Salomon Snowcross “Sense”

Having given up on Salomon offering a gaitered low drop winter running shoe with studs  for 2014/15 and after trying another brand without studs, I decided to “modify” the pair of Snowcross CS that I bought a couple of years ago. I stopped using these shoes soon after receiving them as the 11 mm drop was playing havoc with my Achilles and I felt like I was dragging my heel a bit more than was comfortable. While doing some work in my garage the other day I looked up and saw the Snowcross sitting on the shelf and with the imminent (and now, real) arrival of snow and ice it became abundantly clear that I should at least try to use these $200 running shoes.

Looking the shoe over and looking up the “official” drop as 29 mm / 18 mm or 11 mm it seemed possible to lower the heel sufficiently as to come close to a 4 mm total drop. This is accomplished by removing all of the heel lugs and leaving just the studs. Here are a few of images of the modification:


Starting point: essentially fresh sole. All of the heel lugs will be removed.


Finished product- heel lugs cut off and sanded smooth. Heel studs are anchored from the interior of the shoe so they are still quite stable; however only time and miles will tell.


Closer view of the hatchet job- finish work is not a strong suit.


With lugs removed, the studs are still at the same original height but they dig into the snow and ice. They are also ‘flexible” and the support structure deforms allowing for a much lower drop.


I have only had about 30 km of running on these shoes so this is preliminary but the lower drop is very apparent and very comfortable on snow. After a few years of running only in the Sense, these are now very comfortable for winter conditions. Note: I also switched out the original Snowcross insole with an insole from a pair of Sense 3s. I did this because the Snowcross insole has some structure at the instep and around the heel. The Sense insole is very minimal. The switch has eliminated some discomfort I initially felt.

As far as traction these shoes are about as grippy on snow and ice as is available. The gaiter keeps the feet warm but the use of the very inferior “ClimaShield” fabric is a negative. The CS is not waterproof or even water resistant and if you get near anything even approximating moist conditions your feet will quickly become wet and the CS does a great job of not letting any of that water out- exactly the opposite of what such a fabric should do. The net- your feet will become very cold very quickly. The Snowcross are best used in dry, snow and ice conditions, something that we, fortunately, commonly have here in the central Idaho mountains. I will put up an update after a couple hundred miles.

So… a stop-gap measure and hoping that Salomon will see fit to offer a true Snowcross Sense model soon…. with a GTX upper and gaiter please!! We know you can do it- look at the X-Alp.


Update 21 January 2015

Well after a freak fall whilst skiing, I injured my rotator cuff and have, unfortunately, been doing a lot more running this ski season. On the positive side I had forgotten how enjoyable winter running on packed trails can be. I now have about 300 km and 10,000 m of vert on the Snowcross “Sense” and can report that they are performing very well.


We have had a good bit of snow and lots of sunny days. This makes for conditions of packed powder alternated with icy conditions on those trails with southern exposure. I have also been out in 4-6″ of fresh powder on packed trails. All of these snow conditions have been relatively dry, so no experience to report with truly wet conditions. In all of the conditions I have experienced the Snowcross “Sense” have been outstanding- particularly w/r/t grip and stability. The shoes are warm and the trail performance gives one the confidence to stride out as if it were mid-summer. The removal of the heel lugs has not compromised grip and/or braking to any noticeable degree and the lower drop is quite comfortable for those who use low drop shoes.



22 thoughts on “Salomon Snowcross “Sense”

  1. I know that the drop it’s huge, i can’t really run in the SpeedCrosses, the Snowcross will be used as a very light and agile hiking shoe for the winter and light running.

    Hope for the 2015-2016 they will make a GTX version with a Feelcross build and not a Speedcross one.

    I tried the XA Pro 3D, it’s good for walking but horrible for running. Personally I feel much more confident in the North Face Ultra Guide with they’re quirky sole, I tried a prototype shoe from TNF, as the successor of the Ultra Guide and they felt great, in february I will come with details about them as they are classified for the moment.

    • Hi Andrei,

      I found the Snowcross to be a good hiking shoe but as I mentioned in the post the “CS” upper and gaiter are really a liability if it gets the least bit wet on the trail. At this point, GTX looks to be the only thing out there that works in such conditions for shoes.

      Hopefully some competitors will appear with a studded, GTX, low drop winter running shoe while Salomon decides whether or not to put up a new, improved model. It is a very niche market however and the economics of offering such a shoe is problematic. I think that Salomon have had only one or two runs of this shoe since all of those they are selling have the old graphics- as if they were made over two years ago and they are working through stock.

      I look forward to what you find with the new North Face product. In the meantime, hoping that you have some good winter runs!

      • I will post a picture at the appropriate time and a quick video as a Head2Head against the SpeedCross3. What can I tell you… it will be waterproof and the drop will be much more suitable for running than the current line of normal running shoes with deep lugged soles.

        Did you tried those fabric waterproofners? Like the Nikwax Leather and textile or the Tech Spray-on for rejuvenating the water ressistance of the upper from the same manufacturer.

        Had you considered the La Sportiva shoes?

      • Hi Andrei,


        I have tried waterproofing sprays and liquids in the past with little success, but not recently. Perhaps it is worth a try.

        I looked at the LaSprotiva Snowcross equivalent ( but it has a 10 mm drop and no studs. I also looked at the Ice Bug ( which has a 4 mm drop, studs, is light, but no gaiter. I could try a separate GTX gaiter but I have found that gaiters do not work well in deeper snow.

        Thanks for the suggestion.

      • Clearly Salomon has a product with great potential, and if those marketing and accounting specialists are letting the tech team alone to do they’re magic, they could really make a great product for this quite unexplored niche, the deep lugged and metal studded running shoes with water proof gaiter.

        Hope mine are not that water permeable, or the warranty dept. will never stop hearing about this 🙂

        Have you tried the S-LAB EXO TIGHT M and the S-LAB EXO JERSEY M? I use the Momentum Softshell pant and jacket but I could really use something more supportive.

        Good luck on your runs and keep up the good work!

      • Hi Andrei,

        Yes, I have used the Exo jersey and tight- for racing in cross country skiing. I put up an initial review last year ( and raced in it for the season. It worked fine, has some nice features (like the friction/grip sections to keep the tights in place) but I am still not convinced that the Exo does much.

        I now have the 2014/15 (non-S Lab) exo jersey and tight (the jersey is yellow and the tights are all black) and they are a bit heavier and are significantly warmer- so I will be using these for cold weather races.

        For training I can highly recommend the S Lab Motion Fit jacket and tights- they are great! Salomon really hit the mark with these pieces as they fit well, have good ventilation, and include Windstoper fabric on the fronts. I have been out in this set-up from -15F through +30F+ and find them to be extremely comfortable. At the colder temps I add a vest over the jacket and use a thicker underlayer. If I get a chance I will put up a review soon, but be assured that these S Lab Motion Fit pieces are far superior to the Momentum line.

      • Yes, that’s it, it’s the model that’s replacing the Ultra Guide, and gives the Speedcross3 a run for it’s money when it comes to fit, weight, grip, design and wow factor. As the time is wright, I will post a VS clip with it and it’s main rival.

  2. Nice ! Indeed they look good and I am eager to see a comparison with the Speedcross considering it is one of my best shoes ever (I consider the speedcross very similar to the Fellcross which are my technical go-to shoes for the last 2 years)
    Where can I see when you post the VS clip ? do you have a blog or a youtube channel ?

    • The Clip will be available as the shoe becomes official, that’s the start of the S15 season, in February-March.

      Is it me or the Fellcross it’s a light and S-Lab version of the SpeedCross. In my country, the SpeedCross and the XA Pro 3D are the best sellers of Salomon, but 75% of the shoes are bought for walking and at least hiking, the majority of the clients use them as normal city walking shoes.

      • Hi Andrei,

        I think the Fellcross is designed to excel in the type of terrain that is common in the Fells of GB. And, based upon what what I have been exposed to, they do excel in the Fells. As with many running shoes they are often not used for their intended purpose but I have no issue with that- to each their own!

      • Yes, at some point I think we will start seeing carbon fiber in the running shoes in some way (e.g. in the midsole like the X-Alp and/or in the chassis like the ski boots)… but that is purely speculation.

      • Clearly, from trusted sources, the carbon fiber is not arriving in the SS15 running collection, the X-Alp it’s killer boot, that only by design makes the Salewa, Garmont, Mammut, Scarpa, The North Face approach shoes look like prehistoric. The design resembles with a Nordic Ski boot or the SnowCross on steroids :), sans the metal studs on the sole.

        If they will launch a sneaker with carbon fiber, it will be top notch, like a ultra S-Lab product with a hefty price tag that make the current Sense Ultra look like an appetizer.

      • Hi Andrei,

        It may take awhile for carbon fiber (or some other performance-enhancing material) to be incorporated in the running line.

        If the ski boots are any indication then the prices of shoes with carbon-fiber structure will set new highs, just as the Sense did when it was first introduced. Of course the ski boots are made in the same factory as Lamborghini body panels… not a likely place for running shoe manufacturing, but who knows?

      • Andrei,

        That it right, the Fellcross is a lightweight version of the Speedcross but more than that! It has a lower drop (4 mm instead of 10+), a small lace tongue, and some other minor differences.
        I use them only on technical terrain.

        Hands down, there are the best on the market right now but I am really curious to see the Ultra MT soon.

    • Hi Anrei,

      Looks like a nice shoe and will definitely give the SpeedCross some competition. I need spikes here in the mountains for winter running, but the Ultra MT looks like it would be a good choice in mud.

      • The design of the sole screams bring on the mud like a pig inside a pig pen 🙂 The shape of the crampons and the layout is similar to the sole of the UltraGuide shoe, but only much more race tuned than comfort.

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