Okay, so anyone who knows me or has read any of my articles in the past knows that I am and have always been a huge Merrell fan. Owner of too many pairs to count, Merrells are my go-to boots for anything. But that may be subject to change.

I like to scan and read whatever is out there and have been intrigued with Salomon boots for quite some time. They are producing some of the most popular boots on the market and our troops, specifically our Special Operations Forces are wearing them more during their overseas tours.

Salomon is hardly a newcomer to the boot business, they began the company under François Salomon in 1947 in Annecy, Rhône-Alpes which is located on the southeastern border of France. Now the company produces some of the very best in a variety of options. Everything from water shoes, trail running, hiking, ski boots and of course the tactical boots which we tested recently.

We ordered a set of the Salomon XA Forces Mid-Boots thru Tactical Outfitters and have been putting them thru the paces for the past few days. We’ve probably put between 25-30 miles on them thus far, so we can’t yet comment on the durability of the boots but here’s what we’ve seen at this point and we’ll add more comments below.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile, can function in nearly any environment
  • No break-in time required…worn straight out of the box
  • Sturdy, with improved design for hikers and tactical users
  • Excellent tread design, sure footing everywhere
  • Speed laces and storage is a small but great feature
  • Ortholite Sockliner
  • Rubber toe cap and nice roomy toe-box
  • Breathe well (Non-Gortex Model)

Cons:

  • Runs about a half-size small
  • A bit pricey, but not outrageously so

So, with the preliminaries out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the boot. Aesthetically speaking, the Salomon is a great looking boot right out of the box and their lightweight immediately stood out as these not only look the part but will cut down on weight and the clunkiness of some of the heavier boots on the market.

Based on Salomon’s iconic XA Pro 3D, the XA Force Mid has been designed for Special Operations and Law Enforcement units, they’ve increased the durability and have beefed up the outsole.

With the mid-length construction, the XA Forces are light but still provides good ankle stability and support. On your feet, they feel like a tactical running shoe, right out of the box with very minimal break-in time.

The Salomon Quicklace® system is a nice feature and the storage pocket at the top of the tongue is a favorite feature of mine. Obviously, the boots will never become untied and doesn’t it seem like your boots always become untied at the most inopportune time?

The outsole uses the company’s Contagrip® MD and is purported to provide long term durability along with their lug pattern which claims to work well on hard, smooth, soft or loose surfaces. Well, how did their claim hold up? Excellently. The trail we used has all of these surfaces… and more. Between hard packed dirt, to loose rocks and scree, to small sections of either paved or concrete roads that cut across the trail. With some exposed boulders on the side of the trail, we tried the boots grip on these as well and the results were very satisfactory.

With all of the rain, we’ve been experiencing this spring, there was plenty of wet grass and even wet logs to cross and our grip on all of those surfaces was excellent. While all of this was ongoing, our comfort inside the boots was also outstanding.

For the tactical users in the crowd, Salomon has beefed up the upper with a thick rubber panel which along with the curved area at the outsole seem designed for protecting the boots while fast-roping. One of the weak areas that were addressed in the new design was the area around the toe cap. I had read where that area was where the boots (as well as many other manufacturers) would separate. So, the company went from a double to a triple stitch.

The gusseted and nicely padded tongue keeps debris and crap from getting into the boot. It also keeps the tongue centered which can be a royal pain in the backside. The mesh and textile lining do help keep your feet cool, although I’ve found that it works better with a thin layer of socks. Wearing the thicker, wool socks I normally use while rucking got my feet just a tad warm after several miles but not too uncomfortable. We weren’t interested in the GoreTex version so we didn’t test the waterproof part of the equation.

After our initial testing of these boots, one would say they aced the test, obviously, we can’t remark on durability as the time we’ve had them is much too short. If there is one drawback to these, it is that you should probably order a pair a half-size larger. When wearing my wool socks, my foot was about touching the toe of the boot. With thinner, summer socks, it wasn’t an issue. And while the price is higher than some of their contemporaries, I don’t mind paying for quality. And you most definitely get what you pay for. However, with that being said, these are some tremendous, versatile, and comfortable boots. You can wear these boots hiking, on a trip to the range or even as a casual kicking around the town boot. For rucking, they come highly recommended. I can’t get enough of them…nuff said.

I have a feeling my MOABs, (which I’ve always been very biased toward) will be collecting dust this summer. The Salomon XA Forces are going to get a ton of work during the warm weather months.

I especially liked that Tactical Distributors included two little Army men in there. While as a former radio operator (18E), I liked the guy gabbing on the radio with a Mac-10, I’m more partial to the guy with the recoilless rifle. Because… who doesn’t like blowing stuff up?

Photos: Author

This article was written by Steve Balestrieri for SpecialOperations.com