Why do shoes matter? When you are running and gunning at a match, you want to make sure your feet are connected firmly to the ground. The last thing you want to think about is whether or not you are going to slip. Only a high-quality shoe can provide that. Enter the Salomon Speedcross 4 ($130, or $80 via Amazon Prime).
These are shoes are the fourth edition of Salomon’s “iconic and aggressively lugged trail runner”—as a matter of fact, they are designed for “tearing through technical, soft ground with speed.” No wonder these shoes are so popular for action shooters.
Proven at every level of trail running and racing, this combination is a perfect fit for those seeking an excellent foothold on uneven terrain—similar to the conditions that can be faced by shooters on the ranges where action shooting matches are held. Even better, they are light, weighing 16½ oz.
The first Speedcross model hit retailers in 2006, and the ultimate design goal was to provide outstanding traction on slippery terrain in wet and muddy conditions. “It was very niche, and sometimes we were unsure whether to continue the line,” said Félix Dejey, Salomon’s research and development chief. “The forecast was for maybe 1,000 pairs in the beginning.” Today, Salomon sells more than one million pairs of the Speedcross model per year in Europe alone.
With this fourth generation Speedcross, this popular trail running shoe in the words of the manufacturer, “turns the normal image of refinement on it’s head.” Lightweight, highly cushioned and with monster grip, the Speedcross 4 builds on what many competitive shooters have known for years—Salomon Speedcross shoes are nearly perfect for action shooting. They are comfortable, grippy, and you will notice the quality wearing them in the field. My Speedcross 4 shoes are very comfortable, and when they eventually wear out like any shoe will, I’ll buy another set to replace them.
At first glance, the Quicklace system looks like it might lack durability. Not to worry, Salomon had the foresight to make them out of Kevlar. These laces aren’t going to break. The Quicklace system is described as a “minimalistic and strong lace for one-pull tightening.” Easy-on, easy-off is a pretty accurate description of the process. You grasp the lace cover, which is a rubberized piece that hides the spot where the lace is stitched together, and pull. Simply pull down towards your foot with the toggle to lock the lace into your desired tightness. The extra lace is stuffed in the lace pocket (aka shoe garage), which is a mesh opening on the upper tongue. The laces are loosened by pulling up on the toggle, releasing the lock on the lace. The large lace loop is really helpful when shooting with gloves, it’s easy to adjust the lacing system on the fly when increased blood flow to your feet during use has made them bigger.
Retained from previous models is the Salomon Cushioning System midsole, Sensifit with the Quicklace system described above, and the protective toe-cap. I especially liked the anti-debris mesh, which is effective in the intended role of keeping out fine particulate matter—all while maintaining good air flow into the shoe for proper ventilation. They are also easy to clean, and dry quickly, even after being soaked during a rainstorm.
The Speedcross 4’s Contragrip WT (wet traction) provides outstanding grip—but not super-aggressive. Very little mobility is sacrificed for the benefit of extra traction. You will want to minimize the amount of time you spend on pavement or concrete wearing these in the off-season, because it will wear down the tread. This was difficult for me because the shoes fit so well, it was like they were painted on and I wanted to wear them all the time as daily drivers. I found that my Speedcross 4 pair were a bit more comfortable after removing the insole during extremely hot weather at Camp Atterbury this summer during the NRA High Power Rifle Championships.
If you’re looking for more traction than a pair of Speedcross provides, the Salomon Spikecross model might be more to your liking. However, since they are meant for winter the Spikecross shoes are insulated for cold weather, and aren’t as breathable as the Speedcross.
The bottom line
The Salomon Speedcross 4 are a model that fans of the line will be very familiar with. They provide high traction for just about any surface you will find at ranges throughout the world, but with an outsole that has higher durability then previous models. These shoes should last the average shooter more than one season. The grippiness does not sacrifice any mobility, these nimble shoes excel on grass, gravel and other slippery surfaces except for ice. Best of all, the Speedcross 4 comes in several colors (mine are cloud grey) that will suit the fashion tastes of even the most discriminating shopper.