Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Salomon Running Phantasm Initial Runs Review. 9 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

Salomon Phantasm ($160)


The Phantasm is a light weight max cushion road trainer. It features a number of technologies which will be shared by almost all 2022 Salomon road and trail shoes.

  • Energy Surge midsole foams, an EVA / Olefin copolymer block mix here in a softer top layer (same as UltraGlide, Pulsar, Phantasm CF, and Glide Max) with below a firmer layer (similar to original Phantasm)  below the Energy Blade that is thicker up front and thicker at the heel. I really like the soft energetic rebound of Energy Surge, a light non supercritical foam that stays stable.

  • Energy Blades. Here a 3 pronged half length polyamide fiberglass blade to deliver propulsion and stability that sits between the top softer Energy Surge foam and firmer lower layer.

Screen capture from Salomon You Tube. Actual not as “thick”.

  • R-Camber geometry with rear and front rocker with the flex geometry rigid but not totally so after a few miles

  • Matryx upper. While not in every 2022 model,  Matryx is a single layer, very breathable and non water absorbing, non-stretch thin durable mesh with aramid fibers in the mix. Seen in similar form in Phantasm CF and different form in Pulsar.

After having experienced Energy Surge in the Ultraglide and Pulsar for trail and Phantasm CF and Max Glide for road I was eager to test the Phantasm immediately noting it was only 0.15 oz heavier than the pinnacle racer CF and on a wider and higher platform. I was also curious how the 3 blade approach would compare to the wider single plate in the CF, adidas Energy Rods and Saucony’s Endorphin Speed plate not to speak of similar shoes in stack and weight such as Craft CTM Ultra 2 and Topo Specter which instead of plates use PEBA foam central inserts.


Excellent longer tempo shoe, especially for mid to forefoot strikers

Strong weight to cushion (and outsole) ratio at 8.32 oz / 236g US8.5 with a max cushion grade stack of  36mm heel / 27mm forefoot

Dynamic and stable forefoot impulse with deep, moderately soft rebounding cushion.

3 pronged blades, a plus, adding spring to the foam’s clear rebound

Plate (blades) at forefoot are not harsh, moderately propulsive while also having a touch of flex and are very well integrated.

Very stable

Highly breathable, non moisture absorbing Matryx upper


Not what one expects in fit from Salomon: far more voluminous and close to Topo and Altra..

Could use a more substantial heel counter or a narrower heel opening.

Half size large for my narrower feet and a touch long with thinner socks. OK with almost hiking weight run socks.

Quite rigid rocker geometry and fimer heel foam construction favors mid to forefoot striking and or faster paces. 


Approx. weight: men's 8.57oz  / g (US9)  

  Samples: men’s  8.32 oz / 236g US8.5

Stack Height: men’s  36mm heel / 27mm forefoot

Available now including from our partners below. $160

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Very classy looking with the classic Salomon multi color band logo the Phantasm has a serious dark look with its black overlays and full rand including overlay straps towards the rear as well Sensi Fit overlays at midfoot subtly showing and promising a solid hold and even with a touch of iridescent sheen from the Matryx upper.

Now that is the visual first impression, materials if you will. Next immediately evident is that Phantasm is a high volume shoe and certainly higher volume overall than we’ve seen from Salomon except the new Glide Max which is even roomier. There is no rigid heel counter beyond a more rigid strip and the try on is quite easy, no struggle as in the Pulsar or gripping achilles collar as in the Phantasm CF As the Matryx mesh is non stretch and pliable but at the same time not soft but actual mesh with those aramid fibers all the aforementioned elements of support have to come together to hold the foot. Do they? Sort of but it depends..

I have a narrower right foot and wider (medium plus) left foot. To make my true to size pair work I had to resort to thicker almost hike weight Darn Tough socks.  With thicker socks I had a comfortable secure lockdown on my wider foot, and close but not quite there on my right. 

I do also think they run long, as I have a fat thumb’s worth of front toe box room so for many in the narrower to medium volume foot range trying a half size down may be a good idea.

I think the main fit issue is the rear collars and to a certain extent the mid foot volume. Not a heel slip issue as the well integrated bolsters held me well and the external overlays are in the right places but a sense of over broadness and volume that had me lacing them quite tight. 

There was some lace bite on my narrower right foot through the non padded tongue but none on the wider left foot.  This said the thin soft and stringy laces help mitigate and they really hold well through the eyelets once tied yet at the same time are easy to loosen and tighten. 

Fortunately, and unlike the Phantasm CF,  there is no annoying folding of the front of the very similar tongue here (see below) as Salomon widens the underlays and overlays at the tongue edges and the tongue is now attached to the midfoot eyelet area at the top of the upper (no gusset) in one place on the medial side. Good! 


 I was not able to get the front of the CF tongue to lie flat. No such issues at all with Phantasm

The Phantasm's upper is very breathable and non moisture absorbing that is for sure!


As covered above the midsole is a Dow Infuse EVA/ Olefin copolymer block mix with the top layer of the midsole above the 3 fingered polyamide fiberglass mid foot to front plate clearly softer than the lower layer below the plate (see above).  This lower layer delivers stability and in combination with plate a lot of snappy response while the top layer has a deep protective cushion with nice energy return but not of the bouncy bouncy kind overall. The shoe is not as soft as a result as the racing Phantasm CF, Ultraglide and for sure all soft Energy Surge and no plate Glide Max.

The combination of foams and plate makes the ride more uptempo than easy paces for me even with the 9mm drop  At slower paces, say above 10 min miles when I back on the heels more it feels a bit firm. At faster paces more up on the forefoot there is a super energetic very stable return and toe off which, after 2 runs, has even started to develop a bit of flex. 

Salomon tells us the Phantasm is designed to favor a forefoot strike and I agree as once up on the forefoot there is stable distinct rebound that is both firm and responsive at the road from plate and firmer bottom foam while above the layer is clear softer but not overly soft toes sinking in squish. All ties together very well. 

The forefoot reminds me alot of a more “tame” Tempo Next %, Alphafly, or Metaspeed Sky forefoot action. As there is a 9 mm drop plus firmer foam things stay very stable with the geometry helping me along more easily than softer heel foam shoes such as Alpha and Meta. As long as my pace was uptempo and I leaned forward a bit I found the rebounding forefoot quite easy to find and take advantage of.


If it is Salomon we must have Contagrip, their excellent rubber, always durable and gripping. Here we have 2 relatively thin heel patches as we often see on super shoes and a broad full forefoot expanse with longitudinal grooves. Durability remains to be seen. As a fore to mid foot strike and uptempo focused shoe and rubber the heaviest shoe material component  I can see the choices made (minimal heel rubber big broad stabilizing forefoot  but wonder a bit about the thin heel patches durability but time will tell. So far 12 miles in zero wear or scuffing whatsoever 


At first I thought Phantasm might be a daily training ride shoe and most all paces friendly to sit between the Glide Max softer broader recovery model and Phantasm CF racer.  Not exactly the case. The Phantasm is clearly an uptempo model and for Salomon fans is the forefoot to midfoot strike and is “stride” runner option for training and long racing to the more flexible, softer, and more agile if lower stack “cadence” oriented Phantasm CF as the weight difference is minimal. 

I have 2 runs in the Phantasm so conclusions are preliminary. The first run was a 4 miler ending at 10 min mile average pace on sore legs. I am a heel striker at those paces I found the heel a bit firmer than I would like and that broad Energy Blade plated forefoot a bit hard to “use” to get up on. 

My second run was a 5.4 mile progression run ending at 8:48 average pace with a faster paced finish, so somewhat slower than what I would hope for in a marathon these days (around 3:45). Here the Phantasm really came alive as the pace picked up. The broad stable rebounding forefoot was easy to find, just lean in a bit and delivered not only rebound but a clear spring effect from the Energy Blade but, unlike many,  the plate felt well embedded and the forefoot all of a piece. I could have gone on much further at my terminal pace of about 8:20 per mile as the shoe felt stable, consistent, and energetic. This tells me it is a great choice for uptempo longer runs and longer races.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Phantasm delivers a consistent, very well cushioned ride that is especially stable and energetic upfront off its broad platform which combines Energy Surge foam (well named) and a not totally rigid Energy Blade 3 fingered plate. The front of the shoe and its energy and stability is the Phantasm key highlight for me. 

It does favor a mid foot to forefoot strike and faster paces over slower and back on the heels as noted in Ride. I wonder what increasing the thickness of the softer Energy Surge foam flavor at the heel might do to balance and improve rear cushion feel. Maybe with some more heel rubber as well to keep the rear stable and for durability? 


The upper is voluminous and a bit long at my true to size requiring me to use thick socks to get locked down successfully on my broader foot and adequately just on my narrower foot. Many likely will choose to size down a half but high volume feet may be OK here at true to size. A thicker (and sadly heavier) TPU beads sockliner might improve not only fit but ride softness and rebound especially at the heel. The fit might also be improved with less overall upper volume and/or  a more substantial heel counter or tighter rear openings and collars both of which are of the party in its sibling the Phantasm CF so why not here? 

These issues aside we have one heck of an energetic, consistent, and stable riding shoe with a highly breathable upper and great looks. 

The weight to cushion ratio is very strong at less than 8.6 oz/ 243g for its 36mm heel / 27mm forefoot platform and the pricing at $160 is more than reasonable reasonable for a high performance “plated” trainer racer with a great if not “supercritical” foam. I will score the shoe after more runs. 


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

S/Lab Phantasm  (RTR Review)

The original Phantasm was also Energy Surge foam powered but has considerably firmer foam and is lower stacked, really a race flat ride not a max cushion ride as here.  No real comparison except for Matryx uppers with the Phantasm 2022’s more voluminous, somewhat heavier mesh and with more overlays.

S/Lab Phantasm CF (RTR Review)

Softer, more flexible, more agile, more prominently R-Camber rockered, the CF is somewhat less cushioned in feel and less explosive off the forefoot with a more a roll forward ride than a spring off the forefoot as Phantasm has. Its upper is a bit lighter and more pliable with a folding tongue, an issue the Phantasm clearly fixes. 

Salomon Glide Max (RTR Review)

The recovery easy long run shoe in the 2022 Salomon line up.

Same softer foam as in the Phantasm but yet more stack of it on a broader and higher platform in a single density with a thicker greater coverage upper. A yet more voluminous upper ideal for broad higher volume feet is up there in Altra/Topo territory.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 (RTR Review)

A clear competitor to the Phantasm. The Speed is about 0.5 oz lighter and sits on nearly the same stack of 35/27. It is less stable for sure if OK in that department. Its plastic plate and SpeedRoll front geometry leads to a bit more snappy final toe off to the Phantasm big and broad rebounding front platform. The Speed is quicker with its base supercritical foam springier if firmer, the Phantasm is more deliberate and stable with a more distinct and pneumatic foam rebound. The Speed upper is performance fit all the way and true to size for me to the Phantasm more voluminous fit. 

Topo Specter (RTR Review)

Instead of a plate, the Specter uses a 16mm thick at the heel PEBAX foam insert through the middle of the shoe. The ride is softer, bouncier, different in feel if similar in concept of high stack, light weight stable platform, rebounding forefoot. Interestingly the 5mm drop Topo does not feel heel low at slower paces and is easier to run slow than the Salomon but is also not as deliberately and quickly rebounding and springy off the front as Phantasm having a softer more bouncy rebound feel. At 7.95 oz with a 35/30 stack so a touch more forefoot cushion and about the same heel the Topo weighs a touch less than the Salomon. As far as upper support and comfort with at least as equally if not broader a toe box, that held my narrower feet very well,  the Topo wins in that department

Craft CTM Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Similar to the Topo in having a central PEBA core instead of the plate of the Phantasm, the Craft has 4mm more stack height and only 0.5 oz more weight and this despite having a more substantial dirt road and even light trails capable outsole. It has a somewhat softer heel mainly due to stack height and PEBA insert. Even if on a narrower rear platform it is equally as stable. It has an easier roll type ride to the Salomon’s prominent more vertical forefoot action to move it along. Its upper is super minimal single layer with a snug slip on and secure rear hold for such an upper in contrast to the Phantasm’s broader entry. The upper of the Craft is clearly less voluminous. I was true to size but just for length. Some testers found the toe box too roomy. I did not. 

Nike Tempo Next % (RTR Review)

Take the Phantasm and make it yet more extreme and you get the somewhat heavier 259g / 9.136oz Nike. Yes heavier but it also has 10mm more heel cushion and 9mm millimeters forefoot cushion.  The Nike heel is very stable and more cushioned while its forefoot combination of air pod and plate yet more explosive off the forefoot than the Salomon. Noisy, extreme and effective if you want a similar but more elegant and smoother (and for sure quieter)  ride consider the Salomon.  Nike fit is true to size for me but clearly lower volume and more compressive than the more unstructured Salomon upper.

Adidas Boston 10 (RTR Review)

During my first run I thought of the adidas Boston 10 as a comparison but then I looked at the weight…10.45 oz / 296g (US9) so almost 2 full ounces heavier although on a higher 39/31 platform. At slower paces, they shared a similar firmer heel and somewhat hard to find and use “plated” front, rods and blades. This said, the broader heel platform Salomon clearly felt more stable at all paces. At faster paces I think they start to feel more similar but my sense is the Boston remains more rigid (5 rods vs 3 pronged more spaced out Energy Blade in the Phantasm) and less easy to lean in forward and turn over. 

ASICS Glideride 3 (RTR Initial Video Review)

About 1 oz / 28 g heavier with a bigger stack of 40/30, the Glideride has a more flexible “plate” via a layer of hardened foam. It pulls off its heel cushion a bit better through, as with the Phantasm, a combination of a very soft top layer and firmer (but not as firm as Phantasm’s) lower layer of foams. The Glideride has a more flowing rolling toe off with in the new version more flex. The Salomon is more about vertical rebound off its forefoot combination of foams, blades and outsole. The Glideride upper is more secure, no question is true to size for most feet expect very voluminous where the Phantasm would have the advantage, but heavier and less breathable.   

Phantasm is available now from Salomon and from our partners below

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposesRoadTrail 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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Anonymous said...

Beautiful looking shoe but...this shoe takes the award for the worst fitting upper of any shoe I've ever worn...and that's a ton of shoes over the years. Normal size is way too long, half size down and it's too tight. Heel doesn't lock down. The shoe is unusable for me.

tumblingdumpling said...

I am really torn between this shoe and the new NB Rebel V3 for long miles and tempo runs. I am afraid the Salomon may either be EXACTLY what i'm looking for in hot Florida weather or may it be too stiff with the plate, have a tight and blister causing toe box, or even poor lockdown in the heel, as some people have suggested on reddit. Any guidance greatly appreciated...

Anonymous said...

All are kind of true except toe box. May depend on your pace? and true strike type. Neither really long run shoes for me. Both tempo. Rebel v3 review soon. Sam/Editor