Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral CS Trail Shoe
The Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral CS is the latest iteration of their highly respected line of trail running shoes. Salomon is well known for building on top of the most popular features of their previous models. The predecessor of the CS, the Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral, won the Runner's World best debut award in 2011. Salomon took the award winning Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral and added their unique Climashield™ construction - "CS"
It's obvious that foot stability was a key focus for the design of the Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral CS trail running shoe. As soon as you put them on you can feel the SensiFIT and SensiFLEX technologies conform to your foot and provide a very snug and secure fit.
From what I can gather, Salomon's SensiFIT technology cradles the upper instep to promote a natural rolling motion. Their SensiFLEX construction offers both lateral support and stretch in the forefoot to allow for foot expansion during your run. It's an amazing combination and a rather unusual sensation compared to the minimalist trail runners I'm use to - in a good way.
I've been pounding the pavement and my local trails in the Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral CS for a few months now and have concluded that I don't like them for even surfaces, like pavement, as much as I do for running on trails. Salomon promotes these as the perfect shoe for "door to trail" and that may be true if you have a short walk to your nearest trail, but I wouldn't personally recommend these for road runners. They belong on the trail and actually thrive there.
The most amazing feature of the new CS version of these shoes is indeed the ClimaShield technology. I run in all weather conditions and the trails I frequent stay wet and muddy for a large portion of the year. Having a shoe that is both waterproof and breathable is my ideal goal. Salomon uses ClimaShield on the forefoot and tongue of the shoe to create a waterproof barrier, but leave the rest of the shoe untreated to increase its ability to breath and vent. From the many miles I've put on these I'd have to say that it works.
The nylon mesh upper is supported by a series of synthetic overlays that are bonded to the surface. One of the most striking things about the XR Crossmax Neutral CS is its lack of stitching. We're seeing this more and more in outdoor activity shoes of all kinds. The bonded overlays are tied into the lacing system, adding to the secure fit of the shoe.
I should point out here that despite the ClimaShield technology, the XR Crossmax Neutral CS are not waterproof. In fact my feet got soaked through after only a few minutes on several occasions. However, these shoes breathe so well and allow so much air through the mesh upper that my feet felt just fine and I was able to carry on with my run.
Salomon uses it's popular Quicklace system on the XR Crossmax Neutral CS. One quick pull and the shoe is tightened. The excess lace is tucked up into a small elastic "garage" on the top of the shoe's tongue and hidden out of sight. Other manufacturers have played with this, Salomon has perfected it.
The midsole is a triple density EVA that provides an astonishing amount of cushioning. This was not something I was expecting from a modern trail running shoe and quite different to what my feet had become accustomed to over the years. The XR Crossmax Neutral CS come with a removable OrthoLite insole that is designed to provide even more cushioning and even has an EVA heelcup to help heel strikers. I removed the insoles.
The soles of the XR Crossmax Neutral CS are built with an gnarly lug system that provides excellent traction for uphill and downhill movement. A cool looking multi directionnel lug pattern has arrow shaped lugs pointing forward in the forefoot for climbing and pointed backward for slower descending in the heel area.
Different materials are used for the forefoot and heel. The front is made using Salomon’s ContagripLT, a lightweight material that has great grip and traction. The heel uses Salomon's ContagripHA, a more longer lasting and abrasion-resistant rubber for better support and durability against rocks and other trail obstacles. Another feature designed toward heel strikers.
For me though, the best feature of the XR Crossmax Neutral CS has to be the lime green OS tendon bars that run through the sole. These bars are made of a more rigid rubber that provide lateral stability to the foot. And it may just be my imagination, but I swear that the OS tendon bars create a heel to toe spring like sensation when walking. I don't notice it as much when I'm running, but then I'm not a heel striker.
- Another cool looking shoe from Salomon
- Best suited for trail runners
- ClimaShield on forefoot and tongue takes the brunt of water when running
- Quicklace system is just as cool as ever
- Mesh upper breathes so well your feet feel ventilated
- Gnarly lugged sole has excellent traction on wet, slick surfaces and makes short work of lose gravel
- OS tension bar provides much needed centerline foot stability
- Padding, padding, padding
- Seem to be designed for heel strikers
- Not recommended for road runners
The Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral CS trail shoe are perfect for runners who like to tear up lose gravely trails through all the dirt and mud they can find. As a pair of dedicated trail runners these shoe shine - even if you are not a heel striker.
If you predominantly run on roads and pavements then these are not really the
droids shoes you are looking for. In fact, if you spend too much time on a flat surface I think you'd begin to really feel it. Do you have a favorite pair of Salomon shoes, if so which ones and why?