Monday, September 10, 2018

Salomon Sense Pro 3 Review

Article by Jeff Valliere 

Salomon Sense Pro 3

Introduction/Initial Impressions:

The Salomon Sense Pro 3 is the latest lightweight speedster in the Sense line, packed with many S/Lab attributes, all at a lower cost.  The Sense Pro 3 out of the box has strikingly good looks, is light, narrow and toothy, if a bit stiff feeling.  Fit is snug and race ready, though a bit more accommodating in the forefoot.  They feel quick and ready to roll fast without any urging.

Stats
Weight: 8.9 oz US Men's size 9 (9 5/8 oz./276 grams) US men's size 10 / 7.9 oz US Women's size 7
Sample US Men's 8.5 (8.7 oz/246 grams)
Stack: 20mm/16mm (4mm drop)
$130 Available now

Upper:

Salomon, overall as a brand (with the exception of the Pro Max perhaps), does the best job of any company in creating an upper that best accommodates my foot in terms of fit, comfort and foothold for the majority of my running.  The seamless mesh upper is thin and well ventilated with thin overlays which integrate well and are essentially undetectable from the inside.
Fit is true to size and consistent with other Salomon Sense and S/Lab models, race ready security and foothold.  The toe box is not wide by any stretch, but not too narrow, tapered or pinchy.  For my low volume foot, it is accommodating, yet secure without any give and is ideal for the steep mountain running that I do on a daily basis.  Midfoot fit, feel and security is amazing, with no pressure from the laces, just a nice snug hug and heel hold is perfect as well.

The toe bumper blends perfectly with the overlays/rand, creating a secure and well protected toe box while maintaining good breathability and flexibility.
The kevlar Quicklace system works very well, providing a one and done secure fit with no pressure points.  Of course the quick pull and extra laces tuck into the lace garage/pocket on the tongue, as is the case on all Salomon shoes that utilize Quicklace.
The tongue is on the thin side, with very little padding, but would not need any more, as I do not feel any pressure from the thin kevlar laces.  The tongue is integrated with the shoe bootie style, which is part of the Endofit/Sensifit system that helps secure the midfoot in place.
The heel counter is thin, semi flexible, yet offers sufficient structure and protection.
The heel collar is low with medium thin padding, but I find it perfectly adequate and comfortable.

Midsole:

The full length EnergyCell+ midsole, while on the minimal side, offers firm, yet reasonable cushioning and protection for shorter to medium distance outings.  Combined with the Profeel film, rock protection is very good, while maintaining a great balance of trail feel.  For slower paces and on softer surfaces, I find the firm cushioning to be adequate, but when running fast on harder surfaces, rock, bulletproof dirt, pavement, cement, the ride is a bit harsh and unforgiving.  Response is good, especially climbing and on high speed cruiser trails.

Outsole:

The Salomon Premium Wet Traction Contagrip outsole is durable and provides excellent traction on most surfaces.  With the wider spaced, deep and pronounced lugs, the Sense Pro 3 hooks up especially well on softer surfaces, steep dirt, scree, off trail duff, but does less well on rock, either wet or dry than the S/Lab Sense Ultra or XA Elevate for example, as there is less rubber contact with the ground and this is noticeable.  There is no mud or snow on my local trails yet, but I suspect based on the lug pattern, spacing and depth, that they would be good there as well.
The outsole (and midsole platform above)  is narrow, especially so at the midfoot with a very significant taper on the medial side.  This is rarely an issue for me, as I have strong ankles and am adept in technical terrain, but I found that Sense Pro 3 was a bit tippy on rocky, technical terrain.

Overall Impressions:
Overall I found the Sense Pro 3 to be a good shoe, with amazing fit, security, comfort, speed, agility and traction.  I did however find it to be a bit tippy in rocky, technical terrain due to the very narrow medial midfoot outsole and midsole platform there, tall lugs, combined with perhaps a bit of a lack of torsional flex in the midfoot.  While technical rock hopping, especially through rock gardens and talus fields I found myself slowing and using caution, not only from feeling a little tippy, but the foot above the medial arch felt a bit exposed without much midfoot outsole underneath.  A friend of mine on a recent run even noted that I looked a little tippy and unsure of my footing, which is rare for me as I typically move quickly through rocky and technical terrain with speed and ease.  Nothing too prohibitive, but just something to be aware of.

Otherwise, the Sense Pro 3 works very well on softer technical terrain and running fast on softer, faster cruiser trails, but for fast paces on hard surfaces, one may prefer a model with a bit more cushion as the ride can feel harsh and jarring in those circumstances.  I think the Sense Pro 3 would make a great race shoe for shorter distances on less rocky terrain, or an uptempo trainer, though a bit on the lighter side for me to want to run in everyday, but that is mostly because I run rocky trails daily, so I tend to prefer a shoe with a bit more substance.  That said, I have been fine on runs in the 2-3 hour range and would recommend the Sense Pro 3 for softer ground, less rocky outings.

Jeff's Score:  9.1/10
- .4 for tippy feel on rocky technical terrain
- .3 for harsh ride at speed
- .2 for wet traction on rock (not terrible, just not up to par with other recent Salomon shoes).

Comparisons:

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. S/Lab Sense Ultra (RTR review here):  Fit and overall design, particularly the upper are very similar, but the S/Lab has more cushion (which is also more forgiving), a smoother ride, better stability and overall better, more versatile tracton.

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. S/Lab Ultra (Francois version) (RTR review here): The S/Lab Ultra is heavier, but offers a smoother, more well protected cushioned ride (overall, not just underfoot), is more stable, yet the fit, with that tapered toe box is not as good as the about perfect for me upper of the Sense Pro 3.

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. Salomon XA Elevate (RTR review here):  The XA Elevate weighs more and is not quite as nimble, but with more protection, cushion, stability and overall more versatile traction, I go faster in the Elevate, which was my favorite shoe last year and remains near the top for my use.

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. Salomon Sense Ride (RTR review here):  The Ride has better cushion and stability, but the upper is not nearly as secure and precise.

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. Salomon Ultra Pro: (RTR review here):  They share the same color scheme, (in reverse), but the Ultra Pro is a bit heavier, not as agile or nimble, yet offers much more ample cushion, overall protection, stability and more versatile traction/outsole.  The Sense Pro 3 has a much more secure and precise upper, that may or may not be an advantage depending on your use/foot/preference.

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. Saucony Peregrine (6 review and 7 review, but not 8 review):  The Peregrine 6 and 7 would be more fitting comparisons, as the 8 gained a lot of weight and is a completely different shoe.  No matter, Peregrines have comparable traction, though the Sense Pro 3 would likely shed mud better.  Peregrines (6 and 7) are closer in weight, drop and stack, but the Peregrine is more stable and better cushioned.

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. Scott Supertrac RC (RTR review here):  Though the RC is nearly is narrow, it is not tippy like the Sense Pro 3 and inspires confidence on steep, technical terrain, rocks, etc...  Better cushion and protection too.  Fit is comparable, super locked down feel without being confining, but the RC has a more protective feel without any added weight.  The Salomon outsole, while not as grippy, will outlive the RC.

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. New Balance Summit Unknown (RTR review here):  Summit Unknown is more stable, has better overall traction and is more responsive, but gave my pinky toes blisters, where the Sense Pro 3 has a much better (near perfect) fitting upper (at least for my foot).

Salomon Sense Pro 3 vs. Hoka One One Torrent (RTR review here):  Torrent is faster, more stable, only slightly heavier, but with much more cushion and protection, comparable, if not better traction, but the upper on the Sense Pro 3 is more secure.

Editor's Note: The $180 Salomon S/Lab Sense SG is an obvious comparison as it has almost identical stack heights, weighs 1.5 oz less...and $50 more in version 7 and has a somewhat different Contragrip outsole. We have not recently reviewed the Sense SG but hope to soon to compare.

Reviewer Bio
Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 2d Masters in 2015. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the Colorado 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.   

The product reviewed in this article were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
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20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am glad there is roadtrailrun but one thing that would make any review better imho would be a picture straight from the top to get a first idea of the form of the shoe. Expanding on that a picture straight from the top of the insole would help to clarify.

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for your useful suggestion. Added a couple more pictures in the Upper section. Are they what you had in mind?
Sam, Editor

Jeff Valliere said...

Anon, thanks for the reminder, I normally do, but forgot this time, thanks for adding Sam.

chris said...

Thx @ Sam

rms said...

The note about the SP3's wasp-waist is very disappointing, as I had the same complaint about the SP2, to the point where I only wore them 20miles before getting rid of them: too unstable on rocks.

ninedeeb said...

Thanks for the review. From what I understand this shoe is just a retrofitting of the Sense 6? If you ran in Sense 6, can you comment on how similar these two fit?

Lastly, any chance y'all will have a review of the Sense 7? I can find very little information on it other than previews from 2017. Evaluating reviews of a $180.00 shoe is the only way this runner will dish out the money. Thanks again!

sam winebaum said...

Hi Ninedeeb,
Neither Jeff nor I ran in the Sense 6. There are similarities. We expect to receive S?Lab Sense 7 SG shortly and will be able to make comparisons then.
Sam, Editor

rms said...

I have 2 pair of the Sense 6, which I'm absolutely in love with for hard efforts on technical trails. Perfect sizing for my 180lb American feet, not too wasp-waisted with a relatively wide heel outsole for good stability.

The Sense 7 is shockingly different. Only 1/2oz lighter in M13, but the heel flare has been entirely cut off, and they have become a very short distance shoe for me, whereas the S6 could (if willing to put up with foot pummeling) be worn for marathon or longer distances.

The upper of the S7 is also completely redesigned with new materials, and it's fantastic, no complaints. But they went too far with the midsole changes. I tried putting Currex insoles in them for more support, which just creates other problems. The S7 is a thing of beauty, but it's usefullness for me is drastically reduced.

sam winebaum said...

Hi rms,
Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately we never ran the S/Lab Sense 6 so your comparisons are valuable. We just received the Sense 7 SG but haven't yet run them. The upper is indeed a thing of beauty. The on the ground mid foot platform is narrower yet than the Sense Pro 3 and there is as you note almost no heel flare. A pure racing machine or a super nimble fast technical trails runner it seems.
Sam, Editor

Xavier said...

Great review, thanks! This model seems very enticing as its about as close as we can get to a sense 6 sg right now, which I have come to really enjoy. I'm at just below 160lbs and have used the 6 sg for up to 65km, and at that point I was the weakest link!

The 7 sg does worry me the more I read about it. The narrowness, heel counter and the upper are interesting changes. Its almost as if Salomon wants to herd users into wearing their Ultra lineup for ultramarathon distances? Hopefully the sense pro 3 allows us to avoid that for a little while longer.
- Xavier

Xavier said...

Worth noting is that I alternate between the 6 sg and Altra Superior's, so the lower the drop the better. The sense lineup is the lowest drop available from Salomon, so if it loses its overall appeal I'm probably not going to be buying anymore running shoes from this awesome brand. But I'm sure this is how users felt about the transition from the 5 ag to the 6sg and here we are haha.

Jeff Valliere said...

Xavier, thanks for the note. The Sense Pro 3 is a very nice shoe, but as I noted in the review, found it to be a bit tippy and unsure in rocky, technical terrain. Outside of that, it runs well. I was concerned when I saw the overall narrowness of the SG7 and side by side, it is remarkably more narrow than the Sense Pro 3, but there is less differential between the heel width and midfoot width underfoot. I think this in part helps the SG7 to be more stable and agile, to the point where I feel like I can run any terrain, no matter how rocky, steep and technical with confidence and no trepidation, as I feel with the Sense Pro 3. That said however, the SG7 really is made for soft ground as the name implies, as after just 13.5 miles am seeing appreciable wear from the rocky terrain I prefer. Sense Pro 3 is more durable, with essentially no noticeable wear after 30 miles on identical terrain.

Dave Brown said...

Nice review. I've been an avid user of the Salomon S/Lab Sense 4, 5 and 6, but after my last mountain run more was needed underfoot so I decided to give the Pro 3's a try. One bonus is they lowered the drop to 4mm.

They tighten a little higher on the ankle than previous versions and this has come in really handy to keep the fit snug. This definitely helps on lateral stability as well. I actually found them very secure and not tippy at all. They are lighter and more streamlined with a better cleat than previous iterations which really comes in handy in the technical sections. Salomon also reworked the lacing to allow the tensioner to work more effectively. All in all a win win.

I used them on a long tough day for the 28k Rut Run at Big Sky Resort and they could not have performed better. The run is about as technical as it gets and while some other runners were sliding around in the scree these held firm. I did tip a few times, but think it was more from fatigue than the shoe as they've been great on all other technical runs. Toward the end of the run my feet were getting a bit sore, but this could be due to lost training time from injury.

Another reviewer mentioned the S/Lab Sense 7 (not SG) so I thought I'd chime in. I tried them and actually hated them. I put thousands of miles and copious amounts vertical in the Colorado mountains on the previous versions and absolutely loved them. They went more minimal with these, but it was more than that. They just didn't feel good on my foot at all. I ended up returning them.

The Pro 3 may not be the best for long miles on hard pack due to the higher cleat, but other than that thy are great!

ninedeeb said...

Can anyone describe elaborate on what they mean by the shoe being, "tippy"?

Jeff Valliere said...

ninedeeb, thanks for reading. I find the Sense Pro 3 to be tippy on uneven terrain, particularly rock hopping, either over talus, or trails with a lot of rock/embedded rock (the majority of the trails I run here in Colorado). By tippy, I mean that they seem to roll over easily, something I almost never do.

Dave Brown said...

Hi Jeff,

Question. I agree that the fit is great on the Sense Pro 3. Given that if I'm wanting a bit more cushion for those long run days on flatter terrain what would l look at; Sense Ride, Ultra or Ultra Pro fit and response wise?

8mm would be tough to get used to, but thought I'd see what you thought since it seems we have the same feelings on the fit of the Sense Pro 3.

Thanks!
Dave

Xavier said...

I would suggest waiting until November or so for good deals from runningwarehouse.com. I have purchased both pairs of the sense 6 ag at around $130. There's no way I'm paying full srp when I could get away with paying $50 less.

Xavier said...

Dave, I think all of the models you mention are very different from the sense 7 sg, it all depends on what you're looking for in the shoe? I love the sense 6 sg and at just above 150lbs during the "on season" I can run in them all day long. And the 4mm drop is as close to zero as I can get with this brand, priceless.

sam winebaum said...

Hi Dave, For flatter terrain you might look at Ride but for overall versatility on all terrain and response no question for me XA Elevate. Outside Salomon look at both Hoka Torrent and EVO Mafate. Reviews at the link below.
Sam, Editor
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Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Dave, sorry for the delay, but would echo what Sam says here in this case. The Ultra Pro is a great shoe, but definitely not quick and the S/Lab Ultra is not all that quick either, but both do have much better cushion, protection and stability than the Sense Pro 3. The Elevate is by no means plush, but I can easily go all day in it, nor is it particularly responsive, but have run some of my quickest times on the local peaks in it. Probably the best all rounder for me of all of my shoes. As to drop, perhaps I have adapted over the years from running in literally hundreds of different shoes from 0 to 12mm, outside of those extremes, I rarely notice the difference unless I am really looking for it for the purpose of a review. Given the uneven nature of many trails, especially my rocky technical trails and off trail, every step for the most part is at a different angle and the difference say, between 4mm and 8mm is of no consequence or concern, at least for myself.