Thursday, April 23, 2020

Salming Enroute 3 Multi Tester Review: Springy and Lively, Wild Colors. Still No Nonsense!

Article by Michael Ellenberger, Sally Reiley, and Don Reichelt

Salming Enroute 3 ($145)


  Official:    8.5 oz / 241g  men’s US9, 7.5 oz /182 g US W7.5

  Samples:  8.3 oz / 235g men’s US8.5,  7.3 oz/ 208g  women’s US 8.5/Euro 40

                   10.2oz /290 g men’s US 12.5

Stack Height: 24.5mm heel, 18.5 forefoot, 6mm drop

Available now. $145


Michael: The Enroute 3 is the trainer casting Salming’s widest net - an option they pitch from daily training all the way up to marathon racing. And while I don’t think I’ll pull it out on race day any time soon, I did find the Enroute 3 to be by far the livelist, bounciest, and most downright enjoyable Salming trainer to date - and one that just might earn some new converts to the brand. No frills - but a lot of fun!

Don: Salming has long been a brand that I’ve thought about trying, but honestly never gave them the attention they might have deserved. The Enroute 3 was a massive eye opener for me that they’re a real player and this shoe is no joke. One of the most fun shoes I’ve run in this year , with a ride that is unquestionably springy and fun. 

Since its launch in 2017. The EnRoute has been Salming’s go to distance shoe due to it’s comfortably lively ride on a 6mm drop platform. In this third edition, Salming has completely updated the upper to a lightweight and knitted upper. They have also made some improvements to the tongue by making it more sleek and gusseted for added tongue stability. 

To improve the ride Salming has redesigned the midsole to include their super responsive Recoil PLUS and SoftFOAM formula, which according to the brand, “lessens negative impact forces at foot landing while providing a reactive response at toe-off.”


Michael: The liveliest Salming I’ve tried; durability upside; aesthetics (that red!)

Don: Lively, super comfortable, looks great


Michael: Mild weight concerns; pricing

Don: fit is about .25 size long, laces are crazy long 

Tester Profiles

Sally is a mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past six Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $200,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.

Don is a competitive ultra runner with races under his belt, including a 16:27 100-mile trail PR and a third place finish at the 2018 Badwater 135. Primarily runs the trails in Colorado but also holds a marathon PR of 2:45. 

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, with an interest in patent and intellectual property law. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon. 

First Impressions and Fit

Don: This is my first ever Salming, so I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. They’ve been on my radar for awhile now, but I was never super motivated to give them a shot. When I first opened the box, I felt like I needed sunglasses. This is one BRIGHT color. I love me a bright shoe, and this thing is pure 🔥🔥 aesthetically. The fit might be just a hair long. So if you’re in-between sizes you might be able to opt for the smaller size and be okay. 

The step in comfort is incredible and you can tell right away this thing is going to be a ton of fun on the roads. The bounce in that Recoil PLUS foam is no joke. I BEGS to be run in immediately. 

When a shoe begs me to run in it, I listen. 

And boy oh boy did I have fun. Hello Salming. Nice to finally meet you. Where have you been all my life? 

Michael: My Salming experience is relatively limited - I’ve tested the truly no-frills Mile Lite (which I found thoroughly adequate, if a little boring) and the overly rigid, upper-needs-to-go Greyhound. With those two shoes under my, err, feet, I wasn’t particularly excited to test out the Enroute 3 - though the fact that it was from a different line was exciting, and it read well on paper. Opening the shoebox had me immediately changing my mind - the Salming felt different. More polished. It lacked some of the visual punch that I enjoyed on the Miles Lite (though I had the boring, primarily black version), but it was comfortable underfoot and was clearly an improvement over the Greyhound in terms of upper. With an open mind, I took the Enroute 3 on the roads (and trails, and treadmills) and was pleasantly surprised. This Salming is fun!

Sally:  This is my first ever Salming shoe. Given all the amazing new shoes coming out this year, I was curious to see this Swedish company had to offer. My only experience with the brand came from my kids’ friends at prep schools who were squash players.

I must admit I was a little shocked to open the box and find a totally PINK pair of running shoes. I should preface this by saying I am in general not into the color pink, especially when it is on a unisex or mens product being marketed to women simply by changing the color to pink. But when two of my 20-something daughters fawned over the shoe, I decided to give the pink a second chance. Okay, I would lower myself to wearing them in public to test them out.  

I typically wear a women’s size 8, the rare exception being some Nikes in which I need to size up. Salming sent a pair sized Euro 40, which more accurately translates to a US 8.5 W, so they fit a bit long on me. They felt quite comfortable on the foot, with plenty of room to wiggle my toes, perhaps too much room for my narrow foot. The design of the shoe is fairly simple, with a rubberized toe bumper reminiscent of the old Converse All Stars we called Chucks. This toe bumper seems to open up the toe space inside of the shoe and create a tall, roomy forefoot so that your toes can wiggle freely, and thus do their thing of toeing off as you run. Time to go for a run in them! I will wear thick socks to compensate for the long length and the roomy toe box. 


Michael: As I noted above, I don’t think the Enroute 3 is going to be on my foot for a race any time soon - but you wouldn’t necessarily know that from the upper, which is well-done and stripped back, with almost no overlays (but for a somewhat useless toe cap). Salming calls this a “knitted upper design” but it isn’t what you may imagine as a “knit” upper - instead, it’s a well ventilated mesh that, despite the lack of overlays, provides more than adequate lockdown, even at faster paces. As a major plus, Salming has gusseted the tongue, which helps maintain a more locked-in, “performance” fit, especially underneath the laces. I didn’t experience any rubbing or discomfort, and found the upper quite breathable - even on the often stuffy treadmill. 

Sally:  Michael summarized the upper well. Basically Salming uses a simple, foot hugging knit and a stretchy gusseted tongue, resulting in a secure heel hold and comfortable fit. I found the laces, also pink,  a bit thin and thus not as secure in their holding as other broader ones. 

Don: This upper is just plain good looking. They did a great job of design. The better a company does with the design of an upper the harder this section is for me to write. And Salming has really made my life difficult. The duel layer upper is somehow both supportive and breathable. Holds the foot really well without any hot spots. The tongue is held to the upper and doesn’t cause any issues. All in all, this is a very simple upper that’s extremely well designed. They even add a little touch of personality by throwing on the Swedish flag on the tongue. Nice touch! 



Michael: While the Greyhound fell flat at the upper, but maintained a lively midsole, and the Miles Lite struck a distinctly middle-of-the-road line on both fronts, the midsole on the Enroute 3 is the star of the show. Salming has paired its Recoil PLUS midsole technology with SoftFOAM, resulting in a distinctly springy ride - it’s one of the more responsive, get-up-and-go midsoles I’ve tested in 2020 so far. I would appreciate perhaps a little added cushion in the forefoot - at the end of a 10 miler, I did notice some discomfort near my metatarsals with each toe-off - but it’s such a bouncy ride that you feel your foot almost doing no work. It’s a vastly more impressive midsole compound than what was offered on the Miles Lite.

Sally: As this was my first introduction to a Salming running shoe, I was impressed with the snappy, lively midsole. It is also extremely flexible, flexing farther up to the front of the shoe, closer to the ball of the foot. 

Salming describes this flex point as follows: 

The distance from heel to the ball of foot (62% of the shoe) has been designed to offer an optimized rear foot stability, which ends up in a so called “ballet” line, inserted at a 75° angle. The TGS 62/75° technology assures that the shoe bends in exactly the right places.

I assume this is to encourage the shoe to bend where your foot would naturally bend, allowing your toes to do their individual team player magic and push off the ground naturally. The exceedingly long size of my sample shoe made these mechanics challenging, and led to pressure under my metatarsals when I was running. 

Don: The midsole is where this shoe really shines. And I say that after just gushing how much I liked the perfect simplicity of the upper. The new foam of the EnRoute three comes together to give an extremely lively feeling, without the complete loss of stability that other super responsive foams on the market produce for me. 

Through all phases of the gait cycle for me, the material did it’s job extremely well, and allowed me to feel great at any pace I wanted to test them at. 


Michael: All Salmings are built to last - the EnRoute 3 is no exception. And across pavement, dirt trail, and treadmill miles, it’s hard to imagine a scenario the Enroute 3 couldn’t handle. In the epitome of no-frills marketing, Salming describes this as “Durable Lightweight Rubber.” Uh, yeah. The EnRoute 3 has a full rubber outsole, punctuated by foam flex grooves that aid in giving the outsole some malleability. It’s not perfect - one of the few knocks I have of the EnRoute 3 is that it (in consideration of the upper, midsole, and outsole) is a slightly rigid platform - but it’s far from the most stiff outsole we’ve seen this year. The toe has flexibility, but the shoe as a whole isn’t particularly malleable. All told, with a full rubber covering in the heel and forefoot, I don’t expect this shoe to let many all-elements runners down.

Sally: I appreciate a rubber outsole that makes the shoe quiet on the pavement, so thank you, Salming. It proved to have a nice grip on wet pavement. Most of the shoe is quite rigid due to the darker blue torsion system seen below until you get to the forefoot, where there are deep flex grooves that allow the front of the shoe and the ball of the foot to bend so that the toes can work. I would agree with Michael that this shoe should be quite durable.

Don: As a guy that has done quite a few road ultras over 100 miles, I put a ton of value in a road shoe that doesn’t weigh a ton while still giving me a great amount of wear on the outsole rubber. This shoe meets all of those requirements for me. Salming uses just enough blown rubber to produce a durable shoe that also does well in all pavement conditions (I ran in rain, snow, and dry conditions). They keep the weight off by carving out areas, which also adds to the nice flexibility of the shoe. 


Michael: The EnRoute 3, as I’ve alluded to, is quite a joy to run in. While there isn’t a ton of cushion underfoot (about 25 mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot), the ride doesn’t feel overly compromised or firm - indeed, it’s most comparable to Nike’s React foam, to my foot, in terms of cushion-to-bounce. It’s purely one of the springiest and liveliest midsoles in the recent past - and from a brand I certainly didn’t expect it from. Even so, I wish this shoe was just a little lighter - a move that might transcend it from a solid everyday trainer to a really impressive workout shoe. At about 8.8 ounces, it’s far from heavy - but it’s not quite light enough to be a true tempo day shoe. With that springiness, I think it’d be worth shaving another ounce off that rubber outsole and make this a real distance machine.

Sally: With the correct fit, I see how this shoe would be fun to run in. A runner with a wide forefoot who likes to wiggle his toes will love this shoe. The ride is snappy and responsive. It’s a bit unfair to test these shoes at the same time as some of the new carbon plated marathon race shoes, as the Salmings felt heavy; though at 7.3 oz they definitely are not. The lightly cushioned but not overly cushioned ride should feel natural and springy, but my metatarsals and the balls of my feet weren't enjoying life after a few miles. I struggled to push the pace beyond marathon pace in these shoes, but they ride nicely at moderate tempos. 

Don: I love the ride of this shoe. Like, REALLY love it. I tested it up to about 22 miles, and had no issues at any distance with anything on the shoe. To put it honestly, I would strongly consider running 100+ miles in this shoe based on the ride/weight/responsiveness ratio. 

The ride feels like Nike React, but for me it’s more stable than any of the Nike shoes I’ve run in with the React form.  It thrives on my foot at a moderate pace, and there’s nothing that keeps it from turning up the tempo and also feeling great. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Michael: What can I say? Salming greatly exceeded my expectations with this one. The EnRoute 3 still fits within the parameters of “no frills” - there’s no flashy branding, exotic uppers, or midsole magic here - but it’s a damn good trainer. One of my favorites of 2020 so far, so what’s holding it back? Well… it’s hard to find the perfect spot (for me!) for a 9ish ounce springy trainer. It’s not quite there for workout days, and it’s a little too light (and too fun!) for those pure recovery days. For long runs, and those days where you just let the road take you - that’s where the EnRoute 3 will shine. The MSRP here is a little higher than I’d like, but Salming tends to run deals - and even if you pick it up at full bill, it’s a shoe that’s going to last. No frills - but all fun.

Michael’s Score: 9.0/10.

Sally: Once I got over the utter Pepto Bismol pinkness of the women's shoe, I discovered a solid mid-pace trainer with a springy ride, a flexible forefoot, and a very roomy toebox. I was hampered by an ill fitting sample (too long), but in general this is a comfortable shoe that holds your heel securely while your toes have room to romp. The mechanics mimic more of a minimalist shoe and barefoot running, at least when there is as much forefoot room for the toes as I had. As Michael said, this simple looking shoe is no frills, but all fun (when it fits correctly). 

Sally’s score:  8.5/10

Don: If you’ve never tried Salming, it’s time to wake up. This shoe vaulted into my upper echelon of shoes that I would seriously consider having on my feet for super long days or races. The springy, lively ride is a total winner, and stands out in a crowded field of bouncy foams as one of the best without losing stability like you’re running in a stiletto. 

The perfectly designed, and simply executed upper is perfect on my feet, and even after trying to find something, there was almost nothing to critique. 

Oh, and bonus, I LOVE the vibrant orange color of my pair. 

Don’s Score: 9.8/10

with very minor deductions for about ¼ size long on the fit, and ridiculously long laces.  

Comparisons  Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Asics NovaBlast (RTR Review)

Michael: The Enroute 3 and NovaBlast are both “sleepers” of early 2020, as far as I’m concerned. While ASICS has been consistently kicking out improved (and sometimes excellent!) trainers for the past year, the NovaBlast is nearly best-in-class. Meanwhile, Salming has little name recognition across the United States but has a number of strong offerings. Between the EnRoute 3 and the NovaBlast - battle of the bouncy rides - I’m taking the ASICS. It’s a really, really fun ride for most runners. The only place Salming improves on the ASICS is in the upper - while the Enroute isn’t perfect, I did find it held my foot a little more snuggly.

Sally: Yes, two springy rides, but the NovaBlast is much more bouncy. Even though I struggled to get past the severe tongue slippage and funky upper of the NovaBlast, I really enjoyed the peppy ride, and would choose it over the Salming. 

ASICS Gel-Cumulus 22 (RTR Review)

Michael: The Cumulus 22 is a marked improvement over the 21, and one that will serve as a serious high-mileage workhorse for many runners. I also prefer the retooled upper on the ASICS over that of the Salming. But, the EnRoute 3 is a bouncier, livelier ride - especially at faster paces. Both are more than competent trainers - the EnRoute 3 is probably slightly better sure to forefoot-strikers and those looking for a shoe that can handle workouts as well as daily miles, whereas the Cumulus 22 will excel for heel-strikers, those seeking a more stable platform, and those who want cushion - rather than bounce - in their everyday trainer. Two very strong options!

Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)

Michael: The Endorphin Shift is the beefiest - and so far, my favorite - of Saucony’s new Endorphin line (coming in July 2020). I’ve put over 200 miles on the Shift, and it’s combination of dense, well-cushioned midsole and SpeedRoll rocker technology makes it a perfect recovery shoe… that has a little zipin it, when needed. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the EnRoute 3, but it has a preferred use case, as well - for speedier, dedicated up-tempo runs (or even just regular tempo runs), I think the Salming is a better bet. It’s considerably lighter (almost 25%) and has a definite bounce-back (as opposed to Saucony’s roll) that really makes running fast engaging. While most runners can probably do more of their training in the Shift, I think the Salming is a competitive offering.

Saucony Endorphin Speed (RTR Review)

Michael: As described, the Shift is my favorite of the new Endorphin lineup… but it’s close. And man, the new Endorphin Speed is fast. What I thought I’d get was a pure competitor to the Hyperion Tempo from Brooks (see below), but what I got was a near-pure racer that just happens to have enough cushion for daily runs. For faster runs and workouts, I think the Endorphin Speed is a better shoe than the EnRoute 3. Both are bouncy, but at similar prices and weights, the Speed just has a better sensation of, well, speed, and keeps you moving forward. Between the two, I’ll take the Saucony.

Sally: I am in Camp Endorphin Speed here. It’s one of my favorite shoes so far of 2020: fun, fast, comfortable, spunky, classy looking. (The Pro is even better IMO!) I have put over 120 miles on the Speed, by choice, which says alot. In all fairness, my Salming was too big, so the poor fit hampers my accurate assessment; but even if the fit were perfect, it couldn't rival the joys of running in the Endorphin Speed.

Brooks Hyperion Tempo (RTR Review)

Michael: The Hyperion Tempo and Endorphin Speed are similarly situated “hyper-trainers” (my term): shoes built for everyday running (that tend towards speed), with novel midsoles and top-of-the-line fit and finish. And while the Hyperion Tempo is a good - even great - trainer, I prefer the Endorphin Speed… and in a head-to-head with the EnRoute 3, it’s surprisingly close. The uppers are similarly refined, but I think the Brooks wins in being slightly less stiff. In the midsole, I think the Brooks is actually more rigid than the Salming… but damn if they aren’t both bouncy. Somehow, the 8.5 Brooks just fit a little more snug (and properly) than the Salming, and all-told, I think I would take the Hyperion Tempo… but darn if it isn’t close. 

Brooks Launch 7 (RTR Review)

Michael: Brooks’s other (recently forgotten) lightweight trainer is the Launch and I won’t pull punches - the EnRoute 3 is a downright better shoe. Neither is overly flexible, but the EnRoute rolls heel to toe considerably better, and the midsole in the Salming is a mile ahead of that in the Launch. Take the EnRoute everyday!

Sally: I liked older versions of the Launch, but the Launch 7 was a dud for me. Flat. A proper fitting Salming, with its natural foot flex and toe off encouragement,  would be my choice over the uninspiring Launch 7.

Nike Pegasus Turbo 2 (RTR Review)

Don: I feel like people who thought the Turbo was a miss for them, should absolutely try the EnRoute3. For me, it hit on all the points I hoped I was getting from the Peg Tubro that didn’t quite work for me; it felt rather sloppy and I really didn’t enjoy the upper… like putting a sports car engine on a smart car chassis.  You’ll sacrifice just a little bit of weight with the Salming, but I feel it’s totally worth it. 

Altra Escalante 2 (RTR Review)

Don: I really like the Escalante 2. In my current rotation, it might be the closest competitor I have to the EnRoute3 as far as peppiness and overall feel. The EnRoute will be a great alternative for those looking for a non-zero drop option similar to the Escalante. They’re both in my rotation, and I don’t think I’d be able to pick a favorite between the two.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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5 comments: said...

Question for Don in particular: What is the lightest shoe you would recommend for a road 100-mile race? For example, would you consider Skechers Razor 3 or is ~6.5 oz. not enough protection? What shoes have worked well for you on road ultras?

Don Reichelt said...

Hey! Great question. That is super personal for your running style. I’ve personally never run in the Razor, so it’s hard to say one way or another on that specific shoe.

The better and smoother your gait is, the less shoe you can get away with. I’ve done the first half of a 100 mile race in an Altra racing flat (solstice) but don’t feel that’s enough shoe for the back half of a race when my form starts to break down and I might catch my heal more often.

For me, I think Kinvara might be the best example of a shoe Id consider for a full 100 that’s lightweight but has just enough to get through the full race.

There are others out there who can do 100s in barely anything (Raramuri) but have such great form and cadence that they can run in just about anything. said...

Thanks for the reply. I've not thought much about my gait in relation to what shoes I should wear. I've done a flat 50-miler in Asics racing flats (Lyteracer), but not sure if that'd be enough cushion/protection for a 100-miler. I actually do have a new pair of Kinvara 10s, so I'll be trying that out. I'm also quite tempted to get a pair of Asics Novablast. It's heavier than I'd like, but perhaps the cushion and bounce will make up for it.

Don Reichelt said...

You're welcome! Gait plays a huge role... the better your gait, the less shoe you can get away with because you're allowing your body to protect itself rather than relying on some foam.

How did your feet feel after that 50 miler? That would be a pretty good indication for how things might go for a longer race, but also keep in mind that a lot of the accumulative damage starts to really manifest in a 100 mile races once you get over about 100k, even for really efficient runners.

NovaBlast and Kinvara are both shoes I would consider over 100 miles, so good call there. Honestly if you're trying to err on the minimal side, I wouldn't rule out something like the Altra Escalante, The Escalante Racer. or if you're really okay going minimal the Altra Vanish racing flat (not the XC).

Scara said...

Hi! How would you consider the sizing on this shoe compared to the Enroute 1 & 2? Is it exactly the same or it runs a bit bigger? Thank you!!