If you hike more than a few times a month, decent hiking shoes are one of the best investments you can make. Everyday trainers can seem fine on a well maintained fire trail over a few kilometres, but when the going gets rough or the path starts to slope they can turn into blister inducing nightmares. To date, most of our hiking has been done in traditional, high top hiking boots, so we were really excited to test out Salomon’s new slimline hiking shoe, the OUTline GTX.
Being based in Sydney, we couldn’t think of a better test than the 27km Royal National Park coastal track, an hour south of the city. It had the perfect combination of distance, steep ascents and descents, as well as a range of terrain. Sunday morning at 0730 we jumped down from the train and started out along the coast.
These are seriously grippy shoes. Walking up the street to the train station we could almost hear the Contragrip sole sucking itself off the pavement. Contragrip is a Salomon specific design in which different areas of the outer sole are different densities depending on how much wear they get. Clever science stuff that makes a real difference.
The ‘lugs’ (the raised bits on the bottom) stand out at least 5mm or more. They’re well spaced meaning they have less chance of slipping on wet rocks or getting clogged with sticky mud. The kind of detail and foresight you won’t get on a regular trainer.
From the steep, sandy rocks at the start of our hike, down loamy forest descents and jumping across wet stepping stones, we found the grip to be flawless.
DURABILITY & STABILITY
The OUTline range is deliberately built to be a lightweight day hiking shoes; elements of a trail running shoe on top, fused with the sole of a hiking shoe below. The result is a very light weight and capable shoe for a range of situations; from all day trail bashing, to trail running. to cruisy days around town.
Compared to a traditional hiking boot there are some compromises made to be ‘multifunctional’. In some of the more techy parts of the coastal path we noticed the light weight upper creating some flex and movement you wouldn’t find in a boot. In these situations it was enough to put us slightly off balance. While we didn’t have any ankle rolls, it did make us question if these would be the right shoe on a multi-day outing with heavy 40 litre+ packs.
Durability wise they look and feel sturdy. The Contragrip sole wraps around the toe, creating a good amount of protection, which came in handy when we were scraping over rocks and scrambling up boulders to get a better view of the amazing coastline. Gortex panels on the upper also provide a good level of waterproofing, perfect for hiking in wet conditions and protecting us from sea spray.
We’ve also worn these on several hikes in the Blue Mountains with no signs of wear other than a healthy coating of trail dust. Only time will tell in terms of the overall durability, but coming from a brand like Salomon, we’re sure they’re built to last.
Salomon claim on their website the OUTline GTX offers ‘sneaker like comfort’ and a ‘slim athletic design’. We were testing the all black men’s colourway, which was by far our favourite and a green/blue women’s that split opinions. The all black shoes look great. Really great! Our first exclamations pulling them on were, ‘I could wear these down the pub’!
Whereas a traditional hiking boot acts like a statement of intent, these are more of an undercover trail shoe masquerading as a trendy athleisure sneaker. If it wasn’t for the coating of dust and the bulky backpacks you would never have know we’d spent the last 9 hours hiking.
COMFORT & FIT
Salomon shoes have a reputation for being comfortable straight out of the box with little wearing in. Prior to the Royal National Park coastal track we’d done a few shorter hikes in the Blue Mountains but they did feel great from the start. We can also confirm zero blisters between us.
The inner sole is made from Ortholite, a feature which provides a good level of cushioning while also being breathable. This is another big benefit over heavier shoes / boots which tend to build up a lot of heat, especially on long Aussie summer hikes. The Salomon’s will certainly be our shoe of choice on hot day hikes.
They also show a lot of promise as a trail running shoe. Flexibility in all the right places, breathable and very lightweight at 350g. While we haven’t run any serious distance in them yet, we can confirm they feel just as good as our custom fit, purpose built runners on short routes.
They even produce a range of half sizes so you can fine tune the perfect fit.
We walked from sun up to sun down, across forest floors, beaches, heaths and concrete. The shoes performed extremely well and ticked a lot of boxes. They look great, they feel great and the grip they offer is seriously impressive. Hiking in Australia can sometimes be a sticky, sweaty affair, but these shoes are a great lightweight and breathable solution. They might not be right for multi day expeditions, carrying heavy gear up mountains, but for the bulk of our single day missions they’re perfect.