Back in August of last year, I put together a post of the 15 most exciting trail shoes that would be released in 2017. At the top of the list I awarded the Salomon XA Enduro as the most exciting. What initially jumped out at me on the XA Enduro was the built in gaiter and full length Profeel Film rock protection. Those were two features I knew would make for very comfortable long days out on the trail. I also saw that the XA Enduros came with Salomon’s tried and true Endofit, Sensifit, and Quicklace system. After waiting for nearly five months, I finally have my hands on a pair of the XA Enduros and will share my initial impressions in this post.
Fit and Feel:
I purchased the XA Enduro in my standard size of 12.5. The XA Enduro fits true to size for my foot. The internal bootie fits snug and comfortably after the first few wears, and works very well as a full length Endofit sleeve. The toebox is well spaced, and a tad wider than the SLAB Wings 8 in the same size. The Enduro also has more toebox volume when compared to the SLAB 8. This has to do with both the last of the Enduro and the material of the upper. The Sensifit fits very well through the midfoot and is perfectly snug, providing a sense of security I’ve grown familiar with in all of my Salomon shoes. The heel is the only area in this fit section that wasn’t a home run for me. The stretchy material of the bootie creates a bit of a shoehorn, keeping my heel from staying put. I don’t notice a lot of heel slip, but I do wish the feeling was a little more dialed in through the heel cup. The only way to alleviate the slip for me was to ratchet down the laces in an uncomfortable way. I’m hoping the gaiter packs down with time.
As I mentioned in the intro, Salomon’s new Protective Stretch Gaiter is the hot new feature on the Enduro Upper. The opening to the gaiter is a little narrow and it takes some work to get your feet in at first. This is a good thing though, as a loose and floppy gaiter would be a nightmare on the trails. There is a stretch mesh on the inside of the gaiter that holds your ankle and helps the material move with your foot. On the medial side (inside facing) of the gaiter Salomon used an extra piece of fabric with five overlays. I assume this was added to prevent the wear and tear of heel clipping. Thus far, the gaiter appears to be very breathable. It is January though, so take that with a grain of salt.
Outside of the gaiter is a breathable open mesh with a Sensifit overlay. The upper feels very comfortable, and is hotspot and friction free. I really like when Salomon uses these Friction Free Lace Eyelets for their Quicklaces. The grommets are essentially plastic beads wrapped in a fabric and stitched to the Sensifit. This combination makes for a shoe free from pressure points on the top of the foot.
The toebox of the XA enduro has a welded overlay that comes up over the toe, and should offer a good deal of protection without smashing up my toenails on the downhills.
The XA Enduro has a 9mm drop, with 26mm in the heel and 17mm in the forefoot. I usually don’t mention insoles in my reviews/previews, but will make an exception for the Enduro. Like many out there, I had some bunching issues with the insoles of my SLAB Wings and SLAB Wings 8 whenever they became wet. This was due to the paper thin construction of the insoles. The insoles of the XA Enduro are a major upgrade, and don’t look like they will suffer in the same ways their counterpart on the Wings.
For the midsole of the XA Enduro, Salomon uses a composition they call EnergyCell+. The ride on the XA Enduro is responsive and stable. The shoe feels a little firm right out of the box, but right at home on aggressive trails. The feel of the XA Enduro is similar to the SLAB Wings 8, with maybe a little more forgiveness in the forefoot.
For the outsole of the XA Enduro, Salomon is using their new Premium Wet Traction Contragrip. This is the same compound Salomon used on the SLAB Wings 8. This version of Contragrip rubber is incredibly sticky, while maintaining high levels of durability. The big difference between the XA Enduro outsole and the Wings 8 outsole comes in the tread pattern. The only issue I have the with Wings 8 is that the outsole has a lot of tightly packed outsole lugs with shallow depth. This is problematic on muddy trails for shedding, or on trails with a loose sand or rock. The XA Enduro has lugs that are spaced a little more widely, and the lugs have a nice amount of depth for added bite. For rock protection, the XA Enduro uses Salomons Profeel Film trail guard to protect against rock push-through and stone bruising. In all, this is an incredible outsole package.
At $160, the XA Enduro does not come cheap. I’ve found that the price per mile is the real way to compare prices on shoes though. Even though Salomon’s tend to cost a little more than other trail shoes on the market, the price per mile has been a wash for me. I expect the XA Enduro to be just as durable and reliable as the other Salomon’s in my trail shoe rotation.
If you’re looking for a bombproof trail shoe, that offers tons of protection, stability, and sure footedness, the XA Enduro should be at the top of your shopping list. I’ll be racking up a ton of miles on these in the months ahead, and will be providing a full review if all goes well.