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For absolute confidence in mud and snow, no other shoe beats the Salomon Speedcross 3.
Written: Apr 21, 2012 (Updated Apr 21, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Snug fit, quick-lace system, built-in lace pocket, awesome tread-design, excellent lateral-traction, easy to clean,
Cons:They are perfect for their intended use, I can't see any real drawbacks.
The Bottom Line: Mud traction that will blow your mind, warmer and more comfortable feet, sexy looks, I think you might have found your next mud/snow shoe. Don't you?
--- Introduction ---
First of all, this IS a review even though it may sound more like a story sometimes. :)
I've become a bit of a elitist when it comes to trail running shoes and have the hardest time finding a new pair. This is odd as pretty much all my street running takes place with Asics Gel Nimbus under my feet... I've had 3 pairs and worn them all out. That's the sign of a good shoe, return customers year after year.
However, since I have developed an addiction in the last couple years to that odd and slightly crazy segment of running called "Mud Running" or in other words, "Extreme Running". Types of these races are the Columbia Muddy Buddy, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, and craziest of all, the big-daddy of all of them, Tough Mudder!
Therefore, in trail shoes I look for the most aggressive mud shoe I can find that will give me traction in the nastiest goop I can throw at them. They have to be built with strong soles and upper material so they don't rip apart during the first race. My first pair was a discount-shelf buy at REI, an older Columbia trail shoe that had some decent tread but did not hold up more than two races. Last year I ran in La Sportiva C-LITE 2.0 mud running shoes and they did a good job, much better than my old Columbia pair! However the traction was still only okay... in the deep stuff (calf deep or higher) it felt like I was sliding sideways a lot and had no lateral stability. I made it through 4 mud-runs with these shoes, but they were not confidence inspiring.
---- Enter the SpeedCross 3 ----
One of my friends works at a local outdoor store and called me to say Salomon had a running shoe I NEEDED to check out. After viewing the SpeedCross and test running it around the building, I purchased a pair immediately. They fit that good, and the tread pattern was more like a truck mud tire than a running shoe... which is to say GREAT!
The fit on a SpeedCross is very snug, almost like wearing wetsuit boots only not as constricting. The upper material (Anti-debris mesh and water-resistant textile upper with mud guard) keeps a firm fit over your entire foot and features a one-pull Quick-lace system which cinches down the whole tongue evenly. There is also a tiny pocket built into the outside of the tongue to tuck your laces and lace-lock to keep them out of the way. This is SO welcome, I've had a huge problem keeping my shoes laced at extreme runs, with mud, rocks, roots, and branches all poking and snagging my laces undone. Then your shoe pops off and good luck getting your foot back in that muddy mess that just filled your shoe. They are also very light at only 11.5oz (men's 10.5) and feel much closer to a naked running shoe than a typical trail shoe does.
--- Now begins the test ---
With only 5 days until my very first Tough Mudder race, I didn't even get a chance to break the shoes in to my feet. Other than one day wearing them around the house and yard, it was virgin shoes being offered to the mud pits on Saturday morning. It dawned dark and cloudy, 70% chance of rain.
A T/M race is a half marathon with 25-30 military style obstacles that are some of the hardest challenges a civilian will every face. Neck deep water hazards, steep hill climbs, trudging through a swamp carrying hardwood on your shoulders, slogging through a mile of clay mud as deep as your knees, crossing a 20' long 2.5" wide balance beam over a water pit, jumping from one steep dirt berm across a 5' trench full of water only to land on another steep berm then repeat 11 more times. These are all typical obstacles and are sprinkled throughout an already tough 12 mile run all on dirt and gravel. The race I entered decided to rain for more than 3 hours of it, so the WHOLE course was several inches deep in mud, not just the hazards as I had been expection.
From the starting line to the very last Electroshock Therapy obstacle, these shoes totally dominated! My teammate also had a pair of SC3s and together we were passing other competitors in many areas where people were simply sliding back downhill with no traction at all. I had at least 50 people asking me what the heck I was wearing, as they couldn't even stand up and I was running at a 9:30 pace up a muddy incline.
> Mud Traction: Climbing and braking traction are the best I've ever experienced in a trail shoe on slippery surfaces. We were able to team-carry a 9" thick x 50" long section of hardwood through 3/4 mile of slick and muddy hills without a single fall, that was unheard of that day. Lateral traction is also excellent, since sidehill running is pretty common in an event like this I was VERY happy to have the extra grip the SpeedCross 3s provide. Salomon calls their sole "Contagrip Mud & Snow", I call it love at first plight... :)
I was also pleasantly surprised by the grip the SC3s found on wet tree trunks, rock ledges, gravel hills, and many other natural obstacles made tougher when covered in sheets of water and combination of clay and loamy black dirt.
> Comfort: Thanks to the construction of the ripstop nylon upper and firm mid-upper foot closure supplied the quick-lace system, I had very little mud intrusion into my socks from above. No joke, my ankles were buried under mud for a good 4 miles of the race... literally buried up my calves and sometimes knees. The worst part of a mud run is having mud and gravel chunks working their way down in your socks, then chewing bloody holes in your feet. Thank God, the SC3s kept all that mud from getting in my socks or even down my shoes at all.
One area I never expected to love the SC3 was in cold weather. A Tough Mudder by nature is grueling, my Ohio race was in 50 degree temperatures with a steady rain and huge hazards filled with ice water (yes, they added hundreds of pounds of ice just for... fun). The ONLY part of my entire body not dealing with pain-level cold were my feet. That same tight-weave ripstop material that keeps out the crap around you also holds heat in pretty well. I had SmartWool PHd running socks and the combo was unbeatable. I would go so far as to say through the entire race my feet were... comfy? That sounds weird, but true.
> Ease of cleaning: Since I paid $125 for my shoes, I plan on getting a good 5 races out of them so cleaning is a factor for me. These shoes clean up SO well it's like they are covered in Teflon! I shoved all my nasty gear in a trash bag, left in it the truck overnight, then started cleaning the following afternoon. Simply remove the insoles, take a good garden hose and spray everything out really well. I used a very soft bristle brush and a little biodegradable mild dish soap and both the exterior and interior returned about 90% to their original color and condition. The CS3 also by nature dries really quickly, within 5 hours they were nearly dry and ready to run again.
--- Bottom Line ---
These are very limited use shoes, most trail runners would do better with a Salomon Crossmax or XA Comp. The crazy chevron tread design that is so effective in mud, crud, and sludge is not so fun on the road or hard packed trails. Plus, you'll wear out the tread faster if you run on a lot of roads or sidewalks. However if you run in snow, ice, or mixure of winter and summer trail runs these are going to be your favorite shoes you've ever owned.
These run very true to size for me, do NOT get a pair that's a little small... they don't stretch much and you'll be able to get a lot of closure with the quick-lace system.
I expect to get a good 2 years out of these shoes and with the performance increase I noticed during the T/M it will be money well spent. If you might be interested, find a store and try on a pair... they might win you over as they did me.
Thanks for reading and happy running... here's to more mud!
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