Monday 10 November 2014

Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 Review

The Salomon S-Lab Fellcross is now in its third generation with the release of the aptly named Fellcross 3. Time really does fly, and so will you when you have these on your feet!!! 

I am always a little concerned when a new version of an already fantastic trail and fell shoe is released. I still use the Fellcross 2 and am as happy with them today as I was when I first put them on my feet over a year ago now. So, what if they change something I already love in the newer model? There are certainly quite a few major changes in the new Fellcross 3, so lets take a deeper look.....

The Fellcross through the ages
Since the release of the original, the Fellcross have been a shoe of choice for many fell and trail runners looking for something low, light and grippy. Capable of ripping up any wet, muddy terrain, every edition in the Fellcross range has performed amazingly. 

What changes have we seen?
The design has changed somewhat through the three editions, but where the real changes can be seen is in the improvements in durability and feel. The sole unit in the Fellcross 2 was the biggest improvement from the original Fellcross 1, giving greater surety across all terrains and an improved durability of the lugs. Moving from the Fellcross 2 to the latest in the line-up, the Fellcross 3 is still sporting the same Chevron lug pattern, but has seen the addition of the EndoFit sock-liner along with a drastic change in the upper materials which now use a denser, tighter weave mesh material to improve the water resistance and durability. The Fellcross 3 sees the use of bonding and welding to almost eliminate the use of seams and stitches seen in far greater numbers on the previous models. Also, the last has been narrowed to give a more secure hold on the foot and the rand is now a continuous band incorporating the toe bumper, side walls and structure to hold the heel in place.

What is the Fellcross 3 designed for?
Simply put, the Fellcross is for wet, muddy and slippery fell conditions as opposed to general trails or paths. Salomon themselves state it is for athletes wanting to perform at top level in 'mucky conditions'. If steep ascents, descents and traversing grassy hills and mountains is your aim then the new-look and updated Fellcross 3, with improved foothold and lower wet weight will likely become your new best friend. Judging by the new design, they are also ensuring you look good while you do it too, which is always a welcome bonus!

Technologies, Facts and Figures
  • Seamless Sensi-Fit construction
  • EndoFit Sockliner 
  • Tight mesh uppers improve water resistance and durability
  • Salomon Quicklace system and lace pocket
  • Tongue cover and TPU protective toe cap
  • Low profile 4mm differential (9mm heel, 5mm forefoot)
  • Fell running last
  • Contagrip M&S chevron patterned grip/sole unit
  • Compressed, moulded EVA
  • Ortholite foot bed
  • Low weight (just a tad under 300g for my UK10.5)

What you need from a fell shoe: Performance!
Lets jump straight to the point, Salomon have made the Fellcross 3 with a few main pointers in mind:
  1. Foothold
  2. Grip (in muddy, wet conditions)
  3. Low to the ground
  4. Lower wet weight
This has helped them to create an absolute monster for the wet days out training and racing in the fells. With very unstable soft ground you need a shoe that securely holds your foot in place and provides plenty of grip. With the inevitable encounter of water on the fells, whether it be due to long, wet grass or stream crossings and puddles, the shoe also needs to hold as little water as possible to reduce the weight increase of the shoe when it becomes wet, and allow whatever water that does get into the shoe to drain out quickly. I can honestly and safely say that the Felcross 3 offers all the aforementioned without any doubt. The performance of this shoe is incredible. You must remember that the Fellcross 3 is a pure out-and-out fell shoe, and therefore not really suitable for general trail use. The lugs grip with perfection in soft conditions, grip well on loose trails and give a reasonable level of grip on rock and hard-packed trail. Where they are definitely not at home is on any paths, tarmac or road! 

The only drawback...maybe?!
However, with these changes that make the new Fellcross 3 a securely fitted fell shoe capable of tearing into any soft terrain you decide to venture across, comes some possible drawbacks for some users. If you regularly run off trail in the wet stuff, have narrow feet and don't mind the feel of a narrow fell last, then you may as well skip this part of the review and head online or to your nearest Salomon retailer and grab yourself a pair; you won't be disappointed. If, however, like me, you have wider feet and prefer the feel of a wider fitting trail shoe then you may prefer the Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG; an incredibly capable trail and fell shoe for the muddier and wetter runs but with a wider, more natural-feeling fit.

Other things you should know...
As with any Salomon S-Lab product, quality is not an issue. These are a premium fell shoe for people wanting to get the best results from their running and need a light, low and grippy shoe to keep them on their feet and off their backside the entire route! 

The incredible Chevron sole unit, SensiFit, EndoFit and quicklace technologies work perfectly in unison to hold the foot in place both on the ground and in the shoe to give a level of confidence unheard of in many other trail and fell running shoes. This really is a shoe for winning, and although I feel just like a Salomon athlete when I head out wearing them, you really have to push yourself to the limit in the worst of conditions to see these beasts perform at their best.

If you are looking for a low, light and seriously grippy fell running shoe to ensure you stay on your feet in the fastest and wettest of conditions, then the Fellcross 3 is well worth a try. With its narrow fell last and secure feel, it may not be the best option for anyone with very wide feet or a need for extreme comfort. If you, like me, are one of these people, I would try the Sense 3 Ultra SG for a more comfy ride. But for those of you at home with a traditional fell last and feel, these animals will take you from one end of a training run or race to the other, through whatever harsh fell conditions you can throw at them, and leave you feeling more than capable of pushing yourself to your limits whilst letting the shoes do the rest for you. 

This shoe is for you...
  • You regularly run in the fells and wet, very muddy conditions
  • You need a fell running shoe with amazing grip for wet, muddy conditions
  • You have a narrow foot or like the narrow fell last
  • Quality and durability is important to you, and you want the very best in its field
  • You want a low differential and un-cushioned fell shoe to keep you firmly planted
  • A lightweight shoe is important to you
  • You don't mind spending a bit more to get a premium product
This shoe is not for you...
  • You mainly run on trails that are not always muddy
  • You have a very wide foot or don't like the feel of a narrow fell last
  • You have a limited budget and a nagging wife/husband/mother etc
To get yourself into a pair of these, visit Salomon's Website. As usual, any comments, questions or queries please feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

Happy running everyone,


  1. I have 2 pairs of fellcross 2's, they wear like iron in the soft soil here, are the 3's worth the upgrade? I'm thinking probably not. I know the 2 was a big improvement over the 1. Are the 3's equivalent or just a little better than the 2?

    1. I still love my Fellcross 2's too! I would say that the 2 was a massive improvement over the 1 especially in terms of the grip, but the 3 is drastically different from both the 1 and 2 in terms of the upper. It fits differently and feels different too. The sole is exactly the same really to the 2. Therefore, if the 3 fits well it will be an improvement but if you like the fit of the 2 you may not prefer the 3.

  2. hey there, nice article ! I currently have a pair of Speedcross 3 and I'm very satisfied by them .. they kept me running on and on. I've taken them to many marathons, but they are getting a bit old. I'm preparing this year to ran at ultramarathons, is the Fellcross 3 good for that kind of distances ? Thanks

    1. Hi there! It all depends on fit really. If they fit well and are very comfortable then yes, certainly! The Fellcross 3 are more narrow than the Speedcross 3 and so over longer distances where you will be running slower and for longer your feet may well swell more and so feel a bit tight if you find the Speedcross very comfortable. You could also look at the Fellraiser and Sense 3 Ultra Softground as wider alternatives?