Salomon Wings Sky GTX Review – A Search for the Best Snowshoeing Boot

December 1, 2013 — 3 Comments

Salomon Wings Sky GTX Review

Salomon Wings Sky GTX Review – A Search for the Best Snowshoeing Boot

For the past three years a sad pair of Rossignol cross country ski boots have been my go-to winter footwear for everything from shoveling the driveway to earning crunchy patches of frostbite on both feet during an impromptu hunting excursion—plus a little skiing. Not terrible boots, but the hard plastic soles and binding-compatible toe have caused a number of mishaps while scrambling over rocks and sneaky ice patches.

salomon wings sky gtx review laces

The insane number of boots on the market today, many of which claim to be dialed for some ultra-specific type of activity, make it almost impossible to decide on the best boot for whatever it is you need them for. This mind boggling fiasco is why I have been stuck in boot purgatory for so long. Plus, pick the wrong boots and for $250 you could have more blisters than a redhead sunbathing in the Sahara.

Recently, some good timing landed a pair of Salomon Wings Sky GTX boots on my feet at an outlet price. The bold color was initially startling, not something my pioneer ancestors would have preferred, but it is growing on me and should be fine for anyone minus the few who end up on the wrong end of a fugitive manhunt in a wooded area.

Intended Usage

The biggest hole in my footwear arsenal has been something for the wet and cold bookends of winter, plus a boot to work well with a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. For fitness-snowshoeing an insulated full-on winter boot has often left me unhappy and feeling sluggish. The trail running-esque design of the Salomons sized a bit larger than normal for heavier socks, I expect will be perfect. It’s just starting to snow now, but in a couple of months I’ll report back with some results.

If you have a favorite pair of boots for snowshoeing PLEASE share in the comments at the bottom. This has been a mystery I’ve been trying to crack for awhile and the available advice I’ve found online is vague at best.

Salomon Wings Sky GTX Review Observations

Below is what I have personally noticed about the boots and feel is important to know before purchasing. If you are interested in any tech on the shoes or marketing content check out their site: Salomon.

  • Salomon has released a Salomon Wings Sky GTX 2. They are 99% the same, with the addition of a lycra cuff at the top to keep debris from raining in while spinning your wheels too fast. From 10 feet away the designs look indistinguishable from each other. A few aesthetic details have changed preserving the product designer’s job for another year.
  • Hiking in these boots so far has been a perfect mix of trail running shoe comfort and lightness, mixed with just enough ankle support for confidence on trailless sidehills and rocky scrabble.
  • salomon wings sky gtx review pic solesI’d call these a hybrid between a trail running shoe and a hiking boot. I’ve competed in a couple of ultras recently and think I would have been fairly comfortable running mountain trails in these for 20+ miles. Maybe a little slower than a low-cut running shoe, but someone with ankles prone to spraining will appreciate the extra stability.
  • For my intended use the Gore-Tex liner is a must. I’ve been burned so many times trying to save a buck by purchasing inferior gear¬†(coats, rain jackets, pants, etc.) that claims to be waterproof and breathable but with a different technology. This past weekend I crossed a few icy creeks with my daughter on my back and the performance was ideal. Not as cool as a summer non-water proof model, but as good as I’d expect.
  • These are so much lighter than past backpacking boots I’ve owned. Very refreshing on the heels of my previous leather Vasque backpacking boots, which I would estimate to be at least twice as heavy. Laced tight these are comparable in terms of support.
  • The sole is very much like a running shoe. A lot of lightweight EVA foam and a very flexible forefoot. Some people will not like this, but personally I plan on moving fast and light in these and the amount of rigidness is adequate. There will be instances where stray rocks are felt through the sole, but nothing close to that of a minimalist trail running shoe.
  • Time will tell, but it is likely they won’t hold up as long as a leather boot. The materials all seem of substantial quality, but the high number of seams equals a lot of opportunities for failure points. I am not worried about it except for the possibility of damage inflicted by snowshoe bindings.
  • The boots have significant arch support coupled with a narrow midfoot. This is ideal for my long, flat, narrow feet, but wide-footers beware.
  • The lacing system is very smooth and easy to tighten. At the turning point where the foot makes a right angle up the leg, the lace guides lock down tightly making it possible to independently tighten the foot and ankle parts of the boot. Very smart.
  • Try to find them on sale, or look for last year’s model. They are pricey.

salomon wings sky gtx review pic

Salomon Wings Sky GTX Review Summary

I’d recommend these to anyone who loves the feel of, or is used to hiking in, trail running shoes, but wants something a little beefier for backpacking, rough terrain, or inclement weather. Purchased larger than normal and paired with warm socks and gaiters, I also think these are a perfectly acceptable winter excursion boot for half-day fitness activities (snowshoeing, hiking, trail running) above 15 degrees F.

A person transitioning from hiking shoes or trail running shoes to these is going to be happier than someone who has predominantly preferred heavy leather boots.

For fast-paced snowshoeing I fully expect these to feel light, be warm enough, and keep my feet dry. I’ll report back on this in an update with pictures in two months from now.

Please share in the comments below your favorite footwear for snowshoeing and shoulder season adventures!

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3 responses to Salomon Wings Sky GTX Review – A Search for the Best Snowshoeing Boot

  1. Now that you’ve had them for a little bit, how have they been holding up? I’ve been thinking about picking these up (seeing some good sales) but some of the other reviews raise some questions about durability. How have they been for you?

    • Here are some random thoughts on the subject: Boots are holding up really well, but I can see that they would wear out much faster than a traditional hiking boot if you were doing much scrambling on rock or scree. Mainly because the sole is more like a trail runner than a stiff durable Vibram. Lot’s of EVA foam going on. Comfy, yes. Imagine a very high-quality trail running shoe that is light weight, waterproof, and full ankle support. I’ve been wearing them in the snow all winter and they have become my go-to winter boot. They will probably last a really longtime as a snow boot because there is not much abrasion going on. I haven’t had much opportunity to snowshoe with them, like I originally intended, because our Utah winter has been a little slow to arrive. I’ll probably use them into the shoulder season until it is too hot–with the Gortex they get super hot if I wear them inside for very long. I don’t think I could justify paying full retail on these, but I would buy them again if on sale. If you are the type that wears hiking boots around town and all day long, I’d say these will wear out faster than you want in the sole department. If you want them specifically for trips and weekend adventure I bet they’d last long enough to make you happy.

  2. Hi,

    I run trail ultras and am going on a hike this summer in Switzerland, and the guide doesn’t want us wearing trail runners. So I started looking at the Salomon Quest 4D GTX and then ran into your review of the Wings Sky GTX. Did you try the Quest 4D GTX as well? Do you think the Wings Sky GTX will hold up to rocky steep trails?

    What really got me interested in your article was that you were looking for snowshoeing boots. I have been using some fairly clunky/heavy Baffin boots and they work, and I can climb OK, but my feet get ultra sweaty and they weigh quite a bit. I like that they are high and my snowpants go right over them without needing gaiters. Have you noticed a need with the Wings Boots to need a gaiter? I am typically in steep and deep in the winter so keeping the snow out is pretty important.

    Thanks for the great review.

    -Gary

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