Salomon’s X Ultra is unchanged over the years. It shouldn’t. For a long time, this hiking shoe has been incredibly popular among experienced hikers as well as professionals in the outdoor industry. Salomon’s new X Ultra 4s is a major deal for shoe geeks. It gives its most popular hiking shoe a 2021 overhaul. Want the inside scoop on the new X Ultra 4s model? This Salomon X Ultra 4 Low Review gives you a hot take about the new version.
Salomon X Ultra 3 vs. X Ultra 4
The X Ultra is Salomon’s best hiking shoe. Salomon’s secret sauce is a chassis that somehow combines the agility of a trail running shoe with the stability of a hiking boot. That’s made Salomon hiking shoes lighter than most brands, but also more stable, supportive, and durable. (Learn more with my Salomon brand review .) That’s what sets the X Ultra 4 Low apart from most hiking shoes on the market.
Over the years, I have owned several pairs from the X Ultra series. The X Ultra 3 was my most popular shoe to sell at Appalachian Outdoors. It is available in both men and women. So when the new X Ultra 4s came out, I was thrilled to grab a pair.
What’s new? Salomon has updated the look of the X Ultra.
The X Ultra 4 is more robust and tactical than the X Ultra 3. This design is the result of some technical tweaks.
- Salomon has replaced the X Ultra’s Advanced Chassis by the ADV-C Chassis. This is said to improve ankle stability and foot flexibility.
- A new “active support” band, a TPU-coated leather wing wrapped around the outside of your foot, provides ankle support and locks it in place.
- A taller collar at the ankle with more padding than in older models of the shoe
Even with these additions, the X Ultra 4 is slightly lighter that the X Ultra 3. (What?!)
Salomon X Ultra 4s are a great choice for both men & women. The women’s model is built around a women-specific last, and has a lower density chassis as well as a softer collar and heel. The overall look of the shoes for men and women is very similar.
Salomon’s most popular hiking shoe has seen a slight change in 2021. But not too much. Here’s a review of the Salomon X Ultra 4 Low.
Salomon X Ultra 4 Low: Review
Salomon’s long tradition of hiking shoes that are stable and supportive continues with the X Ultra 4 Low. The shoe has a stiff underfoot and flex-point at your ball of the feet. If you are looking for stability and agility, this is the hiking shoe for you.
Average ankle support
This shoe is not a hiking boot, but a low-cut one. This will limit the amount of ankle support you can get.
Salomon’s advanced chassis and sculpted heel cups should hold your ankles and heels in place. They also provide support with TPU plastic supports. The stiff soles are strong and can prevent rolled ankles. The new “active support” band wraps around your foot to provide ankle stability. This provides more support for the ankle than most hiking shoes, and probably even some mid-cut hiking boots.
Solid foot support
Shoes’ stiff outsoles and chassis should prevent your feet from flexing in rough terrain. Your feet are protected from rocks, sharp vegetation and trail debris by the shoe’s toe caps.
The shoe’s quick-lace system is not for everyone. I love it. I do. It’s quick, durable, and holds your shoe better than other shoelace systems.
This shoe’s soles are the weak link. Salomon, like most other brands ( except Oboz), cuts corners on its insoles to reduce cost and weight. It wasn’t a problem, I switched those poor insoles for some Superfeet to get more arch support and cushion.
This foot and ankle protection is great for hiking shoes, and it takes the pressure off of trail running shoes. X Ultras weigh less than your average hiking shoe! This is why X Ultras are so popular among outdoor professionals and experienced hikers.
The X Ultra 4 offers above-average support and a lighter weight than most hiking shoes. The most comfortable hiking shoes for both men and women are 2+ pounds each. The X Ultra 4 Low is less than 2 pounds. It weighs 1 pound 15 ounces (size 11) for men and 1 pound 12 ounces (12 ounces) for women.
The average hiker may not see much energy savings from weight loss. It’s not true that weight on your feet is five-fold more harmful than weight on the back. Lightweight hiking shoes such as the X Ultra 4 may be a good option for long-distance hikers or fast hikers. It may also feel faster than normal for you to hike in it, regardless of your speed.
The X Ultra 4 Low hiking shoe is a great choice if it fits well. Although it is lighter than a trail running shoe but offers more support and stability, the X Ultra 4 Low is a great choice for trail runners.
Comfort is not a personal choice. Everybody is unique. Each of our feet is unique. We all live in different areas and enjoy different types of hiking. This means that our comfort preferences and physical needs may differ.
Salomon X Ultra 4 Low is a slimmer, more comfortable shoe. It has sculpted heels and a quick-draw lacing system. The synthetic uppers wrap around your feet. This results in a secure, performance fit that locks your heel and midfoot in place. Salomons are a great choice if you have had problems with heel slippage under other brands. Salomons are a favorite among experienced hikers for their superior fit, technical feel and stiff, supportive ride.
The X Ultra 4 is also more stable underfoot than most hiking shoes. You might consider another brand such as Hoka, Keen or Oboz if you want more cushioning. Salomons are not the best choice for beginners. They have a more flexible sole that is more comfortable and less performance.
Last caution: Pay attention to the area where these shoes touch your ankles when you are trying them on. The X Ultra 4’s lower ankle collar is higher than the X Ultra 3. This could cause blisters and rub against your ankle bones. This …) has been a problem for some Salomon loyalists. I had no problems with it after my first break in hike and after I added Superfeet socks for additional cushioning.
Salomon’s X Ultra 4 Low is available in a nonwaterproof and GORE TEX versions.
Low-cut hiking shoes aren’t as water-resistant as high-cut boots. The X Ultra 4 GTX low will provide you with 3 inches of water protection. This might help keep your feet dry in mowed lawn or a shallow pool, but not much else. Pro tip: The non-waterproof X Ultra 4 can be purchased for $30 per pair.
At the same time, GORE-TEX is still the king of waterproof-breathable membranes. Gore Tex is a thin sheet of Teflon (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) with 9 billion microscopic pores per square inch. Each pore is approximately 20,000 times smaller that a single droplet of water. These microscopic pores can also be 700 times bigger than a single water vapor molecule. That’s how Gore TEX’s waterproof-breathable membranes keep liquid from seeping in to your feet (“waterproof”) and also release evaporated moisture vapor into the outside air (“breathable”).
The X Ultra 4 GTX is more waterproof and breathable than other waterproof hiking shoes. The waterproof X Ultra 4 GTX is $30 more expensive than the non-waterproof X Ultra 4.
Salomon’s aggressive Contragrip soles are featured on the X Ultra 4 Low. The X Ultra 4 has angular lugs, which are designed for steep ascents or descents on soft and shifting surfaces such as snow, dirt, gravel and snow. I have found that the tread excels on slippery slopes, wet leaves, and rocks covered in lichen.
The chevron (v-shaped) lugs are angled in different directions. Forefoot and toe chevrons are climbing lugs that provide good grip on uphill. The chevrons at the heel are in the opposite direction. They are braking lugs which dig deep on steep descents (where the most serious falls happen).
Contragrip is less effective on wet rocks. To improve its grip on wet rocks, however, the X Ultra 4 uses a softer rubber than the X Ultra 3. This may reduce the shoe’s durability. However, I was able to test it yesterday on wet rocks and roots along steep sidehill trails that were soaked in spring storm water.
The shoe’s traction is a key selling point.
quality & durability
Overall, the Salomon X Ultra 4 is a decent hiking shoe. It also has better durability than most trail running shoes.
Salomon’s build quality has been excellent. The tread will usually wear out first, in most cases. Salomon chose a softer rubber for the X Ultra 4 to improve traction on wet rocks. This shoe’s soles might wear down a bit faster than the X Ultra 3. These shoes can last longer if they are kept off concrete and sidewalks.
After a few hundred miles on mostly moderate trails, my pair still looks great. The shoe’s exterior is in excellent condition. Traction wise, the most important (ball) lugs have begun to wear down. The rest of the tread is still in great shape. They still have plenty to go, but they aren’t as durable as the heavier hiking shoes I own.
This shoe is a great value. You can get a premium hiking shoe for $120 (nonwaterproof) and $150 (GTX), which offers excellent support, light weight and best-in-class waterproofing. It also has excellent traction.
Although this shoe is a great option, you should not buy it unless your feet are perfectly shaped.
The X Ultra 4 is snug in the heel and has a standard fit for the forefoot. It also features a tapered toe box, which doesn’t leave much room for your toes. Salomons are slightly narrow overall. This makes them more suitable for narrow feet. Hikers with normal feet might want to increase their size to have more space in the toe box.
If you are a hiker with wide feet, there is good news. Salomon began offering these in wide models in 2020. Although they aren’t too wide, their wides offer more space in the toe box and forefoot. Salomons were too narrow for my feet so I gave up on them 4-5 years ago.
Last tip, which I already mentioned above: Pay attention to how the shoe hits your ankles when you put them on. The X Ultra 3’s ankle collar is higher than this shoe’s. It should not dig into your ankle bone in an unnatural place, which could cause blisters. This is a complaint that outdoor industry professionals have voiced about the X Ultra 4. My pair works well for me, however, our ankles are different and can cause blisters.
The X Ultra 4 is a great buy at $120 (non water proof) and $150 for Gore Tex. Merrell Moabs are cheaper, but the X Ultra 4 offers better foot and ankle support, weight saving, waterproofing and breathability for a fraction of the price. The X Ultra 4 is $40 cheaper than La Sportiva’s Spire GTX which is comparable to Salomon’s in quality. The Salomon X Ultra 4 low is a great option for hikers.