Written by Phil Brown, Badger Bushcraft Blog Thursday, 19 July 2012 08:52
Back in March 2010 I bought a pair of Salomon XA PRO 3D GTX trail running shoes for work and over the last 28 months they have served me well in the woods, across the fields, on the hill, driving and general mooching around. Sadly it is now time to lay these excellent trail runners to rest and look for a replacement.
Buying “trainer” style footwear is always hard for me; I’ve often found expensive trainers to be somewhat of a disappointment and to be frank have found them to be outrageously overpriced. As with much of our bushcraft kit having multifunctional uses or being suited to a host of environments and terrains is of paramount importance and choosing footwear can often end up with a one dimensional purchase, the Salomon XA PRO 3D GTX genuinely turned out to be three dimensional in their use.
As I’ve stated in other Badger Bushcraft Blog articles about footwear it is not uncommon for an instructor, guide, outdoor educator, et al to be in their footwear for very long hours so comfort has to be a prime requisite combined with the footwears ability to protect the wearer from the elements, cope with the terrain and to put up with a relatively severe amount of wear and tear.
I really don’t mind spending money on good boots but find it difficult to spend what I consider to be a lot of money on trainers, but needing this kind of footwear I went to seek advice from my local Cotswold Outdoor branch at Newnham Court Shopping Village near Maidstone where the range stocked is extensive and the advice always consistently excellent. I was advised that the Salomon XA PRO 3D GTX were an well designed and crafted shoe and that they would suit my needs, I had however wanted to spend somewhere in the region of £50 rather than the £100 plus price tag.
Having tried on the Salomon XA PRO 3D GTX and walked around the store for some time I decided to give them a try and to see how long they would last and how they would cope in a variety of scenarios.
The construction certainly looked solid, they were GORE-TEX lined, the Energy Cell foam midsole was very supportive and comfortable, the gusseted tongue would keep out the wet and debris and the Contragrip outsole had plenty of grip. With plenty of boxes ticked I made the purchase and have not looked back with one iota of regret. The quicklace system, that I was initially a little sceptical of, has proved to be amazing and so easy to tighten– the thin Kevlar laces are still showing no signs of wear after all this time!
Suffice to say that I am totally delighted with them and they have proved to be exceptional value for money. They have coped with everything I have thrown at them often caking them in mud, scrubbing them clean and then putting them through the washing machine before line drying them. I have worn them in long drives in the Land Rover, up hills and mountains, along the seashore and in the sea, in the forests and woods, across the fields and meadows, whilst cycling on my mountain bike and many other places to long to list. They have always been exceptionally comfortable to wear and have at all times kept my feet dry.
Back in 2008 I used inferior footwear (I won’t name the brand to save the well known manufacturers blushes) in the French Prealps on a traverse of the Vecors Plateau. This turned out to be a big mistake leading to loss of grip on the steep and wet mountain meadows and some rather nasty blisters, those particular approach shoes ended up in the bin and I swapped them over for my Lowa Mountain Boots GTX despite the warm weather and added weight. Reflection upon this event made me wish I had spent a few extra pounds and plumped for Salomon back then - experiential learning is not always the most comfortable but the lessons are always deep-seated in one’s memory!
Sadly though after some 28 months of use and abuse they are tired and worn; the soles have split and the so have the uppers across the toes. Am I disappointed? Not in the slightest – these trainers have covered many, many miles in a host of environments and proved to be exceptional value for money and their life is not yet over – they can still be used for walking the dog, when cleaning the Land Rover, foraging in the sea and in streams, etc. and despite the splits the trainers are still waterproof!
The only quandary I am now facing is what to replace them with? I guess it’s time to put Google into action to read some reviews and speak to my friends at Cotswold Outdoors I will, however, not be too concerned about spending that little bit extra to get supreme comfort and exceptional value for money.
Would I buy Salomon footwear again? Yes is the answer and it is a "no brainer".
If you are looking to purchase a new trainer, be it for the hill, trail running or just casual wear I can wholeheartedly recommend Salomon for comfort, value for money, durability, ease of care, performance in a host of environments and being a totally bombproof piece of kit.