I’m reviewing the Salomon OUTline GTX Women's shoe, in a size 6UK / 39 ⅓ EU. In normal English, that means a hiking shoe by Salomon called OUTline, with GoreTex material to make it waterproof, for women. As soon as I saw it, I knew this was what I wanted to test. After all, my life involves being outside, both for work and play, so the idea of a do-it-all shoe that would also keep my feet dry sounded perfect. Could it live up to my expectations?
My original intention had been to test these shoes in the Welsh mountains, at work as an outdoor instructor and of course on the evening trips to the pub. However, in reality, my creativity had to be harnessed. These hiking trainers had to be tested within the confines of Cardiff and one-form-of-exercise-a-day. For those of you reading this in the future, Covid-19 lockdown meant that nobody was allowed in the mountains, outdoor centres were closed - and so were the pubs!
Out of the box and on to my feet...
Opening the box, this pair of shoes look great. Stylish like a normal trainer, but with some practicalities on closer inspection.
A gusseted tongue, so it’s attached on three sides. This means water won’t trickle in so easily.
Regular flat laces, unlike Salmon’s Quicklace system which can be seen on many of their shoes. This allows you to adjust for a better fit. They have some stretch, but I’m not really sure why.
Removable insole, although that’s pretty standard these days.
Decent grip on the outsole, called ContagripⓇ MD. Contagrip is where it has varied density along the sole, depending on intended use. For this shoe it’s focused on long-term wear and grip for tricky varied terrain.
The heel looks like it hugs very nicely, which should stop my foot slipping out. Hopefully this isn’t at the cost of blisters!
There are many more features with fancy names that you can read about on Salomon’s website.
I was pleased that my first colour choice was available, because I’m not a fan of everything for women being pastel, pink or purple. The shoes are available in 6 different colours, all in a neutral shade (black, grey, navy) and then some have a pop of colour (pink, green, purple, blue).
So let’s put the shoes on. My foot slides in easily and it seems to be a perfect fit - I’m glad I went up half a size. Fit was a big worry for me because brands vary so much. Other Salomon shoes I’ve had were a 5.5 UK but I opted for the 6 UK this time. It hugs my foot nicely with some wiggle room around the toes. But something isn’t quite right. They’re not super comfy and it feels like my foot wants to roll inwards a tiny bit. Am I just used to my old worn-out shoes? Let’s go for some walks and find out…
The shoes have been wonderful on as much off-roading as I’ve managed to find nearby. Cardiff has plenty of parks and hidden trails within the city, where most of my time walking could be on grass, woodland trails and the pavement to access the greener places.
I went up and down steep hills, through woods and over logs. However even after a few weeks with the shoes I felt I hadn’t really tested them in “proper” conditions. Where was the rain? Where was the mud? Where’s the dodgy downhill, where you really hope that grip is as good as it says?! Well it’s difficult to find that when Mother Earth decides to give us glorious sunshine every day.
Time to Get Creative
I set out on a route that I knew was muddy all the time, along the quiet side of the river. Oh how wrong I was! It was now covered in sand/silt from the floods a few months ago. But hey, that’s another type of terrain ticked off the list. It was good on sand, I didn’t slide around or get any sandy bits inside.
Further along, I knew it became a muddy bank. Nope, bone dry! What’s going on? It turns out this was the sunniest April on record. The best I could find to test the GoreTex was walking along a shallow stream. My feet stayed completely dry, so they seem to be waterproof.
It’s finally raining!
Hurrah! Can you believe it took 3 weeks for it to finally rain, in WALES?! Anyway, as soon as the rainy day arrived I skipped out of the house to the steep hills and grassy fields.
Overall, I’m still impressed and the shoes performed well. They kept their grip on the steep hill and I had dry feet through wet grass and puddles. It did feel a bit slippy on the uphill tarmac, but I’ve noticed my summer hiking boots do the same on wet rock. So, maybe I just walk funny!
Mother Earth, are you feeling ok?
The rain didn’t last too long, so it was back to testing the shoes on dry ground. Two days of rain wasn’t enough to get the paths properly muddy. As I finish writing this up, over a week of rain is now forecast. That sounds like better testing conditions for a waterproof hiking shoe! I’ll have to update you all in a year, once we’ve definitely been allowed in the mountains with normal British weather.
The grip is top notch, I feel totally comfortable on steep slopes. My feet don’t slide and my toes don’t hit the end. They’re so light it almost makes me want to run around everywhere. Maybe I should start fell running?
They look and feel amazing. My initial uncertainty was down to new shoes feeling different to what you’re used to. They’re very understated for shoes that I could walk up a mountain in! I feel like I would use these shoes to walk up hills where there is a path, but for extended off-path adventures the reassurance of ankle support on boots would be better.
They even look good with a skater dress, casual outfits and some formal trousers. They didn’t look out of place which means they’ll do for the post-walk trips to the pub.
They’re far too technical for a walk in the park or around town. I can almost feel the unnecessary grip on the pavement. In my head I’m wearing down the sole for no good reason, when I should be saving it for the real hikes.
On one of my longer walks, I did need to massage a toe when I came home. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s just my feet getting used to a new shoe. There were no blisters.
The laces are a bit too long. Is that weird, to care about the length of the laces? It’s just a bit annoying when you’re wearing shorts and they keep hitting your ankle. Ridiculous I’m sure, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a double knot or a pair of scissors.
With all the remarkable hot weather we’ve had over the last few weeks, the Salmon OUTline GTX shoe is not my current go-to shoe. The trade-off to waterproofness is breathability. In this case, my feet felt a bit warm after my walks. Not grotesquely sweaty, but other shoes would have been more appropriate.
The Salomon OUTline GTX will definitely become go-to shoes for me. I know I can safely dispose of a few pairs and these will replace them all. Under normal circumstances, I’m an outdoor pursuits instructor and these shoes will be perfect for that. You’re often on uneven ground, camping in grassy fields covered in dew, out hiking some days. You need comfortable, reliable and waterproof shoes that can handle that.
I don’t really like wearing walking boots when I go hiking. I do it out of necessity, because wet feet are a pain and ankle support is useful. But when there’s pavement or road to walk on, my feet scream for something better. A decent pair of trainers is often what I’ve dreamed of... And here they are! On more rugged terrain, I’ll stick to my boots. On long-distance hikes and low-level walks I think these will be a winner.
Ellie Davies is a semi-nomadic outdoor education instructor originally from Wales. She is usually found in the mountains of Europe or Patagonia, finding a way to connect with the world - through hiking, rock climbing, kayaking or camping. Ellie likes languages, maps and sleeping under the stars.
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