Salomon Sense 4 Pro Review

The phrase “road to trail” is a marketing invention for most of the trail running shoe world. But indeed, if your trail run begins with a mile or more of pavement en route, the Salomon Sense 4 Pro ($140) is a truly special invention and one that backs up the slogan!

My favorite trail starts 1.78 miles from my doorstep. Nine out of 10 times I run the roads to get there, and the other one time I’ll ride my bike. So for me, the “road to trail” design philosophy is actually a wonderful and useful benefit in the shoes I pick. I suspect this is a benefit of Salomon’s recent road-shoe expansion, swapping technology and features across product lines.

During my testing phase, I used the shoe on roads, trails, and across a snow and cornice-flanked peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness of Colorado, testing each of its most laudable features, respectively: dynamic road feel, excellent traction on nearly all trail features, and a supremely effective waterproof upper. I even got to run in these shoes during a rare morning downpour, testing the shoes through sloppy mud and over wet rocks.

The Salomon Sense 4 Pro. All photos: iRunFar

Salomon Sense 4 Pro Upper

The Sense 4 Pro upper continues the S-Lab tradition of a sock-like fit, smoothing over your foot without added material or bulk, using the SensiFit system. Rather than stitched, the upper is “welded.” This word is thrown around a lot in the shoe industry, but what does it actually mean?

Particularly in trail shoes where durability is expected along with low weight, high-frequency welding uses molecular friction and heat to fuse surfaces together until they bind. Salomon’s website lists the upper material as “textile/synthetic,” but specifically it is likely nylon and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA); this combination produces a protective layer that is laminated over breathable mesh.

If you look closely at the upper you can see the strips of SensiFit under the mesh outer material; it runs laterally on the inside and outside of the shoe. It’s surprising that such a critical technology could feel virtually invisible while running. It is integrated with traditional Salomon Quicklaces and allows your foot to sink in and almost splay out, depending on how tightly the laces are pulled.

The shoe uses Salomon’s Quicklace system, but a new orientation pulls and stores the cinch piece from the sides and below instead of above, as in past models. This small but logical change keeps the laces more snug and stores more easily in the lace pocket.

Some seriously robust stitching attaches the four lace eyelets on each side of the shoe, predicting that a blowout would be very unlikely. Once long ago, on the older style of lace pocket, I snagged the Quicklace on a tree stump with enough force that the system broke, all the tension came out, and the shoe almost pulled completely off my foot, nearly causing an injury in the process. Maybe it was user error, but I found the old pocket a lot tougher to tuck the Quicklaces into; I find tucking the laces into the pocket of the Sense 4 Pro very easy. Seemingly insignificant, bending over and fussing with the pocket and lace storage can be annoying to deal with during a hard or long effort when foot swelling or laces loosening over time require pulling the laces out of the pocket and loosening or tightening.

These positive comments aside, Quicklaces still aren’t/have ever been a lacing system I love to use. I find it too “all or nothing.” The laces are either slack enough to feel comfortable or just a bit too tight when pulled, even with very little tension. It’s hard to find a sweet spot where your foot feels secure without being too constricted, and vice versa. These laces are practically as synonymous with Salomon shoes as Kilian Jornet, but I would love to see this nearly perfect shoe use a more adjustable lace system.

The Salomon Sense 4 Pro lateral view.

Salomon Sense 4 Pro Midsole

Before writing this review, I sent a quick note to Salomon athlete Jackson Brill. He’s one of the best young trail runners in the U.S. who has been sponsored by Salomon for several years. He has excelled in a variety of race distances from short and technical to ultramarathons. I asked him about his thoughts about the Sense Pro 4 knowing he’s been able to test the full range of his sponsor’s line: “It’s by far my favorite shoe–Salomon or otherwise–I’ve ever run in.”

For Jackson, it’s all about the midsole. The Sense 4 Pro, by all accounts, has pulled in the best of several of Salomon’s various models’ features. It’s responsive, cushioned, and protective. In this 4mm drop shoe (25 to 21mm), your feet will turn over faster and go where you want them to without hesitation, inspiring faster downhill running over technical surfaces.

Responsiveness is a characteristic people have remarked about in the more expensive S-Lab Sense models. But where the S-Lab Sense fails many people is in cushioning. Called too minimal for runners who like to run longer distances, the Sense 4 Pro blends low drop with hearty cushioning for two-hour-and-longer runs. When it comes to cushioning, which fans of Salomon’s S-Lab Ultra and Ultra Pro models appreciate, it again feels like the Sense 4 Pro has borrowed the best from those shoes without the sloppy feel of an 8mm drop shoe with big stack height and soft foam. This allows you to aggressively attack technical downhills while staying lively over the duration of a run on rolling terrain.

The heart of the Sense Pro 4’s midsole Optivibe. It is composed of two foams, one to dampen vibration and one to propel the runner forward. Combined with the outsole’s rock protection and above-average grip, this is a shoe you’ll reach for no matter the trail conditions or duration of the run. 

The Salomon Sense 4 Pro medial view.

Salomon Sense 4 Pro Outsole

Testing these shoes over all surfaces–dirt, snow, and mud–I found the Contagrip outsole to be very capable, with perhaps just a little less than expected control in soft mud where I found that the shoes slid out and became unpredictable. I face muddy conditions so infrequently where I live in Colorado that the sloppy mud performance doesn’t cost the shoe many marks for me.

The outsole of the 4 was redesigned from the 3; offering a soft-ground/hard-ground blend, letting you pick this shoe even if trail conditions change. Where the 3 was exceptionally lugged, I thought the shoe was too aggressive and unstable, especially on descents. The 4 scales back without compromising grip and actually adds confidence. The 5mm lugs, though aggressive, are almost noticeable by their absence. When you cut or turn sharply you don’t get that rocking feel from some shoes nor do you get too much shock. The lug pattern and depth is perfectly paired to the dampening of Salomon Sense 4 Pro Optivibe.

The Salomon Sense 4 Pro outsole.

Salomon Sense 4 Pro Overall Impressions

One thing to note if you’re reading this review near the date of its publication is that the men’s version is on sale right now. This shouldn’t be overlooked when considering the shoe’s review overall. You’re getting incredible technology that works as well as claimed in a shoe much less expensive than worse and more expensive competitors. I’ve seen them on sale for less than $100.

And lastly, “looking fast is feeling fast” in the Sense 4 Pro. It borrows the best aesthetics from the S-Lab Sense, one of, in my opinion, the best-looking trail shoes of all time and characteristic of some of the best Salomon attributes: durability, responsiveness, and technical prowess.

I’ve known people to run 400-plus miles in Salomons and expect to be running in these shoes for a really long time. I’m over 100 miles into mine and apart from normal dirt and some scuffing, with a wash, they’d look almost new.

Call for Comments

  • Do you run in the Salomon Sense 4 Pro? What do you think overall?
  • If you’ve run in prior iterations of this model, what do you think about version 4?
  • Care to share feedback on any specific feature of this shoe?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

The Salomon Sense 4 Pro top view.

There are 25 comments

  1. Deserae

    I haven’t run in these, but the first thing I noticed in the photo was the heel. I loved the Sense Pro 2, but then the 3 had a stiff piece in the back of the heel that hit really high up my achilles and caused all kinds of problems for me. Looks like they’ve removed that, and I might just have to try out the 4.

  2. Charlie

    I have the Salomon Sense Pro 4 as well and have put a few dozen miles on them, not enough to say much but I really like them so far. I have also put around 300 miles in a pair of Sense Ride 2s and a few dozen miles in the Sense Ride 3. I previously ran in Altra, Hoka, and Topo shoes. Longest run so far has been a 12 mile out and back, climbing over 3,000 feet in 6 miles. My legs felt surprisingly fresh compared to when I did the same run in Sense Ride 2s or Topo’s Runventure 3.

    I agree with most of the author’s comments. I found the toe box pleasantly accommodating despite my slightly wide feet. I somewhat disagree with the author’s comment regarding the quick laces “Quicklaces still aren’t/have ever been a lacing system I love to use. I find it too “all or nothing.” The laces are either slack enough to feel comfortable or just a bit too tight when pulled, even with very little tension. It’s hard to find a sweet spot where your foot feels secure without being too constricted, and vice versa.” I think this might be due to pulling only on the pull handle itself. I tighten or loosen the laces individually just like regular shoe laces at each eyelet to achieve my desired fit, then pull on the pull handle itself to finish tightening. No problems there.

    I anticipate wearing the Sense Pro 4 for an upcoming 50 miler, assuming it isn’t canceled, and look forward to taking it out on long runs. I don’t anticipate any issues with longer distances, since it is more protective against sharp rocks, more cushioned, and the upper is more secure than on the Sense Ride 2s I’ve been using for the same runs.

    I did find that the lugs felt softer than I anticipated. They are softer than the lugs on the Sense Ride 2, but it could be due to the increased lug height on the Sense Pro 4. I haven’t had any issues for the most part on soft and hard surfaces though.

  3. Brandon

    My only gripe about this shoe is that they feel a tad too long in my go to size 10. I noticed the same size discrepancy in the former Pro 3. Because they fit well elsewhere on my feet, dropping a half size seems too dramatic. With that said, this is still a good shoe.

  4. Joel

    Cushioning is minimal despite higher stack height. Midsole is as dead as it gets. Shoe runs a bit long. Water drainage and tread is good. I definitely wanted to like it. Maybe it’ll grow on me, but overall this one was a disappointment.

  5. TJ

    Shoe is very light, fast and agile. Midsole doesn’t offer great cushion, but has good return. I imagine they will be great for off-road speedwork and shorter trail races (probably perfect for trail 1/2 marathon). Outsole is fine for most trail conditions, but probably not great for anything super technical. Agree with other posters that the shoe runs a little long. That said, I wouldn’t size down b/c it is extremely narrow (and I have relatively narrow feet) and that would probably make it worse in the toebox. I like everything else about the shoe. Just wish the fit was a little better (not as long and a little wider in the toe box)…and maybe just a tad more cushion.

  6. mickedata

    I’ve been an avid Salomon fan since the S/Lab Ultra came out. It fits my foot just right. They kind of dropped the ball with the version 6 and made the ride too harsh. The SG versions were ok. But then it just got crazy. Luckily they rebranded the SG and made the Sense Pro 3 which is a slightly heavier version of the S/Lab SG but cheaper! The stability is excellent in the Pro 3 and perfect for technical terrain. It is just a tad bit too harsh for me.
    Then the Pro 4 came out! It is totally redesigned with a quite plush ride. It’s just not stable enough for really technical terrain. For smoother trails, it’s a godsend. The ride is really soft without being swampy. I like it! More stability for the Sense 5 Pro mabye?

  7. Chuck

    Thanks for the review. I run in nothing but Salomons and look forward to trying this one out.

    Funny you mention the eyelet stitching. Just had an eyelet fail at 398 miles in my Salomon Sense Ride 3. In this cut, it was cut open by the lacing system. Salomon would do well to add tubing to the eyelets, as in the Sense Ride 2. Looking at the picture, it doesn’t look like these have them either.

    1. Lightning

      I’ve also had the webbing loops sawed through by the thin cord in a pair of Salomons (XA Comps, a long time ago). On my next (and only other) Salomon shoe that had that design, I added plastic lining using short bits of drinking straw wrapped around the cord.

  8. Sebastian

    I have wider feet and have struggled with Salomon shoes in the past. Would it be possible for future reviews to indicate whether it is a better fit for normal/wider feet and lower/higher arch? If the reviewer could provide an assessment of his feet that would help..

    Love the reviews but hard to gauge if they would be good for my feet..

    1. Craig Randall

      Hey Sebastian (I’m the reviewer): I note your comment about addressing foot shape in the future. I indeed have very wide feet + bunions on the inside and outside of my foot. I was very doubtful after past experiences that Salomon would make a shoe that would accommodate. This one certainly does! I do believe it’s roomier than past models and the flexibility in the upper allows more room than perceived by just looking at them. Good luck!

    2. Charlie

      Hi Sebastian,

      If this helps, I previously wore shoes like Altra Superior 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, Lone Peak 3.0, 3.5, Timp 1.0, 1.5, Topo MTN Racer, Topo Runventure 3, Topo MT3. I would say that my feet are slightly wide and have a medium arch.

      I was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating some Salomons can be, like the Sense Ride 2, 3 and Sense Pro 4 I’m wearing very often now. I manually widened the laces around the toes and pull the laces individually at the ankle before using the speed lace clip and the width is good for me. I seldom have arch fit/feel issues so I can’t comment much.

      As an update to my earlier post, I recently did a 40 mile trail run in the Sense Pro 4 and am happy with how it went.

  9. Fran

    Anyone have insight into how accommodating the toebox is? In the last three years I went from Altra Superiors to three pairs of Kiger 4s, one pair of Kiger 5s, two pairs of Torrents, and am currently most of the way through a pair of Kiger 6s. I like the 4-6 mm drop range, a snappy ride that favors response over protection, and a comfy toebox. The Sense 4 Pros sound perfect to me, but being Salomon, I want to make sure it’s got enough room up front!

    1. Charlie

      Hey Fran,

      I was an exclusive Altra (Superior 3-4, Lone peak 2.5-3.5, Timp 1-1.5) user for years before switching to Hoka (SpeedGoat) and Topo (MTN Racer, Runventure 3) for the past year or so. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Sense 4 Pro’s toebox to be pretty accommodating, more so than the SpeedGoat 3. I loosened the laces at each eyelet for my desired fit.

    2. Tim

      Off topic, but since you tried both the Kiger 5 and 6, is the upgrade worth it?

      Anyone else who can compare the ride and cushion of the Kiger 5/6 to the Sense 4 Pro?

      1. Francis McCormick

        You know, the Kiger 5 and 6 were nearly identical but I swear the toebox is just the tiniest, tiniest bit narrower in the Kiger 6. And, I’ve noticed faster wear on the lugs near the outside of my forefoot than in the Kiger 5. But, maybe my form and gait need some work! I’d say if they’re both available to you in your size, there’s no need to upgrade to the Kiger 6.

  10. Henrik

    Hi,

    I’ve been running in the Salomon S/lab Sense Ultra (the black and red ones) for a couple of seasons, and they are my all time favorite shoe. They can do everything, the fit is excellent on my feet. Unfortunately they are replaced by the S/lab Ultra 2.
    I dont like the new S/lab Ultra 2 that much, but these new Sense Pro 4 looks more like the old Sense Ultras (although with a bit less drop)?
    Anyone who used to run in Sense Ultra that have tried these?

    1. Tim

      The 2017 Sense Ultra was also my favourite shoe of all time, But the S/Lab Ultra was my least favourite shoe of all time. Jeez I dunno what they were thinking with that shoe. Midsole felt dead and the the upper was a horrible thick plastic laminate. Fit was horrible, feet were going numb, and heel was slipping.
      I tried alot of shoes without success. Temporarily the Sense 6 became my shoe, but its not cushioned enough for me for 30k+. Finally I found the Kiger 5’s (haven’t tried the 6 yet). IMHO better cushion then the Sense UItra and similar locked-down fit, but more space in the toebox. Kiger 6 should have even better fit. I am keen to try the Sense 4 Pro, but I disliked the Sense Ride 3. The optivibe midsole is kind of firm and I don’t get good ground feel, very damped. Maybe that’s the “vibration reduction” doing it’s job, but I don’t like it. Maybe the Sense 4 Pro is better?

      1. Henrik

        Will have a look at the Kiger 6!

        I tried the Sense Ride 3 in the shop, seemed very firm and stiff, almost like a hiking shoe. Not to my liking.

        Maybe also the Dynafit offering is worth a look, not familiar with their fit though.

        1. Tim

          Another one to consider is the Arc’teryx Norvan LD2.
          I had the 1st version, great shoe, a bit heavy, but version 2 fixes that with the Litebase sole.

  11. Hubert

    Yes the sense Ride 3 is a bit stiff, behaving similar to the Akasha but it´s a good trail shoe for longer trails. The Sense 4 pro is not stiff at all, for me the absolute perfect shoe. I love this shoe, I have a lot of trail shoes (Akasha, Peregrin, Inov-8 etc.) but this is my absolute favourite. OK, I have narrow feet and the fit for me is perfect. But as already mentioned, the upper is real flexible. It´s a perfect combination of sock-like fit, upper, cushion grip and responsive ride.

  12. Hubert

    Hi Hendrik,
    sorry no, Speedcross and Sense Ride are my other Salomons, I was always hesitant because the durability of the most expensive Salomon shoes. Perhaps I´ll try one in the future. The Sense pro 4 seems similar to the sense slab 8, a bit more shoe and better cushion?

  13. Dan

    Very little mention (except some varying opinions in the comments) about recommended use for this shoe – I am in New England running very rugged/rocky/technical loops of 20-40 miles, trying to figure out if this is enough shoe for that. Given that I am a pretty lightweight/efficient runner, would you say the SP 4’s are cushioned enough for 6-12 hour efforts on rough terrain?

    1. Craig Randall

      Dear Dan,
      If I didn’t make it clear in the review the type of terrain I tested these shoes on, I apologize. My terrain is basically the opposite of yours and I love the shoe. Being in Boulder, Colorado doesn’t lend itself well to testing shoes for runners like you. I’m not sure what you like best to combat the rugged-rocky stuff but I would guess water resistance, abrasion resistance on the upper, enough cushion… these shoes wouldn’t be my first choice. They hold up fine for ultras on smooth terrain – I personally think the cushioning is phenomenal – but the upper is quite susceptible to tearing and they are not a very burly shoe in general.

  14. Petr

    I picked up a pair on a way to a marathon trail race, having found my old Sense Ride 2 a bit lacking in “spring”. The fit of the shoe had me initially a bit sceptical, as they just didn’t sit as comfortably as other Salomons (Speedcross, etc). However, having nothing better with me I went ahead and raced in them out of the box. I’m glad to report that the shoe stretched a bit and I pretty much forgot about and discomfort, as there was none soon after the start.

    The shoes are incredibly light on the foot, or at least they feel that way. I found them grippy on a single trail soft to medium terrain. They also felt very secure on the many switchbacks we were running on.

    Possibly the only room for improvement is the new lace pocket. I find that tucking the laces safely in, I need to turn the plastic piece upside down, after drawing the laces. This creates an uncomfortable bulk at the front of the shoe, as the tongue is not particularly padded. I do think that the old system was better.

    Apart from that, I’d thoroughly recommend this shoe.

Post Your Thoughts