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Salomon Sense Pro Trail Running Shoe Review

Salomon Sense ProIt’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a pair of trail shoes myself. Historically I have mostly been a road runner, with trails making up only a small portion of my total mileage. However, this year I’ve made an effort to get off road a bit more often, and so far almost all of my trail miles, including a 10 mile race, have been run in the Salomon Sense Pro.

Salomon sent me a pair the Sense Pro several months ago (Disclosure: these were media samples provided free of charge for review purposes), and my first impression upon trying them on was that they were too tight. I came really close to sending them back. But, the shoes looked great, and I desperately wanted to run in them. I’d also never tried a Salomon shoe before, and wanted to see what the brand had offer.

I tried swapping a thinner insole into the Sense Pros and that created enough room to make them wearable. After a few runs they broke in nicely and I was able to put the original insole back in. I’m really glad I kept them since the Sense Pro has quickly become one of my favorite shoes. In fact, it may be the shoe that has been on my feet more than any other so far this year (combined running and casual use). What’s more, probably 3/4 of my 50 or so miles in them have been on trails, so I’ve actually been able to put them to the test on the surfaces they were designed to tackle.

Salomon Sense Pro side

Let’s start with the specs (via Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.2oz in men’s size 9
Stack Height: 22mm heel; 17mm forefoot

Fit and Feel

The simplest way I can describe the Sense Pro is that it feels like a racing flat built for the trails. It’s a low-profile shoe that fits very snugly, but for some reason the fit works for me and does not feel constricting. I think the reason is that Salomon has squared off the toebox just enough so that it doesn’t squeeze my toes together. If you have wide feet these will likely not work for you – closest comparisons I could make for fit would be maybe the Saucony A5, Pearl Izumi N0, or the Adidas Adios Boost. If you like feeling locked into a trail shoe, these might be perfect.

Though the Sense Pro is not ultralight, it’s light enough that it stills feels fast. That may have something to do with the fit being reminiscent of a flat, and I was actually surprised when I weighed my pair in at 9.6 oz. I would have guessed more in the 7-8 oz range.

A note on sizing – Salomon sent me a size 9.5. This might be the first shoe I’ve ever worn in that size as I’m almost always a size 10 or 10.5 in other shoes. However, the fit does seem to be right on me, so I suspect they sent me a half size down since the shoe runs a bit big.

Salomon Sense Pro top

Upper

The upper of the Sense Pro is very similar (though not identical) to that of the Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra (which I recently purchased since I like the Sense Pro so much). It has a flexible toe bumper, and lots of welded overlays for support. I like the fact that the overlays extend along the junction between the sole and the upper forming a rand – for a post on the importance of randing in a trail shoe read this. The upper has a feeling of quality to it – this is a very well-crafted shoe. I have not noticed any delaminating of the overlays or unusual upper wear after 50 miles in them.

The Sense Pro is the first shoe I’ve run in that has speed laces. I’ve come to like them a lot, but they do present some challenges since the laces are a bit long. Salomon has built a little pocket into the top of the tongue into which you can tuck the slack, but I’ve found that a bit challenging to access (rather, I’m lazy and haven’t taken the time to mess with the pocket). I’ve simply tucked the slack under the laces and that seems to have worked well. The speed lacing makes it easy to slip the shoes on and off, and I can keep them loose when I wear the shoes casually.

The tongue of the Sense Pro is attached internally to the footbed both sides to hug the foot and keep debris out – Salomon calls this the Endofit. I did notice that trail grit does tend to accumulate between the Endofit sleeve and the upper of the shoe and must be shaken out on occasion.

Sole

The sole of the Salomon Sense Pro is 5mm drop, and has a firm feel to it (it’s apparently the same sole as found on the Sense Mantra). It feels perfect for running fast on the trails, and I’ve even enjoyed running on roads in them. The latter is a bit of a surprise to me since I don’t generally like firmer shoes on roads unless they are very minimal.

Salomon Sense Pro Sole

The outsole is full coverage rubber, and the lugs are small but grippy. This is not a mud shoe, but I’ve not had issues with traction over other varied trail surfaces. The 10 mile trail race I ran in them was on a wet, cool day and the trail was technical with lots of switchbacks, soggy leaf cover, roots, and wet rocks. Traction was excellent. I ran on the same trails again on Monday, and once again had no issues with traction. I did hit a few patches of wet mud, and the shoes drained fairly quickly after getting submerged.

The Sense Pro has a rock plate that extends back through the midfoot. Protection is excellent, and have had no issues running over roots or pointy granite rocks in them.

Performance

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, I’ve run about 50 miles in the Sense Pros over varied surfaces, including a 10 mile trail race. They have worked remarkably well for everything I have thrown at them (except for mud).

2014-06-05 13.09.26I liked the Sense Pro so much that I decided to buy a pair of the Sense 3 Ultras as well, if for no other reason than to figure out how the shoes differ. I’ve not yet run in the Sense 3 Ultra, only worn them around a bit and did a 4 mile hike in them.

The shoes are pretty similar, differing mainly in weight (Sense 3 Ultra is about 1.5 oz lighter), stack height (Sense Ultra drops 3mm from the heel and forefoot heights), and price (the Ultra costs $30 more). The Sense Ultra also feels just a tad snugger, has a thinner insole, is less padded around the ankle collar, and the lace rows are more widely separated – see photo to the left.

2014-06-05 13.09.46

Salomon Sense Pro (blue) and Sense 3 Ultra (red)

One more thing to note is that though I wear a 9.5 in the Sense Pro, I ordered a 10 in the Sense 3 Ultra. I think this was the right call.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a low profile, snug-fitting trail shoe that will handle most trail conditions, the Salomon Sense Pro is a great choice. It’s a shoe that is going to continue to get a lot of use from me, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the best trail shoes I have tried, an all-around winner!

The Salomon Sense Pro is available for purchase at Running Warehouse, Zappos (currently on sale), and Amazon. Outside the US it can be purchased direct from Salomon, or at Millett Sports in the UK. Purchases made via these links help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

For another take on the Salomon Sense Pro, check out this video review by Ginger Runner.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. drmitau says:

    Could you compare it please to some other shoes like Merrell Mix Master II, Inov-8 Trailroc 245 or something similar?

    • It’s a snugger fitting shoe than either of those, probably a bit stiffer as well. Might be more comparable to something like the Saucony Peregrine, though the new Peregrine has a more aggressive outsole. I’m having a tough time coming up with a directly comparable trail shoe, but in part that may be due to the fact that I haven’t run in as many trail shoes.

    • David Henry says:

      It is definitely more shoe than the Mix Master or Trailroc 245. Closest comparison I can think of is probably the Trailroc 255 (in protection), but with a more racing style fit and cut to it. It is definitely firm and I would say runs more like a minimal shoe than a traditional shoe, but with lots of protection, which isn’t a bad thing.

  2. Any thoughts on the differences between the Sense Pro and Sense Mantra, they seem pretty similar aside from slight upper differences?

    • Have not tried the Mantra, but apparently the sole is identical. The Mantra has a more meshy upper with seams from what I have seen of it, but have not had it on my feet.

    • David Henry says:

      Only difference in Pro and Mantra is the upper. I feel like the Pro upper is a much better upper all the way around and is very similar to the Sense 3 Ultra, which is nice if you want to run both pairs in rotation. Mainly I think the goal of the Mantra was to get it in at a lower price point ($110 rather than $130 for the Pro).

  3. Aaron Harrell says:

    Nice review! I would agree that Salomon really makes some fast trail shoes. I think my Sense Ultras are my favorite road racing shoe to date! My only problem is durability of the midsole, which was packed out at 130 miles and it almost gone at 180. When I can’t get more than a mile for every dollar I spend I get a little cranky.

  4. leeapeea says:

    I’m wide-footed, so when these were recommended I was sceptical. I’d never felt comfortable in Solomons before, and the only brand I’d found that didn’t give me blisters on the inside of my arch was Montrail. I put these on an ran 10 miles of soggy, technical trail with no foot issues. My calf muscles are still adjusting to the lower drop, but overall I’m pleased with this shoe and, assuming they hold up for the cost, I’ll purchase them again.

  5. I’m glad you reviewed these. I picked up some Sense Mantra 2s at REI recently. I will admit that I bought them because they’re very good looking shoes, I figured if they didn’t work for running or hiking, I would keep them as casual shoes. I ended up loving them. The drop is low enough for me, the traction on trails is awesome, the stiffness was easy to get used to and the upper feels very comfortable. I did size up because of the narrowish toe box, but the shoe is snug enough (especially with the tongue design and the lacing system) that they don’t feel loose.
    Everything you said about the ultra pro applies to the mantra.

    • Yeah, both are great looking shoes. That’s a big part of why I didn’t send my Pro’s back when I initially thought they were too narrow. I wanted them to work because they looked awesome!

  6. How well do these drain after a water crossing compared to the Ultra version? I have a mountain marathon race coming up with several water crossings and am weighing up my options. I like the idea of a stone plate in these in case of angular rocks – I think my feet would appreciate less bruising far more than they would less weight!

    • I have found drainage to be decent in the Pro, have not submerged the Ultras yet. However, the upper is pretty similar so I expect they should perform well.

  7. Don’t let the reviews about firmness scare you off on this one. I picked up the Sense Pro (they can be had for about $80 on sale) and it ran great for me. I like my trail shoes pretty cush too. Felt like a bit firmer Helios to me. Not near as firm as the NF Ultra Trail…which is one of the firmest of the new shoes I have tried this season (seems I read Olson even has it modified with more cush)…the Ultra trail is most like a trail flat that I have felt this season. The Sense Pro felt like a pretty good all around package. I went true to size because I like a bit more toe room.

  8. Its interesting that you had to go a size down, im a 10 usually, but had to go up half a size in my mantras, ive never had a blister or any problems whatsoever in them, they’ve finally given up on me after alomst a year of a heavy pounding on numerous ultras one being a 75 miler and lots of road training, ive ordered the pro this time because the upper looked more durable as my mantras started to tear along the joins of the upper.
    i cant wait to try them out, they are going to get christened officially on the peaks skyrace in the UK in August

    also whats your opionion on a good mud shoe, im thinking of inov8 mudclaw or speedcross 3
    cheers

    • Not enough trail experience in muddy conditions to come up with a rec for a mud shoe. I know a lot of people like the Inov-8 X-Talons, and Salomon makes the Sense Soft Ground shoe that has bigger lugs.

  9. Hi,

    I wondered how you’d compare this shoe to the Topo Mountain MT? I’m particularly interested in the toe box size. The Sense Pro looks great but the Topo seems to be roomier around the toes (from pictures)

    Cheers.

  10. @coffndrop says:

    hey,

    was wondering if you could comment on what the arch is like in both of these salomon shoes…? is it built-up, or flattish? always imagined they would be pretty arch-y, from the look of them…

    cheers in advance, pete!

Trackbacks

  1. […] går tjuvstartade Salomon sin sommar-rea. Jag var nyfiken på Salomon Sense Pro eftersom både Runblogger och The Ginger Runner har gillat dom. Och självklart slutade det med att jag kom hem med ett par […]

  2. […] Note: For full in depth review read the Runblogger.com article about the Salomon Sense Pro. […]

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