The Salomon Sense Ride 4 ($120) is an excellent multi-purpose shoe. Most trail shoe companies want to make a great all-arounder, the shoe that appeals to the masses and has mass appeal to a variety of terrain and foot types, and Salomon hits that mark with the latest version of this shoe.
The Sense Ride line debuted in 2017 as Salomon’s first trail running shoe that featured Sensifit technology with the do-everything Contagrip outsole, bringing a more accommodating fit and price point to midpack runners. Previously, only the light- and flat-footed could comfortably wear the S-Lab line of Salomon’s trail racing shoes. These featured internal and external Sensifit, which provided the secure, locked-in feel non-existent in other brands.
So why didn’t this moderately weighted, 8-millimeter drop trail shoe with great durability dominate the market? As someone who has run in every iteration of this shoe, I have my druthers, and the bottom line as to why previous iterations of the Sense Ride didn’t receive more acclaim is frankly the ride of the shoe itself.
Versions one through three felt great on mountainous terrain, but quickly felt awkward on smooth trails and dirt roads. They always felt more like a hiking shoe than anything else, and on less than technical terrain, they felt slow. Combined with an ever-increasing bulkiness in the heel, the first few versions left me liking the Sense Ride for certain terrain, but never entire runs.
In creating the Salomon Sense Ride 4, the company made a number of almost imperceptible tweaks to make this latest version much more versatile and closer to an all-around shoe, but still happiest in the mountains. The men’s advertised shoe weight is 10.2 ounces, while the women’s is 8.3 ounces.
We’ve named the Salomon Sense Ride 4 one of the best trail running shoes! See our Best New Trail Shoes of Spring-Summer 2021 and Best New Trail Shoes of Fall-Winter 2021 for more recent trail running shoe releases.
Salomon Sense Ride 4 Upper
The Salomon Sense Ride 4 has remedied some downsides of previous versions. For example, the Sense Ride 3 had a dual-mesh upper which became fairly stiff and abrasive as the shoe collected dust and debris. Previous models didn’t wear well for multiple days in a row: you almost had to break in the shoes anew each day while sweat and precipitation loosened up the overly engineered uppers.
Without sacrificing durability, Salomon moved to single-layer mesh in the Sense Ride 4 and the difference in flexibility and overall comfort is immediately noticeable. The upper moves better with the foot, breathes better in hot weather, and drains more efficiently when wet.
As one can expect from Salomon, the Sense Ride 4 features their very secure Sensifit. While S-Lab models are more racing-oriented and may have a narrower and more European last, the Sense Ride 4 locked down my average-volume feet and never felt restricted even when my feet swelled. This technology prevents blisters and abrasions, and helps keep socks in place after water crossings or while side-hilling on cambered terrain. Another much-appreciated evolution of the Sense Ride 4 is a wider toebox. Previous versions of the shoe had me tapping out at 10 to 15 miles due to my cumulative foot trauma of arthritis and bunions, but the Sense Ride 4 is an all-day shoe for me.
Salomon employs their ever-reliable Quicklace system which uses Kevlar laces with an under-the-tongue lace garage that feels a bit awkward. Maybe I’m the only runner that loves the lace garage on top? Either way, once the laces are tightened and tucked you can forget about them.
Salomon Sense Ride 4 Midsole
Perhaps the biggest improvement to the Salomon Sense Ride 4 is the inclusion of a full-length Optivibe midsole. Historically, Salomon shoes have provided what shoe geeks would call a “responsive ride,” which means fairly firm. Foam for road running shoes has come a long way, but these technologies haven’t necessarily carried over into trail shoes due to the sacrifice in protection.
The feel of Salomon’s Optivibe foam is fairly firm, but it does seem to soften up on technical terrain when things get rocky. This foam claims to limit injury, limiting vibrations on the legs while also providing energy return. While I can’t personally vouch for either of these claims, the combination of Optivibe midsole and Salomon’s often lauded Profeel Film, a thin TPU rock plate, the ride is phenomenal, especially on technical terrain.
Salomon Sense Ride 4 Outsole
The Salomon Sense Ride 4 uses the company’s tried and true Contagrip outsole, which continues to boggle my mind. This simple, low-lugged, and versatile outsole seems to grip well on wet terrain, be unobtrusive enough for smooth trails, and shed mud with the best of them. Frankly, Salomon continues to leave a lot of trail shoe companies in the dust with this simple outsole, and the durability is phenomenal.
Salomon Sense Ride 4 Overall Impressions
The Salomon Sense Ride 4 is, without a doubt, the best and most versatile of the Sense Ride offerings to date. An accommodating and durable upper combined with a responsive, but not-too-firm midsole, and a do-everything outsole should appeal to every runner.
However, the reason the Sense Ride 4 may not be an all-trail type of running shoe is that it simply excels the most on technical terrain. The Sense Ride 4, in line with its predecessors, feels best on technical terrain and rocky or rooted trails where the stable platform and responsive cushioning feel most at home.
If you’re looking for a competent shoe in rougher terrain, the Salomon Sense Ride 4 is an excellent choice.
Other Versions of the Salomon Sense Ride 4
Also, you might be interested in the waterproof edition of this shoe: the Salomon Sense Ride 4 Gore-Tex Invisible Fit men’s version and Salomon Sense Ride 4 Gore-Tex Invisible Fit women’s version.
Call for Comments
What are your experiences with the Sense Ride line? Do you feel like this version is a big improvement?
[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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