REVIEW: Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra Trail Running Shoes by Hanny Allston


Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra Trail Running Shoes review by Hanny Allston

Finding a shoe that will meet most of our requirements as a trail runner is really difficult. Not only do races throw multiple challenges at us - single tracks, rougher terrain, roads - so too does the weather!  What happens when the rocks get slippery or the scale of muddiness increases? Then of course we all partake in training or ‘missioning’. Whilst I enjoy the freedom of the trails on my daily jaunts, there are times when I find myself cruising the roads and footpaths too, be it for recovery, long runs, speed or access to new trails.

Asking one shoe to do all this for us is quite a challenge! However, I honestly believe that the all new Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra trail running shoe gets damn close to achieving this for me. Details and technical specs is not my strength so here is my ‘layman's' review of this shoe.

Typically, Salomon has produced many shoes for ‘European feet’ - longer & narrower. However, the new Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra trail running shoes have a broader toe box, whilst still maintaining the glove-like fit around the mid foot & heel. Even though I have the SLAB blessing of narrow feet, I love the feeling of allowing my forefoot & toes to spread out as I am sure it helps me with stability & propulsion. Do you have a slightly wider foot? I believe this shoe could be good fit for you.

Wow, this is a huge change! Whilst I enjoy my other SLAB shoes, especially my Salomon SLAB Sense 6s and Salomon SLAB Speeds, I had often found myself craving a more cushioned shoe for the longer distances or harder surfaces. The new cushioning in these Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra trail running shoes is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! This morning I took them for a spin on a longer, faster road run and they rivalled my road shoes. So, if you have also had this concern with Salomon shoes in the past, you will be nicely surprised by the plush cushioning of the new Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra trail running shoes.

Heel to Toe Drop
Most of Salomon’s SLAB shoes have either been quite minimal (your heel is only 4mm higher than your forefoot) or heavier on the drop (your heel is at least 10mm higher than your forefoot). I love the feeling of running wildly amok in a low profile, minimal shoe but my legs do begin to hate me after a longer period of time, especially if I am not running on diverse, uneven terrain. The Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra trail running shoes are an 8mm drop. Whilst this may sound higher, I can honestly say that it doesn't feel like you are too far away from the ground. I find that I am still getting responsiveness back from the ground but am loving having a little bit more support from my shoe.

Rock Protection
Protection from shapely rocks hasn't ever really been a concern of mine but I have to admit that I currently have a bruised nerve in my foot from a hard jab from the trail. I am enjoying having the rock plate under the balls of my feet to protect me from such items. This combined with the extra cushioning is helping to settle the discomfort in my foot.

It is early days but I have already been pretty hard on my new pair of Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra trail running shoes. We started our relationship together on the granite of Freycinet and then headed for some missions amongst the Dolerite peaks of Cradle Mountain. Since then we have done plenty of road, fire-trail, single track and vertical mileage on Mt Wellington. So far so good!

The upper fabric of this shoe is still highly breathable. I am sure it won’t be quite as tough as the sturdy uppers of my more aggressive trail shoes but as per the above statement, so far so good!

A shoe has to look good. I am not a girly girl but who doesn’t ask themselves the question, ‘Does this shoe look good?’ In the traditional black and red colour-way of Salomon… I love them.

My Final Say
These are my ideal shoes for quantity training and also the mid to longer trail races. I am just so stoked to have a shoe that protects my feet and legs on both the easier terrain and the gnarly stuff too. They have been a popular seller at Find Your Feet, especially with individuals lining up for the 25km to 100km distances. The most common comment I receive is, ‘I love the cushioning!’ This is not something we have heard often when runners describe their experience with Salomon SLAB. I think the Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra trail running shoe will be a winner with many trail enthusiasts!


  • Posted on by Hanny - Find Your Feet

    Hi Ben – I was also a little concerned about changing from the 4mm to 8mm drop.  But I can honestly say that I haven’t noticed a massive, scary difference.  For sure there is more to the shoe but it still performs like a 4mm – flexible, good ground responsiveness and yet all the while supporting the foot more.  I have found my achilles fatigue has reduced a little and the extra cushioning is super helpful when it comes to ultra distances.  I think this is my perfect shoe as the distances increase.  I will always love my 4mm Salomon S-Lab Speed shoes and the Sense 6’s but I truly believe this is a better shoe for longer distances.

    Hi David – I too have had my challenges with the cushioning in some trail shoes, including some of the other Salomon styles when the distances increase.  But I can honestly say that these shoes are very, very different.  There are no other Salomon shoes with this level of cushioning. In regards to comparison to Hokka, I believe that they are going to really rival Hoka when it comes to comfort.  They are very responsive to the trail with great feel but with more cushioning than Salomon have ever had previously or in other models on the market at the moment.  But if you felt that there is still not enough cushioning but you want a more plush trail shoe, I would definitely also try the Pearl Izumi N3 Trail Running Shoes.  Super cushy, great feel, wider toe box… a great all-rounder for the not epically rough trails.  If you opt this way, make sure you increase your shoe size when purchasing by 1/2 a size as they are on the smaller side. I still think the Salomon Sense Ultra is my perfect shoe as the distances increase.  I am stoked to have finally found something up to the challenges of trail, distance and comfort.

    Hi Marc – I too have had my challenges with the cushioning in some trail shoes, including some of the other Salomon styles when the distances increase.  But I can honestly say that these shoes are very, very different and could help with the blister problem.  You should also have a look at my recent Blister Prevention Video as I find these tips are pretty bulletproof – vaseline, Fixamol and breathable socks (I like our FYF ones or merino socks). Yes, undeniably these shoes are very pricey.  I was skeptical about this.  But I think they are going to be super durable given the wear I have had so far, and I feel I am paying for unrivalled comfort right at the moment. 

    Hope that helps!  If you need to talk more about it, all our staff now find themselves running around in these.  Just give the shop a call and they can help you out – 1300 584 023.  

    Thanks for your support of our endeavours here at FYF.


  • Posted on by Ben

    Great review Hanny,

    How do you feel about the 8mm drop compared the previous 4mm for the sense predecessors as well as the current soft-ground models….?

    Be good to hear your views from someone who uses 4mm, but is in need of an ultra trail shoe – too much drop??

  • Posted on by Dave

    Hi and thanks for providing this review…always really helpful especially when looking at replacing existing shoes.
    Having always used Salomon Sense Pros, I recently competed in the Tarawera Ultra in a new pair of Hokkas and swore Id never use them again or go with a cushioned trail shoe again after rolling my ankles multiple times during the race and straining ligaments in the process. Felt like I was running on stilts. I replaced these with the new Nike Terra Kiga for the Tassie Trail Fest 44km race 2 weeks ago. I found these better for stability and feeling the ground beneath me, but Im still keen for a bit more cushioning for the longer straights of road that usually come up in an ultra. Getting back to the Salomons interests me, so how would you rate these Slab Sense Ultra to the Solomon Sense Pro and Hokkas? Midway between the two? Thanks for your review.

  • Posted on by Marc

    The price is a bit ridiculous don’t you agree? They are like a hundred dollars more expensive than the other S-Lab shoes. Anyway being a fan of what they do and struggling with blisters in the S-Lab Ultra Sense 5, would you rather go for these one s or for the Sense pro (what I was thinking)?

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