'If the Speedcross 4 were a fish, it'd be a piranha - the blend of grip, cushioning and decent precision makes it an ideal UK-friendly, year-round, trail-running weapon '
Outdoors Magic: Great cushioning, snarling all-round grip, a pared-down new fit and respectable precision with it.
Outdoors Tragic: Not brilliant on wet rocks, high heel, narrower forefoot won't suit everyone. We'd do without the Gore-Tex.
Outdoors Grabbit? Yes if you want a brilliant all-round mix of near fell-shoe grip, cushioning and deceptive precision. We'd go for the non Gore-Tex version though and save £25.
Lightweight off-road running shoe / moulded EVA midsole / shaped Ortholite EVA footbed / Quick Fit lacing with lace pocket / Sensifit / Gore-Tex lining / mid-sole height: 23mm/13mm (10mm drop) / Contragrip outsole.
Full Review Below
Speedcross 4 - The Tech
It feels like the Speedcross has been around for an age now complete with an arsenal of Salomon's proven features including the Quick Fit lacing system, Sensifit lasting, molded EVA midsole cushioning and a super-aggressively lugged Contragrip outsole.
The are two major changes for the new Speedcross 4 compared to its predecessors. The last-shape has been changed slightly with a narrower, 'racier' forefoot for a more precise feel, which you'll either love or not.
And the grippy, dependable sole unit gets and upgrade too. It's still covered with gnarly, see-shaped lugs orientated for maximum braking on the heel and forward traction up front, but both the compound and tread pattern have been tweaked.
The former is now supposed more wet-conditions friendly, while the lugs are now full vee-shapes everywhere. On the previous model, the edge lugs were actually just half-vees, think \ as opposed to \/ - the idea is that the new lugs give better edge grip with less deformation on edges and off-camber stuff.
Finally, our test shoe came with a Gore-Tex liner. For most use above freezing we'd prefer the non-GTX version with is also a handy £25 cheaper. Why? When water pretty much inevitably gets inside the shoe and the Gore-Tex lining, it tends to just sit there and takes an age to dry out.
Non-waterproof trail-running shoes may keep the water out, but they also keep it in. That said, in some winter, snowy conditions, it's not such a bad thing particularly when teamed up with mini-gaiters.
Speedcross 4 - Performance
The best way of summing up the Speedcross 4's performance is to say that it simply gets on with the job. Cushy, agile, grippy and all-round comfortable too.
Our photo-shoot model wore its predecessor for 95% of this year's Spine Race and thought the new version was both instantly wearable and a really nice fit.
Compared to more minimal shoes, the heel is quite high and the drop down to the toe at 10mm, quite long, but in practice we found the shoe really well cushioned, even on harder surfaces, but not unstable.
It also feels neat and precise when you're picking your way across more technical terrain, possibly thanks to both the new, slimmer fit, and the thinner forefoot cushioning.
Also stellar is the grip on medium to soft surfaces, typical UK terrain in other words. There's a little underfoot squirm on harder stuff, but otherwise the deep lugs just did in and grip away. Climbs, descents and off-camber are all meat happily chomped on.
Our one reservation is that despite the rubber change, the sole compound still isn't the best on wet, slippy rock and you need to take extra care on wet, stony descents as a result. Other than that, it's about as close as you're likely to get to fell-shoe levels of grip without actually buying a fell-shoe.
We like Salomon's Quick Fit lacing with its handy lace pocket, though you can always swap them for conventional laces if you prefer. Finally the lightweight reinforcement to the uppers promises decent durability compared to some, more lightly built, alternatives.
We stood and watched at one of the early checkpoints at this year's Spine Race along the Pennine Way and a fair few competitors had opted to wear the Salomon Speedcross. Why? It's a brilliant, UK-friendly, blend of toothy grip, ample underfoot cushioning and decent precision and agility.
It also, in its previous guise, had an ultra-friendly wider forefoot. That's one thing that's changed for this winter, but we liked the slightly more precise fit as did our Spine-racing mate. Your call.
The other change, to an even gnarlier sole, is unquestionably a good move. It cements the Speedcross's reputation for giving near fell shoe-like levels of grip, but with a more comfort and without sacrificing too much sensitivity.
In other words, it's an ideal choice for long, off-road runs across varying terrain particularly if things tend towards to soft and slithery. Its two minor flaws are that high-ish heel, though it still remains decently stable, and some slipperiness on wet rock.
Overall though, the Speedcross remains an ideal - perhaps even 'the' ideal - UK trail-running shoe for those planning to venture off better-surfaced trails in all conditions. The mix of cushion and traction is ideal, for example, on long Peak District days taking in a mix of slabbed path and off-road, peaty mush. Recommended.
See www.salomon.com (also available in non-Gore-Tex version for men and women)