Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner Review

Technology has come a long way over the years… Gone are the days of big and bulky hiking shoes supporting laces the width of your pinky. Some people aren’t even wearing mid-rise boots anymore! The shock!

There will be a few of you that disagree with me on the necessity for mid-rise or anything higher in a hiking shoe, however, I have gone to low-cut and will never go back.

Just hear me out…

My first pair of hiking shoes were indeed mid-rise ‘lightweight’ boots. But let me tell you, along with the countless blisters that are inevitable, the lack of agility did not bode well with the way I like to hike.

Hiking up the uneven rocky trail to Ogma Gap Campsite in the Warrumbungles

They’re the reasons I chose to move from mid-rise boots to low-cut hiking shoes. Yet I was still slightly unsatisfied. The rigidness of the heel and bulky nature were still undesirable for a long day of rock hopping – my tendency to trip over my own feet isn’t helped by wearing a bulky shoe!

As a result, I chose to go extreme with my latest hiking shoe purchase and try trail runners. While they’re not built for the purpose of supporting large backpacks and intensive hikes, the Salomon XA GTX Discovery Trail Runner has been a favourite of mine in all conditions.

Taking me to wondrous places in my own backyard…

Now you’ve seen where these shoes can take you, let’s take a closer look at why I love these hiking shoes…

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Are The Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner’s Comfortable?

Being a poor lass who has flat feet (size 10 I should add), it’s especially hard for me to find the right shoe that doesn’t need the addition of my uncomfortable orthotics. I am overly happy to report that I’ve solved this dilemma, and the Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner passes with flying colours on the comfort front.

Candace unhappily holding up her orthotics she doesn't need to use in the Salomon XA GTX Discovery Trail Runner

The Salomon Ortholite insole provides great arch support, with no need for my hard plastic orthotics. The midsole has a fancy sounding technology called Stable EnergyCell EVA – from which all you need to know is that the shoe is great at absorbing shock.

These bad boys are extremely light. Weighing in at only 315g, they worked wonders with ejecting me to the clouds when I unluckily stepped on a snake… I’m ok, thanks for asking!

Salomon generally run a narrow hiking shoe, so for those girls out there that have wide feet like me, I suggest broadening your search and moving to the men’s isle.

I originally started out with the Salomon XA Discovery Women’s Trail Running Shoes

However, after only a month they started to wear from excessive friction. I ended up with terrible blister’s, the worst one covering the whole of my pinky toe… not ideal! Now all my little piggies can move comfortably.

The women’s shoe is perfect for those that have narrow to normal width feet.

Standing high in the alpine of Kosciuszko National Park after embarking on Australia's highest ascent hike, Hannels Spur

Is The Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner Stylish?

Due to the lightweight design of the Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner, the shoe is slim and looks ALMOST like a pair of runners. Every year they come in different colours and a unique design allowing for more than one style.

The ones I own are all black… great to go with any outfit! That is if you like black. I personally like a more colourful palette, and unfortunately had no other option due to my wide hobbit feet.

Walking through the thick green forest while climbing up Hannels Spur on our hike to Mt Kosciuszko

Well ok, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got… Black on black on black!

The women’s shoe of the same season was an excitingly bright blue, much more my style… And yes, I’m still bitter about it.

Is Stability Compromised Using A Trail Runner?

I was extremely impressed with the stability of the Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner. Being a trail runner, I was a little worried they wouldn’t hold up with a heavy backpack and super rough terrain. Especially due to the fact that I have rolled my ankles multiple times – thanks netball – and therefore need extra support.

But here we are, with another thumbs up.

The XA Discovery are sturdy without being too hard, and come with a Quicklace System– a tab that pulls the laces tight and clamps in place at the tongue of the shoe, a much better system than tying laces. This allows for a superiorly tight and secure feeling around the ankles which, in my opinion, is of the highest importance.

Demonstrating How Salomon's QuickLace system works on the Salomon XA GTX Discovery Trail Runner Review

Another major plus for the Quicklace is there’s no need to bend down and re-tie, they never come undone and the handy lace pocket keeps them out of tripping range. Thank god!

The Contragrip MD outsoles have never let me down. Even when scaling the boulders of Cradle Mountain – in torrential rain that could almost pass as sleet – I felt overly comfortable that my shoes wouldn’t slip.

Hiking up to the summit of Cradle Mountain reviewing the Salomon XA GTX Discovery Trail Runner hiking shoe

How Does The Trail Runner Protect?

As stated above, the Contragrip MD protects well from slipping, even in the wettest and sloppiest of terrains. And for these wet terrains, I am happy to report the Gore-Tex outer layer works wonders. Walking through wet grass is no problem at all and a small amount of rain is hardly noticed. Of course, if the rain is heavy your feet won’t be spared from the water dripping down your legs. But if you can find me a shoe that protects from that, I’ll give you a gold sticker!

I know many people that won’t bother with Gore-Tex hiking shoes, but unless you have the luxury of choosing only dry and sunny days to explore, I would highly recommend the extra protection.

Walking through a puddle in my Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner Hiking Shoes

Note: Trail Runners in Gore-Tex are harder to come by in Australia, either buying online or waiting for the first release of a new season may be your best bet.

Is The Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner Durable?

It is coming up to a year of owning the Salomon XA Discovery trail runners and I am yet to find anything worse than a scuff…

Except for the laces that is.

Close up of the Salomon XA GTX Discovery Trail Runner from a front angled view

Unfortunately when being blessed with better support due to the Quicklace, you’re also cursed with a lace that wears quicker and is harder to replace. That being said, you can pick up a Quicklace Kit to replace the frayed laces for approximately $15 AUD.

It’s worth noting that I haven’t tested this kit and can’t comment on the ease of use. If you have tested the Quicklace Kit, we would love to know how you found it.

Moving back to the positives, I have had no problem with the heel deteriorating – which has been a common experience with every other hiking shoe I’ve owned. This is most likely due to the fact that the other shoes supported a tougher outer layer for increased stability. However I think it isn’t necessary – or worth it for that matter – for how often you have to replace them.

Is The Salomon XA GTX Discovery Trail Runner Over Priced?

As with anything that is popular, prices are inflated. And the poor trail runner is not exempt. Coming in at approximately $240 AUD new you certainly pay for the brand and Gore-Tex. Yet with the nature of the activity, I wouldn’t skimp on the excellent water protection or reputable brand.

Looking out for last years sales always finds you a great bargain… You’re welcome.

Standing on top of a Tor in Wilkinsons Valley watching the Sunset after climbing Hannels Spur

Conclusion

So the question is, would I buy the Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner again?

Absolutely. They’re the best I’ve found for my feet. 

The combination of comfort and stability is better than I’ve experienced in any other hiking shoe. And being a trail runner has not had any negative impact on multi-day hikes.

They have lasted a good year of wearing almost every day – I’m not exaggerating, I worked as an outdoor guide five days a week!

The only negative I can express is the wish for a wider women’s shoe, so I can have access to the fun girly colours too. And maybe the price. You could certainly get cheaper but unfortunately, you have to pay top dollar for all the bells and whistles.

In regards to the customer service I’ve experienced with Salomon, it has been all positive. I returned the women’s pair of XA Discovery after three months as they were deteriorating rapidly – and so were my poor toes – and with store credit, I was able to replace them with the men’s equivalent in no time at all.

In conclusion, I can’t rate the Salomon XA Discovery GTX Trail Runner highly enough, they really can take you to incredible places…

Candace looking out at the beautiful view of the Warrumbungles