the heel cushioning to absorb the impact of dirt and rocks.

The OrthoLite footbed helps move moisture away from your feet, and the EnergyCell midsole uses a high-rebound compound that cushions your feet.

The Speedcross 5 gave me a true fit. My feet are size 12, D width, and the Speedcross 5 size 12 had room for my toes to move in the toe box. The rest of the ankle-high shoe firmly cradled my feet without being tight.

And the uppers gripped my ankles, providing protection from rolling. The shoes have welded uppers with flexible SensiFit arms that move with your feet—cradling them  from midsoles to laces—and provide a secure and snug fit. This makes the Speedcross a slightly stiff shoe, ensuring a level of comfort and security on trail.

The nylon mesh upper with welded synthetic overlays is designed to keep debris out of the shoe, and I didn’t have any unwelcome pebbles or sticks irritating my feet. The mesh gave my feet some breathing room, although they were quick to let in water. And fairly quick to dry.

The midsole toe height is 20 millimeters, and the midsole heel height is 30 millimeters, giving the shoes their 10 millimeter drop. Compared with zero drop shoes, it’s like wearing platform shoes.

Sure-footed grip on rocks.


Fit: The size 12 Speedcross fit my D-width foot perfectly. (The women’s version is a B width.) I had plenty of room to wiggle my toes, but the width might not be good for wider feet because Salomons run narrow. The Speedcross 4 is available in a wide width; no word from Salomon if the Speedcross 5 also will be available in wide.

Weight: One pound, 7.2 ounces for men; one pound, 3.8 ounces for women. Why does the low weight of trail runners matter? Consider this: One pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back (yes, the US Army did a study on that*). Additionally, every pound on your feet increases energy expenditure by five percent (British Army this time**).

Cushioning: Lots of padding in the soles. The Speedcross 5 use Salomon’s EnergyCell cushioning, a durable piece of foam meant to deliver springy performances. Whether on dirt, rocks, ice, or mud, the shoes’ rock plate provided a layer of cushion between trail and feet. The lugs also provide plenty of cushion while road walking.

Traction: The Speedcross 5 lugs are larger than on the Speedcross 4, and grip firmly on snow, ice, mud, and rocks. The lugs are spaced far enough apart so that mud and dirt do not collect between them. And they extend to the toe, providing good climbing traction.

Durability: I didn’t have any unexpected problems during nearly two months of hiking. The track record for earlier versions of the Speedcross has been good, so I would expect the same for the Speedcross 5.

Warranty: Salomon’s two-year warranty for shoes covers manufacturing or material defects for the original purchaser. Normal wear and tear is not covered.

What I liked best: The feel of the trail through the soles of the shoes. Hiking in rocky New England, the Speedcross 5 I had plenty of cushion, and the flexible soles gave me a better feel for my grip on the trail. I could feel my grip on rocks as I was putting down my foot, and the flexibility of the toe box gave me added assurance that my grip was true. I felt like I was treading lightly over rocks, rather than pounding away at them.

Corporate responsibility: Salomon is a Bluesign System Partner, which sets and controls standards for more environmentally friendly and safe production. The company is also a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and follows the Higg Index, which measures a company’s social and environmental impact.


Lugs: Deep, broad lugs from heel to toe provide superb traction in any condition on trail. Diamonds on the soles of your shoes, as Paul Simon would say.

Mesh uppers: Good ventilation for your feet. But they also let water in easily.

Quicklace: Once I got used to the system, I loved it.

Price: At $130, the cost is comparable to other trail runners in this class.


Width: The Speedcross 5 are best for narrow feet, about a D width for men and B width for women.

Heel drop: It’s personal preference. My feet were comfortable with the ten millimeter drop and the extra cushioning in the heels.

Weight: The Speedcross 5 are nearly two ounces heavier than the Speedcross 4. The 23.2 ounces for the men’s Speedcross 5 put them on the upper level of weight for trail runners.


The Speedcross 5 provide aggressive traction in a wide range of trail conditions. The shoes have been rock solid for trail running and backpacking for years, and the new version takes that dependability a notch higher.

*The energy cost and heart-rate response of trained and untrained subjects walking and running in shoes and boots by Bruce H Jones, Michael M. Toner, William L. Daniels och Joseph J. Knapik. US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts, USA. Publicerad i Ergonomics1984, vol. 27, No.8, 805-902.

**Energy cost of backpacking in heavy boots by S. J. Legg and A. Mahanty, Army Personnel Research Establishment, Farnborugh, Hants, England. Publicerad i Ergonomics, 1986. Vol. 29, No. 3.

Shop the Speedcross 5 Here

Disclosure: This product was donated for the purpose of this review.

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