The last pair of Salomon shoes I ran in just so happened to be some of my favorite trail shoes of all time, and thus set a high bar while reviewing the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 ($190). The stickiness and stealthiness of the outsole is my favorite feature of this shoe. I love how they handle steep and rocky terrain.
Aficionados of this line know that this is a second version of the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 — you can see our Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 review for details. Updates to this version are found in the upper, resulting in improved breathability compared to that predecessor. We found this shoe to have an actual weight of 10 ounces (284 grams) for a men’s U.S. size 9. The claimed stack height is 29 millimeters at the heel and 21 millimeters on the forefoot, giving us an 8-millimeter drop.
If you are keen on trail shoes that provide a snug fit, excellent traction on mountain scrambles, and a fast, nimble feel, consider the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2.Shop the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 Upper
The sock-like upper on the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2, with Matryx technology, is geared to both breathe and last.
Salomon claims this update results in a 10% reduction in the overall weight of this unisex shoe, though we haven’t found this to be the case. Our real world measurements found an actual weight of 284 grams for the S/Lab Ultra 3 v2, and 287 grams for the original S/Lab Ultra 3, for a U.S. men’s size 9.
A little elbow grease is required to slide your feet into the snug sock-like upper. Once on, the upper adapts to your foot shape, which has proven slightly problematic in my case. (Foot shape is not one of my most flattering qualities.) I have small ankles, a narrow midfoot, and a bunioned forefoot; the snug fit at the head of the metatarsal on my foot pronounces the tendency of my big toe to invert. This little hitch in my giddy-up has been aided for years by custom orthotics; however, I wouldn’t consider the S/Lab Ultra3 v2 roomy enough to comfortably accommodate orthotics if bulkier than the removable insert.
If your foot shape is more desirable than mine, which is likely the case, you may find the toebox perfectly accommodating and the “hug” provided by the Matryx upper delightfully stabilizing. I personally prefer a slightly roomier toebox.
The Quicklace system assists in reducing your mid-run fiddle factor, eliminating the need to stop and re-tie your shoe. Excess lace can be stowed in the lace pocket at the top of the tongue. The tongue is not independent, but a continuum of the collar circumnavigating the ankle. I would caution that lower cut socks are not the best choice with these shoes if you want to protect the back of your ankle from rubbing against the upper.
I have struggled with blisters at the Achilles insertion at the back of my heel, even with my favorite Smartwool crew cut socks, perhaps secondary to minimal cushioning. A little prophylactic strip of rock tape on the back of my ankle paired with the crew socks helps get me up the trail much more comfortably! While the upper on this shoe hasn’t exactly been my Cinderella slipper, it also hasn’t been a deal breaker, for the many reasons described below.
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 Midsole
Like the previous iteration, the midsole on the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 is made from EVA foam called EnergyCell. It makes for a firm, protective midsole, built for long hauls. Less cushy foam means the shoe is less susceptible to packing down, and also means they won’t feel like a sofa right out of the box. Approximately 150 miles into these shoes, they continue to provide adequate protection underfoot and excellent support against my tendency to pronate — even without my go-to inserts.
The first especially long day I spent in these trail running shoes involved a marathon of sand on the Lost Coast of Northern California. My feet were in and out of water and subject to ample friction, resulting in blisters on the base of the forefoot and back of the ankle. As I spent an unusual amount of time on a unique surface, I could hardly blame my shoes for blisters that day, but do suspect that the firmer ride may make my feet slightly more susceptible to blistering. Otherwise, my feet felt great after said sand marathon, a phenomenon which may warrant some shoe kudos.
As mentioned the S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 has a claimed stack height of 29 millimeters at the heel and 21 millimeters on the forefoot, lending to a nimble feel. “Jack be Nimble, Jack be Quick” was the name of the game whilst dodging hundreds of sea lions on the Lost Coast. Whether I was actually quick or it was a figment of my imagination, I felt quick, and there are circumstances when a little confidence goes a long way.
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 Outsole
The Contagrip rubber outsole on the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 has truly been the star of the show and particularly shined on rocky, rugged terrain. The 4-millimeter diamond-shaped lugs offer the sticky, spider-woman-like sensation that caused me to fall in love with my first pair of Salomon shoes. There are no other shoes I would rather wear on steep shale or wet boulders from a traction perspective. While relatively low profile in appearance, the ability of the outsole to adhere to various surfaces has certainly helped me move with confidence.
Some have alluded to concern regarding the durability of the rubber; I would need to log another 150 miles before I could really speak to this. I can say that at this point, there is no notable wear on the outsole, with the possible exception of the lugs at the tip of the toebox.
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 Overall Impressions
As with past Salomon trail shoes, I readily vouch for the versatility of the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 to provide exceptional traction on various types of terrain. The outsole truly is impressive. The midsole provides excellent support, durability, and protection; you’ll experience a firmer ride and a fast, responsive feel.
They are designed to go far, hence the name “Ultra,” and I imagine that for many they have and will continue to serve as a great ultramarathon shoe. Due to my unique foot shape, need for a roomier toebox, and tendency to blister, they’ll likely continue to accompany me for my more technical but moderate-in-distance adventures.Shop the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2? How did you find them?
- If you’ve tried both, how did you find the model compared with the previous iteration, the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3?
[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!]
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