Friday, February 11, 2022

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG Multi Tester Review: A Marvel of Ultra Lightweight Trail Performance

Article by John Tribbia, Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG ($180)

Introduction

Sam: RoadTrailRun is fortunate to have an early pair of the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG which three of us are sharing.  The original 2021 Pulsar is Salomon’s pinnacle trail racing shoe combining incredibly lightweight,at 6.2 oz /195g, a super secure upper, lively and more than adequately cushioned Energy Surge foam,  a rockered ride and even some rock protection.  To achieve the low weight and performance something has to give and for me that was the very narrow rear landing platform, a platform that while stable was not for heel striking or going other than all out for me. This said one of our testers Mike Postaski raced his to victory in a 50 miler in Idaho with no issues. 


The SG takes our trail shoe of the year, the original Pulsar  (RTR Review),increases the lug depth to 4.5mm from 2.5mm and makes subtle but significant changes to the Matryx upper to increase durability and comfort. There is no question that either Pulsar is a marvel of super light weight, high performance trail running. 


At 7.13 oz / 202g  in the US9.5 test pair SG, or about 6.9 oz / 195g in a US9,  it remains super light while far more substantial increasing 1.2 oz / 34g over the original at  6.2 oz/ 195g (US9) 


I have run the SG on hard frozen ground, through shallow snow on bumpy terrain, and on the road. Part of my testing included an A/B test run with the original Pulsar on road and hard frozen trails where the differences in ride and fit became apparent ( RTR Video Comparison Review) A caveat for me but not my fellow testers Jeff and John . Our pair is a US9.5 EU 43 ⅔ which is a whole size to half size larger than my true to size and my original Pulsar. But, beyond being a bit too long, in no way did they feel too big or the size affect performance. 


With the larger size an opportunity as I have sent them on to our ace Boulder testers Jeff Valiiere and John Tribbia, both highly decorated fast trail runners closer to the size of the pair who join in the review. I was very sad..


With its additional stack height from the increased rubber and reinforced upper I was curious to see if the SG’s range, ride, and comfort would be extended for me. I found the original a rocket but for me only a shorter distance shoe for me (maybe 10K)  with a real requirement to be off the heels and moving super fast for them to sing for me. 



Pros:

Incredibly light weight for cushion, traction, upper security and protection: Sam/John/Jeff

Increased overall stack height (from 2mm more rubber) improves traction, stability, and cushion over original Pulsar extending usages and distances: Sam/John

Secure and now  reinforced upper: Sam/Jeff

Agile and extremely efficient rocker for forefoot strikers: John/Jeff

Traction: Jeff


Cons:

Why oh why can’t they make the quick lace pocket easier to use: Sam

Less pliable upper compared to original Pulsar: John

Heel strikers beware; shoe feels less energetic and efficient: John/Jeff

Stats

Estimated Weight: men's  6.9 oz / 195g (US9) 

  Sample: men’s 7.13 oz / 202g (US9.5)

Full Stack Height: unisex heel 32 mm (measured)  / 26 mm forefoot, 6mm drop

$180. Expected late summer, early fall 2022


Tester Profiles

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost every day.


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



Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.


First Impressions and Fit

John: I had the opportunity to test the original Pulsar earlier in the year and was excited to learn what updates the SG brings. It is safe to say that the SG still boasts what made the original Pulsar so magical to run in: it is light, fast, and (with added outsole protection) ready for varied terrain.  The shoe still feels featherweight and bouncy, but the upper feels less sock-like now that it has reinforcements. Alas, the added reinforcements and more aggressive outsole are added benefits for those who want a really light and fast shoe to take in more technical terrain where protection is a necessity. 

The lacing still uses Salomon’s patented quick lacing system and the lace storage pocket is tight and low profile on the integrated tongue. One of my issues with the original Pulsar was that the heel fits and feels narrow, which meant the ride for heel striking is less stable. The SG is the same, so with the slight addition to stack height I will pay attention as I run in them.

Jeff V:  The Pulsar SG is my introduction to this new generation of high performance Salomon shoes, as I had not had the opportunity to review (or even see a pair in person) of  the original Pulsar last year.  The Pulsar was a favorite of a number of RTR reviewers last year and received overwhelming praise, so I had built up high expectations and held a certain reverence before even putting them on my feet.  


While the SG weighs more than the original, I was still quite impressed with how light this shoe feels in the hand and on the foot.   In fact, they are nearly a half ounce lighter than my Oofos house slippers that, well, feel like slippers that are essentially weightless on my feet.  

I normally wear size 10 in most shoes, but often when samples are limited, I make due with a 9.5 (as has recently been the case with the Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC and the Scott Supertrac RC 2).  In fact, receiving the Pulsar SG prompted me to measure my foot size for the first time in many years and came up closer to 9.5 than to size 10.  I will say then that fit is true to size and if I actually had a choice, I would choose 9.5 over my normal 10 given the high performance nature of the Pulsar SG.  While I had read numerous times that the Pulsar was difficult to work your foot into, I am not sure if the upper has changed for the SG, but with a bit of prying, I did not have any trouble.  Fit overall is very form fitting and race like, as if they were custom made, snug all over, but not confining as the Matryx upper has just enough give. I will say that I feel fortunate to have a slim, low volume foot, otherwise it would be unlikely one could fit into the Pulsar SG and enjoy them.

Sam: All dark gray with some silvery accents the Pulsar SG projects a serious all business vibe. 

The pair we shared is a US9.5 so it is a full size larger than my true to size of 8.5. I found the 2021 Pulsar in a US8.5 snug but OK but could have sized up a half.  Here at a full size up it is clearly long but fits well. I think as with the original I would size up half a size


Upper

Sam: The main upper material remains Matryx as in the OG Pulsar, a very thin aramid reinforced non-stretch, low moisture absorbing and breathable mesh.


Significant changes to the other parts of the upper are clearly seen.

We now have more overlays including at the rand, around the heel and a more extensive toe bumper

The knit tongue is extended slightly further forward for I found better front flex and comfort and less of a sharp bend over the toes from the Matryx. Note my SG was also larger size than my original

Instead of running directly through the upper the quick laces now run through webbing straps. This leads to less pressure over the top of the foot than the original Pulsar and particularly at the final lace holes.


The quicklace is effective. I have never had to adjust on the run but.. the pocket is hard to work with. A touch more pocket stretch and volume is clearly in order and the only knock I have on the upper.

John: Despite being “quicklace”, the lacing is probably the slowest part of this shoe…I’ve always loved Salomon’s quicklace system and, like the original Pulsar, the setup doesn’t work well on the SG. While there is slight improvement with the added webbing straps for laces to run through, the system gets off-center easily and a precise fit is challenging to attain efficiently. In addition, the lace storage is cumbersome to fit all of the lace and lock inside. The upper material is made up of the same Matryx found in the original Pulsar, which is very conforming and sock-like. Overall, the fit for my moderately narrow feet is perfect, but I could see a wide foot runner not loving this set-up. In the SG, there are a lot more overlays, which provide added protection against the elements and rock features. One thing I found less appealing about the original Pulsar was the lack of protection over my forefoot in technical trails, since I have a tendency to lazily drag my foot through rocky obstacles and would often stab my foot with rock edges. 

The added overlays provide a little more padding + protection in those settings as well as some warmth in colder runs. I don’t know if it was due to testing a half-size too large, but I did notice the overlays were less pliable and sort of bunched up in my forefoot bend like folded cardboard, so I ended up getting a blister on my test run. 

Jeff V:  The Matryx upper of the SG is impressive in that it is incredibly thin, flexible, durable and light, while providing remarkably good security, protection and support.  Sliding into the Pulsar SG is like pulling on a tight sock, not too difficult, but makes one aware of how custom feeling these shoes are.  The fit is very precise and even for my thin, low volume foot, there is absolutely no extra room, but for a shoe of this nature, that is a good thing for me, as I know I am locked in and secure, becoming somewhat of an extension of my body instead of an add on piece of gear strapped to my feet.  

For such a light and thin shoe, I am impressed by the level of protection provided by the relatively sturdy toe bumper and integrated 360 degree rand.  Sure, it would not be my first choice for a day of above treeline and bashing talus and scree, but for all of the technical trail running (and off trail) I have done thus far, I have not had any painful bumps or dings, nor do I feel tentative or overly cautious as I have in other super light trail shoes.

The heel counter is particularly thin, flexible and minimal, with just some ever so slight internal strips of horizontal padding at mid level on either side of the ankle for a little protection.  Despite being so minimal and flexible, the heel is very well held and stable.


While the quick laces are not as easy to operate as the Speedcross 5 or the Sense Ride 4 for example, I do not necessarily mind the slight bit of extra work tucking away the laces.  To me, this is a small price to pay for the minimal race-like nature of this shoe, while acknowledging these are not your everyday, slip 'em’ on quick getting out the door sort of shoe, but instead reserved for special occasions like race or PR efforts.


The upper is so precise and effective, I have actually tested without even snugging the laces and barely even noticed (well, just a little, but can easily get by).



Midsole

Sam: I measured a full stack height of 32mm at the heel with a spec 6mm drop so the forefoot is at 26mm. The foam remains Salomon’s Energy Surge, an EVA Olefin copolymer block blend in a dual density construction with a firmer medial post. There are no midsole foam or geometry changes from the original Pulsar noted or detected. The geometry retains the R-Camber of the original with its somewhat pronounced rear and front rockers leading to a landing sweet spot at the camber’s high point at midfoot.


The Energy Surge foam here is relatively soft and becomes notably more energetic the more you “press” on it on the run and especially at the forefoot. Apart from the firmer medial post. it appears to be the same firmness as the UltraGlide’s Energy Surge foam. In combination with the 4.5mm rubber lugs plus the rubber below the SG becomes notably more vibration shock attenuating and somewhat more cushioned than the original Pulsar with a touch less front trail feel, this sensed during my A/B test run with the original (RTR Initial Video Review). I absolutely crushed my best time on the 7 mile course on hard frozen ground and road,

The additional rubber also clearly stabilizes the narrow landing heel area if one happens to strike back there, I tend to when not going all out.

The hardened foam rock plate protects the ball of the foot with the area further forward more flexible for climbing and agility. On firm ground or pavement the rock plate clearly acted as a moderate propulsion plate and, as not full length extending to the very front of the shoe more like an adidas Torsion set up than a full carbon or nylon plate.. 


John: Sam describes the midsole well, but I’m still not sold on the heel stability. The midsole is energetic and yet plush and dampening at the same time. What I really like about the forefoot midsole is that it sort of enveloped my foot in flat and off-camber situations. I ran in this shoe across varying terrain (road, trail, technical trail, snow / ice) and I tried to mix up my paces as well - 9 min/mile to 5 min/mile downhill and 5:45 min/mile on flat. Just like the original Pulsar, I found the midsole provided really great rebound and bounce through the forefoot. By contrast, I found the heel stability to be about the same as the original and the dynamic performance SG is similarly most noticeable on the mid and forefoot. 

Jeff V:  I do not have much to add to Sam’s excellent description of the midsole, but can attest to how impressive the Energy Surge foam performs on a wide variety of terrain.  Responsive on the uphill, fast on the flats and well cushioned and protective on the downhill, even on hard surfaces, long descents and on rocky technical terrain.  No, they are not a steamrolling shoe like a Speedgoat and one must keep in mind these are still a pretty minimal shoe relatively speaking, but they are so much more nimble and agile than any other shoe I have run in and I never feel as though I have to dance.  For the weight, cushioning and protection are impressive.  The plate is notable for its added propulsion while also providing protection underfoot that defies logic for such a minimal shoe. This said  I still would limit my use/duration on really rocky terrain despite the fact that the SG can handle it just fine.


Like John, I am not entirely sold on the heel.  I have a tendency to heel strike, not so much as a technique or related solely to running form, but more a result of the technical terrain I prefer which requires more of an “anything goes” approach when the going gets rough.  On my very first test jog around the neighborhood and field, I immediately noticed that this is for sure not a shoe for heel strikers and felt a touch tippy.  That said, once I really got them out on the trails and wound them up, I really did not experience any issues with tippyness or instability, but do find myself being constantly aware and self correcting at times.


Outsole

John: Honestly, Sam’s intro says it best, the 2mm increase in lug height adds a subtle but noticeable gain in traction, especially in messier terrain. 


Top: Pulsar SG Bottom: Pulsar

Note more angled lug pattern for the SG with less flat surface areas


The grip is outstanding in rocky, muddy, snowy, icy, and dry terrain. And I found it to perform well in cold temperatures. I was only able to run in the SG once, so I can’t comment on the durability, but I recall the original Pulsar seemed to show wear after only a few runs on the road. The rock protection is excellent and performed well over my least favorite terrain - rutted dry and frozen mud. The outsole adds the needed dimension lacking in the original Pulsar with better and deeper grip.

Pulsar SG outsole and platform (top) compared to S/Lab Sense outsole and platform


Jeff V:  I received the Pulsar SG at the perfect time for traction testing, having had several snowstorms, followed by wild fluctuations in temperature, ranging from below zero F to around 60 degrees, which provides all kinds of mess out on the trails.  

I have had the opportunity to run on everything out there from hard ice, packed snow, sloppy slush, mud, dry gravel trail, dirt roads, paved roads, dry rock, wet rock, hard pack and loose off trail.  


I definitely have shoes that have grippier outsoles (VJ or La Sportiva immediately come to mind), but find the SG outsole to be very good for all but the iciest or sloppiest mud/slush, where I think most shoes would struggle anyways.  In these situations, I approached with appropriate caution and got through without incident.  


My only surprise slip was crossing a ditch on a wet 2x8 board that I routinely cross near my house and have not had trouble on before, so perhaps traction on wet wood/roots is not the best.  Durability thus far appears to be good, as so far they are only showing very minor wear at the front most lugs where I toe off, but I believe durability will be comparable to the S-Lab Ultra and much better (at least at this point) than the S-Lab Sense SG 8.


Ride

Sam: The ride is agile, and surprisingly well protected for such a light shoe. The 2mm more rubber outsole depth compared to the original Pulsar  provides additional heel cushion and stability while also clearly reducing vibration shock. Compared to the original,  the heel is a touch firmer but noticeably more cushioned in depth and more stable so some heel striking is actually now possible, a soft but not that sustainable experience in the original. The additional cushion and stability was clearly felt during my A/B run on frozen ground and pavement with the original Pulsar on the other foot. The forefoot is also more protected but in comparison loses a bit of trail feel. I don’t think it will be much missed given the additional protection.


The hardened foam rock protection up front provides 2 benefits. Of course some moderate rock protection but it also sèrves as a mid foot propulsion and stabilizing element. Combined with the front flex in front of the rock protection, and more than sufficient energetic foam, the Pulsar SG can also double as a road racing and tempo shoe and for sure is the shoe you will reach for uphill intervals and segment PR’s. And of course on softer ground it performs as it should. One of my test runs was on bumpy frozen terrain with fresh snow over and I was stable and the outsole grippy. 


I would not hesitate to race or train the SG up to  25K on any terrain be it on trail, snow, or for fast days that combine road and trail, something I personally would have hesitated to do in the original which for me was only a max 10K or so  shoe. 


John: Dynamic, agile, and reliably stable in the forefoot is how I would describe the ride. Like the original Pulsar, I found the forefoot rebound very energetic with very little energy loss in the push off. That’s even with a slightly more protected profile from the built up outsole. When running through mud or thicker terrain such as wet grassy slopes, the extra firmness and grip coupled with the energy return was a huge fatigue reducer. The SG performs really well in technical terrain with great forefoot precision and control as I experienced in the original Pulsar. While the narrow heel provides a really efficient knife cutting feel when lifting your foot out of boggy and wet mud, in dry situations the heel plant was unstable, especially in longer and steeper downhills.


Jeff V:  Sam and John nail the ride perfectly.  The Pulsar SG is FAST!!  So light, energetic, nimble and inspiring, you just cannot help but to run quickly in them, even on a slower day. Cushioning and protection are shockingly good for a shoe this lightweight and overall minimal design.  While not an ultra shoe, the cushioning and stack height are plenty sufficient for several hours of fast running without feeling beat up.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: The 2nd lightest trail racer on the planet (after sibling Pulsar), and lighter than most every road racing shoe, the S/Lab Pulsar is a marvel with few if any compromises for its purpose of moving fast over trail terrain of all sorts and even, as I also found out,  on roads.

Not as fast as my illustrious colleagues or as agile I still found this top end racer a rush to wind up on any surface for moderate distances, up to 25K range for me. They would be ideal for the Pineland Maine 25K with its steep short climbs, hard gravel and often muddy fields.


Energetic, secure, and even stable despite its narrow platform and minimal construction it is a joy to run fast..as intended. It has, as described above, a narrow heel landing area and a broad forefoot with not only effective rock protection but also some propulsion from its hardened foam rock plate. A shoe for climbing and agile toe offs ahead of the rock protection it is also flexible, characteristics I like in any “plated” shoe.  Thus, I found it also incredibly effective and fast on road as well as trail. The copious deep outsole helps keep it from being as soft and low at the heel as the original Pulsar was for me at slower paces or when tired and provides a touch more cushion if a bit less front ground feel. I’ll keep the extra rubber.


While the incredibly low weight is admirable I do think the shoe could be improved with a slightly wider heel platform with the additional weight resulting worth it.


The combination of the reinforced upper and greater outsole depth clearly not only takes the Pulsar into “rougher” terrain than the original but as it is more cushioned (from the rubber) and more rear heel stable extending its versatility and range for me.

Sam’s Score 9.43/10

Ride: 9.6 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 8.8 (10%) Style: 9.2 (5%) Traction: 9.2 (15%) Rock Protection: 9 (10%)


John: This shoe is the perfect complement to the original Pulsars. It still performs great on steep uphills and rolling terrain, it brings efficiency on the roads (better on dirt than pavement), still sticky on the rocks, and is absolutely terrifying how good it is in the messiest of footing. The Pulsar SG is made for those medium distance efforts where you want to go fast but Mother Nature sends you conditions that push you away and slow you down. Spoiler alert: you win when wearing these. Aside from the challenge of getting the proper fit dialed, these shoes are a fun way to go through any mix of challenging terrain while feeling fast and comfortable.

John’s Score: 9.5 /10


Ride: 9.5 (really fun and bouncy)

Fit: 9.5 (secure fit, but some of the upper material is not as comfortable)

Value: 9 (great shoe to compliment the original Pulsar for your race day quiver)

Style: 10  

Traction: 10 (high performing, any-terrain, great protection)

Rock Protection: 9.5 


Jeff V:  The Pulsar SG is a special shoe.  I find that when I run in them, I really hardly even think about them on my feet, as the lightweight, sock-like fit and ample cushion combine such that they almost feel as though they are an extension of my body.  These are ideally suited for running exceptionally fast over a wide variety of terrain and going forward will choose them for short to mid distance races or PR efforts on almost any terrain.  Heck, they are so much fun and well cushioned enough, I might just run in them as a normal training shoe on occasion with no specific intention.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.6/10


Ride: 9.5 - so light, fast and responsive, incredibly fast and fun

Fit: 10 - these fit my foot like a glove, custom like, as if they were painted on.  I hardly even know I am wearing them.

Value: 9.5 - $180 is a lot for a shoe, but for the top level performance and fun factor here, they are work every penny.

Style: 10 - Subtle style that means business

Traction: 9.5 - Traction is excellent on just about everything out there

 


8 Comparisons

S/Lab Pulsar (RTR Review)


John: To me, the Pulsar SG is the same energetic trail and mountain shoe as the original Pulsar, but comes with added protection in the outsole and upper. Not to mention, there’s slightly more cushion thanks to the added lug height, offering a nice smooth ride in harsh terrain. I found the heel width in the original and SG to be similarly narrow causing slight instability. Otherwise, the choice is as follows: if you’re heading out for a super fast mountain and the ground is wet, take the SGs, otherwise, the original Pulsar is perfect for those dry days. 


Sam: The SG is a considerably improved in versatility, cushion, and upper fit for me. It doesn't seem possible that the small gain in weight delivers better all terrain traction, a more forgiving (due to the additional 2 mm of rubber) and stable ride (outsole and additional overlays) and a better fit but it does for me.


Watch our Pulsar to Pulsar SG A/B Run Comparison & Initial Impressions Review


S/Lab Sense 7 SG (RTR Review) and  8 (RTR Review)

Sam: Pulsar SG is broader, easier if still high performance fitting, higher stack, more stable, more flexible, softer, more cushioned and slightly lighter.


Jeff V:  What Sam said.  The Pulsar SG is everything I really wanted the S/Lab Sense 5/6/7/8 SG to be.  Pulsar protection, fit and comfort are all better as well.


Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

John: The Sense 4 is a broader shoe with more trail surface coverage, which makes it much more stable. The Pulsar SG is lighter, bouncier, more nimble, and more plush in the forefoot. Both are rockstars in the gnarly terrain. If the course was just up and down, my choice is the Pro 4, but if there is flatter terrain where you need some pick up my choice is the Pulsar SG.


Jeff V:  John sums it well and the SP4 is a little more stable and substantial, but even so, I might still pick the Pulsar SG for just about anything except for longer, hard surfaced downhills.


Sam: Firmer and stiffer with superior rock protection and heel stability  the Pro 4 gets the job done but is a duller heavier ride and as the course flattens or turns to road is left in the dust by the Pulsar SG and that is after it more nimbly handles the rough stuff. 


VJ Spark (RTR Review)

John: Very comparable race shoes with sock-like fit. The Pulsar is lighter, more energetic, and overall a faster point to point shoe. The Spark can handle the worst of conditions, especially muddy and slippery slopes. That said, I would feel confident in both on any adverse terrain. 


Jeff V:  Again, John summed it up well and I agree with all points.  As good as the Pulsar SG traction is, the VJ Spark tread is on a whole other level.  I also think that the Pulsar SG has better protection underfoot.


Saucony Peregrine 12 (RTR Review)

John: The Peregrine 12 has become one of my favorites. The Pulsars are more sock-like and form fitting in the upper and produce an energetic rebound, while the Sauconys provide more cushion, more width in the forefoot, more protection, and a larger base to absorb the terrain. If I am going fast, short, steep, and where I need some pep in my step in technical and non-technical terrain, I’ll go with the Pulsars, but I will put the Peregrines on for most anything else. 


Jeff V:  John nailed it.  The Pulsars would be my first choice for shorter, faster efforts on technical to moderately technical terrain, while I would pick the Peregrine 12 for fast or slow efforts that are longer distance/duration and on more technical terrain where the added protection and overall substance would be an asset.


Inov 8 Terraultra G270 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The G270, while universally well regarded, was just was for me or suited my running style/terrain preferences, with not much rock protection underfoot, marginal foothold and zero drop, I never ran in them again after reviewing.  The Pulsar however is much lighter, faster, fits more securely and have better protection.  The only area the G270 might surpass is traction, but not by much.


Sam: Disagreeing with Jeff here. I find the G270 at least as nimble and for sure more heel stable despite its zero drop. My New Hampshire test loop PR in rooty rocky with a stretch of pavement was in them, before the G270 in the S/Lab Sense 7 SG and while conditions have not allowed me to attempt the loop for speed so far in Pulsar SG I am pretty sure it would be close. And to top it off I have extensively hiked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the Inov-8 something I would not attempt in the Pulsar SG. After all those plaudits the considerably lighter weight, upper fit, and more propulsive ride have me leaning Pulsar for shear fast fun, 


Scarpa Spin 2.0 (RTR Review)

Sam:  Also in the light and fast category the Spin is heavier but more cushioned and more rear stable. It is a more versatile fast and short trail shoe but not the rocket the Pulsar is. 


Skechers Razor TRL (RTR Review) and Speed TRL (RTR Review)

John: I have always loved Skechers Goodyear outsole rubber for the stickiness to rocks and ability to cruise on smooth terrain. I find both have good energy and dynamism, but I would go with the Pulsar SG for anything technical or needing more protection. 


Jeff V:  Again, agreed with John, but would for sure pick the Razor TRL for longer distances, slightly less technical and especially if long downhill in the mix.


Sam: While a super fast road shoe (again adding rubber to a platform as with Pulsar takes the edge of the road Razor) the Razor TRL was not much of a trail shoe for me beyond for smooth cruising on moderate terrain with less traction and a shakier upper. I preferred the added propulsion and protection of the Speed TRL. Clearly both play in the lightest of all trail shoes category with Pulsar with Pulsar SG more refined, more suited to technical terrain and similar in performance for me on smooth and road. 


Speedland SL: PDX (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Speedland weighs a lot more, but is much more protective, more cushioned, more substantial underfoot, more versatile with the removable carbon plate and that Dyneema upper with dual multi directional Boa closure system is off the charts.  The Speedland is definitely a more logical pick for longer distances, more technical terrain, while the Pulsar is more suited for shorter/faster efforts.


Release date to be announced but we expect late summer early fall 2022

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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17 comments:

Jeff Valliere said...

Following

AK Andy said...

Could you compare to the Adidas Terrex Speed Ultras? I find them to be great up to and maybe beyond 50K on moderate terrain. Torrents have been filling in for more technical. Also, getting curious about Peregrines again.

Unknown said...

Could you compare to the Brooks Catamount?

Mike P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike P said...

Just read the review myself, and chiming in. I haven't run in the Pulsar SGs yet, but I did race a 50M in the original Pulsars last October.

My race reviews centered mostly on shoe choices are here-
https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2022/01/mike-postaskis-2021-in-review-6-trail.html

Also, I recently added my review to our Speed Ultra Multi Tester review. There's comps to original Pulsar and Catamount there-

https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2021/05/adidas-terrex-speed-ultra-multi-tester.html

Will said...

Comparisons to the Salomon Ultra 3? It's hardly cushy, but I can do shorter ultras, feel really secure, it fits my somewhat wider foot (so the Pulsar is probably out, but still curious), feels sock-like and nimble (if hardly as light). It's a little hot, and sounds as though the grip isn't as great - though pretty good, and do you know the height difference in lugs? - while costing the same. Durability has been quite good for me given mid-Atlantic ground. But I think it might be an interesting comp, especially as perhaps a longer and slower shoe.

Speaking of, is there anything in the new lineup that seems comparable to the Ultra 3? I read your look at the 2022 redesigned lineup and don't exactly think so. If I understand correctly they are replacing the whole lineup, so is that it for the Ultra?

Thanks!

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks Mike!

I can comment on the Catamount, which is an amazing, fast, light shoe, but the Pulsar is a whole different beast in my opinion, lighter, faster, much more precise fit, better in technical terrain and better traction. Catamount perhaps a better choice for those running fast over longer distance on moderate to less technical terrain (and if you want a bit more room in the forefoot).

Anonymous said...

About the quicklace system: In the newer salomon models you are not supposed to put that plastic bar into the pocket it goes under the first line of laces instead.. On my ultra glide they even added instructions on one of the labels for it. Not sure how I feel about it but the pocket becomes very easy to use or not needed anymore :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks again RTR crew for another stellar review. It would be interesting to see a price vs performance comparison/review. There are stellar (and cheaper) performing shoes at the $120-130 end , which makes one wonder if spending the extra $30-50 (or $250 in the case of the Speedland) is really worth it. I really like the Adidas Speed Ultra, but can't justify the extra $40 when I can get the same performance from the Asics FL2. Also, I think this Salomon (both Pulsars) are actually one heck deal, considering that most shoes are creeping into the $140-160 range, so I'm not sure $180 is really a con/negative anymore. I really want to try the Scarpa Spin, but how are they justifying the $180 price on their website? Is it worth it, especially when you can get a Pulsar for the same price? Things to ponder.

Mike P said...

Anonymous-
No way are the Adidas Speed Ultra and Asics FL2 on a similar level performance-wise. Adidas Speed Ultra is a much better and faster shoe hands down, well worth the additional price. You can also likely find deals on that shoe.

I also feel that the Pulsar at $180 is well worth it. The value is not in mileage, but in performance. You're getting "$250 Vaporfly"-esque performance level for trails. The added features of the SG at that price make it even more worth it.

I personally haven't tried the Speedland or the Spin, so can't comment on those.

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks Mike.

Anon, I cannot comment on the Spin, but if the other shoes I have reviewed from Scarpa are any indication, I would say likely worth the $180.

Price vs. performance is an interesting metric and worth is often very subjective depending on use and preference. For example, can I run faster in a Speedland than I could most of the $120 or $130 shoes on the market? Likely not, but there are many notable attributes to the Speedland that make them unique and justify the hefty price tag (for some).

I will drop a hint here though, if $180 is beyond what you are willing to spend on a trail running shoe and you want really high performance at a competitive price, consider the Saucony Peregrine 12.

Jeff Valliere said...

Will, the S/Lab Ultra 3 is such a different shoe, so much so that the only commonality is the brand name and the quicklace. Ultra 3 weighs so much more, has less pronounced lugs, is less responsive, but has a more generous fit and is more substantial for longer distances (shorter ultras in my opinion, maybe 50k).

AK Andy said...

Mike P, thanks. Checked out the comp in the review. Hoping to find these for some hands on. I wish Adidas made a version of the Speed Ultras with the Speed Pro SG outsole.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I was wondering if we could get a comparison to the Hoka Torrent 2?

I was also wondering why the pulsar sg wouldn't be considered for longer races given it has a higher stack height than the torrent and the added protection of the tpu plate.

Thanks
W

Mike P said...

W-

I can't speak specifically to the SG version, but the regular version is only slightly different in terms of fit and traction. It's the same midsole and platform.

The Pulsar isn't generally considered for longer races because even though the stack is somewhat high (relative to weight) - the platform is very narrow. Also it is softer and less stable in the heel. In comparison, the Torrent has a much wider platform, so it's more stable, and less stress on the ankles, especially later in longer races.

One other factor is the upper fit - Pulsar is super snug and secure and I think it's awesome. But once you get into the range of longer distance/duration ultras - it's usually preferable to have a bit more space.

I did run the Pulsars in a 50M race out here in Boise - the terrain was overall moderate with some semi-technical spots. I was extra careful throughout the race to try to have stable foot landings in order to preserve my ankles for the full distance. I did make it through, but I'd say that was the upper limit for me - any longer, or more technical and they probably wouldn't have worked.

Jeff Valliere said...

Anon,

Compared with the Torrent 2, I find the Pulsar to be a more responsive, nimble, agile, secure and protective and of course lighter. That said, the Torrent 2 is still light and fast with softer cushion under foot, so could be a comparable choice when running on smoother trails with less rocks/roots/obstacles underfoot.

To your second question, just a matter of preference I guess, as for longer distances I prefer a more relaxed (yet still secure) fit, as well as softer foam and just more substance overall.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, Mike.

Thanks for your quick response, that's really helpful.

W