RoadShoe ReviewsTrail

Salomon XA Elevate Performance Review

xa elevate

After studying the Salomon line closely on the Running Warehouse website, I noticed that the XA Elevate is listed in the “Other” category. Emphasis appears to be given to the S-Lab, Sense Ride, and Speedcross models, but the Elevate is relegated to the bottom of the page. No matter – like the shoes beside it, the Elevate is without a doubt a solid trainer. As I pointed out in my recent review of the S-Lab Speed 2, this is my first experience with Salomon; therefore, I’m sporadically using the Speed 2 as a reference point for the Elevate as I regularly alternated models to gauge the differences in fit and feel, both substantial and subtle.

The Good

Since I favor lighter shoes, I hit the trails in the Speed 2 first. The next day, I revisited the same trail in the Elevate and quickly observed the drop distinction. The Speed 2 incorporates a 4-millimeter offset while the Elevate is raised at 8. In a men’s size 9, there’s also a 1.2-ounce weight gain in the Elevate from the Speed 2 (9.4 to 10.6). What I noticed in the Elevate can be summarized with the word more: more heel, more weight, and more midsole – which makes it a daily trainer suited for numerous terrain types, wet and dry alike.

Fit is true to size, and unlike the Speed 2, the Elevate will accommodate more foot types as there’s increased volume in both the midfoot and forefoot. Quick laces enhance this volume, albeit slightly, as they too provide some additional width possibility. Sock thickness understandably affects this fit too. Speaking of the laces, I can only recall one time that I needed to stop during the middle of a run to adjust the tightness. They kept the feet in place from start to finish, and the thick, padded tongue kept the laces from putting pressure on the top of my instep (many of you know my relationship with thin tongues – let’s just say it’s complicated).

The midsole, comprised of EnergyCell + and dual density compressed EVA, felt slightly firm, but the cushioning was excellent across packed dirt, tree roots, and the numerous rocks I traversed. I can’t speak enough praise about the Contagrip outsole. Traction is superb, and at 40 miles in, I’ve yet to notice any considerable sense of wear. Unlike the Speed 2, the Elevate is a more forgiving option if you need to spend any time on the road to reach the trails – or if the race you’ve signed up for has some crossover into the road. Finally, at $130, the Elevate offers buyers an excellent price point.

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salomon XA Elevate

The Bad

Some runners may dislike the slightly stiffer forefoot if they are accustomed to more plush trail shoes like those found in the Hoka line. I landed harder on my heel during descents in the Elevate, which is likely why I prefer shoes with a drop around 4 mm. These are observations on my part, not so much a criticism of the Elevate as it performed well every run. I have no significant critiques concerning fit.

Salomon XA Elevate

Salomon XA Elevate Conclusion

The XA Elevate is ready to go anywhere. Over rocks, through the deepest mud, up the mountain, or into creeks, this model is an all-around doer of a shoe. The thick lugs, robust midsole, secure midfoot, quick laces, breathable upper, and increased volume make it an ideal choice for new and experienced trail runners to – wait for it – elevate their expectations of what a trail shoe should be. See what I did there?

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Austin, who lives north of Atlanta, is also a husband, father, and writer. He loves Christopher Nolan films, NBC sitcoms, peanut M&M’S, and a good playlist for long runs.

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