First Impressions of the Salomon Sense Pro Max:
Is this a Salomon Sense Pro 2 on steroids? Looks really well constructed. I like what I’m seeing so far…then I picked the Salomon Sense Pro Max up and examined it closer…
…wow, that’s a big shoe for the weight (men’s size 9 = 10.4oz; women’s size 8 = 9.5oz). Looks like a lot of cushioning for all types of trail runs. The outsole & traction looks good. Speedlaces and the tried and true Endofit sock liner? Nice! OK, so how does it perform?
Presenting the Salomon Sense Pro Max. This is Salomon’s first real attempt at a maxi shoe and they nailed it.
Now for more details. In this review we’ll break things down in to five areas:
- What’s good: the new, differentiating, or simply well designed or built features or aspects of the shoe.
- What’s decent: the features or aspects that are OK but not particularly new or differentiating.
- What could be improved: tweaks or improvements that could be made to make the shoe better.
- When to use it: the situations or scenarios where the shoe excels.
- How it compares: my current go-to shoes and how this compares
I’ll try to be as succinct as possible. After all, you’ve probably got more running you can do today!
- The cush (i.e., the midsole). 33mm in the heel, 27mm in the forefoot. That’s a lot of cushioning! For comparison sake, the Hoka Challenger ATR 3 has 31mm in the heel and 26mm in the forefoot. The Salomon Sense Pro Max utilizes a new combination midsole that Salomon is calling Vibe. Vibe consists of a bottom layer of compressed EVA foam, called EnergyCell+, with Opal inserts on top (think Adidas Boost or Saucony Everun here). What this makes for I think is a great combination of being plenty cushioned yet providing a good amount of energy return.
- The ride. This is not an overly snappy shoe. It’s a forgiving, well-cushioned ride meant to handle big miles. For this purpose, it works great. The awesome upper and fit contributes to the ride.
sensiFIT (the overlays) and endoFIT (the internal bootie) contribute to the GREAT ride!
- The fit. It’s an accommodating fit that can easily handle foot swell. It has plenty of width in the forefoot for the toes to splay. The midfoot also locks in well with the friction-free eyelets allowing for quick lacing with no pressure extra pressure from the speedlaces.
Just an overall great, accommodating fit in the Salomon Sense Pro Max
The internal sensiFIT bootie contributes to a great fit
Like the rest of the fit the heel lock in is good – no heel slippage concerns
- The style. Does this matter? Not really, but I do think it’s a bonus when shoes are functional yet also look good. The Salomon Sense Pro Max currently comes in two colorways for both men and two for women and they are all pretty loud. For me at least, that’s a good thing as I like shoes that stand out.
It’s a nice-looking shoe with high quality materials used throughout
- The protection. The high stack height combined with the ProFeel Film (i.e., rockplate) provides plenty of protection. Ground feel is somewhat muted but that’s to be expected with this much cushion.
Just the right amount of protection throughout including the toe bumper
- The grip. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Salomon makes one of the best, if not the best, outsole in the biz. They call it Wet Traction ContaGrip and it’s great. It’s semi-sticky for rocky terrain yet remains nice and durable. The lugs are also just long enough to give you grip without getting in the way on smoother roads or trails. Bravo Salomon.
The outsole is great, period
- The durability. I’ve put about 75 miles on these so far and I’m predicting they will easily go 400+ miles. I’ve not seen any upper wear and extremely minimal outsole wear. I’ll report back if my durability predictions are wrong.
- The weight. For cushioning you get at this weight it’s decent. I tend to think about shoes in terms of the cushion / protection to weight ratio these days. And the Salomon Sense Pro Max is high up on the charts using this metric.
- The price. These retail for $150. I know, I know, $150 is A LOT of money. However, when you compare this shoe to others in terms of the cost per mile I think it’s a decent value. It’s not great, but it’s not bad.
- The breathability. It’s fine. The mesh on the upper drains well and while the heel collar foam is thick, which makes it comfortable, it also dries reasonably well.
These should be just fine for plenty of river crossings this spring
What could be improved?
- The fit for narrow or low volume feet.
- The squeaky factor. This could just be me and my own gait but after about 50 miles on the right shoe the outsole now squeaks. Strange, huh? I had the same issue a couple of years back with the Pearl Izumi Trail N2s. It seems to happen most noticeably on pavement when I roll from the forefoot to toe-off.
When to wear the Salomon Sense Pro Max?
- Big mile days & ultras. This shoe should be able to handle 50-100 miles with ease for most folks. The lacing system allows for quick adjustments and the upper has plenty of volume both side-to-side and top-to-bottom.
Quick adjustments with plenty of volume should make for happy feet on race day
- Everyday use for runners with normal to wide feet who like extra cushioning.
- Door to trail. It rides on the roads well and transitions perfectly to nearly all types of terrain nicely. I would consider something with deeper lugs for sloppy days or rocky, steep terrain.
The Salomon Sense Pro Max is a great option in these scenarios.
Similar shoes to compare with:
- Brooks Caldera: Similar shoes in several ways. The Caldera is a touch lighter (9.9oz in a men’s size 9) but also has less cushioning (28mm in the heel, 24mm in the forefoot). The Caldera is also less flexible with a more slightly stiffer ride. The Caldera is a nice shoe but the Sense Pro Max is better.
- The North Face Endurus TR: Also, similar in several ways (e.g., overall amount of cushion, accommodating fit, great outsole) but the Endurus TR is a full ounce heavier (11.4oz in a men’s size 9). Again, I’m giving the nod to the Sense Pro Max in this head-to-head comparison.
- Salomon Sense Pro 2: Think of the Sense Pro Max as a beefed-up version of the Sense Pro 2 in some ways. The Sense Pro 2 is lighter (9.2oz in a men’s size 9) but it also has far less cushioning (23mm in the heel and 17mm in the forefoot) and the fit is narrower. I had some issues with rubbing on the inside of my big toes on the Sense Pro 2s that I have not seen in the Sense Pro Max. A little unfair to compare the shoes head-to-head as they are meant for different purposes and foot types but I like the Sense Pro Max better.
So, the $150 question – should you purchase the Salomon Sense Pro Max?
In a word, yes. (Assuming you like maxi or well-cushioned shoes of course.)
Questions, comments, or feedback on this shoe? Please share! And thanks for reading!
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Meet Your Reviewer: Ben Zuehlsdorf
I am an avid running gear junkie. When I’m not smelling new shoes I’m usually running or racing around the local trails in Marin County, California or talking shop with the San Francisco Running Company community of friends. I was once a road marathoner but now have transitioned almost exclusively to the trails and racing ultras the last few years.
Disclaimer: These shoes was provided to URP/Ben for testing purposes. All words and thoughts are ours and no compensation was offered or received.