Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots Review 2021

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Salomon is among the most reputable names in the world of hiking boots as they make some of the best boots for traversing steep, rugged terrain where control and stability are no less important than comfort. The X Ultras are a true standout capable to deliver when it is needed. But this is not a panegyric piece about Salomon. It is a review of one of the flagships of the hiking boot industry – Salomon X Ultra 3 (Wide) Mid GTX.

Needless to say, in this post, we break down the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX performance and everything else we’ve found about these rugged hiking shoes.

For more in-depth gear reviews and recommendations, you can go to our Gear Reviews section, if you want. Now let’s get back to the point:

Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
These are multifunctional hiking boots that work well in all kinds of weather

Quick specs: Salomon X Ultra 3 (Wide) Mid GTX Hiking Boots

Price: $165

Weight: 521 g (1 lb 2.4 oz; right); 518 g (1 lb 2.3 oz; left) for size US 12 EE (EUR 46 2/3 or UK 11.5)

Material: 100% Synthetic

  • Upper: Synthetic leather / Textile (PU coated leather, tight mesh, rubber/synthetic toe cap)
  • Lining: Textile (mesh and textile)
  • Insole: Textile (molded OrthoLite insole)
  • Midsole: EVA foam
  • Outsole: Rubber (Salomon Contagrip TD)

Width options: Regular, wide

Where to get the regular version: Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Where to get the wide version: Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Notable features:

  • One of the most valuable features of these boots is the Contagrip TD outsole as it combines a deep, aggressive lug pattern with a durable compound for maximum grip and traction on mixed terrain
  • Optimized motion control, energy management, stability, and comfort thanks to the Advances Chasis
  • Molded to match the contours of your foot, the OrthoLite insole provides superior cushioning and heel support
  • Gusseted tongue prevents debris from entering the shoe whereas the integrated rubber toe cap provides excellent protection for the foot from roots and rocks
  • Waterproof breathable Gore-Tex membrane inside is intended to keep the feet of the wearer dry from the outside and from the inside

Pros:

  • Premium materials and solid construction. Packed up with useful features, these are versatile all-around boots that are easy to put on and take off.
  • Extremely comfortable and reliable boots, they hold up well on a combination of surfaces in various conditions. Reliable for technical, wet, and muddy hikes they provide great traction on slippery surfaces. Can also be used as everyday wear year-round. No or short break-in time depending on travel distances, trail conditions, the experience of the user, etc. And yet, we recommend that you begin with shorter trips so that your feet could get used to the boots.
  • Attractive style and design, visually appealing unlike competitors such as the Merrell Moab 2 Mid GTX or KEEN Targhee III Mid Waterproof for example.
  • Not among the lightest models but still lighter than other major models without sacrificing on stability or comfort.
  • Provide great breathability for waterproof boots. It’s one of the main reasons why these can be worn in much higher temps than most similar hiking boots models and without it causing major discomfort.
  • Easy to clean and maintain in good condition. Proper care is an absolute must if you wish to extend the life of a pair of hiking boots.

Cons:

  • What we absolutely don’t like about the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Mid is that they run narrow. Moreover, you could be misled by the size chart (as was in our case and not because of having a wide or non-standard foot shape). We always recommend that you check the size chart to make sure that you get the right fit for your feet. In this case, checking the size chart may not be enough as the wide version was a better option for someone with average-width feet. You’d be better off if you could try on various sizes until you find something as close as possible to the perfect fit. If unsure about proper fitting, you can find a short guide on how to fit hiking boots in one of our posts.
  • Once wet/soaked, they take a lot of time to dry out (this in part is due to the Gore-Tex waterproof membrane). Still, it doesn’t take as much as some other similar models utilizing Gore-Tex.
  • Walking in temps above 30°C (86°F) can be a bit uncomfortable mainly because of the waterproof-breathable membrane. Note that we’ve tested these in temps around 35°C (95°F) and there was no problem whatsoever. Still, most people (including ourselves) find that a pair of trail runners or sandals is a much better option for the summer heat than hiking boots. Another good option is the non-waterproof model called Salomon X Ultra 3 Aero.
  • Don’t offer enough protection for long days on technical/rocky terrain. Might cause discomfort and soreness. A pair of merino wool socks goes well with this footwear and will ease the possible negative consequences for your feet. Regular foot care to maintain your feet in good condition does wonders as well.

Women’s version, regular: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Women’s version, wide: Available -> Amazon | REI | Backcountry

Salomon X Ultra Boots seen from the side
The Contagrip TD outsole works great on different types of terrains

Summary

The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX have been worn during several hiking trips since February (for about half a year now) and we can say that they’re extremely efficient over a variety of terrain and conditions without compromising on comfort.

What’s really amazing is that we’ve been through snow and sun, various altitudes, terrains, and temps including:

  • Geographical regions (elevation from 150 to 2600+ m a.s.l.) with a multitude of terrains from urban through hilly, forested landscape to rugged mountainous terrain with diverse vegetation
  • Variable temperatures – from less than 0°C to about 35°C (approximately 32-95°F)
  • Changing weather conditions including days when the weather switched from snowy to sunny and from sunny to a downpour

Detailed review

Fit, sizing, and comfort

The size you see on the pictures in this post is US 12 EE (EUR 46 2/3 or UK 11.5) and it provides a great all-around fit for my feet. Note that the manufacturer recommends US 11.5 (EUR 46 or UK 11) for my 28.95 cm average-width feet. This length turned out to be too short. Additionally, the boots were too narrow and felt too tight especially in the toe box area. Wearing a pair of wool hiking socks didn’t help much either. That’s why the author of this post had to try on one size up from the size suggested by Salomon and the size chart they provide for the X Ultra 3 Mid. This time, the length was all right but the boots were still too tight especially in the toe box area. So in the end it was clear that I had to try on the wide to compare (I never wear wides and have never bought a size EE in boots). Voilà! This time the shoe fitted snugly – the width was perfect as well as the length.

Don’t be surprised if the recommended size for your feet runs narrow. This is what we found out ourselves and what many others realize once they put on the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX. What’s more, the lovers of shoes with ample toe box might be disappointed – the toe box of the ‘regular’ is narrower and more restrictive than the average width. The toe box of the ‘wide’ is more spacious and fits better for someone with average-width feet.

When you get the proper fit, you will notice that the boot not only fits really well but feels super comfy. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to break in the X Ultra 3. The break-in period is quite short but absolutely necessary to make sure that the new boots don’t give you blisters. Once you do a couple of short hikes, you will notice that the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX are incredibly comfortable on all sorts of terrain in various conditions. They are easy to put on and take off and you can comfortably walk in all day. Just don’t make the mistake of going on a multi-day backpacking trip or overly technical terrain when these are brand new. There’s a huge chance that they (and actually most new shoes) will cause blisters or worse.

Support, stability, and traction

It isn’t a surprise that the X Ultras are so popular among outdoor lovers of all age ranges and a longtime favorite of many outdoorsmen. The support, traction, and stability they offer are top-level. This isn’t a big surprise but what’s really amazing is how these shoes support foot movement without being heavy or overly stiff. The lightweight Advanced Chassis placed between the midsole and outsole is one of the key stabilizing components. The chassis design helps stabilize the heel for optimized motion control. What’s really cool is that this allows the wearer to feel stable even in mountainous territory where rugged terrain and rough mountain paths are ubiquitous.

For all their brilliance, the ankle height is relatively low in comparison to high-cut designs that give real ankle support such as the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (high-cut models are generally better for carrying a heavy pack on steep descents/rough terrain).

In snowy weather
The rubber outsole gives durability, slip resistance, and good traction on snowy terrain (here in late winter at around 1700 m a.s.l.)

We’ve tested the shoes on various terrains and they exceeded our expectations. They didn’t disappoint and we can say that they hold up well on rocky and steep surfaces as well as snow, grass, soft or muddy ground. On the flip side, walking for days over rough terrain will inevitably lead to discomfort and soreness.

Rocky mountainous terrain
Walking high in the mountain – no problem (here at around 2350-2400 m a.s.l. in the summer)

The grip and traction are fantastic. The shoe comes with a hard and durable Contagrip TD outsole with an aggressive lug pattern with a multi-directional grip to allow for maximum traction on mixed terrain. The guys from Salomon say that they used two different types of rubber for better grip. Don’t know if that is the reason but we are firmly convinced that the outsoles of the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX grip well on most terrain especially wet and muddy terrain. And yet, these are not built for hard snow or ice. Sorry!

They’ve been used in more than a half dozen mountain hikes and the soles are still like new. This doesn’t happen often. Still, tread life is hard to predict but if you want to prolong its lifespan, avoid pavement. Yes, these boots are very comfortable for walking around the city. You could even be tempted to use them as go-to shoes for walking but they’re built for hiking. The problem is that their soles and lugs are not made for pavement, but rather technical ascents and descents and general trail use.

Walking uphill
Mud, gravel or loose dirt – the lug pattern is engineered to keep you stable on mixed terrain (early spring; 650-700 m a.s.l.)

Weight and versatility

The weight of the shoes is an important factor to consider as it has a noticeable impact on comfort. The weight of 1039 g (2 lbs 4.7 oz) for a pair of US 12 EE (EUR 46 2/3 or UK 11.5) means that they are not super lightweight but they’re still lighter than most of the other major models (cause of the lightweight synthetic materials). Remarkably, the guys from Salomon have achieved this without sacrificing quality, durability, performance, protection or cushioning. The lighter weight is great for comfort, with the added bonus of helping to conserve energy and reducing foot fatigue.

There are many reasons why we like these hiking boots so much but one of the most important reasons is their versatility. It’s rare to find a pair of boots that can accommodate to a multitude of terrains so well. Here’s our explanation of why it is like that:

  • Neat style and beautiful complementary colors
  • Weight is only around one kilo for one of the biggest sizes available
  • They’re styled with the right balance between comfort and performance
  • The differentiated lugs work great for all kinds of surfaces in both wet and dry conditions
  • Enough midsole cushioning for increased shock absorption thanks to the EVA foam and molded OrthoLite insole
  • Control and stability to negotiate challenging terrain with ease
  • Waterproof breathable membrane to protect the feet of the user from wet weather

Water resistance and breathability

When a boot has a reliable waterproof breathable membrane there’s usually no need to change socks because they’re soaked with water – a direct result of wet weather or after walking through mountain streams. We’ve never had issues with the Gore-Tex membrane of the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX boots. They have and water repellent coating to provide extra protection against water and rain.

Under the rain
The waterproof lining didn’t fail in the rain (here during a downpour at around 1900 m a.s.l.)

Waterproof boots and shoes need more time to dry in comparison to non-waterproof designs. These hiking boots are no exception. When wet, they lose much of their breathability and become increasingly uncomfortable. The good news is that they dry a bit faster than other models with Gore-Tex. The bad news is that you’ll need to allow them to air dry. It takes longer but it is the right way to dry a pair of hiking shoes especially if you’d like to keep them in good condition. Additionally, it’s very handy having a newspaper as you can stuff it inside the boots. Not many people have a newspaper on the trail but …

Of course, you will also need some good hiking socks that would work well with your boots (you can find everything you need to know about socks available on the market in our post about hiking socks).

The only slight issue is when you walk under the sun and the temps are higher than 30°C (86°F). Waterproof membranes are known to cut breathability and cause feet to sweat more but we haven’t noticed anything like this. The breathability is decent and the feet stay dry and cool. The main problem is related to the cushioning around the ankle and tongue as it could make your feet feel really hot on scorching summer days. But it isn’t hard to guess that this footwear is not for such kind of weather unless going through forests or mountains where there’s plenty of shade.

For when water resistance is not needed we recommend a pair of boots with very similar characteristics and features – the aforementioned Salomon X Ultra 3 Aero.

Dewdrops on the boot
Walking through dew-laden grass in the morning isn’t a problem for these shoes

Construction, durability, and protection

The boots are well made. The construction is superb; the materials are of high quality and have proved durable to survive strenuous hikes and rugged terrain. We’ve had no durability issues so far which doesn’t mean that there won’t be any in the near future. However, the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX have all the components for long-term durability.

The protection these boots offer needs mentioning. The rubber toe cap is rugged enough to protect the toes of the wearer from twigs, branches, and roots without risking the toes get smashed. The gusseted tongue with padding inside adds another layer of protection. It keeps all kinds of unwanted objects out of your footwear. Pebbles, sand, dirt – the integrated tongue blocks all kinds of debris from getting inside.

On the trail
The protection they provide against roots and branches is adequate

Price

The usual price is $165, which may seem a bit too much but these are not cheap hiking boots – the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX are among the best if not the best on the market today. Plus the price falls considerably when on a sale. Compared to rivals such as the LOWA Renegade GTX Mid, Asolo Falcon GV, La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX or Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX, the price is extremely competitive.

If you need top-quality hiking boots, the comfort and performance the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX provide are unparalleled. Moreover, the design, construction, materials, workmanship are great, i.e. the whole package is excellent.

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

Introduced in early 2021, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX are the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX’s successor. Touted as a lighter and more innovative design, the X Ultra 4 are expected to be an even more versatile option equally good for short days on the trail as well as long multi-day backpacking trips. They seem to be a good option as well mainly because of the lighter weight, improved maneuverability, and the comfort they provide. Furthermore, unlike the design reviewed in this post, the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX don’t run small. However, we remain unconvinced that they are as good as the X Ultra 3. The concept is great but it emerges that:

  • They provide minimal support around the ankles (can be good or bad if you have weak ankles)
  • Soles are too thin and flexible (again can be good or bad)

We will probably write an in-depth review about them in the following months. Hopefully, the issues will have been resolved by then.

Conclusion

The market of hiking boots is full of models and designs touted as “the next big thing”. But “all that glitters is not gold” as the saying goes.

Salomon make some of the most awesome boots for hiking and backpacking. Whether looking for all-around designs suited for various surfaces in all weather or for solid backpacking boots providing support and stability on more technical trails, Salomon have much to offer in terms of build quality, versatility, stability, and comfort. And the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX hiking boots are no different from any other top hiking boot model manufactured by Salomon. They’re among the best if not the best hiking boots on the market today. Suitable for various terrains from challenging trails to wide valleys, these boots feel comfortable and reliable. What’s more, they provide high-level performance that hardly depends on the weather.

As to our final verdict: the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX hiking boots are a great pair of hiking boots and an excellent buy.

 

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