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Trail Running Shoes • August 1, 2023

Salomon Thundercross Review: We’ve been… Thunderstruck

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What You Need To Know


10.2 oz. (290 g) for a US M9,

9.0 oz. (256 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

31 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (4 mm drop)

Best For

Trail domination in the roughest conditions

Key Features

Deep 5 mm Contagrip lugs, comfortable Energy Foam midsole, welded overlays

On The Run
Great grip Secure fit A bit warm in the summer


MICHAEL: Picture yourself on a hot, sunny summer day, getting in a long run. And let’s be real. It’s miserable. Sure, you have Summer GRIT to keep you motivated, and you gotta get those miles in, but dadgum if it isn’t hot and humid outside. Just then, in the distance, there’s a low rumble, and in 10 minutes, out of nowhere, a storm comes rolling through with a refreshingly cool rain storm for the remainder of your run. Sometimes, it’s these unexpected thunderstorms that get us through the hottest of the summer months. Similarly, the Salomon Thundercross came as a welcome yet totally unexpected surprise. That was a bad analogy… let’s move on.

Earlier in the month, we received some early release beta from fellow reviewer Taylor Bodin on a few of Salomon’s spring ’24 product line releases. The new kicks looked awesome in photos, but to be fair, I didn’t expect them to release anytime soon, especially with lots of delayed releases, in general, these days (I’m looking at you, Beyond the Spider-Verse, and also because of spring 2024). But then, lo and behold, Salomon’s latest shoe release is there at the doorstep. And after a few runs in this shoe, there’s more to be excited about just than a potential earlier-than-planned release date.

As the latest model in Salomon’s performance trail lineup, the Thundercross is probably best described as a mashup between the lightweight all-rounder Sense Ride 5 and the aggressive, mud-slinging Speedcross 5. Oh yeah, that’s right. These two aforementioned shoes aren’t just legendary models in the world of Salomon trail shoes but in the broader world of trail shoes, too. So other than an awesome name, a totally unexpected early arrival, and legendary siblings, what does the Thundercross have to bring to the table for Salomon’s lineup? Read on to find out.

MATT: The Thundercross might be one of my favorite trail shoe designs this year, and it definitely has the coolest name, sounding more like an American Gladiators event than a shoe. Like Michael, my initial reaction to the Salomon Thundercross was one of surprise. Among the anticipated arrival of several other trail models this Summer, Salomon snuck the Thundercross release past me quicker than Nitro knocking some random contender off the Joust podium (sticking with the Gladiators references here).

The Thundercross is described by Salomon as an ultra-cushioned ride that’s equipped to handle a variety of terrain and keep you secure and comfortable over the long haul. While brands keep pushing the envelope on getting lighter, leveraging carbon plates, and going faster, it’s equally important to find the shoes that can be our training workhorses and can get us through the miles healthy and upright, so if the Thudercross can back up its claims it would be a very valuable addition to the Salomon lineup.

What we like about the Salomon Thundercross

MICHAEL: On step-in, the first thing you’ll notice about the Thundercross is, without a doubt, the Energy Foam midsole. Seriously, this stuff is gold, and it really proves that EVA-based materials still have a future in great shoes. Boasting a Goldilocks mixture of soft comfort and springy responsiveness, these characteristics respectively shine on both long runs and races. That being said, it’s not just the material itself that makes this midsole so enjoyable but also the practical way in which the material is applied in the shaping and tooling of the midsole.

Sam and I really enjoyed the Energy Surge in its maxed-out glory and volume on the Glide Max TR, and while this shoe uses a slightly different Energy Foam, it’s pretty cool to see Salomon take on a slightly more speed-oriented, slimmed-down vibe in the Thundercross. The 31/27 mm stack feels like a perfectly tuned choice for this shoe; the midsole is protective without feeling tall or unstable and is cushioned enough to support long efforts in the mountains. As previously noted, the slight bounce in the Energy Foam makes this shoe more than capable as a race day option for the nastiest of conditions.

Speaking of nasty conditions, the Thundercross is more than capable. The name Thundercross says it all here. The 5 mm multidirectional Contagrip lugs are the statement piece of this shoe and give it all kinds of personality that comes alive when the trail turns muddy and technical. Personally, I love when a shoe’s outsole errs on the side of aggressive, as we naturally have pretty loose terrain here in the Southeast. Inspiration from the aforementioned Speedcross line here is undeniable; the Thundercross is ready for the gnarliest of courses and conditions. Both climbs and descents were thoroughly enjoyable in the Thundercross; the outsole just provides loads of dependable grip, whether you’re accelerating or decelerating; the whole experience is just confidence-boosting and fun.

Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without a solid lockdown. The last here is classic Salomon; slim, lean, and race-ready, as is the stalwart quick lacing system and lace keeper on the tongue. This really played into the all-mountain souls of the shoe — I felt locked in all the way from the heel through to the forefoot. Lastly, the Thundercross boasts loads of TPU protection around all 360 degrees of the shoe. Errant rocks, sticks, and roots don’t stand a chance against these sidewalls.

MATT: Before I get into the functional aspects of the Thundercross, I have to pay some respects to Salomon’s design and choice of colorway for this shoe. This shoe stands out and almost looks like the brand dusted off a design from its 1990s ski line-up to create a bit of a retro look. Top that off with a colorway that Salomon dubs “Plum Kitten/Black/Pink Glo,” and you are guaranteed to turn some heads at the trailhead.

I agree with much of what Michael called out above as far as what really works for the Thundercross; for Salomon’s initial version of this shoe, I think they have a winner. The Midsole is a key contributor to the successor of this shoe underfoot, as the Energy Foam EVA midsole seems to deliver an amazing balance of cushion and energy return. The ride felt great right out of the box with zero break-in needed. What I found especially interesting is the balance of plush cushion with stable ground feel. I have been running in so many 40-plus mm shoes of late that a heel stack of barely 31 mm looked way too low to be labeled Max Cushion. However, the durometer of the Energy Foam provides a super comfortable ride without the added instability that you might get with a higher-stacked shoe.

As Michael called out, the super aggressive 5 mm lugs on the Thundercross are its calling card. Contagrip rubber and multidirectional lug patterns make the Thundercross a true mudder. Salomon claims the shoe was developed in the French Alps under a variety of tough conditions, and I believe it. I took the shoe through streams, mud, twisty rock infested single-track, and it handled everything I threw at it. Conversely, there were a lot of nicely groomed sections as well as fire roads and gravel that I ran through, and the Thundercross didn’t feel heavy or clunky, which can often be a downfall of an aggressive trail shoe, so it’s great to experience the versatility of the shoe.

So while the French Alps may be thousands of miles away from the East Coast of the US, I finally feel like this is a shoe that is built to handle the rocky, rooty, and often muddy terrain that we train and race in. Way too often, trail shoes are designed to excel on the West Coast but become glorified road shoes for us on the East Coast, where the Thundercross is truly an East Coast-worthy weapon.

Shop Salomon Thundercross - Men Shop Salomon Thundercross - Women

What we don’t like about the Salomon Thundercross

MICHAEL: While my experiences with the Thundercross were overwhelmingly positive, there are a few wiggles to work out in the shoe.

First, and maybe most obviously, the Thundercross fit isn’t going to be for everyone. This slim, traditional Solomon last isn’t exactly accommodating. Wide foot fam, I’m sorry to say your experience in the Thundercross may be more reminiscent of “Cloudy Days” by Allison Krauss and Union Sation and not “Heaven’s Bright Shore.”

While the outsole of the Thundercross sports full-coverage Contagrip rubber, one interesting thing I noted is that the base (the rubber the lugs attach to) is noticeably thinner than most other full-coverage outsoles I’ve tested. Presumably, this is to save weight, but its pairing with the softer Energy Foam results in a less protective underfoot than one might expect from an all-mountain shoe. This didn’t cause issues in Alabama, but, to be fair, we don’t exactly have tons of sharp rocks, just lots and lots of roots. So if your adventures frequent sharp, aggressive terrain, it may be worth looking into an alternative all-mountain option, notably one with a more dedicated rock plate like the Brooks Cascadia 16 or the Saucony Peregrine 13 ST.

Lastly, while the two-part upper is protective and comfortable, it can get quite hot in humid weather. And while I didn’t get to ford any stream crossings in the shoe, I have a feeling the Thundercross drains poorly with all of the TPU overlays and two layers of fabric.

MATT: While my first impressions of the Thundercross are overwhelmingly positive, there are a few areas that I hope Salomon will look to fine-tune before its second iteration, as I think this shoe is very close to being an all-around amazing option for training and racing.

Michael called both of these out above, and I think my location in the Mid-Atlantic part of the East Coast only amplified them.

First, I would gladly add a little weight to the shoe with the inclusion of a thin rock plate. I felt well protected for the most part, but with the ample spacing of the lugs, a few times I landed with a rock or root hitting directly on the outsole area between lugs, and you can definitely feel how thin that rubber is without a plate layer to protect you.

Second, I can confirm that a primarily black shoe, combined with a not extremely breathable upper, can really heat up fast in the hot and humid summer of the Mid-Atlantic. I was ok for a couple of hours but would question how warm my feet might get over the long haul.

Shop Salomon Thundercross - Men Shop Salomon Thundercross - Women

Salomon Thundercross Conclusion

MICHAEL: Salomon has a winning debut in the Thundercross. Bringing some design inspiration from the Sense Ride into the Thundercross (it’s hard to say which one is more prevalent over the other) results in a really fun, fast shoe for the nimble runner or racer looking for more protection and grip than what the sense ride offers. The Energy Foam is impressive, and it’s great to see that Salomon isn’t totally abandoning the traditionally slim, fast options in its lineup after the raging success of their newer, more accommodating models like the Ultra Glide 2. Also, keep your eyes out because eyes and ears on the inside have seen more exciting stuff from Salomon slated for arrival in ’24.

MATT: For its first crack at the Thundercross, you could say that Salomon achieved a “Break-Through & Conquer” (ok, last American Gladiators reference, I promise, I also know this is showing my age).

This shoe is a blast to run in, you can take on pretty much any terrain that a course throws at you, and you will feel fast, protected, and comfortable along the way. Not to mention that you’ll look freaking cool doing it, too.
I should also mention that with Trail shoe prices creeping closer and closer to $200, the Thundercross at a price of $140 seems super reasonable.

I think if you live on the East Coast or in an area where today’s more minimally equipped trail shoes feel inadequate, the Thundercross may be just what you are looking for.

You can pick up the Salomon Thundercross for $140 from Salomon’s website using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe


Shop Salomon Thundercross Men
Shop Salomon Thundercross Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Michael Young says:

    My previous Salomon hiking trail shoes, XT-6’s, had some early wear issues, so I received credit to buy a new pair of shoes off their site and picked these up a couple weeks ago. Great review and am personally really enjoying these shoes for hiking in the PNW mountains.

  2. John Whitesides says:

    Do you feel this would be a good replacement for my aged but beloved EVO Speedgoats? I have the Mafate Speed 4 also, but like two different trail shoes with great grip to alternate.

  3. Michael Loutzenheiser says:

    Hey John, these definitely won’t be an exact replacement for your EVO speedgoats (I know they’re kind of a legendary shoe we all wish hoka would bring back), but the Thundercross is also a great shoe. You might notice an increase in weight and slight decrease in cushioning underfoot, but that will be accompanied by an increase in protection in the upper and better mud-shedding ability with the spaced-out lugs on the outsole. If you’re looking for a more exact replacement for the EVO Speedgoats I’ve heard the Speedgoat 5s are still pretty fantastic, but if you’re looking at trying something new with even more traction in sloppy conditions I would absolutely recommend the Thundercross. Thanks for reading!

  4. Pete Mumola says:

    What does the Thundercross replace? Between Speedcross and Supercross, getting harder to see what problem they solve? Which of the 3 is best for OCR?

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michael bio photo
Michael Loutzenheiser
Southern Trail Reviewer

An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

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Matt Kucharski
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
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Matt is a recovering triathlete who fell in love with running and left the dark side behind. Trail and ultra running are where he is most in his element, but he can still be found routinely running the streets in and around Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. Aside from running, he is a lover of coffee, mezcal, beer, and 90s country music.

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