If you hike more than a few times a month, decent hiking shoes are one of the best investments you can make. Everyday trainers can seem fine on a well maintained fire trail over a few kilometres, but when the going gets rough or the path starts to slope they can turn into blister-inducing nightmares. Most of Matt and Kat Pearce’s hiking had previously been done in traditional, high-top hiking boots, so they were really excited to test out Salomon’s new slimline hiking shoe, the OUTline GTX.
Being based in Sydney, we couldn’t think of a better test than the 27km Royal National Park coastal track, an hour south of the city. It had the perfect combination of distance, steep ascents and descents, as well as a range of terrain.
After an early alarm and a final check of the weather forecast, we were out on the trail just before 7.30am. It was nice to be on the trail earlier than usual with just ourselves and the odd keen trail runner. After leaving Otford Lookout the trail quickly heads up a jumble of sandy rocks. As we climbed we immediately commented on the grip of our new Salomon OUTline GTXs.
These are seriously grippy shoes. Walking up the street to the train station we could almost hear the Contagrip sole sucking itself off the pavement. Contagrip is a Salomon-specific design in which different areas of the outer sole are different densities depending on how much wear they get. Clever science stuff that makes a real difference.
The ‘lugs’ (the raised bits on the bottom) stand out at least 5mm or more. They’re well spaced meaning they have less chance of slipping on wet rocks or getting clogged with sticky mud. The kind of detail and foresight you won’t get on a regular trainer.
From the steep, sandy rocks at the start of our hike, down loamy forest descents and jumping across wet stepping stones, we found the grip to be flawless.
These steep climbs and descents are a characteristic of the first half of the coastal track. Some of them have rough steps carved into the trail making the going easier, while others have been left ‘au naturel’ and all of them have amazing coastal views. It was on the rougher stuff we got a good window into the durability and stability of the shoe.
Durability And Stability
The OUTline range is deliberately built to be a lightweight day hiking shoe. This means elements of a trail running shoe on top, fused with the sole of a hiking shoe below. The result is a very lightweight and capable shoe for a range of situations; from all day trail-bashing, to trail running, to cruisey days around town.
Compared to a traditional hiking boot there are some compromises made to be ‘multifunctional’. On some of the more techie parts of the coastal path we noticed the lightweight upper creating some flex and movement you wouldn’t find in a boot. In these situations it was enough to put us slightly off balance. While we didn’t have any ankle rolls, it did make us question if these would be the right shoe on a multi-day outing with heavy 40 litre+ packs.
Durability-wise they look and feel sturdy. The Contragrip sole wraps around the toe, creating a good amount of protection, which came in handy when we were scraping over rocks and scrambling up boulders to get a better view of the amazing coastline. Gortex panels on the upper also provide a good level of waterproofing, perfect for hiking in wet conditions and protecting us from sea spray.
We’ve also worn these on several hikes in the Blue Mountains with no signs of wear other than a healthy coating of trail dust. Only time will tell in terms of the overall durability, but coming from a brand like Salomon, we’re sure they’re built to last.
With a good amount of K’s behind us we stopped to fire up the stove and brew a coffee out of the wind. We’d now passed through the stunning palm jungle near the Figure 8 Pools and had crossed North Era, nodding a ‘Morning’ to the campers heading back towards Otford Train Station after a night under the stars. If you want to get away from the light pollution and see the true beauty of the night sky you could do worse than a night at North Era Campground. But book early or go mid-week. The next 3 months of Saturdays are already booked out!
Coffee done and caffeine working, we headed up Thelma Head into Garie Beach, picked up some snacks from the beach kiosk (cash only) and pressed on towards Wattamolla where the going gets easier and the trainer wearing day crowds get a little thicker.
Salomon claim on their website that the OUTline GTX offers ‘sneaker like comfort’ and a ‘slim athletic design’. We were testing the all-black men’s colourway, which was by far our favourite and a green/blue women’s that split opinions. The all black shoes look great. Really great! Our first exclamations pulling them on were, ‘I could wear these down the pub’!
Whereas a traditional hiking boot acts like a statement of intent, these are more of an undercover trail shoe masquerading as a trendy athleisure sneaker. If it wasn’t for the coating of dust and the bulky backpacks you would never have know we’d spent the last 9 hours hiking.
We pressed on and the low heathland scrub started to give way to white rock, telling us we were nearing the end of the coastal track. We reached Wedding Cake Rock and kept going past the tourists wielding selfie-sticks on the wrong side of the safety fence. We had a ferry to catch to Cronulla.
The final few kilometers were easy going along fire trails and suburban side streets giving us a chance to chat about the comfort of the shoes after 9 hours and 27km of amazing coastal scenery.
Comfort And Fit
Salomon shoes have a reputation for being comfortable straight out of the box with little wearing in. Prior to the Royal National Park coastal track we’d done a few shorter hikes in the Blue Mountains but they did feel great from the start. We can also confirm zero blisters between us.
The inner sole is made from Ortholite, a feature which provides a good level of cushioning while also being breathable. This is another big benefit over heavier shoes or boots which tend to build up a lot of heat, especially on long Aussie summer hikes. The Salomon OUTline GTXs will certainly be our shoe of choice on hot day hikes.
They also show a lot of promise as a trail running shoe. Flexibility in all the right places, breathable and very lightweight at 350g. While we haven’t run any serious distance in them yet, we can confirm they feel just as good as our custom fit, purpose-built runners on short routes.
Salomon even produce a range of half sizes so you can fine tune the perfect fit.
With the sun starting to dip and an incoming storm stalking us from the South, we reached Bundeena ferry wharf. Just enough time to grab some snacks from IGA and grab a few final photos. A half hour later we were amongst the weekend crowds in Cronulla, for once not feeling out of place in our sleek hiking sneaks.
We walked from sun up to sun down, across forest floors, beaches, heath and concrete. The shoes performed extremely well and ticked a lot of boxes. They look great, they feel great and the grip they offer is seriously impressive.
Hiking in Australia can sometimes be a sticky, sweaty affair, but these shoes are a great lightweight and breathable solution. They might not be right for multi day expeditions, carrying heavy gear up mountains, but for the bulk of our single day missions they’re perfect.
Matt and Kat were provided with the Salomon OUTline GTX Hiking Shoes for review purposes and got to keep them. The views are entirely their own.
Hike in good gear…