Yowza, that’s a light box! Sure enough, they’re in there, so let’s begin testing the S-Lab Sense from Salomon.
These shoes differ from most in that they have a more plastic/rubber feel to the them. I’m sure there’s some marketing term for the upper, but in lay terms, they’re smooth–with less “meshy fabric”–and appear that they’ve been engineered in a wind tunnel. Fast looking shoes!
I was also pleased to see the lacing system hasn’t changed since I bought Salomon’s as my first pair of trail shoes in 2007. This will be my first pair since then.
I wear a 12–narrow if ya got it–and these fit me nice and snug. It’s got a seamless feel that is exactly how I like a shoe to cradle my foot. The toe box allows for some spread on the strike, and the heel doesn’t rub at all (a problem I’ve had with shoes before).
In addition, the gussetted tongue doesn’t shift around and is thin enough to accommodate a tight fit. The tongue also has a “lace garage” pocket that allows floppy laces to be secured while out on the trails.
If you’re not accustomed to the lacing system, Salomon’s is unique in that there are no laces to tie, only to lock up with a little plastic grommet and tuck away. I have no problem getting a secure fit with this system and it prevents laces from bouncing about.
In terms of ground feel, the rock plate protects from nasty pointy rocks, but still allows for plenty of natural feel up front. Apparently there’s something innovative about where it’s placed, but to me, it just feels right. Not overly protective, but not dangerously exposed.
For a shoe designed for serious mountain running, this appears to be severely lacking in deep
lugs and tread, but don’t let that fool you. The outsole is soft and squishes into the trail, providing far more tread than I expected and ample control on multiple trail surfaces.
I’ve been wearing these on hybrid trails (hard mixed decomposed granite), single track along the American River, blacktop pavement on a bike path, and on technical hills in the Sierra Nevadas. The shoes performed well on all surfaces. I’ve only run through one river with them and they drained completely within 5 minutes. Very nice.
In terms of distance, I’ve run up to three hours in them and my feet stayed relatively cool (when it’s 108 out!) without any hot spots or weird rubs.
Cost $200 (Salomon provided these to URP for review)
Drop: 4mm (9mm forefoot and 13mm aft)
I really like this shoe and will admit to not wanting to. With all the Kilian hype and concerns about Salomon quality recently, the S-Lab Sense surprised me.
Yeah, it’s an expensive shoe, but it’s also the most important item in your arsenal. Try one on and then decide if it’s worth it. Though these shoes were comped, I’ll gladly buy my next pair.
What didn’t I like? Sure, I wish they were cheaper, and I wish the outsole were a bit more resilient to pavement, but that’s not what the shoe is designed for, so it’s really my problem now, isn’t it?
I would not recommend this to someone who runs a lot on pavement as the outsole will break down and certainly not for someone who buys one pair of shoes to wear constantly. This is a specialized racing shoe and should be treated as such. Do you see guys driving Ferraris to work every day? Those are weekend cars, just as these are racing shoes.
I would recommend this shoe to someone who likes a light, low, and neutral ride. Perfect for a fast 50k, hilly 50 miler, or a grueling 100 miler. Definitely check it out.