Salomon originated as a French manufacturer of skiing equipment after WWII and produces quality equipment for trail running, hiking, climbing, adventure racing, skiing, and snowboarding. Salomon have over 60 models of hiking and trail running shoes. The OUTline GTX is a new ‘everyday’ shoe which draws on this experience and specific elements and features from their race tested versions.
Salomon says “the sleek OUTline GTX is ideally suited to connecting with friends, having fun outside, and discovering new places, with lightweight and flexibility like a running shoe, but enough grip and protection for any trail”.
Can a single pair of shoes from Salomon really be used for walking, running, hiking, and also look cool?
Salomon OUTline GTX key features
Discrete Appearance: The standout feature of these shoes is their subtle appearance. They have a slim profile with a low cut heel cuff, and overall they are shaped more like a running shoe than a trail runner.
The compact size is achieved with a thin-walled upper and a lightly padded heel cuff. Instead of stitched on support straps or panels, the reinforcing is printed directly onto the exterior mesh uppers. This flush treatment adds strength and stiffness without adding weight and bulk. In keeping with this pared down exterior, there are no heel loops and the logo treatment is understated.
The colour I have is “Black/Phantom/Magnet” which is subtle enough to escape attention when worn in the office.
Lightweight: At 630g per pair (for size 42 2/3) these are 30% lighter than my preferred outdoor shoes which are Merrell Moabs. Expressed another way, they weigh just 1/3 of my heavy duty Asolo leather bushwalking boots. The OUTline’s weight is comparable to running shoes.
Conventional Flat Laces: Many Salomon trail runners use a Quicklace speed lacing system which comprises a Kevlar loop and a plastic cam lock toggle. All good until you snap a toggle. Conventional laces are more field repairable, and nicely complement the muted appearance of this shoe.
GTX: Is an abbreviation for Gore-Tex. OUTline has a full Gore-Tex membrane sandwiched between the outer and the sock liner. Don’t get too excited though, Gore-Tex in shoes is a double-edged sword. While resistance to inbound water is excellent, the same membrane unfortunately also conspires to prevent shoes and socks from drying out once they are wet. The counterpoint of having a waterproof membrane is slower drying and poorer ventilation.
Ventilation keeps your feet cooler, drier and reduces swelling. Shoes with good ventilation typically have open weave mesh uppers. Unfortunately, this open weave allows for dust, grit and sand to enter the shoe, and can cause abrasive problems on the feet. The Gore-Tex membrane in the OUTline GTX effectively stops water, dust and grit and other debris from entering the shoe.
Lugged outsole: The lugged outsole resembles a mud terrain tyre with its sharply cornered geometric lugs. The 4mm deep lugs are widely spaced on approx. 25mm centres in the forefoot area.
“Contagrip” is Salomon’s branded rubber compound. They have several variants for different friction and wear characteristics. The compound used in OUTline is High Traction Contagrip. While quite grippy, it is a softer, less durable compound, than Salomon’s High Abrasion Contagrip, for example.
Is it a real trail runner?
While it doesn’t have the flared soles, angular heel cuffs, speed lacing closure system and dynamic logos, OUTline GTX is a real trail runner. Trail runners are built to prevent excessive foot rotation, and OUTline has the requisite sole stiffness. It also has a rubber toe bumper and enough outsole sure footedness to hold its own on bush trails. The midsole is stiff, compared to my other Salomon shoes it as firm as XT Wings, but not as severe as XA Pro 3D.
What about real-world performance?
The shoes look small out of the box but fit true to size compared to other Salomon shoes.
These shoes can transition seamlessly from cycling to walking to running. The narrow toe box slipped easily into bicycle toe clips for my ride to the start of my weekly park run. Running performance is good and consistent with trail shoe expectations. The Gore-Tex membrane kept my feet free from dust and grit coming through the upper.
Walking through wet grass yielded a pleasant surprise to find my socks stayed dry. The tongue has sewn in bellows, so the waterproofing extends up to the second top lace eye loop. The depth of water which could be safely waded is about 100mm.
The mud performance is excellent due to the aggressive lugs. I was a bit unsure about having such a small contact area on smooth slippery surfaces. However, grip on polished wet rocks and on the boat ramp was reliable and no extra caution was needed. The exterior of the uppers is easily cleaned and dry out readily due to the use of 100% synthetic materials- a key contrast to Merrell Moabs, or any shoe incorporating leather.
The insole is from OrthoLite – a global supplier to major footwear brands. It is made from open cell polyurethane with some recycled rubber content. While the bottom does retain sand and dirt in these open cells, OrthoLite insoles are machine washable. The fabric topped foam insole is breathable, and from experience with other OrthoLite insoles, they retain long-term cushioning.
Ventilation is better than expected. The Gore-Tex membrane does inhibit air flow substantially but the moist air seemed to migrate sideways under the Gore-Tex membrane to exit through the collar area. The low cut heel helps with ventilation, and the use the use of wicking socks would assist too.
‘Drop’ is the difference in height inside the shoe between the heel area and the base of the toe area. I found this hard to quantify given the sewn in tongue, but the feel of this shoe is normal.
Design, Comfort & Durability (Rating: 80%)
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 90%)
What I Like
- Discrete appearance, subtle logos.
- Conventional laces.
- Grippy sole. Capability.
What I Don’t Like
- Lightweight uppers are not as supportive or cushioned as other more structured trail shoes.
- Stiff midsole is the major difference to softer running shoes, and comfort is affected by the minimal cushioning.
- A waterproof membrane is a dubious advantage for outdoor shoes, but for the intended use of this shoe, it is a good idea and it works.