Preview: Salomon S/Lab Ultra || Tweaks to a best-seller

The Salomon S/Lab Ultra will be released in March 2018. The shoe generally remains the same. Two of the most notable changes are visible in this photo: a more robust TPU exoskeleton, and four external “wings” (two on each side) to decouple the lacing system.

Originally posted August 6, 2017. Updated January 25, 2018.

If I was forced to choose just one shoe for all of my runs, I would pick the current Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra (read my review). Most importantly, it fits my small-volume feet. Beyond that, it excels on most surfaces and for most distances: from cruiser pea gravel to washed-out peak trails; and from 3-minute VO2 intervals to ultras. I wore it for the Bighorn 100, and will probably beg Salomon for a fresh pair for UTMB next month.

Apparently these sentiments are widely shared: the S/Lab Sense Ultra has become Salomon’s top-selling S/Lab product of all time.

Some might say that, “If it’s not broken…” Yet at Outdoor Retailer last month, Salomon was showcasing the second generation, the S/Lab Ultra. (Update, January 25, 2018: This shoe was originally called the S/Lab Sense Ultra 2, but Salomon created a new “Ultra” category that is separate from the longstanding “Sense” shoes.) Thankfully, the changes are mostly tweaks, not wholesale changes.

Not changing

The next iteration of the S/Lab Ultra — which will be released around March 1, 2018 — makes no changes to:

  • Stack Height: 26mm/18mm
  • Drop: 8mm drop
  • Outsole: Premium Wet Traction Contagrip
  • Last and volume
  • Endofit internal wrap
  • MSRP: $180

The S/Lab Ultra’s excellent outsole, made with Premium Wet Traction Contragrip, will remain the same for the second generation.


Without wear-testing the shoe, I can only speculate about the impact of changes to the second-gen S/Lab Ultra.

A PU insert (“EnergySave”) has been added under the forefoot, instead of the midsole simply being dual-density EVA. This more resilient material should provide longer-lasting cushion, during both singular efforts and throughout the shoe’s lifespan — it shouldn’t feel “thin” underfoot as quickly. The firmness of the PU is apparently about the same as the old EVA, and therefore should not change the shoe’s ride.

Four external “wings” now wrap the midfoot, two on each side. This decouples the lacing eyelets, so that the tension is more dispersed and the fit becomes more dynamic.

Finally, the upper is beefier, with a thicker and more extensive TPU exoskeleton. Durability, lateral control, and “wet weight” should all improve.

The S/Lab Ultra upper has four external midfoot wings and has a more extensive TPU exoskeleton.

Because of these three changes, and perhaps several less obvious ones, too, the second-generation S/Lab Ultra has put on weight. It’s now 300 g (10.6 oz) in Men’s size 9, versus 275 g (9.7 oz) for the current version. Per Jack Daniels, this adds 2 minutes 40 seconds to a 100-mile time, although it’s very difficult to look at this weight increase in a vacuum.

Have questions about the S/Lab Ultra? Leave a comment. If I don’t know the answer, I can get it.

Posted in , on August 6, 2017
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  1. Jacob D on August 7, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for the quick update. The 2017 Sense Ultra is a really nice shoe, I’m excited for these updates. March 2018 feels like a long time from now though!

  2. Jeff Valliere on August 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Bummed the weight went up, but still very eager to get a review pair. I have to say the current version is co-favorite shoe of the year so far, sharing top spot with the Hoka Speedgoat 2 (different applications, but both amazing).

  3. david on August 24, 2017 at 11:36 am

    i have been running with salomon s-lab shoes for few years and love them. however, sense ultra and sense 6 sg, both shoe had the same problem where the nylon lace eyelet started tearing and eventually cut most of the way with just 2 mm left. previous generations did not have the nylon eyelets and did not have this problem. do you know if salomon folks know this to be a common problem, and if so, have they addressed it for 2018

    • Andrew Skurka on August 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Don’t know. My Sense Ultras have 350+ miles on them, and I haven’t noticed this problem, though I can definitely understand why it’s happening — nylon-sheathed laces will cut nylon lace loops over time.

    • Japhy on January 18, 2018 at 9:53 pm

      I had this happen to my sense 6’s within the first 200 miles. My sense 5 ultras have well over 1000 miles on them and no such issue. I’m surprised they’re putting what looks like the same lace loops on for another generation. I’ll continue to return them as defective until they fix the issue. Otherwise the shoes are amazing. Well, the new mesh wears a little quickly compared with the previous stuff…
      Sorry to riff on the sense 6/7 but the lace loops are the same as what’s on the sense ultra/ultra 2, so, relevant.

  4. Jeff Valliere on August 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I have not had this issue either with my Sense Ultras, but everyone works their shoes over a bit different depending on the individual foot, gait/running style, terrain, etc…. Looking forward to version 2.

  5. Japhy on January 18, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    After a closer look, it seems they changed the lace loops on the Ultra 2, from the nylon ones that are on the current Ultra. Unfortunately, the photos I’m looking at show the same fragile loops in the Sense 7… 🙁

  6. david on January 18, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    I have had this same loop tear problem on 2 consecutive sense ultras, 1 slab sense 5 sg, and now i’m starting to see the same pattern on my slab sense 6 and 6 sg. why don’t they bring back the old loops, or even use the loops on sense ride (looks like plastic loops)!

  7. Jeff Valliere on January 19, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Do you have a pair yet Andrew? I am hoping any day now, but still somewhat uncertain as to when.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 19, 2018 at 8:36 am

      Not yet, but it’s known that I want a pair.

  8. Fredrik on February 9, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Any idea why Salomon have not included Vibe inserts in the Ultra midsole. According to the specs of Sense Ride and Pro Max the reduction in vibrations should decrease fatigue on the long haul…so why not in their Ultra shoe?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 9, 2018 at 10:53 am

      No, unsure why.

  9. Dave Brown on August 2, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Curious, have you tried the latest version? I’m a Sense 6 (and 4mm drop) diehard, but after my last 30k (Buckin’ Hell) I’m thinking I need a bit more under foot for the 28k Run the Rut next month.

    • Andrew Skurka on August 2, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      Still have not, sorry. It should be what you’re after, since these models all fit about the same (I have done really well with Sense Pro, Sense Pro 2, Sense Ultra, Fellraiser) and the Ultra has more underfoot.

      • Dave Brown on August 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm

        Thanks! I ordered a pair to try out.

        Fellraiser, I loved the Fellcross, I guess now the Speedcross. I’ve got the XA Alpine’s as well I love for the mountains here in Colorado when the conditions call for them. I couldn’t get used to the Sense Pro’s, too much shoe. I’ve for a really low volume foot.

        I’m hoping the Ultra’s don’t feel like a pair of stiletto’s. 🙂

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