We are a creative bunch at Ultra168 in the way we try to find ways to bring news, views and reviews to you as quickly as possible. This is one of those occasions where we had to pull out all the stops to get our eager little hands on the most talked about shoe in a long while, the new Salomon Sense. As you already know this shoe is designed and developed by the current leading ultra runner in the world, Salomon’s Kilian Jornet.
This shoe saw its first outing 12 months ago during his record winning run at The North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains of Australia. At the time it was under significant development based on the need for a durable, super lightweight trail shoe that could be worn sockless on any surface. Over the next 6-12 months the clever little cobblers in the S-LAB in Annecy, France have perfected this shoe and readied it for launch.
The next problem was getting our hands on a pair. Our usual channels of influence came up short until we heard of a low volume release out of the US. Property in Detroit is selling for less than $20 per street at the moment, so it is cool to announce that Ultra168 now owns a row of houses in downtown Detroit !
On a serious note, both Dan and I offered up some of our hard earned cash and through our dear friend Marni Wall in California we were able to take delivery this week of two pairs of US size 12’s. The anticipation of the box arriving nearly killed us. (First world problem I know)
My immediate reaction on collecting the box from the courier was that it felt a little too light to have two boxes of shoes and I was already making my excuses to tell Dan that he would miss out.
So my first observation is how light these shoes feel – just holding them up, they look a bulky shoe, with plenty of support and heel counter, but if you shut your eyes, they almost defy gravity.
Next action was the obvious one, try em on. Again, I had a slightly concerned feeling as I struggled to get them on. The quick lacing system has been modified slightly to allow the laces to be kept shorter. Putting the shoe on reminded me of the daily struggle I have with my Nike Free’s. It was more like putting on a sock – a sexy looking sock I might add.
Again, the senses (forgive the pun) were heightened to wanting these shoes to excite once on and again they didn’t disappoint. The fit is snug, with the mid foot a tight squeeze – this may be a problem for those with a wider foot. The toe box was roomy and the heel seemed to lock in nicely once the laces were pulled tight.
The first run, I took them on a quick 15km mix of trails, road, pavement all mixed up with roots, mud, sand and gravel. A couple of hills and a few descents allowed me to give them a some speed work. They performed very well, the heel to toe drop of 4mm is noticeable to someone who lives in Nike Free 3.0’s as they are a more stiff shoe than the Nike’s and so I am sure people will need to transition slowly to them.
For the first time since I wore my Altra Lone Peak Zero Drops, my toes seem to have a huge amount of freedom to move. This made it so much more fun climbing up some rocky single track where my toes felt really planted.
The upper is predominantly made up of a breathable mesh. This is cocooned by an almost complete sock liner. This is what adds to the snug fit.
The sole in general is a lot stiffer than we expected when compared to similar weight and shape racing shoes by Inov8 and Nike. Whether this provides the comfort and protection for longer runs will not be known until we get out on the trails for longer.
Towards the end of my run, and as I started to head home I had one of those moments, where the sun was peeping over the top of the trees and the trail was in front of me and I thought for the briefest of moments to turn around and go for one more lap – shame the day job gets in the way of running sometimes. This is one of these shoes that puts a huge smile on your face- it just feels great and performs ! It is not often that the hype is backed up. On this occasion, I think Salomon have another winner on their hands regardless of our oft described bias to their brand. To be honest they keep their competition constantly thinking by staying one or two steps ahead of the game.
Overall, the shoe is a quality piece of engineering where every little detail has been thought through and refined until perfect. You get this sort of development when talking about an Apple product, not a run of the mill trail shoe.
This shoe will need to perform across all surfaces and multiple distances to justify the hype and costs if it is to be more than a trail racing shoe that exceptional talents like Kilian can justify wearing. In 100 milers we are yet to find a shoe this lightweight that keeps going beyond 40-60 kms for mere mortals.
So watch this space as we bring regular updates on this shoe in the coming weeks as we criss cross trails on both sides of the planet. Dan will report from the trails around Sydney and I will give them a real working out in Europe.
NB – Salomon Australia are yet to determine a launch date for this shoe and also a pricing guide. If you hear anything, let us know in the comments page.