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