Friday, August 28, 2020

S/Lab Ultra 3 Multi Tester Review: Outsole, Midsole, and Upper Working in Perfect All Terrain Unison

Article by Adam Glueck and Jeff Valliere


Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 ($180)

The S/Lab Ultra 3 in its natural habitat. 

Introduction

Adam-  The S/Lab Ultra 3 occupies a relatively unique spot in Salomon’s line up.  While most of their S/Lab shoes are light, stripped down, firm racing shoes, the Ultras are designed for long distance comfort, performance, and traction.  My favorite of the Ultras so far was the original S/Lab Sense Ultra, which took a lightweight, minimalist upper from the S/Lab Sense 6 and stuck it onto a protective enough midsole for longer runs.  I’ve ran so many miles in my original pair that the traction is almost smooth and I can’t bear to leave them.  


Since then, the S/Lab Ultra became more protective and heavy, and the S/Lab Ultra 2 streamlined the upper slightly with the same heavier midsole.  I’ve grown to like the protection and cushion offered by the S/Lab Ultra and Ultra 2, but still have been wishing the upper was lighter and more minimalist as was the original’s.  Thus when I saw that the Ultra 3 would include slightly more foam underfoot (2mm) in a more responsive midsole with a completely redesigned upper I was excited to see how this new shoe would perform.


Adam on a Test Run in Ascutney, Vermont


Pros:

Adam/Jeff V:  Underfoot Protection:  I can run on rocks, roots, rock plate is very protective, feet don’t feel beat up from aggressive trail running.  

Adam/Jeff V:  Responsive, firm, yet cushioned midsole.  

Adam/Jeff V:  New Upper  

Adam/Jeff V:  Outsole grip  


Cons:  

Adam/Jeff V:  Weight:  Although lighter and moving in a good direction, this still isn’t the lightweight S/Lab Sense Ultra.  That shoe encouraged me to run with higher tempos and felt even more agile.

Adam:  Possible heel chafing with the new upper, (though after my first run this didn’t bother me over another 90 miles at all, probably a fluke).  

Adam:  Color isn’t for everyone, but it is unique and sleek.  

Jeff V:  Price, as always, $180 is a lot to drop on a shoe, even if S/Lab.

Tester Profiles

Adam is a cross country ski racer from New Hampshire.  Along with skiing, he’s a big fan of endurance sports in general and does a lot of running.  He’s much faster at skiing, recently participating in the curtailed NCAA’s skiing for Dartmouth College, but can run a 4:43 mile (in trail shoes), 16:59 5k (wearing the Sonic 3 Accelerates), and has won a few small trail races you’ve never heard of.  His mileage varies depending on how much snow is on the ground, but he trains about 700 hours a year including 1200 miles of running and 4000 miles of skiing and roller skiing.  You can follow him at IG: @real_nordic_skier, his blog: https://adamglueck.wordpress.com, & on Strava https://www.strava.com/athletes/9267222


Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder, Colorado often challenging well known local FKT's. 


Stats

Official Weight:  10.22 oz./290 grams  US men’s 9

Samples: US M10: 10.58 oz./300 grams, US  M11:  11.2 oz/318g

Stack Height: 28mm heel/20mm forefoot, 6mm drop

Available now, sold out but restocking Sept.  $180


Weight comparison for size a 11:

S/Lab Ultra 3:  318 g

S/Lab Ultra 2: 317 g

S/Lab Sense Ultra:  310 g

Sense Ride 3: 332 g

S/Lab Sense 8:  219.5 g

For fun, saucony endorphin pro:  235g


First Impressions and Fit


Adam:  Initially this shoe feels a lot like the Ultra 2, though moving toward the Sense Ultra.  It’s firm, responsive, protective, and stable.  The new upper feels seamless and was a lot more flexible and spaced out while keeping me locked in.  The outsole seems identical to the previous shoes and I’d expect excellent traction on rocks, roots, and dirt from it, though maybe not in deep mud.  The Ultra 2 was my go to long training and racing trail shoe for hundreds of miles and I see this replacing it.  I will give more details about my impressions for specific parts of the shoe below.  

Jeff V:  My first impressions are similar to Adam’s, with the Ultra 3 being reminiscent of the Ultra 2, though with a completely revamped upper that is a bit smoother and more streamlined, dropping the “wings” on the Ultra 2, as well as a more widely spaced lace throat and with a slightly more generous, conventional toe box.  Perhaps it is just the higher heel collar, or maybe the additional 2mm of midsole, but the Ultra 3 looks a bit larger than the Ultra 2.  On the scale however, they are the exact same weight.  


So while not a reduction in weight per se, kudos to Salomon for adding more cushion and an overall better upper with no weight penalty.  It carries on the tradition of adding purple as with  the first version the S/Lab Ultra and the S/Lab Ultra 2. In recognition of Francois D’Haene (this being his S/Lab design) love of winemaking, the Ultra 3 is full on purple from heel to toe vs. the just purple over the heel counter of previous versions.  


While purple may be polarizing to some, I find it to be a really classy, if not beautiful looking shoe!  

Fit is true to size and while fit is race like and very secure overall, the heel, midfoot, the toe box is more conventional in shape and a bit more accommodating.


Upper

Adam:  The new upper combines the best of the upper of the previous S/Lab Ultras, stability, some room for the foot to swell over longer runs, with a lighter weight more seamless design reminiscent of the S/Lab Sense line.  

The upper is seamless, with enough of a toe bumper to prevent me from stubbing my toes but not enough to bruise them when running downhill.  I ran a half marathon on mountain bike trails with aggressive corners, rocks, roots, and berms to see how the shoe would hold up in corners.   The upper and midsole combination handled it with excellent stability and foot lockdown, yet I can flex my toes and have room.  

The upper feels larger than the size 11 I normally wear, but wasn’t loose or sloppy in any way, and the padded tongue allowed me to tighten the quick laces without putting pressure into the top of my foot.  This is actually pretty great since it means my foot is not squished, yet stays locked in place for cornering.  I also hope this upper helps with durability.  I had some issues at 3-400 miles with large holes showing up in the midfoot and toe area of the S/Lab Ultra and Ultra 2, but this upper seems bombproof so far.  One potential concern is the anti debris mesh, basically a built in gaiter around the ankle.  

The first time I ran in these shoes, I got a blister on the end of my heel from it.  Thankfully it seemed to stretch out and hasn’t bothered me since even over half marathons.  If it’s a problem it could probably be cut out with scissors.  It has only bothered me once, but is worth considering.  It also does serve its purpose, I have yet to get sticks or rocks or anything poking my foot from inside the shoe.  I’m not a huge fan 


Jeff V:  The upper of the Ultra 3 is a vast improvement over the previous two versions in my opinion.  Two versions prior the Ultra 1, I had real difficulty with the sharp curved narrow toe box, causing at best, near constant awareness of the odd shape, and at worst, blistering on warmer days and longer runs.  The Ultra 2 was a marked improvement in shape, though there were times on longer hot runs where I longed for a bit more wiggle room.  The Ultra 3 has provided that with a slightly more normal shaped to box that allows my toes to spread out just a little more, with just enough room so as to not feel confined, yet while still maintaining a very locked in and secure feel.  No matter how steep, off camber or technical the terrain, I feel confident and in control no matter the speed.

The toe bumper offers a bit more coverage over the front and as Adam mentions, is thick enough to ward off most rock bumps and kicks, while not being at all intrusive when running steep downhills, I never am really aware of its existence.


It has been in the mid to upper 90’s during my testing/review period and while the Ultra 3 is not the most airy shoe out there, my feet never felt overly warm and were reasonably ventilated, whereas with the previous 2 versions, my feet would feel a bit overly clammy on similarly hot days.

In a departure from previous versions, which employed a slightly more traditional gusseted style EndoFit booty style tongue/upper integration, the Ultra 3 a new EndoFit design that is full on booty/sock like that integrates wonderfully with the upper and SensiFit overlays, providing a very secure, versatile and locked in fit.  

As mentioned previously, the lace throat is wider than previous versions, which I think increases the range of usability for more people.  With a narrow foot, combined with my insistence on good security, I find that I can snug up the laces more easily and secure, without having to really wrench them down.

The “tongue”, or at the least the space taking up the area that would be considered the tongue on most shoes is a nice compliant stretchy material, that is thick enough on the lower section to protect from the very thin quick laces, while the upper half has a clever, strategically placed oval pad that provides excellent protection from where I find the lace/foot interface to be most critical, where the lace is most tight over the flex point of the ankle/foot.

The lace pocket takes slightly more work than other variations to tuck in the pull tab and lace, but once in place, is very secure and goes unnoticed.


Unlike Adam, I have not had any trouble, nor have I even been conscious while wearing of the debris collar around the heel.  I find it moderately effective in keeping out some debris, but still find small rocks and pine needles finding a way in from time to time.


Midsole  

Adam:  The midsole on this shoe does not feel super soft, since it is made of firm, responsive foam.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t protective though.  This shoe doesn’t feel sluggish when power is added, the midsole is firm but thick enough to be cushioned sufficiently. 

Jeff V:  I find the midsole to be a marked improvement over the previous, with the added 2 mm increasing protection and adding enough cushioning for me to put the Ultra 3 over the edge toward what I would consider to be a legitimate shoe for Ultra distance events (I know, always has been for the pros, but I prefer a bit more underfoot).  While the midsole is firm, I do not consider it to be at all overly firm or slappy, but a great blend of firm responsiveness with all day cushioning and compliance.  While the Ultra 3 is not quite as light, snappy and responsive as the Sense Pro 4, I find it to be plenty quick, lively and responsive and the added cushion/protection would certainly be an advantage on long downhills, extended sections of rocky, rooty, technical terrain, as well as longer days.


Outsole:

Adam:  The Contagrip outsole is great for the surfaces I’ve been running on, excellent traction on roots, rocks, dirt, gravel, even when wet.  I haven’t run on a ton of wet things with this specific shoe, but the outsole is the same as the S/Lab Ultra and Ultra 2, both of which I’ve taken into the always wet rocky and slippery White Mountains, and both have been excellent.  Another benefit of this outsole is that it doesn’t feel draggy on pavement or dirt roads like some very heavily lugged shoes are.  It obviously isn’t a road shoe, but I can run out the door, down the road to a trail, and feel good the whole time.

Jeff V:  Standard fare here and no changes the best I can tell.  This has been one of the most tried and true, versatile outsoles for me, performing flawlessly on just about any surface, wet or dry, at any speed.  The only real limitations are on really steep and loose terrain where a deeper, sharper lug would be preferable for more bite, or in the snow or mud.  Durability over the years on previous versions has proven to be excellent, as has door to trail use of the outsole.


Ride

Adam:   This shoe is protective and substantial, yet also responsive and efficient.  Best way to describe this is that running on roads, this feels like a too heavy but smooth road shoe, while the Sense Ride 3 just feels slow.  It responds well to power, and protects my legs during longer runs.  Having not actually run a trail ultramarathon, I can’t say whether this shoe is cushioned enough for doing that, but I can say that as a runner who likes responsive shoes that don’t feel heavy and sluggish but at 6’ 180 lbs I appreciate some protection from the ground. I like how efficient these feel.  

Jeff V:  The Ultra 3 is smooth, reasonably quick and responsive, with a very good combination of protection/cushion underfoot, yet is compliant and flexible enough to offer good trail feel without feeling overworked.  Stability is excellent and the Ultra 3 is a prime example of the midsole, outsole and even upper working in perfect unison to provide a very smooth, comfortable, yet dynamic ride.



Conclusions and Recommendations

Adam:  The Ultra 3 is much better than the Ultra 2 and Ultra, and unlike the original Ultra is a shoe with enough cushioning and protection and a comfortable enough upper that I could run an ultramarathon in it.  


The new upper manages to both be stable and breathable, while also seamless, and does not give my feet any problems over long runs.  Given it’s combination of stability, tough seamless upper, additional foam under the foot, and grippy outsole, this will be my go to long trail run/mountain running shoe.  


At $180, it’s an expensive shoe, but if this new upper fixes the durability issues of the previous two versions, it could very well be worth it.  I’d probably pick something lighter and faster for shorter runs, but the Ultra 3 is a responsive shoe that never feels bad when I try to pick up the pace.  It’s especially good on technical descents where precise footwork matters.  Also of note, since my first run in these where I had some chafing issues with the anti-debris mesh, I’ve put over 100 miles into the shoe and had no other issues, so that issues seems like it was a fluke.

Adam’s Score: 9.3/10

Ride:  9.5

Fit:  9.8

Value 8-  Expensive, but it rides great and the new upper seems much more durable.  I’d pay the extra for this over a Sense Ride 3

Style:  9.5 It’s growing on me, the seamless upper looks great, and it’s a unique shoe.  Prettier than a lot of the competition in the Ultra shoe category

Traction:  10  It’s an excellent balance of grip and speed.  Never slippery on the trail, but doesn’t feel like it’s slowing me down on road/dirt road sections, and it clears mud very well.

Rock Protection:  9.5  I can run on sharp pointy rocks, having taken it running in the White Mountains which are super rocky and it performs excellently.

Weight:  9  Adding cushion while maintaining the weight is a good thing, and the upper and laces make it feel lighter on the foot than it actually is.


Jeff V:  The Ultra 3 is a huge improvement over previous versions and is much closer to where I would expect a shoe to be that has “Ultra” in the name.  


Cushioning and protection are sufficient for long days on technical trails and the upper is a huge improvement, with overall better fit for a wider range of feet, more breathable, excellent security with amazing comfort and attention to detail.  


For shorter distances and faster running, I would suggest the Sense Pro 4, which is lighter, more agile and more responsive, however for 2 plus hours, rockier, rootier terrain and significantly long downhills, the Ultra 3 is a better choice.  Ideal for day to day training on just about any terrain, door to trail, longer races.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.5/10

Ride:  9.7

Fit: 10

Value: 8 - $180 is a lot for a shoe, but performance and quality are top notch, as is predicted longevity.

Style:  10 - Some will disagree, (and it matches NONE in my wardrobe), but I think this is a very sharp and classy looking shoe

Traction:  9.5

Rock Protection: 9

Weight: 9 


Comparisons 

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra: (RTR Review)

Adam:  I wish Salomon still made this shoe.  If I had to pick between these two I’d still pick the original Ultra, but they’re now for distinctly different niches.  The S/Lab Sense Ultra had a lightweight minimal upper with a just protective enough outsole tacked on for longer races than could be done in an S/Lab Sense.  The Ultra 3 is a protective stable, cushioned shoe made light enough and responsive enough to be usable for long distance racing.  For anything shorert.  I’d still take the S/Lab Sense uUtra, but for half marathon and up or longer training runs, I’d be strongly tempted by the Ultra 3.  The Ultra 3 isn’t much heavier either.  


Jeff V:  Adam nails it exactly.  The Sense Ultra was lighter and more nimble, not as cushioned or protective underfoot, yet I had ~5 hour runs in them through rough terrain and never had an issue.


Salomon S/Lab Ultra 1: (RTR Review)

Adam:   The Ultra 3 is better in basically every way.  Lighter, more cushioned.  The fit of the upper is slightly looser, but it locks the foot down well and is way more seamless.  Even if you can find the Ultra on sale, the upper won’t last nearly as long, and the Ultra 3 will feel better to run in.


Jeff V:  The S/Lab Ultra, while I liked it OK initially, reviewing it in winter in cold temps, when  I was more tolerant of the odd narrow shape toe box, but once it got warmer, I had a few rough runs in them where they gave me bad blisters, so I vowed to never use them again.  The Ultra 3 is superior in all regards (aside from same outsole which is identical or close)


Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2: (RTR Review)

Adam:   The slight changes to the midsole make the 3 slightly more protective, while  the upper of the 2 had pretty bad durability.  The new upper seems better, though it fits looser (seems to hold the foot well, but I’d consider sizing down a half size if you can try these shoes on in store).  The 2 is marginally lighter, but the Ultra 2s I weighed have their traction worn off and have giant holes in the upper, so the 3 is actually lighter than the 2 when new.  


Jeff V:  The Ultra 3 is better in every way, more durable and accommodating upper, more cushion protection, more breathable.


Salomon Ultra Pro (RTR Review)
Jeff: The Ultra 3 is lighter, more responsive, has more cushioning, though the cushioning is more firm and not quite as soft as the Ultra Pro. The upper of the Ultra Pro is a bit more relaxed and fit more generous, though comes at a cost with not as good of foothold.

Adam: I really like the Ultra Pro, but think the Ultra 3 is the better shoe.  The ultra pro’s upper is less precise, and it doesn’t have the profeel film rock plate.  The Ultra pro gives more ground feel, and is an excellent shoe for less rocky surfaces, but it feels less comfortable mountain running in sharp rocks with it than in the ultra 3.  The main benefit of the Ultra pro is its price, $180 is really steep and the ultra pro is available for $80-$110.  The ultra pro has a great outsole, similar cushion (but less rock protection), comfortable (but slightly less sleek due to the sensifit wings) and breathable upper, for about half the price.  I did a lot of four hours runs in the Jotunheim mountains above Geilo, Norway in the Ultra pros and they’re a long run capable, excellent value shoe.  

Salomon Sense Ride 3: (RTR Review)

Adam:  Different shoes for different uses.  The cushion of the Sense Ride 3 is very smooth, and definitely absorbs a little more impact.  However there are some key differences.  The SenseRide 3 does not respond well to speed and power.  Although it’s a great easy run shoe, I tend to run with a slow tempo and lots of power and it just feels dull to me when I try to go fast.  The Ultra 3 has a more precise upper that makes the shoe feel lighter and a more responsive midsole.  Additionally it has the ProFeel film rock plate and the white PU insert which makes it more protective and stable in harsher terrain.  If I’m running on dirt roads, either is fine, but for sharp rocks and mountain runs, my feet feel more protected in the Ultra 3s.  Additionally the toe bumper on the Sense Ride 3s sometimes bruises my toes when running steep descents and I haven’t had that happen on the Ultra 3.  Overall the Ultra 3 is a more responsive, protective, and faster shoe, but it is much more expensive, firmer, long term durability is unknown (the Ultra and Ultra 2 were not good in this regard) and available in less color options and women’s specific lasts.  The Ultra 3 is also 14g lighter per shoe which might contribute to it feeling more responsive.


Jeff V:  Agreed with Adam on all points, however I have not had any issues with the toe bumper.


Salomon Sense Pro 4: (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The SP4 is lighter, more response, more agile and has slightly deeper and more bitey lugs for looser terrain.  For maximum speed on shorter runs (under 2:30 or 2 hours), where agility and perhaps a bump in traction is paramount, I would go for the SP4.  For longer distances, sustained use on rocks, long downhills that beg for more cushion, the Ultra 3 is a better choice.


Salomon S/Lab Sense 8: (RTR Review)

Adam:   Not sure why I’m even comparing these but I guess the uppers both have anti debris mesh?  The Sense 8 is way lighter, faster and but also harsher.  I wouldn’t race in it for anything longer than 10km.  The Sense 8 is also a lower volume upper.  They’re both fun shoes, but for different things.  


Jeff V:  Agreed, not even in the same ballpark, but share brand and S/Lab badging.  I have the SG version of the Sense 8, which are remarkably harsh on hard surfaces, particularly on fast downhills and like the name implies, best for soft ground and uphills.


Salomon Speedcross 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff V: S/Lab Ultra 3 is over an ounce lighter, has a lower stack, has a slightly wider platform with not as aggressive lugs. Fit on both is true to size and accommodating with fit is very secure for both. Speedcross 5 is perhaps more appropriate for slower, more casual use, and particularly in loose terrain or snow, while the Ultra 3 better for faster running and stability in technical terrain. Speedcross 5 has a blocky heel and is very tippy in technical terrain. 

Hoka One One Torrent 2: (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Torrent 2 is lighter, more responsive and the tread is better in loose terrain.  T2 cushioning is softer and with no rock plate so is not as protective underfoot as the Ultra 3.  The Ultra 3 has a superior upper, though that comes at a premium price.  T2 for faster running on softer ground and Ultra 3 best for longer days on feet where more support and protection are critical.


Saucony Xodus 10:  (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Xodus 10 is $30 less,heavier and does not have the flash and flair of the Ultra 3, but would certainly compete.  The Xodus 10 surpasses the Ultra 3 in traction, value and perhaps responsiveness, with comparably amazing fit, security and protection.  Both are fine choices for long distance racing or every day training on just about any surface.


Inov-8 Terra Ultra G 270: (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The G 270 is lighter, more responsive and has superior traction with Graphene grip.  At just $20 less, the G 270 is closing in on that high price point, yet is a shoe with a more limited range.  For my preferred terrain, the Ultra 3 excels, perhaps not in outsole grip, but with overall versatility, cushion and certainly protection underfoot, where I feel the G 270 is a bit thin for sustained rocky, technical terrain.  You also have to be accustomed to 0 drop.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
Adam's pair was a personal purchase Jeff's pair was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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29 comments:

kiwirevo said...

Hi, if possible could you please add a comparison to the ultra pro

Khai said...

Thanks for the review guys! How does the upper/fit compare to the Sense Pro 4 for width and volume. I found the Sense Pro a little narrow and cramped in the toe box. Is the Ultra 4 similar, or roomier?

Thanks again,
Khai

Morgan said...

Excellent comparison review at the end !

Jeff Valliere said...

Kiwirevo - The Ultra 3 is lighter, more responsive, has more cushioning, though the cushioning is more firm and not quite as soft as the Ultra Pro. The upper of the Ultra Pro is a bit more relaxed and fit more generous, though comes at a cost with not as good of foothold.

Khai - The SP4 and the Ultra 3 have very comparable fit. The Ultra 3 MIGHT have a touch more room in the forefoot.

Morgan - Thanks!

Nils said...

Hi Jeff and Adam,

Thanks for the awesome review! I'm a bit jealous Salomon EU wasn't able to provide a sample as well ;-)

Two questions:

1. How stiff and supportive is the heel counter? I slightly overpronate and the soft hell of my Terraultra leans to the medial side after ~100k. I'm a bit worried that it therefore doesn't provide as much support over long distances as my ankles need.

2. I'm going to run a 42.2 trail marathon in the Bavarian Alps in October. 2600 meter of elevation gain and loss. Which shoe would you recommend for that type of race? Terraultra G270, Sense Pro 4 (I own those two) or is the Ultra 3 worth the invest?

Thanks again and all the best!

Boris said...

Would you say they’re closer to the Sense Ride 2 than the Sense Ride 3 ?

Will said...

Is it an 8 or 6mm drop? The specs say 6 but also say 28/20 heel/forefoot

Sam Winebaum said...

Will
Spec is 28/20, 8mm drop. Typo corrected.
Sam, Editor

MarkP said...

I'd finally cut my choices for a trail marathon and longer off road training runs down to the Torrent 2 and Xodus 10 and now this gets thrown into the mix to add to my indecision! My only experience with Salomon so far was a pair of XA a few years ago that felt a touch tight in the toe, probably not helped by hard toe. These look like a good option though.

Jeff Valliere said...

Nils, the heel counter on the Ultra 3 is thinner and more flexible, but higher, so that added height may add a little support. I personally have found the heel counter to be very secure and supportive. As far as your trail marathon, I guess it is hard for me to recommend given my lack of knowledge of the course and also preferences vary. If you are good with 0 drop over distance and not too rocky or rooty underfoot, you might be fine with the G270, though either way I would prefer the Sense Pro 4 of the two. Of the 3, I would for sure pick the Ultra 3 though since I own them all. Would I invest in a pair just for that? Perhaps.

Boris, somewhere in the middle I guess. The Ultra 3 is more responsive than both, lighter and an overall more agile, high performance shoe, where the SR 2 and especially the 3 are more for casual running.

Mark P, I have not had any trouble personally with XA Elevate toe fit, nor with Ultra 3, though Ultra 3 may have a touch more room. Also, don't forget to add the Brooks Catamount to your list. Good luck!

Marcel said...

can't agree with your review much as far as ride, upper and so on is concerned. while i tried so hard to convince myself of the shoe, i had to return it because it hurts my skin at the ankle: this is because the upper chances from the minimal uppter to the gaitor just at the middle of my ancle but this is personal bad luck i guess:-(

Will said...

Thanks!

Will said...

Does the 8mm drop ride line it, if that makes sense? I used to just do Altra but I’ve found 4-5 mm work and some of those feel like little if at all. As a mid- and forefoot guy would the 8mm drop possibly dull my enjoyment with this sort of shoe or does it not seem so present?

Linda said...

Kiwirevo - The Ultra 3 is lighter, more responsive, has more cushioning, though the cushioning is more firm and not quite as soft as the Ultra Pro. The upper of the Ultra Pro is a bit more relaxed and fit more generous, though comes at a cost with not as good of foothold.
See more: Dicks Sporting Goods

Jeff Valliere said...

Will, I hardly notice the 8mm drop, but 4-8mm is kind of my sweet spot. More than 8 I am usually aware, less than 4 and especially 0, I can feel a bit off, but from reviewing so many different shoes, I have become pretty flexible with different types of shoes and drops.

Will said...

Awesome, thanks!

Will said...

Do you find the toe box of the Ultra 3 at least a little more forgiving than some in this SLab line?

Andy said...

Great review. I have a few extra comments that it might be worth sharing after 80 miles in the shoes.

- The gaiter: its too tight for my foot. I have a very high instep and it causes too much pressure on extensor tendons which causes some pain. If I was to run too much in these it would result in several weeks of pain. I have cut the gaiter (and sealed the cut with heat) to make a more traditional type tongue and they are now fine.
- The midsole: no-one mentioned there is a harder section of foam on the medial side?! For me as a mild pronator this is a key part of the shoe and means that its super stable. The heel counter isn't firm, but its more than made up for by this. I find it very surprising this wasn't mentioned in the review as it contributes so much to the feel of the midsole. The shoe strangely also feels closer to the ground to me compared with previous generation, even if it has more foam.
- Fit: pretty generous fit for my feet, kind of like the Sense Pro 4, decent amount of toe box room.
- Comparisons: its STILL not as good as the original S-Lab Sense Ultra which is the best shoe Salomon ever made IMO. My two pairs of the originals have 850 and 250 miles on them and are both still really rocking (Salomon, PLEASE RE-ISSUE THAT SHOE, I'm lining up for 10 pairs!). In contrast with Adam, I found those perfectly cushioned enough for ultras, some over 10 hours. The last couple of generations of the S-Lab Ultra (both red versions with wings) were terrible shoes and blew within a couple of hundred miles for me around the forefoot. These seem like the upper will be durable.

Decent shoes, rubbish gaiter, good volume, great midsole, but not as good as the original Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra.

Marcel said...

@Andy: you totally nailed it! i tried so hard to love this long awaited shoe but the presure on the tendons (you described it much better than in did in my comment before) just from walking around was much too painful (while i still think that not so much the gaitor itself was the problem for me personally but the fact that the material changes right on the middle of my ankle). as a result, i switched to the Sense Ride 3 for longer runs on easy trails, as the midsole of my beloved Sense Ultra does not work so well for me on longer trails like in the beginning. if Salomon decides to fulfil your wish, i will match your order;-) but i am afraid it will be continue to be a wish as the told me they had to many complains about problems with the upper and indeed the upper was destroyed at the little toe very fast but i did not care much for easy trails. the new gaitor sucks, everything else is right perfect to me.

Andy said...

@Marcel: interesting that the upper didn't work for many on the Sense Ultra, its been perfect for me - first pair have 850 miles on them and are fully intact and thats with several ultras thrown in and plenty of mountain miles. Shame that this Ultra 3 has the gaiter really - if they were to issue this shoe without it would be pretty damn great!

Jeff Valliere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Valliere said...

Marcel and Andy, thanks for the commentary. Indeed we did not mention the Energy Save PU insert in the forefoot in our review of the Ultra 3 and only got a "It was retained" in our Ultra 2 review. Sam gave a thorough explanation in our review of the 1st version here:

https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2018/04/salomon-slab-ultra-full-review-race.html

I guess since this is the 3rd version, I have come to take it for granted and was more focused on what has changed along with performance. Thanks for pointing out the oversight however, I will see if Sam can update this review with his previous description.

Thanks again for reading!

Jeff.

Xavier said...

Price drop to $135 right now if anyone is interested. The damn 8mm drop will put me away once again though.

Is a comparison to the Sonic ra (pro 2) logical in any way?

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks Xavier, that is a great price! Just curious, what's the issue with 8mm drop? I guess the same as why I am not fond of 0 drop, but will say I hardly even notice the drop with this shoe. That said, given the rocky, technical trails that I frequent, I am rarely aware of or affected by amount of drop unless 0 or 12.

Nils said...

Hey guys,

Could you please give a comparison to the Speedgoat family (EVO and 4)? 1000 thanks!

Xavier said...

From my experience I notice that with a higher drop I tend to heelstrike more. I began with Altra then moved on to 4mm Salomon slab and sense pro which I feel have an excellent drop and overall feel. For road and light trails the 6mm drop Sonic feel chunkier in the heel although they're pretty different shoes to begin with.

But overall I just want to stay as close as possible to a natural foot shape and strike and want to continue on this path of increasing drop.

Nfo said...

Coul you plaease compare them with speedcross 5? Also in sizing! Much obliged.

Jeff Valliere said...

Nfo - I would not lump these into the same category, other than they are both trail shoes and both made by Salomon. S/Lab Ultra 3 is over an ounce lighter, has a lower stack, has a slightly wider platform, not as aggressive lugs. Fit on both is true to size and accommodating, though fit is very secure for both. Speedcross 5 is perhaps more appropriate for slower, more casual use, particularly in loose terrain or snow, while the Ultra 3 better for faster running and stability in technical terrain (Speedcross 5 has a blocky heel and is very tippy in technical terrain).

Nfo said...

Thank you for answer. I went with xodus 10. Great shoes!