Salomon Thundercross Review: A Speedgoat Rival?

The versatile and reliable Salomon Thundercross is designed for all types of trails and conditions, but is it really a match for the Speedgoat?

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The Salomon Thundercross is designed for trail runners who tackle a variety of terrains and need a reliable, all-terrain trail running shoe. Whether you’re running short distances or tackling trail marathons, these shoes are intended to deliver comfort, stability, and excellent traction.

While they have long competed in the trail shoe market with popular models such as the Speedcross line, I believe the Thundercross was created in the last few years by Salomon as a direct competitor to other brands’ mid-drop trail runners such as the HOKA Speedgoat, for example (which is now on version 6 and sits at the top of our best trail running shoes roundup as of the date of this review). That is, an all-terrain shoe, with a 4mm drop, moderate to high cushion in the midsole, and a good amount of foot protection for a variety of surfaces and weather conditions.

In this Salomon Thundercross review I’m going to cover all of these areas and share with you my experience of running in them. First I’ll go over the key features of the Salomon Thundercross, including their design, fit, and performance on various terrains based on my experience of extensively testing them on a variety of trails in Northern California. That includes how they handle climbs, flat sections, and downhills, over different trail types, from flatter buff trails to more technical singletrack, rocks and roots.

Additionally, I’ll share my thoughts on whether they are worth the $140 price tag and suggest some alternative trail running shoes if these don’t quite fit your needs.

Key Features of the Salomon Thundercross

  • Price: 🇺🇸 USA $140 at Salomon / 🇬🇧 UK £140 at Sportsshoes.com
  • Weight: 8.5oz (US Women’s 7.5)
  • Drop: 4mm (Stack height: 31mm heel, 27mm toe)
  • Outsole: Salomon’s Contagrip with 5mm lugs
  • Upper: Stretch mesh with protective overlays
  • Midsole: EVA foam providing balanced cushioning and responsiveness
  • Fit: Runs wider than typical Salomon shoes, consider going down a half-size

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Salomon Thundercross trail running shoe review. Salomon Thundercross trail running shoe review
Side view of the Salomon Thundercross and that Quicklace system.

Interestingly, the toe box and midfoot offer more room than usual for Salomon shoes (which tend to be relatively narrow compared to other trail shoe brands), which is nice if you like to have that extra width for your toes. That said, I’ve been wearing my usual size (US women’s 7.5), however I find I have to cinch the laces a lot to prevent my foot from moving within the shoe. So, if you have narrow feet or tend to be at the lower end of your shoe size, I strongly suggest you consider getting these in a half size down, if you choose to order a pair.

Salomon Thundercross Performance Review

To make sure this review offers you the full scope of testing insights, and so you know we actually run in the shoes we review (believe it or not, some sites that like to cut shoes in half and call it a review, do not), you can also watch my performance video review on Youtube by tapping the image below – Don’t forget to subscribe to our Channel :).

Salomon Thundercross Review: A Speedgoat Rival? 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

Out on the trails, these shoes capably handle a variety of terrains, including singletrack full of gnarly roots, rocky sections, flat and buffed fire roads where you can open up your speed.

The upper mesh isn’t the most breathable, but it does a great job of keeping dirt out while providing some stretch, due to the fine weave. The light blue overlay offers decent protection against rocks and roots – it’s not solid but more protective than mesh. The outsole wraps up over the front of your toes, adding extra durability and protection, as well as added traction for digging into the trail when tackling steep ascents.

Tucking the laces away in the built-in lace garage on the tongue of the Salomon Thundercross trail shoes.
Tucking the laces away in the built-in lace garage on the tongue of the Salomon Thundercross trail shoes.

Salomon’s Quicklace system is efficient and neat. If you’re unfamiliar with this lacing system, essentially it uses very thin laces and a plastic pull tab to tighten the laces. There’s also integrated lace garage on the tongue of the shoe, which you can (and need to) use to tuck your laces away once done up – this also keeps the look of the shoe tidy.

As mentioned above, I did have to cinch down the laces significantly to get a good fit, which was surprising given Salomon’s typically narrow fit, and resulted in me having a lot of lace left over – as demonstrated in the video. This also ruffled up the mesh upper under the laces. While it doesn’t affect the comfort or performance of the shoe when running, it doesn’t look great.

Sizing down a half-size would alleviate the bunching of the mesh upper under the Thundercross's lacing. Salomon Thundercross Review.
Sizing down a half-size would alleviate the bunching of the mesh upper under the Thundercross’s lacing.

Normally I would expect a pair of trail runners to be comfortable out the box, and while they weren’t UN-comfortable when I first put them on, the Thundercross definitely became more comfortable after a couple of miles, mainly because the firm V-shaped sections on the sides needed a bit of wear to soften up. Once broken in, the fit became more comfortable and supportive.

It’s also worth noting that the relatively wide fit in the toe box is actually beneficial in the heat of California’s summer, because while the mesh upper isn’t the most breathable, my toes have room to move and didn’t overheat on any of my testing runs.

When it comes to climbing, the Thundercross excels. The aggressive 5mm Y-shaped lugs on the Contagrip outsole provide exceptional traction on various surfaces, from loose dirt to rocky paths. The outsole’s grip is reliable, ensuring stability on steep ascents. The shoe’s design allows for a good amount of ground feel, which is crucial for maintaining balance and stability on uneven terrain.

The Salomon Thundercross boasts an affective lug pattern for traction when trail running over a variety of terrains and gradients.
The Salomon Thundercross boasts an affective lug pattern for traction when trail running over a variety of terrains and gradients.

The cushioning in the midsole strikes a perfect balance between comfort and responsiveness. It provides enough cushioning to absorb the impact on steep climbs while still offering a firm and stable platform. This responsiveness helps in maintaining a steady pace on uphill sections, making the Thundercross a great choice for runners who encounter a lot of elevation changes.

The Thundercross are also comfortable for flatter trails, providing a smooth and comfortable ride on packed dirt and fire roads. The cushioning, while ample, doesn’t feel overly plush, allowing for a responsive and energetic feel. This makes it easy to pick up the pace and maintain a consistent speed on flat terrain.

A closer look at the outsole and lugs on the Salomon Thundercross trail runners.
A closer look at the outsole and lugs on the Salomon Thundercross trail runners.

The aggressive lugs on the outsole also provide excellent grip on downhills, preventing any slipping or sliding on steep descents, although I would note that my testing of these shoes has, to date, been in dry conditions and the downhill trail surfaces are generally comprised of loose gravel, dry, skittish leaves and root sections, rather than muddy or wet, so I’m yet to test them in those conditions. That said, Contagrip is usually pretty damn good in the wet, on any of Salomon’s all-terrain trail shoes I’ve worn in the past.

There's the outsole wrapping up over the toe area of the Thundercross. This helps with uphill traction as well as protection from kicking rocks etc.
There’s the outsole wrapping up over the toe area of the Thundercross. This helps with uphill traction as well as protection from kicking rocks etc.

Overall, the Salomon Thundercross offers a balanced and reliable performance on various terrains. Whether you’re tackling steep climbs, cruising along flat sections, or navigating tricky downhills, these shoes provide the necessary grip, comfort, and support.

The initial break-in period is well worth it, resulting in a versatile trail running shoe that can handle anything you throw at it. If you’re in the market for a new pair of trail running shoes, the Thundercross is definitely worth considering – but remember to size down if, like me, you feel you’d get a better fit that way.

Alternative Trail Running Shoes to Consider

If you feel Salomon Thundercross may not be quite right for you, here are some other similar options to explore:

These are all great, and relatively similar trail running shoes in terms of their capability, performance and other features such as outsole lug depth and heel-to-toe drop, which is at, or close to, 4mm for each of these shoes – the same as the Thundercross.

As I mentioned at the start of this review, I believe the Thundercross is intended to compete directly with the Speedgoat, and I believe it does. Time will tell whether it outlasts the GOAT in terms of midsole durability, but certainly in terms of ride, outsole capability and comfort, it’s a close match. I’d probably still lean towards the Speedgoat or Mafate for running over less rocky terrain, and pick the Thundercross when I want more top-of-foot protection in the upper – especially if I had them in a half-size down.

Aaand if you’re wondering how the Thundercross compares to the Salomon Speedcross, it’s essentially a lighter, wider, lower-drop and less cushioned trail shoe than the Speedcross. We have a full comparison post for these shoes on the way, as well as an in-depth Salomon Speedcross 6 review coming soon (subscribe to our newsletter to get notified when these, and our other latest posts, go live!).

Are They Worth The Money?

So, are the Salomon Thundercross worth the $140 price tag? Absolutely! These shoes are versatile enough for all kinds of trails, from flat fire roads to technical mountain paths. $140 is also a competitive price when you consider many comparable alternatives cost $155+. With their 4mm drop and reliable grip, they’re perfect for trail runners looking for a dependable shoe with a modest drop and great underfoot traction.

Helen
Helenhttps://www.trailandkale.com/
One of Trail & Kale's co-founders, a mom, and guardian of our resident trail dog, Kepler, Helen can be found trail running with Kepler and enjoying road runs with her mini in a jogging stroller, all while testing out the latest running gear for our readers.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Let me know if you have any questions about these shoes, if you have specific requirements for you running shoes reviews, let me know in the comments and I’ll give you some recommendations!

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