It’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 (signed up to run the VT 50K this Fall), 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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). I’d say these are probably a strong frontrunner for my shoe choice for the VT 50K this Fall.
I 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 and to see if the Ultras might be another option for VT. 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.
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.
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 may very well be the shoe I race my 50K in this Fall (we’ll see how the Sense 3 Ultra pans out over the next few months). 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.