Monday, August 17, 2015

Salomon S-Lab Sense Soft Ground Trail shoes

Cyclists will know the phenomenon of buying some road shoes which look tiny and thinking: how exactly do my feet fit into those!

This is exactly what I thought when I received my Salomon S-Lab Sense shoes.  They are literally tiny and first impressions are that they work via some sort of Tardis effect.

And so indeed my feet do fit well and comfortably into the S-Lab Sense shoes, but the shoe is tiny and light compared to any of my other running shoes, road or trail.

A minimalist Shoe
The S-Lab Sense, now in iteration 4, is a very light trail running shoe.

It is designed to be best in muddy trail environments.

For me the shoe is 277 grams light for size UK 10.5 which is EUR 45.33.

Runners will know that to find any running shoe under 300 grams in weight in 2015 is pretty difficult.  This is additionally a trail shoe, which has a little extra support to a road running shoe, so even more impressive.

Here is my review of the regular S-LAB XT Wings shoe (353 grams) 

The shoe is really thin in all areas, it has to be to be under 300 grams.

Low heel Drop

This shoe has a front foot tread depth of 9mm and a rear of 13mm.  This means a 4mm difference between front and back (known as Drop) which is low.


So the idea is that you front foot and not heel strike run with this shoe.

As a confirmed heel strike runner I am not a potential fan or advocate of front foot or barefoot running.   I bought these shoes as a test and with the objective of 'getting into' if at all possible front foot running.

Traditional Salomon quick lacing.  I love it.  You can quickly adjust the lace tension in the middle of a run, say before a steep descent or ascent.

Inside the shoe is a sort of sock that attaches to the tounge of the shoe helping create a smooth inner surface.

Forefoot Running
I've used these shoes now on several races and trail runs and can report that I did try to put more weight on the front of the foot than the rear.

It might sound obvious but on ascents (with suitably powerful calf muscles) you can really just run on the fronts of your feet only, and this makes hill ascents very easy.

On the descents though, IMHO, front foot running becomes even more difficult, and for Marcus' with a shamefully poor record of descent slowness I can honestly say that these shoes are not exactly helping

Overall Factors

- The shoes are not waterproof and are not designed to be
- The insole is stuck (at the front) inside the shoe.  So after a muddy race you can pull out the insole to dry the shoe easily
- The sub 300 gram weight of the shoe is without doubt it's signature advantage
- Second is the slim profile.  Larger trail shoes have difficulty on thin trail.  If you have big feet you know the issue.  The trail is actually so thin on some sections that you can't run in it.  These slimline shoes mean that you have much better manoeuvrability.   This is a real advantage
- With thin-ness and lightness you need to node the upper sides of the shoe are thin.  So a greater risk of slamming the side of your foot into something sharp and causing an injury.
- Low drop means that you really must try front foot running, else you are going to hurt and damage your feet.
- Traditionally I find Salmon shoes have pretty terrible grip.  These shoes however have really good grip.
- This is an elite running shoe.  If you want something red to impress your friends whilst you walk about town, Salomon has a much better selection of S-LAB shoes that you could choose.
- There is another similar shoe called the S-Lab Sense  (i.e. missing Soft Ground) and that is principally for dry courses.  But it is even more expensive.
- Note Salmon sizing is always tricky.  As with other Salomon e.g. SpeedCross  I take a bigger size than with other shoes to fit. 

Final Summary
I like the shoe and I will be using it on future trail runs trying to improve my forefoot running abilities. These shoes are exceptionally light and small, and for Salomon unusually grippy!  Recommended.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Soft Ground Wiggle
Salomon S-Lab Sense at Wiggle
Salomon S-Lab Sense official