Article written by fell runner and Salomon Ambassador, Jacob Tonkin, from Keswick in the Lake District.
The Salomon Cross Collection has been designed to take on technical trails. No matter how muddy, technical, or testing the trails get, Salomon’s Cross Collection has the grip to get you through.
I have been running in shoes from the Cross Collection for the last 7 years. As with most fell runners, my first pair of shoes were the legendary Salomon Speedcross 3. They were literally as comfy as old boots. I wore them for everything, fell races, OCR racing, trail runs and some road races. They set the scene for my love of Salomon footwear. Since then I have pretty much owned every shoe Salomon has produced.
Salomon Cross collection
Legendary Salomon Speedcross
One of the most popular shoes in the range is the Speedcross 5. This is Salomon’s most legendary shoe. They are similar to ‘Walsh Shoes’, in that every fell runner (and many trail runners) will have owned a pair at some point in their lifetime. It’s almost as much of a rite of passage, as losing your first toenail or the first time you fall hip deep in bog.
In my opinion, the main selling point for Speedcross has always been the comfort. It truly is second to none. For the die hard fell runners it provides more cushioning than your usual fell shoe. For the trail runners and road runners it’s a shoe that feels like a trail shoe, but is more than capable up on the high fells.
I myself own 3 pairs, 2 for running and one (the Gore-Tex version) for dog walking!
Although they are now onto the 5th generation of this classic shoe, a lot of the basics still remain. First off, the lugs. They are huge! There is also more space between them now, which stops mud and stones getting clogged and stuck up in the tread. They will keep you upright going downhill even in the wettest and muddiest conditions. However, as with any aggressively soled shoe, they will wear down quite quickly on hard compact terrain or roads. I tend to save mine more for when it’s going to be a wet and minging run! It’s a heavy hitter of a shoe to have in your arsenal.
The fit is slightly more generous in the toe box than previous generations. Mainly due to the completely welded upper. The sensifit (a system that uses “wings” to connect the soul to the lacing system) works very well with the welded upper to allow the foot to move as naturally as possible. The heel unit creates a cradle for the foot to sit in, and hold in place. All these aspects combine to give the ‘comfy as old boots’ feeling. This may take a while to adapt to for those of you used to a more minimalistic approach. But for those who are already used to Salomon shoes, it’ll fit like a glove (sorry, shoe!). Historically people may have found that they need to go half a size or full size up with Salomon shoes. With this generous forefoot, I don’t think you’d need to do that this time round.
The cradled heel unit provides most of the cushioning, which is brilliant for when you're battering it downhill towards the end of a race. I would presume it is nigh on impossible for a rock to poke through and into your heel. However, the shoe does have a 10mm drop. So the cushioning in the forefoot is thinner and more flexible. Which means the foot doesn’t lose any of its feeling when going over rough terrain, or climbing steep ascents. Some of you may find the big drop may take a bit of getting used to.
Personally I would rather wear a lighter shoe with a lower drop for a short fell race. At 330g they are a little heavier than what I normally race in (S/LAB Speed 2). However, for a longer race or training run, I could think of nothing better. They will really look after your feet, and keep them comfy. Which for me is a big factor in how I’m running. It speaks volumes that in the last year I’ve helped support 5 people on their Bob Graham Rounds who were wearing Speedcross shoes.
Living in one of the wettest places in the UK (Lake District), Jacob tends to use the Speedcross 5 rather than the Supercross 3 for his hill/trail runs. He doesn’t have much experience with the model so here's Team Run4It's take on it...
If you are used to the Salomon Speedcross (or familiar with the product), the Supercross is essentially a lighter and less stiff version. Highly influenced by the Speedcross, the Supercross is a great compromise for runners who want superior traction but find the Speedcross too stiff, heavy or aggressive.
This option in the Salomon Cross collection is primarily designed for trails, though it can cope with some road sections here and there. Indeed, the Supercross will feel comfortable on hard surfaces but the Contagrip outsole will wear down quicker on roads. The chevron patterned outsole with 4mm deep lugs offers great level of traction, making running up and down a hill or on a technical trail more easy.
In addition, the midsole is made from a high performance EVA called Energycell. This provides good protection for hard packed terrain. It's designed to feel softer than a Speedcross.
How does this shoe perform in practice? Having used it in the past, it’s a great all-rounder: from light forest trails to hilliers terrains, the shoe has always performed well. For instance, if you’re familiar with Tentsmuir Forest in Fife, Scotland, the Supercross is a great option for the variety of trails there (sand, grass, hard packed and gravel trails). Being quite flat there, the cushioned yet responsive and close to the ground feel of the Supercross will feel amazing. On days when you want to escape the trails and get some elevation, the Supercross remains a great tool. I find the shoe better on soft surfaces (grass or mud) rather than rocky (once wet I find the outsole a bit more slippery).
There are many more Salomon trail and hill running shoes out there. If you’re looking for a proper road to trail hybrid, the Sense Ride would be a great option. If you’re looking for maximum comfort over long distances, the Ultra Glide would top it. If you’re looking for a nimble racer, designed for fast-paced running, the Sense Pro would be the shoe for you.
Winter kit check
Now that we’re heading into the darker winter months, safety is key! It’s really worth taking the time to get all your winter kit out, which may have been put away in storage, to check it’s still all up to scratch. Batteries and bulbs have a limited life. Moths and mice can chew through tights. One key safety aspect for fell running and trail running, is having a good set of waterproofs. Every race you’ll do in the British Isles will require you to have a full set of waterproofs. They are life saving bits of kit, which are worth the investment!
Salomon Bonatti Jacket
I have been using the Salomon Bonatti jackets for as long as I’ve been running. Weighing in at 210g they are lightweight, but the face fabric is tough and incredibly hard wearing. It’s fully waterproof (10k/10k), with a hood and taped seams. Which means it meets all the race requirements to enable you to do an FRA or Scottish and English Athletics affiliated race. It will also fold up inside it’s own chest pocket, making it very running pack friendly.
If you want to know more about waterproof jackets, read the How to pick the best waterproof jacket article.
The latest versions are all in Salomon’s motion fit, which basically means it's designed to be moved in. So the chest will stay in place when you lift your arms up, keeping your belly button dry. It uses Salomon’s 2 way stretch fabric, which helps prevent it from being restrictive.
Another great aspect is that you can stick it in the tumble drier. When mine has gotten soaked, instead of letting it drip dry. I whack mine in the tumble drier. This speeds up the drying process and helps to reactivate the DWR coating (durable water repellent). Though, this shouldn’t be used as a replacement for washing it and retreating it! I tend to wash mine every 10-15 uses, and use grangers. If you don’t have a tumble drier, then Nikwax may be best. As it doesn’t need to tumble dried.
For those wanting an even lighter version there is the Salomon Bonatti Race Jacket. Weighing in at 160g. Which has no pockets or extra features, so it meets race requirements and saves weight.
Then for those wanting even more protection there is the Salomon Bonatti Pro Jacket. This is a Pertex shield, and uses Salomon's 4-way stretch fabric. It’s a more generous fit, and has flaps at the back which enable you to put it on over the top of your running pack. Which saves you a lot of time in a race, and prevents you losing heat from your core in an emergency.