The Salomon Sense Pro 3 is a fast, smooth, and aggressively lugged trail running shoe that is best for narrow/low-volume feet and soft or loose surfaces.
Even though the Sense Pro 3 will replace the Sense Pro 2 and shares nomenclature with the Sense Pro 1, it most strongly resembles the S/Lab Sense 6 SG, which was the “soft ground” version of Salomon’s sixth-generation flagship trail racing shoe.
Review: Salomon Sense Pro 3
The Sense Pro 3 has some similarities to its predecessors, including its snug fit, mesh/TPU upper, thin midsole cushioning, and low drop. But its outsole is a dramatic departure from the norm, and so it excels under entirely different circumstances.
The Sense Pro 1 (my long-term review) was best for smooth singletrack, but could handle roads and tougher terrain as well. The Sense Pro 2 (my long-term review) was a more capable trail shoe, and remains a favorite for Boulder’s steepest and rockiest trails. The Sense Pro 3 also needs to be on trails, but its tall lugs get maximum grip only on unconsolidated dirt, cinder, snow, fallen leaves, mud, sand, and other loose and soft terrain; the shoe does not inspire similar confidence on talus, rock staircases, large cobbles, or sun-baked dirt.
When put on the right surfaces, the Sense Pro 3 is very fun and very fast. It weighs just 9.0 oz (255 g; for Men’s 9). It has a smooth transition from landing to pushoff. The midsole is responsive and sensitive, yet still reasonably protective. Its upper fits precisely. And its traction is very reliable.
Key product specs
- Neutral, with natural landing-to-pushoff transition
- Breathable mesh upper with TPU overlays for control and abrasion-resistance
- 9.0 oz M’s size 9 (255 g); 8.1 oz W’s size 7 (230 g); 10.4 oz M’s size 11.5
- 18mm and 14mm stack heights at heel and forefoot, respectively
- 4mm drop
- Quick Laces
- Outsole: Premium Wet Traction Contagrip with 6 mm lugs
- Midsole: EnergyPlus+ compound and Profeel Film
- $130 MSRP
- More information
Fits true to size.
The flagship Salomon S/LAB Sense is intended to be a technologically advanced and minimalist trail racing shoe, and to work best for featherweight runners with perfect biomechanics. The consensus at Salomon was that the S/Lab Sense 6 strayed too far from its roots as “the Kilian shoe” — it too overbuilt and too heavy. The redesigned S/Lab Sense 7 gets back to basics.
The Sense Pro, meanwhile, is intended to be the friendlier first-in-line descendant of the S/Lab Sense, with more cushioning, greater durability, perhaps a more accommodating fit, less cutting-edge technology, and a lower price tag.
Rather than design a new Sense Pro based on the S/Lab Sense 7, Salomon decided to refine the S/Lab Sense 6 SG and to relabel it as the Sense Pro 3. The mesh/TPU upper, lugged outsole, and 4-mm drop are identical. The Sense 6 SG is supposedly an ounce lighter (225 g vs 255 g), and its stack heights are 2 mm taller (20/16 mm vs 18/14 mm), but without first-hand experience with the Sense 6 SG I can’t validate these differences, identify their sources, or explain the impact.
Historically, the Sense line has fit narrow and low-volume feet, and the Sense Pro 3 is no exception. In the Pro 3, my heel feels very secure, my mid-foot is comfortably wrapped by the elasticized Endofit yoke, and my toes have just the right amount of wiggle room. There is no uncomfortable pinching or pressure points.
If you liked the Sense Pro 1, Sense Pro 2, S/Lab Sense Ultra, S/Lab Ultra, and/or La Sportiva Bushido, you’ll probably like the Sense Pro 3 as well. These models all fit me like a glove, with subtle differences.
Like other Sense models, the Sense Pro 3’s upper consists of breathable mesh with TPU overlays. The TPU is more expansive than normal, which adds structure and abrasion-resistance but adversely affects breathaiblity and dry times.
My media pair (right shoe only; the left shoe is fine) had some lamination issues, and I would assume this has been fixed for production. This is not a new technology or process for Salomon, and the durability of their uppers is generally excellent.
The outsole is made of Premium Wet Traction Contagrip, which along with Vibram MegaGrip and La Sportiva FriXion is one of my preferred rubber compounds. It’s grip is reliable and its lifespan is acceptable.
Its 6-mm lugs get great purchase on soft surfaces like loose dirt, cinder, mud, snow, and fallen leaves and needles. If I lived in the Appalachians or Pacific Northwest, or wetter and less rocky parts of Colorado, this type of outsole would be ideal.
The Sense Pro 3 may struggle on the east side of the Colorado Rockies, however. Here, the trails tend to be sun-baked, heavily used, and rocky for most of the year. Relatively little rubber connects with these hard surfaces, and the lugs flex slightly when torqued, so the Sense Pro 3 is less surefooted than other models.
That said, recently I’ve been getting more use out of Pro 3, because our trails are wet, soft, and snow/slush-covered at this time of year. For example, I wore them on Saturday for a 20-miler on soft trails, and on Tuesday for a 5 x 3-minute hill workout on consolidated snow.
Sense Pro 3 vs. Sense Pro 2
The Sense Pro 3 is better suited for soft ground, and is not my top pick for technical trails. The landing-to-pushoff is smoother, but less springy. It locks down the heel more securely, and has more breathing room in the forefoot.
Sense Pro 3 vs. Sense Pro 1
The Pro 3 and Pro 1 run similarly, but the outsole changes everything. Whereas the Pro 1 was best for smooth trails and mixed trails/roads, the Pro 3 is a true trail shoe.
Sense Pro 3 vs. S/Lab Sense Ultra
It’s a similar story between these two shoes. They run similarly, but the S/Lab Sense Ultra (my review) was a more all-purpose trail runner, whereas the Sense Pro 3 will excel more on soft ground.
Sense Pro 3 vs. S/Lab Ultra
The Sense Pro 3 is lighter, more sensitive underfoot, slightly more snug fitting, and has a much more aggressive outsole than the S/Lab Ultra (my preview). The uppers are radically different: the Sense Pro 3 has the normal mesh/TPU, whereas the Ultra uses some kind of hydrophobic pliable plastic.
Questions about the Salomon Sense Pro 3? Leave a comment.
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