Thursday, February 16, 2017

Salming EnRoute Review and Comparisons: Comfortable, Light Trainer with a Soft Heel and Agile Forefoot

The EnRoute represents a new direction for Swedish brand Salming. Retaining the trademark Exo Skeleton upper, mid foot Torsion unit and great ballet line flex geometry the EnRoute takes the brand in a new direction with:
  • a new softer foam midsole, Recoil
  • more flexibility than previous Salming running shoes
  • a more relaxed fit and roomier toe box and a less structured upper than the Distance D4  
The result is a comfortable lighter daily trainer with a wonderful soft and agile forefoot held back somewhat by heel softness.
Salming EnRoute

Approx. weight US size 9 men's: 9 oz/255 g
Drop: 6mm
$150. Available now in men's and women's models

Upper and Fit
Since we're talking about a Swedish shoe why not show them off on some ice! 
The fit is true to size as was the Salming Distance D4 but with the EnRoute the fit is more relaxed overall The fit is broad and high volume at the mid foot and almost all the way to the front of the shoe. The very front is somewhat pointy with a soft but substantial toe bumper and overlay over the toes. I would be tempted to size down half a size for my narrower feet but for the pointy front.
Salming EnRoute
The upper is 3 layers:

  • on the outside a very small gauge net like material
  • below air mesh net a somewhat denser mesh than the outer mesh with large holes for breathablity. This layer is attached to the tongue to create a bootie construction
  • Between the inner and outer layers  Salming's Exo Skeleton of straps that connect from from each yellow lace loop to the midsole locking down the foot without excess pressures at mid foot. 
Salming EnRoute
The result is a soft, foot conforming hold with no hot spots or heavy overlays in the way. The fit is of the relaxed variety but perfectly adequate and comfortable but for sure not the more race like fit of the Distance 4.
Salming EnRoute
The tongue is puffy without a lot of structure in the lace up area and below that towards the toes still fairly thick, soft and unstructured. Quite frankly the top of the tongue is a bit much visually but Salming makes good use of all the surface above lace up for cool branding: EnRoute name and of course a Swedish flag! The heel counter is substantial and firm.
Salming EnRoute
The fit and volume is clearly more accommodating than the more up tempo and race focused Distance D4.
Comparison LEFT Salming EnRoute RIGHT Salming Distance D4
Midsole and Outsole
Salming EnRoute
The midsole is a new blend called Recoil. Recoil feels like Altra new EGO midsole but in combination with the outsole softer is not quite as lively or with as much rebound, so more shock absorbing than responsive. It feels a bit like Skechers 5GEN as in the new GOrun 5 with a bit less vibration and shock transmitted.  It has less rebound than adidas Boost and Saucony Everun. 
Salming EnRoute
Upfront the feel when combined with the Torsion Efficiency unit and Torsion Guide System (TGS)  geometry is agile and smooth to toe off. I really like Salming's TGS which is defined as  "the distance from heel to the ball of foot (62% of the shoe) has been designed with extra stability, which ends in the so-called “ballet” line, a 75° angle." 
Salming EnRoute
The approach, similar in some ways to adidas Torsion system, gives noticeable impulse at transition and direction to toe off. I felt the same effect in the firmer Distance D4  but with the EnRoute the feel is softer, less tiring but none the less still agile.
Salming EnRoute
It is at the heel where something is off for me. While pleasant and cushioned something is making this heel striker sink and stay back there longer than necessary.  I seem to remain longer and deeper into the heel than the front of the shoe calls for.  The EnRoute has what appears to have even less heel rubber than the considerably firmer and more stable Distance D4. 
LEFT Salming EnRoute RIGHT Salming Distance D4
My suspicion is that the lighter than normal coverage of outsole rubber and its softness, softer than most outsole rubbers, combined with the sharp rear bevel has me lingering on the heel especially at slower paces, shades of the Hoka Clifton. The answer to liven things up might be firmer, broader or deeper heel rubber coverage, less of a central opening to the midsole, and less bevel, 

The Altra Escalante does a particularly good job in this respect over its soft midsole and even the Freedom ISO with its soft Everun squares off the heel making the transition quicker. 
Salming EnRoute
The EnRoute has a pleasant, easy ride. It is soft and cushioned from the upper to the ground. There are no sharp edges and no harshness. While the front of the shoe is wonderfully agile it takes a bit to much effort to get there for me. The EnRoute would benefit from more and firmer heel rubber to liven things up and speed response off the heel. 
Salming EnRoute
Conclusions and Recommendations 
The EnRoute is a comfortable well cushioned shoe with more comfort and cushion than its 9 oz weight might indicate. The pointy very front of toe aside, it is beautifully built and should be friendlier to higher volume feet than many competitors in the sub 10 oz category.  Forefoot and mid foot strikers may find the ride more lively and fluid than heel strikers. The toe off is fantastic with plenty of direction combined with flexibility and cushion. All it needs is some snap and rebound towards the back of the shoe, maybe a touch of additional firmness overall in the midsole outsole combination to liven things up to make it a great light daily trainer.

Score 9.6 out of 10
-.3 for heel softness and slow off the heel transitions
-,1 for high price 

Salming Distance D4 (review here)
The D4 is clearly a faster, firmer, snugger fitting shoe, more racer than trainer and is 1.4 oz lighter at 7.6 oz.  Overall the upper on the EnRoute is more comfortable and broader if a bit less secure. Underfoot, I prefer the snap of the D4 for faster miles and races but for comfortable easy miles would reach for the EnRoute

Saucony Freedom ISO (review here)
The Freedom ISO is more fun to run, bouncier but stiffer flexing and not very stable towards the heel as it has no real counter as the EnRoute does. The Freedom ISO upper is less structured and overall the Freedom is a harder shoe to "tame" but that is part of its fun. The EnRoute is a more versatile as a daily trainer.

adidas adizero Boston 6 (review here)
The Boston 6 overall tames its soft Boost midsole better than EnRoute through a thicker, broader outsole and the plastic Torsion system most notably at the rear of the shoe where the EnRoute has none. Towards the front, the EnRoute's Torsion Efficiency Unit and ballet line flex is smoother, more natural feeling than the Boston's pronounced toe spring approach. The Boston skews more towards racing than the EnRoute and I would race 10K and up in the Boston but not the EnRoute. EnRoute would be a better choice as a trainer for slower runners especially if they are not heavy heel strikers.

Hoka Hupana  (review here)
The Hupana is smoother, softly cushioned and stable despite its relatively soft RMAT midsole outsole combination, no outsole rubber at all. At 8.2 oz it is also almost an ounce lighter than the EnRoute. No contest for me, the Hupana is my preference. Those with wider higher volume feet or who run in very warm condtions could find the EnRoute open mesh upper more accommodating and comfortable than the snugger Hupana's dense knit upper.

Brooks Launch 4 (review here)
Slightly heavier than the EnRoute and more lumbering in ride the Launch has a more supportive conventional upper. Not nearly as lively and dynamic upfront as the EnRoute, the Launch has a firmer yet well cushioned heel with plenty of outsole rubber. Not as much fun to run for sure as the EnRoute or the others above but at $100, $50 less than the EnRoute it is a better value for money.

Altra Escalante (review here)
The new Escalante does a great job balancing a soft high rebound midsole with stability and off the heel transition, even more strikingly so as the Escalante is zero drop whereas the EnRoute is 6mm. Escalante accomplishes this feat with far more and thicker outsole rubber at the heel and the stronger rebound of its EGO midsole. The upper is equally accommodating at mid foot and is foot shaped, broad at the front a very soft knit with no pointy feel. Zero Drop is not for everyone and despite the superior 25mm of cushion upfront the EnRoute front of the shoe ballet line transition is still tops. As with the Distance D4 the Escalante leans more towards racer and up tempo shoe than the EnRoute.

Sam Winebaum is the Founder of Road Trail Run.
The EnRoute was provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

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The Salming EnRoute is available from Salming here

EnRoute is avaialbe from Running Warehouse
men's here women's here


Anonymous said...

Love the comparisons section Sam! Comparing directly to other shoes really helps out the review.
I noticed the hupana review is still titled "first impressions." Are you planning on putting up a more updated version of the hupana review in the future?
Keep up the great reviews!

sam winebaum said...

Thanks Anonymous! I have run some more in the Hupana and may update the initial review but only slightly as it has continued to delight with its oh so smooth ride and bridge feel between everyday trainer and fast days shoe. The updates will be around the upper. It is snugger than the others in its class no question as the mesh is denser and thicker more than anything else. Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! We are also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.