OK kids, this is gonna be a doozy. Here we go.
As you know, I have the general policy of not reviewing gear that isn’t submitted with no charge for the purpose of a review. I figure that keeps things for the most part, fair. I do make exceptions, and this is one of those exceptions.
I’ve always had a bad taste in my mouth regarding the Salomon brand due to a few distasteful run-ins with brand reps, which I’ll get to in a minute, but I was sort of forced to buy a pair of their shoes this last winter because I needed shoes on short notice and these were the only waterproof hiking shoes at the local shop. I think I dropped around $140 on them. To me, that’s near maximum acceptable hiking-shoe cost so I at least expected a good two years of wear out of them, which is pretty standard in my experience. Alas, it was not to be, for my purchase of just a few months ago are now falling apart, with holes in the upper and worn-out waterproofing rendering them obsolete. To me, that is not an OK performance for a hiking shoe.
Not that I liked them all that much anyway, as they really are just a dude’s hiking shoe re-labeled to have “women’s” sizing. How do I know for sure? Because one of those Salomon reps I mentioned earlier told me that during the one Salomon appointment I attended at an Outdoor Retailer. The rep also told me that Salomon really didn’t have much interest in developing a women’s line, so it just resized all of its shoes and didn’t use a women’s last. I asked her why they don’t improve their line, and she just short of shrugged. From that exchange, I pretty much wrote Salomon off until I tried these shoes on in the store a few months ago. I could tell they were just dude’s shoes when I tried them on, as even my regular size felt a little “off”. As a matter of fact, it was a little roomier than usual which happened to be what I was going for at the time, so it was fine by me for a last second purchase, but still, it’s beyond obvious that Salomon doesn’t bother to make shoes for women.
The sloppy fit was not helped by this shitty-ass cable thing that is supposed to stand in for shoelaces. So, I get it, it’s supposed to be faster or what have you, but you know what is not faster is cinching the cable up, folding the extra all up into a little ball and tucking it into its little pocket on the tongue, then pulling it back out and repeating the entire thing a quarter mile down the trail when it inevitably loosens up. By the end of the hike I’d have about 7 inches of extra cable protruding from the shoes and the little plastic handle thing whipping me in the ankles. Pffft. Give me some laces already; if you can figure out the world enough to be able to hike, you can learn to tie knots well enough that your shoes don’t come untied. That would be preferable to endless futzing with a kitschy cable thing that eventually ends up just flopping around your ankles, threatening to trip you anyway.
The spontaneous failure today of the upper (a hole where the rand covering the toe box meets the upper) was just the last straw. I’ve put a few months on these shoes but NOTHING even remotely abusive. Basically they were just used to walk the dog. Today I took them on their first mountain hike and they blew out. Lame! But wait, I’m not done.
I recently found out that Salomon meh’ed its way out of renewing a sponsorship or two of top-tier female athletes, because it just doesn’t feel that the Euro market is all that interested in women. Euro sexism is not really a surprise, but even I’m taken aback at a worldwide brand coming out and saying (to the athlete, no less) that it thinks bro-ing up to a bunch of cheesed up dudes in lederhosen with the social awareness of a Neanderthal is more important to them than a) equality and b) the enormous, all-but-untapped market of women who spend money on outdoor gear not only for themselves but for their entire freaking families. That’s right. That is how little women matter to Salomon.
And oh, yes, there’s more.
Flashback to that time that Outdoor Retailer posted some sexist, objectifying “cute girls up front!” bullshit on its trade show Facebook page. I (sort of, I think) politely but firmly called them out on it, because I got sick to damn death of seeing burgeoning T&A all over the place at OR, which is essentially my place of business when I attend. I’m not down with seeing some stranger’s ass cheeks at my workplace. OR never did respond to my comment on Facebook, but some dude did, and boy, did he ever. He told me to shut it, to just stay home and stop ruining their trade show fun, and wow am I ever an ungrateful stick in the mud who isn’t needed at OR anyway. Who was that paragon of masculinity, you might wonder? Welp, he proudly identified himself as a Salomon representative. Whee! I mean, he was amazing. He did not even back off when I expressed my incredulity at a brand representative posting those type of comments, in public, directed at a person whose job it is to review and report on gear and trade show experiences. That is AMAZING.
So, Salomon, I don’t even feel the slightest bit bad about telling the world that your shoes, your brand, and your attitude are pieces of shit. Byeeeee!