This eye-popping design blurs the boundaries between shoes and boots... but how does it perform on the hill?
As boots have become lighter and more flexible, while shoes have become stiffer and more supportive, it was inevitable that a collision of ideas was about to happen, and the result is the Salomon Outpath Pro GTX. This hybrid design takes the best of both worlds to create a shoe with a soft ankle cuff-gaiter, so it has the low weight and flexibility of a shoe with the ankle protection of a boot.
Salomon has designed the Outpath Pro GTX for ‘fast hiking’ and ‘outdoor multi-function’ use, so it’s clearly destined to compete with lightweight trail shoes rather than heavier boots. This is very apparent when you unzip the gaiter to expose what’s under the bonnet, as inside you’ll find a fairly conventional trail shoe with normal laces and a normal shoe design around the heel cup. The main difference in this area is the tongue, as this is extended up to the ankle area.
The ankle cuff-gaiter is welded to the shoe, so there are no seams to fray or leak, and it is made from a water-resistant stretch synthetic material which keeps out debris and light splashes. Everything below the black gaiter fabric is waterproof though, thanks to a Gore-Tex membrane, with welded seams to prevent fraying or leaking.
The ankle cuff on a boot provides support, and in the Outpath Pro GTX the ankle cuff-gaiter has some stiffening fabric attached to the inside and outside. Once laced up you do get a little more support than a shoe in this area, which feels pretty good on relatively easy terrain.
The gaiter closes with a water-resistant zip, while a chunky press-stud secures the closure. The ankle cuff-gaiter may look a little strange at first, but the stretchy design certainly makes these very comfortable shoes straight from the box.
I took the Outpath Pro GTX over the Langdale fells in the Lake District and found they performed well on grassy paths and mud. The sole unit’s well-spaced lugs bite easily into softer surfaces and the sole is also quite flexible, so again this is great on grass and mud.
When the slopes steepened my feet had to work harder, as the sole flexes and twists between the toe and heel quite easily, and also the ankle cuff is not as supportive as a boot. Some people won’t mind this flexibility of course, but it does mean your feet have to work harder than if you were wearing a stiffer shoe or boot.
As the ground gets rockier the flexibility of the sole becomes more apparent, with jagged rocks being felt quite easily through the sole compared to stiffer trail shoes and boots. But the heel cup is well-stiffened and there’s also some stiffening at the end of the toe box.
Value for money
The Outpath Pro GTX weighs 912g but you can get slightly stiffer and more supportive shoes around this weight, although they wouldn’t have the benefit of the gaiter. The price of £165 is similar to stiffer shoes of this quality but without the gaiter, so actually represents good value. You can get boots for this sort of price that are going to be more supportive and potentially more durable, but they will also be heavier and less responsive.
There are pros and cons to the Outpath Pro GTX. On the right terrain they have real advantages. I’d use them for easier path terrain, when I’d normally wear shoes but want to keep the debris out. The benefits reduce as the challenges of the terrain increase. I like the attached gaiter, but I’d like to see it fitted to a shoe that has a little more support in the sole. Don’t be surprised if that’s exactly what you see next on the shelves.
The ankle cuff-gaiter extends the use of this shoe, but the performance on rougher terrain is not as good as some trail shoes, as it’s quite flexible in the sole. These are best restricted to easier paths then, unless you don’t need support and just want the gaiter benefits for which this shoe is – currently – unique
- Features 4/5
- Fit 5/5
- Comfort 4/5
- In use 4/5
- Value for money 3/5
- OVERALL SCORE 80%