Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoe | Tested and reviewed

Our gear expert Ellie Clewlow puts the latest lightweight trail shoe from Salomon to the test.

from Salomon
RRP  £130.00
Closeup of hiker wearing Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoes

by Ellie Clewlow |
Updated on

Salomon has plenty of pedigree when it comes to walking boots and shoes, such as its long-standing backpacking boots like the Quest 4D and perennially popular hiking all-rounders like the X Ultra range.

With the Elixir series, however, the brand has moved into new territory. These are plush, ultra-cushioned trainer-like hiking shoes that compete squarely with the maximalist shoes pioneered by brands like Hoka.

If you're in search of a tough and sturdy pair of walking footwear, we'd recommend jumping ship now. The Elixir Activ GTX shares many of its key features with Salomon's running shoes, namely, the brand’s Active Chassis technology for lateral guidance, a plush midsole foam compound and reverse camber sole geometry for fluid, comfortable strides.

The result? Well, according to Salomon at least, the Elixir Activ GTX delivers “the perfect alliance of plush, palpable comfort and balanced support” in a waterproof day hiking shoe. We got our hands on a pair and took them into the wild hills of Eryri (Snowdonia) to see how they stack up.

Closeup of hiker wearing Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoesLFTO
Price: £116.99 (RRP £130)


  • Super lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Plush Cushioning


  • No ground feel
  • Reverse Camber sole geometry won't suit everyone


Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoes toebox and upper

The uppers are fairly simple and straightforward in terms of overall construction, with a trainer-like look and feel. They’re made from lightweight mesh with textile overlays and a laminated TPU layer at the heel and toe. This provide a little structure and protection, but while the heel feels nice and secure, the toe cap is not the most robust.

These are clearly day hikers primarily designed for adding a spring to your step on easier trails. However, the uppers are lined with a Gore-Tex membrane, which adds weatherproofing if the ground underfoot is wet or muddy.

Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoes toebox

Lacing is a conventional arrangement of eyelets, backed with a partly gusseted tongue. This has a stitched webbing loop to prevent too much slippage or movement, plus a pull tab (there’s a matching one at the heel too) to ensure the shoes are easy to get on and off. The cuff is nicely contoured and padded, with an elevated heel and a pronounced ankle bone cutaway. It delivers ample freedom of movement and soft, supple comfort.


The Elixir Activ boasts a seriously chunky EVA-based midsole made from Salomon’s Fuze Foam compound. It’s all about bounce – or ‘energy return’, in technical running shoe parlance – as well as elevated, lofty cushioning. You also get an overbuilt, squared-off heel and a very pronounced rocker sole with a reverse camber profile.

This means that rather than being designed with a heel-to-toe drop, as with most running and hiking footwear, the shoe has a rounded sole unit. The idea is to ensure smother transitions on landing and toe-off, encouraging forward motion and a rolling gait – propelling you effortlessly down the trail.

Gore Tex Label and midsole on Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoe

They certainly feel plush and bouncy underfoot, though the trade-off is that you lose a fair bit of ground feel. This makes it a bit tricky to tell where you’re putting your feet. This isn’t a problem on groomed paths but makes the shoe less well-suited to uneven ground that requires more careful foot placement.

The midsole lacks a shank for protection or stability, which would need to be buried in all that foam rubber cushioning anyway. Instead, the Elixir Activ features Salomon’s ‘Active Chassis’ technology, which basically consists of lateral inserts on each side of the shoe. Made from a denser compound than the rest of the midsole, these inserts offer a little more structure and support for the midfoot and heel.

However, to be honest, on the Elixir Activ these inserts are fairly minimal, especially compared to those found in Salomon’s more specialised running and trail hiking footwear. This means their effect seems to be somewhat limited.


Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoes lugs and muddy outsole

The sole unit is Salomon’s proprietary Contagrip rubber, made from a compound containing 30% natural rubber. A pattern of 4mm chevron-shaped lugs do a decent job in terms of overall grip, though we found that they do tend to clog with mud in sloppier conditions. On the other hand, the flattened lugs deliver consistent and reliable contact grip on dry rock.

They’re less effective on slick or greasy rock – a common trait of Contagrip rubber, in our experience – perhaps because it isn’t the softest or tackiest compound on the market. This does make it more hard-wearing, however, ensuring improved durability and more consistent lifetime performance.

Price and performance

Trail gear tester Ellie wore the women’s Elixir Activ GTX for a series of day hikes in Eryri (Snowdonia), North Wales, over the space of a couple of months. She appreciated their lightweight build, as well as the luxuriously soft padding around the cuff and tongue, which makes for exceptional out-of-the-box comfort. There are pronounced cutaways around the ankle bone for full freedom of movement, with a built-up heel section for good Achilles support and protection.

Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoes upper and laces

Ellie really liked the trainer-like fit. We’d describe them as a low volume shoe, with a mid-size forefoot and toebox – it’s not as accommodating as some but gave adequate space for toes to splay when walking.

The heel hugs the foot nicely, with a locked-in, running shoe feel. The Gore-Tex liner did its job without feeling too hot or sweaty, the eyelet lacing gave a snug and secure fit, and the Contagrip sole – a compound normally known for hard-wearing durability rather than outstanding traction – performed satisfactorily. Of course, the real USP of these shoes is that mega-plush Fuze Foam midsole. If you like a shoe with a plush, bouncy feel, you’ll likely love these.

Having said that, the reverse camber sole profile won’t suit everyone, and the chunky cushioning also reduces ‘feel’ underfoot. But in terms of rebound and suspension, they’re great – the rocker just keeps you rolling forwards, stride after stride. Bouncing along the trails also feels like a real positive on harder surfaces, and the extra impact absorption is great for saving sore knees and stopping you from feeling too footsore at the end of a long hike.

Closeup of hiker wearing Salomon Elixir Activ GTX hiking shoes

Price-wise, the Elixir Activ GTX has a UK RRP of £130. If you don’t want or need a waterproof trail hiking shoe, there’s also a non-Gore-Tex version, which retails for £115. That seems like decent value for such a plush and cushioned day hiker – especially when you consider that Hoka’s similarly maximalist Skyline Float and Anacapa Breeze Low shoes are £160 and £130, respectively.


Superlight trainer-style trail shoes that are ideal for day hiking and hillwalking, with mega-plush cushioning that makes for exceptional all-day comfort.

How we tested

Female hiker

Your tester for these hiking shoes is Ellie Clewlow. Ellie has been an expert gear contributor for Trail Magazine for many years and continues to thrash kit for us in the mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia) where she lives.

When it comes to thoroughly testing a waterproof hiking shoe like the Elixir Activ GTX, Ellie is the ideal choice as she's a huge fan of long, multi-day walks through varied and often wet terrain (North Wales isn't exactly known for its dryness!). Ellie put these Salomons through a series of day hikes over two months at the start of this year before finally putting pen to paper and sending us this review.

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