A comfortable running shoe from the masters of trail running that will stack up the miles with ease.
I’ve owned and reviewed plenty of Salomon shoes over time and am a fan of the Speedcross range of running shoe, which I have used for several years. I do have narrow feet so I’m one of the few CGR team members that get on with them. One thing I have found as I’ve got older is that I know need to go up a half size to help with comfort on the descents (which are a source of knee trouble for me these days). I must also state that I ma not an ultra runner, but I am a keen and regular runner and when I’m fit and injury free I can notch up some mountain miles. My typical day would a five hour day in the mountains with plenty of ascent, technical trails or scrambles and a long descent at the end of the day. I will run, hike and climb on most of these adventures. Also as I’ve aged I’m always on the look out for a shoe that will help cushion my knees – lately I’ve been experimenting with Hoka and On shoes to see which one works best for me.
On the trail front I really do think the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 have been the best shoes I have used in ages. They have replaced both my Speedcross and my Hoka Speedgoat’s as my shoe of choice. The comfort is brilliant thanks to the soft feeling mesh fabric and the flexible SensiFit mid foot tab and soft heel reinforcement. They really have been designed for all and multi day comfort. Needless to say they are not waterproof in any way so they have been used on mostly dry sunny runs. Considering the amount of TPU mesh surrounding the entire shoe they have been fine to wear on hot days. The TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane to you and me) surrounds much of the shoe and really helps with that ‘mould to your foot’ feeling. I really can’t fault the comfort and as long as your feet are narrow they will feel great. Just one note on the toe box fit – although my Speedcross really do have a narrow toe profile the S/Lab Ultra 2 do feel and look slightly wider and have been way more comfortable in decent – but this really is dependant on your foot shape.
The midsole is a little firmer than many of my more cushioned shoes so you will find them not so ‘squishy’ as the more oversized soles. They are, however, much more cushioned than my Speedcross or other S/Lab models but I would say they are a middle ground type of shoe that is a ‘one size fits all’ shoe for adventures that will see you crossing all types of terrain (which is a more normal type of run for most of us may start and end on some road, will have some soft muddy/boggy ground and technical/rocky ascents and descents). I have used them for some road runs and you should find them fine if you decide to use them on roads too. They have an 8mm drop, so not too extreme and they should help you keep good form.
The outsole is made using Contagrip MA, this compound is designed to be ‘all things to all men’ (as the shoe is really). The grip was really good on dry rock and even clean wet rock. The lugs are particularly deep so descending wet grass or muddy ground isn’t as secure as you would like it to be. The direction of the lugs is designed more around ascents but overall you shouldn’t have too aggressive a ride in them. The MA compound have proven to be quite durable and I haven’t noticed any real wear on the soles and I’ve been wearing them most of the summer and through into autumn. The middle of the shoe has a window that acts as a Rock Plate, these are usually made from a hard plastic but Salomon have made this flexible and helps the shock absorption of the shoe.
The fit is further enhanced using the EndoFit sleeve. This is similar to the Scarpa Sock Fit technology and offers a really secure fit around the foot. It extends right down to the arch of the foot and helps keep your foot in place. I found it worked really well and I felt little movement throughout once I had sighted the shoe with the now standard Quicklace. The Quicklace (much copied but never better IMO) has barracked reinforced lace sleeves and the lace pouch is now designed to be top loading. So you tighten the lace up and push the excess into a pouch on the top (instead of tucking it under as before). This works well and keeps the lace well tucked in and it never came out throughout the test period. The only issue I have here is that there should be some bartacking to reinforce the pull tag on the tongue – I can’t see this lasting much longer before a repair is needed. I feel the whole top, where the tongue meets the pouch needs beefing up.
The interior has a removable insole and some nice microfibre lining in the heel. The the S/Lab Ultra 2 is also lighter than the previous model weighing in at 285g (290g for my size UK 8.5 on the trusty CGR scales). In conclusion the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 is a great running shoe, it should serve you well on those long days through mixed terrain. The comfort is unsurpassed and the performance should see you though the toughest of Ultra races, as you would expect as the shoe has had Francois D’haene on the design team. . At the end of the day Salomon are up there with the very best of trail running shoes and and the S/Lab series are their very best. I’m definitely sold on them and I can understand why they are a bestseller.
The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 come in one colour option, are unisex in fitting and come in sizes UK 4 – 12.5 in half sizes.
The SRP is £160 and they are available direct from the Salomon EU website.
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