My shoes of choice for the past 3+ years end up as the Salomon Ultras. Now on version 4 (which I have yet to use), these stalwart shoes end up as excellent ones for all-around off-trail use, scrambling, and anyone who wanders off the beaten path or no path at all.
Despite the warning against the speed laces, I’ve only found them an issue once with the shoes after purchasing a new pair every three or four months.
I’ve used them all over Utah, walked the Great Divide Trail, Colorado, and other places over the years.
I had $75 worth of gift cards at a local outdoor store, and I always like to have one pair of shoes in reserve when it is time to replace shoes. I regularly swap hiking shoes about every three-four months and like having one to go at all times. When I wore out my most recent pair of Salomons, I thought I’d pick up version 4 to have in reserve for when I wore out a version 3.
Alas, they did not have them in my size. And the supply chain issues from COVID are still apparently raring their head.
I noticed a pair of X Crest hiking shoes on the shelf and thought I’d give them a try. At only ~$90, a pair of shoes for $20 with tax out of my pocket total seemed worth trying. The Ultras cost about $120 a pair, so some savings overall, too.
These shoes run wider than the Ultras and show more of a boot-like pedigree ala Keen Voyageurs vs. running shoes more like the Ultras. The Crests also have a wider toe box vs. the Ultras too.
Though the Ultras get labeled as a shoe, the Ultras seem more reminiscent of heavier running shoes vs. lighter hiking shoes. Any person who used the classic Montrail Hardrocks will know the distinction!
The X Crests are a little over 28g (1 oz) lighter versus the Ultra 3s (but about the same weight as the Ultra 4s), feel less stiff in the sole, and have less aggressive tread.
My feeling out of the box is that these shoes work better on maintained to rougher trails vs. scrambling or no-trail. In my old stomping grounds of the White Mountains, I felt they’d work well.
Off-trail in the talus and scree of the La Sals or scrambling out of the canyons? Not as ideal.
In the field
I’ve used them for about a month now. Normally I’d wear the shoes to the ground before a review. However, after a month of talus hiking, trail use, and my usual hiking or backpacking 2-3 days a week, I think I have enough data…unfortunately.
As predicted, the shoes did not work as well off-trail. I want a stiffer shoe for scrambling and a more aggressive tread as well. The shoes feel comfortable but “floppier” than what I am used to, overall.
Not an issue per se. I thought the Crests would work well for other environments, such as hikes on well-maintained trails or similar.
For the past month, I’ve been hiking almost exclusively on trails with Joan. Theoretically, a good use for the shoes. The Crests feel more comfortable vs. the Ultras and hope they’d work for the type of extended hike I have planned in New England next year.
Alas, I’ve been disappointed. After one month of steady but not excessive use, in mainly dry conditions, the toe box already displays signs of wear and tear.
As you can see from above, the right toe box already has a hole, and the left one is not far off. Not acceptable if comparing to the Ultras or any shoes I regularly use in such a manner.
I don’t know the mileage as I tend to think of days and hours hiked vs miles, but I’ve been out every weekend. If I had to guess, perhaps ~150 miles with some off-trail for part of it. Again, steady but not excessive. And not up to the durability standards set by the Ultras that are only $30 more.
The Crests end up being what I call “active office shoes.” Meaning I think the target audience ends up as an office worker who wants daily shoes that work well when biking to the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday and hiking up the local peak Sunday. And might get in a backpacking trip or two a summer and maybe one in the early fall.
The Crests, overall, could best be called “rugged” lifestyle shoes.
These shoes are rugged for filling the TPS reports with some hiking thrown in.
As dedicated hiking shoes? I think people could do better.
The Keen Voyageurs, though heavier, probably fill a hiking shoe niche more effectively, and Salomon offers many options on the running side of the spectrum. I’ll do my best to get a pair of Ultra 4 as my next pair of shoes. The Crests don’t fit my hiking style, and they don’t last enough for potential future on-trail use.
I won’t rebuy a pair of the Crest shoes and can’t recommend them for those who hike and backpack frequently.
UPDATE May 2023 – I reviewed the Ultra 4s recently.
Disclaimer: I purchased the shoes with my funds.