Salomon S Lab Wings 8 – Review

Just as we were headed out in the Westy for a four day adventure in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, our UPS guy delivered a new pair of S Lab Wings 8 trail running shoes. Perfect timing as the trails and ridges that we planned to run and hike in the Sawtooths are ideally suited to evaluating these shoes which are intended for use in technical mountain trail situations. So off we went!

I have used the predecessor S Lab Wings shoe quite a bit (about 500 miles) this past fall and into the spring but never consistently enough to allow for a confident review and follow-up series. Meanwhile, there have been numerous reviews of the S Lab Wings put up elsewhere. Although most reviews are very positive there were two problems with the S Lab Wings, and I experienced both. The first is that the insole would delaminate and slip forward leading to “bunching” in the forefoot area. The only solution is to remove the offending layer and find another suitable replacement (or nothing as some have done). The second problem is with wear of the mesh upper in certain areas leading to early wear out and holes that allow debris into the shoe. This was reported in numerous areas but was primarily happening at the fore foot flex axis on the upper mesh material above the TPU overlays. Mine wore out here at about 350 miles and the holes got so big that I discarded the shoes at about 500 miles of use- a figure that is much less than I typically get out of S Lab products. I experienced good results from the S Lab Wings particularly on technical trail and off-piste scree fields and rocky ridges. The shoe seemed like a good choice for a technical mountain trail race with demanding terrain and I intended to use the S Lab Wings for that purpose but the uppers just did not last long enough.

The grapevine indicated that Salomon was aware of the wear-out issue and would address it in the product refresh in Summer 2016. This refresh was announced in late December 2015 and is now available in the US.

S lab wings 8

The S Lab Wings 8 is a very slightly modified version and a direct replacement for the 2015 S Lab Wings shoe.

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construction

From all appearances the construction of the S Lab Wings 8 is exactly the same as the S Lab Wings, right down to the shape and design of the outsole, midsole, and most of the upper. It still has a 28mm heel/19mm toe ramp (9 mm drop) with a die cut EVA insole (which is, hopefully, part of an insole system that will not delaminate with use as the prior model did).  Thankfully speed laces and a lace pocket are provided- something that needs to be included on the S Lab Sonic as discussed elsewhere on this site.

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The upper mesh appears to be the same material that was prone to early wear-out in the prior 2015 model but there is one change- a polymer overlay in the areas that saw excessive wear. There is a patch of clear polymer laminated upon the mesh material on both the lateral and medial sides of the shoe.

Slide1 (8)

Perhaps Salomon has found that this overlay material is sufficient to increase the life of the mesh to standards typical of S Lab products, only time will tell.

The only other change to the shoe is in the ContraGrip outsole material- it has been upgraded to the new “Premium Wet Traction” ContraGrip compond that has been demonstrated by Salomon at shows since last summer. This is a good thing since many of the ContraGrip outsoles have had issues with wet grip on stream crossings and other, hard, wet surfaces. I look forward to testing out the performance of this new compound on the typical wet challenges here in the Northern Rockies.

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Salomon S Lab Wings 8 outsole made with the new “Premium Wet Traction” ContraGrip compound.

Although there may be some other changes incorporated into the S Lab Wings 8 as compared to the S lab Wings, I have not noticed them.

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Initial running impressions

Well, given the lack of any substantial outward changes to the S Lab Wings, the S Lab Wings 8 runs exactly the same. I have not put many miles on these shoes yet but there are no discernible differences with the Wings 8 in my limited experience.

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So if you liked the Wings, you will like the Wings 8. Hopefully Salomon have figured out the manufacturing and design issues that limited the life of the Wings and the Wings 8 will perform up to S Lab standards of wear. Stay tuned for updates.

price

$180 US. This represents no change from previous model and, given that this is a very light refresh, appropriately so.

bottom line

The Salomon S Lab Wings 8 is a lightly refreshed S Lab Wings with some added wear protection and an upgraded outsole material. This shoe should perform even better than the already highly performing S Lab Wings. See below as to why you might want to wait before you go ahead with a pair of these.

new salomon shoes to be launched at outdoor retailer (OR) in august

There has been some information released about the Fall/Winter trail running shoe offerings from Salomon that will be announced at OR in SLC in August.

First there will be an all-new S Lab Sense Ultra (it’s about time!)- not sure if it is the latest “Kilian” shoe without the integrated full-foot gaiter but the shoe is said to have an 8-9 mm drop ( a big change from the current 4 mm drop) and a lot more cushioning (another big change from the current Sense 5 Ultra model)- so if you like the S Lab Wings (or Wings 8) you might want to wait for this new S Lab Sense Ultra as it sounds like a very similar shoe to the Wings/Wings 8 and the shoe may have some additional features of interest- and a price to match.

There is also a S Lab Sense 6 for 2017.

It seems the Sense line will expand further with a “Sense Marin” model targeted as a training shoe for buffed trails (like those on the namesake Marin Headlands).

And the Sense Propulse will be replaced by a more refined shoe called “Sense Pro Max” for those who are looking for the superior Salomon fit on a highly cushioned shoe.

 

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40 thoughts on “Salomon S Lab Wings 8 – Review

    • Hi Frederic,

      I do not think you will notice any difference in the Wings 8 relative to the Wings, but let me know if you feel or see any differences. I had thrown out my pair of Wings so I could not do a side by side comparison. They are a great mountain shoe and hopefully the upper durability has been improved!

      Thanks for the link on the new Sense Ultra SS17- that is the shoe I got a glimpse of this spring only the pair I saw was a different colorway- looks like they are going dark for spring 17- perhaps in concert with their new “Black” program for S Lab. Also the drop on the new Sense Ultra is 8-9 mm and the stack height is increased due to a thicker triple density EVA and the attendant, much needed, cushioning. So you might want to consider it when it becomes available- I know I will be using them.

      • I look forward to the Wings 8 as Salomon has identified the issues and seems to have fixed them (slipping insole that I usually experience after crossing streams and side mesh that tears after only a couple miles)
        However, I am mostly excited for the 2017 Sense Ultra. I am not much a fan of the current ones as they lack cushion. I very much like the cushion of the Wings and they are the perfect shoes for me. I believe the Sense Ultra will be even more perfect!
        You can see a number of other new Salomon shoes here, it is going to be very interesting!! http://www.trailrunningreview.com/es/OutDoor-2016-Dia-2/a/227.html

      • Hi Frederic,

        Thanks for the link to TrailRunningReview. I have embedded a couple of the video previews above. No word on the weight of the S Lab Sense Ultra but I hope it is less than the quoted 270 gms for the Wings 8, otherwise they look like very similar shoes. I also like the looks of the S Lab XA Amphib- it might be just the right shoe for wilderness whitewater kayaking- we like to go for runs during multi-day wilderness trips and there are very few multi-tasking shoes that can be comfortable runners and be good water/kayak shoes at the same time.

      • This new line is indeed exciting, I had seen the S-Lab Sense Ultra on Francois d’Haene’s feet on the Western States 2016 pics but didn’t know if it was a prototype or not.
        Now, any details on the shoes that Kilian was wearing at HardRock 2016 ?

      • I have not heard anything about the Kilian shoes but they may just be the new Sense Ultra with a full foot gaiter although the outsole on the Kilian shoe looks a bit more aggressive than the outsole on the new Sense Ultra. I have never found gaiters to be particularly functional except in cases of post holing in snow as they will protect your ankles from the abrasion by the crust. But, of course, your shins will still take a beating. So the gaitered shoe is not that appealing to me given my past experience with an integrated gaiter on Salomon S Lab shoes back in 2006 when they lead to significant chaffing.

        I am looking forward to testing out the “premium” wet traction ContraGrip on the Wings 8 this weekend since I will be in some very wet conditions in some alpine lakes/swamps. I assume that the same compound is on the new Sense Ultra.

  1. Hello, and thanks for this first insight. As many, i’ve encountered the “slipping insole” issue with the Slab Wings, otherwise a pretty excellent shoe that drove me through last UTMB TDS without any harm.

    I was looking forward to its successor, but since I saw the Sense ultra video, and heard some feedbacks about it (from a former Salomon wearer that has gone to hoka due to chsionning…and found the cushionning of the future new midsole “amazing”…his word…a hoka wearer…), i’m thinking about holding back until it is released.

    Do you have any clue when it should hit the shelves? I’m looking for a cushionned shoe in order to run my first 100 milers this october…but i’m affraid the new sense ultra won’t be available then, nope?

    • Hi Jeremy,

      If Salomon follow their standard protocol, the new Sense Ultra will not be available to consumers until approximately January 2017. However, once in a while they will release a new model in the September/October time-frame. So I would recommend that you plan on using the Wings/Wings 8 for your first 100 miler and if the new Sense Ultra becomes available in September give them some miles before you commit to it for a long race (of course you could always start in it and switch to the Wings/Wings 8 if you need to and if your race allows drop bags). Hope this helps!

  2. While I am excited for this new Sense Ultra Model, I am worried that the mesh issue present on the S-Lab Wings version might be present as they didn’t add mesh reinforcement like they did on the Wings 8.
    Also, I would love to see a Sense Ultra SG as the SG versions have proven to be really perfect for my “mixed” runs (steep slippery and wet trails, presence of snow…)

    I have received my pair of Wings 8 and can’t wait to test the improvements/fixes. I was running in The Enchantments last weekend and the mesh broke on me with the S-Lab Wings SG as well as the insole that was slipping when running downhill.

  3. Robert,
    I forgot to mention that another nice improvement (IMHO) that Salomon made on the Wings 8 is the thicker tongue that is present in the S-Lab Sense 5 SG. I definitely prefer a thicker tongue as I have had problems with the Kevlar laces rubbing a bit much on the top of my foot.

    Frederic

    • Hi Frederic,

      Yes, I agree on the mesh… it is a weak point in any shoe. The lycra upper on the X-Series is very durable as I have yet to wear it out even after over 1000 miles (1600 km) in the very rocky mountains that I routinely run in. To contrast with this experience, I am already seeing excessive wear on the Sonic mesh at much lower mileage. I do not find the X-Series to be a hot or even a warm shoe with the lycra upper and they drain just fine. So I do not understand the focus by so many trail shoe companies on super light mesh upper materials that are right in the areas that are exposed to significant abrasion. Perhaps there is some other factor here but the X-Series has been the most comfortable and longest lasting trail shoe I have ever used (even though it was marketed as a “hybrid” trail/road shoe). Also, to make the thin mesh uppers durable Salomon have added a polymer overlay, something that just limits the reasons that the mesh is used in the first place- for enhanced breathability and drainage aspects; so this is a “bandaid” in the true engineering sense. Quite disappointing.

      With the trails that you frequent there in the heart of the PNW I can understand the importance of the SG outsole but you should probably give the Sense Ultra a try anyway because it may work out. Kilian had good luck at Zegama with a similar outsole that (I think) is going to be on the new Sense Ultra but then again he is probably on the edge a lot more than we would be comfortable with. The padded tongue is a great feature and one that is often overlooked as it concerns comfort over the long haul. It doesn’t add much weight but it surely adds comfort.

      Hope you had a good time in the Enchantments- I was up there maybe 35 years ago and really had a great series of runs through that amazing terrain! I need to get back there sometime soon.

  4. Hi Robert and thanks for an excellent blog!
    I have also been bitten by this “sliding insole issue” with Wings SG. So based on the comments above, I am not fully confident if that has been fixed in v-8 – has it?
    Thanks!

    • Hi JL,

      I am not sure- we have not had any rain here for over 6 weeks and, although I do cross streams and rivers regularly, the problem in the past has been typically experienced when the shoes stay wet for an extended period. If Salomon have not fixed the problem it is not acceptable since they have known about the issue since last summer. There in Finland perhaps you will be able to test it better than I have been able to here in the Northern Rockies. Let us know if you have any issues- Thanks!

  5. Hi Robert,
    I am using the older Wings SG version. Yes indeed wet conditions seem to bring up the issue. I had a longer session yesterday with lots of ascent/descent and noticed this for the first time (as it was raining). Haven’t noticed it on dry/short sessions. Especially descending really “rolls the insoles”. Otherwise I do love this older Wings SG version. I’ve had these only for few weeks, and will not buy new (v8) version if this has not been fixed.
    Thanks for your comments.
    Jarkko

    • Hi Jarkko,

      Sounds like it would be best to hold off until there is more info on the insole slippage for the Wings 8… or just go with the 2017 Sense Ultra when it becomes available since it appears to be a lighter version of the Wings 8- hopefully with a secure insole and no other “new” issues!

  6. Hello, Thanks for the great review…I am planning to buy a new trail running shoe…and I am so excited about the new wings 8, but I am afraid about the insole issue you mentioned in your review,so I wonder if there is any update on that issue…can you confirm that it is still there? Moreover as they mentioned at Salomon website sense 5 ultra is by half less durable than the wings is that true??

    • Hi GLS,

      As the comments here would suggest, the issue with the insole may not be resolved. Since the shoes have only recently become available we will have to see what develops. Here is the Northern Rockies we are now without rain for 7 weeks so I have not been able to test this issue on the the Wings 8 myself.

      As far as durability of the Sense 5, I have not heard of any significant issues although i have not tested that model personally.

      Stay tuned.

      • Hi GLS,

        Don’t know as I have not seen anyone specifically refer to the SG model as it concerns this issue. However, I doubt that the insole is any different on the SG as the only difference, as far as I know, is the outsole.

      • I have both Models (S-Lab Wings and S-Lab Wings SG) and they both have the same insole issue.
        I have yet to encounter this issue with the S-Lab Wings 8 but I’ve been running mainly on dry mountain terrain this past month

  7. While at the most recent Outdoor Retailer event I noticed that all the ss17 S-Lab trail runners with the exception of the S-Lab Sense Ultra (which features a thicker, more structured insole) still use the same problematic, paper thin insole found on the current shoes with the slipping issue. Also I spoke with three members of the Salomon sales team regarding this and all three were completely unaware that there is and has been a problem. It’s amazing that somehow despite numerous blog/review call outs, a rock star R&D team and my own calls to their customer service number this continues to be an issue unknown to Salomon.

    • Hi Jamie,

      Yes, that is very disappointing as it would seem that a “fix” is quite straightforward. I know that at least some of the Salomon team are aware of this issue so there may be other aspects to the issue that have prevented a “fix”, but that is pure speculation. The volume on the S Lab product is so low that I find it hard to understand why they cannot resolve the issue- very frustrating because the shoe is otherwise a great performer. I look forward to the 2017 S Lab Sense Ultra as it seems to be a lighter weight Wings 8- with a different insole as you have indicated.

  8. I did ask the customer service if the issue was solved…this is their answer:-
    Hello

    Thank you for contacting Salomon.com

    At this point we have no further information regarding this issue.

    Some of the customers just glued the insole slightly and it worked for them. We would recommend replacing the insoles with Salomon Ortholite ones. However, these are thicker.

    If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us back.

    Have a great afternoon!

    Best Regards,
    Pawel

    Salomon Consumer Service
    http://www.salomon.com

    glued it, or replace the insole, are you kidding me!!!!!!!!!!!! This shoe cost 180$ and still I do have to make my own repar to it ,and find by my own a solution to solve the issue, and pay an extra for their mistake,so it could be agood shoe, no thanks

    • Hi GLS,

      Thanks for the info.

      That is sad and, IMO, unprofessional. But perhaps you have contacted an untrained representative. I would take it up a level or two. I agree that a $180 shoe should not come with known defects and no offer for resolution.

  9. Hello,
    I’ve contacted my online retailer to ask for service as my old Slab Wings have the insole sliding issue.
    Great customer service, as they refund me without question, for an almost one year old pair of shoe.
    As I’ll be on a 100 miles begining of october, I coudln’t wait for the (very appealing! ) sense ultra, so I’ve gone with e Slab Wings 8 pair (I found the slab wings really great, despite the sliding insole issue).

    But as many others, it’s not raining a single drop here, so I cannot tell about the sliding issue…I’ll try to come back if I have the opportunity to run under the rain.

    Meanwhile, the Wings 8 are really good shoes. More confortable upper than last year slab wings, still solid and nimble (these are not Sense 😉 ) and improved traction on rocks.

    • Hi Jeremy,

      Thanks for the info! In general the retailers here in the US are similarly willing to refund at full purchase price if you have such an issue as the slipping insole on the S Lab Wings. We will just have to wait and see on the Wings 8, but it is a great shoe otherwise. Still, I will be waiting for the 2017 S Lab Sense Ultra and just using the Wings 8 when I really need it (like in more technical terrain). Let us know if it starts raining there and you get some kms in fully wet conditions… it won’t be really raining here for another 4-6 weeks.

  10. Hay, thanks for the review, just one question…are these shoes flexible??
    Because I do run on both concrete and trails…so as you already know you need flexibility and CUSHIONING for the shoes to be good for road running, so is it good enough for both road and trail runing..?

    Please take into consideration the harsh outsole it got…

    Thanks alot

    • Hi Black,

      Yes, they are flexible but I would not recommend the Wings 8 for road running any distance. They are shoes for technical mountain trail running and the dynamics are very dissimilar to what a road shoe would provide. The S Lab Sonic is a good hybrid road/trail shoe and perhaps you should take a look at that model.

      • I am afraid about the durability of the S Lab Sonic when using it on trail especially the out-sole, so what about the S Lab sense 5 ultra…

        if you can please provide me with other good choices for my situation..

      • Hi Black,

        Please read my 3 reviews outlining the high durability of the S Lab Sonic on trails. They are durable even in the very rocky and technical conditions that we have in abundance here in the Northern Rockies. The outsole is even more durable than the rest of the shoe. The Sonic is also a very comfortable and a great performer on the road (Max King runs in it for road marathons). Emilie Forsberg uses the Sonic and X-Series on the trail and in mountain races. So the Sonic is my recommendation for a hybrid road/trail shoe. Now if they would just put speed laces on it….

  11. I have passed the 100mile bar of running in the S-Lab Wings 8 and especially ran 30+ miles in very wet conditions (stream crossing, rain….) as the wet weather is coming here in the PNW.
    I can gladly report that I haven’t experienced the “insole bunching” issue that I experience in the S-Lab Wings of 2015.
    I will keep you updated as my future runs should continue to be wetter.

    Frederic

    • Hi Frederic,

      Great! Thanks for the info; I am certain that many others will be interested in your experience. Sounds like the wet weather has returned to your neck of the woods- we are still very dry but it is starting to cooling down. Best of running to you!

  12. Hoping you could provide some insight into durability after using them for the past three to four months? My current Wings are developing gaping holes in the mesh, and curious to know if their proposed fixed with the overlay actually helped or not? Thanks.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Unfortunately I will not be a good source for information on upper durability of the Wings 8. In August I switched to a cross country skiing focus in training and have really reduced my running mileage in favor of ski-specific activities like hill bounding with poles, roller skiing, strength, etc. Also, I am still wearing through a number of pairs of X-Series and Sonics which are very durable and therefore are lasting even longer than I thought they would. The Wings 8 are not seeing a lot of use unless I am going out into wet conditions which have been very limited this summer and fall here in Idaho. The wet traction is outstanding with the “premium wet traction” outsole and is one of the many reasons that the Wings 8 is superior. Above, Frederic reported that the insole issue that was present in the S Lab Wings seems to be resolved but I have not seen anyone post about how durable the new upper is in the Wings 8. Perhaps Frederic or someone else with enough miles will post here as an update.

    • Hi D,

      The S Lab Wings 8 are very well suited to any ultra length. They have an optimal amount of cushioning that allows for light weight and great proprioception whilst still giving enough relief from the pounding of a longer ultra. There is a large contingent of ultrarunners that insist that you need to have very high cushioning for any race longer than about 50km. There are a lot of runners who disagree with this approach and I am one of them. So you will get a number of different opinions on this but there are few other shoes that combine good cushioning with light weight and excellent proprioception. Of course there is the superior Salomon fit as well.

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