Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Trail Shoe

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The XA Elevate is Salomon’s newest entry into their “On & Off Trail” shoe line-up. These shoes are designed for high alpine pursuits and are perfectly suited for steep terrain and challenging underfoot conditions. The XA Elevate is built on a highly stable 8mm-drop midsole and has a Premium Wet-Traction Contragrip outsole that clings on to anything and everything.

If the XA Elevate looks familiar to you, you’re not mistaken. This ‘new’ shoe is essentially last years XA Enduro with a new upper that sheds the Enduro’s internal bootie. The bootie on the XA Enduro caused some heel slip in my experience, so I was very happy to see a new, nearly identical model without it. I’ve been putting the XA Enduro to the test over the past few months and will share my experience in this review.

My Post (5)

Find the XA Elevate Online: REI | Amazon | Backcountry | Zappos

Fit and Feel:

Sizing and Weight: I wear a size 12 in the XA Elevate which is the same size I wear in a street shoe and most other shoes. This shoe fits similar to the Salomon Sense Ride, but with a little more room up front. My size 12 comes in at just under 12oz per shoe, which is very light for a shoe offering this much underfoot protection.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Heel: The XA Elevate has a semi-rigid heel counter and a highly padded heel area with a deep cup. The fit is just about perfect in the heel for my foot, and has never caused any hot spots or rubbing.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Midfoot: The midfoot is the one area of the XA Elevate that doesn’t quite work for my foot shape. My midfoot is on the wider side, and this shoe is pretty narrow. Salomon shoes tend to run narrow in general, but the new Sensi-fit midfoot wrap makes it much more noticeable on the XA Elevate. If you’re familiar with the Sense Ride, Sense Pro Max, or any of Salomons SLAB shoes, you’ll know that their midfoot Sensi-fit support is created using a welded overlay that wraps and flexes with the foot. The XA Elevate uses a different material that doesn’t flex or move as much. This is a great improvement for lateral stability and overall foot security, but a little uncomfortable at first for those with wider feet. With time, the shoe has broken in and I’ve figured out an optimal lacing tension for long term comfort.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Toebox: The XA Elevate has a very comfortable toebox that fits my foot well. The width is more than enough for toe splay, with no room for slop or unwanted movement. The volume is on the lower side, but opens up as the fabrics break in.

The XA Elevate is a shoe that will make devoted Salomon fans happy when it comes to the fit. The heel, midfoot, and toebox are precise and dialed in just right.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Upper Performance:

The upper on the XA Elevate uses an open mesh in the heel and toebox, but a stiffer and more protective fabric through the midfoot. The midfoot fabric is great for long term durability and lateral stability, but feels a bit crinkly during the break-in period. When I first tried on the XA Elevate, I was actually worried that this fabric would cause rubbing issues as it folded at the creases when walking. After a few months of wear, the fabric has smoothed out and has yet to cause any issues.

I mentioned the Sensi-fit wrap in the midfoot of the XA Pro in the ‘fit and feel’ section above. You can see them in the photo below, as they run from the sole of the shoe up into the lacing system. This midfoot wrap can be a tight fit for wide feet, but is absolutely incredible for lateral stability on uneven trails. This is one of the most secure fitting shoes I’ve ever tested.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

The XA Elevate has a pretty robust toe guard that uses a layer of material under a welded overlay. I’ve blasted my toes into quite a few rocks and this toe guard has kept my feet very well protected.

The XA Elevate is a great shoe for wet trails, as they drain and dry very quickly. I was worried at first that the thick padding in the heel and tongue would absorb water and not dry out, but my initial feelings have proven to be unfounded.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Salomon uses a standard tongue for the XA Elevate that is thickly padded. I really like this thickly padded tongue, as I can ratchet down the Kevlar Quick-laces without any pressure on the top of my feet. That is not something I am able to do with Salomon shoes using thinner Endo-fit sleeves. There is a full gusset on top of the tongue that keeps out dirt and debris. This is the same tongue and gusset system used on the Salomon XA Pro 3D.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Midsole Performance:

Platform: The Salomon XA Elevate is built on an 8mm drop, with 26mm in the heel and 18mm in the forefoot. I’m really stoked that Salomon has made the XA Elevate an 8mm drop shoe, as this feels like the sweet spot for my running gait and hiking style.

Cushion: For the composition of the midsole, Salomon uses a dual-density compressed EVA that rides on the firm and stable side. If you’re looking for a plush marshmallow of a shoe, the XA Elevate probably won’t be for you. This shoe is responsive and provides incredible underfoot protection. I’ve taken the XA Elevate on talus filled trails and smooth buffed out single track, on long day hikes and short ridge routes, this is a shoe that doesn’t care which trail you’re on. It can do it all.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Flex: The XA Elevate provides a torsionally rigid platform with just enough flex at toe off. This is not a flexible or flimsy shoe, making it a great choice for days when you’re on uneven terrain, or when you’re hiking with more than just a daypack.

To provide this stable platform, Salomon uses what they call Advanced Chassis. For those that have worn the XA Pro 3D, X Ultra 3, or Wings Pro 2, you’ll know that Salomon uses a plastic 3D chassis to provide a stable underfoot ride. For the XA Elevate, Salomon uses a dual density midsole, with a super dense EVA foam instead of using plastic. This provides a stable and supportive ride that feels much more comfortable on long trail day and on outings when I mix in a little running.

Protection: For underfoot protection on the XA Elevate, Salomon uses a full length Pro-feel Film. Pro-feel Film is a flexible stone guard that Salomon uses in their shoes to protect feet from sharp rocks and roots. In most of Salomons trails shoes, they only use this film in a limited area of the forefoot. I love that they have created a shoe that provides a full coverage protection zone. I’ve walked over some really rocky trails without my feet being any worse for the wear.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Outsole Performance:

As much as I love the midsole on the XA Elevate, the outsole is my favorite part of this shoe. It starts with the design of the lug pattern where Salomon uses a series of trapezoidal lugs. These lugs have large surface areas to provide traction on smooth surfaces like granite slabs. Salomon uses their tried and true Premium Wet Traction Contagrip for the rubber compound which I’ve found to be one of the best in regards to traction and durability.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

The trapezoidal lugs on the XA Elevate have enough depth for biting into sand, gravel, and mud, but can still handle fire roads and asphalt without issue. The lugs are also well spaced, which means mud and slush shed easily.

Salomon is using Premium Wet Traction Contagrip and this same or similar outsole pattern on almost every one of their new shoes. It’s for a good reason, as I find this combination to be the most dynamic and versatile on the market today.

Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Hiking Shoe

Closing Thoughts:

Despite the narrow midfoot fit, the Salomon XA Elevate is one of my favorite trail shoes to date. The midsole and outsole combine to make a comfortable, protective, and dynamic trail shredder that handles everything I throw at them. The XA Elevate is the perfect shoe for peak baggers, off-trail scramblers, and casual hikers. They also carry a pack well, making them ideal for backpackers and thru-hikers. Most importantly, the XA Elevate comes in at a very reasonable $130, making them one of the more affordable high-feature trail shoes on the market today.

Disclosure: The product links provided in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made using these affiliate links go to support the content created here at Trail to Peak at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Salomon XA Elevate










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34 thoughts on “Gear Review: Salomon XA Elevate Trail Shoe”

  1. Hi Drew. Love your reviews. followed them as I forayed into my first salomons after years in Altra. A torn PF in the right foot has forced me out of zero drop. Until your review for the sense ride, I was in the “all salomons” are two narrow. I like the ride, I want to love it. But I found that after 15miles or so, I start to have hot spots in places I’ve never had them. I know I’ll not find “Altra” width toe boxes. but I think the sense ride wont work for a 50mile ultra for me. I’ve since found that the Speedcross 4 comes in a wide. so I have a pair of those. The 2E is great. never been a width issue. Those shoe absolutely chew up everything Ive throw at it. But its not without complaints. they drain water well. but the sock liner (once wet) does slip on declines and tends to bunch up. I could glue it I guess. I have only about 70 miles in the. But man oh man are they stiff. Thats a mixed blessing. with my PF still recovering, the lack of flex is good. But on non-rugged or more flat terrain, its like running in wooden clogs. Maybe they will break in still. I also wish the cushion was a bit more …. cushiony. I dont need a hoka cloud. But i’ve got two 20 milers in them, and I can feel some of the pounding.

    So that was a long lead in. Ive been waiting for the XA elevate reviews. They sounds like they could be a decent alternative to the Sense Ride, since you seem to feel the toe box is possibly wider than the Ride? Can you draw any more compare/contrasts? I really wish Salomon would offer more 2E shoes. I’d even try their expensive ones. I’m looking for a shoe that will hold out during the BigHorn 50 coming up. I’ve also testing a pair of New Balance leadville (also 2E). They have the cushion and the room I need, and are considerable more flexible. So they tend to be problem for the foot on technical terrain. and they are bad IMHO mud and excessive wet rock/areas. I usually love vibram soles, but those shoes slip a bit to much. so if I was sure of dry ground they might work for me. Ok. Long post. Thanks for taking time to read and share any thougthts or feedback

    • Great to hear from you. If you like the Sense Ride, but found it to create hot spots, I think you’ll really like the XA Elevate. The Elevate is a stiffer shoe with more underfoot protection. Most importantly for you though, the toebox has a little more width and volume. The stiffness on the Elevate is provided by the dual-density midsole, full length film, and the full coverage outsole. I’m midway through my wear reviews for the SLAB Ultra 2, but that shoe is $180! It’s a great shoe though, but I’m my recommendation goes to the Elevate based on price.

      As for other shoes options that run on the stiff side…I’m liking the Salewa Ultra Trail 2. They don’t have as much plush cushion underfoot, but they have been a great hiking shoe for technical stuff. You might also try the North Face Ultra Endurance II. I just recieved a pair and am liking them so far.

      • So I attempted my 4th 20miler in the speedcross 4 (2E version). Today attempt some walmart gel insoles just to see if they could add a little cushion. the lack (IMHO) of cushion, coupled with the stiffness is hard to bear. I got 12miles in, and when I passed the car, I had to switch into my NB leadville. So disappointed. So badly wanted the salomon to work out. The tread and lugs on the speedcross are just amazing, but I just cant seem to handle the stiffness. The width is great (again its the 2E version). When I consider the muddy and root-filled terrain at the BigHorn 50. I’m not sure the Sense Ride and their tread will work. Nor with the HB leadville. Both have slim tread depth. DO you think the XA elevate.. or maybe the SLAB ultra 2 could do better? the XA elevate you mentioned are stiff. Stiff as the Speedcross? one last question regading width. if I sized up (normally a 12) to a 12.5 or 13. do you think I might also have slightly larger base (or more foot room). Hoka has some wide shoes, sadly, none are trail shoes.

        • Neither the Ultra 2 or the Elevate are anywhere near as stiff as the Speed Cross. The Ultra 2 is the more cushioned of the 2. Both have outsoles that handle varied terrain well, but the lug depth of the Speedcross is in a class of it’s own. I think a half size up in either shoe would suit your foot well, as both are wider than the D width Speedcross.

      • I did end up going with the XA elevate, as I could try them on at a local REI. I didnt get the shoes from REI, since they dont have 1/2 sizes. It was my thought also to go 1/2 size up. So I ordered a 12.5. Only two runs in them. They are much more flexible than the Speedcross4. probably more trail cushion than the Sense Ride. I need to go long in the shoe to see how they respond.

        • Awesome. I’m glad you were able to grab a size 12.5. I wish REI would start to carry that size, as I am always between a 12 and 12.5. Let me know how the Elevate hold up when you hit the long run.

      • So I’ve got a 20 miler, and a 30 miler in the XA Elevate. With about 1 month until BigHorn 2018, Its going to have to be the shoe. I do like it better than the Ride. And its got more flex than the Speedcross. 1/2 size up give me the room I need. I do with the lugs were another mm or 2 deeper on the Elevate. In some deeper mud I was slipping a bit more, but they did shed the mud well. They drain well enough, and the sock liner did not slip when wet, like the Speedcross did. Going up a 1/2 size has me wondering now, perhaps this opens the door to other Salomon shoes for me. For now, I’ll attempt to tackles the mountains of Wyoming with these. At least until the mile 34 drop.

  2. My wife and I purchased the Salomon Crossamphibian Swift water shoes in anticipation of hiking Zion’s Narrows. One review described it a walking on “Vaseline covered bowling balls” … I think that may have been an exaggeration regardless of footwear but the Salomons performed well! Thanks for this review.

  3. hello , i want to buy a salomon shoes , i have a morton’s neuroma on my left foot , i shearch protection and confort , hesitate , sense ride , or this XA elevate ? my shoes actualy are the brooks caldera 2 , very good shoes , but the side maintenace in front is not good . Congratulation for your site .

  4. Hi,

    I recently bought the Elevates. I ordered them in 2 sizes because I had earlier experience with Speedcross Vario 2 running smaller then I was used to wear (XA Pro 3D).

    In your review you said: ‘This is a great improvement for lateral stability and overall foot security, but a little uncomfortable at first for those with wider feet. With time, the shoe has broken in and I’ve figured out an optimal lacing tension for long term comfort.’

    What do you mean by ‘uncomfortable at first’? Reason for asking is that I experience ‘uncomfort’ with the smaller ones (44 / EU). The length is okay, but in the midfoot section it feels awkward like my midfoot leans over an edge. Don’t know how to describe it correctly. No issues with the larger ones (44 2/3 / EU) though except that I have a bit more space in the length.

    Because of your experience I’m hesitating which size I’m going to keep. The 44 is okay in the length, but doesn’t feel comfy in the middle. The 44 2/3 feels much more comfortable, but don’t know if the extra length could cause issues……

    • I forgot to mention that I have extremely flat feet (especially on the left). The ‘uncomfort’ resides only on the left foot.

      • It’s hard for me to say. I don’t like going with shoes that are too long, as they lead to heel slip when my foot moves forward. My Elevates broke in nicely, and now all of the midfoot discomfort is gone. I can’t say it will be the same for you, but you might want to stick with the size that fits your foot length.

      • Hi Drew, I’ve also read your review about the XA Pro 3D. You mentioned using Superfeets voor added support in other shoes. Did you use Superfeets in the Elevates? If so, which Superfeefts did you use?

        • I only wear Superfeet when I go backpacking. I don’t need the extra support for general hiking. Any load over 12lbs and I will put them in my shoes. My favorites are the Superfeet Carbon. They are the only Superfeet that don’t add a big heel lift.

    • Thanks for the reply. I also own two pairs of Superfeet Carbon, but only for use in my roadcycling shoes and ski-boots. I tried my orthopaedic soles but they added a lot of heel lift and made the shoe uncomfortable. I will try my Superfeets instead. Also, good luck and have fun with your hike in Portugal.

  5. Hi Drew!
    Thanks so much as always for your reviews. I’m deciding between the Salomon X Ultra 3 and the XA Elevate for day hikes on particularly rocky,rugged, uneven terrain. Would you be willing to compare the fit of these two shoes in the heel, midfoot, and toebox? I like a pretty narrow shoe in the heel and the midfoot (I just love the feeling of a really snug fit in the midfoot especially while moving over uneven terrain) but with a little more space in the toebox. For instance, the Salomon X Ultra 2 was too narrow for me in the toebox, so I’m hoping for just a little more room there side to side. Also, any other comparisons you can give me between the two shoes would be much appreciated (regarding the feel of the shoes, the traction, underfoot protection, etc.). Thanks so much!

    • Also, do you find the tongues on both the X Ultra 3 and the XA Elevate are similarly cushioned to prevent the laces from creating pressure points on the arch of the foot when the laces are snugged up really tightly?
      And have you tried the Salomon Outpath? If so, I’d love to hear your impressions.

    • The Elevate has a much better fit and feel, with a running shoe vibe in the upper and midsole. The outsoles are equally good. The X Ultra 3 is a stiff shoe that doesn’t feel as nice on the foot as the XA Elevate.

      • Hi Drew! Thanks so much for your replies. I just tried the Outpath but didn’t like it either. Have you tried the Salomon Odyssey Pro? If so, what did you like and dislike about it?

        • I did try it, but wasn’t a big fan. The fit was a little too tight up front, and the outsole is not really cut out for the trails in my area. I think it’s a decent walking shoe for groomed paths, but that’s about it.

  6. Hi Drew. I currently have the Salomon Xa Pro 3D but I think I need to go half a size up. As I have to order new shoes anyway I was browsing for alternatives and found your review of the XA elevate.

    Now I’m doubting if the elevate is an even nicer shoe for me. I’m using the shoes primarily for 12 mile hikes in the Alps from hut to hut with a 10 to 20 pound backpack.

    The problem is that I can only order the elevate online in my country so I don’t have a chance to fit them in any store.

    That leaves me with two questions that you can hopefully answer:

    Is the sizing of the elevate similar to the XA Pro 3D?
    Would you prefer the elevate or the XA Pro 3D for the activity I described?

    Thanks so much for the great review btw!

    • I wear a size 12.5 in the XA Pro 3D and a size 12 in the XA Elevate. You should be able to order your true size and not have to go up a 1/2 size like in the XA Pro 3D.

      I much prefer the XA Elevate. It’s more comfortable underfoot and in the upper. The outsole is also more dynamic for terrain like the Alps.

      The XA Pro 3D has a plastic 3D chassis and more built in arch support. The XA Elevate is still stable and provides a great base, but a little less than the XA Pro 3D.

      After picking up the XA Elevate and SLAB Ultra, I haven’t picked up my XA Pro 3Ds, and probably won’t again.

  7. Hi Drew

    I’m coming back to more trail running after a couple of years mainly running on the road. I was previously wearing XA Pro 3D Ultras – always loved the stability and protection and generally bomb-proof nature of those shoes.

    I’ll usually wear my road runners on smooth trails, so I’m looking for a shoe for the more technical terrain – usually dry, rocky and often loose. From your review, it sounds like the XA Elevate will give me most of what I valued in the XA Pro 3D with less weight.

    Any further thoughts?

  8. This shoe does run a little narrow but I love the weight, flex and the grippy sole. Reminds me of the old wings pro – my favourite shoe – but with less structure.
    It is narrow in the midfoot and I ended up putting it in the oven at 70 celsius to soften the plastic overlay – I attacked it with the blunt end of a screwdriver to stretch it out and has given it a bit more room. This is an old cycling shoe trick and has worked although I don’t recommend it unless this is your last resort.

  9. Hi Drew,
    could you please help me with the sizing of these XA Elevate shoes?
    I have the Salomon Ulta Pro shoes – size 46/EU 11/UK.
    Can I go with the same size with the XA Elevate shoes?
    My feet are wider.


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