Help! I’m Obsessed With the Salomon XT-6 Sneaker

I should probably get this out of the way first: I’m not a particularly outdoorsy person. As a resident of New York City for just about a decade, I make no secret of my preternatural preference for city sidewalks over mud-soaked trails. That said, I’m also a certified Enthusiast of Finely Constructed Outerwear™. Maybe it’s in my roots, having grown up in the woody, snowy and sleepy towns of upstate New York (and, for those who know, I’m talking really upstate), but I like clothing that can stand up to whatever Mother Nature’s got on the docket. Sure, it also doesn’t hurt that gorpcore—an aesthetic, as defined by its Reddit community, is, “for those who love dressing like they’re going hiking, no matter what”—has become more popular in fashion circles; it’s never been a better time to be a fashion nerd who likes clothes that were built with functionality first and foremost.

Now that I live in Austin, Texas—where I could easily spend one day hiking local trails in sunny, 70-degree weather, only to spend the remainder of the week running errands in the middle of a literal ice storm—having lightweight, functional footwear is more important than ever. At this point, it feels like fate that I’ve developed an obsession with Salomon’s techy XT-6 sneaker.

For a bit of context, despite the XT-6’s (and, frankly, Salomon’s) surge in popularity across social media zoodbards™, the silhouette is roughly a decade old. Originally launched back in 2013 under Salomon’s forward-facing S/Lab series, the XT-6 is, at its core, an ultra-marathon soft ground running shoe. Building upon the success of models like the XT-Wings series and the XT-4, the XT-6 stands out with its slimmed-down “EndoFit”-designed profile, which keeps the mesh upper close to the foot. While this—along with other tech like the Mud Contagrip lugged outsole and Agile Chassis System in the midsole—is designed to help runners’ feet remain stable and secure in inhospitable terrain and conditions… it also just so happens to look as cool as hell when you’re heading out for cocktails on Saturday night. Besides, you don’t need to live in a major metro area for very long to appreciate sneakers that can stand up to whatever shit you’re going to encounter going from point A to point B and won’t get you roasted by the group chat.

As someone who has made a literal career out of following what’s trending in the menswear space, I can confidently say that the aesthetics of the Salomon XT-6 are surprisingly futuristic when you consider how the style’s built up such broad appeal; sure, gorpcore-adjacent brands like Salomon are now part of the Area Cool Guy™ canon of the 2020s, but it’s decades-old sneakers with “classical” styling (think the all-white Nike Air Force 1 or black-and-white Adidas Samba) that typically manage to dominate the contemporary men’s style zeitgeist. Admittedly, the XT-6 isn’t nearly as popular as those two sneaker titans, but you can’t ignore how the Salomon runner has become a cult-favorite across style circles. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the silhouette is co-signed by names ranging from Palace to And Wander—both collabs symbolizing the XT-6’s ability to be canvas for either crazy colorways or subtle aesthetics, without feeling forced in either direction. We can likely thank Jean-Philippe Lalonde (Salomon’s special projects manager) for this; according to GQ, it was his involvement that helped push the XT-6 into the fashion limelight… on top of saving the style from being sent to the metaphorical sneaker scrap heap and eliminated altogether.

Now, if all of that has you itching to cop a pair for yourself. There’s a few things to consider. First and foremost, there’s actually a few different iterations of the XT-6 currently on the market, including the XT-6, the XT-6 Clear, the XT-6 Expanse, and the XT-6 Skyline, all the way to the XT-6 Mindful. If you’re wondering which XT-6 is right for you, the short answer is… that there’s not any real discernable difference between the models, honestly. If you just like the shape of the silhouette and are happy to just leave it at that—then the hardest thing you have to do is identify what colorway you want to cop (and, perhaps most importantly: what’s actually left in stock in your size).

For those willing to dive in a bit deeper, there are some slight differences between a few of the aforementioned XT-6 variations. While I’ve spent plenty of time talking about how futuristic the XT-6 looks, if you want something that has a more vintage appeal, the XT-6 Expanse presents more like a traditional sneaker, with clear stitching on the upper and a classic lacing system (this is in contrast to the XT-6’s iconic bolo tie-like “Quicklace” system). Focused on reducing your environmental footprint (pun not intended)? The XT-6 Mindful is a concerted effort to make a modern sneaker with recycled materials. The point is, there’s literally an XT-6 for everyone—whether you’re trail running or just running to the bodega. 

I may not be an outdoorsy person, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate when my daily gear can hold its own in a variety of conditions—meteorologically or socially. Hey, there’s a reason I own no less than three pairs (and counting) of this particular sneaker.

Shop the Salomon XT-6 here.

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