Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero (Slippery When Wet)

The Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero was my attempt at giving Salomon another shot. Salomon enjoys a cult following, and as one who reviews hiking footwear for a hobby, I know my negative thoughts on Salomon must be grounded in some false assumption, right?

I live at the end of a famous thru-hike in Italy, and each morning, during my commute, I take a local city bus with hikers headed to the train station in Florence to return home. Many of these are wearing Salomon footwear.

Each year I test five hiking shoes against each other and share those results with the world. This year I chose the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero as one of the entrants into the competition. Though they did not win, they performed admirably in many tests.

If you are interested in purchasing this lightweight hiking shoe, this post is for you. I will share my experience and real test data to hopefully help you decide whether this shoe or another one is the one for you.

Ultimately, this shoe from Salomon did not win the competition. So you can read my review of the shoe that did win the competition here on my blog.

Here you can see the overall test results and the competition that the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero had to contend with. Go to my YouTube channel to check out all of the tests I did.

Test results for all shoes.

If you are interested in reviews of these other shoes, click on the links below.

Are the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero Comfortable?

The EVA midsole provides adequate cushioning, and the Sensifit system from Salomon does keep your foot locked in place, but I found that among the shoes I tested these were the least comfortable.

Besides hiking in the shoes tested, I would wear them all day to walk the dog, go to the office, run errands, etc. Then, at the end of the day, I was ready to take these shoes off. However, others may find these shoes very comfortable, but I did not.

The Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero is less comfortable than the four other popular hiking shoes tested. Unfortunately, the footbed did not work for my feet. l found that the arch support was too pronounced and too far forward. There are more comfortable hiking shoes on the market.

The top of the shoe and the collar are comfortable. There is sufficient padding around the collar, and its shape and contours fit nicely to my lower ankle and heel.

Comfort is perhaps the most important criterion for me in finding a good hiking shoe. Second only to comfort is traction.

Check out my comprehensive review of five incredible hiking shoes.

Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero

Does the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero Have Good Traction?

If you get hurt while hiking it will probably be because you slip and fall. Having a grippy, secure pair of hiking shoes will prevent most of this risk.

I tested all five shoes for grip in the Dusty Hikers Advanced Footwear Research Laboratory (AKA my garage). I lean forward on my toes looking away from the anchor point of a suspension strap trainer while holding onto the straps. I slowly back my feet toward the anchor point until they start to slip. I record the location and repeat this step two more times to take the average.

The Contagrip compound rubber soles on the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero performed worse than all other shoes except for the Continental rubber compound on the Adidas Terrex Swift R3.

The Contagrip compound performed poorly compared to the Vibram compounds.

Sure, some of you may cry ‘foul’ and say that no one hikes on polished concrete, but in my experience, if you slip on the trail, it isn’t because your lugs did not dig deeply enough into the mud; it is almost always because you slip on a wet rock or slimy log.

The Salomon Pioneer X Ultra Pioneer Aero was almost dangerous on wet asphalt after a short rain shower. The Contagrip compound is inferior to Vibram’s Megagrip and even the Vibram EcoStep, which is made partly from recycled rubber.

Check out my video review of the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero.

Do the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero Provide Good Protection on Trail?

Perhaps third on my list for consideration when deciding on which hiking shoe to bring on a hike is protection. Moving from a sneaker to a proper hiking shoe is critical for many reasons but perhaps the most important one is protection.

Modern hiking shoes have rock plates, rubber soles, toe caps, and rands to protect the bottom, sides, and top of your feet from abrasion or contusions from rocks or ground vegetation.

The Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero provides excellent protection for hiking on various terrain. The Contragrip outsole and EVA midsole provide excellent protection underfoot while stepping on large rocks. The rubber toe cap ensures that stubbing your toes will not damage feet in most scenarios.

The Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero tied for second place for protection in my testing.

Because of the shoes excellent protection, they would work well in other outdoor activities. Mountain bikers or onewheelers would benefit from having both a stable and protective shoe.

This is my favorite website for information on onewheeling and this article in particular breaks down considerations for footwear for onewheeler enthusiasts.

Are the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero Waterproof?

The Aero label from Salomon is, by definition, not waterproof. If you want a Gore-tex type waterproof membrane, seek the non-Aero version.

Another vital test I did with the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero against four other shoes was the Time-to-dry test. In this test, I take the weight of each shoe then, dunk them in water for five seconds, and carefully shake off any excess water.

I weigh the shoes again to record the percent increase in weight from the dry weight and then place the shoes in the sun and weigh them each in 60-minute intervals to see which shoe dries out the fastest. Once one shoe has returned to its dry weight, I stop the test.

The graph below shows that the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero did not dry out as quickly as other shoes tested. It also took on a large percentage of its weight in water. Therefore, if you are expecting wet conditions, the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Aero is not a good option since you may not have enough time to dry them out between hikes.

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