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(The Gear Loop) - If you’re after a lightweight shoe that performs as both a trail runner and a hiking shoe for fast-paced adventures, your demands may have been met in CimAlp’s latest and highly versatile X-Trail - although don't confuse them with a Nissan SUV. 

Founded in 1964 and based in the Vercors, France’s main Pre-Alps massif, CimAlp is a brand committed to high quality mountain gear and sustainability. Its in-house fabrics are designed not only for high performance but also to be climate-neutral, Bluesign certified and PTFE and PFC-free. The X-Trails represent this ethos, featuring a 100 per cent recycled polyester upper, as well as boasting sustainable manufacturing processes.

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Eco-credentials aside, what you get with the X-Trail is a multi-functional shoe that was created to satisfy a quintet of factors: comfort, lightness, stability, traction and durability. There are lighter trail shoes out there for race day, but for wearers who regularly head for the hills and trails, the X-Trails have just the right amount of va va voom.

The Gear LoopCimAlp X-Trail review photo 2
Our quick take

The X-Trails are equipped to perform well wherever you run or hike. So, whether you’re running road surfaces en route to the hill, negotiating uneven trails or crag hopping your way along scrambling terrain, you can rely on them for comfort and a good level of protection. This makes them a highly usable pair of shoes that you’ll turn to time and time again.

CimAlp X-Trail review: a versatile running and hiking shoe that's at home on a range of surfaces

CimAlp X-Trail

4.0 stars
For
  • Suitable for running and hiking
  • Grippy Vibram XST sole
  • Wonderfully cushioned for comfort
  • Sustainable
Against
  • Not waterproof
  • Not designed for boggy conditions
  • Not as lightweight as some

In the Loop

A quick look at what you can expect from the CimAlp X-Trails:

  • Dual compound, flexible midsole with forefoot/heel torsion
  • 6mm heel to forefoot drop
  • Foam technology for shock absorption
  • Vibram XS TREK sole for solid traction on various surfaces
  • 100 per cent recycled polyester breathable mesh upper
  • Heel cup for ride stability
  • Weight: 270g per shoe

Features

The X-Trails are full of features designed to give you a comfortable experience on the trails. The midsole features CimAlp’s dual compound Chromosome technology, a flexible platform that’s got plenty of torsion in the heel and forefoot for optimal proprioception. 

As you’d expect for a shoe aimed at both trail runners and fast-packers, there’s plenty of cushioning at the forefoot, while their proprietary R-Foam technology absorbs impacts on hard, rocky terrain. This means the X-Trails are a maximalist choice and, when combined with their 6mm drop, makes them a shoe for heel-striking runners, rather than those who prefer a barefoot-style approach. Don’t expect loads of trail-feel but do expect a responsive ride.

The Vibram XS Trek outsole is designed to grip a variety of trail surfaces. It features a technical rubber compound that excels in terms of flexibility and gives traction on wet, uneven and rocky terrain. The triangular lugs boast a mix of harder and softer rubber, helping you to adapt to whatever is underfoot. They’re not as aggressive as those found on running shoes designed for soft ground, but they cope better on roads and rock.

The Gear LoopCimAlp X-Trail review photo 8

The mesh upper is made from 100 per cent recycled polyester and is well ventilated, allowing the feet to breathe. There are reinforcements around the toe, where the outsole rises up to create a front bumper, while the heel cup is also reinforced, giving protection as well as stability.

Performance

We tested the X-Trails on rough runs and hikes over a variety of terrain types. When hitting the trails at speed, we found that they gave a responsive and well-cushioned ride, as well as providing a reassuring level of grip on wet and uneven surfaces. 

The X-Trail is something of a jack of all trades, which in turn makes them a master of none. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, as they are so well suited to a wide range of activities. 

The Gear LoopCimAlp X-Trail review photo 5

As a hiking shoe, they’re great for casual walks and perform well on low grade scrambles too. They give you a great deal of comfort on technical trails, while also being lighter than most of the competition. However, they’re not waterproof and, while the heel cup gives some support, the level of ankle protection here isn’t suitable for hillwalking with an expedition pack. 

In terms of running, the X-Trails are great for training and are well suited to tackling long distances, too. They’re more comfortable on tarmac than most trail shoes and the Vibram outsole gives you excellent grip on uneven surfaces.

When it comes to race day, there are lighter options out there, while regular trail runners may want something with a smaller drop. Their lugs aren’t particularly aggressive, so they don’t cope with those muddy descents as well as shoes designed with this in mind. Nevertheless, for a good level of traction on a wide range of surfaces, the X-Trails are a great option.

The Gear LoopCimAlp X-Trail review photo 9
  • The CimAlp X-Trail costs £109 and can be purchased directly from the CimAlp website.
To recap

The X-Trail is something of a jack of all trades, which in turn makes them a master of none. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, as they are so well suited to a wide range of activities. Great for low grade scrambles, faster hikes and trail running duties, they're arguably a Swiss Army Knife shoe for outdoors-y types.

Writing by Alex Foxfield. Editing by Leon Poultney.