The Salomon S-LAB XA Alpine is an all mountain trail shoe designed for higher altitude alpine topography. Made for longer days in the mountains with varied conditions requiring durability, stability, traction and foot protection, this is a superb technical alpine running shoe.
Salomon S-LAB XA Alpine Observations:
Personally I am a huge fan of the S-LAB line of shoes that Salomon makes and the XA Alpine running shoe is another great addition to the collection. This is a very specialized shoe and not one that you are going to wear on your local neighborhood 10km loop. It is optimized for a specific environment and performs extremely well there.
The first thing I noticed, and have always loved about Salomon shoes, is the straight out of the box comfort. My first run in the XA Alpine shoes was a 28km alpine run in the Canadian Rockies, where I encountered everything from single track trail, mud, slushy snow, powdery snow and some rocky terrain. The classic snug Salomon fit, meant no rubbing or sloppy foot movement.
Despite the XA Alpine shoe only being described as water resistant/repellent on the website, I spent hours moving through snow and mud and never had any moisture issues. The XA Alpine kept my feet dry and warm.
The XA Alpine has a very sleek, no fuss design. The outer shell and gaiter zips itself up around a signature red S-LAB running shoe snuggled up inside. With the patented Salomon Quicklace system and tongue garage the laces stay out of the way. Once the XA Alpine shoe is fully zipped up there is nothing on the outside of the shoe to catch on rocks or roots.
The breathable gaiter has to be the best design feature. With all of the protection of a boot without the stiffness, you won’t even feel the gaiter as you run. Another benefit of the gaiter and the solid synthetic outer is that no debris gets inside the shoe.
The S-LAB XA Alpine may not have the most aggressive traction in Salomon’s shoe line up, however I found it perfect for the environment that the shoe is designed for. With moderate lugs it meant that there was no catching on technical terrain, keeping the XA Alpine light, quick and more stable on smooth surfaces. This provided better feedback through the sole of the shoe which in turn made for swift, reliable movement.
Worth noting is that these shoes are unisex so the sizing is based on men’s foot sizes. I normally wear a Salomon Women’s size 8 and found a size 6 in the S-LAB XA Alpine to be a perfect fit. I also wore thin Salomon running socks when wearing the S-LAB XA Alpine, however if you are someone who likes to wear a heavier sock it might be worth sizing up by a half size.
- Specialized: Very specific design features means that the shoe performs extremely well in varied alpine environments.
- Comfortable: Straight out of the box the S-LAB XA Alpine fits like a glove and has no break in period required.
- Lightweight: At a mere 350g the S-LAB XA Alpine is extremely light considering it has the features of a boot without the added weight.
- Expensive: The S-LAB XA Alpine comes with a higher price tag, but given the particular functions of this shoe and how well it performs you might just want to bite the bullet if mountain running is your forte.
Buy It If:
You are looking for an all mountain running shoe that can handle varied terrain in high alpine environments with durability, stability, and straight out of the box comfort.
Salomon Link: S-LAB XA Alpine Running Shoe
Price (at time of writing): $320.00 CAD