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. The company started 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 through Tactical Outfitters and have been putting them through 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.
- 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)
- 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. And its lightweightness immediately stands out. 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. Compared to the XA Pro 3D, the XA Force Mid has increased durability and a beefed up outsole.
The XA Force Mid-Boot is light but still provides good ankle stability and support. On your feet, they feel like a tactical running shoe. They can be used immediately with very minimal break-in time required.
The Salomon Quicklace® system is a nice feature and the storage pocket at the top of the tongue is one of my favorite additions. And do you know how your shoelaces come undone at the most inopportune moments? Well, so far the laces of Salomons haven’t come undone once.
The outsole uses the company’s Contagrip® MD and is purported to provide long term durability in combination with their lug pattern which claims to work well on hard, smooth, soft, or loose surfaces. Well, how does their claim hold up? Excellently.
The trail we used has all of these types of surface… 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. We also tried the boots grip on some exposed boulders on the side of the trail, 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. And no matter on what surface we were using them on, boot comfort was 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 seems designed for protecting the boots while fast-roping. One of the weak areas that have been addressed in the new design was the area around the toe cap. That area in the old design (as well as in many other manufacturers’ boots) would separate. So, to prevent that the company went from a double to a triple stitch for Salomon XA-Forces Mid.
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 to keep your feet cool. Wearing the thicker, wool socks I normally wear while rucking, got my feet just a tad warm after several miles, but it was never too uncomfortable. Still, the boots work better with a thin layer of socks.
We weren’t interested in the GoreTex version of the boots, so we didn’t test the waterproof part of the equation.
After our initial testing of these boots, I 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 boots, it is that you should probably order a pair a half-size larger than your usual pair: When wearing my wool socks, my foot was about touching the toe of the boot — yet with thinner, summer socks, this wasn’t an issue.
While the price of the Salomon XA-Forces Mids is higher than some of their contemporaries, I don’t mind paying for quality. You most definitely get what you pay for with these boots.
These are some tremendous, versatile, and comfortable boots. You can wear them while 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 Special Forces Comms guy (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?