I live at about 7,500 feet elevation. If I’m not walking north and south on a flat gravel road, I’m heading up steep climbs to the east and west. The ridges rise quickly to 8,500 feet and the terrain is variant, with plenty of sandstone boulders to navigate.
I try to scramble up to these ridges several times a week for the rich reward: views of the LaPlata mountains in the San Juan National Forest, Mesa Verde National Park, and even Shiprock, the impressive monolith on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.
The Salomon Speed Cross trail shoes have suited me well, but when I found myself sometimes switching to heavier hiking boots, I knew a swap was in order.
Enter the Salomon X Ultra GTX (which, if ColoradoOutsider had any say, would be renamed Happy Hiker).
At about one pound for the pair, the X Ultra GTX is five ounces heavier than the SpeedCross. Here’s what you gain with those added ounces:
– greater stability in the heel
– more toe protection
– tougher, more durable and waterproof coverage.
The X Ultra GTX is still a quarter the weight of most leather hiking boots and as I rarely carry more than 10-15 pounds in a daypack, this shoe was the perfect middle ground between the more serious, clunky hikers and the less solid trail running shoe.
Those of us with iffy ankles will love the protective heel cap which keeps the back of the foot stable, especially when moving along the sides of ridges.
The Quicklace system is easy and capable except when you want to snug up the toe area for steep descents; the thin cords tend to work less well than traditional, thicker laces. But thick laces also attract burrs, seeds, and thorns which can work their way aggravatingly to your feet over the course of a hike and make plucking them out of the shoe an unwelcome daily ritual. Not so here. The X Ultra GTX virtually sheds sticky vegetation.
These shoes are built with GoreTex and therefore shed water. This feature might not be so vital here in southwestern Colorado, but is an excellent feature for wetter climes.