Salomon Thundercross Trail Runner Review
This is the second pair of Salmon shoes I’ve reviewed this year, and I’ll say the same thing I said in my last review: I love Salomon running shoes. I road run in Brooks, and I’ve hiked many thousands of miles in Altras. But for me, when it comes to trail running, Salomon is my winner.
Most of the time I tend to opt for highly responsive, lightweight trail runners (like the Pulsar Pro I reviewed earlier this year). More recently, I’ve also attempted to optimize my gear selections for east coast adventures. The Thundercross is a new Salomon model well suited to tick these boxes, and one that I enjoyed testing out.
Stack height: 31/27mm
Heel-to-Toe drop: 4mm
Weight: 256 grams
The Salomon Thundercross Trail Running Shoe is intended for running and hiking on all outdoor terrain and is best for muddy conditions
Circumstances of Review
I tested the Thundercross Trail Running Shoe from late summer into early winter in a wide range of conditions and locations. This included trail running and day hiking on sections of the Mountains to Sea trail in North Carolina, sections of the Appalachian Trail in New York, and on trails in various state parks and forests in Kentucky and southern Michigan.
I also tested the Thundercross while backpacking and day hiking on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. I covered just about every weather and trail condition imaginable, ranging from perfect sunny days to post-deluge mud to completely Type 3 fun rainy and snowy days.
Salomon Thundercross Features
- Quicklace lacing system
- 5mm Contagrip lugs
- Sensifit construction
How’d They Do?
The Thundercross rides differently from my normal go-to trail runners. They have an extremely cushioned feel, but unlike a shoe like the Pulsar Trail Pro, they feel less protective and responsive underfoot. This is surely a function of the Energy Foam EVA midsole, which is lovely and makes for a fun ride on the right kind of trail. However, the absence of a rock plate steers the shoe more heavily towards ‘cushion’ than what I’m used to. If you like that plush feel, you’ll love these.
The fit was good, although a little way into testing I started questioning whether I should’ve ordered a half-size down. I have worn a ton of Salomon shoes and always wear size 6.5, but these felt wider and slightly heavier than other Salomon models. This made me wonder if I’d be happier in a size 6. (Note: that was also a necessary adjustment with my last pair of Salomon’s. It seems their sizes may be changing slightly…or my feet are shrinking?)
I appreciated the low 4mm drop to keep the highly cushioned feel balanced with a more natural ride, and the 5mm lugs served me exceptionally well in absolutely nasty, sloppy conditions. I felt more confident in muddy, forested conditions than I did on slick rock, but I wouldn’t dock these too many points for versatility.
The lacing system on the Thundercross is a bit different than other Salomon shoes. The quicklace system is designed to partially fit into a lower tongue pocket underneath the laces and partially into the tongue pocket that is standard to most Salomon shoes. I couldn’t figure this out and tucked it all into the tongue pocket, while noticing that the extra material of the lower pocket bunched up under the laces. I hope Salomon will clarify what we’re supposed to do with the lower pocket or perhaps just remove it.
I worked for years in gear shops and would regularly convince people not to buy waterproof trail runners, explaining that if water can’t get in it also can’t get out. Unless I am mountaineering or something close to it, I pretty much always try to choose shoes that are going to provide solid breathability and drainage.
Even though my pair was the non-waterproof version, this category was a minor drawback for the Thundercross. In warm weather, my feet were a bit toasty. And in cool wet weather, my feet were a bit more damp (and thus cold) than I’d have liked. This was noticeable over my whole body, as changing the temperature of your feet is one of the quickest ways to warm or cool your body.
In terms of durability, the Thundercross is an absolute champ. I put these through several hundred miles and many sloppy days on trail, and they are holding up extremely well. No complaints in that department, as usual for Salomon.
Salomon Thundercross Trail Runner Pros
Aggressive lugs: These are terrific shoes for wet, muddy adventures.
Cushion: As long as you don’t mind a softer/less protected feel underfoot, you’ll love the ultra plush cushion of the Thundercross.
No break-in: These were ready to perform straight out of the box.
Durability: Seriously, they’ve been through the wringer and aren’t even close to falling apart.
Responsibility: As I’ve said previously, I care a lot about who’s making my gear and what their values are. Salomon is publicly committed to cultivating an inclusive outdoor community, and is also taking steps to increase the sustainability of their products and reduce its carbon footprint. This always deserves a nod in my book.
Salomon Thundercross Trail Runner Cons
Protection: If you’re like me, you have a bunch of different shoes for different trails and conditions. But let’s be real, not everybody has that luxury or even that interest. So, for maximum versatility in one shoe, I do think the Thundercross would benefit from at least a thin rock plate.
Breathability/Drainage: I don’t pretend to know enough about shoe materials and construction to fully understand how Salomon could fix this, but I hope the next iteration of the Thundercross will lend itself to a bit better temperature regulation.
Overall, the Salomon Thundercross is a win if you’re looking for an exceptionally durable, highly cushioned ride that’s particularly well-suited for muddy conditions. I do recommend being careful with your sizing. If you’re ordering online, I’d order your regular size and a half size down and return one.
Comparable Trail Runners
Disclaimer: The Salomon Thundercross were donated for the purpose of review.
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