Sunday, May 29, 2022

Salomon Pulsar Trail Review: The New Salomon! Plated, Protective, Deeply Cushioned, Fun and Versatile.

Article by Sam Winebaum

Salomon Pulsar Trail ($130)

Introduction

The Pulsar Trail is Salomon’s new mid range, all around trail runner. It shares multiple new technologies with the S/Lab Pulsar and Salomon’s new road shoes, including:

  • Energy Surge foam a highly responsive EVA/Olefin copolymer block foam with here in two densities with a softer foam underfoot and a firmer layer above the outsole

  • Energy Blade plate with here a flexible TPU plate for protection and propulsion

  • R-Camber geometry for a smooth roll from heel to toe off.

  • Contagrip rubber with here a multi trail surface 3.5mm lug array.


While sharing these technologies, each 2022 Salomon shoe, through variations in all 4 of the technologies, has so far delivered very distinctively different experiences aligned with the purpose of each shoe.  To date, I have tested the Pulsar, Pulsar SG for trail and the Glide Max, Phantasm, and Phantasm CF all unique in their ride and fit characteristics. These new lines represent a complete departure from past Salomon models in each category and so far all have been excellent.


The Pulsar Trail so far feels like Salomon’s new ultra worthy option sitting between the far lighter narrower platform Pulsars and the door to trail ride focused UltraGlide. It can be thought of as a more modern, lighter, more agile and faster on the smooth Sense Ride 3 /4  with more forefoot cushion stack and a 2mm lower drop. 


Pros:

Highly cushioned, forgiving and stable ride.

Flexible, relatively agile, well protected forefoot with a long more mellow plate impulse than carbon and with more trail feel. The Energy Blade goes beyond just rock protection.

Very solid heel hold

Upper volume for sure more accommodating than older Salomon yet secure and adaptable to most foot shapes, 

Quick lace and upper wrap effectively assist in varying the fit for swelling feet, narrower feet. Easy to use Quicklace garage.


Cons:

Bottom firmer foam layer could be softer, not so much for softer cushion, there is plenty of ultra worthy cushion here, but for better terrain contouring particularly at the heel.


Stats

Weight 9.95 oz / 283g US9 sample

Stack Height:  32.6mm/26.6mm (6mm drop)

$130. Available now .


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Bigger, broader, more voluminous in appearance and fit than past Salomon and we clearly see the new Salomon and a clean break from the narrow overly precise fitting, firm and often stiff Salomon of old. We also get a fit and feel more substantial, secure, cushioned and stable than last year’s UltraGlide, a more door to trail and mellow trail focused shoe. 


The upper is a single layer thin mesh that is pliable, has a touch of stretch and is quite dense with small ventilation slots. This will be a very debris resistant upper with expected at least fair to good breathability, the thin mesh balancing its density. 

The rubbery toe bumper is extensive in coverage with a firmer front edge and a thinner soft coverage over the toes. Overall it is relatively soft and non rigid but protective. The front fit is roomy yet secure.

The midfoot features rubber textured SensiFit overlays and a substantial gusset for the moderately padded and stretchy tongue of the same material as the upper.  The Quicklace garage, unlike say the Pulsar's, is easy to use. 

The heel counter is semi rigid and very secure. It has deep soft inner bolsters which are particularly well executed. 

So we have a solid but not overwhelming or rigid rear hold that says to me running more than scrambling uses.

My sample is a half size up from my normal. With medium weight trail socks, I get a solid hold on my narrower right foot that is not quite as secure as my wider left foot. For ultra swelling feet, in heat, or for wider higher volume feet one might consider the half size up as I found the quicklace in combination with the well padded tongue, effective midfoot wrap and solid heel hold allowed me to lock things down without any lace bite. All of this said, most will be fine at true to size in this more foot friendly than usual for Salomon upper and fit. 


Midsole


The midsole is a dual density Energy Surge foam with an embedded, long flexing TPU Energy Blade plate. The main midsole foam below the foot is forgiving and energetic, same density as Pulsar, Ultraglide and road  Phantasms. Unlike the Ultraglide the lower full length layer of Energy Surge is considerably firmer thus giving more protection and stability if not quite with the front easy flex of the UltraGlide. S/Lab Pulsars have a firmer foam as a medial post and a hardened foam rock plate but the same main midsole foam. The Trail front protection is deeper even as the forefoot is not quite as agile as in the S/Lab version. 

I ran the Pulsar Trail on dry firm trail, a few technical rocky passages, pavement, and muddier wet trails and found a consistent well cushioned stable ride everywhere with clear directly underfoot rebound with below the firmer foam and plate in combination with the outsole providing a solid stable platform. 

With a full 32.6mm/26.6mm (6mm drop) stack height and particularly the 26.6 mm forefoot, we are up there in max cushion grade stack, helping makes the combination in my view makes the Trail ultra worthy.  


But there is more as the Energy Blade plate and flexibility of the shoe (far more flexible than last Sense Rides) also deliver a very noticeable combination of easy flow to toe off with a clear if mellower than rigid carbon plate impulse (a good thing in my opinion). Combining the stack, dual foams, the flexible protective and energetic plate and we get an all terrains all paces ride.


Outsole

The outsole is Salomon’s usual fine Contragrip in an almost full coverage 3.5-4mm lug configuration. The lugs are longitudinal with cut outs for flexibility and weight reduction. On smooth trails and even roads the outsole is not in the way (if a bit noisy) and flows well with the plate action and foams.

I did run some very sticky mud and found the heel area and cavity accumulated mud that cleared reluctantly, here shown after banging on a rock several times.


Ride


The ride is any trail, any distance, any pace friendly.  While I might not take them on the most technical of trails everywhere else (including some roads for sure) will be more than fine and fun.  The midsole foams deliver a softer and more energetic ride than older Salomon with for example Optivibe  with plenty of stability and protection from the lower firmer Energy Surge and a clear and mellow impulse from the dual purpose Energy Blade plate which also provides the rock protection. You will not get quite as much front trail feel or agility as in the S/Lab Pulsar or the far firmer Sense Pro but far more than in the Sense Ride and with a livelier faster ride. You will also have more stability and protection than the UltraGlide.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Deep cushion, a lively energetic and softer main midsole, backed up below and closer to the ground by a firmer layer that delivers protection and stability and why not a dual purpose flexible propulsion and protection Energy Blade plate, the Pulsar Trail is a thoroughly modern multi terrain and any distance all arounder. I can easily see it becoming a top ultra choice as well as everyday trail runner. At just sub 10 oz. / 283g , with a substantial 32.6mm / 26.6mm stack height, it for sure won’t weigh you down, get rough or overly firm riding or lack in impulse or protection. 


I will score them after more runs but so far a super fine, versatile, protective, fast and fun new entry from Salomon. At $130 they are clearly a great value that is already for sure.


Comparisons in Brief

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro

I have not tested as of yet but the slightly lighter, slightly lower stack Pro is supposed to have a stiffer and firmer TPU composite plate. This tells me, as has been the case with stiffer plates, that front stability may suffer but on smoother trails they may be faster and more reactive. 


Salomon Sense Ride (RTR Review)

My last Sense Ride was the 3. Heavier, more lumbering, denser, highly protective, not very comfortable fitting and not much fun, the only place the Sense Ride may top the Pulsar Trail is on highly technical terrain.


Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

A highly agile, firm,  protective race type shoe and fit  the Sense Pro is a better choice for shorter, more technical races and training but everywhere else the Pulsar Trail is a superior shoe. I last raced a trail half here in Park City on moderate terrain in the Pro and will race the same course this year in the Pulsar Trail to get the advantage of its Energy Blade and more energetic cushion. 


Salomon UltraGlide (RTR Review)

Softer, more mellow, at the same stack height and weight as the Pulsar Trail, the UltraGlide has a single density soft slab of Energy Surge, same as Trail’s main midsole, but without a firmer lower layer or Energy Blade substituting a hardened foam rock protect.  It is a very slightly better choice for more mellow door to trail and road but everywhere else the Pulsar Trail is clearly more versatile shoe and will do road and very easy trails equally or close to as well.

 

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG (RTR Review)

Way lighter, like 2.5 oz lighter on the same stack height, softer cushioned in the SG version than the Trail (if not as stable),  the only place the S/Lab lags the Trail is in platform width, especially at the heel and for some upper comfort.   

If your needs are shorter and faster on any terrain and you tend to mid to forefoot strike and are fast, the SG is so fast, so fine, so amazing. If you need to go further, are not a super speedster, need some upper volume, and want some additional rear landing platform the Pulsar Trail is the choice.


Saucony Xodus Ultra (RTR Review)

No plates for the Xodus but a central PEBA core which gives it a friendly bouncy impulse helped along by a flexible (more flexible than Pulsar) woven rock plate. At essentially the same stack height and weight, the choice is difficult. The Xodus has a more precise secure fitting if not quite as roomy upper. Xodus has a more traditional higher drop with flex feel with Pulsar flexible but more of a rocker sensation. Xodus relies on firmer side walls of PWRRUN to stabilize while Pulsar relies on its lower firmer layer of Energy Surge, a wider heel platform and its plate. As a result the Xodus has a more linear directed feel and slightly less forefoot cushion and protection but more agility.


Hoka Tecton X (RTR Review)

The lighter and much pricier Tecton X is more “high strung” and a better choice for smoother fast trails. It clearly has more front impulse from its dual carbon plates but is stiffer and less stable upfront than the Pulsar Trail.


Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT (RTR Review)

Considerably heavier (and pricier) but running far lighter than its weight, the Kima is more mountain technical trail focused. It has outstanding if denser cushion and its flexible carbon plate front out climbs anything with a fantastic impulse. The Trail is a more versatile all around choice unless your runs are all technical.


The Pulsar Trail is available from Salomon and from our partner REI HERE

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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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, sounds like an interesting shoe, competes also with the North Face Vectiv-line I guess...any first comparisons ? Sounds like a "better" Infinite for me...Thx, Ingo

Anonymous said...

Hello RTR are there any other color choices for the pulsar trail? Will Salomon be releasing a sense ride 5?

Anonymous said...

Just bought a pair and finished my first run. Great review and very accurate based on my experience. The only change I would love to see is better more secure heel hold. The shoe will suffer on more technical terrain because of the heel. Otherwise a fun shoe.

Anonymous said...

How do you think this compares to the now discontinued Salomon Ultra Pro? Those were my favorite 100 mile shoes and I’m looking for a replacement. While the Ultra Glide is good, they beat up my toenails once they get wet!

Anonymous said...

The specs I have seen on the pro have the same or just a hair more stack than this version. I have been holding out as the upper appears as it would drain and breath much better.

Unknown said...

How would you compare to the Speedgoat?

Anonymous said...

I have both the Pulsar Trail and Pulsar Trail Pro, as well as Ultra Glide and SLAB Pulsar and SLAB Pulsar SG. This shoe to me feels less forgiving and more like regular foam, the Energy Surge is not felt much at all in the forefoot. I think its the plate, its quite thick. The other shoes either do not have a plate or it is thinner (such as in the Trail Pro). The Trail Pro is much more bouncy and fun shoe to run in. This shoe feels more like a hiking shoe. It fits much more like a typical Salomon IMO I don't really see it is a departure from previous models of shoes. The Original Salomon Sense Pro, Sense Pro Max etc.. these shoes all have plenty of volume with a locked down heel and locked down forefoot. Thats what we have here. Maybe its a bit wider platform, and wider in the midfoot than some past shoes but only a touch. Anyway, for me this shoe is a bit of a miss and I don't think it would be all that comfortable at ultra distances. Perhaps for technical terrain it performs better, but on my local trails it doesnt feel that good and I think my feet would be sore from the rigidity and firmness of the forefoot. Even the SLAB Ultra with its firmer foam has a more forgiving forefoot. If you heel strike perhaps this shoe is great. Personally I wish I could send it back, but I purchased from Salomon directly. The Trail Pro is the winner for me.

Anonymous said...

Hello RTR, thanks for all your work and appreciate analyses. For you does the Pulsar Trail have a wider toebox than the Xodus Ultra?
I wear the last Peregrine and like it's flexibility but find it's a bit tight for my toes and large front feet (which is well fit by Trabuco 9).
So I'm looking for a wider front option - my first criteria - with 4-6mm drop quite light and flexible if possible. Perhaps the Trail Pro or Xodus Ultra would answer my needs.
Thanks for your advice. Tom

Anonymous said...

My take after a 10 mile run on mixed terrain (door to trail, gravel, MTB trail, forest road) : this is not a light shoe, in my US10 305 gr., after changing the cheapish insole 310gr. It's also not the softest shoe, more the firmer Salomon from years ago. Fit is good, neither too precise nor too wide, heel lock is okay, could be better but difficult with the Quick Laces. Forward propulsion works, for runnable stuff excellent, faster running without pushing Harder, nice one ! Shoe is stabile and protective, still no shoe for real technical terrain but technical sections should be no problem. After all I think this is one of the better shoes for sure, quite versatile, at least for the more runnable trails. One big negative though, wet grip is disappointing, several slippages after rain the last days, not a big fan of Contragrip anyway because of that, but together with the shallow lugs it's even worse, at least in the wet stones in the Black Forest. Too Put this into relation, the compound of the North Face Vectiv-line Grips better in those conditions (also 3,5 mm lugs), Ingo, Germany

Anonymous said...

Zdravicko chcem sa informovat ake topanky by ste si vybrali na ultra trail 50km a viac tak aby vas neboleli nohy ..ja mam Salomon super cross 3 a v tych ma bolia nohy pomerne dost preto som rozmislal nad tymito Salomon Pulsar trail dakujem za odpoved vobec sa v tom nevyznam preto pisem dakujem.poradte mi nejake dobre topanky na trail a kopce od Salomonu

Bobcat said...

The Salomon insoles are seriously trash lately!

I have to use the ones from my Kiger 8's to avoid blisters.

Anonymous said...

The heel for me is the only issue. A surprising lack of support.