The Salomon XA Pro 3D has been updated for 2017! I’ve been through 5 pairs of XA Pro 3Ds over the past three years, and am excited about the minor refinements Salomon has made to this workhorse of a trail shoe. The biggest and most notable change comes with a brand new outsole pattern composed of Salomon’s new premium wet traction Contragrip. The outsole was really my only complaint on the previous version, so this is a positive change for me. The second major change is that Salomon has removed the EndoFit sleeve from the inside of the upper. I’ve worn the previous version of the XA Pro 3D on the Tour du Mont Blanc, the John Muir Trail, the Trans-Catalina Trail, and countless other backpacking and hiking trips. The previous XA Pro 3D was one of the first reviews I wrote for this blog when it launched back in 2014. You can see how far I’ve come by taking a look at that review. For those unfamiliar with the XA Pro 3D, this shoe is essentially a lightweight low-cut boot that can handle anything you throw at it.
Fit and Feel:
The 2017 version of the XA Pro 3D fits and feels exactly like the previous version, with my standard size 12.5 fitting well. The size 12.5 comes in at 16.88oz (479g) for each shoe. This is pretty heavy for a trail running shoe, but lets be honest, very few people are wearing the XA Pro 3D for trail running these days. The XA Pro 3D still uses the Sensifit stitched overlays and Salomon’s quicklace. Like previous versions, the quicklace anchors are still on the medial side of each shoe. I was hoping Salomon would get rid of this for a standard lacing structure, but they decided to keep it. Ratcheting down the laces still puts pressure on my big toe, which is something I have to be mindful of on days with lots of downhill hiking.
One change that caught me by surprise is the seam found in the toebox of the upper. I was going to cover this in the Upper section of this review, but I’ve found that it changes the fit and feel a tiny bit. If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see a seam to the right of the lace anchor on the toe cap. This creates a little bit of a rough spot on the inside.
The XA Pro 3D still maintains it’s supportive and pronounced arch that you won’t find in many other shoes. This is one of the main features I love about the XA Pro 3D when carrying a heavy pack. When wearing less stable shoes, I have to use my Superfeet insoles to provide support. The XA Pro 3Ds are so stable on their own that I don’t need them.
For the upper of the XA Pro 3D Salomon keeps the same open mesh as found on the previous version. This mesh is breathable and does a good job of keeping dirt and debris out. The tongue is not gusseted, but is held in place by a strip of fabric that runs down to the toebox. An additional piece of mesh is sewn onto the upper to keep rocks and pebbles from entering in around the tongue. Salomon uses the stitched Sensifit overlays to provide superb lateral support. Part of me wishes Salomon would have gone to a welded overlay on the XA Pro 3D like they use on their other trail running models. This would allow for more breathability, faster dry times, and less weight.
The heel counter on the XA Pro 3D is very rigid and structured. This is something I’ve really learned to love about the XA Pro 3D from previous models. I feel confident with a heavy pack on in just about any terrain.
The toebox for the 2017 XA Pro 3D remains unchanged. This is a bit of a downer for me. The only issue I’ve ever had with the XA Pro 3D is blisters on hot days when I’m putting in 20+ miles. Anyone that has spent long days on the trail knows how their feet can swell. The XA Pro 3D does not do a great job of accommodating this with it’s heavily built up and structured toe box. I’ve kicked rocks and roots at full speed in the XA Pro 3D and have never felt a thing. That’s the trade off. The XA Pro 3D offers boot-like protection, but with that, you give up the comfort found in a more forgiving toebox.
The midsole for the XA Pro 3D is built on Salomon’s 3D Chassis. The 3D Chassis is very similar to the 4D chassis found in Salomon’s backpacking boots. with the 3D Chassis, a plastic insert runs from heel to toe, providing a rigid platform with stability in every direction. The plastic insert covers the entirety of the heel and then flares out around the outer edges of the forefoot.
I’ve found the 3D chassis to feel very stiff and rigid compared to some of my other lightweight trail shoe options. However, as soon as I strap a backpack on with more than 20 lbs (or my infant son), the stability is a welcome relief for my feet and legs. If you’re looking for the structure and stability of a boot in a trail running package, look no further.
The Salomon XA Pro 3D is built on an 11mm drop according to Salomon’s website, with 21mm in the heel and 10mm in the forefoot. I’m assuming that those measurements don’t include lug height. The midsole uses a combination of compressed and injected EVA foam to give a balance of cushion and responsiveness. Make no mistake though, this is a very firm midsole that is tuned for hiking on the roughest of trails.
Salomon uses their new Premium Wet Traction Contragrip for the newly designed outsole. The outsole design is similar to the previous version around the edges, but Salomon traded the L shaped lugs of the middle portion for trapezoid shaped lugs. The outsole on the previous version was highly durable, but lacked for traction on smooth and wet surfaces. I’ve used this new Premium Wet Traction Contragrip compound on the Salomon Wings 8, XA Enduro, and Sense Ultra, and it it amazing.
There is no dedicated “rock plate” on the XA Pro 3D, but the 3D chassis provides ample protection from heel to arch. I wish Salomon would have added more cushion or a ProFeel film rock guard to the forefoot on this new update. With the previous edition, there were a few days on the John Muir Trail that my forefeet felt pretty beat up after 20 plus miles of trail time.
If you’re looking for a bombproof trail shoe for backpacking and hiking, the XA Pro 3D should be at the top of your list. They may not be the sexiest, lightest, or most comfortable ‘out of the box’, but the stability, durability, support, and reliability more than make up for it. I constantly find myself trying to find a lighter, faster, and more capable option for outings when I’m carrying a 20+ lbs pack… I have yet to find it, and that’s what keeps me coming back to the XA Pro 3D year after year despite the growing number of options in my shoe rotation. With the XA Pro 3D, I know exactly what I’m going to get, and I’m looking forward to many more outings with this newest iteration.