Salomon is a dominant force in the trail running space and rightfully so. They have created a number of trail oriented shoes. Despite their sometimes premium price-point they bring a lot of good to the trail world. The XA Alpine Pro is no exception to that. I was originally drawn to the shoe for light and fast scrambling missions but I think I found something that will be accompanying me whenever a climbing shoe is overkill but a trail runner just doesn't cut it.

At first glance the orange and black color-way is hard to take your eyes off of but I found it to really grow on me but maybe it was the patina of dirt that shielded me from the brightness of the shoe. The main thing that sticks out to the careful observer is the climbing zone on the toe of the shoe, the Contagrip TA outsole and the advanced chassis help to create shoes that inspire confidence on steep, rocky terrain.

Key Specs

  • Breathable upper with extra-thick TPU reinforcement
  • Endofit elasticized mid-foot yoke
  • 24-millimeter stack height in the heel and 18 millimeters in the forefoot, 6mm drop
  • Quick laces
  • Contagrip TA outsole with a wide “climbing zone” lug under the toes
  • 310 grams/10.9 ounces (men’s size 9), 270 grams/9.5 ounces (women’s size 7)
  • $160 MSRP
The mix of flexibility toe to heel and medial to lateral stability creates a platform that edges on small foot holds well and runs techy terrain even better.

Fit

I find my foot to be on the wider side for it's length, in most brands I wear a size 10 or 10.5. For the XA Alpine Pro I went with a size 10. The width of the shoe was dead on but it was a little on the long side. The rounded toe box provided plenty of space for my toes to spread out while moving. The midfoot and heel felt very locked down. The little extra length proved to be a slight drawback when pushing the shoe on more challenging terrain with small foot holds.

Note the toe bumper and extra protection on the medial arch.

Upper

The upper is exactly what folks have come to expect from the euro trail running giant. It helps create a comfortable yet secure fit. Thanks to the drawcord style lace system and handy lace stash pocket. The shoe is built with sliding through scree fields and punting tree roots in mind. The upper sports a substantial toe guard and additional protection under the arch. The welded overlays give the shoe's limited exposed mesh a fighting chance when you go off trail, however, there is a slight trade off when it comes to breathability and the ability for the shoe to dry after a submersion. The upper feels pretty bomber and doesn't show any significant signs of wear after some hard use.

Midsole

The midsole provides a ride that inspires confidence in shoddy foot placements. The 6mm drop falls right in the middle of most shoes and slightly on the high side for most shoes I run in. I found the midsole to be a bit on the firm side for buffed out terrain but the responsiveness was welcomed when the pace quickened over the rough stuff or when transferring power to tricky footholds. The lack of any sort of rock plate became noticeable when the occasional rock would find itself in the area beside any of the beefy lugs. It didn't happen often, but it happened. I don't think the XA Alpine Pros will be on all-day duty unless the terrain is exceptionally heinous for the majority of the outing.

Outsole

The outsole is what initially inspired my interest in the shoe. The idea of combining the features of an approach shoe with a trail running shoe is especially enticing when you want to pick up the pace on the way to easy climbing. The "climbing zone" has an edge that helps to push on the small stuff and you can get away with trickier moves than you would've thought at first go. The 5mm lugs help to keep the shoe from getting loose on non-rocky terrain and I found them to be quite adequate in all but the muddiest conditions.

The one area of the shoe that didn't live up to expectations is the outsole rubber compound. I wished the rubber compound would be stickier at the expense of faster wear as this isn't a daily trainer but more of a specialized tool.

Pros:

  • performs well in "alpine terrain"
  • secure, yet comfortable fit
  • Stands out from the crowd in not only intended usage, but, looks

Cons:

  • midsole can be a little too "responsive" on smoother tracks
  • the fit can lead to a lack of precision when trying to utilize the "climbing zone"
  • rubber could be stickier

Final Thoughts

The Salomon XA Alpine Pro is a bomb-proof shoe that will take you up and down just about anything made of rock that you wouldn't typically rope up for and really shines when things get gnarly. This isn't the shoe you'll probably run your next race in but rather one you'll break out when chasing ridges, scrambling slabs or on fast and light vertical missions. I think the shoe shines when you put it in the right environment and it should be considered as part of any serious mountain runner's quiver.

Disclaimer: This shoe was purchased from Salomon and the opinions here are the authors unbiased thoughts.

Keep the Conversation Going:

Have you tried out the XA Alpine Pro? How hard of terrain would you tackle in them?