Monday, May 20, 2019

Petzl Nao+ Headlamp Review - Brighter, Longer Battery Life and Easy App Based Customization

Article by Jeff Valliere

Petzl Nao+
750 Lumens
6.6 oz./190 grams
$199.95

Pros:

  • Very bright at 750 lumens
  • High quality construction
  • Reactive lighting
  • Battery life up to 18 hours
  • Easy customization of light settings
  • IP X4 Water resistant
  • Stable on the head/lightweight for the output
  • Battery stow options
  • Ability to change out batteries (if you buy an extra battery pack)
Cons:
  • White light hue
  • Price

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X Multi Tester Review: Carbon Dating—the next shoe with a carbon plate. How does it stack up?

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Beck, Peter Stuart, Dom Layfield, Mac Jeffries, Michael Ellenberger and Hope Wilkes

Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X ($180)

Sam: The Hoka Carbon X was “introduced” on May 4th at a special race in California. Several Hoka elite athletes chased world road records in the X with Jim Walmsley setting a new world 50 mile record. 

And the Carbon X was a totally appropriate running shoe for the quest. It is a light (8.5 oz / 241 g), maximally cushioned (32mm heel / 27 mm forefoot) long racer and trainer with a propulsive carbon fiber plate. 

“The Carbon X embodies everything that has made HOKA such a popular and quickly-growing brand,” said Gretchen Weimer, Vice President of Product at HOKA ONE ONE. “Combining premium performance engineering, an extraordinary weight-to-cushion ratio, and a user-friendly geometry and ride, this shoe is designed to empower athletes the world over, and to help them feel like they can fly.” ​
The carbon fiber plate is embedded above the thick rubberized foam outsole (the first line up at the change in color from white to blue in the picture above). In addition to the carbon plate, X features an aggressive Metarocker and Hoka’s active foot frame construction which embeds the foot in the midsole. The outsole is a 

The Carbon X is  available at www.hokaoneone.com with other select retailers coming June 1st. It can be pre-ordered at RoadRunner Sports and Running Warehouse at the links at the end of the article. The first release color, the same for both women’s and men’s sizing is the blue and white above with more colors to drop in July and August 2019.
Its thick, full contact rubberized foam outsole has proved exceptionally durable for me with over 75 miles on the counter to date.

The stiff carbon chassis provides stability, an easy going rocker powered ride and a fairly gentle non harsh propulsive feel at all paces, except maybe very fast paces for me given the high stack of soft foam, low drop and the rubberized foam outsole. 
The upper is a thin, single layer engineered mesh with a short stretch bootie.

I tested a Carbon X prototype, top to bottom all white, for more than a month before release  Nobody, literally  nobody, has noticed them or asked a single question about them. Cool camouflage!
I have run more than 75 miles in my all white prototype, including a 20 mile Boston tune up race, easily done at 8:04/mile pace with minimal soreness the next day. and none during, and the marathon itself, a disaster for me due to allergies and in no way due to the shoe.  

Many will likely immediately seek to compare it to the Nike Vapor Fly.  While they share carbon plates and lots of cushion for a racing shoe, they are very different beasts. Whereas the Vapor Fly can be thought of as a racing shoe that can be trained in, the Carbon X for most will be be a training shoe that can be raced. Incredibly well cushioned, in a softer and slightly bouncy way with in the mix the firm carbon fiber plate pop, it is very broad and stable on the ground. 
Watch our YouTube Review

The RoadTrailRun team has now extensively tested the Carbon X and shares varying perspectives in our multi tester review.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Reebok "Bolton Track Club" Gear Review: The Success Continues

By Michael Ellenberger


Bolton Track Club Apparel is the official apparel of the Reebok Boston Track Club!
  • Bolton Track Club Singlet: $40.00
  • Bolton Track Club 3" Shorts: $35.00
  • Bolton Track Club Jacket: $70.00
Introduction

Reebok has recently made a strong resurgence in the running community; we're collectively huge fans of their recent shoe offerings, including the Run Fast Pro, Sweet Road, and Forever Floatride Energy, and their apparel is a natural extension of that line. Designed specifically for the elite athletes on the Reebok Boston Track Club (formerly the Bolton Track Club), Reebok has put forth high-end race-day gear to match their footwear offerings. 




Wednesday, May 15, 2019

13 Day Via Jacobi Trek Across Switzerland: Photo Album and Initial Gear Review


Article by Sam Winebaum and Dominique Winebaum
Dominique and I just completed a 13 day trek across Switzerland from Lake Constance (Bodensee) to Romont where we first met through a running club when we both worked there in the 1980's.

The trek was 200 miles (320km) across the center of the country through magnificent meadows, forests, and lots of miles of narrow tarred roads with views of the mountains (when weather permitted).

We tested gear from Mammut (a Swiss brand), Hoka One One, REI, Smartwool, Salomon, and Oofos.
Watch a brief (and scenic) description/review of the
Mammut Trion and Trea Spine packs and Masao Light shells we used

We will be preparing our gear reviews and full trip report in the next few days.
In the meantime a link to an extensive photo album is HERE with a few selected photos below.

Reebok Forever Floatride Energy Multi Tester Review: A Near Perfect Goldilocks Combo of Performance and Value

Article by Mac Jeffries, Derek Li, and Peter Stuart


Reebok  Forever Floatride Energy ($100)
Introduction
Mac: The battle of midsole foams continues, as does the resurrection of Reebok as a serious contestant in the running market. After the Floatride’s debut with a fantastic Pebax midsole but iffy upper, Reebok hit back to back home runs with their Floatride Fast and Floatride Fast Pro models. The Forever Energy uses a NEW midsole technology - that they simply call Forever Energy - that is a new TPU/TPE (think “Boost” or “Everrun”) based midsole that manages to be lighter than the norm for TPU midsoles. What they ended up with is a fantastic shoe for Easy to Tempo efforts for only $100. Shoe Market: take notice.


Pros:
Mac:  The midsole is cush with great energy return, the upper is simple (in a good way), weight is among the best on the market for a TPE midsole, and did I mention it is only $100?
Derek: Excellent quality shoe for this price point. Lively bouncy ride.


Cons:
Mac:  shoe laces are too short, sizing is big (definitely order a half size smaller), and insole is non-removable (you can still remove it quite easily), and collar may come up a bit too high for some.  
Derek: Agree laces are on the short side. Heel volume was a little big for me. But these are all minor points.

Tester Profiles
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and is a sub 3 hour in the marathon in recent years as well as a 1:25 half marathoner.

Topo Athletic Phantom Multi Tester Review: Maximal, Soft Cushioned, Easy Miles Cruiser

Article by Jeff Beck, Hope Wilkes, and Michael Ellenberger

Topo Athletic Phantom ($130)


Introduction
Jeff: Topo Athletic’s latest release, the Phantom, is their most cushioned road shoe to date. Introducing a new midsole material, Zipfoam, that is supposed to be lighter weight and have a springier ride than standard EVA. The Phantom has a very breathable engineered mesh upper with a number of flexible and non-obtrusive printed overlays to give the shoe some extra structure before getting into the firm heel counter.
Hope: The first pair of Topos I ever ran in was the OG Magnifly back in 2015. I thought of them as “Altras for the rest of us” -- foot-shaped toe box, confidently styled as NOT for athleisure, and surprisingly lightweight, but a little bit of heel-toe offset to save our calves. The OG Magnifly is a sneaky fast shoe, so fast and forgiving that when I was coming back from yet another ankle injury a couple of years ago, I raced close to my half marathon PR pain-free and almost effortlessly.


Fast forward to 2019 and Topo’s offerings are even more refined. The Phantom is built for performance, comfort, and good looks.

Michael: There are two ways to introduce the 2019 Topo Phantom. I could begin by saying that the Phantom isn’t the prettiest, the lightest, nor the most versatile shoe to come across my desk/feet in the first few months of the year. But I could also begin by introducing the Phantom as an exciting offering that somehow blends strong performances in all of these classifications without taking the top spot in any. It looks fine, it feels reasonably light on-foot, and, with the stripped-back upper and springier midsole, can handle a variety of paces. Jack of all trades, master of none, perhaps? The Phantom ultimately has me somewhere in the middle - uninspired, but not unimpressed.


Pros:
Jeff: Soft & supple upper that holds the foot well, Topo shape gives tons of room up front without a sloppy fit elsewhere, plenty of rubber & durable foam outsole, eats up easy miles
Hope: incredibly flexible midsole, especially at that stack height, forgiving ride, comfort, classy good looks
Michael: Supportive upper on a bouncy midsole; surprisingly light on-foot for the weight


Cons:
Jeff: Midsole was too soft for long runs or faster paces
Hope: too heavy (upper in particular is overbuilt), midsole feels ponderous at times
Michael: As with the Fli-Lyte 3, I had trouble getting sufficient lockdown; still a chunky trainer; styling makes it look like a walking shoe.
Sam's Initial Run Video Review

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X Review: Maximal Cushion with Carbon Propulsion

Article by Sam Winebaum

Update: Read our seven tester full in depth review of Carbon X HERE

Hoka ONE ONE Carbon X ($180)
Initial release color. I tested an all white prototype
Introduction
The Hoka Carbon X will be “introduced” on May 4th at a special race in California. Several Hoka elite athletes will be chasing world road 100K records in the X. 

Update: Jim Walmsley breaks the world 50 mile record in the Carbon X with a 4:50:08, 43 seconds better than the prior 1984 record by Bruce Fordyce, 

And the Carbon X was a totally appropriate running shoe for the quest.  It is a light 8.5 oz / 241 g, maximally cushioned (32mm heel / 27 mm heel) long racer and trainer with a propulsive carbon fiber plate. I have extensively tested the X, running over 70 miles and two long races in them.


“The Carbon X embodies everything that has made HOKA such a popular and quickly-growing brand,” said Gretchen Weimer, Vice President of Product at HOKA ONE ONE. “Combining premium performance engineering, an extraordinary weight-to-cushion ratio, and a user-friendly geometry and ride, this shoe is designed to empower athletes the world over, and to help them feel like they can fly.” ​
The  carbon fiber plate is embedded above the thick rubberized foam outsole (the first line up from the bottom in the picture above where the blue midsole starts). In addition to the carbon plate, it features an aggressive Metarocker and Hoka’s active foot frame construction which embeds the foot in the midsole.


The Carbon X will be available at www.hokaoneone.com May 15th with other select retailers coming June 1st. My pair was an all white pre production prototype. The first release color, the same for both women’s and men’s sizing, is below with more colors to drop in July and August 2019.

Many will immediately seek to compare it to the Nike Vapor Fly.  While they share carbon plates and lots of cushion for a racing shoe, they are very different beasts. Whereas the Vapor Fly can be thought of racing shoe that can be trained in, the Carbon X for most of us will be a training shoe that can be raced. Incredibly well cushioned, in a softer and slightly bouncy way with in the mix the carbon fiber plate pop, it is very broad and stable on the ground. It has a very thin and comfortable overlay free upper. Its  thick rubberized foam outsole has proved exceptionally durable with over 75 miles on the counter to date.
Its stiff carbon chassis provides stability, an easy going rocker powered ride and a fairly gentle non harsh propulsive feel at all paces, except maybe very fast paces for me given the high stack of soft foam and the rubberized foam outsole. 
 I have been testing a Carbon X prototype, top to bottom all white, for more than a month. Nobody, literally nobody, has noticed them or asked a single question about them. Cool camouflage!

I have run more than 70 miles in my prototype, including a 20 mile Boston tune up race, easily done at 8:04/mile pace with minimal soreness the next day. and none during, and the marathon itself, a disaster for me due to allergies and in no way due to the shoe.  

Several of us at RoadTrailRun will be testing for our multi-tester but here is my take.


Pros:
  • The most runnable and comfortable maximally cushioned road shoe I have tested to date.
  • Ultimate, long run, heavy mileage softer shoe, and for many (including me) an ideal most paces daily trainer. All paces from very slow to tempo are easily and smoothly accommodated in a bouncy soft yet smooth and steady steady way.
  • In no way a mushy chore to run despite the supreme cushion.
  • Very stable platform for such a big stack height, or for any shoe for that matter 
  • Very comfortable, breathable, super light and roomy upper with surprising hold, if it fits.
  • Noticeable carbon plate pop and stability, especially at the forefoot, although muted by the cushion above and below 
  • Very durable outsole; very minimal wear from the rubberized foam outsole at 70 plus miles.
Cons:
  • Very ow volume and narrow feet may be challenged by the fit, especially at midfoot and heel.
  • Heel hold down low could be improved via a more effective sockliner, hopefully to come with production.  
  • Not as dynamic and responsive as I would like at faster than marathon to half pace racing, but then again Hoka has the Carbon Rocket for that.
  • There is a lot of substance in cushion stack and platform width but weight is up there for the racing game due to the use of an EVA foam and not an exotic super foam, albeit a light lively flavor of EVA

ON Running Cloudswift Review: Rock and Roller!


Article by Jeff Beck, Michael Ellenberger and Sam Winebaum



ON Running Cloudswift ($150)


Introduction

Sam: The ON Cloudswift introduces a new softer midsole Helion to the ON repertory. The upper is higher volume than the typical ON seen to date.  All ON shoes have distinctive CloudTec elements which deflect on impact and lock on push off rebounding independently of each other. Above the Cloudtec Elements ON shoes have quite rigid Speedboard plate to accentuate the rolling motion of the foot. It is for sure a unique sensation and on in prior ON I found firm especially at the heel and overly rigid in shoes such as the earlier Cloudsurfer, Cloudflow, and Cloudflyer The Cloudswift tunes the formula with the softer higher rebound foam, a somewhat less rigid Speedboard and especially a more pronounced front and back rocker.  On first seeing them at The Running Event last December I guessed that finally I might find an ON that was fun to run and not a rigid firm chore. As always the Swiss Engineered ON products have impeccable craftsmanship and especially superb looking uppers and the Cloudswift with its distinctive silicone saddle was no exception. I was eager to run them.

Pros:
Michael: Comfortable upper; impressive “rocker”; handsome shoe; improved outsole
Jeff: World class upper, comfortable below foot, solid traction.
Sam: Very effective rocker. Another great upper from ON, this time favoring higher volume feet

Cons:
Michael & Sam : Expensive; questionable lockdown for lower volume feet; a little hefty.
Jeff: Expensive, on the chubby side of the scale, not clear what this shoe should be used for, runs smoothly but takes some effort to get there.

Tester Profiles

Michael is his 20’s and is a 1:07 half marathoner. He runs 50-60 miles per week, generally in lightweight trainers or racing flats at around 6:00-6:30 minutes/mile.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 3:40 Boston qualifier.in 2018. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.
Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less.  Jeff runs 30 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in North Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39.


Stats
Official Weight US9: 10.2 oz /  289 g
Sample US M8.5: 10 oz / 283 g
Sample US M10.5: 11.1 oz/ 315 g
Offset: 7mm
Available now. $150.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Saucony Ride ISO 2 Review: Masterfully Refined! A Slightly More Cushioned Ride and a Superb Upper


Article by Sam Winebaum
Saucony Ride ISO 2 ($120)
Introduction
Sam: After what I considered an upper hiccup, the non supportive ISOFit upper ain the 2018 Ride ISO, the Ride ISO 2 roars back with those issues behind it. It has a new soft yet supportive jacquard mesh toe box with modified ISO Fit bands and overlays that should fit and hold a wide variety of foot shapes well. The Ride gets FormFit, a sculpting of sockliner, footbed and midsole side walls to mold the foot to the platform. It  is effective. We see 2mm more PWRFOAM midsole for a slightly more cushioned and softer ride and a lower profile outsole with a new Crystal Rubber Tri Flex pattern upfront. The overall stack height remains unchanged at 27mm heel / 19 mm forefoot as does the weight at 9.8 oz / 278 g.

The result for me is a truly deserving of the Ride name, and meaning of the word: a well cushioned responsive performance oriented trainer that is now slightly more cushioned and smoother transitioning than its predecessor. It is a shoe that is up to anything: daily training, tempo and racing.  It has a more traditional feel in this day of super soft cushion with great response and road feel while remaining protective. Truly a shoe that can earn the title of single shoe in the quiver for many runners. Can it for you?
Women's PC: Sally Reiley
The review will be updated as other testers complete their testing.
Pros and Cons
Pros:
Stable cushioned heel, flexible and stable forefoot with great ground feel
Not the lightest performance trainer close to 10 oz, but agile and fast
One of the most comfortable, soft fitting yet effective uppers of 2019.
Cool sensation of shoe firming up slightly and getting more responsive as pace picks up

Cons:
Quite noisy, especially heel from outsole rubber
Outsole now with Crystal Rubber, POWRFOAM midsole, Everun topsole and FormFit is perfectly tuned but adds up to a weightier shoe than some competitors such as Epic React
Forefoot may be tiring for very long runs.

Stats
Weight:
Sample  US 9 : 9.84 oz 279 g
Ride ISO 1
Sample US M8.5: 9.3 oz. 264 g
Stack Height: 27mm heel/ 19mm mm forefoot, 8mm drop
$120, 5/1 run speciality stores, 6/1 general release. Available now at RoadRunner Sports

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Hoka ONE ONE Clifton 6 Multi Tester Review: A New Softer Upper and Slightly Softer Midsole the Headlines

Hoka One One Clifton 6 ($130)

Introduction

Sam: The Clifton is the shoe that put Hoka on the “road map” more than any other. The original was a very light 7.7 oz with the same and current 29 mm heel and 24mm forefoot stack, had tons of bouncy soft energy, was notably unstable for me at the heel, very fast but not for me for longer runs as a bit hard to tame and unstable at the heel.

Over the versions Hoka has adjusted the formula to get more life out of the shoe and make it a touch more stable and longer lasting. Changes in rubber configuration, somewhat firmer versions then softer then firmer, different uppers with each and every version controversial when compared to the original groundbreaking version 1, some preferring others not.
The Clifton 6 returns to a somewhat softer midsole, rearranges the front outsole and midsole geometry for a softer smoother transition, adds a soft pliable engineered mesh upper and loses a full ounce, 28 g of weight to come in about 8.9 oz / 252 g. Not the 7.7 oz of the original but notably lighter. If you want a lighter feel with the same stack and a touch firmer ride look to the new Rincon (RTR Review) which comes in July at an amazing 7.1 oz / 201 g. For hard core fans of the original Clifton 1 it is likely the more logical successor if its minimal more unstructured upper works for you,

Hope: There are two models that I’ve inducted into my personal running shoe hall of fame: the OG Clifton and the OG Fresh Foam Zante. 2014 was a watershed year for great shoes! The OG Clifton was my shoe of choice for the marathon distance and for my first 50-mile race. They were so light and comfortable I almost suspected witchcraft. I could tell that the first update changed a lot that I loved about the shoe, so I’ve stayed away from the Clifton since the OG version. I still have three pairs from the original release (not the recent re-issue) in my closet. Given how militant I have to be about donating old shoes to save storage space in my apartment, that’s a testament to how much I love the OG Clifton.
I’m making a point to explain my love for the OG Clifton because I really, really don’t love the Clifton 6 and I need you to understand that I’m not a Hoka hater. Nor am I some sort of edgelord who delights in ripping a shoe that’s likely to be a best-seller no matter what I say. I’ve given rave reviews for other 2019 models because I felt those shoes were great. By the same token, my less positive comments here are thoughtful and genuine.
Pros:
Hope: Forgiving yet still responsive cushioning, rockered shape encourages speedy turnover, simple good looks
Derek and Sam: High Volume Fit. Very comfortable upper.
Sam: weight loss of 1 oz. / 28 g gets the Clifton back into a strong weight to cushion ratio
Cons:
Hope:“bucket seat” midsole sidewalls, very little flexibility, decorative stitching that isn’t taped on the interior
Derek: Firmer ride than I would like for a Clifton.
Sam: Stiffer and more ponderous than the lighter by 1.5 oz Rincon

Tester Profiles
Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

La Sportiva Bushido II Review- Totally Confidence Inspiring. Now with More Cushion and Comfort

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

La Sportiva Bushido II

Stats
Weight: 10.5 oz. / 298 g US Men's size 9
Sample US Men's size 10: 11.2 oz. / 317 grams
19mm heel/13mm forefoot (6mm drop)
$130.00 Available now

Introduction/Initial Impressions:  

Jeff: The overall look of the Bushido II is very similar to the first version and unless I got a close look or saw them side by side, I would be hard pressed to differentiate them in passing.  I reviewed the Bushido years ago when they were first released and really appreciated their precise and secure fit, stability and coupled with supreme traction in wet or dry, slabby rock, off trail, they were confidence inspiring.  Add to that bombproof rock protection, they are absolutely made for talus hopping and rock scrambling in the high mountains. 
My biggest reservation however with version 1 was the very firm midsole, providing a bit of a harsh ride when actually running.  The Bushido II builds upon the success of it's predecessor by adding proprietary LaSpEVA to the Compression Molded MEMlex, an updated heel design for increased comfort and fit, an updated, more ergonomic and padded gusseted tongue, improved mesh upper for breathability and a more sturdy rubberized toe bumper and arch to improve abrasion resistance and add protection. The outsole is essentially unchanged.

Sam: I never ran the Bushido. With the half ounce weight reduction to a reasonable 10.5 oz  and the promise of fantastic traction, stability and support I saw them as an ideal rough terrain shoe that would not weigh me down. Due to the season, my testing was on moderate terrain hard packed snow, frozen and sloppy mud and while a bit too much shoe for these conditions they proved their promised versatility in rough conditions.

Pros:
  • Superb traction in varied conditions, particularly excelling on rock, slab and wet
  • Locked in and precise upper for 100% confidence in any circumstance
  • Stability
  • Protection
  • Durability
Cons:
  • Still a touch on the heavy side
  • Fit might be a bit tight for those with higher volume feet
  • Sam: Rigid mid foot arch support impedes smoother more moderate terrain transitions.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 Full Review - Significant Upper & Footshape Updates are a Winning Combination!



Article by Jeff Valiiere and Estelle-Marie Kieffer with Canice Harte
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 ($180)
Estelle-Marie: Without any media hype, Salomon has delivered a new version of the Sense S/Lab Ultra 2 -- a trail running shoe created in collaboration with Fraçois d'Haene, multi-time winner of the UTMB.


I was disappointed by the first version of the S/Lab Ultra  (My RTR review) as I found it a bit heavy and lacking responsiveness and precision.  Quite narrow, with pressure points, I clearly preferred the Ultra Pro and XA Elevate. So it was with some apprehension that I ordered the S/Lab Ultra 2.


Jeff:  Though I gave the first S/Lab Ultra a reasonable score last year, I share the same sentiments as Estelle that it was a bit sluggish and lacked response, mostly because I expect more out of a Salomon S/Lab.  Though I found the toe box in the original version to be noticeably narrow, my testing took place during colder months of Winter/Spring and aside from some post run pinky toe/toenail soreness and being aware of the narrow taper during my runs, it was a minor complaint.  However, once summer arrived, particularly on a 3 hour, hot mid day technical run with some road miles thrown in at the end, my toes ended up aching throughout most of the run due to foot swell and warmer temps causing more sweaty feet. Because of this, I have not run in the last version since last summer.  Like Estelle, I too was a bit reticent of the S/Lab Ultra 2.
Stats:
Official Weight:  9.9 oz /280g US M9
S/Lab Ultra v1 weighed 10.7 oz / 303 g US M9
Tested Sample Weights:  
EU W40: 8.9 oz / 253 g vs. 9.5  oz / 268 g S/Lab Ultra v1 (EU 40)
US M10: 10.5 oz / 298 g vs. 11.13 oz / 315 g for v1
Stack Height: 26mm/18mm (8mm drop)
MSRP $180. Available now.


PROS:
- Cushioning and forefoot protection
- Agility and precision
- Durability
- Traction
- Fit (especially toe box) now more consistent with other Salomon trail shoes
CONS:
- Still on the narrow side toe-box

Tester Profiles
Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder, Colorado often challenging well known local FKT's.
Estelle-Marie is a French ultra runner who finished 34th in the Trans Canaria 64K. She is also a tri athlete who has completed Ironman Kona six times with best performance 6th in her age group.