Friday, August 11, 2006

OR Summer Mkt- Salomon S Lab XA Pro 3

Salomon Sports pretty much invented the technical trail runner/adventure racer category with their Raid Race several years ago. I had several pairs and my son swears by his Salomons for long runs in the White Mountains, particularly appreciating their durability and decent weight. Salomon has a legacy in skiing and particularly nordic ski boots which are by far the most comfortable and technically advanced so it is not suprising given this and the natural athlete cross over between nordic skiing and trail running that they have been long involved, if recently a bit constrained by their several years ownership by Adidas which sold the brand to Amer Sports of Finland (Sunnto, Atomic, etc..) last year. Long located in Annecy, France right down the road from the trails of the Mont Blanc in an absolutely ideal area to develop trail runners and.. ski boots. Innovation and brands are born of environment/place, people, and culture.

S- Lab is Salomon's limited edition line for top athletes. At winter OR I saw their welded upper carbon "Black Boot" XC ski boots. Salomon is playing the scarcity game through S Lab to garner buzz for the brand. Last winter the rumor of the Black Boot was all the rage of junior skiers and this year when the models features enters the main line they are sure to seek them out.

Visting their booth at Summer OR I noticed an S Lab trail runner, the S-Lab XA Pro 3. Much like their XA Pro 3D but intended for top level long distance trail and mountain racing (think Western States 100) this model is made of lighter materials and is truly looks like an amazingly protective shoe for the weight. The upper seems to borrow from the Inov-8 Mudroc 280
using a very fine mesh outer to cover an inner more conventional liner mesh. This fine mesh looks like it will prevent sand, dust, etc... from working their way into the shoe. The shoe incorporates a permanent stretch gaiter which extends over the trademark kevlar cable laces to further seal dirt and dust out. I like this feature alot as I often use gaiters over my trail runners in all conditions. Try it your feet will be much happier after that trail run ! Not a waterproof shoe but one which looks like it will drain and dry quite quickly with great comfort in hot conditions.

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