Just a quick recap: the nice chaps at Fitness Footwear said “Would you like to try some Salomon shoes” and I said ‘Yes please!”. Mick got the aesthetically unusual after-sports-recovery RX Mocs, whereas I plumped for something more useful for walking: Salomon Exit Aero.
Apparently the colour I got is “Autobahn, Detroit and Ciment Blue”. Personally, I’d call them grey on grey, and that suits me just fine.
Given my reputation for being fastidious about weighing kit, it’s surprising that I didn’t weigh them straight away, but a bit of research on the scales just now has revealed that they weigh just over 330g per shoe, which is within a few grams of being the same weight as my Salomon XA Pros. That meets my initial impression that they’re light as well as pretty flexible. The main differences, to my mind, between my favoured footwear of this year (Inov8 Terrocs and Salomon XA Pros) and the Exit Aeros is that the sole of the Exit Aero is much firmer and the ‘foot opening’ more padded.
The first thing I did after taking them out of the box was to remove the insole – which was no easy job as it was quite comprehensively glued at the toe end – never come across that in a walking shoe before - but then it was also the least shaped version of a footbed I’ve ever seen. Once I’d battled with the footbeds and replaced them with some volume reducers and my Superfeet, the fit was spot on. I didn’t fanny around with easing in to trying them in action: within ten minutes I was out on a 9 mile walk.
Half an hour in and I had completely forgotten that I had new shoes on, which is unheard of for me. I usually obsess about the fit of new footwear for far longer than that!
So, they were quickly established as being right up there as some of the comfiest shoes in my possession, and for three weeks they barely came off my feet. For testing purposes I wore them on every walk, and for comfort purposes they became my choice for knocking-around shoes.
All remained rosy for those weeks too, because the weather was dry, the earth was cracked and the soles appeared to be just fine in terms of grippiness.
Then it was a bit damp underfoot one day (the same day that I battled with cobwebs in my face the whole way along the tow-path, if memory serves), and suddenly I was slipping all over the place on the stoney bits of the path. It didn’t bode well for grip on hillsides, which tend to have more challenging slopes and terrain than the local fields and tow-paths.
Then came the walk when I nearly landed in the canal. I’d just passed under a bridge where the tow-path takes on a bit of a water-wards camber before it flattens out. It was on that camber that one of my feet shot out from under me. With a few other, less significant slips, in the same walk I was unfortunately coming to the conclusion that these shoes are a little lacking in the grip department.
All is not lost. I’ve continued to wear them for local walking, but with an increased degree of care when it’s damp, albeit I might hesitate to choose them for a hilly backpack.
I have no doubt that I will wear them to death in any case. As comfy as they are, they can happily take the place of my (almost worn out) old XA Pros* as my general wear shoes. I’d even go as far as to say that I’d likely choose to buy the same again in the future for general wear.
So, for dedicated walking shoes, there are better options out there, but for knocking-around shoes that are also good for a limited type of walking, I rather like them.
Of course, one thing I’ve not been able to establish yet is longevity. I’ll report back again in some months time.
(*Should I blush to confess that I have three pairs of XA Pros on the go at the moment?)