Salomon S Lab Sense Review – Final Update

Prior posts on the performance of this shoe have detailed:

I have now taken a pair of Sense to their end of life (EOL).

After about 1200 km (700 miles) the shoes are just now showing evidence of breakdown- peeling of the outsole, diminished cushioning, and lug wear. Although still suitable for road running (as a racing flat), their use on trails has come to an end. This is mainly because the peeling outsole presents a potential tripping hazard, which, at my age, is something worth avoiding. Secondarily, the diminished cushioning is resulting in skeletal wear otherwise not previously apparent on longer (35+ km (20+ miles)) runs. They are still fine on shorter runs as far as I can tell.

Salomon S Lab Sense after about 1200 km. As you can see we have had our first snow here in central Idaho. The last run for these shoes was in the snow where they performed well even with significant wear of the lugs. The snow also cleaned them up- just in time for pictures.

Right sole- note that the lug depth is still reasonable, about 30-40% worn. Also note excessive wear on outside of the sole at the rear- this is due primarily to breaking on steep downs. Perhaps when my technique improves this will be less evident.

Left sole. Similar wear but still quite stable. Note the hole in the EVA midsole material to the rear of the arch. This was a sharp wood splinter that never made its way into the shoe.

Peeling left outsole… and the primary reason these shoes are being retired. I do not have confidence that gluing will work or be reliable. No tripping for me.

Peeling right outsole. Not as significant as on the left but the peeling is well along.

View from the top after about 1200 km. Uppers are entirely intact and show no signs of failure, other than the initial minor delamination of the exo-skin that occurred within the first 150 km of use.

I must say that I am pleasantly surprised with how durable and comfortable these shoes have been. With initial reports indicating that they should likely last only about 500 km (300 miles), getting in excess of 1200 km (700 miles) out of this pair is reassuring and clearly justifies the price just based on durability, let alone the excellent on-trail performance documented in earlier posts. I should think that I could get perhaps even more use if I was able to securely re-glue the outsole back to the last- at least for shorter runs. The uppers remain entirely intact with no signs of failing any time soon.

Every time I ran in these shoes as part of a rotation with the Fellcross, I ran about 15-30 seconds faster per km. Not sure why, but certainly the light weight plays a role, however I think that the endofit and the low profile (both from the thickness of the midsole and the height of the lugs) just make me a more efficient forefoot striker.

Salomon S Lab Sense Ultra

Salomon have, this past summer, introduced the Salomon S Lab Sense Ultra- a slightly “beefed-up” version of the Sense. According to reports, the shoe incorporates a bit more rock protection with a thicker “Profeel” film element and a bit more cushioning and traction with deeper lugs (and perhaps a bit more wear). The shoe is slightly heavier, although it is still very light at about 200-210 gms (7-7.5 oz) depending on size. I look forward to this shoe as I think that it will perform better for longer runs and races where the Sense may not provide enough cushion for some runners. Here is a short video of the Sense Ultra:

Bottom Line

Well, I have taken the Salomon S Lab Sense from the box to retirement including about 1200 km of running on trails in the Rocky Mountains, racing in two ultramarathons, and used in virtually all expected conditions. The shoes have performed at the highest level in all respects except in the area of cushioning. I confidently recommend the shoes for mountain trail ultramarathon running training and for shorter (<70 km) ultramarathon races. If the S Lab Sense Ultra provides more cushion it may be the right balance between weight and performance. Stay tuned.


9 thoughts on “Salomon S Lab Sense Review – Final Update

  1. Thanks for all 3 of your excellent reviews! I’ve got a pair of 8.5 and 9’s (for longer runs/races), and only have about 150 miles on each pair. I really love them and now feel quite a bit more confident about using them more often than I have.

    I’ve heard the 2013 Sense will be coming out in the next month, with a slightly lower price point and a few changes, including cosmetic. I assume you’ll be getting a pair and testing them as well….

    • Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for the kind words. Yes, 2013 has brought the Sense Ultra, a slightly beefed-up version of the Sense with deeper lugs, more cushioning, and therefore a slightly higher weight (>7 oz). Black and Red is the colorway. The iRunFar store actually has this shoe for sale now:

      I will be receiving a pair of these very soon and will do some running in them but I will not likely put many miles on them as we are and will be in deep winter conditions until at least April here in the central Idaho mountains. I do plan on an extended visit to the desert in March so I should be able to get some real dirt trail miles on these and I will report back then.

      You might want to consider using the Sense Ultra for longer races (50+ miles) as the added cushioning might help with foot fatigue. I expect that the Sense Ultra may be in a sweet spot of weight, cushioning, and proprioception for ultra distance use. It may also, therefore, serve as a good trainer as well. But only time on the trails with the shoes will determine this.

      Good luck in your running!

      • Awesome! Thank you for your follow up comments to me, and the link to the fellsandspells review (wow, lots of photos)…..

        I was told the shoes wouldn’t be available until late January / Early February – so it’s great to see they are already available. However, I’m going to have to hold off a bit, as I have a 20% off Salomon shoes coupon that can only be used at a local running store I frequent. I’m #1 on their call list when the Sense Ultra eventually come in. 🙂

        Thanks again…..

      • Jeff,

        You are right that the shoes will not be generally available until early February- Salomon has some deal with iRunFar to have the shoes early (and also Castleberg Outdoors in Britain who had them available in October and likely others that I am unaware of). They obviously let them out to some team members as well in late summer or earlier. The 20% off is definitely worth waiting as there is nothing “revolutionary” about these shoes and if you are running in the Sense the transition to the Ultra will be rather transparent.

        I noticed on the pics at Fellsandspells that his Sense were incredibly worn. Not sure how many miles he had on them but my soles started to peel off before there was anything near the sort of wear that he has. Just shows how different wear can be from individual to individual.

      • Hi Jeff,

        Interesting… looks like there will be a large variability in wear characteristics depending on terrain, gait, etc. Perhaps he has a bit more abrasive conditions than the relatively soft dirt/rock open areas and conifer needle padded trails here in central Idaho.

        When I played tennis competitively way back I would wear out a pair of Purcells every week because I would drag my toes on serves and ground strokes. I am still surprised that I got more life out of the Sense than the Fellcross, so design and tread materials are, of course, important. That was the problem with the Purcells- very soft rubber compared to other shoes available back then. I eventually switched to K Swiss and got much better wear but the toes always wore out first.

        In any case, I just received a pair of Sense Ultras an will be trying them out and putting up an initial impressions review in the next few days.

  2. Hi,
    I must admit, I was quite surprised he only got about 600km out of those. They looked in far worse condition than yours, with twice the mileage.

    Looking forward to seeing your review of the Ultras. Just don’t play tennis in them. Ha ha!

    Happy running!

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