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Preview: Salomon S/Lab Ultra & Ultra Pro, and S/Lab Sense 7 & Sense Pro 3

For 2018 Salomon has partially reconfigured the line architecture of its trail running shoes, to better leverage a few success stories and to create space for greater product differentiation. It created an entirely new category, Ultra, and then updated the S/Lab and Pro models in its longstanding Sense line.

Ultra

The new Ultra category is more niche than Sense. It’s designed for longer distances, and therefore has more underfoot protection, more hydrophobic uppers, and more fit adjustments.

Its flagship shoe is the S/Lab Ultra, which is the second-generation S/Lab Sense Ultra (read my review). This shoe was co-developed with François D’haene, who last year proved that he was the best ultra runner in the world by winning UTMB in Septemmber and smashing the John Muir Trail FKT in October (by 12 hours, in 2 days 19 hours and change). Few run like Francois, but apparently many like his shoe — it was Salomon’s best-selling S/Lab trail shoe ever.

I wrote about the S/Lab Ultra after Outdoor Retailer in July 2017. Read that post for in-depth and updated specs. At the time, it was being called the S/Lab Sense Ultra 2. It will be available in March and will retail for $180.

The Salomon Sense Ultra 2, to be released in March 2018

An all-new model, the Salomon Ultra Pro, will be released for fall/winter 2018. It tries to be a more commercialized version of the S/Lab Ultra. Most importantly, it has a lower price point ($150 vs $180), more cushioned heel cup, and more generously fitting upper (especially over the instep).

Unlike the first-generation S/Lab Ultra, the Ultra Pro does not have a rock plate, which is a big reason why it’s lighter. Feedback was that the resilient TPU-based EnergySave midsole was sufficient. It shares the same outsole compound and upper material.

The S-Lab Ultra (right), the second-generation of the S/Lab Sense Ultra and formerly called the S/Lab Sense Ultra 2; and the all-new Ultra Pro (left), a more commercialized version

Key specs of the Ultra Pro:

  • 10.3 oz (US 9M) / 8.8 oz (US 7W)
  • 24mm/16mm (8mm drop)
  • Premium Wet Traction Contragrip outsole, with 4mm lugs
  • TPU-based EnergySave midsole
  • 3D Stretch Air Mesh with Sensifit upper
  • $150 MSRP

Ultra Pro

Ultra Pro upper, made with hydrophobic materials and featuring two external fit wings

Ultra Pro outsole, made of Premium Wet Traction Contragrip

Sense

The consensus at Salomon was that the current S/Lab Sense 6 strayed too far from its roots as “the Kilian shoe” — a minimalist racer for featherweight runners with perfect biomechanics. The S/Lab Sense 7 hits that mark. The unisex Sense 7 will be available this fall/winter in two outsole versions, the Hard Ground and more aggressive Soft Ground.

The minimalist upper on the new S/Lab Sense 7

Key specs of the S/Lab Sense 7:

  • Weight: 7 oz (US 9M)
  • 18mm / 14mm (4mm drop)
  • Premium Wet Traction Contagrip outsole
  • Profeel Film chassis
  • EnergyCell+ and Dual Density Compressed EVA midsole
  • Integrated sockliner
  • $180 MSRP

The Soft Ground outsole on the updated S/Lab Sense 7

The S/Lab Sense 6 may not have made a good shoe for Kilian, but it worked better for the rest of us. So Salomon reconfigured it as the new Sense Pro 3. I’m told that it runs more like the original Sense Pro, but has a more aggressive outsole akin to the Sense Pro 2. I considered the latter a bit stiff, and found it best for technical trails only; whereas I was willing to run just about anywhere with the Sense Pro.

The new Sense Pro 3 is a reconfiguration of the S/Lab Sense 6

More specs on the Sense Pro 3:

  • Weight: 8.9 oz (9M) / 7.9 oz (US 7W)
  • 20mm / 16mm (4mm drop)
  • Premium Wet Traction Contagrip
  • Profeel Film chassis
  • EnergyCell+ midsole
  • Molded EVA sockliner
  • $130 MSRP

The upper and outsole of the new Sense Pro 3 look familiar.

Questions about the S/Lab Ultra, Ultra Pro, S/Lab Sense 7, or Sense Pro 3? Leave a comment.


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30 Responses to Preview: Salomon S/Lab Ultra & Ultra Pro, and S/Lab Sense 7 & Sense Pro 3

  1. Zak January 31, 2018 at 5:00 pm #

    Thanks for the preview. The new sense pro 3 sounds like just what I want in a shoe, hopefully it fits just like the original sense pro. Did you get a chance to try the shoes on?

    • Andrew Skurka January 31, 2018 at 5:14 pm #

      Shoe samples are size 9 and I am 11.5, so no chance in hell of squeezing into them and getting some sense of fit, sorry.

    • Andrew Skurka January 31, 2018 at 5:16 pm #

      The one thing I’m uncertain of is whether the Sense Pro 3 fits more like the Sense Pro, Sense Pro 2, or the Sense 6. Truth be told, if you liked one of those you probably like the others, so maybe it does not matter.

  2. sean January 31, 2018 at 9:09 pm #

    Am I the only one who things $180 for running shoes is insane? That’s probably over $0.50 per mile if you use it, and it lacks the resale value of a collectable Air Jordan. Someone needs to produce the Starbury (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starbury) of trail runners.

  3. Jasper February 1, 2018 at 11:38 am #

    If they only made a road version of the ultra! I love the ultra 1 and run the sonic 2 on tarmac, but stray into hokas for long paved miles. I’ve tried a few but have not found anything that quite fits or feels like any of the salomons..

    • Andrew Skurka February 1, 2018 at 12:32 pm #

      I don’t know why they haven’t done this either, but I think it’s in the works. Their first launch into road a few years ago, with the Sonic, did not go over well. Seems like if they attached a Ultra or Sense upper to a fat midsole that they would have a natural winner.

      • Jasper February 2, 2018 at 1:54 am #

        Maybe the new avenue series thing answers our prayers? The sonic ra max just be what you’ve just described, although I’m not sold on the 10mm drop and stability aspect. Worth a try though!

  4. Michael February 2, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

    Did you see any upcoming running/ultra vests? I’m looking for a good solution.

    • Andrew Skurka February 2, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

      What’s not in the marketplace now that you wish there was? I feel like trail and ultra runners have more great options than they’ve ever had.

      • Michael February 2, 2018 at 6:25 pm #

        I’m probably be unduly picky. My dream would be some kind of small, easily refilled bladder but front flasks seem to be much better in that regard. Handhelds seem to make me work harder than carrying stuff center of gravity. I’ve been looking at the camelbak nano (new) or the Salomon sense ultra 5 set. Then I’ve debated flask straws so I can drink more smoothly on the run. Do you have suggestions? Or things I’m not entertaining?

  5. Steve Sims February 3, 2018 at 8:11 am #

    Agree with Sean. 180.00 for a lightweight trail shoe with a short lifespan is madness!

  6. Xavier February 5, 2018 at 9:13 pm #

    Great reviews of this year’s upcoming Salomon shoes, and I think that this practically settles that my next Salomons will be the Sense Pro 3. I’m currently on a fresh pair of Sense 6 SG, and a similar shoe at $130 is awesome! Even though I do realize that the upper won’t be the same, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since it just means that t it has a wider range of applications.

    • Andrew Skurka February 5, 2018 at 9:42 pm #

      Just keep in mind that the Pro 3 is a fall shoe, so you still need to get through until about October before you can get them.

      • Xavier February 6, 2018 at 10:54 am #

        Yes, luckily I have 2 Superior 3.0’s I’m rotating between for regular runs, along with the Sense 6 SG.

  7. david February 12, 2018 at 11:52 am #

    andrew, your sense 7 photo in red and white says soft ground, how does that look different that hard ground?

    • Andrew Skurka February 12, 2018 at 11:55 am #

      The hard ground will have a lower-profile outsole.

      Unless I’m mistaken, and that the photo is of the Hard Ground, in which case the Soft Ground version will be even more aggressive.

      • david February 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm #

        got ya, yup that makes more sense (haha). i think the photo is of regular, hard ground version, and the soft ground version willl have taller aggressive lugs. i always appreciate your reviews andrew, and look forward to them! thanks for your work! by the way… dang man, 2:28 at houston marathon???!!! congrats!

  8. José C February 18, 2018 at 5:26 am #

    The Sense Pro 3 looks killer! I hope they fit like the S Lab Sense 6 SG. I absolutely hated the pro 2 for being too stiff/harsh and for the extremely loose fit around the heel. I only hope that the durability of the outsole will carry over to the Pro 3…

  9. John Onate March 5, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

    Do you know when the sense pro 3 will be released?

    • Andrew Skurka March 5, 2018 at 3:46 pm #

      It’s a fall 2018 product, so probably September-ish.

    • José C August 6, 2018 at 7:59 am #

      The Sense Pro 3 is already available in Europe, at least on a few websites like Zalando in Germany.

  10. Scott McDonald March 9, 2018 at 10:35 pm #

    Do you have any thoughts or experience with the new XA Elevate? Im looking to find a lighter replacement for my tried and true XA pro 3d that I’ve used for hiking and backpacking for years. Recently been trail running a lot. I recently picked up a pair of New Balance Gobi 2 Trail Runners and while I enjoy the weight and cushion there’s been more than one time that I’ve slipped and rolled where my old XA’s would have been just fine.

    Any other suggestions? It would be great to have something to run in and backpack, but I could be talked into activity specific footwear.

    • Andrew Skurka March 13, 2018 at 2:58 pm #

      I have not worn the XA Elevate. A running friend is a shoe dork and has used them a lot, says they are a great “all mountain” shoe, which means good traction, underfoot protection, and durability, although all at the cost of weight and nimbleness.

      Without more context it’s difficult for me to recommend something. You’re welcome to flip through my running shoe reviews to find some ideas, https://andrewskurka.com/section/running/clothing-equipment/.

  11. Tim March 26, 2018 at 6:41 am #

    I don’t get how the Sense 6 “strayed too far from its roots”? I mean it’s 14/18mm, lightweight and even more flexible than previous versions.

    • Xavier April 18, 2018 at 12:05 pm #

      Agreed, although I don’t recall seeing Kilian using them? Most publicly shared images or video were of him using the Me:Sh, sense 6 sg, or the sense 5. A lot of other elite Salomon runners also stuck with the Sense 5.

  12. AT August 3, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Which of the latest salomon shoes has the most (almost) identical ride with the salomon slab sense ultra? i found that the slab ultra (sense ultra 2) abit more stiff than my liking.

    • Tim August 9, 2018 at 4:30 am #

      I think the Sense Ride has the most similar feeling underfoot as the Sense Ultra, but it’s wider and doesn’t lock down the foot as much. Sense 6 probably has the most similar fit to the Sense Ultra. I think wait for the Sense Pro 3, should have the fit of the Sense 6, but with more cushion.

  13. Chris August 4, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    Does the Sense Pro 3 have any more width throigh mid to forefoot that the 2?

    • Andrew Skurka August 6, 2018 at 7:52 am #

      Uncertain. And it will be a little while until we know, since the Pro 3 will not be released for another few months.

      I think I recall Salomon reps saying that the Pro 3 will fit most like the Sense 6.

  14. Xavier December 5, 2018 at 5:34 pm #

    Fyi, I finally got my hands on the sense pro 3 but have yet to run in them. They feel slightly stiffer than the sense 6 sg a nbn d have a different mesh upper but overall they’re very similar.

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