Salomon S Lab Sense Ultra 2017 – 1200 km Update

This is a short, and final, update on the performance of the 2017 Salomon Sense Ultra. As indicated in an initial review and a 300 km update, The Sense Ultra has performed exceedingly well… and this has continued  in many additional kms. I can say without hesitation that if you are looking for a shoe with outstanding technical capabilities along with “long run” comfort, the Sense Ultra should be at the top of your list.

Salomon S Lab Sense Ultra 2017 after about 1200 km of use on a 50/50 mix of rocky technical and buffed out single track in the Norther Rockies of Idaho’s central mountains. Even after this much use the shoes are entirely intact with plenty of remaining cushion.

In about 1200 kms of use on a 50/50 mix of rocky technical and buffed out single track in the Norther Rockies of Idaho’s central mountains, the Sense Ultra have held up very well and are still going strong with performance that has hardly diminished. From the excellent proprioception and outstanding fit to the optimized level of cushioning, I have experienced no significant changes. The outsole, as usual, shows very minimal wear even on the abrasive, rocky terrain that I typically run on here in the Northern Rockies.

Outsole of the 2017 S Lab sense Ultra after about 1200 kms of use. Hardly any noticeable wear except in the expected area of the lateral heel typical of wear with my running gait. Dry and wet traction is still at the highest levels and grip on rock continues to be excellent.

The shoe construction, materials, and fit are intact and continuing to perform at the highest levels. The Sense Ultra are the most durable shoes I have experienced in many years of about 3500 kms per year on rocky mountainous terrain. Very impressive.

I cracked out a new pair of Sense Ultras for a 25 km mountain trail race with 1000 m of climb and descent a couple of weeks ago and barely noticed the difference between the well used first pair and the new, out-of-the-box pair. Quite remarkable!

They were not as “rocker” to start with but the Sense Ultra exhibit a significant “rocker” after 1200 kms of use.

One concern I noted at the outset was a “wrinkle” that had formed on the forefoot upper mesh that looked like it might develop into an area that would see excessive wear and potentially develop a hole. That did not happen as the upper mesh material is durable enough to withstand the extra abrasion and strain of the “wrinkle”.

Area on the medial forefoot that developed a “wrinkle” early on. Associated concerns over premature wear-out have not materialized and the upper mesh fabric shows no evidence. of breakdown

If there is one issue that is worthy of note, it is the fit as it concerns steep (30%+ grade) and/or typical mountain grade (5-20% grade) fast (sub 6 minute pace) downhill running. I hesitate to bring this up as I question my abilities in downhill running, but I find that the larger toebox design of the Sense Ultra leads to excessive movement of the forefoot upon plant and concomitant loss of proprioception and increased frictional forces on the bottom and sides of the cutaneous forefoot. This is something that I have gotten used to but I think that the shoe would be improved if the forefoot fit was bit tighter. As the fit in the forefoot is quite a personal thing dependent on exact foot shape and other factors, my experience may not be generally applicable. I guess this is the type of thing that Salomon hopes to provide solutions to with the S Lab ME:sh program.

bottom line

I say with confidence that the Salomon S Lab Sense Ultra 2017 is a “sweet spot” technical mountain trail running shoe suitable for both training and racing with excellent durability that retains significant fractions of cushion throughout the life of the shoe. The shoe is well worth the price of $180 US on a cost per mile basis. I expect to get even more kms out of this shoe as it is still very comfortable at 1200 kms. Highly recommended!

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