Friday, August 12, 2016

Salomon Suunto 2017 Preview: Spartan Ultra Watch,Vibe Opal Midsole- S-Lab Sonic 2 & Odyssey Pro, XA Enduro, S-Lab Sense Ultra, S-Lab Sense Set 2,5,8

Salomon and sister company Suunto have a big presence at every Outdoor Retailer.
The big news was the launch of the Sunnto Spartan Ultra, a new high end ($699-$799) GPS watch available August 15th for multi sport and mountain activities. I have a Spartan Ultra, it is light on the wrist at a mere 73 grams vs. 90 grams for the Fenix 3 HR and very capable.  I  will be publishing a review shortly but here is a taste of its high resolution, wide viewing angle, sapphire cover, color touch screen in action in bright sunlight. It does not as of yet offer a wrist heart rate version but sometime soon, in either the Spartan Ultra or its somewhat thinner tri-focused cousin the Spartan Sport also coming this fall.  The "off run duty" watch faces are classy and suitable for the fanciest of occasions!

But there was more... Much as at the last Outdoor Retailer where Salomon very quietly revealed its Premium Wet Grip Contagrip outsole material with its phenomenal wet rock grip ,this time 3 shoes appeared with a new cushioning system called Vibe.

Vibe combines a high rebound mid sole carrier Energy Cell+ with inserts of what Salomon calls Opal, a very soft high rebound material. I am almost certain it is not TPU as adidas Boost and others are using. The purpose appears ingenious, reduce the vibrations of impact. It is known vibrations can contribute to fatigue and are likely part of the cause of nerve fatigue and then cramps.
Vibe will appear in three 2017 Salomon models.

S-Lab Sonic 2
Bottom Right: S-Lab Sonic 2 
S-Lab Sonic 2, a 7.6 oz/215 gram road racing flat with laces and a very supportive upper. It is the successor to the fine X-Series (review here) which while great on trails was a bit harsh and firm on roads. I am pretty sure the Vibe will  improve the ride feel but testing will tell. My bet it that this pricey sports car will be a tremendous road racer that can also double as a short distance agile trail racer.  The Sonic 2 retains the ProFeel light rock protection layer. At 7.6 oz/215 g with a 23mm heel/15mm toe, 8mm drop the Sonic 2 will retail for $180.

Sense Pro Max 
Sense Pro Max Top Row
Sense Pro Max ($150). At 10.2 oz/290 grams with a stack of 30mm heel/24 mm toe, 6mm drop this Vibe equipped shoe packs a lot of cushion into a relatively low weight. I am expecting this will be an easy on the legs long distance shoe.

Odyssey Pro

Odyssey Pro ($140). Classified as an ultra light hiking shoe this third Vibe shoe caught my eye. At 11.1 oz/ 330 g it is no heavier than many trail runners and has a protective upper reinforced with TPU overlays. I recall another "light hiker" from Salomon the Synapse from a few years ago and the shoe Jennifer Pharr Davis set the Appalachian Trail record in. It was a sensational trail runner. 
A view of the Opal insert in the Odyssey. It was  soft and springy, airier and not as dense feeling than the expanded TPU pellets in say adidas Boost. Well encased in the Energy Cell+ outer midsole it should in no way affect the stability of the shoe, an issue with some Boost shoes yet my sense is it will dampen vibrations as intended.

There was more from Salomon...

XA Enduro
The featured shoe in the Salomon booth was the new XA Endoro ($160). At 10.6 oz/300 g with a low 19mm heel/ 10mm toe stack (may not include lug heights of approximately 5mm), 9mm drop, this sharp looking shoe features an integrated mesh gaiter to keep out debris and taken with the rest of the design stabilize the foot.  The relatively low stack should further help the stability and agility but I expect this will be a fairly firm shoe, best suited as Salomon suggests, for "hard core mountain terrain."

S-Lab Sense Ultra ($180)
The S-Lab line finally gets a "cushioned" shoe. The fine S-Lab Wings, my rough trails shoe of the year for 2015 (review here), was the first more substantial S-Lab model and a great protective shoe for the roughest terrain but somewhat firm.  The Ultra is as its name suggests a long haul ultra shoe for mere mortals who find the S-Lab Sense or Sense Ultra a little to "light". While the stack height is within a millimeter in the Wings and Ultra shoes at  26mm heel/17 mm toe, 9mm drop and the weight identical, the Energy Cell+ rear midsole of the S-Lab Ultra was softer feeling when pressed, with more rebound. 

Sense Set 2, 5, and 8 (liter) Run Vests

We are crazy about super light, super breathable Sense Set vest, review here. It carries either very little, a liter of water in 2 soft flasks and easily accessed run gear in brilliantly placed pockets. The 2017 super minimal Sense Set 2 ($125)  gets a rear at the waist stuff pocket.  The Sense Set 5 ($145) has a full length of the back stuff pocket for say a jacket or a couple more soft flasks if you don't mind some bouncing around, a bladder probably would not work. The Sense Set 8 ($155) adds a bit of bellows on the back for more clothing capacity and 2 more side kangaroo pockets. You still get the 2 shoulder/chest pockets with now one suitable for a phone, 2 soft flask pockets, 2 stuff pockets below the flask pockets and 2 decently reachable side/back zippered pockets on all models. 
S-Lab Sense Set 8
Finally sneaking into S-Lab tank tops and short sleeves are fabrics from 37.5. I visited 37.5 at OR and was given sample t-shirts. 37.5 claims that its " active particle technology captures and releases moisture vapor to maintain the optimum relative humidity in your microclimate, which helps your body more efficiently maintain an ideal core temperature. "  A mouthful and very technical but... in my initial testing of a black T- shirt in both dry and humid high heat I think it really works, challenging my current favorite fabric, adidas Climachill in the hot weather comfort race. 

Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: Brooks, Saucony, Hoka, Altra, adidas Outdoor, New Balance and More!

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simons kearns said...

Great article! As always I am super excited to try out the new S-Lab gear. I was wondering if there is any word on what the new S-Lab shorts are going to be like? Did they show them at OR?
Thank You!

sam winebaum said...

Hi Simon, Thanks for reading! I thought I was the only person in the world who thinks S-Lab Sense shorts are well worth it. I did not see the new versions but the catalog shoes 3 versions Sense 4M, 6M, and 9M corresponding to inseam in inches. from short to longer none with briefs and don't see mention of pockets either. There is a boxer underwear made of that magic 37.5 fabric. With 2 gel pockets.

MikeD said...

Thanks for the insight. How does the Sense5 hydration vest compare to the current one that is available? Also, the new Sense8 looks intriguing. Should I wait for the 8 to come out? When is Salomon looking to release these? Thanks!