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Long-term review: Salomon Sense Pro || All-around favorite running shoe

The Salomon Sense Pro, my favorite all-around running shoe.

The Salomon Sense Pro, my favorite all-around running shoe.

If my quiver of running shoes were limited to just one model, I would select the Salomon Sense Pro, no question. A long-term review is in order: I’m now onto my third pair, and recently picked up two more from REI at 50 percent off, with free shipping and a $20 gift card bonus (with $100+ purchase by members, through July 13). My first pair was retired after 520 miles, and my second pair is nearing that point, now 440 miles deep.


The Sense Pro is also available from Amazon. The product page is mislabeled: “D” sizes are men’s and “B” sizes are women’s. The differences between the original Sense Pro and the Sense Pro 2 are immaterial: the outsole has a slightly different lug pattern, and the upper has updated cosmetic details.


I’m most impressed with the Sense Pro for its versatility. Consider the range of runs and races for which it is or has been my go-to:

  • Daily training in Boulder’s foothills (steep and rocky, with ~2 miles of pavement to start and finish)
  • 5 x 1-mile track workouts
  • Colorado Marathon (road)
  • Run Rabbit Run 100 (mostly gentle trails and jeep roads)
  • San Juan Solstice 50 (12k feet of climbing on singletrack and 4×4 roads)

Overall, the Sense Pro is a lightweight and durable running shoe that offers a superb fit, excellent control, and moderate underfoot protection and cushioning. It thrives on runs with a mix of pavement, gravel, smooth singletrack, and moderately technical trails — outings where a more specialized road or trail running shoe would at some point be notably inadequate.

Key Specifications

  • Weight: 9.2 oz (260 g; men’s size 9), 10.7 oz (300 g; men’s size 11.5)
  • Height: 17 mm (forefoot), 23 mm (heel)
  • Drop: 6 mm
  • Upper: Breathable mesh nylon with reinforcing exoskeleton
  • Midsole: EVA with a minimal rock plate
  • Outsole: ContraGrip, lightly lugged
  • Neutral last, no supportive or corrective features
  • Fit: True to size, best for narrower feet
  • MSRP: $130

Upper

The Sense Pro fits securely, but it’s not constrictive. In this respect, it’s much more similar to the Salewa Lite Train (my review) than the Altra Lone Peak 2.5 (my long-term review). The fit is aided by Salomon’s Endofit, which is an elasticized yoke over the top of the foot, anchored into each side of the last; as well as the Salomon Quick Laces, which apply more equal pressure than conventional laces.

The upper’s interior is buttery smooth, with no rough seams or pinch-points. Last summer I ran the 28-mile Pawnee-Buchanan Loop with only one sock (I dropped the other while loading my car), and had no blisters or even hot spots when I finished.

The upper is made mostly of fine-pored nylon mesh, with a supple but tough exoskeleton that improves durability, adds impact- and abrasion-resistance, and reduces lateral and fore/aft shifting inside the shoe. Together, the fit and the exoskeleton achieve a near perfect balance of comfort and control.

On a few races and runs my feet have become soaked. Dry times are good: the mesh is very air-permeable, and there are few materials in the upper to retain water.

Note: I have narrow and low-volume feet. The width feels about perfect, but a higher-volume foot should work.

Underfoot protection relies mostly on a moderately cushioned EVA midsole (17 mm to 23 mm) and a minimal midsole rock plate. With long-term use, eventually the Sense Pro becomes too "thin" for most trails.

Underfoot protection relies mostly on a moderately cushioned EVA midsole (17 mm to 23 mm) and a minimal midsole rock plate. With long-term use, eventually the Sense Pro becomes too “thin” for most trails.

Midsole

When new, the midsole’s Profeel Film successfully blunts sharp objects, but without compromising all ground feel. Over time, however it seems to become more pliable, leaving underfoot protection increasingly dependent on the midsole’s EVA cushioning and on the outsole’s rigidity.

Unfortunately, the cushioning is also compromised with use, because of compression, and the outsole is relatively thin and flexible. With stack heights of just 17 and 23 (forefoot/heel), you will likely retire the Sense Pro’s because they simply feel too thin on mid- or long-distance runs.

Left: after 520 miles. Middle: after 440 miles. Right: New. The light lug pattern limits the Sense Pro on steep, loose, and wet trails, but maintains its suitability for pavement and gravel.

Left: after 520 miles. Middle: after 440 miles. Right: New. The light lug pattern limits the Sense Pro on steep, loose, and wet trails, but maintains its suitability for pavement and gravel.

Outsole

For a trail shoe, the Sense Pro’s ContraGrip outsole is relatively minimal. It is most definitely designed for dry and hard-packed trails, and up to moderate grades. For outings on mostly steep, loose, and wet trails, other models will serve you better.

Unlike those more aggressive models, however, the Sense Pro naturally extends to flat and improved surfaces. Case in point: I wore the Sense Pro for all of my track workouts and tempo runs while training for the Colorado Marathon — and then raced in them, too.

Durability

For a 9-oz shoe with a minimal lug pattern, the Sense Pro has very good durability. I retired my first pair after 520 miles. The upper looks good as new, but the outsole was very bald and the midsole had become very thin. My second pair is on a similar track, although the upper exoskeleton started to delaminate after about 300 miles; it’s a quick repair job with Aquaseal.

The outsole lasts longer than I would have predicted. The CongraGrip compound seems pretty hard, and this particular pattern has a lot of surface area.

Again, the limiting feature of the Sense Pro’s lifespan will be its midsole. Once underfoot cushioning and rigidity become intolerable, it’s time for a new pair.



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19 Responses to Long-term review: Salomon Sense Pro || All-around favorite running shoe

  1. Brian July 5, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    This does look like a near perfect shoe. Unfortunately for me, the Salomons are a little too narrow. I’ve got a neuroma in my right foot, and most normal width shoes do not do the trick.

    So my perfect shoe has to be two shoes, the Altra Lonepeak 2.5 and the Altra Iinstinct 3.0. Both are great for my feet, and I use both on roads and trails (with more trail for the Lonepeak and more road for the Instinct).

    I think my perfect shoe would have an outsole more like the Sense Pro; nice and grippy, but not at all prohibitive for cruising on the roads.

    • Nick July 15, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

      Hi Brian, I too have the same problems. I’m a hiker and a backpacker, not a trail runner. For me the perfect shoes was Montrail Sabinio Trails w/Green Superfeet and a neuroma pad. These are no longer available after Columbia bought Montrail. My alternative has become Altra”s Lone Peaks. Great for width fit, but they are squishy and my neuroma has flared up. I tried slipping my modified green Superfeet in and that did not work at all. So… you got any tips on modifying the Lone Peaks?

      BTW, I found the Lone Peak 2.0 has a little stiffer foam than the LP 2.5’s. I prefer the additional stiffness for the trail for additional stability on rough trails.

  2. Chris Sikuq July 5, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    I use size 14 Wide, so Andrew, what would you suggest for difficult terrain in remote trail-less Alaska, since even some name brands seem to narrow down their shoes in order perhaps to save advertised weight? Know of any new upstarts willing to fill the new void?

    • Andrew Skurka July 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

      Have you tried the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor? They still might not be wide enough, but that’s the shoe I generally recommend to people for such backpacking.

      A wider option would be the Salomon XA Pro and Salomon X Ultra. Both models are so wide and high-volume that I can’t wear them for serious hiking.

      Wide feet love Altras, but Altra does not make a pair of shoes suitable for off-trail in Alaska, or off-trail more generally.

      • Brad R. July 5, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

        So the La Sportiva Raptors are narrower than the Salomon XA Pro 3D’s? I have been a long time Salomon XA Pro user but am not wild about the new tongue design and have thought about trying a pair of Raptors. I have narrow heels and have problems with heel slippage in a lot of shoes.

        • Andrew Skurka July 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

          I really like the Raptors (have worn the original version a lot) but the XA Pro and X Ultra are too big for me. So, yes, I think the Raptors are probably narrower and lower-volume. But only one way to find out: go try a pair.

      • Juha Ranta February 12, 2017 at 9:41 am #

        I have foot which is quite thing otherwise, but the toe area is really wide. I have got issues with painful inflammation around the ball bone (metatarsals) above big toes with narrower shoes. I bought Salomon X Ultra Mid on sale and just went out to try it. It seems it also pushes my feet the wrong way. I get pain in the ball bone area, etc. For my feet I also Solomon X Ultra Mid and other Salomon shoes I’ve tried seem too tight round toe area .

        I started having these issues two summers ago when I started to get more involved in trail running and hiking. Other issues such as pain in knees have gone away since I’ve got stronger and more experienced, but the issue with metatarsals has not.

        Inov-8 trail running shoes with ‘standard fit’ (as opposed to their ‘precision fit’) seems to be the best shoe fit I’ve found for my feet. Unfortunately, there are only certain types of shoes they have with that fit. I did Tour du Mont Blanc last year with this kind this kind of shoes and had no issues at all with feet. For leisure use, my Nike Free 5.0 has similar very wide toe box, and it is really comfortable for my feet. When I insert the shoe above my foot, it’s apparent that those shoes match really well the shape of the area around my toes, while the more narrow models squeeze the toes together considerably. Does anyone know about other shoes to consider with really wide toe area? I like tight enough fit instead of sloppy, but need plenty of room around toes.

        • Juha Ranta February 12, 2017 at 10:21 am #

          I just read some of the other comments and blog posts here, and it sounds like Altra’s shoes perhaps would fit me and my feet quite well. The issue is, I live in Europe (Finland) and I’ve never seen Altra shoes in anywhere. Obviously, there’s plenty of Salomon, and there’s some Inov-8 and La Sportiva, etc. Sometimes I’ve had to research and order some gear, especially more special lightweight oriented and specially crafted, from USA despite the taxes and other issues.

          On a more general note, the fit of the shoe to your form of foot can be a most important aspect in choosing the shoe. For me it now seems that I need to get rid of maybe four otherwise really well functioning and little used shoes because of issues with metatarsal inflammation and pain.

          • Andrew Skurka February 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

            Fit triumphs all other characteristics of footwear. If the shoe does not fit, nothing else matters.

            If your forefeet are as wide as you say and if you get pain in the ball joint from narrow shoes, I agree that Altra would be a good brand to check out. You might also look into Merrells, which do some wide models.

            Keep experimenting until you find something that works. There’s no other way to do it.

  3. Chris Sikuq July 5, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    Thanks Andrew. I greatly appreciate your advice. You have become my primary source for ultra light hiking advice.

    I will look into all of your suggestions; sometimes my problem is as simple as the unavailability of size 14. I love the Altra toe-box concept, but as you imply, they are too lightweight for serious off-trail use. So far for any brand, if numerous users complain of narrow toe-boxes (especially if in relation to earlier models), or if the shoe weight realistically is too light, despite advertised as off-trail, I don’t even consider.

    I learned a lot from your first book, so when is your new one to be released?

    • Andrew Skurka July 5, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

      Appreciate the encouragement.

      Yeah, size 14, that really limits your options. Although I bet you can score some great deals sometimes, when a vendor is overloaded with size 14’s!

      Second edition will be released next Spring. Submitted the last of the chapters last week.

  4. Kevin July 5, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Has the snow calmed down much out there yet, Andrew? I know you said you’d be starting your hikes sometime in July but I guess you’ve got just to find that window when the weather is manageable.

  5. Bruce October 7, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    hi andrew–great review! i wondered if you had run more in sense pro 2 and might be able to offer more commentary on the differences from the first version.

    thanks,
    bruce

    • Andrew Skurka October 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

      Have not. My understanding is that the outsole is a bit better and that the heel cup has changed some. But mostly still the same shoe.

  6. Linus April 8, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

    Hi Andrew, would you use these for hiking or only running? Not enough underfoot protection or bump-resistance.

    • Andrew Skurka April 8, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

      Definitely only for running.

  7. Zak Steigmeyer August 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

    I bought these shoes largely on your review, and I love them, but in 120 miles I’ve had a lot of the outsole lugs tear off and wear. 60 of those miles were very rocky steep race yesterday, and I got the shoes like new but a couple years old from eBay, so I think I’ll give them another shot. The sense pro had a lot in common with the Nike Terra Kiger, another shoe I like, but for my narrow feet the Salomon fits just a little better.
    And surprisingly to me, I actually like the lace system, it definitely saves time when I’m taking my shoes off to dump sand and grit and putting them back on in a hurry.

    • Andrew Skurka August 28, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

      The Sense Pro lugs wear prematurely, but usually I get 350-400 miles before any bald spots. You must have been on some sharp rocks.

      If you like the original Sense Pro, you will like the Sense Ultra (pricier, slightly roomier, and better outsole) and you may like the Sense Pro 2 (better outsole, stiffer, best for trails, not a pavement shoe). I hear good things about the Sense Ride as well.

      • Zak Steigmeyer August 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

        Castle Peak 100k, just north of Tahoe- there was plenty of sharp granite. I’m sure I’ll wear these for another couple hundred miles and I think the wear will slow down mostly running on dirt, and with some sharp lug edges taken off now. It’s going to be tough choice when these are done between the sense pro 2, the sense ride, the kiger, and the new balance vazee summit that’s based on the 1400 (sounds great for those of us with low volume feet wanting a precise fit).

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