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Best Salomon Running Shoes in 2021

 

The Salomon brand has been around since 1947, mainly producing ski equipment. In 1992 they created their first hiking shoes.

Since then, they’ve become one of the most well-known names in outdoor adventuring, be it trail running, hiking, or mountaineering.

If you’re a road runner, you can still be a fan of the brand. They make excellent quality road shoes as well as shoes for rugged terrain.

We’ve reviewed 10 of the best Salomon running shoes on the market. For trails, we chose the Sense Ride 4 as our favorite, thanks to its user-friendly Optivibe foam midsole and grippy Contagrip MA outsole.

For road running, we chose the Sonic 4 Balance, as it has a responsive and cushioned midsole and Contagrip FA outsole.

They have other excellent options, so read through all 10 to make your choice.

Top 3 Best and Favorite

 

SENSE RIDE 4

 

  • Contagrip outsole
  • Optivibe foam midsole
  • EndoFit internal sleeve
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SONIC 4 BALANCE

 

  • Geometric Decoupling
  • Molded OrthoLite insert
  • Contagrip FA outsole
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SPEEDCROSS 5

 

  • Deep, chevron lugs
  • EnergyCell+ midsole
  • Close-knit mesh upper
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Best Trail Overall

1. SENSE RIDE 4

The Sense Ride 4 is a very well-rounded shoe. It’s ideal for individuals who are just getting into trail running as it’s not as rugged as some of their footwear.

Like many trail Salomons, it features their Quicklace system, which is easy to use and allows one to get a snug fit around the midfoot.

The fit of the shoe is further enhanced by SensiFit, which is a network of synthetic overlays in the upper that creates a custom, cradled fit across the midfoot. EndoFit is an internal sleeve that hugs the foot, providing a tightness that keeps the foot in place without being uncomfortable.

Salomon’s Optivibe vibe in the midsole is created from two different density foams. One serves the purpose of dampening shock and protecting your joints by providing a cushioned ride. The other foam offers good energy return so you can run for longer before your muscles become fatigued.

The outsole features Salomon’s Contagrip MA full rubber grip, which provides stability on all terrain. The rubber lugs are effective for gaining traction on slippery or gritty surfaces without being too intrusive underfoot—excellent for individuals who are new to trail running and aren’t used to lugs.

The shoes also have a Profeel film underneath which provides protection against sharp objects like rocks, sticks, or other hazards.

PROS:

  • Contagrip outsole
  • Optivibe foam midsole
  • Pull-tight Quicklace system
  • EndoFit internal sleeve

CONS:

  • These shoes can run half a size bigger
 

Best Road Overall

2. SONIC 4 BALANCE

Those who prefer running on the road would benefit from the Sonic 4 Balance. It also features Optivibe cushioning which will reduce the negative effects of vibrations on the joints but still offers firm, springy energy return so you can get a responsive ride.

There is plenty of heel cushioning so this shoe would suit heel strikers very well. The heel cushion is in two layers—a softer foam, which runs the length of the shoe, and a firmer section of foam right underneath the heel that is clearly visible when looking at the shoe.

The engineered 3D mesh upper is breathable, and the weave is varied throughout the shoe to offer structure where needed and flexibility in other areas. Within the upper, SensiFit technology cradles the foot for a firm fit. A molded OrthoLite insert contours to the foot and provides an extra layer of cushion.

This shoe uses Geometric Decoupling for guidance and a more effective heel-to-toe transition. This is a groove in the midsole, both on the top and the bottom, which increases flexibility.

A Contagrip FA outsole features flatter and wider lugs for traction on road surfaces. It’s also very durable.

These shoes have a traditional lacing system rather than the Quicklace system. This may be preferable for some, but others may find that the laces come undone too easily while running.

PROS:

  • Geometric Decoupling
  • Molded OrthoLite insert
  • Contagrip FA outsole
  • Optivibe foam cushioning

CONS:

  • Some runners may find that the cushioning feels too stiff to be comfortable on longer runs
 

Top Trail Soft Ground

3. SPEEDCROSS 5

Although the Salomon Speedcross is a rugged trail shoe, it still manages to not look bulky.

With its narrow profile, it should fit most runners snugly. There is a wide version for runners who need more room in the toe box and midfoot.

The upper is made from nylon mesh, a tight-knit material that stops debris and dust from getting into the shoe. It is slightly stretchy but not restrictive, offering flexibility and light breathability.

Sensifit synthetic overlays are present in this shoe as well, to provide structure and stability that help keep the foot in position on uneven terrain. The Quicklace system helps to lock the foot in and keep it from moving within the shoe on rocky ground.

A padded tongue and collar make the Speedcross cushioned from the top down. Underfoot, a full-length EnergyCell+ foam midsole gives one a bouncy return on every step. On top of the midsole you’ll find an Ortholite sockliner, which offers support and light arch support and is also antimicrobial.

The outsole makes use of Contagrip TA, which is a rubber compound that’s durable and provides traction on a wide variety of surfaces. Deep, chevron-shaped lugs are present in a pattern across the sole, facing opposite ways on the forefoot and rearfoot to give one support on both uphills and downhills.

The Speedcross can run slightly large so you may need to order half a size smaller than your usual size.

PROS:

  • Deep, chevron lugs
  • EnergyCell+ midsole
  • Close-knit mesh upper
  • Padded tongue and collar

CONS:

  • These shoes can run a half size larger
 

Best Trail Performance

4. S/LAB PULSAR

This shoe is designed to be lightweight and minimalistic so you can be streamlined on the trails and not weighed down by your footwear. It is classified as a “minimal protection” shoe by Salomon, but it aims for responsiveness rather than support. They were designed for professional trail runner Kilian Jornet, and weigh just 6 ounces.

Anti-debris mesh protects your feet on any trail. The upper is reinforced with Matryx technology, which includes aramid fiber in its construction to strengthen its integrity and support and contour the foot more effectively.

It’s also seam-free to reduce any chance of chafing or hotspots. Salomon’s Quicklace system offers easy on and off and a custom fit.

The Energy Surge midsole foam is lightweight and responsive. It’s made by mixing EVA foam and OBC—olefin—which gives one both energetic responsiveness and comfortable cushion that offers long-lasting comfort.

The Contagrip MA rubber outsole features light, flat lugs that can handle dry, wet, sandy, or grave surfaces with ease. For extra protection, a Profeel film prevents injury by sharp rocks or other possibly damaging items on the trail.

Individuals with wide feet may find that the Pulsar feels too narrow on their feet.

PROS:

  • Reinforced Matryx mesh upper
  • Profeel film
  • Energy Surge midsole foam
  • Lug depth of 2,5 mm

CONS:

  • Runners with wide feet may find this shoe to be a bit narrow
 

Top Waterproof Trail Shoes

5. SPEEDCROSS 5 GTX

Most of Salomon’s shoes are not completely waterproof, although they offer some level of resistance to water. If you want a truly waterproof pair of Salomons, the Speedcross 5 GTX—Gore-Tex—is the way to go.

The Speedcross GTX offers all the same excellent features that the non-GTX version does. This includes a welded, seam-free mesh upper, the Quicklace system, SensiFit, EnergyCell+midsole cushioning, and a Contagrip TA outsole with chevron lugs.

Gore-Tex technology in the upper provides full waterproofing. One can use these shoes for light trail running or for trekking through mud, puddles, and in rainy weather, without worrying about wet feet.

PROS:

  • GORE-TEX construction
  • Contagrip TA outsole
  • Anti-debris mesh
  • EnergyCell+ midsole cushioning

CONS:

  • These shoes may run half a size larger
 

Best Trail Stability

6. XA WILD

Salomon fans who overpronate will benefit from this shoe. The XA Wild is a stability shoe that provides extra support in the midfoot section to counter overpronation, providing a stable and supportive feeling on uneven trails.

3D open-weave mesh is both supportive and breathable. SensiFit overlays provide extra support and connect to the Quicklace system, allowing one to get a comfortable custom fit on the foot.

Like all Quicklace systems, a small pocket on the tongue provides a hiding place for the excess lacing, keeping the shoe looking clean and tidy. For runners with a high footbridge, this could cause a hotspot.

The EnergyCell EVA midsole strikes a good balance between absorbing shock and providing energetic propulsion. Salomon’s 3D Advanced Chassis sits between the midsole and the outsole. It provides a stable and secure platform that keeps the foot in place and prevents foot fatigue that may occur as a result of the foot rolling.

The Contagrip MA rubber compound on the outsole is highly durable and provides grip on both wet and dry surfaces. Aggressive, angled lugs increase the grip on uneven and loose surfaces.

PROS:

  • SensiFit overlays
  • 3D Advanced Chassis
  • Contagrip MA outsole
  • Molded sockliner

CONS:

  • The laces in the lace pocket may cause a hotspot for some runners
 

Top Trail For Ultras

7. S/LAB ULTRA 3

The S/LabUltra has been specifically designed for long distances on a variety of surfaces. It’s made to be lightweight and comfortable without compromising performance over ultra distances.

It looks slightly different from Salomon’s other shoes as it has an integrated gaiter over the ankle collar. This helps keep debris and dirt from landing in the shoe. It’s paired with an anti-debris mesh upper, which is tightly knit for protection but still has good ventilation.

The upper has been treated with a light water-repellent coating, so your feet will stay safe and warm in light showers or splashes. It’s not fully waterproof, so stepping in puddles may cause your feet to get wet.

EnergyCell+ foam and Energy Save technology provide the best combination of springy rebound and shock-absorbing cushion. A Profeel film protects the underfoot from sharp rocks, and also helps with impact absorption to a degree.

The Contagrip MA outsole is equipped with 4mm lugs for optimal traction on any surface.

PROS:

  • Integrated gaiter
  • Water repellant treatment
  • Responsive cushioning
  • 4mm lug depth

CONS:

  • The gaiter may cause chafing
 

Best Road Comfort

8. PREDICT SOC

For a cushioned and comfortable experience on the road, that doesn’t sacrifice responsiveness, this shoe is an excellent option.

A sock-like feeling is just one of the comfort features of this shoe. It offers a smooth and easy ride thanks to the decoupled midsole, which has a groove in it to guide the foot and promote an efficient heel-to-toe transition. EnergyCell+ foam in the midsole means that the shoe is still responsive at the same time as being well-cushioned.

The Contagrip FA outsole is also decoupled, featuring two distinct platforms that offer more responsiveness on each step. The deep groove in the center has a guidance function as well, assisting with an efficient transition from heel to toe.

The hard rubber is durable and sports flat lugs that are ideal for providing traction on road surfaces.

PROS:

  • Anatomically decoupled midsoles
  • Independent Support Platforms
  • Sock-like fit upper
  • EnergyCell+ midsole cushioning

CONS:

  • These shoes run large so you may have to order a smaller size
 

Top Road Responsive

9. SONIC 4 ACCELERATE

Road runners who are less concerned with cushioning and more focused on responsiveness would appreciate the Sonic 4 Accelerate. As the name suggests, the shoe is made for performance and speed.

It’s stiffer than your average daily road running shoe, using Optivibe cushioning to reduce the vibrational shock on every footfall. The typical split heel provides good shock absorption but the more springy foam throughout the rest of the shoe offers a bouncy toe-off and increased acceleration.

A Geometric Decoupling design in the midsole and outsole means that there’s more of an efficient transition as you move through your footstrike.

The upper consists of a single layer of mesh, which is lightly protective and breathable. This also makes the shoe lightweight, which is helped by the addition of a thin tongue and ankle collar.

The blown rubber Contagrip FA outsole is light and has flat lugs which are ideal for road use. They’re low enough for you to get a good road feel underfoot.

These shoes use a traditional lacing system so that you can get a custom fit around your foot. Some runners may feel that the laces are too long and come undone easily.

PROS:

  • Geometric Decoupling
  • Single layer of mesh
  • Internal SensiFit
  • Blown rubber Contagrip

CONS:

  • Some runners may find the laces to be too long and that they can come undone while running
 

Best Road Cushion

10. PREDICT 2

If you like a plush ride when running, the Predict 2 offers soft, premium cushioning with its Infiniride foam midsole. Salomon classifies it as soft cushion, so runners who prefer a firmer feeling would not like this shoe.

To increase the comfort of the shoe, a molded OrthoLite sockliner contours to your foot and provides a light extra layer of cushion. The 360° Articulated Upper offers a hug-like fit from a sock-like upper.

The decoupled midsole and outsole allow for better foot flexibility, making the heel-to-toe transition more efficient. Two independent platforms with a groove in between them offer guidance through the transition.

Contagrip FA rubber is lightweight and designed for road use, with low, flat lugs that are both durable and grippy.

Salomon labels the fit as “generous”, which means that although runners with wide feet may find them comfortable, those with narrow feet may find the fit to be too loose.

PROS:

  • Infiniride foam
  • Contagrip FA lugs
  • Independent Support Platforms
  • Upper is flexible and has no seams

CONS:

  • Runners with narrow feet may find the fit to be too loose
 

FAQs

What are the main differences between road and trail shoes?

When we look at the differences between road and trail shoes, road running shoes are made from lightweight materials. The upper is lightweight and flexible, and the foam is also lightweight to encourage responsiveness and speed.

The outsole of the running shoe is thinner, as one doesn’t need as much traction when running on concrete or asphalt.

Trail running shoes are generally heavier with thicker outsoles that have aggressive tread patterns. These provide traction and protect your foot from obstacles like rocks, roots, and sticks.

The midsole is stiffer to protect your foot from obstacles and absorb shock. The reinforced uppers are more robust and are designed to keep debris out of the shoe.

You’ll find that the toe guard on the front of the shoe is also reinforced to protect your toes.

Features of trail running shoes

There are a few things on trail running shoes that are different from road running and cross-training shoes. They are:

Rock Plate

Most trail running shoes come with a rock plate or a nylon shank integrated into the midsole. This protects your foot and reduces the risk of injury to the sole while you run over technical or rocky terrain.

It’s important to note that you won’t need a rock plate if you’re only going to be running on smooth, soft trails.

Tread

Trail running shoes have a tread pattern and lug depth for every different terrain. If you’ll be running on wet and muddy trails, then a shoe with wider spaced, deep lugs of 5 mm to 7 mm would provide the best traction.

But if you’ll be running on hard-packed trails, then look for a tread that has closely-spaced lugs with a short depth—between 2mm and 4 mm. This type of trail shoe would also be the best to transition from trail to roads fairly comfortably.

For soft sand, rocky trails, scree, or gravel, it’s best to go with a trail shoe that has a “sticky rubber” outsole. This is designed to provide an improved grip while you run over this terrain.

Cushioning

The cushioning of the shoe you choose will always come down to personal preference, but you will need to consider the terrain you’ll be running over.

For running on both trails and the road, you may want a shoe with more cushioning. You may also want a max cushioned shoe if you’re going to be running long distances—think ultra-marathons—or if the trails are going to be hard-packed.

If you’re going to be running short distances, on smooth, soft trails or want a “close-to-the-ground feel”, then look for a shoe with slightly less cushioning. But if you struggle with joint pain, then maybe opt for a more cushioned shoe as it will reduce impact.

Upper

Before buying trail running shoes, think about the conditions you’re going to be running in.

If you’re going to be running in wet conditions often, then choose a waterproof version. There are Gore-Tex versions that help repel water, but if you live in a warmer climate, you may find that they get hot.

The engineered upper is made to be durable and often has a large toe guard and synthetic overlays to protect your feet from thorns, sticks and brush.

Some trail running shoes have an integrated gaiter to protect your feet from water seeping in at the collar.

The Wired Runner