Salomon Sonic RA Max 2 Review
I would recommend this shoe for runners that like to go on nice and easy recovery runs or tempo runs where you need a good deal of support and cushioning. Runners found that this shoe has a longer-than-normal break-in period, so you may want to pop on a pair of thick socks on those initial runs. I also love that the grippy rubber outsole is perfect not only for slick sidewalks or modest trailheads. While the Salomon Sonic RA Max 2 isn’t perfect, the advanced cushioning and stability features make it worth checking out.
Below, I wanted to dive into some of the features of the Salomon Sonic RA Max 2 that could make it perfect for your style of running.
Grippy rubber outsole is perfect for slick sidewalks
Lightweight and contoured tongue
Great for long distances
Very cushioned and energetic midsole
10 mm drop
Geometric decoupling is great for transitions
Great for cold weather
Long break-in period can cause blisters
Not very breathable
One of the things that I noticed right away about the feel of the Energy Cell+ midsole is that it is very unique. It doesn’t provide a style of cushioning that feels familiar. Some stability trainers have that plush step-in feel, while others are more rigid for a bouncy and energetic ride. The Energy Cell+ foam midsole lives somewhere in between plush and stiff. While it may seem like the best of both worlds, it makes it a little hard to determine if this shoe is better for easy tempo runs or for speed. It’s a midsole that can’t quite make up its mind.
I determined that this style of midsole is better suited for easy tempo runs. While it is modestly bouncy, it doesn’t quite reach the level of energy return required for fast-paced runs. What I also liked about the construction of this midsole is that it offers dual-density support in the forefoot and the midfoot for smooth transitions, which is beneficial for heel strikers or those with a generally heavy gait.
The fit of the upper on the Salomon Sonic RA MAX 2 has a few issues, but first I wanted to discuss the things that I love about this upper. My favorite feature of this redesigned upper is the fit of the tongue. While it boasts a nice padded collar, the tongue is made from a thin and stretch material that contours to the shape of your foot. This design not only reduces rubbing and chafing but also helps increase lockdown so that the shoe doesn’t shift around on your foot.
Now, onto what I didn’t like. The biggest problem when it comes to the construction of this upper is that it runs really hot. The strategically placed overlays that help to boost stability and are a little too aggressive, which translates into a very hot ride as well as creating hotspots that can rub your ankle and toe raw on long runs. If you like to run in cold weather, however, this hot upper can keep your toes from freezing in cooler climates!
The outsole of this shoe is where it really shines. While the upper suffers from a few missteps, you may be more willing to forgive these issues when confronted with the outsole. Salomon is known for its durable trail runners, and they have incorporated many of these high-endurance features into this road running shoe. It is composed of durable rubber that is surprisingly flexible and really made to move.
There is a central channel that runs right down the center of the outsole that is referred to as Geometric Decoupling. This cut in the outsole is designed to extend the overall durability of the outsole so that no section is worn down unevenly, which extends the overall lifespan of your shoe.
The outsole is composed of Salomon’s CONTRAGRIP materials that essentially glues your feet to the sidewalk. If you live in a rainy part of the world that has sidewalks that never quite dry out, this shoe is designed to boost traction in some pretty slippery conditions. Paired with the thick upper, this is a great shoe to take out in the cold winter months where cold weather and traction are a bit of an issue for satisfying runs.
Salomon has a reputation for inconsistent sizing. If you are a size 10 in the Speedcross series, for instance, you may not be a 10 in the Sonic RA Max 2. I suggest busting out that tape measure and taking good measurements of your foot and comparing it to their sizing chart to ensure that you get the right size.
I love that the toe box of this design is nice and wide, and doesn’t taper at the ends so your toes have plenty of room to naturally splay inside of the shoe. One thing that I did notice, however, is that many runners found that this shoe is a little on the narrow side in the forefoot, and it is not available in wide sizing options.
Overall, the style of this shoe is a little on the beefy side. It isn’t as beefy as a Hoka stability trainer, but it also doesn’t provide the same level of support and cushioning as Hokas. The silhouette is a little minimalistic and doesn’t do anything new and different in terms of style. Under the textbook definition of a running shoe, you will likely find a photo of this shoe.
It’s also only available in a few color options that include blue with black accents or gray. If you want a running shoe with bright and punchy color options or something that is simply unique and different, you will likely have to look elsewhere.
I really can't complain about the price tag of this shoe. It comes in at a fairly affordable price point and is a great value for a good stability shoe. If you are looking for a shoe that is a little more structured and supportive without a price tag that will drain your bank account, these trainers are certainly worth a look. When you compare the price tag to the overall durability of this shoe, it is actually a pretty impressive value!
Comparisons to Previous Versions
The Sonic RAX Max had one glaring issue that runners did not like, and it was that it just wasn’t very durable. The rubber outsole wore unevenly, and the upper often developed wear-and-tear hole. The newest version of this shoe has a reinforced upper that is more durable (albeit hot), and a more durable rubber outsole that is designed to tackle more miles.
Sure, the Sonic RA Max comes in at a more reasonable price point than the Sonic RA Max 2, but the limited durability and changes in design are not worth the price you will save.
I would recommend this shoe for runners that need a good deal of support but aren’t looking for something the pushes the envelope. It’s fairly simple and straightforward, doesn’t dabble in cutting-edge shoe tech, and boasts a pretty basic silhouette that doesn’t come in a wide variety of color options. Sure, it’s a little on the simple side, but it is very effective for a select ground of runners that need stability trainers.