Having given up on Salomon offering a gaitered low drop winter running shoe with studs for 2014/15 and after trying another brand without studs, I decided to “modify” the pair of Snowcross CS that I bought a couple of years ago. I stopped using these shoes soon after receiving them as the 11 mm drop was playing havoc with my Achilles and I felt like I was dragging my heel a bit more than was comfortable. While doing some work in my garage the other day I looked up and saw the Snowcross sitting on the shelf and with the imminent (and now, real) arrival of snow and ice it became abundantly clear that I should at least try to use these $200 running shoes.
Looking the shoe over and looking up the “official” drop as 29 mm / 18 mm or 11 mm it seemed possible to lower the heel sufficiently as to come close to a 4 mm total drop. This is accomplished by removing all of the heel lugs and leaving just the studs. Here are a few of images of the modification:
I have only had about 30 km of running on these shoes so this is preliminary but the lower drop is very apparent and very comfortable on snow. After a few years of running only in the Sense, these are now very comfortable for winter conditions. Note: I also switched out the original Snowcross insole with an insole from a pair of Sense 3s. I did this because the Snowcross insole has some structure at the instep and around the heel. The Sense insole is very minimal. The switch has eliminated some discomfort I initially felt.
As far as traction these shoes are about as grippy on snow and ice as is available. The gaiter keeps the feet warm but the use of the very inferior “ClimaShield” fabric is a negative. The CS is not waterproof or even water resistant and if you get near anything even approximating moist conditions your feet will quickly become wet and the CS does a great job of not letting any of that water out- exactly the opposite of what such a fabric should do. The net- your feet will become very cold very quickly. The Snowcross are best used in dry, snow and ice conditions, something that we, fortunately, commonly have here in the central Idaho mountains. I will put up an update after a couple hundred miles.
So… a stop-gap measure and hoping that Salomon will see fit to offer a true Snowcross Sense model soon…. with a GTX upper and gaiter please!! We know you can do it- look at the X-Alp.
Update 21 January 2015
Well after a freak fall whilst skiing, I injured my rotator cuff and have, unfortunately, been doing a lot more running this ski season. On the positive side I had forgotten how enjoyable winter running on packed trails can be. I now have about 300 km and 10,000 m of vert on the Snowcross “Sense” and can report that they are performing very well.
We have had a good bit of snow and lots of sunny days. This makes for conditions of packed powder alternated with icy conditions on those trails with southern exposure. I have also been out in 4-6″ of fresh powder on packed trails. All of these snow conditions have been relatively dry, so no experience to report with truly wet conditions. In all of the conditions I have experienced the Snowcross “Sense” have been outstanding- particularly w/r/t grip and stability. The shoes are warm and the trail performance gives one the confidence to stride out as if it were mid-summer. The removal of the heel lugs has not compromised grip and/or braking to any noticeable degree and the lower drop is quite comfortable for those who use low drop shoes.