For the trail runner (or winter weather road runner) looking for a nimble, responsive shoe with excellent protection that is exceptionally reliable on soft surfaces.
Road-to-trail commuters, racers on mostly flat, hard-packed trails, or trail runners looking for a cushioned shoe to reduce the impact of longer efforts.
The Salomon Speedcross 6 is the grippy trail shoes for technical terrain in the Salomon lineup.
This update on a classic, aggressive trail runner features reduced weight and a revamped upper.
The Salomon Contagrip® outsole technology on the Speedcross 6 utilizes a rubber compound and lug profile that optimizes performance on mud and loose surfaces. The outsole on the Speedcross 6 has wider spaces between lugs so that it’s easier to shake out mud.
At $160, the Salomon Speedcross 6 price is on-par with its high-traction competitors, like the Saucony Peregrine ($140), Brooks Catamount ($160), or Hoka Speedgoat ($155).
The Speedcross’s 5mm lugs (reduced from 6mm on the Speedcross 5) are the most aggressive of the group.
Despite the drop in weight (about 10.1 oz. in Men’s and 9.2 oz in Women’s) these are a bit heavier than competitors, but they do have the most sturdy and durable construction.
The Salomon Speedcross was my very first trail running shoe. After owning a pair, I abandoned hiking boots forever in favor of agile and lighter-weight footwear to go faster on the trail without sacrificing grip or protection.
In its early iterations, the Speedcross fit the bill perfectly. The lure of higher stacks and rocker technology moved me away from the Speedcross since then, so it had been years since trying out this oldie but goodie again.
Upon pulling the shoe out of the box, the first thing I noticed was the unique upper design that extended over the midsole.
These shoes look aggressive and protected, especially in the Black / Biscay Green / Fiery Red colorway. The large “Speed Cross 6” printed on the tongue draws the eye and emphasizes the continuity of the upper mesh layer that hugs the foot from the midsole to the lacing system.
While different from other trail running shoes, the upper design is intentional for creating a secure fit.
I primarily tested these in early season conditions in the Tetons, which were the ideal conditions for this shoe.
The first run in these shoes was on a muddy singletrack trail with some steep sections. A thick, sticky layer of mud accumulated on the outsole making them about a pound heavier each; but the upper fully prevented any mud, debris, or wetness from entering the shoe.
Once the mud was shed, the 5mm lugs inspired confidence on soft surfaces up and downhills where the mud wasn’t too heavy.
On subsequent runs, I found that the Speedcross 6 handles early season snow fields and dirt with spots of mud well. The lugs need an opportunity to shed mud, so with sustained muddy conditions the lugs will become fully coated and then start to accumulate.
In conditions where the lugs can bite into the ground, they’re the most reliable shoe that I’ve tested. This traction is especially noticeable in steeper dirt sections both on the uphill and downhill.
Despite the Speedcross 6’s lack of rockplate, the 32mm of stack height in the heel and 22mm under forefoot provides sufficient underfoot protection.
The Contagrip outsole is purposely soft but certainly not penetrable. While I didn’t have any issues with the underfoot protection, there were times that I felt some impact.
The upper coverage and protection is exceptional for ensuring that no debris entered the shoe. The structured, thick upper material and toe bumper ensure that the top of your foot and toes are protected from trail hazards.
The covered upper and midsole construction prevent water from entering between the midsole and outsole. Unfortunately, these protective measures cannot be supplemented by a gaiter because there are no specified gaiter attachments.
Durability is not a limiting factor for performance in the Speedcross 6. Although these shoes retained dirt after my first (very muddy) run in them, they have proven to be remarkably durable after over 100 miles.
Despite having run through wet, muddy, and rocky terrain in addition to road miles, there are minimal signs of wear. The upper has no visible abrasions, and the lugs have not been worn down at all.
I have no doubt the Speedcross 6 would hold up reliably during an ultra distance run on tough mountain terrain.
The aerodynamic shape of the Speedcross 6 allows you to move quickly when the trail opens up and nimbly in rockier, more technical terrain. Salomon’s Energy Cell+ EVA midsole is built to maximize energy rebound, and it feels adequately firm and responsive.
The midsole flares out slightly in the heel to add stability. The 10mm drop is most natural and comfortable for runners who strike with their heel first.
This shoe has the advantage over others in its traction. Some energy is lost in the softness of the outsole. The Contagrip® Mud outsole is purposely softer for maximum grip in dirt, sand, mud, and snow; so the Speedcross 6 makes up time when the conditions get more slippery.
The sticky grip inspires confidence on the surfaces it’s built for (with the exception of mud that is too deep for any shoe), especially in steeper sections. The lugs bit into snowfield surfaces, making these the ideal shoes for most early season conditions.
The snug Sensifit locks down for a secure fit that actually enhances responsiveness and keeps out debris and wetness. For their ideal use cases, you’ll want to grab the Salomon Speedcross 6 over any other shoe.
For other conditions, they can be overkill and sacrifice speed and comfort. On hard-packed surfaces, you may feel like you’re running in cleats and the softer outsole will not be as fast or responsive as other options.
On longer runs and ultra-distances, the Speedcross 6 does not have sufficient cushioning to feel comfortable after hours of sustained impact. In hot weather, they can run hot.
For softer trail terrain and shorter distances (3-10 miles), I am happy to have the Speedcross 6 in my quiver for early season conditions.
Now that the mud season in the Tetons has passed, I will probably store these away and switch to a more responsive and cushioned shoe for higher mileage on harder-packed terrain.