Hikers and Backpackers alike will agree that one of the most important gear choice they will make before a trip is what footwear to wear on the trail. Hours are spend examining trail conditions, expected weather, and the gains and losses in elevation. Even more time is spent researching the top brands, gear reviews and customer comments before heading to the local outfitter to find that perfect fit. Even then, a hiker will not know if they made the right choice until they are miles away from anywhere, with a pack on their back and nothing more to do than put one foot in front of the other.
I recently found myself in this exact predicament. Having worn through my previous boots, I was about to take on a trip of a lifetime by attempting a single day 23.9 mile rim-to-rim thru hike of the Grand Canyon. As one of the most challenging day hikes in the country, the Grand Canyon’s rim-to-rim hike is commonly compared to climbing Mt. Whitney in California, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, which is a 21.6-mile, 6,000-foot climb undertaking.
With only a few weeks before the trip and my beloved boots discontinued, I wanted a boot that was light weight, stable on varied terrain, and a comfortable fit right out of the box. It wasn’t long until I discovered the Salomon X Ultra Mid II GTX.
Manufactured by Salomon, one of the most proven companies in rugged footwear, the X Ultra Mid II’s aggressive design includes all of the performance-driven features hikers expect for rugged trails and extended backpacking trips.
Immediately out of the box you can feel the SensiFit upper cradling your foot for a stable, true-to-size, snug fit. At only 1lb 12oz, the Ortholite foot bed and two layers of EVA gives plenty of cushion and light enough for any day-long adventuring.
Salomon’s Advanced Chassis midsole provides for stability, foot control, and protection. The rubber toe cap protects your foot from rocks, while the mud guard keeps the boot clean after wet-weather excursions. The non-marking ContaGrip rubber sole helps maintain traction on any surface that the outdoors presents. The Gore-Tex’s Performance Comfort membrane guarantees waterproof breathable protection for year-round climates.
The X Ultra Mid II has consistently ranked at the top during any field test or side by side comparison they are matched up against being named one of the top boots for 2016 by Backpacker Magazine, and receiving a customer rating average at over 4 out of five stars on nearly every website that sells them. Purchasing them seemed like a no brainer and I was eager to try them on the trail.
The day of my hike began early, arriving at the North Kaibab Trailhead at 6:30 in the morning. The light overnight rain stimulated the natural aroma of the surrounding evergreens and the smell of wet soil enhanced the view of the rugged terrain that laid out before me. Starting at just over 8200 feet the North Kaibab trail makes a steady descend of 14.1 miles down into the canyon to the Colorado River. Traversing along the well-traveled trail I crossed though a mix of hard packed and loose gravel patches along the way. The ContaGrip rubber sole lived up to the hype as I stepped sure footed down the trail.
During the steep decent I felt little discomfort as I would typically by crowding in the toe box of the boots. This was attributed to the Advanced Chassis midsole and locked in security of the lacing hardware on the boots.
Making the 9.8 mile climb out of the canyon was challenging but just as the manufacture boasts, the Ortholite foot bed prevented the onset of foot fatigue allowing me to exert maximum effort when I needed it the most.
Even with all day effort and little break-in the Salomon X Ultra Mid II GTX performed better than I could have ever expected. I experienced no blisters or lasting foot fatigue and even in the seasonal heat the Gore-Tex liner allowed enough breathability to keep my feet relatively dry the entire hike. The perfect blend of fashion and function, the Salomon X Ultra Mid II GTX will keep you on the trail making miles.