Hiking is one of the most healthy exercises you can do for your body and mind. Compared with walking or other exercises performed over flat land, hiking expends more of your energy by repeatedly engaging muscle groups. The difference is all in momentum. Once you start moving along a flat surface, much of your body gets carried by the inertia of your stride. Biomechanics calls this “passive dynamic” movement. On the other hand, hiking engages your body in ways that you typically don’t encounter when walking or running. You aren’t repeating the same motion continuously, using the same group of muscles until they burn with exhaustion. You are activating the hidden muscles that compose your subtle strength by stretching and contracting in unique directions to gain your next foothold. Building on this subtle strength has similar benefits to yoga–it increases your balance and natural stability, which in turn will make you a better hiker who is far less prone to injury. As a cardiovascular exercise, hiking is superior for increasing your metabolic rate and conditioning. There is no “ride” in hiking as there is with running. Each motion forward is an effort that must be continually renewed.
There are also numerous benefits for the health of your mind. When you move along a flat surface you can easily put your mind somewhere else and not have to focus on the next move. This sort of autopilot movement is impossible on terrain that is constantly changing. Hiking requires focus and mindfulness; it demands a keen awareness of your surroundings. But all that focus calms your mind and frees it from your everyday concerns. The variable terrain and wonderful sights of nature allow you to see beyond the complexities of a worrisome world of deadlines, troublesome relationships, and financial security. Hiking is a very economic activity, especially if you live in a rural location. One of the only pieces of equipment required is a good pair of hiking shoes or boots. For the remainder of this article, we will focus our review on the highly rated X Ultra Primes made by the Salomon sports equipment company.
The meat of this shoe is composed of several layers. Excluding the outsole (which we’ll touch upon next), we have the midsole and lightweight Chassis™ molded shank. The midsole is made of injected EVA foam. EVA foam is very pliable and comes in multiple forms of density, making it great for all types of shoewear. EVA’s main purpose is as a shock absorber during foot to ground impact. Shock absorption eases the stress put on weight bearing joints and allows for energy conservation during your stride. The location of the TPU shank is sandwiched between the insole and outsole of the heel and labeled on the shoes side. A shank is essential for any serious pair of hiking shoes. It not only protects against punctures and bruises incurred through the outsole, but assists the midsole with energy management by helping to dissipate the force of impact.
Salomon outfits the X Ultra Prime with their Contagrip® outsole technology. Unique V-shaped lugs line the heel and forefoot in opposing directions. On the forefoot, the lugs point forward digging into the ground. On the heel of the shoe, the lugs point backward anchoring you to slippery or declining surfaces. The lugs cover the entire bottom of the shoe with the exception of a small bit along the arch. The outsole and lug pattern continue past the bottom of the shoe creating the toe bumper on the front. Good traction
won’t end on the tips of your toes because the bumper itself is covered with lugs.
The X Ultra Prime’s work best on light to moderately difficult hiking areas. They lack some of the ankle support and upper hardiness for heavier hiking trips. They’re lightweight materials and excellent ventilation
make them perform best on fast moving trails where there is less required twisted, turning, and potential for top-down abrasion. You can also wear these on pavement and not feel and look over encumbered. On pavement these feel more like a beefy running shoe than an overkill mountaineering boot
. They aren't clunky and will help keep you stable on wet surfaces.
Salomon creates this nimble shoe by using a very lightweight mesh material covered with a minimal overlay. The overlay is stitched into either side of the shoe, connecting with the shoes heel band, toe guard, and lace loops. The overlay provides all around protection against abrasion and debris encountered along the trail, while also allowing for some great lockdown stability. Users also reported that the mesh material dried surprisingly fast helping to prevent discomfort and protect your skin.
Size & Weight
The shoes are very lightweight, even when compared to selections from other highly rated brands such as Merrell
. Their lightweight design makes them a good choice for speedy hikes over technical terrain. They have a standard 9 millimeter heel-to-toe drop that promotes forward foot-roll. Each shoe weights about 12.7 in mens or 11.6 in womens (just over or under one and one-half pound as a pair. This obviously fluctuates depending on the size you buy them in. The mens version is available in size 7 through 13, the mens, in size 5 through 10--all (but size 12 and 13) with half sizes respectively. In terms of fitting, several buyers said that the shoe was too small for their typical size. Buyers recommend purchasing these in half size up to be safe.
Many users and reviewers praised these shoes for their breathability. They are considered to be very breathable for a hiking shoe. This is primarily due to a lightweight mesh upper that covers a large majority of its surface. Typically, hiking shoes will have several strips of mesh ventilation surrounded by a thick overlay material. These, on the other hand, have several strips of overlay surrounded by mostly mesh material. The goal is a shoe design that well suited for quicker movement along straightforward trails.
Comfort & Cushioning
This shoe is fitted with a Die cut Ortholite insole. This is Ortholite’s economic moulding that shoe companies place into their products for some added user comfort. They can usually be removed and upgraded if you need extra sole support
. There is plenty of cushioning around the upper heel and tongue and pull tab on the back to help them slip on easily.
The lightweight mesh significantly adds to their overall comfort. Typically, a shoe that is lightweight will feel more comfortable than a shoe that feels heavy. A heavier shoe requires more work to move from one distance to another and often comes with a decrease in flexibility. The more cumbersome a shoe is, the less you are able to move your feet around inside them. Our feet, like the rest of our bodies, aren't well off when locked into certain positions for long periods of time. We need to be able to stretch to feel comfortable and a flexible mesh allows for that stretch.
These shoes come in 2 colorways for men (black and turf green) and 2 for women (light and dark purple). They have a clean look compared with other hikers that use criss-cross overlays. The outsole and midsole protrude slightly past the heel guard, giving them a pumped up athletic style silhouette. The sections of the overlay that connect to the lace loops are highlighted with prominent colors that complement the web look of the mesh and overall design scheme. Finally, their aggressive looking lugs and deep ridges along the top make them look fiercely swift
The shoe features a lugged toe bumper which eases the force of impact when you stub or kick your foot against an unexpected rock. One reviewer complained that the toe-bumper is limited for its side-toe protection. However, the toe bumper is supported by a tough synthetic covering that reaches far onto the toebox, somewhat compensating for this issue. And while some high top hiking shoes may be more protective, the lighter, low collar ones typically have less protection.
The overlay of the shoe serves as a mud guard wrapping around the entire bottom length above the midsole. Keeping mud, dirt, or sand out of your shoes is important for the prevention of skin irritation. Warm wet shoes can also cause foot fungus and blisters.
The uneven and nuanced formations along technical ground require adaptable footwear. There are times when you’ll need to bend and angle your shoe in many different directions to gain a foothold on some narrow surface or move along rocks. Rigid, inflexible shoes will make you prone to falls due to imbalance. Video reviewers were able to easily bend this shoe in half despite its many stability systems. The rubber outsole maintains its durability with great lateral and medial flexibility. The upper mesh makes for a more comfortable and pliable experience at the cost of some protection. You’ll be able to bend your feet
from side to side. You also won't have much layering to protect the tops of your feet from potential obstacles.
Support and Balance
The advanced Chassis™ shank is shaped to cup the midsole and part of your heel, holding these in place. It keeps your foot from slipping off the midsole and keeps the midsole lined up with the rest of the shoe when the sole bends laterally. The shank and band work together to keep your foot secured to the shoe, while protecting the delicate achilles tendon from laceration. Additionally, the low ridge collar lets you stretch and rotate your ankle without compromising lockdown. Remember, there is an inherent lack of ankle security in low top shoes compared to high top shoes, so ankle rolls are still possible.
These shoes also feature Salomon’s Sensifit™ overlay system. Basically, a thick fabric pattern is stitched along the upper mesh, connecting the midsole of the shoe to the lace work. As you tighten the laces, both sides of the shoe are pulled together securing the flexible mesh material around your foot. This system not only provides great lockdown ability but also provides for a very adaptable fit.
The flat laces of the shoe are fed criss-crossing through 6 loops (3 to a side) and are then wrapped around speed hooks near the tongue. The lace-loops and speed hooks work together to create a snug and securing fit around your ankle. When paired with the synthetic overlay, the lacing system is remarkable for its dual lockdown system. The laces work simultaneously to hug your ankle while binding the mesh taut over your foot.
100 dollars is pretty standard for a decent pair of hiking shoes without any additional secondary features like waterproofing. These do go on sale and right now you can grab them for 25 percent off at several retailers. As far as light hiking shoes go, 75 dollars is a pretty good deal.
Lightweight for performance and agility
Highly breathable mesh
Sensifit™ stitched-on overlay that protects and supports
Contagrip® outsole for a high level of traction
Chassis™ shank for sole protection and energy management
By the end of these reviews I always ask myself if I would purchase this product for my own benefit. The short answer is--yes but here’s to the long answer: These shoes are a great investment and even a great deal when on sale. These are great for beginners who wisely start on easier level trails.The aren’t bulky and are very lightweight which is perfect for starting to build up those neglected muscles. They are also breathable and secure well to your feet, so you won’t be turned off because of a terribly discomforting shoe experience. Lastly, you don’t have to commit these shoes to one type of terrain or setting. Unlike a bulkier option that is obviously made for tough climbing trails, these shoes are stylish enough to be worn to the gym or out on the streets.