Disclaimer: The following product was bought and paid for independently by the writer of this article, without compensation by Salomon or Gear For Life. The opinions contained therefore reflect the writer’s own honest view after using the product firsthand. Gear For Life may, however, receive a commission from the manufacturer or retail site if you purchase the product using the links below.
For backpacking trips where traction, stability and load-bearing are necessary, there’s one boot that we trust above all the others: the Salomon 4D GTX. Keep reading to see our review of these hardcore hiking boots, and discover why we still reach for them above all others when gearing up for long-distance hiking or backpacking.
Salomon is a top brand in hiking boots and footwear. It’s thus no surprise that they make what might just be the best Backpacking Boots available for the past several years.
The 4D GTX are designed for hardcore, rugged use, providing the stability and traction, as well as waterproofness, that one expects from serious backpacking boots. We’ve been wearing them for well over 2 years now on a variety of trips and see no signs that they will wear out or let up anytime soon.
Use These Boots When…
The 4D GTX are meant for rugged backpacking and hiking trips, where waterproofness, load bearing and support are essential. Carrying a 40lb pack? Low hiking shoes aren’t gonna cut it; you’re gonna need the support of full hiking boots like these to keep your feet happy and your ankles from sustaining injury over the long-haul.
Roughly 3 pounds and 8 ounces for US Size 13. Obviously, the smaller your feet…the lighter your pair of boots will be (by a few ounces). Not as light as true “lightweight” hiking boots but relatively light, especially for boots of this caliber.
Fit + Design
Salomon made a classic pair of hiking boots with the 4D GTX. The upper is split suede leather paired with nylon mesh, for an all-in-one combination of durability, abrasion-resistance and breathable comfort.
With a 6” ankle, they fit snugly but comfortably, and the solid lacing system is easy to use, keeps things tight, and may be one of the better systems we’ve used; there are 4 lower eyelets in addition to the 3 upper hooks, providing plenty of flexibility and customization for the perfect fit. Additionally, the tongue is gusseted, creating a “contoured” in-step for your ankles.
Gore-Tex Waterproofing + Breathability
GTX, of course, refers to the 4D’s Gore-Tex waterproof membrane – which performs like a champ and keeps your feet dry in rain, snow and water crossings. We’ve found it works well, even on some of the wettest, longest days of the year, keeping feet stay comfortably dry. All seams are sealed.
But, while water may not be able to get in, moisture can certainly get out. No matter what kind of waterproofing a pair boots has, they will never be quite as breathable or as comfortable as a pair without a membrane; that’s a big ask.
There is definitely a level of breathability that can be achieved, however, and from our experience the 4D GTX occupies that middle ground. They’ll never be as cool and breezy as they would without Gore-Tex, and they could certainly be cooler in summer weather. But we don’t have any real complaints. If you’re hiking at particularly high altitudes, you should be able to get by with these except in the hottest of summer weather.
Support + Protection + Loadbearing
Again, why opt for heavy boots like the Salomon 4D GTX? Because they support heavy loads so well, and such a great job at keep your feet, ankles and calves happy over long distances with that same heavy load on your back.
That’s pretty much what these boots were built for. They’re burly. And with a 6” height from arch to top of the boot, they provide PLENTY of ankle support (without being too tall for the shorter-calved folks among us).
For the 4D GTX, Salomon used what they call their 4D Chassis – which offers “dynamic cushioning” “4D Stability” and All-Mountain Traction. This chassis contains a dual-density EVA midsole, which provides both comfort and stability, as well as a thermoplastic urethane adding stiffness balanced with flex; your foot gets just the right amount of flex to remain comfortable on varied terrain, while the boot keeps things adequately tight and secure for support and protection. And – thanks to the Ortholite insole – they’re supremely padded and shock-absorbing (your feet will love these boots after a long day on the trail).
Again, these shoes are thick and burly. You can feel that as soon as you pull them out of the box. But that doesn’t mean they are uncomfortable and heavy. Our experiences hiking in varied terrain – from the Sierra Nevada out West to the White Mountains of New Hampshire – have shown that there are few challenges they can’t tackle.
Contagrip Outsole: Supreme Traction in Rugged Terrain
The final ingredient to these hiking boots’ success is the ContaGrip outsole.
ContaGrip is Salomon’s special mixture of compounds, all varying rubbers and densities. On the outside edge of the sole is high-density Contagrip, providing hardness and grip on rocky, uneven, and wet surfaces. In the middle of the sole is low-density Contagrip, which adds even more grip and more flexibility.
The lugs on the Contagrip sole are not the largest or deepest we’ve seen, but they’re more than capable at handling terrain both rugged and smooth alike. Newer models (such as the 2019 4D 3 GTX) have even heavier-duty lugs than previous models, capable of churning through pretty much any terrain thrown at them.
We feel very comfortable wearing the 4D GTX in mud, on rock, and in snow, and we’d be confident wearing them on almost any hike (even icy ones, though a good pair of crampons is always recommended).
After two years of regular wear, the Contagrip outsoles are still in great shape – with very little wear other than at the toes and heels. They’re still more than ready to tackle epic terrain.
The Final Word On the Salomon 4D GTX
Overall, the 4D GTX are another solid offering from Salomon: heavy-duty and waterproof, but (relatively) light and breathable, with tons of support for heavy loads and plenty of grip for even the roughest and toughest of terrain.
We find them comfortable and nimble on your feet, as well as tough and durable enough to last at least a few seasons of heavy use. Your mileage may vary (literally).
We also gotta admit: they’re pretty dang good looking.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty pair of waterproof hiking boots to wear on all your alpine backpacking trips, you could do a lot worse than the Salomon 4D GTX.