I was running in Salomons long before I became sponsored by the brand in 2008. So, let me put this out there straight up: I’m biased. There’re many reasons I believe Salomon is the best brand out there. But that’s not what I’m here to chat about on this blog. I’m here to talk shoes – Salomon shoes – specifically four models of Salomon shoes, and to give you my opinion of them.
Before I begin, let me say upfront that feet are hellish things to keep happy. We runners expect so much of them – some of us hammer them over scary distances, and across terrain so rugged even donkeys wouldn’t consider venturing.
Some even run ultras on the black stuff <shock & horror>.
And wherever we run, regardless of terrain or distance, we expect our feet to never whinge. Suffice to say, hundreds of books have been published on how to keep runners’ feet happy – blister prevention techniques, advice on bunions, management of callouses, methods of toughening the skin of the feet, the do’s and don’ts of cutting toenails, how to pop toenail blisters… the list is long.
But the number one port of call for happy feet is, you guessed it, what the foot wears. There’s a massive global industry for running shoes, and I’m not about to claim that the brand I believe in is the best for everyone. No brand can claim that. The foot is a complex thing, and everyone’s feet are unique. Hey, even our own two feet are different from each other. What one runner might consider a fantastic shoe won’t necessarily work for the next runner. No single design of shoe is perfect for everyone. So, that’s my caveat, and I’m putting it out there from the outset: these reviews just give you my opinion, and I hope they help you to choose the shoe that’s right for you. That shoe won’t necessarily be a Salomon shoe at all – but equally, it might.
I’ll be reviewing four models – they range from road to beginner trail to serious trail:
the Sonic RA Max 2 (road)
the Trailster (entry level trail)
the Sense Pro 3 (trail)
the Ultra Pro (trail)
Sense Pro 3
Salomon’s Sense Pro series has been around for a few years. I did a lot of racing in the Sense Pro 1 and loved it, although it never quite matched my two all-time favs, the Sense Mantra (sadly discontinued) and the Sense Ultra, both because they had a wider toe box. The Sense Pro 1 was lightweight yet supportive and durable (I got more than 900km out of mine), but I found it a little too narrow for my foot.
The Sense Pro 1 was followed by the Sense Pro 2 (not rocket-science, this) and the differences between the two were minimal – the tread had a slightly different lug pattern, and the upper had slightly different cosmetic details. The drop remained 6mm.
Like its first generation cousin, the Sense Pro 3 feels a little narrow for my broad foot – I wouldn’t choose to run an ultra in them, but they’d be fine for distances up to about 30km. That’s me, note – remember, feet and the shoes to fit them are a very personal thing. I know many top runners who swear by this shoe, and it fits their foot like a glove.
Some specs for the techies:
Lightweight protection – just enough protection in the toe cap and mudguard, along with Profeel film underfoot, keeps the shoes agile and light
Dynamic ride – Energy Cell+ delivers rebound to keep you going, while the flexible upper and light weight ensure mobility.
Intensity of usage – training and racing
Grip – a premium wet traction Contrgrip® sole gives confidence on technical trail
Lacing system – Quicklace®
Drop – 4mm
Ok, that’s all fancy speak for the fact that they’re really light (for sure – my size UK6 weighs just 218g, a whole 20g lighter than my original Sense Pro 1) while still being robust to handle rugged terrain. And its grip is great – see my notes below.
What I love about the Sense Pro 3:
The tread is great, with lugs that would make a tractor jealous. I test-drove the Sense Pro 3 over rocky terrain on top of Table Mountain in solid rain, and those treads gripped like suction. No traction worries there.
The shape of the shoe is superb, with the elasticised Endofit yoke making my feet feel quite snug.
The outer cosmetics of this shoe are nothing short of sexy. Yes, a sexy trail shoe! The design is stylish, smooth and yet still has all the protective features needed to prevent fabric tears from rock scuffs (my only gripe with one of my favourites, the Sense Ride is that it lacks protection at the broadest section of my foot, making it vulnerable to scuffing on rocky terrain).
My only gripe about the Salomon Sense Pro 3 is its width. As with many of Salomon’s shoes, this one is for the narrower foot. Sadly for me.