Salomon S-Lab Ultra 2 Review Facts
Developed in collaboration with Ultra-runner Francois D’haene, the Salomon S-lab Ultra 2 is a racing shoe that offers a precise fit, superior grip, and incredible comfort for long-distance running. The S-Lab Ultra is the successor to last year’s popular Salomon ‘Sense Ultra’ with a slight change in naming convention. Long distance trail running presents some contradictory conundrums for athletic companies such as providing a cushioning system and space in the toe box to absorb shock, yet also providing a snug fit. While most running shoes compromise on one or the other quality, this shoe seems to have checked all the boxes. The S/Lab Ultra Trail provides amazing cushioning that supports long-distance running, and has a snug upper to keep the foot secure.
The rock plate goes right around the midfoot and stretches all the way into the forefoot up into the toes, providing enough protection even when you’re stepping into harsh rocks. The Ultra 2 reuses the same outsole pattern and height as the previous version but with a stickier material without affecting durability. The outsole of the S/Lab Ultra contains lugs deep enough to provide a steady grip on both hard surfaces like gravel and also wet and slippery surfaces. In another bonus to distance runners, the shoe’s outsole is made of the proprietary ‘Premium Wet Traction Contagrip® which as the name suggests, prevents slippage on wet surfaces. The rubber is also claimed to be so durable that you will barely see any signs of wear and tear even after hundreds of miles.
Salomon fixes the minimal cushioning issue of the preceding shoe by employing three additional features. The first being EnergyCell+ foam encased in the dual-density EVA foam. This allows for optimal energy return, supplying a high rebound. The shoe also contains a Profeel Film that cuts down on fatigue by giving an energy return with each and every step. A molded Ortholite sock liner provides a degree of comfort and enhanced fit.
This shoe also boasts a grading construction that adjusts the pattern of the shoe for each size available. The second being Energysave® inserts in the forefoot which adds a bonus layer of cushioning and helps protect the feet from rocks and hard surfaces on the ground.
Doing away with a permeable mesh, the S-Lab 2 goes for a ‘Skinguard’ construction that brings much-needed breathability to a runner’s feet and protection from external forces.
Like most Salomon shoes, this shoe also consists of an Endofit upper, a sock-like material on the inside, that cocoons your feet. It also features another classic Salomon feature, the Sensifit™, which wraps the foot with a precise fit. Unlike the Salomon Mantra, the Ultra doesn’t have material that needs stitching or any layering, thus keeping the upper minimal and simple.
The tongue of this shoe is extra plush compared to previous Salomon models and is gusseted to keep debris out of the shoe. Salomon shoes are known for their superior fit and this one delivers.
In terms of weight at 300g for a size 9, this shoe is 25g heavier than its predecessor, the S/Lab Sense Ultra. Considering all the heavy cushioning material and the extra upper flaps, this shoe can be considered lightweight. All in all, the shoe does an excellent job of delivering cushion support without adding bulk or weight.
The Skinguard mesh construction on the upper is quick-drying, breathable, and water-resistant in addition to protecting the foot from trail hazards. A user reflected that even after crossing an ankle-deep creek, the shoe dried at a rate faster than he was used to with any other shoe. This is because the material of the upper absorbs moisture and wicks it away.
The cushioning system cannot be compared with the Adidas Boost or the Nike epic React but it does have more cushion than a typical Salomon
. The lacing system is a marvel which adds superbly to the comfortability of the shoe. When you’re running a race, you wouldn't want to spend too long at the change station to change your shoes, thus its quick lace for one-pull tightening, easy-on, easy-off technology is much preferable.
The S/Lab Ultra 2 has exceptional cushioning sufficient for running 50+ miles on the hard ground, and yet keeps runners positioned low to the ground with a flexible midsole that gives an outstanding feel for surfaces underfoot.
From an aesthetic perspective, the S-Lab Ultra 2 is different as it does not contain block colors but a transition from red to black. For a runner keen on style, this shoe disappoints because there is only one colorway available. A few other design features stand out straightaways such as the extra slab on the side, the quick lace system, and the “Sensifit” wings. These wings are a set of raised overlays on both sides of the upper that some say, brings a futuristic look to the shoe. Although, some customers have reservations because of grit getting deposited on the overlays and an uncomfortable pressure over the midfoot because of it.
Although Salomon reported using durable ‘kevlar’ like material on the Quicklaces, a few runners felt that they could have lasted longer than they actually did. The revamped outsole of this sole has deeper lugs than its previous version with the intention of offering long-lasting trail running shoes. And the shoe does not disappoint. Many runners marveled at the outsole remaining as good as new even after hundreds of miles. One complaint is directed at the upper whose mesh was seen to develop holes after prolonged friction with the wing overlays.
The inner skin guard lining is amazingly smooth which will prevent skin irritation and abrasions over long runs. Like most other Salomon shoes, the S-Lab Ultra 2 will last long, for at least 500 miles. Makers of the shoe were particular about making this shoe as protective as possible and hence you will find many features lending its hand to this goal. The upper offers sufficient protection against sticks, rocks, and other trail hazards and the Profeel film envelopes the foot while the Energysave® makes the running experience comfortable at the toe box.
The midsole of the shoe contributes greatly to the responsiveness of the shoe. For a sockliner, the S-Lab Ultra 2 has an ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) material shaped to fit the anatomy. This feature adds a lot of cushioning capability to the shoe, while also equipping the shoe with a shock-absorbent quality.
The S-lab Ultra 2 is a neutral support shoe with a lightweight flexible response that you would want for long runs. The snug mid-foot wrap and engineered midsole add a great deal of stability to the Salomon, however, its light upper may not be the most supportive to those with flat feet.
The shoe like its previous version requires a few runs to 'break-in' and settle comfortably.
Read also about best distance running shoes.
This shoe is built for a number of conditions whether it's on the trail or even on the road. It does have a bit of the lug action that isn’t necessary for road running. The S/Lab Ultra 2's midsole is thin enough with a flexible rock plate that allows runners to get tactile feedback with changes in terrain. So even if not built for the road, this feature helps run with a degree of safety on all kinds of crumbly surfaces. The large lugs on the outsole do a surprisingly good job in creating traction that propels the runner forward.
The Salomon is on the higher end of the trail running shoes with many similar shoes available at a slightly lower price. In fact, the price is a deterrent for runners with a budget but keep in mind that Salomon is known for its high-quality materials and extensive testing. Since this shoe can last for a good 800-1000 miles, in the long run, the shoe seems like a good investment, especially if you are a serious runner
The outsole forefoot consists of larger lugs made from Contagrip- a non-marking rubber known for its durability
. Just like its predecessor, this shoe is marketed heavily on its traction capabilities. The Contagrip works well on damp surfaces so you can run without the fear of slippage or sliding. Such a feature also allows longer runs without the risk of injury from wet ground
Because the shoe is jam-packed with so many features, the S-lab offers moderate flexibility which isn’t too bad for a novice runner. The shoe is somewhat narrow at the tox box and does not expand greatly on wearing it. So if you have wide feet, you should choose a bigger size for more comfort.
The outsole consists of Salomon’s proprietary material with long lugs designed to keep you running with confidence and in control at all times. This shoe uses a Quicklace system, which makes lacing and unlacing easy and quick. This is a great feature for a serious runner who fears laces coming undone in the midst of the race. The reviews on this feature were mixed with some runners preferring the old fashioned system of lacing
The sleek designs cradle the foot from the midsole all the way to the lacing system to give you that secure, snug fit all race long. The quick lace top cinches closed easily to keep the fit nice and tight. The feature of a ‘lace garage’ to slip the laces back into a pocket adds to the pleasing aesthetic of the shoe and keeps the laces out of the way.
With a heel height of 26 mm and an 18 mm forefoot, the shoe has a moderate 8mm drop. The drop contributed to the minimalistic feel of the shoe. While serious trail runners usually go for a 0-4mm drop, 8mm is not so big of a drop that the minimalist fan club will feel uncomfortable. When you’re running marathons or trails where you will need to take a break from sprinting, a moderate 8mm will feel satisfactory at the full throttle sprints and a slow pace. Some runners felt that the shoe's drop felt more like a 4mm of drop and had no complaints.
-Moderate 8mm drop
-Quick-lace system for easy lacing and an integrated tongue pocket
-Dual-density compressed EVA foam with an Ortholite sockliner
-Pro-feel film at the Forefoot
-Contagrip® outsole for traction at all surfaces
-Neutral Arch support
The Salomon S-Lab Ultra 2 is an improvement from its predecessor in terms of an updated upper, and new lug pattern among other features. The S-Line of shoes is meant to target competitive runners and those who train regularly on treacherous terrain and thus features pricier materials and technology. This trail shoe is a decent balance of weight, cushioning, durability and traction. The Salomon S-Lab Ultra 2 has significant noticeable improvements over its predecessor with a few weaknesses in terms of its sizing and price which Salamon justifies due to its powerful features, comfort, and impressive performance.
Also read about: The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm
If you have narrow feet, you may find the toebox constricting and this shoe may not be the ideal shoe for you. In sum, for those with moderate-width feet who need a combination of a comfortable ride, lightweight, sufficient grip in a range of conditions, and impressive feel for the ground, the S/Lab Trail Ultra 2 could be a good option among its competitors.