Salomon’s marketing pitch: Go confidently out into the harshest winter conditions.
Upper: Waterproof zipper shroud over an inner shoe, full sleeve, bungee cord lacing.
Midsole: Compression-molded EVA midsole, removable insole. 10 mm heel drop.
Outsole: Soft Contagrip carbon rubber + 12 Tungsten Carbide spikes.
Weight: 400 gms/ 14.1 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27
Widths available: Single, D (regular).
The Salomon Snowspike CSWP (ClimaSalomon Waterproof) is everything that a winter-running shoe should be, and then some. It is waterproof, protective, stable, secure-fitting, cushioned, and has an outsole that grips tenaciously on any soft terrain, be it slush, snow or ice.
It’s hard to pick flaws in a shoe that is akin to a veritable foot armor for winter runs.
This is a shoe in which you don’t have to constantly scan the ground for icy patches. The Contagrip outsole’s rubber lugs grip excellently to begin with, and the set of 12 Carbide-coated spikes take care of ice, snow, slush, and everything in between.
And it’s not just about the various functional bits on the CSWP that make winter running enjoyable. It’s the way everything comes together in perfect harmony. The stretchy shroud fits taut over the inner shoe. The YKK zipper hardware works flawlessly. The inner boot has an easily accessible toggle lacing that doesn’t create a lump under the gaiter.
A performance insole and an EVA midsole make the ride comfortable and absorb most bumps on the road and trail. The lugs on the outsole are widely spaced, and the rubber has a smooth, silky texture that is self-cleaning.
Though this shoe is 400 gram heavy, it looks and feels much lighter. The outer bootie is double-lasted in the mid and forefoot to give the Snowspike a sleek exterior.
If you haven’t got the gist of this rant, here it comes: This is one of the, if not the best, winter-running shoe that money can buy. The Salomon Snowspike CSWP handles the rain, snow, ice, and cold like few other shoes do.
Just don’t use them on the road when there’s no ice or snow. Or indoors. Because, uh, spikes?
SHOES SIMILAR TO THE SALOMON SNOWSPIKE CSWP
Though the La Sportiva Blizzard GTX shares functional fundamentals such as a spiked outsole and the waterproof ankle-high upper, it differs from the Snowspike in several ways.
Its upper design isn’t as intuitive as the Salomon’s. A closed elastic bootie and bungee lacing turns wearing the Blizzard into a relative chore. The outsole has 7 spikes instead of the CSWP’s 12, but you can retrofit additional spikes after purchasing the optional La Sportiva traction kit.
If you rather prefer a compact form factor without the high-cut gaiter, we recommend the Icebug NewRun BUgrip GTX. It’s still got spikes, a waterproof Gore-Tex upper, and a lacing system that is quick to set up – courtesy of the BOA dial.
THE RIDE EXPERIENCE
The Snowspike’s outsole and midsole design get so many things right, it’s no wonder the shoe rides as it does.
Let’s begin with the top of the midsole.
Inside the upper is a removable Ortholite insole that looks like an expensive aftermarket kind. The heel area is cupped by walls of soft EVA foam while the base is blown foam. There’s not a lot of the cushy stuff, but just enough to form a comfortable top layer.
Most of the midsole is made invisible by the same waterproof shroud that covers the upper. By doing so, the Snowspike keeps the midsole and outsole slim and aligned with the upper edge.
The said design helps the weight spread over a smaller contact area, thus increasing the bite. This design isn’t specific to the model – the entire Salomon Speedcross assortment features this construction.
A couple of spikes are positioned under the toe-box; the rest are spread around the edges. This way, the 6-mm long rubber lugs can do their job without being hindered by the spikes.
The lugs have a healthy degree of separation, and the outsole rubber is soft with a smooth surface. Thus, the outsole proves exceptionally good at self-cleaning. Even after running through a messy mixture of snow, ice, and mud, no clogging occurs on the outsole.
The traction is excellent, no matter whether it’s snow, patches of ice, or slush underneath. You also do not have to constantly keep an eye on the surface. With the Snowspike, you can build speed without worry.
However, given the limited number of spikes (a dozen here), you can’t go running on a surface that consists mostly of ice. For that, you’ll need to increase your spike count or augment your shoe with a crampon or similar. There’s a reason why this shoe is called the ‘Snowspike’ and not the ‘Icespike’.
As long as you’re running in typical winter conditions with compact snow and ice, the Snowspike shines all around.
Even though this is a 400-gram shoe, it surely doesn’t feel like it. The slim outsole and the double-lasted upper gives it a lower-to-the-ground feel. When combined with the upper fit, the ride feels very efficient, as if there’s no wasted effort during the gait cycle.
The Tungsten Carbide spikes deliver excellent performance. In over two months of ownership, we’ve never had a nervous moment of slippery-ness. This outsole form factor is aptly named the ‘Speedcross’ – it allows you to build moderate speed on surfaces that are slippery and uneven.
Despite the thick midsole, the cushioning is firm. There’s barely any compression, and that’s a positive – it allows better power transfer from the foot to the ground.
The lack of softness also results in a stable ride, a non-negotiable prerequisite for a running shoe meant for use on soft terrain.
The thinner forefoot almost feels racer-like due to its lower profile. Given the midsole’s 10 mm drop, the rearfoot gets most of the foam. Regardless of the thicker stack, the midsole (also) lacks any form of squishy-ness.
That doesn’t mean that the ride is harsh. If anything, the foam stack keeps the ride comfortable over many miles. We’d say that the Snowspike’s wheelhouse is between 10-20 km range at any pace. And of course, anything shorter than that.
And if you’ve ever run in the snow, you know that going faster is easier than walking. So that’s what you should do in the Salomon Snowspike – runs feels much better than way.
The forefoot transitions come quick and effortless. The combination of the lower-profile midsole, the relatively rigid forefoot, and the high toe-spring work together so that the turnovers happen efficiently. The forefoot also has the most number of spikes, so that helps establish a solid footing even on soft running surfaces.
IS THE SALOMON SNOWSPIKE DURABLE?
If you’re talking about the upper, then absolutely – it is a solid piece of work. The thick fused overlays and the sturdy toe bumper add structural integrity over the fully-sleeved inner shoe. The YKK zipper on the shroud is a heavy-duty workhorse.
The lifespan of the spiked outsole will depend on the kind of winter-running. If most of the surface is frozen soil or roads covered with compact snow, then you should get 300 miles easy. On the other hand, if a good percentage of the surface happens to be hard, slush-covered roads or sidewalks, then you’ll have a different – shorter – durability outcome.
Though the Tungsten Carbide (the same material as automobile tire studs) spikes are pretty durable, they will wear faster if used on uncovered roads. The rubber compound is also very soft compared to traditional regular shoes, so the Snowspike is best used on snow/ice-covered soft surfaces.
THE UPPER DESIGN AND FIT
There’s no such thing as perfection, but the Salomon Snowspike’s fit comes pretty close. Though the shoe looks huge from the outside, the upper hugs the foot like a custom-fit product. A couple of factors make that happen.
Inside the waterproof gaiter is a proper shoe with a full sleeve and a bungee lacing system. The foot-hugging lining is smooth, and there’s the padded tongue and heel collar as well. The heel loop is a nice touch of detail.
Though the upper is dual-layered, the heel holds the foot securely without feeling stuffy – the internal counter only cups the lower half so the Achilles area is left soft and comfortable.
The inner shoe fits true-to-size with a snug, form-fitting forefoot. Though the toe-box looks a bit pointy from the outside, the insides do not feel pinched or shallow. Do note, however, that there’s only a single width available that fits securely for a D (standard) sized foot.
Besides the sleeved design of the shoe, the outer ClimaSalomon gaiter wraps taut over the foot. Zip the shroud on, and the slightly elastic mesh stretches flush over the shoe. The collar band around the ankle is also stretchable to allow dorsiflexion.
The zip uses robust YKK hardware, the kind that delivers reliable performance. It also does an excellent job of securing the quicklace bungee cords over the shoe.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when wearing this shoe. First, the zip toggle should be returned to a locked position (front-facing) after you slip on the shoe. Else, the zip might come undone during runs.
It’s equally important to ensure that the button-closure on the collar is locked with an audible ‘snap’ sound.
It’s worth noting that the outer gaiter isn’t waterproof; the inner shoe is. At best, the zipped outer covering offers a high degree of water-resistance due to the generous use of fused overlays. So the waterproofing isn’t ankle-high but restricted to the height of the inner shoe.
The inner shoe is waterproof alright. The fully-sleeved upper keeps seams to a bare minimum, and the external bootie is bonded near the top of the inner shoe.
Even the lasting is designed to help keep the water out. Remove the insole, and you’ll see a slip-type lasting with single-sided seams.
The meticulous finish and overall attention to detail is a bonus on what is already a great fitting upper. Even on a complex double-lasted construction, there are no glue signs, and the outsole alignment with the upper edge is perfect.
The Salomon Snowspike CSWP’s upper is solereview approved.
PROS AND CONS
We’ve already said all the nice things we had to say about the shoe, so this section is not going to be a rehash.
Pointing out flaws on the Snowspike is nitpicking, but we’ll try our best.
It would have been great if the shoe was lighter than 400 grams. We understand, though, why the product weighs as much as it does. Metal spikes and their internal receptacles add a significant amount of weight. The regular Speedcross for example, comes in much lighter at 340 grams.
The lack of reflectivity could be easily fixed though. The heel has a phoenix-shaped graphic detail that looks reflective but lacks the intensity of traditional high-viz elements.
HOW TO WEAR THE SNOWSPIKE INDOORS
A shoe with a spiked outsole can damage tiles, or worse, slip over smooth surfaces. So what do you if you need to walk a few meters indoors before taking your shoes off?
We bought a pair of Tidy Trax (disclaimer: promotional link to Amazon) – an overshoe that fits most boots, the Snowspike included. The Tidy Trax is a gigantic overshoe that looks like it belongs to the Apollo Space program. Regardless of its moon-shoe aesthetics, this product is extremely practical.
The toe and heel area are lined with hundreds of soft rubber nibs that latch on the shoe once you step into it. To take it off, step on the heel extension with the other foot to pull off the overshoe.
The TidyTrax has a cupped design with high sidewalls, so all the muck and moisture stay contained. It’s very easy to clean too; a simple rinse washes off all the debris.
So if you have to take a few steps indoors with the Snowspike, leave the TidyTrax outside the door and step into once you’re back from the run.
The TidyTrax’s alphabetically-graded size is based on the actual shoe length and not the shoe size. For example, we measured the outsole length from the toe to heel for the Salomon CSWP before ordering TidyTrax.