The standard route to the top of Mt. Sneffels (14,150 feet) climbs a steep scree slope for roughly 900’ before veering up a bouldery col with some Class 3 moves. This popular 14er in the San Juan Mountains demands a boot with an aggressive tread and the perfect balance between flexibility and stability underfoot. Enter the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX® hiking shoe.
Featuring Salomon’s High Traction Contagrip® tread, a soft mid-length upper, and a Gore-Tex® membrane, the X Ultra 3 fits like a trail runner and performs like a hiking boot.
Looking down the scree slope on the standard approach of Mt. Sneffels
The X Ultra 3 is built with Salomon’s advanced lightweight chassis; which, in English, means that the boot is flexible, responsive, and weighs less than a pound (14.75oz). The upper is constructed of water-resistant textiles, a softshell material, and a waterproof PU coated leather. With a high traction tread and injected EVA midsole, the X Ultra 3 also features a protective toe and heel cap, as well as a mudguard on the base of the shoe. Retailing for just $165, the X Ultra 3 offers a ton of technical features for the price.
What it’s really like
I wore the X Ultra 3 around the office and on a few short day hikes before taking it up Mt. Sneffels. My feet are narrow, so I’m always excited to find a shoe that comfortably holds my foot in place and provides ample wiggle room for my toes. Out of the box, the X Ultra 3 offers a solid, comfortable fit with just one exception: the lacing system can create pressure points on the top of the foot.
While this is a problem that should disappear over time, I’m not that patient. I asked Backcountry Experience’s owner Ben Rockis to work out the pressure points on a rubbing bar. He was able to mash and reshape the tongue, alleviating most of the discomfort.
On the trail, the X Ultra 3 really performs. As mentioned earlier, this lightweight hiking shoe feels like a trail runner. It’s dynamic and flexible, making loose, uneven terrain a joy to walk across. With the aggressive tread, I was able to find solid traction on Mt. Sneffels’ loose scree slope - both on the way up and down. The mid-length upper provided soft support around my ankles yet did not hinder movement. It also offered protection from the sharp, unstable boulders in Lavender Col. (As a side note, I witnessed more than one person in low-top trail runners banging up their ankles on this section.)
View from the top of Lavender Col, near the summit of Mt. Sneffels
Climbing the Class 3 "V Notch" out of Lavender Col and onto the summit of Mt. Sneffels
And the view from the top of Mt. Sneffels, 14,150'
All in all, I was blown away by how well the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX® performed - especially considering my initial first impression. If you’re looking for a comfortable, lightweight hiker at a great price point, this is it.
- Comfortable, lightweight hiking shoe
- Flexible and stable on rough terrain
- Aggressive tread for dependable traction on steep, loose scree
- Feels like a trail runner
- The lacing system creates pressure points, which can take some time to work out (we can help with that)
- Can be very warm (such is life in a Gore-Tex® shoe)