This week I was lucky enough to go on a Salomon shoe test event in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Great timing as we have just had 6 pairs of Salomon shoes added to our off road running range. Before I get onto the shoes, one word about Salomon sizing. I found that they are about half a size smaller than stated. I am usually a size 10, a full 10 but not a 10.5. However with Salomon shoes I am definitely a 10.5 and I am not swimming around in those. If you occasionally take a half size up in some brands definitely do that with Salomon. Right, onto the shoes…
The Fellraiser is a proper UK off road shoe. A wide spaced studded sole to give good grip in wet and muddy conditions. I have run a lot in X-talons, Fellcross and Roclites and I took to them straight away. The width fittting is pretty average for an off road shoe. The Fellraiser is wider than any of the S-Lab trail or fell shoes. 6mm drop front to rear gives some room for cushioning whilst still feeling nice to descend in, the lack of flared heel also makes it fine for traversing. The upper and tongue have a reasonable amount of padding making the shoe feel like a training rather than a racing shoe. The Fellraiser makes for a great do it all fell shoe if you only have one pair or a great training shoe if you race in one of the S-Lab models. All Salomon shoes have the same lacing system featuring a thin nylon cord and a cord gripper, which stores in a little pocket at the top of the tongue once done up. My shoes have not loosened or come undone once this winter using this system.
Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 4 Soft Ground
There are 2 S-Lab Sense shoes from Salomon, the Sense Ultra 4 and the Sense Ultra 4 SG (soft ground). We are stocking both for Summer 15. The Salomon boys didn’t have the the standard sense so I only ran in the SGs but I will highlight the differences and similarities here. Both of the Sense shoes are for ultra and trail running and both are designed as low weight, low bulk competition shoes. 240g for the Sense and 264g for the Sense SG. The fit is pretty much the same, both wider than the S-Lab Fellcross but narrower than the Fellraiser. A fairly stiff sole to protect the foot on broken trails. As the Sense SG is designed for softer and wetter conditions it features a deeper 6mm lugged sole for extra grip rather than the 2mm lugs on the Sense. The upper has a finer meshed top for more debris and mud resistance on the SG. Once running in the Sense SG it’s firmness definitely made it a trail and ultra shoe not a fell shoe, as did it’s slightly wider heel. On the trails the shoe felt compact and responsive as a competition shoe should and I can see why many people choose them for ultras. I can see much agonising over whether to get the standard or SG model but for me I would go for the better grip as I often leave the solid trails.
S-Lab Fellcross 3
Since I have some S-Lab Fellcross at home I didn’t need to use them at the test but it’s the shoe I have used the most. The Fellcross is an out and out competition fell running shoe - narrow fitting, low drop, aggressive sole with minimal padding. I love this shoe but it’s uncompromising design and price does mean that it might not be the best choice as your every week fell shoe, see the Fellraiser above. Even taking the Salomon sizing mentioned above into account I still found the Fellcross pretty narrow fitting. I run without the insoles in mine and that makes then fine. I often run with no insoles in my shoes and never find a problem with it. Once I had the fitting right there is nothing I do not like about the Fellcross, up or down I find the grip great and love the lacing. I changed from X-Talon 212s to these and definitely prefer then.
Salomon Speedcross 3
This is the shoe that I found most confusing. I know it’s Salomon’s best selling off road shoe but wasn’t sure why. Out running it feels like a high mileage road shoe with an 11mm drop and plenty of padding and comfort in the upper. Going uphill feels pretty OK but on the flat and descent I was so aware of the heel height and my foot didn’t land right. That’s because I never run on the road and only wear low drop shoes! I am firmly in the minority with most runners in the UK only dabbling with trail and fell running. If you are used to road shoes then the Speedcross feels very familiar and your knees and ankles are used to that position but you now have the benefit of a pretty aggressive sole for your adventures. This shoe is perfect for transitioning to more off road running after years on the tarmac. Suddenly it all makes sense and I see why this shoe is so popular. If you have already had some inov8s or other minimalist shoes this is not the shoe for you but as a first off road shoe choice it’s great.