Salomon X-Alp SPRY Review Facts
Salomon is known for manufacturing some outstanding climbing-specific shoes, and the X-Alp SPRY seems to be a good addition to the lineup. Quite like other approach shoes, it claims to be a unique blend of climbing slippers, hiking shoes, and a few mountaineering boots. A lightweight approach shoe, the SPRY is supposed to help you cover technical terrain with authority. Certain features like a rigid midsole, textile upper, and sticky outsole certainly make it a desirable choice, but it may be a bit too rigid for certain situations.
On the X ALP SPRY there is a Contagrip rubber outsole that works to add security and stability on wet surfaces. The Contragrip has become the pretty much the standard across the industry and can be found on many of the Solomon outdoor shoe range. This rubber sole creates traction on dry rocks whilst the lugs and tread allow the shoe to work equally effectively on dry or muddy flat ground. The addition of a well-defined cushioned climbing
zone on the toe of the X Alp Spry further increases its effectiveness on rocks. The inclusion of cushioning, taken from the Solomon Speedcross shoe ensures even the heel of the foot is protected when climbing.
The injected EVA midsole is the reason why the X ALP SPRY is a good hybrid of climbing and trekking shoe. Its extra thickness makes a superb shock absorber that supports both instep and balls of the feet for comfort during climbing
. This high-quality midsole delivers stress-crack resistance, low-temperature toughness and added resistance to UV radiation. It is combined with a torsion shank to further increase the rigidity and stability of the shoe, a feature we particularly like. The use of the robust Ortholite sock-liner along with the EVA heel cup makes this midsole one of the most impressive on the market.
There is no doubt that the minimalist design of the upper combined with its durability, thanks in part, to the reinforced toe, provides foot protection that gives the ALP SPRY approach shoe
a clear edge over other approach shoes on the market today. With Seamless Sensifit technology the X ALP SPRY is true to size and fits perfectly to lock in the foot when laced. Its snug but comfortable fit provides that extra security for tackling even the most difficult of climbs. The low-cut profile allows for ease of movement whilst the textile upper and Ortholite maintains dryness and comfort on even the muddiest and rockiest of climbs. Not only does the liner work to keep the foot snugly in place but also acts as a barrier to dust and debris even over the longest haul.
The X ALP SPRY is an excellent option for anyone looking for increased waterproofing. The lining is not only durable but fast drying and non-abrasive. Breathability of the liner adds to the comfort of the whole shoe even over longer periods. We noticed that even when our feet
did get damp when out on the trail they dried out very quickly and caused no discomfort. Even so, it is worth noting The X ALP Spry shoe should not be the first choice for hiking through endless inches of water where a nylon upper rather than a textile upper would be more appropriate, but it does serve very well where the terrain is damp or even water sodden.
The X ALP SPRY is certainly lightweight but only moderately flexible. Whilst this provides protection, it can also create limitations with flexibility. It feels like a trail-running shoe
, but this rigidity could cause problems for anyone with non-standard size feet especially around the toe and over the top of the foot. It may not suit anyone with wider feet even after loosing up. Because a firm fit is essential for security and safety it is strongly recommended that anyone purchasing the Solomon X ALP SPRY approach shoe should try for size before buying.
The style of X-Alp SPRY is a positive feature for sure. Thanks to its styling, you can wear it down the pub or go climb
walls with equal confidence. It is available in two color variations – black and gray. Precisely, you will find a pair with a combination of castor gray and beluga with a lime punch on the tongue and midsole. The other color variation is mallard blue with scarlet ibis. Its low profile design also makes it suitable to wear even when you are not out with an intention to tackle tough rocks and trails.
The X ALP SPRY may be a bit stiff but make no mistake about its durability. The OrthoLite liner combination of foam and EVA heel cup work together to keep your feet cooler and well protected. It is not going to break down any time soon. The upper surrounds the liner well to offer added durability and waterproofing. The snug fit eliminates foot hot spots and blister abrasions whether you are twisting your feet into granite cracks or logging miles on a tough terrain. Since the sole is so well integrated into the upper, there is no need to worry about having small rocks or dirt settling into your shoes. For durability, this approach
shoe may not offer all the robustness of nylon, but it is nevertheless up there in the top few.
Like other shoes in the Solomon shoe range, the SPRY is impressive with the kind of protection it offers, especially with its OrthoLite Sock-Liner. The use of lamination around critical areas backs up the already reinforced stitching to make the shoe water resistant over mud, wet grass and through puddles. With the addition of a full Gore-Tex sock
, water resistance is increased even further. Furthermore, the rigidity of the toe box and heel cap durability and protection complete the overall effectiveness of the X ALP SPRY approach shoe.
They are extremely light, and therefore, quite responsive in certain situations. The stiffness of the SPRY is something that makes it less desirable for hiking in certain locations, but it may still be quite responsive on a long scrambling day. They work reasonably well when your main aim is to move from scrambling approaches to the base of the route. An experienced climber, however, might certainly want something more responsive and rather flexible too. For them, the SPRY is never a substitute for specialized climbing
With the added protection at the toe box, the SPRY GTX can help you enjoy better control over rocks. The weight is on the lower side, which means that you may sometimes wish for additional stability. The rubber toe rand, however, offers a degree of support and makes it good at handling the odd crack.
The high-quality rubber sole and the sock-liner make the SPRY GTX work fine on a variety of terrain, including dirt, rock, snow, and mud. It handles snow quite well, but it may not be that impressive when dealing with highly technical rocks. You may have to look for a better alternative with added support and more flexibility to tackle slippery slabs more efficiently.
In terms of price, the X-Alp SPRY may not be the most affordable pair available in this category. You are likely to spend somewhere around $130 to own it, which may be a bit high considering it cannot handle highly technical trails.
It offers reasonably good traction, thanks to the presence of a smooth climbing zone at the toe end. You will also find heel tread that allows for impressive traction and braking. The combination of stiff edges and a highly durable upper material also plays a role here, and add the adaptive liner in the picture and you will have a pair of climbing shoes with good stability on technical rock.
However, if you are an advanced climber, you may want to look for a better option because the rubber it has is not all that suitable for tricky rockwork. It is a bit too hard for our liking and you may find yourself skidding down on reasonably friction positive slabs.
Its well-reinforced toe box comes to your rescue here and ensures good jamming in cracks. The sock-like liner plays a role here and prevents your foot to twist around while torqued in cracks. It means that if you are more into hiking than scrambling, X-Alp SPRY is going to perform well for you. Another thing is that though the traction is better than many other traction shoes in the same category, X-Alp SPRY underperforms on wet terrain. It is still much better than bulkier shoes like the La Sportiva Boulder X.
The moment you wear it, you realize you cannot call it 'flexible'. In fact, it was a bit stiffer than we thought. The pair comes with standard laces and lace eyelets without any Quicklace system, and with the type of stiffness it has, it was a big hassle to keep the laces from coming undone. We believe that it might improve with time, but if it is annoying, we recommend changing them for trainer laces.
Comparison to Other Brands
It weighs around 14 ounces, which makes it much lighter than many other approach shoes, except for the Evolv Cruzr Psyche, which weighs at 13.2 ounces. It is quite close to the mesh La Sportiva TX3 in terms of weight, but its textile material sets it apart from other brands. Nevertheless, you will find the SPRY to be a perfect fit as a climber shoe. Its low weight allows you to wear it while performing different mountain activities, but it is not going to serve you well as a running shoe. The X-Alp range has three different boots and approach shoes, and in testing, they all have performed well in different situations, from mountain hiking to scrambling and crag approach. The good old Salomon X-ALP GTX has shown how well it is made, but the SPRY beats it when it comes to a better ground feel, which may be the result of a stickier sole on the SPRY.
Any avid climber knows that a supportive ride will be under question with lightweight shoes. Interestingly, the SPRY finds a good balance between stability and weight. It has a flexible EVA midsole, but the presence of a molded shank is the reason why it offers reasonable stability on rocks and trails. As it is lightweight, you can log pitch after pitch using your harness, and it is stable enough to allow you to do everything with a heavy pack. It shines brightly when it comes to crack climbing, and that is mainly because of its well-supported toe box and heel.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the X-Alp SPRY is a good all-around approach shoe. Some of its features make it a good value for money and styling is one such feature. It performs reasonably well on rocky, technical ground, but is equally good when worn in your daily life. Of course, it is not something you would want to test your advanced climbing skills with, but it certainly rises to the occasion when you are interested to do a little technical climbing. In fact, it is one of the best shoes you will find for crack climbing, and that is all because of its protective feature and rigidity. So, there are shortcomings, but like other Salomon shoes, the SPRY does not disappoint you much with its performance.