Salomon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners

Salamon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners

Salamon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners

I’ve been testing a pair of Salomon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners for the past month as a potential replacement for the Inov-8 Terroc 330′s that I’ve hiked with since 2010. Inov-8 totally redesigned those old trail runners (see Has Inov-8 Wrecked the Terroc 330?)  recently and completely eliminated the mesh which I rely on to drain my shoes in the constantly wet and muddy conditions I hike in. After that, my brand loyalty for Inov-8 vanished.

After kicking around with the XA Comp 7′s on my local trails for a few weeks, I took them on their first big test on some long hikes in the White Mountains. The results were not good, I’m afraid.

Shallow Tread

Shallow Tread

While Salomon bills the XA Comp 7′s as trail runners and hiking shoes, their traction on wet granite sucks. I had 4 major falls in 18 miles of hiking, all caused by slipping on wet rock. While all of the falls were bad, one was especially so and could have cost me a knee if I hadn’t landed the right way.

It’s too bad, because the XA Comp  7′s drain very well when they get wet and dried much faster than my old Terrocs. They also have better toe kick protection from rocks and fit me perfectly, with a large toe box that gives my toes space to spread out and good midsole support.

If you have any suggestions about other trail runners to try for hiking  in New England, here the features I’m looking for:

  • Mesh walls that drain water quickly – no breathable membranes, please
  • Excellent traction on wet rock
  • Stiff midsole shank
  • Good durability in the 300-400 mile range or better
  • Excellent ground feel transmission through the ball of the foot
  • Good toe kick protection
  • Medium to medium low heel drop
  • Little to no break-in period required
  • Under $125/pair

I’d appreciate any suggestions about where to look next. Thanks.

Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) purchased these shoes with his own funds.

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38 Responses to Salomon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners

  1. Will Ferullo October 16, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    Salomon XT S-Lab 5 Softground Trail Running Shoe

    I use these when running obstacle course races, and they work great for me. Traction is excellent. They seem to drain well but I don’t have anything to compare them to. Can’t speak to durability ether, but worth a try.

  2. gottaluvtheserenity October 16, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    Heya from Tasmania,
    I love my Asics trabuco 12′s. Drains water really well. The sole is fairly rigid which I like as my feet don’t seem to ache when I’m rock hopping. I just the other weekend had to bolt back down a mountain as a cold front came in and most of the track was wet granite boulders, didn’t slip once. And they can be picked up really cheap :)

    cheers,
    Simon

  3. Tim October 16, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    La Sportiva is the king of sticky rubber.
    Since you like a little less heel, see if you can try the newest Ultra Raptors.
    More mesh and less fabric around the heel/ankle than the older Raptors.
    They have an 8mm drop and quite a nice rockered feel to transition off the toe.
    The lugs are nice a deep (tho they hold onto mud a bit) and actually provide part of the shoes cushioning.
    Most importantly, they have the stickiest rubber I’ve ever felt – you’ll feel like its cheating lol.
    That said, they are heavy (for trail running they are too cumbersome) and I actually needed more fabric (cushioning) around the heel/ankle.

    • Philip Werner October 16, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      Tried their cross lite 2.0 but they ran small and narrow. Figured I’d tri going up a have or whole size and try again. Are all of their shoes small ?

      • Brad October 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

        Ultra Raptor

    • hoviecat November 3, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      LA SPORTIVA wildcats breath great,dry fast and super-lite!After wearing these I cannot think of wearing anything else.Might not get as many miles but for my feet the comfy factor is unsurpassed.Go up one size.Great for narrow feet or ankles.

  4. Tim October 16, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Doh! Forgot to mention sizing. Not sure what La Sportiva did updating to the Ultra Raptor, but for me I had to go up a full size from the old Raptors. Not surprising though, as it’s typical to have to go up a full size for EU shoes, especially for La Sportiva – their sizing is quite tricky.

    I wear a 10.5 US:
    Old Raptors – 44 (used them for a year but then the toe bumper got a permanent crease which dug into my big toes)
    New Raptors – 45 (too heavy so I stopped using them)
    Quantums – 45 (my main TR/hiking shoe, but traction will lack in mud and snow due to lack of lugs)
    CrossLites – 44.5 (only tried them on, but they are way too hard and my feet would hate me)

    The rubber the Raptors use (same compound for old and new) is awesome on snow and ice too.

    Im looking at the Salomon Speedcross 3′s for winter use as they have some nice burly lugs and are a good weight.

  5. Michael Arthur October 16, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    I 2nd the LaSportiva Raptors (and newer ultra raptors). They have fantastic grip. I also went a full size larger than I normally wear.

    The one weakness I’ve found is that the mesh on top tears right behind the toe box. I put a piece of black duct tape there to help protect against that.

    Toe box protection for rocks could be improved, but a great trail runner for traction.

  6. Rob October 16, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Love my Montrail Massochists

    • Philip Werner October 16, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      I’ve been looking at those. Can you explain why?

      • Kevin November 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

        A bit late here but Mountain Masochist has been my shoe of choice for 5 pairs now. You hike enough to understand that my reasoning is, at its most basic, this: they fit my feet. YMMV.

        Cost is acceptable. Break in is nil, I put on a new pair at the start of the Northville Placid Trail (granted, I knew they worked for me) and hiked the 125 miles with wet feet and had no (unexpected) grief. They get soaked immediately – expected due to the mesh sides – but dry fast. Grip is good. As stated there is some outsole flapping but, by and large, I think the durability vs. comfort ration puts them firmly on the “worth it” side of trail runners. I am trying to think what i get out of them…..I am not sure, slightly less than a year? I hike a ton, and can use these even in winter (on the days I stay in Harriman, etc) so maybe 400 miles?

        I’d say, if they feel good in the store, they are definitely worth a shot.

        PS, this is my first response, but I read your blog a lot, nice work. I especially like reading about others wet experiences on the LT.

        • Philip Werner November 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

          The LT – where hikers go to get their flippers!

    • Journeyman October 16, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      +1

  7. Tim October 16, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    I ran a winter in Montrail Masochists II Outdry version.

    I had to size up because they were very narrow in the midfoot and toe and they always felt a little long for me.

    I found the outdry system a little confusing, because it seemed there was lots of additional fabric and mesh over the membrane which retained water and debris.

    While they had good grip, the rubber lugs started to peel off from the plastic rock plate after maybe 30-40 miles of traprock abuse. I ended up getting in touch with Columbia and they issued refund for the shoes.

  8. Jon B October 16, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    Anyone have any feedback on the Vasque Velocity? Been thinking of giving those a shot to replace my all leather hiking boots.

  9. Andrew October 16, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Have you tried anything by Saucony? I like the Outlaw, but there’s also the Peregrine if you prefer a lower-top shoe.

  10. Steve M October 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    What size shoe do you wear? I bought 3 pair of the previous model La Sportiva Raptors on clearance this summer, all in size 44.5. The box label equates this to a US size 11. I wear a size 10 in my street shoes, and the 44.5 seems to fit me very well. They do have a wide toe box. I planned to keep all thee pair, but willing to part with one if you think it is the right shoe for you.

    • Philip Werner October 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      I wear a size US size 10, but I just ordered 2 pairs in different sizes from Zappos VIP which has free shipping and returns. I’ll get back to you probably tomorrow about sizing since the shipping is overnight. Too bad Zappos is going to be closing that part of their online store – it was really nice to get 1 day turnarounds on shoes!

      • Tim October 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

        http://www.runningwarehouse.com/ is a great place to buy shoes with 2nd day free shipping and returns

        Their shoe fit finder is also a neat tool that I find pretty reliable.

  11. Petch October 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    I have tried both the Mountain Masochists and the Raptors. I found the Mountain Masochists are much more breathable and are more comfortable. But the Raptors have the best traction of anything I have ever worn. On my second pair……

  12. John G. October 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    I like the Merrell Proterra Light hiking shoes. They have worked well for me on all types of terrain including wet rocks. They are also available in a goretex version but I prefer them without.

    Here’s the REI link fyi

    http://www.rei.com/product/846373/merrell-proterra-sport-hiking-shoes-mens

  13. Zach Robbins October 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    I’ve been using the La Sportiva Exum Pro 2009 model for multiple years hiking and backpacking. They’re a heavy duty trail runner/approach shoe with great traction on rock and ice, all upper mesh and hard toe. Unfortunately I’m not sure if they make them anymore and I need a new pair soon, so I might be in the same bind.
    http://www.backpacker.com/august-09-gear-review-la-sportiva-exum-pro-boot/gear/13203
    http://www.backcountry.com/la-sportiva-exum-pro-approach-shoe-mens

  14. Lee Colten October 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    I love my Salamon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 and I think they meet all your criteria. However, I’m with you on the soles not having the stone gripping power that some shoes provide.

    • Philip Werner October 16, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

      Too much like running shoes. Don’t like that flared heel. Too bad, because they fit well.

  15. JT October 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    I’m about a month into a pair of Brooks Cascadia 7′s. I’ve put some miles on them, but haven’t pounded a long day yet. Last years, so mine were around $65. Had to go with a super hideous lime green which does catch my peripheral vision (who thought this was a good thing?) I’m in the PNW, so greasy logs and rocks are common. Good grip so far, longevity is the biggest question. Drainage and drying seem pretty good so far. Fit is comfy and ample up front.

  16. John Whynot October 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    I’ve been trying out the Scarpa Spark. I haven’t taken then out backpacking yet, but they fit my feet well (like the Terroc 330), and have worked well for running and walking on a variety of surfaces…

    • Philip Werner October 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      I like the Sparks too,but they’ve proven a bit to0 soft for me, for rockier hikes and heavier loads. Suppose I could train my feet more to toughen them up, but I am leery of injury.Very close though. I like the mesh.

  17. Tom Murphy October 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Salomon Techamphibians. Been using them exclusively for a few seasons. The softer rubber soles does wear quicker than you might like. Decent thread for hiking. I never rock hop anymore, just walk right through.

  18. Elton O'Brien October 17, 2013 at 4:36 am #

    Pity you cant get hold of the Berghaus Vapour Claw over there as I have my eye on them for the New Year and would value your views! For me its those or the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 but my opinion counts for little as I haven’t experience with trail runners yet. Hope you find the right pair and look forward to reading about your experiences with them.

  19. Chris October 18, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    Love both the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor and Wildcat. Wore the Wildcat exclusively on the PCT and they were incredibly breathable and the Frixion rubber/traction was great. Can’t beat the full mesh of the Wildcats. I am normally a size 12 and I went up to their largest size, a 47.5, or 13.5+ according to La Sportiva. The Ultra Raptors are a bit better durability wise and the rubber is supposedly a little tackier than the Wildcats, but I think both are great.

  20. John Coyle October 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    The La Sportiva Wildcat is my favorite trail shoe. surprisingly stiff midsole, mostly mesh upper, good traction, toe bumper a little small though. I think they meet most of your criteria, although shoes are an individual thing. I use them on the rocky trails of Northern California. They dry fast; for example, when I cross a stream I simply take off my socks, take out the insole, put the shoes back on and wade across. After putting my socks back on and insoles back in, the dampness isn’t objectionable and they dry fast from body heat. As far fit, they are wide enough for my normal width D feet, but I upsize one full size. Outdoorgearlab has a good review of the Wildcat. Hope that helps.

  21. Jason November 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    I have work the inov8 roclite 295 for many years. They still have mesh, super sticky rubber, and are extremely comfortable. I suggest giving inov8 a try again.

  22. Marx January 20, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    Just checking in if you ever found a solid alternative to the inov8?

    • Philip Werner January 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

      Sportiva Ultra-Raptors — working on a review/

  23. Chris January 20, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    I was curious about this as well. Sweet! Love my Sportiva Wildcats & Ultra Raptors. Interested to hear your take!

  24. Elton O'Brien February 2, 2014 at 6:22 am #

    Hows the Ultra Raptor review coming along Phillip? I’m days away from ordering either those, the Wildcats or Salomon XT Hornets. Salomon fit me really well and as it sounds like we have similar foot shape I would value your exp with the Ultras. If the XT’s had a greater mesh side wall I’d not hesitate but they also have a similar looking lug pattern as the XA Comp’s, so the grip is questionable and there are no good reviews out thee of the XT’s. Being reliant on mail order/online retailing only and my first foray into Trail Runners for backpacking makes this choice quite important to me. Fit is obviously the biggest factor. The Ultra Raptors are at the upper end of my budget but are the more durable of the two La Sportiva models so would value your review.

    • Philip Werner February 2, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

      At the moment, I’m mainly hiking in mountaineering boots and crampons….might be a while before an ultrapraptor review appears. If you’re worried about fit, order from Zappos which has free returns.

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