Ever since my Great Divide Trail thru-hike of 2018, I’ve grown to enjoy the Salomon X Ultra shoes as my “do it all” shoes of choice.
The X Ultra 2s, and then the 3s, worked functionally the same with little differences in the overall design.
They reminded me of the legendary Montrail Hardrocks – A “do it all trail runner” meant for rugged terrain, takes a beating, and works for many different environments.
In the Salomon Ultra 2s and 3s, I found a shoe reminiscent of the Hardrocks that worked on talus and scree, stood up to off-trail abuse, and was comfortable enough on trail use.
Alas, all good things come to an end.
Salomon “revamped” the shoe, came out with the Ultra 4, and made a shoe more similar to a low-cut hiking boot in many ways.
In this case, Salomon decided to revamp the shoes and make something much different looking and less sleek than the trail running pedigree of the earlier shoes— like Keens and less like Salomon’s other offerings. I also liked the X Ultras as they had wider toe boxes versus the more traditional running-focused shoes.
Though, per specs, the new shoes weigh the same at 13 oz/ 368g versus the older models, I seemed skeptical of how they’d fare versus the shoes I used for many days in the backcountry.
I bought three pairs of Ultra 3s, used them up, tried various new shoes with limited success, and, reluctantly, bought a pair of (non-Goretex) Ultra 4s.
After ~300 miles of travel (local hikes and this recent one), I now have enough data to review my experiences using these shoes.
Comparing the Ultra 3s to the Ultra 4s
As mentioned, I find, despite the similar weight, that the Ultra 4s look more like hiking boots than their trail running past.
The back of the shoe, in particular, goes up higher against the back of the foot versus the past models.
The soles of the shoes have similar deeper lugs and similar stiffness that work well for off-trail endeavors.
Upon initial fit and wear, I found the shoes slightly wider, and I had to tighten them somewhat more versus the Ultra 3s.
Otherwise, they felt similar to the Ultra 3s and had similar performance. However, I did notice the back of the shoe by the Achilles heel dug in slightly.
After approx 300 miles of travel, these shoes went kaput—and not unexpected for the conditions I use for these shoes.
The shoes wore out in the place where other Utras wore out, meaning the flex of the toe box. The shoes, naturally, packed out after about 300 miles of hiking, backpacking, and packrafting.
The soles themselves still had good tread on them.
The backs of the shoes held up well, but the rubbing against the back of my foot and the wear of the back of the socks became noticeable.
In fairness, if I had swapped out the shoes earlier before they broke down as much, the back of the shoe issues may not have become as noticeable.
Overall? These Salomon X Ultra 4 low hiking shoes work well enough and have characteristics similar to their predecessors. However, they run a smidge wider, feel more like low-cut hiking boots versus previous iterations, and the fit feels a little off versus the earlier versions of these shoes. The Ultra 2s and 3s seemed similar to each other. The Ultra 4s seem almost, if not entirely, different shoes versus the Ultra X 3s and 2s.
I like these shoes, but I don’t love them. My hunt for a new favorite shoe continues.
Disclosure – I purchased these shoes with my funds.
Hiking shoes – the great search. And as soon as you find something you like they change it. (Keen Durands in my case, the Mk 2 is not nearly as comfortable as the Mk 1)
I know! I loved the Hardrocks..gone. I loved the Ultra X 2/3s…gone! Sigh. The hunt continues. The 4s end up as acceptable, but not great.
Neal has 4 identical new pairs in boxes of his favorite Merrill shoes. Always good to stock up. With age comes wisdom.
Alas, I bought four pairs as well once I heard my favorites got discontinued. All I could find in my size.
Is sand getting into the mesh and wearing through? I’ve put many more miles on my non-GTX Ultra 2 and 3 with relatively minor wear there, but out east they don’t see much sand.
Some sand got into the mesh for sure. But, don’t forget, it’s beeen a VERY wet year here in Utah and I took them for ~70 miles of packrafting. I suspect the water had more to do with the wear and tear than even the sand. A lot of my route did not neccessarily go through the High Desert either. FWIW, when I hiked the Great Divide Trail (Canada), I had similar mileage results (er, kilometers!) Ditto for my New Mexico trip that saw little desert overall versus more mountainous terrain or loweer lying wooded areas. I think it’s more… Read more »
I loved the Montrail Hardrock and Mountain Masochist before the buyout. Now I mostly use inov-8 shoes, the non waterproof versions of the roclite 275 & 300. Maybe give them a try?
Oddly enough, I have a pair of Innov8 ready to try out in my shoe q. Bought some Trailfly 270s on clearence earlier this year. If they work, I’ll need to check out the specific suggstions you gave. Thanks! Currently testing a pair of Topos.
Interested to see if you find a replacement. I’ve also been an Ultra wearer and recently reluctantly picked up the 4’s despite the less than stellar reviews. Your review gives me hope that they won’t be complete rubbish, but I really don’t understand why companies completely revamp a popular and successful product to the point that the faithful buyers of that product go looking for replacements. But shoe companies can’t seem to help themselves.
I suspect some marketing person convinced Salomon there should be a bigger difference between their running and hiking shoes. Whatever the reason, highly annoying indeed!