Rating: 3 / 5
I've enjoyed the weight, stability, and fit of the Salomon trail runners for years. Unfortunately the XA Comp seems to have devolved in recent times from a comfortable and durable product to one with a half life of around 80 trail miles.
The culprits are twofold: the speed lacing system and UL mesh upper.
My repeated experiences with the lacing system is that stress and friction on the lower webbing eyelets is too high and, especially if the laces frequently are wet, abrasion will eventually cause them to wear through - despite their seeming resilience. This renders the lacing system, and the shoes, unserviceable - unless you've brought along a backup set of custom Salomon laces, which the company does now in fact offer to customers who have had blowouts. Recently these were out of stock, due to high demand.
The ultralight mesh upper is a dream come true for hot-weather hiking, and reduces the weight of the shoe to little more than that of a standard street runner. However the new design may be too light for real world durability. Over time it seems the sides of the mesh at the toe flexion areas, left and right, develop small tears which may then expand into a hole, not necessarily to the point of shoe failure, but enough to allow grains of sand and soil passage into the toebox, where they are then trapped pending a trailside service call. On previous XA models this area of the shoe featured a reinforced hypalon-like material, essentially an extension of the toe bumper, and while this would crease over time, it would never wear through.
The above problems occurred on no fewer than 3 pairs of the same, latest XA Comp model - on a recent 700 mile thru-hike of the Grand Enchantment Trail in Arizona and New Mexico. Each time, both concerns - the lacing and the mesh - began with telltale signs of wear after only about 80 miles of use.
Perhaps Salomon will address the mesh issue with the same dilligence they have the aftermarket lacing, which seems to be a concerted effort to stopgap an acknowledged problem while brainstorming a long-term fix.