A few years ago Salomon introduced a new type of shoe for post training or racing. Salomon call it a ‘recovery’ shoe. The concept is that after running there are certain muscles in the feet that are more impacted by long training runs/races and require additional support after the training run or race for efficient recovery.
This approach/concept is consistent with my experience and I received a pair of these shoes in June of 2011 (version 1) and have been wearing them for recovery (and anything else casual ever since). I have been intending to put up a review of these shoes and now two years and two new models later I have finally gotten around to it.
Versions 1 and 2
The design of the RX S Lab shoes is quite simple and functional. A highly padded mid-sole is attached to a mesh upper with two pull tabs to assist in pulling them on. There are no ‘laces’ or other fasteners. Although perhaps not as important, the shoes have significant ‘drop’- about 10-12 mm based on a rudimentary measurement. The outsole is a non-marking polymer with a shallow tread pattern. I find the outsole to have reasonable grip on wet surfaces, certainly sufficient for the intended casual use.
Importantly, the midsole and leather (or perhaps artificial leather- it is hard to tell) foot bed has a ‘cupped’ form that rises toward the edge of the foot and provides extra support of the foot in this area. I have found this extra support to be very therapeutic after a long run or race.
In casual use the RX S Lab shoes V1 are extremely comfortable and provide very nice support to aching foot muscles (as described above). In addition the mesh uppers breath very well and provide a small amount of compression on the top of the foot. This first version of the shoe is well thought out and, as it turns out, quite durable. They can be put into a regular washer and come out clean with no evidence of excessive wear and tear. I have washed these shoes in a washer more than six times and have observed no adverse effects.
In 2012, Salomon updated the colorway, but not the design. Version 2 was even more flashy with the ‘flame’ or ‘temperature scale’ fade color scheme, but otherwise the shoes are the same as Version 1 and therefore just as comfortable and supportive.
2013 has brought another colorway but also changes in the design- enough changes to warrant Salomon to call the new model the RX S Lab 3.0. The changes are significant and include what look like design elements from the Sense trail running racing shoes. I received a pair of the 3.0 model about three weeks ago and have been using them since.
As far as the changes, first is that the midsole is a much more curvy shape along the inside of the foot ala the Sense and Sense Ultra. There is also a much firmer counter at the heel (the counter at the heel on V1 and V2 was essentially non-existent). The shoe retains the same mesh uppers and a similar but re-designed outsole taking design cues from the Sense and Sense Ultra with chevron-like tread elements. The two pull tabs, one fore and one aft, to assist in pulling the shoe on are also still evident.
The midsole and footbed are similar to V1 and V2 with the same ‘cupped’ shape and edge support that works so well on the previous models. The shoe also has a similar ‘drop’ of 10-12 mm. A toe bumper and hexagonal mesh elements on the outer and inner part of the front of the foot are are added as well. It is not clear what either of these features are intended to do other than perhaps add some ‘style’.
Perhaps the largest change in the 3.0 version is the way the upper fits around the foot. The mesh upper fits much more snugly and combined with the firmer counter element the shoe goes on and feels like the Sense and Sense Ultra once on, i.e. it is a slipper-like fit. The upper is so snug in fact that it is a bit of an effort to pull the shoe on but once on it is very comfortable and supporting (just like, once again, the Sense and Sense Ultra). This ‘snuggness’ also provides a significant amount of compression on the top of the foot, something that I think Salomon has attempted to include in this model. This should give some additional ‘recovery’ advantage and appears to be a good idea.
I found the 3.0 to perform as good or better that V1 or V2 after long runs and after a 50 km race pace time trial. The support and additional compression seemed to help with rapid foot muscle recovery.
$90. Worth it since this shoe not only has a general casual use but it also gives nice support to aching foot muscles.
After three weeks of casual use of this shoe, it has performed beyond expectation and I expect to be using it for the foreseeable future. I can highly recommend that you consider this shoe when next purchasing a casual shoe for general use.