For those about to step out the door and hit the road to your nearest trail, the Salomon Mission XR longs to be the shoe to help carry you there. This new road to trail shoe by Salomon, which replaces the Crossmax, with its gender specific design promises to be light, flexible, and comfortable for short to middle distance runs. Being a definite lover of trail running, and having access to several good trails just a short hop from my home I was excited to put the Mission through its paces. Here is what I found.
Salomon XR Mission First impressions:
At first glance of the Mission what is noticeable is that it is not loaded down with a lot of excess aids, stability controls etc. etc. Picking the shoe up for the first time it is noticeably lighter that what I would have expected, 11.5oz. Flipping the shoe over the contrgrip HA pad is immediately visible at the forefoot along with the multi directional chevron tread.
Once on, the first thing that I quickly picked up on was how roomy the toebox was and how my toes had plenty of room to splay out. Also I was taken back by the amount of arch support that the shoe put out, which I typically am not accustomed to.
Salomon XR Mission Upper:
Salomon has constructed the upper with the same ripstop nylon that it uses on most of its shoes, which I think is quite possibly one most durable uppers that one can find. This upper did a particularly good job at keeping out rocks and debris, and the addition of a gusseted mesh trampoline above the tongue didn’t hurt either.
The upper moved nicely with my feet and being early spring here in Colorado with temps being still a little chilly they also kept them fairly warm. As I mentioned earlier the Mission has a super roomy toe box that also incorporates sensiflex technology.
The Hexagon TPU material of the sensiFLEX system is located at the medial and lateral metatarsals of the foot. This material expanded and contracted nicely as I ran molding the shoe to my foot and keeping it held securely over the tread. The toe is protected with a tough TPU cap and small rubber bumper that provided excellent protection, and definitely rescued me a couple of times from some potentially traumatized toes.
The shoes overlays are kept very simple and are ingeniously incorporated into the quick lace system. The overlays are stitched on and made from a combination of microsuede and vinyl. Kevlar laces make up the quick lace system that was strong and very easy to use. With just one pull the laces were snug. Granted after the initial tightening the section closest to the pull cord was tighter than the bottom. However, after walking or running for about 100 yards or so the laces equaled out.
The tongue of the shoe provided a nice sized pocket to tuck away the laces once tightened where they always remained on all of my runs. The combination of the quick lace system and overlays provided a uniquely secure midfoot.
The heel of the shoe is built around a stiff plastic cup that is capped with ortholite foam. The heel provided excellent support but at times felt a little stiff especially when running on the road. The Built up foam to the rear of the heel kept my heel locked in very well preventing any slippage. However, on longer runs especially those with a lot of downhill I did experience some discomfort.
Salomon XR Mission Midsole:
The midsole of the XR mission is a one piece molded EVA that is a blend of two composites that Salomon has deemed Light Weight Muscle. The midsole is very rugged and provided effective cushioning. The midsole uses no dual densities or inserts, and with a 10mm drop the shoe definitely does not need them as it felt very stable.
The midsole was nice and responsive on the trail, but on the road I found the shoe to be a bit stiff and slappy.
Also absent from the Mission is the addition of a rock plate. However, the ample cushioning of the of midsole provided excellent rock protection on all my outings.
Salomon XR Mission Outsole:
The outsole of the Mission has a lot going so lets break it down one piece at a time. Salomon has added what works with its directional Contagrip pattern. The chevron lugs point forward on the forefoot and toe and point backward on the heel. The lugs and softer rubber provided excellent trail traction especially when climbing, but I didn’t seem to notice the same when descending.
The lugs did seem to shed mud fairly well but possibly if spaced farther apart a bit more they might do better. Moving on to the high abrasion areas of the heel and ball of the foot Salomon has placed a more dependable durable carbon rubber or Contagrip HA. The addition of this rubber not only helped provide nice impact resistance, but also gave the shoe a smoother ride while in use on the road. It also provided excellent traction on wet roads.
Running through the middle of the outsole starting at the toe and extending into the midfoot are a series of narrow TPU bands or the OS tendon. The tendon is designed as an energy return system flexing as energy is applied and then quickly rebounding. The tendon did provide excellent energy return especially over broken terrain, and steep climbs. It also did act like a real tendon providing flex and balance throughout the heel-to-toe transition.
Salomon XR Mission Opinion:
I enjoyed the Mission and appreciated its versatility. I will say that it is definitely a far better trail shoe than a road shoe. However, for getting out the door and running 3-4 miles of paved road to a favorite trail the shoe served its purpose.
I used this shoe primarily for short to middle distance runs of 4-8 miles, and preferred them on more solid packed mild to moderately technical trails which is where they seemed to work best. The fact that Salomon has made the shoe with a gender specific last and assembles them with no shared parts also makes this shoe even more versatile to a wider range of runners.
I think anyone looking for a good middle distance trail shoe, those looking to purchase a trail shoe for the first time, or runners whom have been running trails in a road shoe would not be disappointed with the XR mission.
We thank the nice people at Salomon for sending us a pair of XR Mission to test. This did not influence our review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.