Friday, August 04, 2017

Salomon S/Lab Sense 6 and Sense 6 SG Review: True Mountain Racers!

Editor's Note: We are thrilled to bring you this review of S/Lab Sense 6 and Sense 6 SG by RoadTrailRun contributor and rising ultra and mountain talent Patrick Caron. He was invited to , and attended Salomon's, 2017 Young Gun Running Academy in Austria for promising mountain/trail runners 20 years old and under, the only North American selected. In addition to many ultra victories in New England including a sub 15 hour 100 mile race and two 50 mile victories at the Pineland Farms Maine Trail Challenge, Patrick ran 2:40:45 at the 2017 Boston Marathon, and was 16th and 17th overall, first 20 year old and under ,at the 2017 Mount Washington Road Race and USTAF Mountain Running Championships respectively. Patrick works at Marathon Sports in the Boston area so he is a run shoe expert!
Article by Patrick Caron
Salomon has been a dominant force in the trail running industry for quite some time. Next time you’re at a trail or mountain race, look down - it’s highly likely that you will see the majority of top runners wearing Salomons as their shoe of choice. Within the brand’s vast lineup of shoes exists the Salomon S-Lab Series, which is designed with performance and speed in mind, utilizing the knowledge and input of Salomon’s top engineers, athletes, and designers. Generally speaking, the technology Salomon develops for the S-Lab Series trickles down to other mid-tier shoes within their lines. Two of the highly popular shoes within the Salomon S-Lab Series are the Sense 6 and the Sense 6 SG. Read on for more on both of these models!
Specifications
Top: S/Lab Sense 6 Bottom: S/Lab Sense 6 SG
Salomon S-Lab Sense 6:
  • Weight: 220 grams (7.9 ounces)
  • Stack Height 18mm/14mm (4mm drop)

The Sense 6 is categorized by Salomon as “Unisex footwear” and is sold in Men’s sizes only.


Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG:
  • Weight: 225 grams (7.9 ounces)
  • Stack Height 20mm/16mm (4mm drop) includes 6mm average lug height

The Sense 6 SG is categorized by Salomon as “Unisex footwear” and is sold in Men’s sizes only.


First Impressions

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6:
The Salomon S-Lab Sense 6, in its classic, flashy racing red colorway, is a sleek mountain racer, stripped down to only the bare essentials, so there’s nothing to hold you back. As Salomon describes it, “No compromise. Do away with props. Trust your senses. Run free and go far with the S-Lab Sense 6!”

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG:
Built off the same last as the S-Lab Sense 6, there are many more similarities than differences with these two Salomon models. The standout difference between the Sense 6 and the Sense 6 SG is pointed out right in the name of the shoe - the Sense 6 SG is designed for “Soft Ground” use, whereas the Sense 6 is for harder-packed trails and terrain. The lugs on the outsole of the Sense 6 SG have a 6mm average lug height (in turn making the shoe’s overall stack height a bit higher), and are designed to tackle squishier, muddier conditions. Salomon sums this up with the description, “Even when the ground is soft, wet, muddy, run free and go far with the S-Lab Sense 6 SG.”


Upper and Fit

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6:
Unlike many other shoe companies where the sizing seems to be different for almost every model, Salomon shoes seem to run true to size, and both the Sense 6 and Sense 6 SG fit me perfectly in my usual size. If you have a wider foot, these models might be a bit tight, as their fit is designed with racing in mind. The Sense 6 has a sock-like bootie inside the shoe that uses stretch nylon, which Salomon calles Endofit, and describes as “an internal fit sleeve designed to hug the foot in exactly the right places and improve feedback and foot wrapping.” The heel cup is slightly padded with a really nice fit to lock you into the shoe, which is very important when it comes to steep climbs where you want that security.

The upper of the Sense 6 is a single layer mesh combined with nylon to allow for breathability and top abrasion resistance. Salomon’s Sensifit technology (which is also found in their apparel) helps cradle the foot from the midsole to the lacing system, providing a secure, customized fit.The mesh used is very thin, and since I wear my shoes sockless (no issues whatsoever without socks in these Salomons!), I can see my toes wiggling around underneath which is always a funny sight. 

I spent a week running around the Austrian Alps at the Salomon Running Academy earlier this summer, wearing the Senses for the duration of the trip, and while checking out some of the Stubai Glaciers and mountain lakes, I could feel the cool air over my toes. Running through lots of rock scree and other tough, scraggly terrain en route to summit various peaks, I was impressed by how durable the upper was despite its thinness and the shoe’s overall weight (the mesh is reinforced with thoughtfully placed rubberized laminate, which does the trick perfectly). The toe guard certainly helped protect the feet on some pretty sketchy downhills while running in the Alps, as well as at the USATF National Mountain Running Championships, which was an up/down course at Cranmore Mountain in New Hampshire this year (5K loop repeated twice, up and down the mountain, with over 2,500 feet of climbing). I’ve also taken these through several small streams and large puddles, totally submerging them in water, and they shed water like champs, drying extremely quickly. Also, a neat bonus feature is that the white material used around the heel of the shoes is reflective and provides visibility in low light conditions.


This is one of the first shoes I’ve worn without traditional tie laces, and I was skeptical at first, but pleasantly surprised. The Sense 6 come with the standard Salomon Quicklace system, a minimalistic design featuring a thin yet strong kevlar lace for one-pull tightening, easy-on, easy-off. The lace pocket (or “garage”) on the tongue of the shoe provides a useful storage spot for the Quick Fit lacing system. I seldom found that I needed to readjusted the lacing system once I had it in place, and it was nice knowing I didn’t have to worry about my shoelaces becoming untied mid run or mid race.


Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG:
The upper and fit of the Sense 6 SG is very similar to that of the regular Sense 6, with a few minor differences. The Sense 6 SG features what Salomon calls their anti-debris mesh, which is used to avoid debris being caught between your foot and the footbed. It is a more enclosed upper, unlike the Sense 6, which is see-through like a mosquito net. 

The look and feel of the Sense 6 SG upper is similar to the shell of a rain jacket, although it is not fully waterproof, just water-resistant. It breathes and drains very well, although I prefer the more open and airy feel the Sense 6 has to offer. Interestingly enough though, I found the upper of the Sense 6 SG to be slightly smoother on the top of my sockless feet than that of the Sense 6, which was more rough with all the holes.


Midsole and Outsole

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6:
The midsole of the Sense 6 has several key features that, combined together, give the shoe a superb ride. Salomon EnergyCell+ cushioning system is used in the Sense 6 to keep the shoe lightweight with a long lasting rebound, and this is combined with the “Dual Density Compressed EVA” that runs the entire length of the midsole for durable, underfoot protection. The “Dual Density Compressed EVA” in the Sense 6 makes the shoe extremely firm out of the box, and the midsole does not seem to depress much under pressure like many other shoes will do. Because of this, you may initially experience a firmer ride than you would like, but after a few runs, the midsole should soften up slightly. 

Also hidden within the midsole of the Sense 6 is Salomon’s ProFeel Film, which is essentially a carbon fiber shank, similar to a rock plate, but with a few added benefits. Salomon claims the ProFeel Film “engages during the transition phase to support the foot and improve the overall rolling of the shoes during toe off. It provides a mechanism linking the rear part of the shoes to the forefoot, and provides consistency and stability through the middle of the shoe.” The firmness of the midsole, combined with the ProFeel Film, provide the shoe with plenty of ground feel and protection on trickier, more technical trails.


The outsole of the Sense 6 has Salomon’s Premium Wet Traction Contagrip, which offers non-slip traction and a sticky grip upon striking the ground with each step. The Sense 6 also features Salomon’s OS Tendon technology, which they describe as “a running construction that provides better rolling and a soft rebound, used for running shoes as well as for natural running and hiking shoes in different directions.” Simply stated, it helps aid the transition between landing and toeing off.


Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG:
The midsole of the Sense 6 SG is identical to that of the Sense 6, but the outsole of the Sense 6 SG is designed for “Soft Ground.” 


The Sense 6 SG outsole has Salomon’s Premium Wet Traction Contagrip and OS Tendon features, but as I described near the beginning of this review, the main difference between the two models is the height of the lugs on the Sense 6 SG. The lugs of the Sense 6 SG have an average height of 6mm, at least two or three times that of the regular Sense 6. This allows the shoe to grip softer, muddier terrain with more ease, so you can plant your foot more confidently upon landing, and push off from the ground with a little more “oomph!”


Ride
Photo Credit: SNAPAcidotic
Salomon S-Lab Sense 6:
Snappy to say the least! Once I took the Sense 6 on a few runs, it was hard to keep them off my feet. There’s enough “shoe” there that it can be worn for pretty high mileage, but it’s still able to stay extremely lightweight and nimble. I almost always wear road racing flats or track/cross-country spikes when it comes to trail races, sacrificing the traction for the advantage of the weight, but the Sense 6 is one of the first trail shoes I’ve found to meet my standards for racing, and I’m able to benefit from both the extra traction it offers, as well as its “barely there” feel. 

I’ve worn the Sense 6s for a combination of training and racing, but because the majority of my training involves a combination of roads and trails, and I’m averaging well-over 100 miles a week, I’ve tried to reserve my current pair for races only. It should be noted, though, that they handle very well on the road as a trainer or racer, since the lugs on the outsole are fairly minimal, but the lugs will wear and flatten out much quicker due their contact with the pavement/concrete. Now just because the lugs are starting to see some wear, I still expect this shoe to last quite a long time - the midsole is so firm that I have trouble seeing it breaking down anytime soon. My thought is that when the lugs wear out to the point that they aren’t able to handle as technical terrain, I can convert them to a long-distance road racing shoe, which they’d be perfect for! Be prepared to work your calves and Achilles if you aren’t use to a 4mm drop, especially since these shoes aren’t very forgiving when it comes to cushion!
Photo Credit: Peak Focus Photography

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG:
The Sense 6 SG has a slightly more cushioned ride than the regular Sense 6, due to the higher stack height (both shoes have a 4mm drop, but the Sense 6 SG is 2mm higher of the ground). They have a superior grip when it comes to wet and muddy terrain, or fast, rocky or grassy downhills in the mountains, although I haven’t yet been in the situation where I would choose them over the regular Sense 6. This is because they seem so specified in their application, and the Sense 6s are able to be much more versatile of a shoe. Also, due to the deeper lugs of the Sense 6 SGs, they feel a bit unstable when running on road or hard ground. I know that’s not what they are designed for, so it makes sense that this is the case, but I like a shoe that is able to handle a little of everything I throw at it (which the Sense 6 is able to do, and more). For these reasons, I’ve chosen to wear the Sense 6 SG before and after races, when I’m warming up etc., and then I’ll switch to the Sense 6 right before the race starts.


Recommendations and Conclusions

Salomon S-Lab Sense 6:
Photo Credit: DirgoEndurance LLC
I received a pair of the Sense 6 in early June, and, since then, I’ve already completed several races in them on a variety of terrain, including the USATF National Mountain Running Championships, the iconic Mountain Washington Road Race, and the crazy steep Loon Mountain Race. 
Photo Credit: scottmasonphoto.com
I also wore them for the duration of a trip I took to Austria, after having been chosen as a Salomon “Young Gun” for their 2017 Running Academy, and I used them for a race we competed in while overseas. They performed exceptionally well throughout all of these experiences, and I’m highly impressed with how well they’ve held up for such a lightweight, stripped down, racing kind of shoe. I can see this shoe lasting for quite awhile, which is comforting to know, considering its durability helps justify the price tag. Salomon really hit the bullseye with this one, which is why you’ll see the Sense 6 on so many runners’ feet, from your recreational weekend warriors, to the best mountain runners on the planet.
Photo Credit: Salomon Running
Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG:

If the regular Sense 6 sounds right up your alley, but you’re a little worried about traction or you’re searching for something a little more “rugged”, than the Sense 6 SG is the shoe for you! While I personally found the Sense 6 to meet all the criteria I expect out of a shoe for racing or exploring the mountains, I generally take a very minimalistic approach to my running and racing style, and I can understand that some people might be looking for a little more than what the Sense 6 has to offer. For example, before the Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, New Hampshire (6.6 miles up Loon Mountain Ski Resort with 3,125 feet of climbing and a max slope of 48% - AKA “The Boss”), there were several inches of rain pouring down the day before, and flash flooding throughout the night. While warming up before the race wearing the Sense 6 SGs, I ran by a good friend and top finisher of many of New England’s toughest races, and he shouted something along the lines of, “Good choice with the Soft Grounds! The course is extremely eroded and a giant mess! You may have gotten away with the regular Sense 6s at Cranmore, but you’ll need the Soft Grounds today…” Little did he know that I would switch models in the five minutes before the race went off, as I wanted something just a little bit lower and faster for the big climbs as well as the nordic ski trails that traverse the slopes. I will continue to train in both the Sense 6 and the Sense 6 SG, as they are nice to switch between when your legs want something new, although if I had to pick one, I’d definitely choose the Sense 6!


Comparisons

Salomon S-Lab Sense:

  • Altra Golden Spike - The Golden Spike is much more race specific, weighing 2.5 oz less, but it has a similar fast, low-to-the-ground feel, with a minimal lug pattern that allows it to be worn on a variety of surfaces (see my RTR review here).


  • Hoka One One Tracer 2 - The Tracer has an extremely firm ride and a dialed in fit, very similar to the Sense 6. Both shoes offer a 4mm drop, and weigh about the same. Even though the Tracer 2 is designed for roads, it can handle the majority of trails, as long as the conditions are not wet and/or muddy (stay tuned for the upcoming Evo Jawz - the Tracer for the trails, with a Vibram MegaGrip outsole!).


  • Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2 - The Speed Instinct 2 is a step up from the Sense 6 in terms of stack height and cushion, although it has a similar ride and fit to the Salomons. The Speed Instinct 2 has a 3mm drop and weighs 9.5 oz.


Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 SG:

  • Altra King MT - Designed to run on the most rugged and rocky terrain, the King MT has an aggressively lugged Vibram MegaGrip outsole, with similar grip and rock protection to the Sense 6 SG. The unique midfoot lock strap gives the King MT that snug, dialed in fit, but has Altra’s signature FootShape toe box to offer you plenty of room in the front. Due to the Altra EGO midsole featured in the shoe, the King MT will provide a bit more energy return and “spring” than the Sense 6 SG.


  • Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 (RTR review) - The Speedgoat 2 features a Vibram MegaGrip outsole with 5mm lugs to increase traction on tricky terrain. Compare this to the similar 6mm lug height the Sense 6 SG offers. Both shoes handle the mud and muck extremely well, but if you are looking for simple and streamlined, the Salomon’s come out on top. The Speedgoat 2 offers maximal cushion in a lightweight package, weighing 9.5 oz, with a 4.5mm drop.


  • inov-8 X-Talon 200 - The X-Talon 200 is even more aggressive than the Sense 6 SG, with 8mm lugs for “wet, rocky off-trail running.” The X-Talon 200 is extremely firm, as are most inov-8s, but has lots of flexibility for natural movement and faster speeds. Like the Sense 6 SGs, the upper of the X-Talon 200s is designed to shed water and protect against roots and rocks with a reinforced rubber toe bumper. The X-Talon 200 has a 3mm drop and weighs in at 200 grams (hence the name) or 7 oz.

Patrick's Scores
Salomon S-Lab Sense: 9.85/10

  • .1 for the $180 price tag (pretty steep for a pair of racing shoes, although you get what you pay for, and the durability is terrific!)

  • .05 for the length of laces (the Salomon Quicklace system is nice, although the length seems a bit excessive, even if they can be tucked away)

Salomon S-Lab Sense SG:9.75/10

  • .1 for the $180 price tag (same as S-Lab Sense 6)

  • .05 for the length of laces (same as S-Lab Sense 6)

  • .1 for lack of versatility (this shoe is designed for very specific terrain, and with most runs I go on or races I compete in, there is a variety of terrain and conditions, which calls for a shoe that has more versatility).

    Patrick is a Salomon athlete. The Sense 6 and 6 SG were provided to him at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely his own. 


    Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
    For over 60 of in depth 2017 shoe and gear reviews visit our index page here
    2018 run shoe, apparel, and gear previews, including Salomon, see our page here

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9 comments:

Thomas D Compton said...

Great review. Nice addition to your reviews����

sam winebaum said...

Thanks Thomas! Patrick is a fantastic young runner and writer.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

It's a thorough overview of the shoes. But the Salomon sponsored athlete, to whom Salomon gave a free trip to Europe, is going to tell me what he thinks of these Salomon shoes? Gee, I can't imagine what his conclusion will be.

Jeff Valliere said...

Great review Patrick! Amazing shoes in my opinion, but since I frequent harder surfaces/rocky terrain, I find myself more often reaching for the better cushioned S Lab Sense Ultra. As I always say though, great to have an arsenal for specific runs and even better to see Salomon offering that wider variety.

Anon: I too am leery of reviews by sponsored athletes, but I think this is a different case. Additionally, most of the product we review here on RTR is given to us, so logically speaking, it would behoove us to be complimentary for multiple reasons, but I can confirm that we all give fair, unbiased reviews with only the most constructive of criticism. Thanks for reading!

Matt Clark said...

The evo jawz sounds very promising! A tracer for the trails would be a wicked combo, speed instinct just feels too different and clunky to me to be a real racer. Any more details on that?

sam winebaum said...

I have received some details on Evo Jawz which I will add to our Hoka preview article shortly.
Sam, Editor

sam winebaum said...

Hi Matt,
Details on Hoka EVO Jawz and model replacing Vanquish updated at our Hoka 2018 article here: http://www.roadtrailrun.com/2017/07/hoka-one-one-spring-2018-preview-new.html
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I am currently racing using S-lab Speed; Most of the races I run are ~ 27 miles long, with a positive difference between 8.000 ft and 14.000 ft, mixing terrains like soft earth, mud, grass, hard packed earth and rock in the same race (not asphalt though). I would like to better understand the differences between S-lab Speed and S-lab Sense 6 SG from the perspective of someone that used both. Can you help me please?

Thanks a lot!

estranger said...

Firstly i am not sponsored by Salomon or receive any of there products for free.
I have to earn the cash to buy my kit.
So its cash wasted if shoes don't perform.
Enough said.

So to salomon S lab Sense 5 SG and 6 version

I have never run in Salomon shoes before 2016 yes that is possible.
It was Saucony all the way peregrine's and Kinvara's what ever they had i ran in it.
But in 2016 i got annoyed with the Saucony Peregrine as they changed the sole and the back heel.
Gone was the nice sole and soft heel and in came a heel made of hard plastic.
I ran in them for about 100k and the heels wore my socks away and mashed up my heels.
Enough i said lets try something new.

So I bought a pair of the Salomon S lab sense 5 SG.

In the rain, snow mud whatever mother nature can throw at you.
I ran in them - 15 plus 30 whatever.
They will grip like nothing else.

Yes on ice the do slip a little bit.
Salomon Conta grip is good.
But mother nature is better at making you fall on your arse.
Also If your going to run lots on ice get some spikes nothing beats them.

Anyway back to the shoe.
So i am 400k worn in on them.
Which is lot.
Some of the lugs have disappeared, such is life.
But they are still wearable for the really muddy stuff.
Which is why i have kept them for those days when you just want to run through the mud and be a kid again.

So now the comparison Saucony Peregrine vs Salomon S lab sense SG
Wear factor you will kill your Peregrines way before the sense SGs are even broken in.

The peregrine sole is super soft and the outside lugs wear out in about five long runs.
It does not grip that well as the Salomon in the wet and mud.
The sole clogs up easily and then you will slip sideways stage but true.

In water the Peregrine will dry faster but the insole will start to move very soon.
Very annoying, why i don't know.

The Salomon SG will stay wet longer and you be a little squelchy for a few Ks longer
But the insole will not move at all.

So conclusions.

If you want a great trail shoe then save your cash and get the Salomon sense 5 or 6 SG
They will out last Saucony every time.

Sorry Saucony.

I used to love your shoes but you messed up the Peregrine.
That said the newest Peregrine version does have a softer heel.
But the lousy terrible bad wearing under sole with poor grip is still there.
Why.

Salomon your the trail shoe masters.
I see why the pro's wear your kit even if they do get it for free.

Paul