This is going to be a bit of a strange review. Simply because I did not actually buy the Salomon Speedcross 4 shoes for which they were made, and used them more for activities other than trail running. The Salomon Speedcross 4 is intended for trail runners “who want a lightweight and aggressive grip on technical, soft trails”.
The interesting thing is that I got advice to buy these shoes from a team of a field hockey team I play in (not really an action sport per se, but also great fun). He said that a number of players from the Dutch national team and top clubs in the Netherlands play on these shoes. The shoes were sure to provide good grip, and because they are reinforced at the front, it would also protect your feet and toes a bit more against a hockey stick or a ball.
So I tried them and they and right off the bat they fit like a glove. You can easily tighten your laces by means of the “Quicklace” system and fix the buckle with the lace into a pouch in the tongue. Very clean. With this system is really easy to step in and out of the shoe.
So I bought it, thinking, if it doesn’t work with playing field hockey, I can still go trail running with them. But they really worked out on the hockey field, as well as on the trail. They are getting a lot of use.
The similarities with both sports are that you need a lot of grip and a lot of support. Something that trail running shoes are ideally aimed at. And during a hockey training or match I cover between 5 and 6 kilometers. That’s also about the distance I do during an average run. (I am not a long distance runner).
I would like to mention a few things that I noticed in using the shoes for field hockey because I think that it really says something about the shoes. Firstly, and most obvious of course, is the profile under the outsole. With really aggressive looking arrow shaped lugs. The outsole runs up over the toes and gives the SpeedCross bit more badass of a badass look. And it does have a function as well. When you run, you feel you have just a bit more extra grip on those steep parts where you really are going to use your forefoot. On the hockey field, I noticed that when starting with sprinting and you really launch from your forefoot and a part of your toes.
Loads of it, is what the SpeedCross delivers. In the wet artificial grass of a hockey field it helps you start, stop and turn on a dime. On softer forest soils and mud bits, it bites into and gives you continuous grip on the surface. The widely spaced arrow shaped lugs ensure that you feel little to no resistance and, very important, that the mud also sheds easily off the sole. And just like on the hockey field, as you run, you are constantly changing direction, hitting the ground under different angles while spacing and placing your steps over the sometimes irregular surface. The SpeedCross 4 happily helps you with just that.
The upper of the shoe is made of a relatively stiff and robust material. It fits the foot very well (in my case), without being too tight, and you feel the support of this construction. I ran on trails through fields where the ground was frozen, so you have lots of moments when your foot can shoot way or your ankle can wobble or double over. I did not have any problems with this and I can imagine that even on stone trails you will have a lot of support with these shoes.
When running on paved sections, in spite of the height of the profile, I did not feel like I was too high on my shoe, which made it less stable.
For me the Speedcross is very comfortable. It has an average cushioning with molded EVA midsole and an Ortholite sock liner. That construction in combination with a soft surface of a trail feels very nice. If you do run paved stretches you will feel that, but the amount of cushioning is enough. There is a heel drop of 11 mm (that is the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot). With field hockey, that helps to get you to bend your knees well and to be stable when your stance is (very important in this sport). On the trails that is nice when you are descending, but it is a thing that needs to feel well to you.
Protection and durability
As mentioned, the front of the shoe is reinforced around your toes and provides a bit more protection against stones for example. That also has its limits since Salomon also tried to keep the shoe as light as possible (but it is not a minimal trail runner). On the one hand, this protection is provided by the continuous sole, but a number of plastic panels also offer a little more.
About the durability of the outer sole, I have to confess that I actually abused it a bit. Because the shoe is so comfortable, I wear it daily. To my work, to do grocery shopping, everything. Because the lugs are fairly hard, they don’t seem to wear out quickly. If you use it as it should be used, on the trails, I think the sole and the lugs will remain well and functional quite a long time.
When you see GTX in the name of a product you can be pretty sure it has GoreTex in it. With this membrane, Salomon aims to make the shoe waterproof and breathable. The water resistance is really up to par, whether it was wet synthetic turf, running through damp meadows or walking through thick wet mud with even a puddle here and there.
In terms of breathability, it depended very much on the socks I wear. I mostly wear merino socks also when running and with those on the shoe feels really well. With socks made of synthetic fibers, I did get sweaty feet much earlier. You have to take into account the breathability of the sock when considering the breathability of the shoe.
I have subjected the Salomon Speedcross to unconventional activities for the shoe. The shoe excels every time. On the trail run they are just great shoes, which give a lot of support despite my relatively heavy build(188 cm and 92 kg) and less strong left ankle (torn ligament a long time ago). I would definitely recommend the shoe for rougher Dutch trails but also mountain trails in wooded areas. This summer I hope to go running in the Pyrenees or mountains of southern Spain. When I do I will be sue to add my findings to this review.
I would also really recommend these shoes to field hockey players. With a sole construction and cushioning that feels better than many hockey shoes I have worn and a very pleasant combination between grip and maneuverability. It is therefore not surprising that Salomon sold about 6000 pairs of these shoes to hockey players last year in the Netherlands.
Perhaps that versatility is the most exceptional thing about this very, very good shoe.