For the second time this year, I purchased a brand-new pair of hiking boots (shoes, to be specific) from Cotswold Outdoor.
My reason for this was simple: I wanted something lightweight for fast-paced, warm weather walks and also, I was curious to test a growing belief that full ankle support isn’t often necessary.
So, after around two-hundred miles in my trail-ready shoes, here are my thoughts on the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX.
From the moment I tried them on, I was impressed. They felt very comfortable and even more lightweight than my walking boots (also made by Salomon) that I’m otherwise comfortable with.
I purchased these ‘blind’ (online and delivered to my door) and guestimated the size to be a UK 11, after reading numerous ‘tight fitting’ comments in the reviews of the Ultra 3’s predecessors. However, I would always recommend someone visits a store (like Cotswold) to have your feet measured properly.
On the Scales
My first choice walking boot for the past couple of years has been the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX. In a post a few months ago, I showed you that they (in a UK 10½) weigh in at 1.164kg.
Compared to that, my Salomon X Ultra 3s (UK 11) weigh in at 953g and 211g less. Not a huge amount, perhaps but, many will tell you that every gram counts while out on the trail.
At the time of buying these, they were sold exclusively by Cotswold. However, I’ve since noticed them appearing on the websites of other known retailers. I only became aware of them after seeing them featured in an e-mail, announcing that they were brand-new. My preference was for the blue styling, over what may be considered a ‘trail runner’s red’.
So far, I’ve worn them across a variety of terrain (although, no mountains yet) and through various weather conditions. I do apologise for the volume of mud in my images but I do clean and re-proof these boots weekly and it does show you that I have been wearing them.
This model is very similar from a trail-running shoe, with perhaps a few extra grams added for padding and protecting around the toe. They also featured Salomon’s Quick-Lace system, which does appear to be popular amongst runners.
For me, this was not a feature that would’ve drawn my interest but, I remained curious, having not experienced it before.
Essentially, you pull the top loop upwards and then slide the plastic fastener down towards the laces. I’ve not had any issues with the lacing system working lose, once I’d figured out how to stow away the excess…
I couldn’t make full sense of Salomon’s instruction card (supplied, tied to the boot) and had to resort to a YouTube video, before realising there’s a pouch on the front of the tongue, in to which, you can tuck away the excess lacing, once it’s been rolled up. Again, this holds well once you’ve figured it out.
My one concern with the laces is that they are very thin. At a guess, they could be as small as 1.5mm. I’ve read the occasional review stating that they will snap (replacements are available). As a four-season walker, my only concern is that they’re probably not stout enough to hold the hook from a pair of gaiters.
I Got Sole
Inside, you’ll find Salomon’s standard Ortholite footbed… Not pictured, because I’ve replaced them with Superfeet Carbon insoles.
My Salomon soles now live in my safety trainers for work and I upgraded to Superfeet because I found I was getting pain along the plantar fascia tendon underneath both feet.
Many people will comment on how ‘slippery’ Salomon soles can be. I’ve yet to fall on my backside with these on but, equally, I’ve not been climbing over wet rocks and mountain paths in them, either.
If people can run thirty-miles in similar shoes without complaining then, how bad can they really be?
It’s another form of Salomon’s Contagrip design, which is also featured on the Quest 4D 2s (bottom shoe of the photo above).
Are They Waterproof?
Someone recently asked me this on Instagram and, sadly, I had to admit that they are not one-hundred per cent waterproof. This was something I learned on my very first walk in them around Wiltshire and, even after further cleaning and waterproofing, their repellency has not improved.
To clarify, I’d say these boots are only about ninety-per cent waterproof:
A shame, as they are lined with GoreTex internally.
I took this photo in the Peak District near Edale about a month ago and purely for the benefit of this review. You can see from my sock, that the tops of my toes were wet. Not saturated but the wet grass I’d encountered had left an impression. Elsewhere, my feet were untouched.
I’ve had this experience several times now that I am convinced it is water penetrating and not a result of perspiration.
The Ankle Support Debate
So, there’s a growing opinion (mostly springing from long-distance walkers and backpackers) that full-height ankle support (as on the Quest 4D 2 boot) may be unnecessary for average walking and also, detrimental to the strength of your ankles.
This theory goes that, if your ankles are fully supported them, you’re not going to use those muscles. Yes, they’ll be protected from knocks, scrapes and twists but, when we don’t use our muscles, they do weaken.
When was the last time you fell over your ankle while out walking? Have you ever gashed that part of your leg on a rock?
I’m not wishing to tempt “Fate” here but I’ve had no such trouble in the X Ultra 3s. When I first started wearing them, I noticed an initial ache up and down my Achilles tendon, as if to suggest I’d not been using it. I’ve also switched to wearing support-free trainers at work, instead of high boots.
Comfortable, lightweight boots that fit my feet well.
…But, as with all honest reviews, there have to be Negatives as well.
For the following analysis, I’m looking only at the right boot:
Within the first month, I’d noticed this material peeling away on the inside of the heel. I didn’t think much of it then and still don’t now, as an isolated incident.
While taking these photos this evening, I became aware of what looks like stitching beginning to unravel down the inside from the laces and the creases – which, to be fair, I’ve experienced with every pair of boots I’ve owned.
Beneath the dirt, I’ve found yet more material lifting away from the outside of the heel. To me, this is as concerning as in the second photo and I do not think this could be attributed to scuffing the shoe against a rock or tree. From a manufacturing point of view, the quality is not good enough.
There is an argument, here, that I should be taking these shoes to Cotswold Outdoor and seeking a refund or replacement. Their service is usually second to none.
I don’t intend to wear these shoes through the wet winter (that’s not why I bought them) and I don’t want people to read my words and decide instantly that they’re not going to buy them.
I’m trying to remain optimistic that I might have purchased one pair from what was a bad batch off the production line. I do hope that a replacement pair, if attainable and supplied, will justify that.
9 thoughts on “Review: Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX”
Interesting you have had issues, I have these shoes (since May so over 500 miles walked in them) and have found them excellent, and by far the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever owned, in fact I walked 30 miles yesterday without a blister, and with barely any foot pain (my previous long walk – 25 miles – I wore older boots and struggled the last few miles as feet were so painful), however this was on flat. I’ve not found issues with the fabric tearing, or damage to the sole etc. but I’m not up mountains much which I guess will put different strains on a shoe.
I’ve also not had issues with water, again I haven’t dipped them, but walking through wet grass, in rain and through puddles my feet have stayed dry. It is one area I am not convinced will last though, waterproofing is one reason I prefer leather boots over fabric.
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Hi Ashley – thanks for reading and for your comment.
I’m pleased to hear your rather positive account of the same shoes and after five-hundred miles. I think it increases the possibility that my pair may just be a ‘one off’ from a bad batch of “Friday afternoon job”. I’m confident Cotswold will replace them, when I get in touch.
I also prefer wearing leather boots in the winter – easy to clean and, I agree, better for keeping the water out. My other Salomons (Quest 4D 2) split and cracked in places after two years. Yet, I went for the same again largely because I find them to be more comfortable than anything else.
Thanks again for your comment and nice to meet a fellow Outdoor Blogger. 🙂
Thank you for your detailed review. I am also considering switching to the Ultra 3 from Quest 4D 2, specifically for a try at Land’s End to John O’ Groats this summer.
A couple of questions:
How quickly did yours take to dry? I’ve had serious issues with the Quest 4D 2s not drying out on long-distance walks. I’ve found the Quest 4D 2s just don’t handle wet grass very well and once they’re wet, it will be a few days (with constant walking) before they dry completely.
How was the break-in period?
I tried a pair of the non GTX version on at a big box hiking store here in the US. I really liked the space in the toe box and my heel felt secure. Have you had any issues with toe jamming on descents?
Thanks again for your review.
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Hi, I’m glad you found it useful and thanks for your comment.
I can’t honestly remember but I would imagine they’ll dry out no more quickly than the 4D 2 boots. I normally stuff wet boots with rolls of newspaper and find that absorbs most of the moisture overnight.
I don’t remember needing break them in and comfortably walked 18 miles on my first day.
No toe issues for me although I did buy a half size bigger as my 4D 2s were almost tight. I was impressed by how securely the quick laces hold.
I hope this helps.
Hi – great review, thank you. You say you ordered 11 and they fit well. What size would you say you are for ‘normal’ shoes? With two pairs of socks I am tempted to go a size bigger than normal to have some leeway to avoid toes hitting the front on downhills on the camino and just make sure it’s laced up firmly.
Hi, thanks for your comment.
I’m normally a 10.5. Sometimes a 10. It can vary from one shoe or manufacturer to the next!
I find Salomon shoes fit me well as I have quite narrow feet. What you have suggested makes sense. But if they’re too big after that, you may find problems with blisters.
Good luck on your Camino trek and in your quest for footwear.
Had many pairs of ULTRA 2 and are great everyday shoes ULTRA 3 made in India are rubbish very poor narrow small general quality not up to SALOMON will not buy again
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Interesting. Thanks for sharing.