The rule of footwear: More protection and support equals more weight. Good thing rules are meant to be broken, because the XT Wings 3 shatters that one to bits, offering mega-security in a svelte package. With a TPU toecap, three densities of EVA in the midsole, a TPU-reinforced heel and midfoot, and excellent arch support, the shoes proved ample enough for an evening trail race series, where our tester slammed his feet repeatedly on roots and rocks hidden on the pitch-black, sinewy Wildwood Trail in Portland, Oregon’s Forest Park. “Finishing with happy feet after all those hard impacts sold me on the Salomons,” he says. “And despite running nearly blind with a failing headlamp, the supportive heel and midfoot kept me stable.” Credit a wide-profile midsole that flares out toward the ground, and a stable, substantial sole (20 mm in the heel, 9.5 mm in the forefoot). Densely woven nylon mesh uppers are lined with polyester and overlaid with thin, soft TPU panels and a stretchy mesh layer covering the tongue.
These materials offer a potent combination of high breathability and superior protection from trail debris. Minimal interior seams, a cushioned tongue, and a sock-like fit felt comfortable on 16-mile runs. Salomon’s speed lacing (a skinny, cord-like lace that cinches tight with a slider lock) made the Wings nearly effortless to get on and off, despite the lack of a heel loop. Best for narrow- to medium-volume feet.$140; 1 lb. 9 oz.; m’s 7-14, w’s 5-12; salomon.com
Lighter and faster for 2011, the racing version of Salomon's XT Wings running shoe designed with direct input from the world's best trail running athletes.