Salomon S-Lab Sense Preview

[We’ll be carrying the Salomon Sense in the iRunFar Store beginning in June (a month after they’re released). If you have a US address and would like to reserve a pair while supporting iRunFar(!), contact us and let us know what (US men’s) size you’d like.]

One of the most anticipated trail running shoes of 2012 was born out of failure… at least relative failure. After his third place finish at the 2010 Western States 100 (See Unbreakable), Kilian Jornet wanted a pair of shoes ideally suited to his needs on that course. He needed a light shoe that drained well and provided traction from snow to desert. The Salomon S-Lab team went to work on a solution. When Kilian crossed the finish line at the Placer High track to win the 2011 Western States he was wearing their solution on his feet. In May 2012, we’ll all have the chance to wear these shoes in the form of the Salomon S-Lab Sense.

[Visual folks, you can skip down to a video-based look at the Sense.]

Salomon S-Lab Sense

It’s hard to know where to start with a shoe like the Sense, so I’ll start somewhere simple – the weight. Conservatively, these shoes will weigh in at a svelte 6.5 ounces (185 grams) for a men’s US 9. Kilian’s size 7.5 is closer to 170 grams.

Since it’s all the rage these days, you probably want to know how the Sense stacks up height wise. Well, it’s a low-to-the-ground 9 mm in the forefoot and 13 mm in the heel for a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop. Anyone who’s seen Kilian run knows that he’s a featherweight, efficient, forefoot runner so why isn’t this a zero-drop shoe you ask? Well, because it’s designed to race 100 miles or more and Kilian wanted a 4 mm drop for the kilometers after mile 80. There’s something to be said for a little extra protection, even on a non-technical course.

Speaking of protection, the Sense takes a different approach to it. Rather than put a rock plate between the outsole and midsole (lessens outsole deformation) or between the midsole and the foot (lessens proprioceptive feel), the Sense’s protective layer is sandwiched in the middle of the midsole. Specifically, a thin TPU film-on-mesh called Pro Feel Film is used to provide feel while providing push-through protection in the midfoot. That means while windows (for lack of a better term) in the forefoot seemingly display a carbon-fiber shank, the forefoot is quite flexible.

As the outsole is the densest piece of a running shoe, it’s key to minimize its use when making an extremely lightweight shoe. The Sense sticks to that principle with a minimally lugged outsole. However, a relatively soft outsole combined with the location and flexibility of the Pro Feel Film are keys to the shoe’s concept of “Dynamic Traction.” Basically, the outsole is able to deform, thus, providing more apparent lug height than a shoe with a less flexible outsole, whether due to the outsole’s inherent stiffness or the location of a stiff rock plate.

Salomon S-Lab Sense - lateral upper

I can’t believe I’m so far into this preview and I haven’t mention what I feel to be the shoe’s strongest point, it’s fit. You see, Kilian really wanted a shoe that he could wear sockless, particularly for UTMB. The result is quite simply the most comfortable running shoe upper I’ve ever had on my feet. It hugs (dare I say makes out with) the foot. Admittedly, my runs in the shoe have been limited to a few dozen yards on carpet, but having slipped more than my fair share of shoes on my feet I’m confident that these will be a joy to run in come next May when they’re released. What’s more, I watched as others (mostly top ultrarunners sponsored by other companies) tried on the shoe and all seemed equally amazed at the upper. The Sense’s Endofit (as Salomon calls it) sock-like feel is the real deal.

Salomon S-Lab Sense - lateral upper

I also can’t directly speak to the drainage capabilities of the shoe, but the fine open mesh of which most of the upper is made should both breathe and drain excellently.

Salomon S-Lab Sense - upper mesh detail

A close-up look at the Salomon S-Lab Sense’s mesh upper.

One small change that folks familiar with Salomon’s shoes will notice the first time they lace up the Sense is that the “lace garage” for the Quicklace dongle is top-loading rather than the standard setup where the dongle is tucked upwards into a higher lace garage. The Quicklace itself was also modified to make it lighter.

Salomon S-Lab Sense - new lace garage

The Sense’s new lace garage.

One difference between Kilian’s personal version and the production version of the Sense is that the midsole EVA is exposed in the midfoot of Kilian’s shoe whereas it will be covered with outsole in the production version. This will provide a bit more durability for those of us who aren’t quite as gazelle-like as Kilian. I jokingly suggested that Salomon provide a pair of dotted lined labeled “cut here” on the outsole, but even without that I’m sure a few intrepid souls will take a knife to their Sense’s soles. (Perhaps, I can make pattern!)

HOWEVER, (and this is a really big however) one lucky iRunFar reader will get his or her very own pair of limited-edition Kilian Jornet S-Lab Sense months before the rest of us. Keep reading iRunFar for your chance to win a pair of Kilian’s shoes for yourself!

For those who don’t win a pair, the Salomon S-Lab Sense will be available in May 2012 for $200/€200 (price in £ still pending).

Salomon Product Manager Jeff Dill Presents the S-Lab Sense

Call for Comments

  • Are you drooling over the S-Lab Sense, too?
  • Which of the Sense’s features are you most looking forward to?
  • Which race would you most like to run in a pair of Sense next year?
Salomon S-Lab Sense - my fooot

Me wearing the Salomon S-Lab Sense after an “intense” testing session.

There are 184 comments

  1. David

    Nice review! When you say "the midsole EVA is exposed in the midfoot of Kilian’s shoe whereas it will be covered with outsole in the production version" are you speaking about filling in the cut-out that exposes the carbon plate on the outsole (with EVA foam)?

    I sure hope so because those cut outs in the mid/fore foot shout "rock collector" to me! The S-Lab XT Wings 3/4 are notorious rock collectors with its deep cut-out in the heel section. Its so bad that I filled it in with Dow crack-filler foam.

    1. Bryon Powell

      There's so much forefoot flexibility in the Sense that I think it would be quite difficult to keep gravel stuck in the Forefoot cutouts for very long. Should be a different story than a cutout in a much less flexible area (or shoe) like in the heel.

      Also, I think it's quite unlikely that a rock would initially lodge itself anywhere outside the three forward-most cutouts.

  2. David

    FWIW, runningwarehouse.com consistently has all Salomon shoes for 20% off – even brand new models. So ~ $160 is still not cheap but not quite as stratospheric as $200.

  3. Matt Smith

    I'm hoping that the fit of these is closer to the Salomon 'XR' line rather than their 'XT' shoes (wide in the toe box with a snug midsole/heel cup.)

    It will be nice to have a lightweight Salomon shoe that isn't stacked in the heel like the Speedcross – this looks like it will fit the bill.

    I'd like to use these in the Zion 100 in early May, so I hope these are released early!

  4. Rob Youngren

    I've been tempted to try some of the Salomon line, but at the prices I've seen it's a big risk to fork over good $$$ and NOT like the shoe. Then again they all seem to get good reviews and some friends that have worn them like them. So who knows? Still at the $150+ range I'd rather keep experimenting with Hokas. Also as another commenter said, those cut-outs do scream rock catcher; I run in a lot of gravel around here and those things would be jammed full of rock in no time.

  5. JH

    Thanks Bryon, nice preview! Just a question because I lack proper understand and am I curious: say you like the idea of a zero-dropped shoe, but want more protection due to retrain or distance. Why wouldn't you raise the whole shoe to retain the zero-dropped feature? The drop and the protection seems to be different issues, but are often taken to be the same thing, which I don't understand. (Yes, for the heel they are I guess, but why change the drop when all you want is more protection?) I guess putting too much protection under the toes reduces ground feel too much? Would love some insight into that, if possible. Thanks!

    1. Bryon Powell

      JH, not having talked with Kilian about this, I can only make generalizations. While there's a large group of people who want zero-drop shoes these days simply because they are zero drop, others like lower stack height shoes while caring a bit less about the relative stack of the shoes. For them, they'd prefer a lower profile shoe over added another 4 mm to the forefoot simply so make a shoe zero-drop.

      On a purely personal note, I don't "like the idea of a zero-dropped shoe." I wish every cool new shoe like this was available in an 10-11mm drop version so that I could comfortably wear this. Again, that's purely personal… I understand plenty of folks like low- to no-dropped running shoes.

      1. JH

        Thanks for the reply. Yes, it's first of all a very individual thing. People like different things which I think is great. However, I've seen minimalist/natural running people/shoes take some heat from some experienced trail people because of the rocky retrain that some people run on. They need the protection they say, because of the rocks etc. So, minimalism is not for them etc. But, to me, what the natural running movement is really all about is the mid-foot strike and the reduced shoe drop. All of which you can do irrespective of stack height which helps with protection from rocks etc. Anyway, I'm just trying to get these things sorted out myself. Thanks for your input, and these shoes look pretty sweet although on the pricy side.

          1. Dominic

            Personally, I've found that a sweet spot of a drop around 4-6mm helps for mountain trails.

            -When I have a thick 8-10mm heel, it helps around long gradual fireroad descents, but is less precise in technical singletrack, and deadweight on a climb (which accounts for a lot of time in a race).

            -On a zero drop shoe, turnover is slightly labored as the foot has to overcome a flat plane to toeoff. As far as racing goes, this is a bit of a disadvantage for myself. Efficient toeoff is a big part of the "fast" feeling in a shoe.

            -The 4-6mm drop performs great on technical mountain trails because it allows a very responsive, tactile feeling of control in a thin forefoot package (mt110) while still giving a slight amount of protection in the heel for agressive downhill running and quick turnover in the flat.

            Hoka's are zero drop in the static state, but encourage toe off and "drop" in the dynamic state dipping in the forefoot and pushing the heel up. Drop in this sense is relative to the platform it's on. The 4mm drop on the MT110 is very slight and will probably give better technical minimalist performance with it's firm foam than other 4mm drops on the market with soft foam.. but as always, don't knock it till you try it.

            1. Bryon Powell

              Dominic, this is probably the most articulate description I've read or heard of the (admittedly subjective) advantages/disadvantages of various heel/toe drops. I just got off the phone with Anton and Erik and they both shared that the 4mm area was a sweet spot for them for their everyday running as well as racing. It's quite interesting to hear so many guys – you, Anton, Erik, Kilian – who (1) are very well informed/educated about shoes, (2) have extensive, if not custom, shoe arsenals at their disposal, and (3) are training and racing on the trails at the highest level that have the same feeling – zero is too little/to inefficient while 8-10mm interferes with footstrike, reduces ground feel, and adds unnecessary weight.

              Thanks!

      2. Oscar

        My humble opinion about this, is that, regardless of having a thicker or thinner midsole, the heel to toe differential is specially noticed and affects your gait more, when you are tired running and lose your form; this applies to forefoot – midfoot runners. When you get tired, you start to lose the good form and tend to run on your heels. When this happens, having a bit of differential and maybe a thicker heel helps.

        I hope this model comes in big sizes, I cannot wear Salomon cos they are up to 14US, and I need just a 15!!! Meanwhile I will stick to my rogue racers or my trail gloves.

        1. Sam Winebaum

          Great preview or a fantastic new shoe. The low weight is incredible and the "rock plate as a fabric in the midsole makes great sense. I agree with Oscar and Bryon. For many of us who are not "forefoot or midfoot" runners naturally a zero or very low drop, even 4mm can become an issue as the miles pile on and form starts to slip. While I had wonderful runs in the Hoka Bondi B up to 13 miles, at Boston when combining low drop (4mm), soft foam with too fast a start they ended up being a diaster for me. I was told by Hoka that the strike point on the Bondi is further forward than their other models. I ended up way way back on my heels. By comparison I am really enjoying the Brooks Pure Flow for road work, also 4 mm drop or so, I believe their foot strike point is exactly in the right place under the midfoot and the inverted cut off heel helps a great deal. Even tired I have no sense of being on the heels and minimal wear back there. Hard to tell if the S-Sense heel is also inverted or cut off. Bryon? I wonder how these would feel on the road. Imagine the foam outersole might wear quite fast but….
          http://www.samwinebaum.blogspot.com

  6. Mykl

    Bryon,

    Thank you for your informative review. Since I use the Speedcross 3 shoe, I am unlikely to give these shoes a try. However, a couple of features stand out: the endofit and the softer toe box to reduce black toenails.

    Running sockless is not my style, but if I could reduce wiggle room then I think I could gain better control of the terrain. Black toenails are a byproduct of running (Right?? Or it is just me?) but if I could reduce them then I'd feel a lot better.

    If I were to wear these, I would use them for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50-miler.

    Thanks again, Bryon.

    1. David

      One often overlooked feature for sockless runners is the insert sockliner. If it grabs at all its gonna cause massive blisters. Salomon must have updated or customized their OrthoLite Sockliner because these is no way you can run sockless with the sockliner currently used in the XT and XR series.

      1. Mykl

        Thanks, David. You make a valid point; however, I WILL be wearing socks. I learned my lesson from running in the Vibram Five fingers. Ouch!

      2. Bryon Powell

        The sockliner in the Sense is completely different from the XT and XR series. Again, time will tell how it performs, but it appears to be quite comfortable for sockless running… that's what it was designed for.

  7. Drew

    Wow! $200! How is it that the New Balance MT 110 will still be in the $85 range, and this is $200. That much and one still has to put up with the stupid quick lace. Uh…maybe the Euro/Dollar exchange rate is worse than I thought.

        1. Art

          I currently wear Salomon S-Labs.

          the first thing I do with a new pair is cut off the quick lace and squeeze in a regular lace. just a personal thing.

          1. Bryon Powell

            Gotcha. I've got a non-Salomon trail shoe with a similar alternative lacing system that I might replace with traditional laces. It's definitely a person-by-person and shoe-by-shoe thing.

  8. Doug (aka Snurfer)

    As a long time Salomon user I can't help but notice the resemblance to the XA Pro…

    If this shoe has a similar fit to the XA (narrow heel, wide toe box and higher arch) I'd definitely give it a try. Particularly at 6.5 oz….

  9. ScottTomKretz

    I've used one pair of Salomon shoes, the XT wings 2, and was severly disappointed in the ride, the fit…nearly everything about. Some of the more recent Salomon offerings (i.e. XR Crossmax, XR Mission, Speedcross 3) have me wanting to jump back into the Salomon brand and see how the feel. Now, the sense has me wanting to check out Salomon shoes again even more so, but those price tags leave me weary.

    1. Doug (aka Snurfer)

      In my experience the Wings 2 was the worst of the many Salomons I've owned (with the XA Comp a close second).

      The Wings 2 was the first and only speed lace shoe I've owned were the laces broke. This after both laces became badly frayed… It was heavy and had way too much foam under foot… Clown shoe comes to mind…

  10. Prince Abu Dabi

    I heard that Salomon is releasing a complete Killian runner 'signature' package – shoes, shorts, hat … the works …for $1999.00 US. I'd like to order it in time to wear at the Rock N' Roll Marathon so is there a release date? I am also thinking it would be cool to have the housekeeping staff at the villa all wearing these shoes. That would be very sharp.

    1. Prince Abu Dabi

      … oh, sizing. My wife's bodyguard wears a size 16 in an 8E width … do they come with width options? I guess I could send him to the S-Lab for a personal fitting, but oil revenues are down and we are cutting back a bit on expenses like everyone.

  11. Dean G

    Bryon,

    I suspect you didn't create iRunFar because you dreamed of writing about shoes for a living, but I just wanted to say that when you do write about an upcoming piece of equipment, you really do a great job.

    I share the feelings of others that $200 is an awful lot to spend on what may amount to a racing shoe…

    …and yet I suspect if the shoe performs as you describe, there will be plenty of customers.

  12. Ben

    As previously mentioned, $200 was all I had to hear as well. I go through several pair of trail runners per year and since my budget isn't getting bigger, I can't justify getting a pair of these unless they'll last 1000 miles or more.

    Also, like David said about the forefoot being a rock collector, I have to agree. NO matter how flexible it is, there are some pebbles that will work their way in there and not back out. Time will tell, but that's not an attractive feature. The rest of the shoe looks and sounds great. Especially the low weight and lower drop. About time Salomon!

  13. Jeff

    You can bet I'll be entering for a shot at a free pair – but for $200…at that price Hokas are bit higher on my "need to try" list…

  14. Kim

    Bryon: Thanks for the thorough review of the Sense. I'm curious how the toe box compares to the Speedcross. It looks roomier (which would be nice). The price of Sense (makes NO SENSE) is way out of range though, even with RW 20% discounting. I think Salomon is getting a little out of touch with their everyday runners–the ones that actually pay money for their shoes. If Killian actually had to pay for his own shoes perhaps he would complain a little about the price too….

    I'd like to see Salomon rework the Speedcross just a little to lower the drop a bit and widen the toe box. Doesn't have to be uber-light or have drain holes. And keep the price around $100. Yeah, right!

    1. Bryon Powell

      I'm not sure that Salomon is getting out of touch with everyday runners. This isn't built or billed as an everyday shoe for everyone. Salomon has the XT Wings, the XR Crossmax, the Speedcross, and other models in its current lineup. Those are everyday shoes for the masses and are priced as such. The Sense is a highly technical racing shoe.

      Whenever I hear folks (not just you :-) ) mention the high price of a specialty running item I think of cycling. Trek can make a <$500 road bike AND a >$11,000 road bike. No, we can't all afford (or need) the $11k bike, but Trek offering such a bike doesn't hurt folks wanting a $5k, $2K, or $500 bike. In fact, the technology and advancements made in the cutting edge products trickle down and inform the design of more affordable products. It's the same (although on an extremely tighter scale) and it's win-win in my book.

      1. Panos from Greece

        The bottom line bryon is that…it is just a running shoe….

        Maybe it is well built, but other shoes are well built too, at half the price.

        It will not make you a faster or a better runner by itself.

        It will not make you feel better or look better.

        From my point of view, Salomon guys asks us to pay for their marketing (kilian's quest, sponsored athletes, sponsered races, andvertisement).

        I suggest to them to keep kilian at bay for 2012. That would save them a couple of thousands euros and could lower the prices on their product.

        Not that i care much. There are many very good shoes and products out there

        at the same quality and better price.

      2. Anonymous

        "Those are everyday shoes for the masses and are priced as such. " Sorry, sounds sooooooooooooooooooooooo elitist. For the 'masses' … oh brother.

        1. Bryon Powell

          Please read the phrase in context. Perhaps the phrase was written too quickly, but the point is that there are different consumers and most product companies, whatever their field, have a range of products for various consumers at various price points. For years one could go to Apple and get a MacBook that worked for the majority of consumers (is that better than "masses"?) or a MacBook Pro is you needed more and could afford it. It's not elist. It's different products for different folks.

          Ps. Your trolling is not appreciated.

          1. Drew K

            Count me among those initially shocked at the $200 price tag!

            While I understand your point, Bryon, I also think our expectations vary between soft and hard goods.

            At this point, it’s tough to really understand any of the exciting shoes that will soon be coming on the market. Naturally, I think most people will immediately compare the Sense to the MT110. From my reading, it looks like the MT110 and Sense are essentially two shoe companies takes on the same concept. While that may not be an entirely fair comparison, they both are reported to have outstanding uppers, 4mm drop, lightweight, responsive, and endorsed by some of the top names in the game. However, the premium for the Salomon version is an astounding $115 more than the NB version.

            From that vantage point, it’s hard to wrap my head around the price of the Sense.

            Once I can try both shoes, however, that perspective may change!

  15. Tony Mollica

    Bryon:

    A wonderful review, as always!I got a big kick hearing Jeff refer to Killian as "one of our best runners". One?

    I'll ask my usual question. Will these shoes come in wide sizes? I sure hope so!

    Thanks Bryon!

  16. David

    Brian,

    About the midsole foam, from the photos and video, they appear very soft – softer than anything previously offered from Salomon. I'm curious if they're almost "squishy" like the Saucony Kinvara's?

  17. Alex

    The thing I like best about them, potentially, is the chance to win a pair. God knows I love everything about how that shoe looks, and I imagine it runs like a dream. But in a world were the MT110 retails for $85, and I can get a pair of Rogue Racers for $65 (on sale), this would be an impossible purchase to justify.

  18. Corey

    Brian, how does the toe box on these compare to the NB110? I see them as filling a very similar niche and for me it comes down to fit above all else. I like the idea of the MT110 but the NB last, even the minimus last, tends to rub against my pinky toes. If I have to throw money at the problem to make it go away, by buying something like the Sense, I might be able to live with that if the fit is better.

  19. keith mason

    Re the "drop" issue.I just got the Newton MV2 (road shoe) and it is "zero" drop.However' it comes with a 3mm "shim" to go under the sockliner. This helps adjust to zero drop and the potential for achilles problems for those who have been in a 10-14 mm drop shoe.

  20. Tom Jones

    Love this shoe and happy to pay the bill for something of this qualilty. For me the key is the rock plate within such a flexible shoe, minimal footwear have helped me adapt and run pain free however on rocky technical trail by feet pay the bill. This is the answer and I will be using this shoe which seems perfect on the UTSW 100 miler in June 2012

    Saloman Bravo on your commitment to giving us the best tools for the job

  21. Sam Winebaum

    In addition to low drop compared to other Salomon we are dealing with a very light shoe with importantly a stack height (sole and midsoles) according to the review of 9/13. By way of comparison the New Balance MT 10 is 10/14, Saucony Peregrine with pronounced hard rubber lugs is 20/24, Brooks PureGrit 19/23 and Kinvara 17/21. This is a pretty minimal trail shoe even though it looks substantial in the pictures. So I am going to assume that this is going to a firm ride with good trail feel. The question will be is how effective the embedded midsole rock fabric is going to be not only for protection but to give some lateral stablity. Will this plate and low heights keep the ride from being as squishy ( I agree) as some have said about the Kinvara? I think so. Clearly this is a racing machine so I would assume the outsole is going to wear faster than hard carbon rubber.

  22. Tom Jones

    When all is said and done this is the only shoe, hell it's the only bit of kit from any sport I've ever been involved in over the last 47 years of my life, that has inspired me to train harder just to do it justice

  23. Moogy

    Can't wait to try them…saving up now, unless a pair happens to arrive at my door-step! I think that I'll give them a go on my treadmill over the summer and then for Run Rabbit Run. Wahoo!!

  24. Jeff M

    Big fan of iRunFar and your new book (thx for the autographed copy). I have referred it and loaned it out to several other runners! Thx for your hard work (as evidenceed by your facebook postings!).

    Very excited about the Sense. Look forward to trying on a pair when they become available! Have you reviewed the new Asics Gel-Fuji Racer (blog address and post is cut/paste below)? It seems to be somewhat similar (2 oz's heavier, 6mm heel-to-toe drop, rockplate, etc.). Any chance we could talk you into a shoe s-de-by-side comparison on new the trail minimal shoes?
    http://blog.runningwarehouse.com/...

    Not long ago, you couldn’t find a trail shoe under 10 oz. But in 2011, our trail shoe sales have been dominated by sub-10 oz models: New Balance MT101 and MT10 Minimus Trail, Saucony Peregrine, and Inov-8 f-lite 195 and f-lite 230. So it’s no wonder that Asics has come out with a trail shoe based on elements from its road racing line.

    The Asics Gel-Fuji Racer weighs in at a reported 8.7 0z (men’s sample size 9.0) which includes a forefoot rock plate and looks to be a neutral hybrid of the Hyper Speed 5 and DS Racer 9 with trail components. The outsole pattern of the Fuji Racer follows the Magic sole pattern from the upcoming Gel-DS Racer 9 and Gel-Hyper Speed 5, but is more filled in and utilizes a more durable tread material. The midsole is composed of Solyte for a resilient ride and a Trusstic System helps maintain midfoot integrity and proper flex points. A thin rock plate is sandwiched above the outsole to help protect against stone bruising. A minimal upper takes advantage of welded overlays for lightweight support and delivers great breathability and drainage.

    We are excited to see how this shoe runs, because, on paper, it looks dynamite. But like you, we have to wait for its February 2012 release date. The Asics Gel-Fuji Racer will have an MSRP of $110 and will be available in both men’s and women’s versions with the same colors and graphics. (Estimated stack height: 22mm heel, 16mm forefoot).

  25. Tom Jones

    When I was self employed I spent £1000's of pounds on tools and equipment that enabled me to do my job a little better. These tools did not inspire me, add to my quality or life or fill me with any added sense of joy.

    Why then should I think twice about $200 for a shoe that allows me to increase my satisfaction in something that I truly enjoy – running technical rocky trails

    1. james varner

      "Why then should I think twice"? because there are other shoes out there that could provide the same enjoyment for half the price. i don't see anything so different about these shoes that would justify the huge price increase from solomon's other shoes(and from the entire running shoe market in general). in my opinion that's too bad b/c they sound like good shoes.

      1. Tom Jones

        There are lots of others shoes but I suspect the detail and the work gone into produce this shoe – minimal with excellent feedback, good functional rock protection that does not compromise flexibility along with extreme comfort does not come cheap. Quality costs and I honestly trust in Saloman to charge the right price for the quality of the shoe. I am not one to expect 5 star quality at 1 star prices – people that do normally end up exploited and out of pocket or very disappointed

        I enjoy running in the neo trail shoe, I used to love the baregrip 200 but get these shoes on rocky technical trail and the rocks do damage to your feet, that damages your gait, that damages your performance. Over 10k you get by over 100 miles you need performance kit

  26. ChrisG

    Thanks for the preview!

    Darnit. I thought I had broken my shoe habit. The Sense looks really cool. Will there be a women's version or is my wallet safe?

    1. Sam Winebaum

      I agree a lot of dough for 6.5 oz. This said I have heard from shoe manufacturers that 50K pairs of a model or related models is what brings the costs down and I guess this # applies to anything made in limited quantities by old fashioned manufacturing used to making millions of the same for Nike. I doubt this shoe will sell anything close to that. And that flexible rock plate embedded in the midsole is "new" as is that sock less liner and not what the factories are used to so likely Salomon is being charged through the nose to make Sense. Of course we are all talking about the shoe here so a decent number of crazies will pay the price so you never know. I might be one of them..

      1. Bryon Powell

        Also, for what's to be a relatively niche product, Salomon built a new last (not mentioned in the review) and invested heavily in R&D. There were something like 30 early prototypes. They made something like 15 pairs each with its own toe and heel stack heights so that nothing was taken for granted. When Jeff Dills talks about this shoe being built from the ground up he's not exaggerating.

        1. Sam Winebaum

          Agree with you Bryon that innovation is expensive and I think there may be some really innovative new elements in this shoe: upper, sockliner, and midsole embedded flexible plate. Brooks Pure line has in my view quite a bit of innovation but with more a bit more conventional manufacturing likely used and certainly greater numbers and comes in around $100. All of this said Salomon is not a start up with no leverage and setting the price to $200 maybe pushing it. It seems the low run small companies such as Hoka and Newton can bring this level of innovation in low volumes in at the now "bargain" price of $150 and the big guys such as Brooks can come in at around $100.

          1. Ben Nephew

            I would guess that the materials and labor involved in the sockliner are a significant part of the price. If you plan on wearing socks with these, you may be paying for something that you are not going to use.

  27. Traveler9

    I was actually excited about this shoe UNTIL I read the review and saw the closeup pics. Didn't know it was going to be this minimal. It has less midsole than you'll get for $85 in the NB MT110 in Februrary. This shoe is barely more than a road racing flat, and they're asking $200 for it. No way.

  28. Keith

    200 bucks?

    This seems like another perfect shoe for the rich white triathlon crowd (they are the only people I see wear Solomons). It would be great marketing if Solomon were to toss in a free electric razor so those dudes can have smooth legs at every race.

  29. Roger

    Sounds positively tumescent. Can we take it then that Salomon are finally making shoes that work as well as their technical apparel and packs and that the heel on this one finally doesn't feel like a leather school shoe and that the toe box isn't designed for people with 4 toes or less?

    #hopeful.

  30. Bob

    This really is nothing new, very similar to TNF's Arnuva of several years ago. I feel an asterisk is in order here – If you do not run with the mechanics of Killian, these shoes are not for you at long distances. These seem most directed towards the 5ker's with deep pockets that want magic shoes.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Bob, I won't speak to your latter thoughts, but this is nothing at all like the Arnuva. The Sense is a hair over half the weight of the Arnuva, lacks a chassis, is very flexible, and has a 4mm vs 11-12mm heel-to-ratio of the Arnuva.

    1. Bryon Powell

      As has been explained in full numerous times on iRunFar, less shoe does not equal to less money. I was just talking with an athlete who runs for another company today and he explained that a non-production model of a minimalist shoe he ran in a few summers ago would have cost $300 if that version had gone to market. Most companies won't bring products with such costly material or construction techniques to market. Salomon is in this case.

      1. antirabbit

        Isn't the real point here that the proper research and material choice has gone into this to make a shoe that is this light in weight, that has this level of foot comfort, that has this innovative level of protection? The equation of it weighs less, must use less materials = a lower cost shoe is not relevant here. That equation doesn't work for much of anything worth paying for. Shoes, bikes, cars, luggage, you name it. The focus on minimalism in this shoe is not "to be minimal", but the result of methodical research that determined the aspects that lent to a certain mid-sole thickness, stack height, and overall weight of the shoe. Its surprising that this shoe isn't double the price.

  31. Seamus Foy

    $200 is ridiculous, and yet there is a very good chance I'll pay it (once I find some kind of sale). I completely understand why some people are immediately critical when they see the pricetag. I would think the same thing, and did when I first saw Salomon's line and prices.

    Then I got a pair of CrossMax XR, which isn't the best shoe for my needs, but regardless the quality is outstanding! I've run a few hundred miles in them, and they are still in perfect condition.

    If Salomon has managed a minimal shoe that is highly flexible, while still protecting your foot, and if the quality is of the same quality as the CrossMax, it'll be worth the price tag. I'm picky about shoes, and I've never found anything in the same league as my Salomons. I've been eyeing the SpeedCross, but I may have to wait for these.

  32. Anonymous

    It's too bad they don't make any of their S-Lab shoes in anything bigger than a 12. I won't buy any Salomon products until they stop discriminating against people with larger feet.

  33. Chris Cawley

    200 dollars is pretty steep, but I'm pushing 300 miles on my most recent pair of Speedcross 3's, which includes 100 miles in a go at The Bear 100 in September. They are still feeling fresh enough for a long run, with almost no notable wear/tear on the upper or mid/outsole. Salomon makes some pricey shoes but compared to other shoes I've had in abundance lately–Mountain Masochist, Rogue Racer, MT100–they last almost twice as long. If I hold a Speedcross with 300 miles in one hand and a Mountain Masochist with 200 in the other, the Salomon is clearly in better shape, and it is plainly apparent that Salomon shoes cost more because they are built with superior materials and much higher quality construction.

    1. Keith

      That is all you get out of your shoes? I get more than 1000 miles out of my 101s. I have at least 1500 on my Lunarracers. I think you might be switching out shoes to often. All of th shoes you have mentioned should get more than twice the mileage out of what you are getting.

      1. Chris Cawley

        My 100's were worn through to the outsole after 400 miles, and I didn't bother getting my other pair to that point as portions of the upper were falling off and the tread was already bare where I wanted it not to be. Mountain Masochists and rogue racers are a total joke; big toes blown out on all four individual shoes, collapsed midsoles and stripped lugs, without getting to 200 miles each on the RR's; soles delaminating, wearing out completely, and uppers tearing on the MM's after 3-400 miles. Good thing montrails and NB's are relatively cheap, and returnable at my preferred shoe retailer.

        I'm hoping Salomon makes a lower drop shoe in something more affordable, but with the same quality construction found in the speedcross, xt lab, and other high end shoes.

  34. Connor Williams

    200$ is a lot of money. There is no doubt about that. But to be honest i dont feel this shoe will be any better than the mt110 or any other in the category. Salomon always makes overpriced shoes that people think are way better because they get 300 miles out of them. 300 miles isn't anything on a pair of shoes. My minimus trails are now at 450 and still doing 20 miles in them. I don't think you can be a minimal runner with such a consumer lifestyle. Minimalist is more than what your stack height is. Its the way you view every aspect of running. Once there are compression lines on a shoe doesn't mean its time to replace them. When you only have 9mm to compress you don't notice the difference as much as you do on shoes like the Kinvara where you have 21mm, so you can put more miles on them with out feeling like they are wore out. These may be a great shoe but they are turning alot of people off with the 200$

  35. MikeZ

    I wonder if the $200 price tag comes with some kinda manufacturer's warranty. My previous experience with Salomon shoes (S-Lab 4 and Speedcross 3) had been mixed. Great traction and fit but the upper gets destroyed over a couple of technical run especially when the trail is muddy and rocky. The Salomon Sense's upper does not appear to be reinforced judging from the pictures and it's weight (lack of). I can always stay on the dirt road and run around the mud holes, or i can just stay on the road. Venting aside, I think it's fair to say that unless there's some kinda procedure put in place to ensure the longetivity of the shoes I think it's going to be hard for many of us to fork out 200 bucks for a pair of racing flats with slightly better than road shoe traction.

  36. dogrunner

    I'm looking forward to these and hope they finally have a shoe that fits wider in the forefoot / toebox.

    Price is on the high side but it will be worth it if they fit and "disappear" in use. I have yet to find the "perfect" shoe and have tried a lot. Running is still cheap compared to my other favorite sport (mtn biking).

  37. Dean G

    There are a lot of radical design solutions in this shoe. Stuff that will either be a one-off, or if they actually work, wil become a template for designers at Salomon and other shoe companies. Rock protection with a flexible foot that allows for a tread that will deform and grip on bad surfaces and yet stay unobtrusive on hard pack? 100 mile blister protection fit? Under 200g?

    I think you get what you pay for with this radical new shoe, IF (and this is a real if) these new Ideas actually work for the average runner — and not just some super-human runner like Kilian.

  38. James

    Paid 150 for Bondi B – they are at 500 miles right now and still going. They also feel great at 100 miles (for ME). If these make you run and feel better, the price may be acceptable. The market will dictate whether Salomon can command this price long term.

    A different question but wondering if there is a relationship with Salomon – the store offers mainly Salomon gear, the review of products are often Salomon, and your book cover features Salomon shoes.

    1. Bryon Powell

      James,
      I have great relationships with lots of companies. Aside from Salomon, I'm incredibly thankful – as iRunFar's readers should also be – for my relationships with the likes of La Sportiva, Montrail/Mountain Hardwear, New Balance, The North Face, and so on. (Deferring to alphabetical order on that list.) Although each of these relationships is different – it's these relationships that get iRunFar products to test and possibly review (we receive far more products than we review), access to product managers/designers for in-depth technical knowledge, as well as the means for me to make iRunFar a (much more than) full-time job. Below I'll address the specific points you raise.

      The current selection in the iRunFar Store happened quite serendipitously. After merely having a couple iRunFar-branded shirts and hats in the iRunFar Store heading into the summer of 2010, I was offered the chance to carry Salomon's Exo Calf, a product I'd long wanted purchase for myself, but had found myself unable to buy anywhere in the US. The Salomon selection in the store grew from there (through a standard retailer relationship), as I found it was a way to help make the media side of iRunFar possible. As someone who started iRunFar and it's store with approximately no cash and having yet to take out a loan, the growth of the store has been entirely organic reinvestment of sales. Given that model, I simply can't bring in all the products I want nor can I take on much risk at any time… so in the short term I generally stuck with products that worked. That said, I'm happy to share that I'll be adding a significant selection of Montrail/Mountain Hardwear product in the coming months. I'm sure the product mix in the iRunFar Store will continue to diversify as (1) I am able to become a retailer for additional vendors (it's neither fast nor necessarily easy to become a retailer – I'm still waiting for Mountain Hardwear product many months after starting the process), (2) I learn what product mix works, and (3) as my thoughts on which products are the most impressive (and are able to bring into the store – see point 1) changes.

      As for as product reviews, we've reviewed two Salomon shoes in the past 15 months which is on par with plenty of other manufacturers. Off the top of my head, I know I've published more shoes reviews of New Balance, a company with which neither I nor iRunFar has ever had any sort of financial relationship, than Salomon during that time. It shouldn't be that surprising that we've reviewed a bunch of Salomon apparel as I've got a ready supply (of products I felt good enough about to bring into the iRunFar Store) in my office.

      As for the cover of Relentless Forward Progress, I'd long ago seen the image (on Salomon's Facebook page) and loved its visual impact. I long considered what type of image I wanted on the cover – "trail running" image vs image of top ultrarunners vs image of midpack ultrarunner vs something else – and after looking at 1,000s of images, the bright Salomon shoe on bold background is the one I wanted to be on the shelf at a bookstore or on a webpage as it catches the eye, does it not? Originally given no photo budget for the book, I negotiated with both my publisher and the photographer to buy cover rights for the photo. Nothing happening between Salomon and myself there.

      Going forward, I will continue to cultivate my and iRunFar's relationships with a multitude of companies that create products of interest to iRunFar readers.

      I hope that answers your question. :-)

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