Gear Review: Salomon X Ultra 3
Out of the box I loved these boots, but then...
It was April and I decided it was time to get a nice new pair of boots for the spring hiking season. Up till this point I was a firm believer in "All Leather All the Time" at least when it came to hiking boots. What could be more sturdy and more waterproof than a full leather boot? But, I wanted to at least check out what else was available.
When the salesman brought over the box to try these on I just assumed I got the box that the display shoe came out of. There is no way that two waterproof mens hiking boots could weigh this little. After all, I was looking for something to crush granite peaks with, not new sneakers for the court. I was shocked to find both boots inside and an a rugged outsole that looked like it could keep me from sliding down steep New Hampshire slabs.
They were sharp too. All black with grey & silver detailing. Obviously I don't but my hiking boots based off styling. But, it is at least something I notice. It's always nice to impress the folks in line at Frontside Grind for a post hike coffee (or stumbling into Frontside after a 3 day backpack). Generally hiking boot makers don't seem to think much about color or styling considering 89% have an iteration of the classic mud and orange pattern.
I tried them on and loved them. The left boot came untied, I probably didn't tie it tight enough.
Soon after I broke them out for their first day in the spotlight. A nice presidential jaunt up the Crawford Path from Mt. Clinton Road, then up to good old Pierce (the mountain not the guy) then across to his good buddy Eisenhower (again not the guy, the mountain) somewhere along the way my left shoe came untied, probably snagged it on something, then back down to Mt. Clinton Road (which has nothing to do with Bill or Hillary).
They felt great after a long-ish out in the spring sun. My feet didn't overheat, so they totally lived up to their promised breathability. They handled the large rocks and flat slabs, that are oh so common in the White Mountains, with great ease. When I first got them on I had trouble tightening the toe box so I was worried about blisters from my feet moving around. I actually felt great, because the mesh outer is flexible enough to hold your foot more like a sock and the padding easily compressed to pad my foot on all sides.
I tied my left boot before climbing in the car and heading in for a beer at the Moat. I was impressed with my new lightweight, breezy hikers. Who knew boots could be this way?
The next time I used them thoroughly was out in Utah. The continued to keep my feet cooler than any other boot I've owned, but I noticed something I didn't like, which would much later prove disastrous. In Utah I noticed I got WAY more sand, dirt and pebbles in my boots than my fellow travelers. After some inspection I realized the cushioning around the ankle kind of peeled away from the skin and ankle at the top. This made a perfect funnel for anything outside my boot that I didn't want getting in.
FLASH FORWARD A LITTLE LESS THAN A YEAR TO THE PEMIGEWASSET WILDERNESS
On a trip up top the Twins then across to Garfield in May 2018 I decided that I probably wouldn't need my gaiters... This was the wrong decision and there was plenty of snow on the trail that was continually trapped my whole leg. It was a posthole nightmare, and my boot seemed to be working against me when it came to keeping frozen water out of my sock. Later, after retying my left boot, I headed up to Garfield on the Garfield Ridge Trail, we encounter something more akin to a river than a trail. My boots gladly accepted the pouring water into them. It was going to be wet regardless, but the boots certainly exacerbated the issue.
If you haven't picked up on it yet, FOR SOME REASON THE LEFT BOOT ALWAYS COMES UNTIED. I do not know why it is just on the left. You would expect both to come untied. Maybe I got a single haunted boot. Maybe one fell off a truck. I think it MUST have something to do with the ultra smooth laces that don't seem to hold any friction when you tighten them. But I am no scientist and the doesn't explain why it is primarily a problem on just my left side.
After giving the boots a nice tighten before setting out one day one of the grommets seared right off and fired itself across the room. This might have had something to do with always having to tighten my boots and re-tie them, but I am not Hulk Hogan, I do not tear phonebooks in half. I should not be able to tear through the metal used on a long lasting quality hiking boot after only 6 months of use.
It was at this point I started to think the hiking boots I had fallen in love with out of the box might have their flaws. I've considered getting the elastic pull laces they sell and I had purchased my original pair at LL Bean and was able to replace the busted pair (I certainly hope that was a factory defect and not a "feature". I was certainly NOT Satisfied with my purchase from Leon).
FINAL THOUGHT: They are good boots and I still look forward to their comfort and lightweight support when I get ready to hike on a summer day, but I don't look for them when I need protection from the elements in November thru May (or June depending on snowfall). they do great in low water crossings and large swampy areas that are all too often in the Whites, but I wouldn't trust their mesh outer for a full day in and out of snow. All in all a mixed bag.
MILDLY HAPPY WITH THE PURCHASE
COULD BE BETTER BUT STILL GOOD
3.5 STARS OUT OF 5
Don't Just Listen to Me Blather On and On
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