|Salomon S-Lab Wings Image: Salomon.com|
The Salomon S-Lab Wings is the 9.8oz (278 gram) 28mm heel/ 19mm toe (stats from Running Warehouse) $180 "investment grade" flagship of the Salomon line. Quite a mouthful but with impeccable construction, a superbly supportive upper, excellent protection, cushioning and stability for any terrain the Wings is one heck of a shoe. About time Salomon applied the S-Lab shoe technologies to a somewhat more substantial shoe than the fast and light Sense Series which are for all but elites and those wanting a quite minimal trail shoe. In fact, looking at race pictures from 2015 I see many of those elites moving their tired feet to the S-Lab Wings for longer races combining technical terrain and smoother sections...It is also available in a Soft Ground version wet terrain and snow. The S-Lab develops and produces top of the line shoes and gear for Salomon's elite athletes that you can buy, at a price...I have been a huge fan of S-Lab apparel and packs but have until the Wings found their trail shoes too minimal for me beyond for fast short racing on smoother terrain.
I have fast hiked very technical and rocky, basically un-runable terrain for me, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, run smoother yet rooty rocky single track and done roads in Wings and it has handled everything with aplomb.
|The only smooth spot on the trail. On flat granite at the Mt Pierce Ridge. Mt Washington NH in the background.|
The upper is beautifully made with carefully placed overlays that support but don't constrain the foot in motion. I would expect nothing less of the S-Lab and for the price.
|Salomon S-Lab Wings EndoFit Sleeve|
|S-Lab X Series (leftt) S-Lab Wings (right)|
As seen above the S-Lab Wings has Quick Laces and of course a garage under the tongue which I did not use for the picture above. The tongue is OK but could use a touch more padding. As with all the Salomon QuickLaces I had to adjust them from time to time on the run. Prefer laces.
The sockliner... While not an issue on drier less extreme terrain, during my wet steep White Mountain test the thin, very thin insole started to fold up under the mid foot.
Midsole and Outsole
The midsole appears to be a fairly conventional EVA in two densities. The black layer under the sockliner on the lateral side seems a touch softer than the same layer on the medial side. The midsole geometry is designed so that the medial side provides more stability than the lateral side. The midsole is carved out under foot on the lateral side and solid on the medial side. This is a great way to go for a trail shoe where stability for all foot types is needed.
|Lateral side left, Medial side right|
|S-Lab Wings Outsole. Image Running Warehouse|
The outsole is Salomon's excellent Contragrip rubber with what looks like 4mm lugs.
The Ground Control rear facing lugs were effective on slippery stuff. maybe a bit to effective on smoother terrain as I felt them catch when I didnt expect a few times. If wet and slippery terrain is in your plans the Soft Ground (SG) version increases the lug height to what appears to be 6mm and weight to 10.3 oz. The flex is very decent for such a protective trail shoe. Below the outsole Salomon uses their TPU based ProFeel rock shield a thin flexible layer which when combined with the outsole and midsole had me feeling zero rocks on any of my runs yet not harsh as rock "plates" can be. The Wings do start fairly stiff as the ProFeel seems to take some "seasoning" to break in. After break in there is decent if snappy flex at the usual flex point at the last lace hole. Forward flex is fine for me, no distinct sense that there is plate there as in some trail shoes. Towards the rear of the flex point the flexing stops as the ProFeel appears to be thicker and is clearly structured to provide under foot stability on the trail, a good thing for me, but some may find this stiffness a bit much Road miles were very pleasant for such a rugged trail shoe.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The S-Lab is a lot of versatile, well mannered all terrain shoe for 9.8oz, 278 grams but the performance and quality of construction comes at a cost, $180. I believe they will last a long long time and if you need one shoe in your trail run quiver to do it all, even some roads, they are a great choice. I felt more confident on rougher terrain than in any trail shoe I ran this year or maybe ever. And I felt fast on smoother stuff, although not quite as agile as I did in the X-Series. They were not overly harsh on the road yet as stable as can be on any trail. Then again my legs weren't as beat up in the Wings. Those with narrow feet may find them too narrow but potentially more roomy than the Sense series due to the last and the toe bumper. I sized true to size and am fine with my medium narrow feet but if you require an after market orthotic insole you may need to size up and may still find not enough volume as the supplied insole is very thin. Highly Recommended.
Overall Score: 4.70 out of 5
-0.10 for insole issues and for fit if more substantial insole is substituted.
-0.20 for high price of $180 but here you do get what you pay for.
The S-Lab Wings was a personal purchase at discount.
Available from Running Warehouse US here. RunningWarehouse has free 2 day shipping and easy return policies.
Available from Running Warehouse Europe here
Also from Backcountry.com and Moosejaw.com at the links below.
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