Salomon is forging a path into uncharted-for-them terrain with their new, highly cushioned trail shoe, the Salomon Ultra Glide ($140).
It is, from my perspective, on the relatively trim feeling end of the spectrum of maximum-cushion shoes compared to some options on the market. But if your memory and running history are long, the Ultra Glide just may evoke a whisper of the long-gone Pearl Izumi Trail N3.
Historical references aside, this shoe aptly fills the gap in Salomon’s trail shoe lineup for a true, cushioned, all-day-long option suitable for everything from recovery runs to non-technical 100 milers alike. And rest assured, the designers have avoided the pit of boggy, inefficient despair that is at times felt in the world of maximally cushioned shoes.
With a stack height of 38.2 millimeters at the heel and 32.2 millimeters at the forefoot, it’s comparable to other shoes in this category, and the 6-millimeter drop is also quite common. The Ultra Glide is relatively svelte, with an actual weight of 9.7 ounces (274 grams) for a men’s size 9.
How does this translate to function? Once I’m running in these shoes, I don’t find myself to be overly aware of the stack height or the weight. I need a small heel lift to get closer to 8 or 9 millimeters of drop in order to keep my posterior chain happy, but the Ultra Glide is really good at just facilitating the responsive, cushioned cruise.
All in all, it’s an excellent option if you’re looking for the familiar Salomon technology and fit, but with a more cushioned and protected ride. The cost is very respectable and even less costly than the competition.
Size note: I ordered my standard Salomon size, and it fits perfectly. Some runners are finding the shoe to run a half size long, but if you don’t have the opportunity to try before you buy, my personal recommendation is to start with your usual Salomon size. The Ultra Glide comes in various colorways in both the women’s and men’s fits.
Salomon Ultra Glide Upper
Salomon categorizes the Salomon Ultra Glide as standard width, and comparable to the Salomon Speedcross 5 — check our review of the Salomon Speedcross 5 — and the Salomon Sense Ride 4 — here’s our Salomon Sense Ride 4 review. While the width may be similar in the specifications, the Ultra Glide feels wider and much more accommodating to my foot with more toebox volume than the Sense Ride 4 and less of the snug, soccer-boot feeling of the Speedcross 5.
There is room for changes in foot size over the course of a long, hot ultra with the Ultra Glide thanks to the lightweight, stretchy upper mesh. The breathability and moisture management have been more than adequate on the winter and early spring days we’ve had.
But, I imagine it could retain a bit more heat and water on a hot summer day than something like the Sense Ride 4 due to the support and protection provided by the welded overlays encircling the entire lower third of the upper.
But thus far, I appreciate this overlay with the snowmelt and puddles, as it is effective at keeping the water from splashy footsteps from seeping in — no danger of hot feet here currently.
Salomon has long had my favorite lacing method with its Quicklace system, and coupled with the subtle SensiFit wings, my foot feels snug and secure through the midfoot on most non-technical terrain. With wonky rocks or side-hilling, I do tend to feel like my foot is sliding off the platform a bit.
I believe it’s mostly the influence of stack height, but perhaps the support through the upper could be enhanced. This does keep the shoe firmly in the non-technical, mild-terrain performance realm for me.
The gusseted tongue is significantly padded like the Speedcross 5 and is just the right length to protect the top of the foot from any lacing pressure without impacting my ankle tendons. The usual lacing garage is present at the upper tongue, but it’s not convenient for me, so I just route the lacing tail through the distal laces for simplicity. Some runners have noted that the upper metal eyelets create pressure points, but I did not have any such issues.
The toe bumper and extension of the sole over the mid-toe provide excellent protection from any rocks, roots, or other objects I find to catch my toe on, and cactus spines are warded off well by the overlays. My ankle bones and Achilles appreciate the amount of plush padding along the ankle collar and notch.
And nothing is too tall or obtrusive even with the mobility required for occasional rocky terrain. The heel counter provides appropriate stiffness to support the calcaneus well but is flexible enough to be very comfortable over longer miles.
The one bit of low-hanging fruit I wish Salomon would quickly address to really enhance this shoe is the style of OrthoLite insole chosen. I really miss the more substantial molded OrthoLite insole used in the Speedcross line. It is a bit burlier, but you can feel the support through the arch and heel cup.
The OrthoLite liner in the Ultra Glide is barely there and offers minimal arch support, which seems counterintuitive for a shoe designed for the longest ultras and day-long adventures. My high-arched, rigid foot feels the effects. This seems to be a trend across several running shoe manufacturers, and I hope the pendulum swings back in the other direction.
Salomon Ultra Glide Midsole
The Salomon Ultra Glide’s Energy Surge midsole — also found in the Salomon Pulsar — utilizes a combination of EVA and Olefin layers to create cushioning that is impressive in its protection, is relatively responsive, yet doesn’t ever feel marshmallow-y or inefficient.
It’s a much more forgiving ride than the Salomon Sense Ride line which, while I liked those for shorter, faster distances, the firm and minimal cushioning left me feeling somewhat beat up. I appreciate the Ultra Glide’s ample but not boggy cushioning as the miles and rocky downhills add up.
While my feet are not really fans of rocker designs, this is the mildest iteration of a rocker I’ve experienced, especially when compared to The North Face Vectiv line and other rocker shoes. There’s no hyperextension force at the knee if I happen to sit a little too far back onto my heel in the Ultra Glides, but the tipping point at the back end of the shoe is still perceptible.
Aside from the rocker design, I truly feel like I could run all day with this level, style, and durometer of cushioning — the miles just disappear, and the impact of descents is well-absorbed. I doubt most runners’ bodies are as much “Princess and the Pea” as mine, but this is a great gateway shoe to the rocker design world in case you’re curious about trying out the concept.
Though the shoe lacks the Profeel Film Salomon usually employs for lightweight rock protection, the dual layers of the midsole coupled with the outsole keep my feel well protected. The Ultra Glide would be an excellent choice for a Southern Utah or mild Arizona desert adventure with all the cushioning to mitigate the inevitable pounding the slickrock and hardpacked trail exerts on my body.
Salomon Ultra Glide Outsole
The outsole of the Salomon Ultra Glide has a very familiar 4-millimeter depth lug pattern that is quite like the Salmon Sense Ride series. Short cutouts are present in the outsole, which yield a slightly stiffer flex, but with the rocker design, it promotes more of a rolling forward propulsion. This helps with fatigue over the course of longer ultras and those door-to-trail runs that start and end with pavement.
Salomon’s All Terrain Contagrip is the proprietary rubber compound used for the outsole, which typically has excellent durability and traction on most surfaces. However, with only 4-millimeter lugs, I do find it less adept at slippery surfaces whether in the form of loose debris and rocks, snow, or slippery mud.
While this is the same compound as used on the Sense Ride 4, I’m noticing some quicker wear to the outsole of my Ultra Glide comparatively. I’ve used the shoe mostly for gentle, non-technical, rolling dirt singletrack, smooth dirt roads, and the occasional run with short, rocky sections on the Front Range of Colorado where I live.
And at around 100 miles, the lugs on the Ultra Glide shoes are showing more scuffing than two different pairs of my older Sense Ride 4 shoes each with 250 to 300 miles. This is not affecting the ride or performance of the Ultra Glide at this point, but it is an interesting thing to observe.
Overall, this is an outsole I’m most comfortable with in mild terrain, dirt singletrack, dirt roads, and other hard surfaces where my desire for cushioning outweighs my desire for traction. Salomon has other shoes with far better traction like the Speedcross line if excellent traction is my primary need.
Salomon Ultra Glide Overall Impressions
With the Salomon Ultra Glide, the company is getting closer to creating my dream shoe. I envision the Ultra Glide midsole sans rocker into an 8-millimeter drop shoe with an iteration having the same 4-millimeter lugged outsole and another option with the aggressive Speedcross 5 outsole. Tweak the upper just a bit for the off-camber support, add the more supportive OrthoLite insole, and I’d be in middle-aged mountain runner and ultrarunner bliss … but I digress.
The Salomon Ultra Glide, as created, is a well-designed, highly cushioned trail shoe that provides a very comfortable and forgiving ride while maintaining excellent energy return. It feels as lively after several hours on the trail as it does right out of the car, and the roomier toebox is a welcome upgrade for the feet as the miles add up.
I hope Salomon will keep this shoe in their trail running shoe lineup because it fills a perfect slot not only for their quiver but also in the maximum-cushioned shoe market as well.
Call for Comments
- Are you running in the Salomon Ultra Glide? What do you think of the shoe overall?
- And what do you think of its most unique characteristics, such as its midsole and rockered profile?
[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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