Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Salomon Sonic 3 Confidence Review


Article by Ryan Eiler and Jeff Beck


Salomon Sonic 3 Confidence ($130)

Stats

Estimated Weight:: men's 10.2 oz  / 290g (US9) / women's / (US8)

   Samples:

Ryan:  290g/10.2oz, men’s US9

Jeff:  304g/10.7oz, men’s US10.5

Stack Height: 20mm (forefoot), 30mm (heel)

Available Now. $130


Introduction


Ryan:  The Sonic 3 Confidence is one of three shoes Salomon released as part of its Sonic lineup this year (the others being the Accelerate and the Balance), and it has the most cushion, stability, and weight of the three.  They aren’t intended to help you set a PR, but rather to maximize comfort and provide a stable ride. I hadn’t run a heavily cushioned Salomon shoe before, so I was eager to see how its relatively flat outsole and Optivibe midsole compared to the high mileage trainers I’ve used in the past.  Thick stack / high drop seems to be the trend these days, so these are up against plenty of competition.


Jeff: Last year’s Sonic RA Max 2 was great - I thought it was one of the most unappreciated shoes on the market. Then I heard about the total overhaul Salomon was giving the Sonic line, and then heard how much Sam enjoyed the mid-tier (Goldilocks level) Balance, and I had high hopes. Would the Confidence live up to the hype? Yes!...and no.


Pros:

Ryan:  Tons of stability from both the upper and the midsole.

Ryan:  Stiff midsole provides good push off and helps transition

Ryan:  Handles uneven/unstable surfaces well

Jeff: Outsole has solid traction and tons of durability

Jeff: Midsole seems to have perfected “FIRM” cushioning

Jeff: Upper is more plush and comfortable than last year’s Max 2


Cons:

Ryan:  Heel counter too soft, and doesn’t provide enough lock-down

Ryan:  Lacks breathability from dense mesh + gusseted tongue liner

Jeff: Sizing feels huge, 10.5 feels like 11.5-12

Jeff: Geometry feels dated

Jeff: Shoe is sluggish and clunky slower than 9:00/mile

Jeff: Picks up rocks like it’s been assigned community service


Tester Profiles

A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.

Ryan decided to forego his Wall Street job to be a gear junkie, and is currently the fledgling entrepreneur behind his company, Bridger Helmets.  Most days, you'll find him loping along the Charles River in Boston. Of all the places he's run, Central Park NYC and the New Hampshire coast top his list.

Jeff 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 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 


First Impressions and Fit

Ryan:  It’s readily apparent before picking these up what they are all about: oodles of support, and rail-like stability.  There’s no drama or pizazz, which is great if you’re going for low-intensity mileage, but bad if you want to turn heads in a 5k.  When standing in them, they feel very flat and stable, due to the shape of the outsole which has relatively little curvature from heel to toe.  They are neither edgy nor lightweight, but I don’t think that’s what Salomon was going for in these shoes. My first lace-up felt like putting on a very rigid slipper; the gusseted tongue and the plush heel collar gave a cozy feel, while the inelastic upper and rigid midsole hinted at maximal support.

Jeff: Right out of the box it was clear that Salomon had made changes that went much deeper than aesthetics. Aesthetically, very little changed from the Max, with a bright blue upper, plain white midsole, and black outsole. But the extra midsole height can be felt right away, and the upper is far more refined than its predecessor. 

Right: Sonic 3 Confidence  Left: Sonic RA Max 2


Ryan is right, there is nothing edgy about this shoe, and it feels like a throwback of sorts. As far as support, it’s subtle, and that’s fantastic. As for fit? You may want to size down at least a half size, or more. I was able to get nearly a thumb-and-a-half between the end of my toe and the end of the shoe, and as a result had some major heel slip problems. A runner’s loop helped some, but the extra length definitely didn’t help matters.


Upper

Ryan:  The upper is an engineered mesh, which refuses to stretch and does a great job holding the foot in place.  However, it doesn’t breathe well, especially with a gusseted tongue which adds a second layer of fabric around the entire mid and forefoot.  The midfoot, toe box, and arch are all average in terms of dimension, although they feel less pliable than most due a few sections of tough lamination on either side of the forefoot, as well as on the upper toe box.  If you look at photos of the shoe, you’ll notice strips of thick lamination running along the lower section of the forefoot, which most other shoes lack. These made a noticeable difference in my opinion, and prevented my foot from ‘marshmallowing’ over the edges of the outsole, thereby providing extra lateral support.

The one noticeable problem for me was the lack of hold from the heel counter.  The heel is built well, and is comfortable, but doesn’t have enough structure toward the top to fully lock your foot down.  The top section of fabric which touches the achilles is very, very soft and provides no support. It wasn’t a big enough problem to cause rubbing or stability issues, but it does leave the heel feeling less secure than it does in most other shoes.

The middle 1” of the tongue is heavily padded, and in conjunction with the pillowy laces, distributes the tie-down force across the top of the foot fairly well.  Aesthetically, it’s clean and conservative, which fits the performance characteristics of this shoe.

Jeff: Ryan lays out the details of this upper very well. I will add, the mesh is a different design from last year, and its overall feel is a little more high end. 


Not that last year’s shoe felt bargain basement, but there were a few elements that just felt pedestrian (toes rubbing on the underlays, the black liner around the heel collar, etc) and this year’s upper is a little more dialed in. I will echo the heel lockdown issues, which I had attributed to the extra length of the shoe, but knowing that Ryan experienced it as well makes me think it could be more than just too big of a shoe. And at least Salomon provided a second eyelet, so I didn’t have to fashion my own with a leather punch (looking at you Nike React Infinity). Also, I didn’t have any heat issues, even though I ran legitimately warm conditions (86 degrees fahrenheit without any clouds in the sky feels toasty once you’ve been running for an hour). The toe bumper is far less obtrusive than the Sonic Max 2, and the overlays that run along the bottom of the upper along the midfoot of each side are also very easy to forget about. Anytime you are thinking about a specific component of a shoe during a run, it’s likely that that component is a negative.

Lastly, the toebox. It’s...serviceable. You aren’t finding Altra/Topo room, but I didn’t have any issue with the upper forcing the toes tightly together. I’d rate the toebox as “Adequate” in that the shoe fits up front just fine, but not with lots of extra room.

 And that toe bumper will keep the shoe from stretching any meaningful amounts, so if you are really wide up front you may want to keep looking. The toebox has adequate to ample vertical space though, so overall, it isn’t bad at all.


Midsole

Ryan: The midsole features Salomon’s “Optivibe” technology, which promises to help with both vibration dampening and propulsion.  I can’t truly say that I noticed this particular aspect of the shoe, as the combination of upper padding, thick heel stack, and thick rubber outsole all work together to provide a very controlled foot strike.  If you look at the heel, the upper, aqua-colored section of foam is a bit less squishy and is more memory foam-like, and may in fact help with dampening -- it’s just impossible to know for sure.


I’m a big fan of midsoles like this for long, time-insensitive training.  For most runs, I don’t mind giving up a few seconds per mile in exchange for extra comfort and injury protection.  I tend to do about a third of my training on packed dirt, mulch, and cinder, and for those surfaces, the midsole rigidity provided fantastic support.  The drop is allegedly 10mm, but it didn’t feel that severe to me, so don’t let that high number scare you off if you usually run a flatter shoe.


Overall, the ample serving of high density, low-rebound foam results in a very controlled sensation all the way from heel strike through toe-off.

Jeff: It’s shocking how much of a difference a single millimeter can make. The Confidence is 1mm higher in forefoot and heel than its predecessor, but it feels like a very different shoe under foot. I know that Salomon changed the midsole material altogether (last year’s version had OPAL soft inserts embedded in EnergyCell+ foam), but the Confidence just feels far more underfoot.


I would agree with Ryan on several points. First, I’m not sure how much the Optivibe insert helps the overall performance of the shoe. Perhaps being a midfoot striker means that I’m not taking advantage of it, but all told this midsole feels fairly uninspired. I’m no stranger to thick, well-cushioned daily trainers - I would estimate that I’ve run in at least 50 different shoes that fall into that category over the last 24 months. Like Ryan, I don’t mind sacrificing speed for more protection on a daily basis - which also makes faster and lighter shoes feel that much faster and lighter when you put them on. But the Confidence feels a bit like a relic to me, in that this shoe feels like something out of 2013 (okay, your definition of relic and mine may be slightly different). Most shoes today work great right out of the box, but the Confidence took 25 miles to lose some of its stiff midsole feel. It isn’t super flexible now, and I would say it is one of the stiffest shoes I’ve run in, but it has gotten better. Also, more and more of today’s shoes have what I think of as “modern geometry” in that there is some degree of rocker to the sole to make a smoother stride. 

The Confidence does not have much of a rocker, and as a result I found it to run very blocky, at least at slow paces. But more of that in the Ride section.


Outsole

Ryan: The rubber throughout is thick and soft, complementing the stiff and highly cushioned midsole nicely.  Most apparent was how little curvature (or ‘rocker’) is designed into the outsole.  It makes for a very flat-footed strike (not intended to mean dull), as compared to many other of today’s shoes which have a rocking-horse like curvature (eg, many Hoka shoes).  For a runner with a relatively neutral midfoot strike, this results in a ton of evenly distributed stability. Their ‘Geometric Decoupling’ pattern in the rubber didn’t amount to much for me, as I think the rigidity of the midsole dictates the flexibility of the shoe.  A tall stack of soft rubber provides great grip, and I suspect that it may outlast the life of the foam, given its thickness.


Jeff: Salomon didn’t change much of the outsole from last year, most notably changing the two-tone black/blue rubber to all black, and slightly refining the soft rubber outsole pod designs. It is almost alarming how soft the rubber is. I started noticing wear at the ball of the foot in the first 10-15 miles, though the wear has slowed down some since then. Though it is thick enough that even if the wear doesn’t slow down, there’s still hundreds of miles of rubber down there. I was lucky enough to encounter some rain during one of my runs, and the Contragrip rubber didn’t give me any issues. 

The only constant issue I faced with the outsole was the RRS, or Rock Reclamation System that Salomon had inadvertently installed into my shoes. Most of my normal runs around the neighborhood include spending a little time on some groomed dirt trails, and whenever that happened the Confidence would collect more rocks than my six-year-old on a hiking trip. I found myself using the tines of a fork to remove them between runs, only to find 10-40 tucked away in the outsole at the end of the next run. Not the worst problem in the world, but certainly an annoying perk.


Ride

Ryan:  You don’t bring a Cadillac to the drag strip, and you don’t bring the Confidence to a tempo run -- but you do buy either of those if you want to experience a luxurious, hospitable feeling.  The most pronounced characteristic of ride quality was its relatively stiff midsole, which has a flex point far toward the toe. The stiffness helps out during toe-off, and makes heel to toe transition very predictable.  It lacks the pop of many newer foams, which promise to make you feel like a pogo stick, but for its mission of providing friendly, long-mileage support, it excels.


Jeff: With more than 30 miles into the Confidence I can say I truly dislike the ride. Ryan is right, the minimal rocker design doesn’t give the shoe much pop, and as much as the midsole combination works wonders in the smaller shoes (Accelerate and Balance) it might just be too thick in the Confidence to work well. Most runs I found myself laboring through, and only when I turned up the speed on a whim (“Not working on slow runs, what happens when I go faster?” was literally my inner monologue) did I discover that the shoe does have some pop to it. But I could only find it around an 8:20 pace or faster, and this isn’t the shoe to wear during those runs. That said - it does the subtle stability thing as good as anyone, and better than most. More and more stability shoes have gone away from the old-school medial post, and claim that their new designs only give you stability where it is needed - but that isn’t usually the case (looking at you Brooks Transcend 7), but with the Confidence, it is. I’m a neutral runner who supinates, and I couldn’t tell you that there are any stability elements to the shoe, just a very firmly cushioned stable platform.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Ryan:  While this won’t win any beauty contests, and it isn’t a do-it-all type of shoe, it should definitely be a consideration for folks looking for a high-mileage, very stable, luxurious kind of ride.  It will fit the majority of feet very well, and doesn’t have any major drawbacks. The lack of stability in the heel counter was the largest concern of mine, although it didn’t spoil the welcoming, supportive ride.  This is a well-made, durable shoe that is deserving of a spot in the closet for low heart rate, high mileage days.

Ryan:  8.3/10  

Takes a hit for heel lockdown and breathability, but excels as a high-mileage and extremely stable training shoe.


Jeff: It took me a while to figure this shoe out. It isn’t that I had to keep running in it so I’d like, but I wanted to understand why it just wasn’t working for me. On paper, it should have. I thought last year’s version was “Criminally overlooked” and this version objectively got better in a number of ways. But, in the last year, so many shoe designs came out that made running easier. Maybe exotic foams, maybe carbon fiber plates, maybe cutting edge geometries; whatever the angle, each manufacturer had an idea, but the Confidence doesn’t have any of those - and it has been left behind. A few of my early runs were so rough, I was wondering if I was getting sick. On back to back five mile runs in the Nike React Infinity, I ran 45 seconds per mile faster, with fifty more feet of elevation, and twenty beats per minute lower in the Nike. The Confidence just doesn’t work for me as an easy daily trainer. Oddly enough, it felt best in the 7:45-8:20 pace range, and that’s not at all where it should be. This is the shoe that you should put on for 9:30-11:00 miles, but they lost all semblance of a modern running shoe as the pace slowed down. That isn’t to say it is an awful shoe, just that it wasn’t the one for me. Strangely enough, it’s littlest brother, Accelerate, has most of the same design and materials, and feels substantially better at easy paces. Perhaps the thinner midsole allows the material to do what it needs to do. Either way, it is worth considering one of the other shoes if the Confidence does not light a fire under you - and let’s face it: Salomon hitting a home run with the Accelerate and Balance still gives them a Hall of Fame batting average for the Sonic 3 lineup.

Jeff’s Score 7.2/ 10

Ride: 6 (50%) Fit: 8 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 8 (5%)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Nike Zoom Vomero 14 (RTR Review)

Ryan:I see the Nike Vomero as a direct competitor to the Confidence, in that they’re both day in, day out, heavy mileage shoes.  The Confidence rides like it’s on rails, whereas the Vomero has a bit more personality due to its more flexible mid/outer and curvier outsole.  I personally prefer the Vomero due to its fit being more refined, and its ability to adapt to quicker paces, but folks who prefer stability above all else might disagree.  The Nikes are a bit narrower, but the extra lamination on the Confidence’s upper make them feel nearly as snug.


Salomon Sonic RA Max 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Confidence runs large, Max 2 fits true-to-size. The Max 2 was one of my dark horse favorites of last year, and the Confidence gets a re-worked upper and all new midsole, but it didn’t make the shoe better. Both shoes are very “no frills” and don’t have much of a bounce or pop to them until you turn up the speed. If you are currently running in the Max 2 and enjoying it, you could give the Confidence a try, though you may want to favor the slightly thinner (and nearly as protective) Accelerate or Balance.


Salomon Sonic 3 Balance (RTR Review)

Editor's Note: Neither Ryan or Jeff tested the Balance sibling to Confidence both sharing the Optivibe midsole. The Balance differs in having a less structured upper without sidewalls, 2mm less heel stack with the same 20mm forefoot stack. It weighs approximately 0.3 oz ounce less. Its decoupling is further to the medial side so a bit more agile and less stiff on toe off than Confidence whose decoupling line and wider lateral platform focuses on forefoot stablity


Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate (RTR Review)

Jeff: Confidence runs large, Accelerate fits true-to-size. Surprising comparison given the size/weight difference, but these two shoes are siblings, sharing Optivibe midsoles albeit in a lower stack for Accelerate and with decoupling line focused on toe off and less on stability and worth the look. Shockingly, the Accelerate feels much better, even at slower speed, and only offers slightly less protection than its biggest brother. None of the blocky ride or lack of pop - the Accelerate shines, and has enough protection to be a daily trainer for many runners.


Brooks Transcend 7 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Confidence runs large, Transcend fits true-to-size. As Brooks’ big trainer with stability, this one lines up well against the Confidence. The DNA Loft midsole has a much more plush ride that also has a springier toe-off to the firm Confidence. That said, if you are borderline to needing support or not, you may have issues with the Transcend and its Guide Rails - I had a lot of knee pain whenever I went over five miles in testing. But if support is for you, the Transcend is your shoe.


Brooks Glycerin 18 

Jeff: Confidence runs large, Glycerin fits true-to-size. As Brooks big neutral trainer, the Glycerin has been a mainstay in my running rotation for years. While it brings a $20 extra price tag, the upper is softer and more accommodating and the midsole/ride are streets ahead of the Confidence. If you are looking for a big mileage trainer, no question, go Glycerin.


Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Confidence runs large, Sky fits true-to-size. Remember how Mizuno used to be the first name in firm cushioning? Well, no more, the Confidence is substantially firmer than the Sky. The Sky upper isn’t as breathable and it is a more expensive shoe, but it is vastly superior in the ride category, giving a great bounce. No hesitation, go Mizuno here.


New Balance 1080v10 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Confidence runs large, 1080 fits true-to-size. The New Balance toe box isn’t quite as wide as the Salomon and the Confidence outsole has better coverage than the 1080. Otherwise the 1080 runs away with it; it has a softer and more breathable upper and the midsole is much more plush and smoother to run. Go 1080.


Nike React Infinity (RTR Review)

Jeff: Confidence runs large, Infinity fits true-to-size. Another “kind of support, kind of neutral” shoe, the Infinity has issues with heel sleep and its sock-like upper design makes it impossible to create a runner’s loop without a little tinkering. But after a couple well placed squeezes with a leather punch, the Infinity’s main problem is solved, and its superior React midsole shines. Take the Infinity, leave the Confidence.


Saucony Triumph 17 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Confidence runs large, Triumph fits true-to-size. The Triumph 17 was my shoe of the year last year, so you can probably see how this one is going to go. The Triumph upper is softer, more breathable, and the toebox has more room. The outsole doesn’t pick up rocks like the Confidence, and the PWRUN+ midsole is both smooth and bouncy - just a joy to run in. If you need stability, the Saucony Hurricane 22 is incredibly similar to the Triumph, and would be worth exploring.


Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

SHOP FOR SALOMON SONIC 3 CONFIDENCE, BALANCE, AND ACCELERATE
RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

RUNNING WAREHOUSE
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE 
Now on sale for $97.95!
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

ROADRUNNER SPORTS
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here

REI 
Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE



AMAZON  
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE REVIEWS ON THE ROADTRAILRUN CHANNEL HERE

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook: RoadTrailRun.com  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

7 comments:

Buck said...

Hi Jeff,
As we roughly have the same marathon pace, I am interested to hear what your go-to marathon shoe is (normal terrain)? There are so many of the newer plated shoes but at my pace i am wondering if the price tag is worth it - the 4%, Carbon X, Endorphin Pro etc would probably be wasted on me? Would the Endorphin Speed, Sonic Accelerate or possibly the more expensive FuelCell TC be a better buy for us "slower" chaps?

Seet said...

Hi, I've seen that the s lab sonic 3 has been released in Asia. Any news on a general release elsewhere?

Jeff said...

Hi Buck,

Sorry for the delay! As for a go-to marathon shoe, I really think the super shoes out there are incredible. I've been lucky enough to review the New Balance Fuel Cell TC and the Saucony Endorphin Pro, and both were impressive. I've also ran in all three variations of the Vaporfly (4%, Flyknit, and Next%) and while the 4% and Flyknit were really cool, they came with lots of caveats (super narrow midfoot and heel makes them very unstable), while the Next% has a little more pop and is just a little wider giving it more room.

That said, the Sonic 3 Accelerate punches above its weight class for sure, for a shoe that doesn't have a carbon plate (or any material plate) it has a lot of pop at toe off. Maybe not as much protection for the late miles in a race, but I'd run 10-15 miles in them without concern.

If I was running a marathon in the next few months, I'd probably coin flip between the Endorphin Pro and the Next% - because they are sitting on my shoe rack. I have a hard time saying any $200-250 shoe is worth it without knowing finances. I know folks who don't flinch when they have a $3500 air conditioner bill blindside them, and I know folks who dread an unforeseen $40 bill. But I think the money plays a bigger part of the equation than the speed. Because the super shoes are incredible to run in. I'm not sure how much faster they make you, but I can tell you every time I've run 20+ miles in the Next%, the following morning my legs felt like I ran 5-8 miles, and that's awesome. Also, during that run, my legs feel better than they do in a more traditional shoe. If running is your main hobby, spending an extra $50-100 for a special shoe can be worth it. I don't know that they will make you faster, or recovery better, but for me, they seem to do both. I can say that training will always be the biggest element in getting faster, but treating yourself to a pair of shoes can also serve as motivation to run more and train better.

I hope that helps in some way, let me know if you have any other questions.
Jeff

Buck said...

Thanks for the feedback Jeff. I agree that there are times when the extra price is worth the product you get, however, the limited durability and narrowness of the 4%, Next% etc, make it a no go for me.
The Endorphin Pro and Fuelcell TC are possibily on my radar, i just wish the TC was a bit lighter. No doubt it will handle marathon distances without a problem, but it is a lot more shoe to carry through 26 miles on my ageing legs. I guess by the time the Corona restrictions are lifted the Elite version may be around, but at what price point?
All in all there are some fantastic new shoes on the market, harder on the wallet for sure, but easier on the legs - i guess that is a decent trade-off.

Jeff said...

Hi Buck,

You are very welcome. FWIW, I wouldn't put too much stock into the limited durability - I have 120 miles on my pair of Next% and they still feel great, though the ultra narrow midfoot is no joke.

I went for a run around the neighborhood yesterday after writing the above comment, and realized the answer probably is the Endorphin Speed. I didn't review it, but everyone who did get to compare it with the Pro said they were nearly identical, just the Speed has a slightly softer plate. Weight is marginally more due to a more complete upper, and the price drops to $160.

I wouldn't worry too much about the weight of the TC. It isn't feather light but it isn't a brick either. Really just goes to show how absurdly light the VF and the Endorphin are, since they are ~2 full ounces less. Meanwhile the TC weighs about the same as the 1080v10, which is fairly light for a big cushioned daily trainer. I can't wait to hear more about the RC/Elite, after Saucony I think New Balance is really putting out some great stuff. I'd bet that the RC/Elite will go for $250, but I could see it matching the TC at $200. Either way, definitely a premium shoe.

You nailed it. The nice thing is that the cost of admission is steep, but not *that* steep. Don't look at the premium carbon fiber mountain bikes carry, or what's more, the price premium of the upper tier CF bikes vs "entry level" CF bikes. You go from spending ~$3500 to get into the game to ~$7000 for a couple levels of upgrades in componentry and a frame that's 0.8 pounds lighter! Just a steal!



Alex said...

Hy!

I was wondering about using the Sonic 3 Confidence as an everyday shoe(the confidence or its sibling, the Sonic 3 Balance).

I am asking from the pov of a person who needs a more-than-average stable shoe either for running or for everyday use and I have always found the level of stability coming from Salomon shoes satisfying...

Considering the level of midsole comfort and stability of the new Sonic 3 Confidence, could you see yourself using it as an every day shoe (not for running), or the stifnes you describe in the article would make it unconfrotable?

Thankx!

Alex

Jeff said...

Hi Alex,

Good question. I have worn the Confidence a couple times as a casual shoe, and in that role it was fine. The stiffness didn't bother my foot any. That said, I'd recommend the Balance over the Confidence even without having tried the Balance. However, I am currently putting miles on the Accelerate to add to the review (my pair came a few weeks after the other reviewers) and it feels like it is from a whole different company - and yet the materials are identical. I think Salomon's new midsole material can be incredible, but when it gets too thick it just isn't as effective.

So yes, you could use the Confidence as a daily shoe, but I'd strongly recommend favoring the Balance for the better overall result. I'm with you, I typically like more cushioning than less, but the Accelerate punches above its weight class in cushioning, so it stands to reason that the Balance does too - especially after reading Sam's glowing review of the Balance. Hope that helps!