Sunday, March 03, 2019

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 Initial Review (English)

Article par Estelle-Marie Kieffer
Editor's Note: RoadTrailRun will have an in-depth multi tester review soon. In the meantime Estelle-Marie shares her initial review after 78 km of trail running. Translated from the original French here.

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 ($180)

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.

Official Weight: 9.9 oz /280g US M9
S/Lab Ultra v1 weighed 10.7 oz / 303 g US M9
Tested Sample Weight: 8.9 oz / 253 g (EU 40 women) vs. 9.5 oz / 268 g S/Lab Ultra v1 (EU 40)
Stack Height: 26mm/18mm (8mm drop)
MSRP $180. Available now.

- Cushioning and forefoot protection
- Agility and precision
- Durability
- Traction
- Narrow toe-box

The S / Lab Ultra 2 fits slightly smaller than the Ultra Pro, and fits more like the Elevate XA. The forefoot is relatively narrow (narrower than the Ultra Pro's) but not constrictive (I have a relatively thin and narrow foot) because of a modified upper compared to the first version. 

Indeed, one finds a fairly thin mesh (slightly modified) and refined, more flexible plastic overlays. 
The toe bumper remains largely unchanged and provides enough protection with less material over the big toe.
S/Lab Ultra 1
S/Lab Ultra 2
One also notes the removal of one the SensiFit straps compared to the first version with only wing closest to the ankle retained.
S/Lab Ultra 1
This wing is clearly more refined and streamlined and thus much more flexible than the previous ones. Overall the fit is more comfortable, accommodating and less rigid.
The rear foot and heel are identical to the previous version with a thin and relatively soft heel shell with padding around the upper portion. 
The padding is fairly minimal but nonetheless sufficient. The hold is excellent with no pressure on the Achilles.

The tongue (Endofit bootie) is thin and identical to the first version asis the quicklace and the lace-garage opening at the top.

The Energy Cell+ midsole retains the white Energy Sav PU insert in the forefoot of the first version.  Overall the forefoot appears firmer and thicker than the forefoot of the Ultra Pro or the XA Elevate. It is also more flexible than the XA Elevate with a relatively pleasant progression of the gait much like the Ultra Pro's. The midsole does not appear to have been modified or has been only slightly modified compared to the first version and is intended primarily for long distances.


Unchanged from the first version or only slightly modified in rubber compound, the outsole consists of Premium Wet Traction Contagrip MA, which is discreetly less adherent than the very first version (black sole of the 2017 Sense Ultra not Haene’s 2018 Ultra 1) but remains to good standards.

While I did not like the first S / Lab Ultra at all, the new version seems to me much improved. First we note a weight loss at 253g against 268g previously which is actually 6% less and which is not negligible in larger sizes.  The fit has been significantly improved due to the new upper being much thinner and more flexible. I had no trouble getting a uniform tightening with a precise and non constrictive hold of the foot. The forefoot remains narrow and will probably will not fit wider feet but overall is very comfortable without pressure points or annoying hotspots. On descents and climbs the foot is perfectly held.  
In use, the shoe is precise and very comfortable. So far I have run 78 kilometers of rock and dirt trails (but not bouldery ones), forest paths as well as run through some muddy sections. Grades were mostly moderate. The cushioning of the forefoot is superior to that of the Ultra Pro and the XA Elevate and will be perfect for long runs and ultra trail races. For shorter outings, I prefer running in the Ultra Pro or the XA Elevate as they are a little more reactive.

In conclusion the Ultra 2 is a clear improvement over version 1 both in terms of weight and fit. It’s a successful update targeted at ultra distances but not necessarily for those with wide feet.  
Score:  9.8/10
- 0.1 for the narrowness of the toe-box
- 0.1 for the somewhat inert feel of the forefoot cushion (but which is protective)
S/Lab Ultra 2 vs. S/Lab Ultra 1 (Full RTR review)
In spite of a strong visual resemblance, the S/Lab Ultra 2 is lighter and clear improvements in the upper make it a more alive and a more precise shoe. Its qualities over long distance remain the same at the level of the sole but the fit is more precise.
S/Lab Ultra 2 vs. Ultra Pro (RTR review)
The toe-box of the Ultra Pro is wider and higher (the shoe fits slightly larger) compared to the fit of the Ultra 2, which is more precise. There are no small pressure points on the Ultra 2 that can sometimes hamper the Ultra Pro. The cushioning at the front of the Ultra 2 is much more perceptible and present than on the Ultra Pro where the forefoot remains relatively thin. The Ultra Pro seems slightly more dynamic but less protective.
S/Lab Ultra 2 vs. XA Elevate (RTR review)
The XA Elevate is much more versatile than the Ultra 2, and is almost as comfortable on road as it is on the trail. The XA is also more dynamic. The forefoot is less protected and the it is stiffer than the Ultra 2. The toe-box is wider in the XA than in the Ultra 2.
S/Lab Ultra 2 vs. Hoka One One Torrent (RTR review)
The Ultra’s fit is much more secure than the Torrent where you really have to tighten a lot especially for downhills to avoid slipping to the front of the shoe. The underfoot protection is better in the S/Lab but the Hoka is more dynamic and playful. The grip is a bit better for the Torrent although the Ultra’s traction is perfectly acceptable.

Reviewer Bio
Estelle-Marie Kieffer. 41 years old
Triathlete: 6X Ironman Kona  (Best performance: 6th  in age group)
Trail: 34th Trans Gran Canaria  64K 2018: 8:32
Advanced Shoe Geek!

The S /Lab Ultra 2 was a personal purchase. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Translated from the original French by Dominque Winebaum. Photo Credit E-M Kieffer.

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Anonymous said...

The shoe has a dual density midsole with a firmer medial insert , much like the first iteration. Many reviews miss this and its important to know for any of us out there with pronation issues.

My take on this shoe (after only a couple of runs) is that it it not as stable as the first iteration, the shoe has a slightly narrower base (even though the upper is more accomodating) and the midsole is slightly software and has more of a tendancy to 'roll in'. The first iteration took 100 miles to break-in for me, but then I have had durabilty issues with the upper after only 300 miles. Lets see how this one does...!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for your valuable insights, We will have a full review soon and will closely compare old vs. new. We have heard the Contragrip compound may be different, called out as "MA". Could it be softer than v1 and thus what you are feeling? Or do you think it is in fact the midsole?
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,

For me it feels like the midsole, but its possibly a number of factors - it feels slightly softer, its slightly narrower and its also slightly taller. The combination of these small three things makes the shoe feel more unstable for me at least.

Unknown said...

An improvement over v1. It feels more lively, faster, and is more enjoyable. The v1 upper, while functional just felt bulky and cumbersome. My door to trail consist of exactly 1.5 miles of sidewalk before reaching the trail and after leaving it. It rolls through the cycle smoothly on the sidewalk which I give big props. The 2 will see plenty of rotation and racing time this year.

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks for your input and insights Unknown.
Sam, Editor

Jimmy OH said...

When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!
Drastic ds Emulator apk

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Drastic,
Sorry about that. The commenting module is by Blogger/Google and I don't have a way of controlling beyond commenting on off by post. I will see if anyone else reports or if it is a bug on their end.

Swedendurance said...

After 55km +/- 1500m in 4 days training I am very impressed and it feels more nimble thsn the prior version. The lacing is great and easy to get even tightness. Have rather narrow feet. When I put them besides my La Sportiva Akasha they looks like a red racing car and the akasha more like a catepillar.
The fit i so precise it almost gives a pop when exiting the foot. For us middle of the pack runners the heel might feel to firm during long descents on hard packed or rocky ground. If your form is good and landing forefoot that will be no problem. The stability and kind achilles/calf drop of 8 mm is nice on uphills. A good upgrade.
Grip is great
I hope my pointy heelbone will not tear the heel collar prematurely as it did in the Sense Ride.

Chris said...

I know the Ultra Pro fits large and I went down 1/2 size from my normal size 10, which I am in the Sense Ride 2. Does this fit true to size?

Yarj said...

need to resize the size compared to other brands? usually use nike