The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX, winner of our coveted Editors' Choice award, can do it all. Saloman has crafted a midweight hiking model that builds upon the successes of their popular trail runners but remains exceptionally comfortable and supportive, providing the ankle stability that backpackers and hikers expect. From the ground up, this is a high-performance contender, destined to tackle rough and uneven terrain with ease. The updated Contagrip sole provides excellent traction across a range of surfaces on and off the trail and the 4D Advanced Chassis gives foot support and superior torsional balance.
This award winner is best suited for rough trails and heavy loads, in a temperate or cool environment. Warm conditions are this boot's weakness, and on easy trails or with light packs many users will prefer a lighter boot, such as the Top Pick for Lightwight Hiking, the Hoka Tor Ultra Hi WP.
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Review
Cons: Potential durability issues with many seams, not as good for warm or hot environments
Bottom line: Our Editors Choice Award winner blends comfort, stability and traction in a boot that fits well right out of the box and provides top-notch performance.
Boot Type: Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot
Waterproof Lining: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
RELATED REVIEW: Best Hiking Boots for Men of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is an updated version of the venerable Quest 4D 2 and has earned our Editors' Choice Award again. Improvements to this new edition include a more capable sole with a lug pattern much more adept at controlling speed on descents and a more durable and lower profile ankle collar. These small updates build on an already thoroughly well-designed boot and give us even less hesitation in recommending this as our overall top performing hiking boot of 2018.
Salomon's expertise designing burly trail running shoes has been translated into a boot that feels great on the foot, right out of the box. The first thing you'll notice when standing in this model is the slightly raised heel design. It might take a minute to get used to but feels great when crushing miles. The forefoot is nice and roomy, while the heel cup captures the ankle bones to Achilles well. This boot grabs onto your ankle and foot to give you very confident stability without sacrificing comfort.
The ankle collar - one of the tallest of the hiking boots we tested - is surprisingly comfortable, and feels great snugged tight around the lower shin. It provides amazing ankle stability without the stiff feeling of traditional hiking boot designs.
This model's lacing system is perhaps the best we tested. Four lower eyelets allow you to custom fit the forefoot of the lower boot, which is very flexible. Folks with both a wide forefoot and a narrow forefoot praise the fit of the Quest's toe box. The middle eyelet has the best positive lock we tested, and its large radius makes it easy to use. Two upper eyelets complete the lacing system. The design of these upper eyelets is top notch; they capture the laces in such a way that having them pop loose is out of the question, but the laces can still slide freely as your ankle flexes. Only the Asolo Power Matic 200 GV has a similar lacing system, though we liked the Quest's a tad better.
This product was the most breathable of the midweight hikers. Its upper incorporates nylon mesh panels, which allow the GORE-TEX liner to breathe. Furthermore, the Ortholite insert is perforated up front, allowing air to circulate under the foot and through the toe box. Salomon footwear has a well-earned reputation for offering excellent water resistance while remaining breathable, and this model lives up to the expectations set by its trail runner cousins.
Hikers interested in extreme comfort and lightweight properties might be better served by the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX, Tor Ultra Hi WP, or KEEN Targhee II Mid. However, those seeking an aggressive midweight hiker will find the Quest sufficiently comfortable and highly supportive, even under the weight of heavy backpacks on rock-filled trails.
The 4D Advanced Chassis and a wide 4.5-inch forefoot provide the base that propelled this model to the top score for stability. Combine this foundation with the tallest ankle collar of the boots we measured at 6.5 inches, and it's no surprise that this boot earned the highest score for all-around stability. While wearing this hiker, we felt confident jumping around in the talus and moving fast over muddy trails full of roots. Moreover, the combination of materials Salomon uses for the ankle collar is comfortable but firm, and do not bite into the ankle as we found with the Adidas model.
Torsional stability is also a high point of this product, which strikes a great balance of a flexible upper and a stiff, supportive outsole. The only midweight boot that provides a more rigid forefoot is the Scarpa Zodiac GTX, a light mountain boot disguised as a mid-weight hiker. How is it that a contender with this much support and stability can be so comfortable? Thank you, Salomon!
The Quest 4D 3 scored at the top of the heap in our steep scree and gravel tests. The lugs of the proprietary ContaGrip sole ate this terrain up, and the stiff sole with thick and durable toe protection dug into scree easily. This year's model has been updated with a heavier duty lug pattern that helps to slow speed down while descending steep trails, and also bites through mud and firm snow with more effectiveness.
This product also performed exceptionally well in mud and slushy snow, similar to the Tor Ultra Hi WP. We felt confident in its ability to keep us well-connected to the ground wandering around high in the mountains in the messy, early summer conditions with lots of seasonal snow still lingering. While this hiker stuck to wet rocks very thoroughly, it underperformed during our test on smooth, dry rock inclines like found on well-worn hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Overall, it received a high score for all-around traction, which undoubtedly influenced our decision to award it our Editors' Choice. For the ultimate grip on rock, our Top Pick for Scrambling, the Scarpa Zodiac GTX has you covered.
Weight was the fourth-heaviest pair we reviewed, weighing in at 3 lbs 4.6 oz. for a size 11 US. But it also has the tallest ankle collar, and overall is a formidably constructed boot. The Asolo comes in second in the collar height to the Quest 4D 2 but at a significantly heavier weight.
When considering the support and stability provided by the Quest 4D 2, it is quite light for what it delivers.
While it's true that many boot-wearing fastpackers on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails prefer featherweight models like the Salomon x Ultra Mid 3 GTX, the average backpacker isn't looking at covering 3,000 miles in four or five months. Most rough terrain backpackers will benefit enough from the added ankle stability and forefoot support provided by the Quest that it's worth a bit of extra weight.
This model has the second highest flood heights of all the hiking boots we tested, measuring 4.5 inches. This measurement is more than an inch lower than the Asolo, though the Salomon model has a much more comfortable ankle as a result. It also beads water off, straight out of the box. Salomon uses the industry standard GORE-TEX Performance Comfort Footwear membrane in this liner. However, the upper's ability to bead water breaks down quickly though and regular applications of a waterproofing treatment will keep the upper from soaking up water.
The Quest 4D 3 tied with the Asolo Power Matic and Scarpa Zodiac for the best score in this metric. The only drawback we found was that when we ultimately soaked this boot inside and out, it took approximately 27 hours to dry out in indirect sunlight, where the other two competitors above dried much faster.
We awarded this piece an eight for durability. Salomon uses a combination of nubuck leather and nylon mesh on the upper, and there are a lot of seams. These seams in the forefoot are weak points for wear as we saw happen in the La Sportiva TRK GTX, and eventually, the waterproof liner could become compromised. That said, we were satisfied with its durability.
After three months of use, these boots still looked and performed like new, except becoming even more comfortable after being broken-in. This is another product that will benefit from a liberal application of Seam Grip if you plan to beat them up off trail. The highest scorers in this category were the Power Matic and the Zodiac.
We feel that the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is the best overall boot for the backpacker who is going to be carrying a loaded pack over rough trails or in backcountry terrain, or for the hiker who desires extra support. The additional stability of this boot comes without a large weight penalty, so those who have been unfulfilled by lower cut hiking shoes may find this boot a perfect blend of comfort, support and on-trail performance. We recommend this boot for cool to mild environments where wet conditions may be encountered - dry and hot conditions might indicate a lighter boot without the waterproofing material.
At $230, this model is reasonably priced. Its hi-tech design delivers top-notch performance, although there are contenders in this price range that will more than likely last longer, such as the Zodiac GTX. If you're looking for something much lighter and less expensive (but also less stable and supportive), lightweight hikers like the Best Bang for Buck Keen Targhee II is even more affordable.
If you want to get the highest performing hiking boot to handle whatever terrain you put in its path, this is the boot for you. It combines comfort, excellent stability, traction, and water resistance in a very agile and speedy package. Do your backpacking friends have trouble matching your pace? They'll never catch you in these fast movers! Come rain or shine, warm or cold temps, talus or mud, river crossing or dry desert, we think you'll love the all-around performance the Salomon Quest 4D 3 offers.
— Ryan Huetter and Ross Robinson