Sunday, April 29, 2012

Salomon S-Lab Sense Review

Yesterday the "Salomon Trail Tour" pulled into the Concord NH EMS for a demo day.  They are traveling across the US letting people try their trail shoes.  When my friend Joe, who works at EMS, told me they were coming I asked if he could let me know if they had the new S-LAB Sense.  While I was on the way into work he called and said yes!!  I immediately made a detour and stopped to check them out.

Brand new, never worn Salomon S-Lab Sense

I met David, Kristina and Josh and talked shoes for a bit.  They pulled out a brand new pair for me to try on.  I was surprised at how hard they were to put on.  But once I loosened up the speed laces a bunch they pulled on like a tight slipper.  Initial thoughts were that the shoe was very narrow in the forefoot, but it was comfy at the same time.  A quick jaunt around the parking lot revealed that the EVA foam sole had a really nice cushy feel to it, yet it ran like a minimal shoe with lots of flexibility. 

I won't go into the history of this shoe.  I'm assuming if you've read this far you already know about how it was the shoe that Kilian Jornet designed with Salomon after his first attempt at the Western States 100.  It is the shoe that he wore for his win of the same race last year.  It is a 4mm drop shoe with a very unique seamless interior that should be great for runners who don't wear socks (but will be fine for those who do).

My purpose of trying them on was to see what size I would wear if I get a pair.  I normally wear a size 11 but the size 10.5 was even a little on the long side.  I tried a size 10 and decided that my toes were to close to the front.  If you do buy a pair I suggest going down at least a 1/2 size from your usual.  One other thing,  it carries a ridiculous price tag of $200.  Yes, $200.  I spend a lot of money on shoes, but even I am having a hard time with that price.  On top of all that, Salomon claims that this is a race shoe with a very short life, due to the exposed EVA foam sole. 

The guys from Salomon asked me where a good place to do a trail run was, and I offered to meet them after work and take them out to the Quarries.  With one condition...they had to let me wear the shoes!  They said of course I could, as that was the purpose of the demo anyways.  So after work I took them all up for an hour tour of my local hotspot. 

Good traction and carbon fiber rock plate

The quarries has a lot of rocks (duh..) with everything from little pebbles to big jagged "baby head" rocks.  I was surprised to find out how well the carbon fiber rock plate worked.  The shoes have more protection than my usual New Balance MT110's and more cushioning as well.  I think it would make an excellent 100 mile shoe.  Even though it was my second run of the day, my legs felt fresh and my feet were comfy.  The tread pattern provided adequate traction, but I did find that on very steep climbs that were covered in leaves they were a little lacking.  Other than that, the rubber felt sticky on wet rocks and didn't slip any more than what you would expect in mud.  No rocks got trapped in the channels under the mid-foot.

Bottoms, after an hour of all types of terrain.

Uppers, after the run
I only had a chance to wear them for an hour, but I really liked them.  My one concern is how narrow they are.  I'm used to roomy minimal type shoes that are more shaped like a foot.  So the snugness in the mid-foot felt strange.  I had plenty of room for my toes and it didn't bother me at all during the run.  Today while wearing my MT110's for 22 miles I thought a lot about these shoes.  I might just have to bite the bullet....

Thank you so much to the gang at Salomon for letting me get a brand new pair of $200 shoes wet and dirty! 

Josh, Kristine, David and me


Adam Wilcox said...

$200? Wowzer. At least when Hoka charges you an arm and a leg, they give you a whole lot of shoe.

Alex Bridgeforth said...

I love my Sense way more than the MT110. They are wider and don't have that horrible piece on the outside forefoot that makes my bone feel broken after every run. I can't wait to go race in the Sense this next weekend. Trail Marathon time.

Nathan Sanel said...

I really feel like my MT110's are way wider than the Sense. It was the one area of the shoe that concerns me. But it does run a lot softer than the NB's.

Alex Bridgeforth said...

Maybe it the way my foot is shaped. But I had a much better first run in the Sense then both the MT110 and MT110 Wide version. Here is a part of what I sent to NB about the MT110: The sole in forefoot is harder on the outside and it hurts the outside portion of the bottom of my forefoot. The sown in insole doesn’t go all the way up to the wall of the shoe. It is after the seam in the outside forefoot that feels like a much harder or tougher material so it puts a lot of pressure on just that one part of my foot. We'll see how the S-Lab Sense holds up. I'm coming out with my First Impression Review tomorrow.

Nathan Sanel said...

I can feel the outside area on the MT110 as well, but it has never bothered me. I know others that say it was a deal breaker too. It's a good thing we have all these choices now, it certainly wasn't like that 2 years ago. How many miles have you put on the Sense?

Alex Bridgeforth said...

I just went for my first run/hike in them yesterday. I did a little over six miles in around 3.5 hrs. It was quite a bit of climbing with my buddy. I really loved them. The only "weird' feeling is when I walk I can tell that the heel is build up a little higher on the inside side of my foot, but I think they would do that to attempt to protect the ankle from rolling so much.

Steve Pero said...

Like Adam said....yikes! Doubt I'll "ever" pay that much for running shoes with all the workable deals you can find out there on the net. As for the MT110's, I ordered a pair, went for one run in them and they are going back this week. Just not enough shoe for me.

Nathan Sanel said...

Steve, sorry to hear that the MT110's are not going to work for you. I feel partially responsible for you getting a pair!! Hope you and Deb are doing well.

harris said...

I have finished several runs in the Sense and all I can say is wow what a shoe. I had my doubts about it when I ordered it but those doubts have been erased. I have been running for 35 years and have never had the opportunity to run in what I would describe as almost the perfect shoe. Fit is fantastic though if you have wide feet there may be an issue. Minimal stack height, low weight (7.4 oz in my size 11.5)and the ability to make you fly through your runs. I have already set two PRs on my training runs. Downsides, yes 200 bucks it is alot and two the color sucks (red and white come on). I think the upsides outweight the downsides to me. This is a fantastic shoe you do need to try it to believe it.

ultrajayme said...

i retired my s lab xt wings 4 last week after about 275-300 miles in colorado scree, boulders and snowy/icey terrain due to destroying the outsoles even though yhe uppers are still legit. i decided to go with brooks cascadia 7...great awesome shoe but maybe more play room in the forefoot than i want on rapid descents.
i am so used to the xc ski boot feel of salomon that i am still considering buying the sense....its just that godamn pricepoint. i run AGGRESSIVE descents. always finding the most dangerous and challenging route down the mountain i can and taking it as fast as i can, often times causing small rock slides behind me.....tell me please how a lonewolf out in the rockies would benefit most from this over either sticking with cascadias or maybe going to the saucony peregrine 2 which looks very similar to the sense.....please give me just a few reasons to resurrect my desire to buy another pair of salomon

Nathan Sanel said...

I'm not going to try to convince you to buy a pair. $200 is a ton of money for a pair of race shoes. I have recently been testing a pair of the Merrell Mix Master II's and think that they are a very comparable shoe but have a wider toebox and cost a lot less. If you get a chance, try them on before committing to the Salomons.