Salomon has launched the Speedcross 6, the newest edition of its iconic trail running shoe that has been a staple in the company’s footwear range since 2006. Available widely from September (with limited availability up until then), the Speedcross 6 remains true to the legendary roots of the Speedcross family, but with a lighter design (298g) and more powerful, grippy connection to the ground in wet conditions. That enhanced grip is due to an updated outsole with Y-shaped lugs that evacuate mud faster.

“The Speedcross 6 focuses on the grip, which has always been the key feature of this franchise,” explains James Boyes, Product Line Manager for Trail Running at Salomon.

“When mud stacks up under a shoe, it’s easy to slip or roll, and the shoe gets extra heavy. After extensive testing, the new Y-shaped lugs on the outsole of the Speedcross 6 provided the best grip on slippery surfaces and improved mud shedding, so you can be faster and safer on the trails.”

The shoe also delivers classic Speedcross comfort thanks to a revamped, foot-hugging upper that’s both functional and fiery. Sensifit construction delivers precise foothold, and the EnergyCell+ midsole compound offers cushioning under the foot. £130. There will also be a Speedcross 6 GORE-TEX (FW22), with a waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX membrane that is ideal for wet and muddy conditions.

The design of the Speedcross 6 recalls the tyre-like look that inspired the very first Speedcross, which was born in 2006. Salomon footwear designer Guillaume Salmon had the task of continuing the illustrious legacy of the Speedcross range by taking the reins of the Speedcross 6. His goal was to retain the modern feel of the Speedcross 5, so that the shoe’s design works as well in all-black as it does in more eye-catching colourways.

“We wanted to go back to that original design, with the PowerBand, the SensiFit, and the chunky heel, while keeping the modern aspect of the Speedcross 5,” explains Guillaume.

“We also decided to add the tyre-like details to the side to pay homage to the inspiration of the very first Speedcross, so it feels even more grippy and aggressive, and so that you’re not afraid to get it dirty!”

Sixteen years after the release of this iconic shoe, the new Speedcross 6 remains loyal to the source code of the original model as a grippy, lightweight and protective trail shoe. It also harks back to the original bold design of the Speedcross 1.

In the early 2000s, Salomon developed a new footwear offering, to meet the need for increasingly fast and light footwear compared to what was normal at the time—sturdy hiking shoes like the Salomon Adventure 7, launched in 1994. In the mid-2000s, Salomon was quickly building its reputation in the trail running community. The XA Pro, made for adventure racing, was quite successful commercially, proving that there was a spot for a more niche project. Inspired by local races taking place near Salomon’s HQ in Annecy in the French Alps—and by employees, designers and athletes—Salomon’s footwear design team hatched the idea for a shoe that would be lightweight, grippy and protective.

The shoe that was created would launch a revolution at Salomon, change the rules of mountain running, and contribute to the birth and growth of trail running. It was called Speedcross, and it was made for running fast in the mountains while protecting your feet from rocks and obstacles and delivering stability on wet rocks and in mud. The Speedcross was not born from extensive market research or focus groups, but rather an internal attempt to create buzz. Finding inspiration in motocross tyres, the Speedcross began to take shape, with a low-profile and rugged look that had a sophisticated crudeness. The thread graphic on the mudguard gave the impression that the shoe could bite the ground regardless of the conditions or the path’s angle of incline.

Due to budget restrictions, the shoe could only be developed using existing components. The outsole was borrowed from the deep-lugged XA Harrier. The traditional chassis was replaced by a
feather-construction that concealed the midsole. People would certainly question the stability of a chassis-less shoe, but this construction provided the agility needed to run faster in the mountains and created a better transition with the ground.

The Speedcross was such a revolution that it would be updated in 2007 and 2011, then twice more in 2016 and 2019. Each incarnation has had a different designer whilst remaining true to its original source code, its DNA.

“The earliest version of the Speedcross had a quite rounded heel so it wasn’t as stable,” says Felix Dejey, Product Evaluation Manager for Salomon footwear who worked on the earliest versions of the shoe.

“We’ve learned a lot along the way. The Speedcross 2, 3 and 4, for example, were extremely stable. It really is amazing how far the shoe has come. Today, we see people using it as a lifestyle shoe as well, which we never could have predicted, and the extended colour palette gives lots of options.”

As Dejey points out, over the years, the unique look of the Speedcross has become popular well beyond designers and trail runners. In 2015, when Parisian fashion retailer The Broken Arm contacted Salomon to sell the Snowcross shoe – a derivative of the Speedcross that is made for running in the snow, with a high gaiter, metal spikes and a fully waterproof construction — it became clear that the Speedcross had great potential to be worn in the city.

The Speedcross 3’s iconic silhouette that was created in 2010 has since been reworked a number of times with new colour palettes and gradients. This raw, unique look allows designers to play with each element, add specific details, and appropriate the shoe to give it a different appeal.

“The Speedcross has such a radical design, such a raw emotion. You can tell at first sight that it’s a shoe made for trail running, you can tell it’s trail-ready,” says Guillaume Steinmetz, founder of The Broken Arm.

“It is not made for anything other than being outdoors, which is why it stands out so well compared to shoes and brands who are trying to follow a trend. With the Speedcross, the source code is so strong that the shoe can be recognized at first glance.”

The Speedcross 4 has also been reworked in collaboration with the likes of Palace, a skateboard brand from London. Year after year, designer after designer, the Speedcross stayed true to its original intention: running fast in the mountains. While the use of the shoe has diverted as time passed—from hiking trails to parks and runways—the Speedcross remains an icon. Now, the new Speedcross 6 stays true to the DNA of its predecessors.