Salomon S Lab Sense Review – Update

It has been a couple of months since I started running in the Salomon S Lab Sense shoe and enough distance (as well as a race) has been logged on these that it is time to update my initial review.

I have put approximately 1000 km on the shoes, 55 km of which was in a race setting on mostly technical trail with about 2100 m vertical (7000 feet vertical). The shoes continue to perform at the highest level as I have experienced no substantial issues and surprisingly little apparent wear. After wearing my size US7’s on some long runs, I realized that I needed a 1/2 size larger shoe as my feet become larger during a long run. So I obtained a second pair in size US7 1/2. I still use the US 7’s for training but I use the 7 1/2’s for long runs and races. Most of the distance is on the size US 7’s so I will concentrate here on how this pair is holding up.

Durability

The outsole has shown surprisingly little wear. My primary trail runs are on an approximately 50/50 mix of soft, smooth, powdery singletrack and exposed, technical rock (including a fair share of talus) so the trail conditions are not “mild”. Below is a photograph of the outsole after about 750 km. I weigh 130 lbs and have a forefoot strike. The lack of outsole wear is remarkable, at least compared to all of the other Salomon and Hoka shoes that I have run in. I have noticed a diminished cushion, particularly in the last 150 km, but not so severe that I would consider retiring the shoe. Given that Killian and Vollet indicated that one could expect 500-600 km of life, I am pleasantly surprised.

The exposed EVA foam has “crinkled” a bit but that is the extent to which these shoes are showing any real wear.

There is one issue which has developed on the right shoe – delamination of the polymer exo-skin from the mesh upper in the area with the greatest flex. This started at about 200 km and seems to have gone as far as it is going to go. Below is a photograph of the right shoe showing the delamination. I expect that this is a manufacturing defect as neither the left shoe of this pair nor the US size 7 1/2’s have shown this type of delamination.

Performance

I continue to be impressed with the fit and feel of these shoes. The endo-fit inner “sock” is exceptionally comfortable and stable. The trail feel is outstanding and the weight really does make a difference. The shoes drain well and dry quickly and I have had no issues with blisters. The wet traction is remarkable and is as good today as it was right out of the box. Overall, I think that these shoes are setting a standard for performance (my experience is limited primarily to Salomon and Hoka shoes however).

Price

Well, there is a downside to everything and for these shoes it is price. At $200, they currently top anything else out there (although there is likely to be some obscure, custom shoe that is more expensive). However, given the wear and durability that the Sense is offering in a low weight, racing shoe, the price is looking better all the time.

Sense Mantra

In the launch presentation last March (2012), Vollet indicated that Salomon would be offering a training version of the Sense and they are: the Sense Mantra. The model is positioned in thier XR (door to trail) group and weigh about 260 gm for a size US7. The construction is still “low drop” at 6mm (but not the 4mm of the Sense) and has a 16mm heel and 10 mm forefoot, giving the shoe a bit more cushioning than the Sense. It will be available in much milder color combinations: black and white with blue trim, black and bright green with bright green trim, and black and grey with orange trim. All of this is good provided the price is appropriately lower. We will have to see. The rumor is that they are going to release the shoe early – late summer/early fall 2012, but it is officially part of the spring 2013 group, so stay tuned.

Update: Running Warehouse has a video up of the Sense Mantra- launch date is still Spring 2013:

Take-away

Initial impressions are often fragile and suspect, but in this case, the Salomon S Lab Sense has lived up to the initial evaluation and exhibited good durability. Based on the way this shoe fits, feels, and performs in all conditions (dry, wet, soft, hard, rocky, wet rocky, snow, ice, rooty, mossy) I can highly recommend that you consider the Sense for your next shoe.

Addenum

I have a final update on the Salomon Sense shoe posted 24 October 2012.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Salomon S Lab Sense Review – Update

  1. Your first review of the Sense pushed me over the edge to give them a try. I find them a little soft on sharp rock sections, but overall they are the best running shoes I can recall. I too live in Sun Valley for the nordic skiing and running on the trails. I run anywhere I can find adequate water for our dog, but close to town my favorite is Hyndman Creek. Do you have any recommendations for trails?

    • John,
      There are so many trails it is difficult to list all the great options. But, my core group includes the buffed trails all around Proctor-Ruud-Morgan (right out my door), Adams Gulch system, Fox-Chocolate-Oregon system, Pioneer: Long’s-Pio-North Fork Hyndman-Johnstone Creek Loop, Prarie Lake-Norton Lake-Miner Lake Loop, Alice Lake- Toxaway Loop, and the Baldy system: Baldy trail-Little America-Warm Springs Loop. Add in some excursions into the Cooper Basin, the Sawtooths (Sawtooth Lake Loop is great), and exploratory runs into the Boulders. Not much time left!!

      I agree on the downside of the proprioception of the Sense. I have apparently toughened up my feet as this is only an occasional issue, even on the talus around here. You do need to be conscious of where you are planting your foot. Glad to hear that the Sense have worked out for you.

    • Tony,
      I received my first pair of Sense in late April (26th of April) and have been running in them since. At the time of writing this updated review, I had about 750km (450 miles) on the initial pair of US7’s and about 250km (150 miles) on the second pair of US71/2’s (which I use for long runs and races). About 10 weeks of use are represented in the review update. I run about 130-160km/week (80-100 miles/week), so the total mileage in that period is about 1450km (900 miles). I also train in the Salomon Fellcross and approximately 450km of training in this period is done in these shoes. Since writing the update I have now an additional 150km on the size US71/2’s including a 70km race with about 3000m vertical ascension/descension. They continue to perform admirably, although I did switch to a pair of Hoka Stinson B Evo’s for the last 15km of the recent race due to trashed feet after 25km downhill pounding. The Hoka “pillows” were a godsend, but you sure loose a lot of proprioception. Hopefully as my feet toughen up, I will not have to change shoes, particularly after rocky downhills which are so common here in the the American west. One note; this last race had a significant number of stream crossings and one river crossing- I can report that the shoes performed well in these conditions, they drained and dried quickly and I had no incidence of blisters. Not so for many of my fellow competitors in other shoes.

  2. Hi,
    thanks for quick answer. So, great news to see that the shoes are so durable. You review is really complete and interesting.
    What about the Sense Mantra ? How did you got the info ?

  3. Hey there, thanks for the review. You say they are good for all conditions. I run a lot of muddy farm/bush trail down here in NZ (wet grass, mud, wet rock) are they really that good ? how do they compare to your fellcross in similar conditions ? Does that lug pattern live up to the hype or would I be sliding on my ass in these babies ?

    • Johnno,

      In true mud conditions, the Fellcross is superior. I think that Killian would agree as it looks from the video that he ran in the Fellcross at Zegama (very wet, muddy conditions with a lot of vertical). I have had the Fellcross and the Sense on the same muddy trail on the same day. The Fellcross definitely was more secure and shed the mud better. We have some clay-based mud here that is notorious for accumulating on the sole to the point where it is hard to pick your foot up. So “mud shedding” is an important part of performance in such conditions.

      As far as wet conditions, the Sense are remarkably grippy on algae-covered rocks in streams whereas the Fellcross are quite slippery in the same situation due to the small contact area. So much so that if I have numerous stream crossings I will opt for the Sense even in muddy conditions. The other aspect is drainage and drying. The Sense drain well and dry quickly, the Fellcross retain water and take a while to dry out.

      So, my opinion: true mud, wet, and soft conditions- Fellcross is the choice; in any other situation- Sense. It is great that these two shoes have the same “drop” and can be interchanged easily without any stride affects.

  4. how would the sense perform on pavement in conjunction with trail runs? If they are proving to be that durable on rocks, loose pebbles etc would pavement cause them to wear even less again? Not that i would be running soley on pavement, but training wise there would be pavement and trails combined

    • Bill,

      They are very much like road flats when on the road and work quite well in my experience. I would use them in a road marathon/half marathon race and have done so in training. True road flats might be better given the road-specific outsole but as these perform so well on trails they are a good choice even if you have a bit of road running in your routine. I have about 2.5 miles of tarmac on my regular (12-15 mile) trail runs (a bit (1 mile) at the beginning and a bit more (1.5 miles) at the end) and find the Sense to be quite adaptable. They really shine on the trail though.

      • Bill,

        I went 1/2 size larger but that is partly due to the fact that I was probably running in a shoe that was bit small for ultra distance running. I like a snug fit but that can lead to issues when your feet expand during a long run or race. The Sense endofit inner “sock” really takes care of this with a nice snug fit through the mid-section and plenty of room in the toe without any movement. Without the endofit inner “sock”, if I went to a 1/2 size larger the typical shoe would move around and cause abrasions and possibly blisters. No issues with the Sense.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s