As people gear up to working out what the hell they want to race this year, so too comes the question of what shoes to wear?
I’ve had a personal moral dilemma, turning to the dark side and laced up a pair of Hokas for a forthcoming, rather large run in New Zealand. Expect a review of that soon too. But for now, Majell takes us through the newly released Salomon S-LAB Wings SG.
The Salomon S-LAB Wings Soft Ground (SG) is the distinctive looking all-round black shoe in the S-Lab Series line up.
The most common question about this shoe is ‘what’s the difference between the Soft Ground model and the non-SG model?’ On the surface, one is entirely red and one is entirely black, but when you get up close and take to one with an eye for detail, the true colours of these two different shoes, shines through.
For an extreme weather training shoe with the ability to transition to fair weather running, the SG Wings is a good choice. After some extensive trail time together, the standout non-visual attributes are longevity; very solid protection under and above foot, from all elements; the ability to keep your feet invested in grip and responsiveness – keeping the foot secure in the shoe, but giving you the feedback most runners desire from the trail too.
To begin with versatility, which screams out for me as a must have quality. The SG Wings holds a major point of difference to many other trail shoes. For one, its all black style allows you to get away with forgetting your office shoes at least 3 times per week acting as a suitable replacement and secondly but more impressively, its Unisex.
But from a more technical perspective, this shoe provides a great ride whether it’s plowing through soft mud; hiking up rocky technical trail or clipping along at a faster pace on hard packed fire trail. The lug configuration and size, which provides that excellent grip, does not interfere with smoother surfaces. Special attention has been given to the aggressive traction on the heel and medial forefoot of the shoe specifically for downhill bombing.
Getting to the main question though, ‘What do you get with and additional ‘SG’ tagged to the title?’ Well, the Soft Ground model of the S-Lab Wings is more then just a colour change.
Major differences include:
- A larger area of protection underfoot from the ProFeel Film
- A much more durable fully welded upper
- Larger and more aggressively structures outsole lugs
- Additional protection in the toe box
These are four changes that completely make this a stand alone model in the S-Lab series.
Not to mention it is also constructed with Salomon’s own specific technologies, including:
- Lace Pocket
- Profeet Film
- Protective TPU toe box and bumper
- Premium WET Traction Contagrip
- Midsole Dual Density EVA
- Cushioning Front – 19mm
- Cushioning Rear – 28mm
- Drop 9mm
- Weight 291g
I have highlighted above Premium WET Traction Contagrip, because this is the newest technology provided in the S-Lab series. It’s all about the outsole compound and its new abilities.
There have been huge changes to the outsole material but they’re essentially invisible to the eye and embedded in the material makeup of the Contagrip. The change, no surprise, provides premium traction on wet, icy and smooth surfaces.
The latest tried and tested design features from Salomon are all featured in this trail workhorse. So how did they perform from my point of view?
Downhill running is not about forefoot running. Taking this into consideration, a gnarly lug pattern has been placed on the back heel, which really gives purchase and stability on the steep loose terrain. A feature that has been strengthened in the Soft Ground model.
EndoFit, the elastic inner sleeve wraps the midfoot and hugs your foot in the shoe. When this technology is paired with SensiFit, the downhill stability of the shoe is greatly increased. This well-molded fit delivers great responsiveness and holds the foot back into the heel pocket, minimising foot movement in the shoe. A major factor in minimising blisters and black to nails.
The SG’s durable upper in non-intrusive, dismissing any natural debris wanting to get in the shoe. It has the ability to let water pass through, however its ability to drain is less than the Salomon Wings non-SG model. On a very hot day, these may not be the preferred option for keeping cool. Only for sweat, not in looks.
There is certainly a ‘wear in’ process required for the SG Wings. Some consider this a negative, but if the shoe takes time to mold and personalise to your foot for a better fit, its sounds like more of a positive to me. Hence, why we have ‘The Golden Rule’- Never try anything new on race day!! Just show them off and wear them in.
The increased protection in the TPU toe box is noticeable, and very solid. Holding its shape and protecting your toes even when the energy levels get low and you manage to kick every rock, step and ledge on the trail. This feature in conjunction with the tough upper and ProFeel Film really contribute to extended longevity of this model and of your feet.
The toe box is not small and it’s not huge, a happy medium has been struck. If at first it feels too tight, give it a few miles on the trails and it does ‘give’.
In summary, the SG tagged to the back of name Salomon S-Lab Wings, is like going from Mr. to Dr. (or Mr. to Mrs.) a lot of time and effort has gone into making a big change. This shoe is tough and durable, perfect for that wild, rough terrain or bad weather day.
Its also has a slick finish, so they can be easily cleaned and cleared of any weekend mud, ready for the office on Mondays.