Reviewed by Louise Totton
In our house, we have all been loving making more of an effort to be outside and enjoy our surroundings. I know most of us don’t really appreciate what we have on our doorsteps, and whilst we are very spoilt with scenery here in the Yorkshire countryside, in my experience, even some seemingly very urban areas have some fabulous hidden gems to allow you to get outside, stretch your legs and enjoy the best of what the outdoors has to offer.
We have been trying out a number of outdoor clothing ranges recently, and it has only recently become obvious to me how much difference having the right gear makes, be it breathable jackets, t-shirts with wicking properties and shorts that are cut just right to allow you to move easily yet still look good. Yet up till now, I have continued to wear my everyday shoes to walk in – granted, they are sturdy and supportive, but they aren’t designed for the unique challenges of proper walking.
Salomon are an outdoor and adventure apparel company who just want to allow their customers to enjoy being outside, to connect with nature and to gain pleasure from being themselves in our natural environment. Their products are simply designed, yet do the job incredibly well, whilst still looking great – exactly what I was looking for in a walking shoe. So, when I was given the opportunity to try out their X Ultra 3 GTX Women’s walking shoes, I was delighted to accept!
The X Ultra 3 is actually a range of walking shoes with a number of configurations – they are available in low shoes or mid boots, as well as with waterproofing (GTX) or without, and either with the Quicklace system or with traditional laces (prime). Finally, they are available in either wide or standard width fittings, and in men’s or women’s styles, so there really is quite the selection and something for everyone! I tried out the lower shoe GTX (waterproof) version with the Quicklaces in a women’s standard fit. It sounds like an incredibly complicated list of choices to make, but I would imagine most of us would know from the start if they wanted a shoe or a boot and wide or standard fit so really the only choices that need to be made are whether you want waterproofing and the lacing style.
I was sent mine in a lovely sea green colour which has bright yellow flashes up the side, although more muted colour options are also available! I love the fact that these shoes are available in half-sizes as well as full sizes, as perfect fit is so important for proper hiking. I also love that the women’s shoes are available from a size 3.5 all the way up to 10.5 – as a woman with larger feet, I have often had to go for men’s shoes which can be too wide and not the colours I would choose.
My first impressions of these shoes were very, very good. I loved the colour option and thought they looked really striking, but also plain enough not to look out of place with most colours. The shoes feel very sturdy and it was immediately obvious that they were a high-quality product. These ones have got Ortholite soles, which gives them a firm but very comfortable fit. They are incredibly supportive, especially around the arches and on the balls of the feel, which is where I can often start to feel pain during a long walk or one with lots of assents and descents. One thing I would say is that they are quite a narrow fit – I have narrow feet and found the standard ones to be just about right, so if I had a ‘normal’ width foot, I think the wide fit might have been appropriate. Two of my favourite pass times are lead-climbing and top-roping, and these shoes have a similar tight and supportive feel to my climbing shoes so I’m happy with them, but I think some people may prefer to go up a size.
The waterproofing comes from Gore-tex and the shoes coped really well with my usual walk, which takes in a good chunk of walking by a stream – the ground can get very boggy, even in the middle of summer and there’s a lovely pebbly bit that the kids love walking down which is almost in the stream itself. My feet were lovely and dry both during the walk and also when I checked more thoroughly when we got home.
I wasn’t sure what I would make of the Quicklace system, mostly because I do have oddly proportioned feet, so I like to be able to adjust my shoes fully and wasn’t sure that this would be possible with these laces. I was wrong and they are just as adjustable as normal laces, with the added benefit of never having to re-tie them part way through your walk, and this obviously means you can’t fall over them. They have stayed tightly on throughout all of the walks we have taken them on, and I haven’t needed to tighten or adjust them once whilst we’ve been out. There are no laces to straggle or drag through the mud, so they will stay looking newer for longer which is always nice when you have spent a significant amount of money on something!
On the subject of tripping, one of the main upgrades of the X Ultra 3 over the X Ultra 2 is the soles of the shoes. Just like the previous version, they have superbly grippy soles that didn’t let me down at any point. These ones also have Descent Control built into the soles too, giving you the extra grip and support during more rigorous hikes. My walks to date haven’t lent themselves to testing this thoroughly, but initial indications are very good as I can see them being excellent. As I previously said, I do go climbing and I think these shoes would be perfect to use as approach shoes for some of the climbs that we go on – ideal for rough terrain, and light enough to carry once I have changed into my climbing shoes.
I was really, really impressed with these shoes. They are comfortable, very supportive, incredibly grippy and reliably waterproof. On top of that, they look fantastic and are lightweight. I’m not sure what else you might want from a walking shoe; these are fantastic and I am so impressed with Salomon – a brand I had never heard of before!
For more information or to buy online visit www.salomon.com.