Backpackers.com is a small, independent team that writes unsponsored reviews and outdoor guides. If you're thinking about buying this product please use the links below – that really helps us. Thank you.
Salomon XA Pro 3D Overview
The Salomon XA Pro 3D shoes are a flagship model that’s well-loved and well-used by hikers and runners alike. They use the Quicklace system by Salomon, which does away with that whole “tying” your shoes thing, and the soles are some of the grippiest around. The 3D Advanced Chasis is fancy terminology for a highly stable, versatile shoe that can run or hike.
While we often give out awards and Picks for gear, we won’t be for shoes. After testing many shoes and finding the right fit for each member of our team, we realized that a shoe is simply too subjective to unequivocally recommend to anyone.
Our advice is to know what brands of shoe fit you generally by trying them on in store, and then look for excellent models, which we review here. Look in our specifications table to see if the shoe generally fits wide, narrow, or standard-sized feet. There are a lot of differing elements among shoes, but this is the one that matters right off the bat.
With that said, the Salomon XA Pro 3D really stood out for a hybrid shoe. Light, agile, protective, and incredible traction allowed running and hiking with ease. There are so many amazing features to these shoes that, after trying them, you might be wondering what you’ve been putting your feet into all these years.
Read the full Salomon XA Pro 3D review below.
Salomon XA Pro 3D Star Rating
After putting it to the test, the XA Pro 3D is not just a fantastic trail running shoe, but it’s highly capable of hiking and backpacking, too. If you’re looking for a solid, slightly heavy trail runner that can double duty as your wilderness trekking shoe, this just may be the ticket.
Update: We reviewed the Salomon XA Pro 3D trail running shoes in 2018, and it remains largely the same. The colorway has been updated slightly, but all key components haven’t changed.
Salomon XA Pro 3De Specifications
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Weight||13.4 oz. (380 g) per shoe||A heavy trail runner. It makes up for the weight in stability and durability, but you will feel these on your feet.|
|General Fit||Narrow||Salomon is known for a very narrow fit, and that is true with the XA Pro 3D. However, they do offer a wide version for those who want to try to make it fit!|
|Cushion||Medium/High||The cushion on this shoe is just between medium and high, which means your feet won’t be too sore after long runs.|
|Stack Height||27 mm heel, 16 mm forefoot||The stack height is the cushion, and it decreases from heel to forefoot.|
|Heel-Toe Drop||11 mm||This heel-toe drop is quite high for trail running shoes, but pretty standard for boots and hiking shoes. If you want a zero-drop experience, or close to it, this is not the shoe for you.|
|Arch Type||Neutral (Normal Arch)||The XA Pro 3D has a neutral arch that fits most people.|
|Rock Plate?||No||The XA Pro 3D does not have a rock plate, which means you can feel the trail better. It also means the protection against very sharp rocks isn’t as good as other shoes.|
|Lace System||Quicklace||The Quicklace system allows you to pull your laces tight, rather than tie them, and store away easily. People love this system!|
|Sizes Available||7-14 for Men, 5-12 for Women, with half sizes or not||Sizes for nearly everyone.|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Two Year Limited Warranty||Salomon offers legal language for its warranty claims. After parsing through it, we found that it offers a two year limited warranty on shoes, which includes manufacture defects and workmanship issues. Customer service is solid though, so get in touch if there’s an issue.|
|Retail Price||$130||A high price for an excellent, versatile shoe.|
Gear Review of the Salomon XA Pro 3D
Origins: Easing You In
Living in the high rockies I tend to encounter all different kinds of terrain, weather, and overall trail conditions. I’ve often hoped to find something to hike and run in that would be stable, comfortable, grippy, and lighter than my mountaineering boots. I was stoked to find that the XA Pro 3D fit the bill.
I’ve taken these shoes on hikes over 12,000 feet in the rockies, in deep canyons out in Moab, and in the damp forests of northern New Mexico. In all of these varied conditions they excelled, and I was happy to have something to just slip onto my feet and go. Whether it be sand, snow, rocks, or dirt, the XA Pro 3D hooked up with everything and inspired so much confidence I almost felt like I actually belonged in the woods — you know, like an animal does.
Revelation: The Moment I Knew
It was early in the afternoon and I needed to burn off some excess energy before consuming a burrito the size of my arm. I tossed my running vest on and pulled the Quicklace system tight, then darted out of the house and headed to the trail. Climbing to an elevation of 10,200 feet, I ran through mud, snow, and ice on this early October run.
The descent is where the XA Pro 3D blew me away. The traction is unbelievable on wet terrain. This gave me the confidence to push it into a higher gear, knowing that the shoes would find footing on whatever I ran over. I flew down that mountain.
On every hike I’ve been impressed with the traction these shoes provide — even on hikes where my unruly puppy wants to pull me down the mountain, these things dig in and keep me upright.
Much like a stubborn six year old, I really hate having to tie my shoes. I was a long time cyclist and enjoyed using shoes with either a velcro, buckle, or BOA closure system. Seriously, laces are so 15th century.
Well, here comes Salomon to the rescue! The Quickace system is amazing — it just works. Slip your feet into these shoes, pull a quick and easy toggle, and bam — you’re laced up and ready to go.
I also love the little pocket to stuff the system into — it’s a stretch mesh lip on the outside of the tongue that allows you to quickly tuck the lacing system away, so there’s nothing bouncing around on the outside of your shoe. When you’re done with your long (or short) day out on the trail simply release the tension and the shoes pop right off.
Another feature that has really stood out to me is the protection that these shoes offer while remaining relatively lightweight — each shoe is about 13 ounces, depending on size. The solid cushion and 3D chassis underfoot, as well as the reinforced toe cap, are substantial. I’ve taken the XA Pro 3D shoes on a few 10-plus mile runs in the Rockies and have had no discomfort or bruising on my feet.
I’ve also biffed it more than a few times and caught my toe on some rocks or roots, but the toe cap has kept the pain to a minimum. While of course it doesn’t offer the protection of a full-on hiking boot, it weighs a fraction of what those typically weigh and provides superior comfort to most trail runners. The protection features combined with the Quicklace system has led to a very secure, agile, and robust hiking shoe.
While I can’t comment on extremely long durability, over the course of four months beating these up in the Colorado mountains, they show no sign of wear. The reinforced toe cap provides an extra measure of durability and I’ve had no issues even after getting it caught under jagged rocks.
I’ve found the soles of these shoes to be A++. Salomon uses their Premium Wet Traction Contragrip on these shoes and others (like the Speedcross 4’s), and they are outstanding. They grip everything from snow and slush to mud, wet rocks, roots, wet leaves, and all the rest. After 120 miles or so the tread shows no wear, though I imagine due to the compound they will wear quicker if used for backpacking.
The upper on the XA Pro 3D is very well thought out. The Quicklace system has its own little pocket to tuck right into, which I’ve loved. The shoe is highly breathable, but it should be noted that this version is not waterproof. That being said, I’ve encountered plenty of wet conditions and even soaked these in some snow — they dry out pretty quickly.
These shoes will fit narrow-footed folks beautifully, as is typical of Salomon. I have fairly narrow feet and the Quicklace system helps me get it dialed in perfectly. I’ve had issues with the fit of other shoes, but the Salomon XA Pro 3D straps on like a glove.
For the XA Pro 3D, Salomon does offer a specific wide model. I didn’t test this, as the normal shoes fit great, but this could be an option for wider-footed folks who want to give this Salomon model a shot.
Trail Running vs Hiking and Backpacking
I’ve put a few 10 mile days on these shoes and have been extremely impressed with the performance of the shoes on each run. While they are on the heavier side for true trail runners, they do provide fantastic rock protection. The trails I hit here have a great mix of terrain, from alpine tundra to above tree line talus, and they handle it all without issue. I will be purchasing Salomons for my running pursuits for some time to come.
In terms of backpacking, I have not taken them on a long trip yet, but believe they would hold up as long as my load isn’t more than 30 pounds, as I’ve hiked with a load (and a dog) to get a feel for them. As a lightweight backpacking shoe they will perform just fine, and are lighter than your typical hiking shoe or boot.
While I absolutely love these shoes there are two points that stick out to me as potential issues.
First, the XA Pro 3D is not light when compared to most other trail runners. It’s not nearly as heavy as boots, but it also won’t provide the all day comfort under heavy loads that boots will. The shoe strikes a solid in-between.
Personally, I don’t think these will take you on a 20-mile day with a fully loaded backpack (30-40 pounds). If you are doing days under 20 miles and carry a modest load, I do believe the protection in these shoes will be adequate. Which, to be fair, is what a lot of people do. If you have a lighter load they work extremely well.
The second point of contention is a toss up. The shoes are not waterproof. While I don’t mind this and actually prefer it for running, that is not always the case for hiking and backpacking. Depending on where you live and hike you may run into issues pretty quickly. When headed out in the early morning hours you will discover that your feet will become soaked from the dew and frost that has accumulated overnight. This will dry out, but it’s no picnic to start your day with wet feet.
Salomon does offer this model with a Gore-Tex liner, so you can make them waterproof, but then breathability suffers. It’s mostly your call in terms of this preference — do you want breathability on runs, or waterproofing during backpacking trips?
I wish I had known about the Salomon XA Pro 3D sooner, though I guess if I had I wouldn’t be writing this review. I love just about every darned thing about these shoes. They inspire confidence on the trail and make my feet happy mile after mile after mile. I won’t hesitate to buy the same pair of shoe for years to come.
Where to Buy Salomon XA Pro 3D
We tested the men’s Salomon XA Pro 3D shoe. There is a women’s Salomon XA Pro 3D shoe, which is the exact same except for fit. This shoe is highly versatile, and the model we recommend for trail runners, hikers, and backpackers that want a do-it-all shoe.
Due to this shoe’s popularity, Salomon has a lot of models that diverge from the main one. The one to look for is the XA Pro 3D GTX, which is the same shoe but with a Gore-Tex liner, to keep your feet dry, and it’s offered in men’s and women’s.
There are other versions of the shoe with “CS WP” after the name, and others still with letters like “J”, “K”, and “M+”. These have to do with sizing, or other aspects that differ slightly from the main shoe. We recommend sticking with the normal XA Pro 3D.
Compare Salomon XA Pro 3D shoe prices below.]