The Wildcross is a brand new model by Salomon built to provide a secure and stable ride on loose and soft trails. With a streamlined upper, anatomical fit, and a very aggressive outsole, the Wildcross is easily one of my favorite shoes of 2020.
The new Wildcross by Salomon is reminiscent of the much loved Speedcross, but improves upon that model with a much better fit and a more streamlined upper. The Wildcross also loses 2mm in the heel for an 8mm drop, and 1oz (30g) in overall weight. The Wildcross is marketed as a shoe for wet and sloppy trails packed with mud, but I’ve found they work equally well on soft and sandy desert trails and ridge routes. I’ve been putting my pair of the Wildcross to the test for a while now, and will share my thoughts in this review.
Sizing and Weight
I normally wear a size 11.5 US shoe (and in most Salomon models), and the 11.5 fits perfectly. My size 11.5 weighs in at 11.96oz (339g), and feels very light on the foot.
Fit and Build
The upper on the Wildcross is built using a closed mesh nylon for the base, with a Sensi-Fit overlay on top. The overlay uses a thick frame with mesh inserts to reduce weight. Despite the closed mesh, the Wildcross drains water with ease and dries out very quickly when wet.
The toebox on the Wildcross is low volume, but has a very comfortable and anatomical fit. This is a massive improvement over the Speedcross. The low volume toebox feels constricting at first due to the welded toe cap overlay, but breaks in nicely with use. The toe guard is thin and flexible, so don’t expect a lot of protection up front on rocky trails.
The midfoot fit on the Wildcross is snug, but very comfortable and provides a precise lockdown. I haven’t had any unwanted wiggle or sloppiness in the midfoot. The overlay did crinkle a little initially and caused rubbing over the first few miles of wear. After a few hikes, the medial side sensi-fit broke in, and now it moves with the shoe seamlessly.
The heel on the wildcross is well padded and uses a flexible counter to keep the back of my foot locked down. On top of the heel counter, the midsole wraps up and around to provide added rear-foot stability. The heel on the Wildcross has kept my foot very secure on steep and loose trails, and has provided many friction free miles. The secure fit and stability of the heel area help this shoe double as a backpacking option for those that need a soft-ground shoe while wearing a pack.
The Salomon Wildcross has a mesh overlay on top of the tongue to keep out dirt and debris. The tongue is then integrated underneath the mesh with the top loading quicklace system. This design has been perfect with the closed mesh nylon upper at keeping out sand and dirt on dusty desert trails. The quicklace and sensifit lock down my foot, and I much prefer the top loading lace garage for quick adjustments and lace storage.
In the midsole of the Wildcross, Salomon uses their Energy Cell+ EVA blend, which I’ve really enjoyed. It has more of a rubbery bounce to it, as opposed to the soft foam feel of other EVA blends. This provides really nice stability and protection without forfeiting all-day comfort. That being said, this shoe is built for soft trails. On rocky trails with a lot of talus and scree, I definitely feel a lot of the trail beneath me and the lack of a rockplate in the Wildcross. The Wildcross performs best on mud, sand, and smooth gravel. It can handle hardpack and rocky trails, but their are better tools for those jobs.
The Wildcross is built on an 8mm drop platform, but rides like a shoe that has a 4-6mm drop. This really helps keep my feet stable and ankles from rolling on technical trails.
For the outsole of the Wildcross, Salomon uses a lug pattern perfect for thick mud and soft trails. The widely spaced lugs shed mud with ease and can bite into soft sandy trails without issue. The lugs in the forefoot have a wider and flatter profile than the lugs in the heel, which make these surprisingly competent on smooth granite and slick surfaces. Salomon calls this lug pattern and rubber blend Contragrip TA. It is a little less sticky than the Premium Wet Traction Contragrip, but provides more durability to the spaced out lugs. I’ve relegated the Wildcross to soft trails and a little hardpack to maximize their life, and so far they have held up very well.
If you’re looking for a soft-ground trail shoe to take you through this winter/spring on muddy trails and sandy tracks, the Wildcross should be at the top of your list. I haven’t enjoyed a soft-ground trail shoe this much since I first tried out the La Sportiva Mutant back in 2015. The upper on the Wildcross is comfortable, secure, and does a great job of keeping debris out of the shoe. The midsole is bouncy, yet stable, and the outsole will bite into anything you through its way. At $130, the Wildcross is a bargain of a shoe and easily gets my vote over the similarly priced Speedcross 5.