Salomon S/LAB XA Alpine 2 Shoe Review

I’ve been trying to write this review for a while now, not because I don’t know what I want to say about this shoe, or how I feel about it, but because I’ve been worried that it just won’t read the way I want it to. Well I’ve been looking for “F”’s to give, and well I just can’t find any, so without any further slacking, here is my “better late than never” review of the Salomon S/Lab XA Alpine 2.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be a member of the Mountain Peak Fitness/Red Newt Racing team since its inception, and in 2018 we forged what will hopefully be a long standing partnership with Salomon. This partnership with Salomon has allowed me to test tons of gear, and I am just now going to come out of the woodwork to talk about it. This will be the first review in a series of all the things awesome that Salomon and MPF/RNR have provided me in 2018. “Why so late?” you ask. I could go into that, but THAT would take WAY TOO LONG. All I can say is that I’ve really enjoyed and appreciate having the time to train and race with Salomon gear/apparel and I hope I get better at writing these reviews in a more timely fashion.

Living in upstate NY winter has many forms- I could try to describe them all, but that would take far to long. Let’s just say that climate change IS REAL and things go from beautiful to bat shit sideways and back again in two shakes of a mountain goats tail. Happily I’m here to tell you that in my experience the XA Alpine will get you to, through and from the crazy bat shit mother nature can throw at you! For real though, this shoe is no one hit wonder, and here’s why...Underneath the sleek tuxedo black and turquoise exterior that shelters you from the storm lies a fiery red sports car tuned for when you wanna drop the hammer- a close cousin to the S/Lab Sense!

The Sense Fit upper and quicklace hold your foot like a five point racing harness, and when you zip up the outer gaiter and snap the ankle closure these babies are ready for launch. Unlike the Sense, the XA Alpine has a bit wider and longer carbon chassis but still provides plenty of flexion of the forefoot. The wet weather Contagrip outsole has larger, more widely spaced lugs than the Sense that provide good grip on wet rock and shed mud w/ ease as well. The outsole also has a section that wraps from the ball of the foot around to the pinky toe known as the “climbing zone”. This part of the outsole is especially stiff under the end of your toes, allowing for good edging on alpine scrambles. Sound like a tank? Hell no, this shoe is more like a rally car. Built to go fast, take hard hits, and adapt for any conditions.

If your adventure starts wet and muddy, and gets dry and hot, NBD- just  open the zipper and leave the ankle snap closed- its like pit zips reinvented...The other aspect of the XA Alpine that make it multifaceted is that it’s wider outsole at the toe box accommodates Kahtoola Microspikes perfectly, and because the outer shell, or gaiter is so smooth, quick transitions from ice to nice are velvet jesus smooth. The same is true for snowshoe transitions- everything just works. I used to wear the Salomon S/Lab Sense or S/Lab Ultra V1’s with a Craft cycling winter bootie for snowshoe racing, but now the XA Alpine’s have made life so much more streamlined, and reduced the weight of my previous set up. 

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I guess this wouldn’t really be a review if I didn’t call out any dislikes about the XA Alpine 2. This shoe looks horrible if you wear it with shorts! Shocking, I know, but damn it all if Steve Urkel wouldn’t have rocked these w/ a pair of Dockers Khaki shorts and Knee highs! I think that’s all I’ve got for the not so hot until i’ve put a lot more earth under these babies, at which point I hope to provide a long term review. The XA Alpine 2 will be in heavy use the rest of the winter. What will be on your feet when its #timetoplay

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