The new Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 2 is a vicious animal strapped to your feet. Fell and mountain racers, listen up.
Having spent the last year running exclusively in Hokas, I was not sure if I could write a proper review of these racing shoes. Turns out, it may have been the perfect way to review these beasts. My review window was extremely short, so I was only able to get in a few runs, neither of them spent in mountains or mud, pretty much what these shoes were designed for.
Don’t stop reading. Here’s what you should know.
These shoes were designed by racers for racers. These are not for your leisurely run around the suburbia or park. The S-Lab Fellcross 2 was designed for fell ground, soft conditions and mud, mud, muddy, mud. If you are a competitor looking for an edge over the field, look no further. When others are slipping and taking hair-pinned turns with caution, these shoes will allow you to rip through conditions and brake and accelerate on command.
Seriously aggressive. Look at the lugs on these things. What I love about these shoes, besides having more teeth than a great white shark, is how soft they are. Even though the trail conditions were not ideal for these shoes, I was able to feel the ground and not destroy my foot or worry about running over hard objects.
I was able to run through tough terrain with ease. With the lugs eating into the earth I was able to use my energy to power up a steep incline, keep a straight line across a 35 degree grade. Having control over where your foot strikes gives you confidence to go faster, keep better balance and conserve energy to put it where you want it. Notice the ‘V’ shaped lugs in the above pic? They look like they were designed to slice through terrain and grip down, propelling a runner faster. It’s like having a mulching machine powered by mulch.
I’ll admit it. I’m a die hard traditional shoe lace snob. Having had two prior pairs of Salomons (including the Speedcross), I wasn’t a big fan of the Salomon lacing system. But what I didn’t know and what fell runners already know, you’re going to need this lacing system to make the fang-like lugs feel like they are part of your foot. Its kinda hard for me to explain, but the shoe takes on a symbiotic mode to your foot. It never felt loose or too tight. Maybe the answer I’m looking for is, they didn’t feel like they were there at all. Again, these shoes were built for racing, lightweight necessary for the eventual onslaught of Mother Earth trying to cling on for dear life.
I like that the upper is lightweight but designed to take a beating. Surrounded by rip-stop, these shoes will keep out most of the environment and a generous toe cup gives great protection to your little piggies.
Every rose has its thorn. For me, transitioning from a Hoka to the S-Lab Fellcross 2 was too rapid. As these are a much narrower shoe than the Hoka, I did develop a blister on my instep. I anticipated that it was going to happen, but it was a small price to pay for a really fun ride. And that is just it. The one thing that we sometimes loose sight of during all of our running aspirations and designs, we loose sight of fun. The act of running in motion and how a newly introduced piece of gear can push you into having fun and being able to experience wild abandonment because you have a tool for confidence. I love my Hokas (I know, its not healthy), but now knowing what I am capable of in these shoes, I am looking forward racing again.
See you at the start line.