Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Salomon Ultra Glide Review: Singing in Perfect Unison!

Article by Jeff Valliere

Salomon Ultra Glide ($140)

Introduction

The Ultra Glide features an Energy Surge foam midsole that is soft(er) and energetic, a rocker profile with some flex and a Salomon road shoe last for more front volume than usual in a Salomon. 

Light at about 10 oz / 283g for a US9 it has a substantial 32mm heel / 26mm forefoot stack height and a full Contragrip outsole with 4mm lugs

Pros:


Jeff V:  Finally a max cushion shoe from Salomon!  Light, responsive, secure, comfortable, plush cushioning, stable, traction, protective


Cons:

Jeff V:  Uppermost eyelet grommets can cause a bit of discomfort when really snugging the shoe,  lace garage takes a bit of work, tread durability is not as good as all of the other Salomons I have tested.

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


Stats

Appox. Weight: 10 oz / 283g for a US9

  Samples: men’s 9.7 oz / 275 g (US8.5), 10.5oz / 297g (US10)

US Men’s size 10: 10.5oz / 297 grams

Stack Height: 32mm heel / 26mm, 6mm drop

$140. Available now including Running Warehouse US HERE, Europe available now.


First Impressions and Fit:

Jeff V:  My first impression was shock and surprise, because I had given up all hope of receiving a pair, since media samples were very limited.  


The Ultraglide is a very eye-catching shoe, with a vibrant blue upper, a white midsole and red outsole.  I find it to be very attractive and elicits looks and comments on the trail, from those in the know and less savvy folks alike.  


They are lightweight given the obvious amount of maximal cushion and stack, something I am quite pleased to see in a Salomon.  Finally the cushion I had always hoped for in the S/Lab Ultra with the Ultraglide even coming in at 3 grams less than the S/Lab Ultra 3 AND with 4mm MORE stack height.  

Fit is true to size, though with a noticeably roomier toe box than I am accustomed to with Salomon (the last is based on a Salomon road shoe's last) which is welcome for a long distance shoe and which still provides a very good foothold in technical terrain.


Upper:

Jeff V:  The 3D Open Mesh upper is soft and flexible and  even with a complex array of overlays, underlays and integrated Sensifit Wings provides a very comfortable and secure wrap over the foot.  

Breathability is very good and even on hot days, I have never felt my feet to be warm or excessively sweaty.  

The toe bumper is sturdy and protective, with a nice wrap around rand adding welcome 360 degree protection from bumps and scuffs in technical terrain.  


The SensiFit system (gusset tongue), as always with most Salomon shoes, provides a custom-like feel and adds to the comfort, security and stability.

The heel counter is semi flexible, supportive and has very good padding. It provides  top notch heel hold, stability and comfort, without feeling at all over-built.

The tongue is well padded, on the high side of medium padding and has an added padded strip over the top to aid in protection from the thin Quicklace system.  The Quicklace system works very well here, but I do find that I have to perform a bit of extra lace pulling in the middle of the forefoot (vs. one quick pull from the top) to achieve the proper snugness for my thin foot and my preferences for added security in  technical terrain.  If I had one minor quibble, it would be the metal grommets used for the very top eyelets, as when I really snug down the Quicklaces, I feel a bit of pressure on my ankles and have to back off a bit.

The lace garage on the tongue is a bit tight and stuffing the pull tab and laces into it takes a bit of work, but once in, they are very secure, with no chance of popping out unexpectedly.


Midsole:

Jeff V:  The dual density Energy Surge midsole has a top layer that is a bit more firm than the lower layer, sandwiching the softer material between the firm top layer and outsole, providing excellent response, a light, lively feel and an energetic return.  


This new midsole foam (shared with the Pulsar racer RTR Review)  stands in stark contrast to the more dense midsoles I am accustomed to in the Sense Ride (Optivibe) and S/Lab Ultra (Energy Cell +). I find the Energy Surge to be much more forgiving, with less pounding and more suitable for longer days, distances and fast sustained downhills.  Salomon tells us it is a blend of Olefin and EVA, as Optivibe is, but with a greater proportion of Olefin in the mix.  While soft feeling, cushioned and forgiving, the midsole is supportive and predictable which, when combined with the more wide platform, provides excellent stability.  


In place of the customary ProFeel film rock protection is provided by a denser (than Energy Surge) foam insert. The foam insert does a great job dulling impact on pointy rocks and such, while retaining great flexibility and ground feel, combined with the maximal cushion.  I do however get the occasional zinger in the heel despite the deep cushion.


Outsole

Jeff V:  The Contagrip MA outsole features similar 4mm lugs as found on the S/Lab Ultra 3, Sense Pro and Sense Ride 4, which has proven to be a very versatile and effective outsole that can handle just about any terrain and excels on most terrain.  

The lugs have been slightly re-tooled, but are familiar Salomon.  

The outsole of the UltraGlide performs quite similarly to the tried and true outsoles of the aforementioned, but the ContaGrip MA compound used here feels a little softer to me.  I think this outsole integrates perfectly with the midsole, further enhancing the smooth and comfortable ride. 

I am finding that durability is proving to be not as good as most of the other Contagrip outsoles, with the UltraGlide showing more wear than the S/Lab Ultra 3 at only half the miles (approximately 30 miles in the photo above), albeit much of my running in them has been on rocky technical terrain.


Ride

Jeff V:  The UltraGlide provides the smoothest, most compliant, comfortable and enjoyable ride of any Salomon I have run in to date and rivals any trail shoe I have run in.  The sum of all it’s parts, from the ContaGrip outsole, integrating with the Energy Surge midsole and the flexible upper, all sing in perfect unison.  The UltraGlide is flexible, yet protective, well cushioned and very soft, though not at all mushy, unpredictable, or unstable.  Response is excellent, with a very welcome and noticeable energy return on uphills, flats and downhills.  On long downhills in particular, the UltraGlide really shines, just eating up the impact.


Conclusions and Recommendations


Jeff V:  As much as I am a fan of Salomon, the UltraGlide was a big surprise.  This is a significant step forward for Salomon, wherein they FINALLY created a shoe that is truly built for long distance and ultra distance comfort, a shoe that has deep soft cushion, great response, a more roomy yet secure  upper, all in a relatively lightweight package. 


I would recommend the UltraGlide for just about any trail running outside of the most steep/technical trails as it is not necessarily designed for off trail high mountain terrain, but for everything else, they performed quite well. 


I find their sweet spot to be moderate to less technical trails, but I have also used them on technical rocky trails, talus hopping, etc….While this is not their intended terrain, they have provided adequate stability, security, protection and traction, so they have proved quite versatile.  


Going forward, I will use the UltraGlide as a daily trainer on my normal technical trails in Boulder, for door to trail, or if I were going to spend all day on my feet running, the UltraGlide would be a top pick.

Jeff V’s Score: 9.3/10


Ride:  10 - sooo smooth, well cushioned and responsive

Fit: 9 - Great foothold, with a nice bit of room in the forefoot

Value: 9 - $140 is a very fair price for all that you get in this shoe.  If I saw less treadwear, I might score this a 10 (but likely much less of an issue if not primarily running on rocky, technical terrain as I most often do).

Style: 9 - subjective of course, I most always really jive with Salomon’s look and do here as well

Traction: 9 - very good traction on just about any surface and honestly have never had them waver (but have not used them on snow/ice or in the wet).

Rock Protection:  9 - The foam insert rock protection does a great job dulling impact on pointy rocks and such, while retaining great flexibility and ground feel, combined with the maximal cushion.  I do however get the occasional zinger in the heel despite the deep cushion.


11 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The S/Lab Ultra 3 has a more precise fit, an advantage in technical terrain, but if going longer or less tech, the UG’s roomier toe box is very welcome.  The S/Lab has much firmer cushion and less of it, is less responsive and weighs a few grams more even than the UG.  Traction is comparable, but the S/Lab has more durable tread.  For most, I would suggest the UG and you save $40 as a bonus.


Salomon Sense Ride 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The SR4 is an amazing shoe, another versatile all arounder that shares many of the same attributes, however, the UG is much more fun, more responsive, lighter and much more compliant and has better all day cushion.  A case could be made though for the SR4 for the more rugged durability and $20 savings.


Brooks Caldera 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  A real toss up here.  Both are very well cushioned and comfortable shoes, light for the amount of cushion they offer and very closely matched in every way.  I would say the UG is a touch more sporty and Ultra race ready, but I think I could flip a coin here for day to day training.


Brooks Cascadia 16 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Cascadia 16 is a bit more firm underfoot, with overall more protection, tread and foothold for more rugged, all mountain running, yet it can easily do just about everything the UG can do.  UG for less technical terrain, Cascadia for more technical.


Hoka Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The SG is tried and true, with more cushion, a more rugged, durable outsole and can do everything the UG can as well.  Again, SG for more rocky, tech terrain, UG for more moderate trail, but much of this is due to outsole durability.  Those who find the SG to be a bit narrow and tapered in the forefoot, will appreciate the more forgiving UG toe box.


Hoka EVO Mafate Speed 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The EVO has more cushioning, deeper tread and a similar responsive feel to the UG, but the UG has a slight edge in stability and all around versatility.


Nike Pegasus Trail 3 (RTR Review soon)

Jeff V:  The Peg 3 has more cushion and weighs over an ounce more and overlaps in use with the UG in many ways, but the UG is more responsive and for sure a better pick for faster efforts or longer distance racing, where the Peg 3 falls solidly in the daily trainer category.


Nike Terra Kiger 7 (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  The Kiger 7 weighs a bit more, has less cushion and a lower feeling ride with overall better ground feel and distinctive air pod in the forefoot.  TK7 fit is a little more voluminous and accommodating.  While both provide a very well cushioned ride for all day runs, the UG has a more responsive and lively feel.


VJ Ultra (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  While they both have Ultra in the name and both can go Ultra distances no problem, the VJ is a true wonder that defies gravitational norms, with unrivaled low weight, cushion, traction, protection, response and locked in stability.  The VJ is ideal for the fastest efforts on technical terrain or in the wet, where the UG might be better for longer distances on more moderate and more dry trails.


Topo MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Topo, while very well cushioned, is a bit firmer underfoot and not quite as lively or as responsive, but that firmness plays out as a bit of a benefit on rockier, more technical terrain.  The Topo also has superior traction and durability,  so is ideal for varied technical mountain terrain.  The Topo has a slightly wider toe box, but still a very good foothold, as is the case with the UG.  Topo for any distance outings where traction and protection are paramount, UG for slightly less technical and faster paces.


Saucony Xodus 11 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Xodus 11 is overall more protective, firm and rugged, with beefier tread, though it comes with a weight penalty and is not nearly as responsive.  Xodus for slower, more rugged adventures and daily training and the UG for faster, less technical efforts.


Saucony Endorphin Trail (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Endorphin Trail would be a better pick for backpacking, fastpacking or thru hiking, but other than that, I found it to be stiff, heavy, hot and uninspiring, none of which relate to the UG.


Sam's Comparison Video: Salomon Ultra Glide, VJ Ultra, Saucony Endorphin Trail

Watch Sam's Ultra Glide Video Review (13:14)

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links in the article. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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32 comments:

Jon said...

Excellent review! Very excited to try this one. Anyone can compare with the Pulsar?

belovedaunt said...

Agree with this review in the 50miles or so I've put into the shoe so far. One thing to note is I sized down to 11.5 UK (from my usual size 12 in Hoka/Salomon), and I think that was wrong. A great shoe I'll definitely buy again, but in my usual size I think.

Also, I found the tongue to be huge, probably the biggest I've come across!

Great shoe though - would love to see it get an S/Lab makeover

Ioannis R. said...

Benn waiting for this review since I saw Jeff had a pair and was testing it.

How is durability for this shoe, especially the midsole? I've read about the midsole flattening out after 80-100 miles. And looking at the photos you posted, you can see horizontal creases already in the white midsole. Is this a shoe that one might only get 200 miles out of?

Chris said...

My question is about midsole durability as well. Watching the Ginger Runner review, sounds like the midsole flatting is an issue early?

MK said...

Hi Jeff --
I saw your comments regarding breathability, which were encouraging. How do you feel these compare to the Sense Ride 4? I found those to be the hottest Salomons I've run in, and to retain a lot of water.
Thanks for the review!

WEB said...

How does this shoe compare to to Altra Olympus 4?

Jeff Valliere said...

John, Sam has run in both, so hopefully he can chime in here.

Belovedaunt, yes, a big tongue! But I am thankful that it is protective from the thin quicklaces that can feel bitey if the tongue is not adequate. Agreed, working this midsole into an S/Lab and more shoes in the Salomon line would be nice. I can only assume that it will spread throughout the line at some point.

Ioannis R and Chris, I only have about 30 miles on the Ultraglide, plenty enough to form my opinions and feedback for review, but not enough for any true durability observations (aside from the outsole wear I am already seeing). As far as midsole flattening rate, yes, I can envision that being a concern, but I think there are variables that will affect that rate, like runner weight for starters, along with gait and terrain.

MK, I don't find the SR4 to be overly warm, but the UG are for sure more airy due to the thinner upper.

Web, I have not run in the Olympus 4, but from past experience with Altra and Olympus, I would guess that the Salomon is much more responsive, lighter and has much better foothold and control in technical terrain. The UG also has less cushion and probably overall better protection underfoot because of that massive stack. Of course if you are an Altra fan, that wide toe box seems to supersede just about anything else.




Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Jon,
Compared to Pulsar. The Pulsar has the exact same Energy Surge foam and same firmness but includes a firmer medial post. The key differences are a far far narrower heel landing for Pulsar pretty much requiring a midfoot to forefoot strike and fast paces. The forefoot is also slightly firmer and stiffer with more rocker and more explosive response. The Pulsar has an equally superb upper but different as it is Matryx a single layer of very supportive light material. Of course Pulsar is far lighter, lighter than just about any road race shoe out there. So Pulsar pure shorter distance (for most) trail racer and I include it is a superb 5-10K road racer, while Ultra Glide a longer distance cruiser and every day trail shoe.
Sam, Editor

Dan said...

Just a follow up on sizing. I've sized DOWN 1/2 size to a 9 (generally a 9.5 in everything Skechers, NB, Hoka etc) in all recent Salomons incl Ride 3, Ultra 2, Pro 3. Is sizing more in line with other brands or still down 1/2 size like most Salomons? I think the Believe in the Run folks all agreed to size down.

belovedaunt said...

I sized down to 11.5UK from my usual 12 in Salomon/Hoka/NB. They fit well, but not as generous up front as I’d have liked. I’d probably go with a 12 if I bought again

Jeff Valliere said...

I am a size 10 in all Salomons and found the UG consistent with all of my other Salomons, and would suggest staying true to size (or at least the size Salomon that has been working for you).

Dan said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'll admit I used to always wear 9.5s but found them a tad roomy (the Sense Pro 3 especially). Although my quandary is that I'll be getting the UG for a 100 miler so maybe I'll stick with something a little bigger?

Jeff Valliere said...

A personal call. Best I can say is that they run true to size, no surprises here. Good luck!

Unknown said...

Can anyone compare to any of The North Face shoes? I got 250 miles in the Enduris and 300 in the Infinite and can’t decide which I like more. Would love to know how these compare. Wore though 3 pairs of Salomon Ride 3 before trying TNF shoes out.

Unknown said...

I rotate the Salomon UG with TNF Vectiv Enduris, my take: the UG is lighter by approx. 30gr. but surprisingly the Enduris rolls better, grip about even, in wet both are so so, flexibility and ground feel Salomon, protection Vectiv Enduris. Both tend to more non-technical terrain, but if Salomon better. I prefer the North Face though, especially for longer runs, the Salomon is for me a 50k shoe, but that's just me. Nice shoe, but there's nothing which stands out really in my opinion, but the shoe is also doing nothing wrong...important to know, this is not a max cushioned shoe, more Like a Sense Ride 1 on Steroids, after 150km even more...Hope this helps, cheers

Malcolm said...

Sam
Looking for a trail shoe (slow, steady miles, smallish distances) which can also be used summer hill walking. Salomon are a good fit for me. Would the UG fit the bill? Thanks Malcolm

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Malcom,
I think it could be as with its comfortable upper and versatile outsole it also provides some fine energetic pep. If you wanted a bit more shoe, more traction, and maybe a bit more hiking focus do look at Cascadia 16 was well
Sam, Editor

Jeff Valliere said...

I second what Sam said. The Topo MTN Racer 2 would be another fine pick as well.

Malcolm said...

Thanks for both your comments. Had also been thinking about the Cascadia - both nice looking shoes. A consideration to me I'm afraid.

semmtex said...

For me the sizing is a bit off, because my usual Salomon size (which is half size up from every other brand) was way too long. So I went with half size down, so now same size as f.e.Adidas.

semmtex said...

I now have 140km from 8 runs of various lengths. Outsole looks good but in the midsole there's some significant creasing. But I have to say there no impact on the ride. I am expecting to get 500km out of them without a problem.

Tom said...

Did anybody buy a 47 1/3 or 48 and could measure insole length / width? Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Think it is worth emphasizing the point about the firmer top layer of foam. The Pulsar doesnt seem to have this as far as I can tell. I was worried about the longevity of the midsole because the Pulsar definitely loses some of its softness fairly early, but I just received the Ultra Glide and hoping this firmer layer helps with the longevity of the midsole.

For me sizing is weird with Salomon shoes. For years 11 was a perfect fit for me but a few years ago I felt their shoes started to get long in the toes. In some cases I've sized down but most of the time regret it when I do. Probably will just have to stick with 11 in this case. The 10.5 feels closer to perfect but have a feeling its going to feel too snug at ultra distances. But the toe box does feel pointy and a lot more volume than I prefer.

Chris said...

Two runs (8 and 11) in the mtns of Vermont on very technical and muddy/wet trails. They've done alright, more stable and capable than I thought they might be, not as cushioned as I was hoping. Traction has been strong as expected even on the slickest stuff. Foothold has been good though I wonder what they might be like for someone with a narrow, low volume foot. A few observations. Less than 20 miles and the midsole looks like I've run 200. Tons of creasing. Ran a couple miles on a gravel forest road at the end of today's run and felt almost every little rock. Why they didn't put a layer of Profeel film in the forefoot I don't know, but the layer of firmer foam doesn't do a whole lot. Finally, I noticed on a long downhill they don't quite soak up the pounding, the way I was hoping. Maybe I need more time in them but so far I'm not blown away.

Jon A said...

I bought a pair and have run ~30 miles in them (one long run, two short). I had very high hopes (Hoka crossed with Salomon? What's not to like?) but they haven't materialized. They grip well, and they have some good cushion, but I can't say they seem to improve over, say, a pair of Speedgoats. The fit is better than a Speedgoat, though, at least for me -- it's somewhere between the Speedgoat and an Altra Timp 2.0. They're definitely heavy/clunky as compared to the Pulsars, but they're serving a different purpose. I would keep them as a decent pair of training shoes except for the completely horrible insoles. I've never had insole problems with shoes, but these literally slip and slide within the shoes on any descent of >10% grade. Two out of my three runs, I've had to stop, take off the shoes, uncrumple the insoles, and then resume. I might have to superglue them in or something (I'd go without insoles, but the ankle notch in the UGs is too high and rubs hard, so that's not an option). So, unfortunately, these aren't the quiver killer for me...

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks for the commentary Jon. I do not recall any issues with my insoles and for good measure, just went to double check, everything looks and feels normal. I have also run some pretty steep 15-25% gradient), technical terrain and relatively fast and have never felt them slip at all. Are you running in really wet conditions perhaps, or hot/sweaty? That still should not happen, but perhaps would explain the difference in our experiences.

Romain said...

Hi,
i am really hesitating between these UG and the TK7 for a 80km/3600m+ in the south of France. I did not test the ug yet, but had great sensations in the TK7, cushioning and reactivity mixed well. My only concern is grip on wet, and if a 80km race isn't too much for them? Would they end up feeling hard under foot ? I have been stunned by the softness of the zoom air bag and the react foam, way more noticeable than in the pegasus 37.

But in comparison with the UG, could you tell me more? It seems that they are very similar options.
Thanks a lot

Jeff Valliere said...

I think either would do fine, but would lean toward the Ultraglide I think. As far as wet traction, I don't have a lot of use in the wet with either, but suspect UG might be a bit better too.

Anonymous said...

Just commenting to say that I have had the insole slip a lot as well, only when wet. If my run stays dry there is no issue. My other comment is related to the top most eyelet, which is putting a lot of pressure on my ankle, makes it unusable for anything other an hour. Its strange because I've never experienced this with a shoe before, and loosing the laces doesnt seem to help.

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

Anon, yeah, that top eyelet could use some work.

Joshua said...

I went with my usual Salomon size Men's 9. The length felt more like a 9.5+, so I sized down to an Men's 8.5, the length is now perfect but the show is way to narrow half-size down.... going back to the men's size 9 and wearing slightly thicker socks should help.