Hello Ferals (long time, eh? Don’t worry, I’m still here)!
I think the XA Elevates mark my first official running-specific gear review. Does this make me an official runner yet? Amongst other trail shoes, I’ve been running in the XA Elevates for a few months now. They have taken me over beautiful mountain paths, through dense Welsh woodlands and crossed numerous cascading rivers. Through it all, I’ve been able to distinguish what I loved about them and what I really didn’t love.
So! As usual, let’s start with what makes up the XA Elevates.
How are they actually constructed?
Upper: The Upper is a synthetic mesh which, although isn’t the most durable (I’ll go into that below) it does breathe and drain water exceptionally well. The upper also doesn’t have any stitching – it’s all ‘welded’ together. Initially, I was hesitant towards this type of bonding – historically, welded uppers fail before stitched uppers, but I actually found this wasn’t the case at all. All the welded points took a beating from dirt, roots, water and harsh weather and still held well.
Midsole: The midsole is comprised of Salomon’s high-rebound EnergyCell+ which is a compressed, moulded EVA. It delivers excellent energy return, cushioning and durability over high mileage. It really looked after my feet well!
Chassis: A chassis is placed between the outsole and the midsole – the one used in this shoe is called Profeel Film. This helps filter out rocks and sharp surfaces for more comfort and stability – definitely a plus for long days out, especially on technical terrains.
Outsole: Salomon use Contagrip (in a whole host of different compounds) in most (if not all) of their shoes. The XA Elevate uses Contagrip MA – This type of Contagrip was designed for the widest range of surfaces. I found that they excelled on dry trails but they were still a bit slippy on wet rock (not as bad as my Speedcrosses though). The lugs also seemed to be the perfect size – not so shallow that they didn’t get enough traction in the mud, but also not so deep that they wore down quickly.
What are the features?
The main one that we haven’t covered yet is Salomons Quick lace system – completely dumb-dumb proof and doesn’t slip throughout the day. It also tucks away neatly in a small mesh pocket on the tongue of the shoe. Neat and easy!
How do they fit?
Medium width, medium volume but a bit small on sizing (length); you may need to go half a size up. They have a good shaped toe box that accommodates a wide range of foot shapes. The XA Elevates us Salomons SensiFit Design which effectively cradles the foot from the midsole to the lacing system. What you get is a secure, snug fit that feels like it’s been designed just for you.
What were my favourite bits of the XA elevates?
I was impressed by the overall stability of the XA Elevates – I have a pair of Speedcrosses and I don’t get on with them very well cus they aren’t very stable (possibly due to the deep, aggressive lugs and their placement). The XA Elevates, however, are considerably more stable; I hardly ever rolled an ankle (even when I probably should have done).
I love the Salomon quicklace system – out of all the shoes I’ve tried, this is the most effective at holding your foot in place even on steep descents.
What were their downfalls?
One thing came up time and time again – their durability. The Contagrip sole unit was surprisingly durable – even after running 500+ kilometres on them the soles were still in pretty good nick and were still biting well in thick mud and dry trails alike. However, the upper of the shoes did not boast the same durability. In fact, Siobhan’s second pair started breaking down after only 3 runs before quite literally falling apart 5km into a 30km training run. I stuck with mine a bit longer, making ‘do’ with the fact the uppers were breaking down because the soles were still in such good nick.
I DO have to say that Salomon customer services are pretty great – we individually contacted them with photos and our receipts and they were happy enough to swap us out with another pair or give us a voucher for the value of the shoes. I swapped mine for a pair of Sense Rides (and I seem to be getting on with them splendidly).
The other thing is their grip on wet rock – Contagrip soles are great on dry and muddy trails – the deep lugs bite into the thick Welsh mud exceptionally well. However, they are pretty slippy on wet tree roots and rocks, so you have to watch your footing on this terrain. It does mean that you have to take it a bit slower when you’re coming downhill on wet rocky paths and you can’t just ‘let your legs fly’ – not great if you’re hoping to catch up to the girl in front of you in your trail race.
To summarise – they’re ‘fine’. Possibly not what you want to hear, but they’re fine. There are a lot of similar models from Salomon and other companies in this price range that do the same job, but the durability of these really let them down. If you’re avoiding harsh weather and running/walking less than twice a week then these will probably last you longer than 4 months, but I’m not, and if you’re reading this review then you probably aren’t either. They would make a great, breathable summer walking shoe though if that’s what you’re looking for!
Sorry, Salomon – it’s an overall no from me. I need shoes that can last longer than a couple of months and ones that I don’t have to worry about falling apart on me halfway through a long training run with no bailout option. I DO, however, have very high hopes for the Sense Rides – the upper looks and feels considerably more durable than the XA Elevates, yet they still have the sense of stability and protection I had in the XA Elevates.
Have a great weekend, Ferals!
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- The XA Elevates in Numbers
- Drop: 8mm
- Midsole Toe Height: 17.5mm
- Midsole Heel Height: 25.5mm
- Weight: 250g