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