Saturday, February 11, 2023

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 2 Initial Review

Article by Sam Winebaum

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 2 ($180)


The S/Lab Pulsar 2, the lightest trail shoe we know of and for its stack height and real outsole one of the lightest running shoes . It is Salomon’s pinnacle short distance racer. The v1 (RTR Review) was an amazing shoe for those fast and furious trail runs but also a top short distance road race shoe.

For v2 the iconic red and white colors of the original S/Lab Sense, the “Kilian Shoe” with the OG shown below return.  

The update is (mostly) to the upper with a new Matryx aramid reinforced mesh. No other changes are specifically called out by Salomon with the weight of my US9 sample remains almost exactly the same as v1 at 6.16 oz / 175g as does the measured stack height of about 31mm heel / 25mm forefoot and 6mm drop. 

The midsole foam is an EVA / Olefin block copolymer foam said to be the same in firmness as Energy Surge of the v1 now renamed to Energy Foam with the denser medial insert still in the mix.  

The outsole remains Salomon’s Contragrip with 2.5mm lugs with a soft ground v2 version also available.

My testing to date includes 3 runs: 2 on packed snow and one on a very firm indoor track. I always run trail shoes on a firm consistent surface to detect ride and fit characteristics without the variations of terrain in the mix. While I do not have my v1 with me, I clearly detect differences, if subtle in both fit and ride. Read on to discover what I found out.


Still the lightest trail runner (and for that matter one of the lightest road racers) on the planet I know of

Improved fit for sure:  less binding and constrained overall, less dense mesh, more toe box room, still one of the most secure highest performing uppers.

Slightly more flexible and agile feeling upfront


Narrow rear platform does not favor heel striking, limiting distance potential for most. A slightly wider rear platform while it would add some weight would be welcome.

Rock protection from the “plate”, a Pro Feel film and potentially also the increased flexibility makes it less propulsive but more terrain conforming. 


Sample:  6.16 oz  /  178g ( unisex US9)

Official Midsole Stack Height: 24.5mm heel / 18.5mm forefoot

Full Stack Height: men’s 31mm heel (measured) / 25mm forefoot ( 6 drop spec) 

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

I love the return to classic S/Lab Sense colors here after the muted off white/gray of v1. The colors say fast!

The key update is a new Matryx mesh upper. 

Matryx mesh incorporates aramid Kevlar type fiber to deliver very breathable, durable, extremely secure uppers at very low weights.

The v1 also had a Matryx EVO mesh upper as shown below.

For v2 the mesh is lighter and somewhat more pliable as can be seen in the photo below. 

The top of toes area for sure has a less dense compressive mesh pattern compared to v1 and this translates to more toe box give and volume. 

Not to worry, the hold is still incredible. The difference being now that I forget  I am wearing them whereas before I always felt OK but more “pressured” all around. Yes, I sized up half a size from my normal which I had in v1 in v2 but even so the slightly more relaxed difference in fit is clear.

Also of importance, the new more pliable mesh also makes the Pulsar 2 more flexible overall than v1 and for me subtly affects the ride (in some ways positive and other ways negative)  but more on that below 

There is a new liner construction around the heel with the bolsters maybe a bit more extended than v1’s and with the liner extending further down wrapping the entire ankle area. 

Knit Tongue to the Right

I find the new rear construction more comfortable and effective. As before there is no sockliner with the foot sitting directly on the lasting board. This saves weight and also puts the foot in more direct contact with the platform below.

They are still difficult to pull on but once your foot is in place the overall hold remains totally secure. I also noted that once “warmed up"  and damp after a snow run transition to the indoor track( they absorb almost no moisture) they were much easier to pull on.

The lace garage remains the same with the knit collar and tongue holding the foot below remaining snug, so difficult to tuck everything in. I just tucked the toggle into the garage and put the rest of the lace under lacing upfront. I do think the top mesh could be stretchier and have a bit more volume but changing the knit below to be stretchier could compromise hold. 

As said above I sized up half a size and I am pleased with the fit with medium weight socks. With thin socks my lower volume narrower right foot is not quite as secure. 

With thin socks I would now opt for true to size, whereas in v1 I would have been better off a half size up. Those who struggled with width in v1 will, due to the new lighter more pliable upper, do better here as the pliable mesh has more (but not much more) give vertically and horizontally up front. 


The midsole foam, stack height, and geometry remain unchanged from v1. We have a full stack height as I measure it of about 31mm heel / 25 mm forefoot which is remarkable given the incredibly light weight (unchanged) of 6.16 oz / 178g in my US9 sample. 

The light weight is achieved in part by the narrow rear platform. The Pulsar is clearly best run off the heels but there is more than adequate cushion all around but it is narrow for sure out back.

The medial midfoot as before retains firmer insert for a touch of stability, I think essential given the narrow platform.

The now renamed Energy Foam and foam firmness remains the same as v1 according to Salomon, a quite soft and decently responsive EVA/ Olefin block copolymer from Dow called Infuse which with more Olefin gets softer and bouncier.  This foam is said to recover quickly from compression thus rebounds quickly and this is what I feel.

I find the Pulsar 2 is more flexible especially to the rear of the front flex point than v1 likely due to the lighter more pliable upper upfront and maybe a change to the ProFeel film. The video below shows the flex after my 3 runs.

And Mike Postaski v1 after about 30 miles.

We have a Pro Feel flexible rock protection layer in the mix and I think it too is more flexible than before. I find the v2 more agile feeling yet but with less of the distinct propulsive “plate” like feel of v1 and with the R-Camber rocker as a result slightly also more attenuated and less distinct in feel.


We retain the outsole of v1 with its 2.5mm lugs. I ran them on a combination of firmly packed snow and looser snow. I was surprised how “sticky” the Contragrip rubber was on firm snow. When I got to softer snow grip remained decent but, of course, going to the Soft Ground version with its more aggressive 4.5 mm lugs is what is called for on softer snow and looser surfaces.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

The ride is fast and aggressive. I ran a very stout loop here in Park City on groomed mostly firmer snow and snagged a Strava uphill segment PR and one second off the AG PR. 

The flexibility and light weight conformed to the snow beautifully making up for the relatively shallow traction. My indoor track run was fine too but I missed the slightly more propulsive plate like feel of v1 on the firm surface and the slightly more cushioned and stable feel of v1 of the soft ground version.

For most not a long distance trail shoe,  the Pulsar 2 is that special shoe you reach for when you want to go fast on trail (and even road), have the ultimate in agility and trail feel yet with for sure decent cushion.

The fit is clearly improved with the new Matryx upper having all the hold of v1 with a touch more relaxed fit especially upfront and the upper is the major update here. And it appears the more pliable upper (and maybe a change in the ProFeel film to a more flexible flavor) affects the ride as we now have a slightly more flexible agile feeling shoe if one that is not quite as explosive off the front for me.

While the barely 6.16 oz /178 weight gives the ride an incredible feeling of lightness with “enough” substance underfoot,  I wish the rear platform was wider to extend its range and utility even if that added some weight.

We will be updating the review and score the Pulsar 2 after more runs when I can find dirt as the snow is deep deep here in Park City!  We also hope to receive more pairs for a multi tester review.

The Pulsar 2 is available now at our partner



Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was 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, if he is very lucky, 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.

The Pulsar 2 was a free sample from Running Warehouse. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Karl said...

Many thanks Sam for this review. I am so happy that you mentioned that the original SLAB Pulsar could be a great road race shoe on short distances. Now that the lugs of mine have worn off a little, I use them for intervals and 10K races. You mentioned that the V1 feels more propulsive than the V2 on hard surfaces… I wonder why… since the midsole is the same. Any thoughts?

Christoph Koehler said...


I was wondering… How comes you measured 31/25mm stack when officially they are supposed to be 24,5/18,5 according to the stats on the Salomon website? What do they measure? ��

Best, Chris.

Mike P said...

All brands measure differently - some measure just the foam itself - not including the base outsole, lug depth, and sockliner. Some measure some combination of those, but it's hard to tell. They typically don't tell us what exactly is included in the measurement.

When we measure manually, we include everything - so essentially, how high your heel is off the ground.

Anonymous said...

I tested a fresh pair of the original Pulsar's against the new model and they have a much different feel. The original model feels much more propulsive with the rocker shape being much more active. The new model feels very flat on the forefoot and feels much closer to the ground even though the stack height is effectively the same. The new upper, similar to many of the new models has almost too much extra material, for a slightly looser fit over the toe box area. My main take away is that I will be saving my original Pulsar's for races and using the new model for training. The changes to upper fit and the midsole make up will make the Pulsar 2's more suitable to day to day training, but not offering quite the same level of "super shoe" trail racing flat the original model is.

jujuzzz said...

Great initial review and comments, thanks. Looking forward to read the review about the 2023 SG version, which is apparently quite different from the v1 version.

Martin said...

Such a pitty. I really liked the "supershoe" feeling of the original Pulsars - the propulsive roll though the forefoot. Even at the expanse of the shoe being slightly stiffer. I'll probably try to find somewhere the old version.

(Similarly I prefer slightly firmer Asics Evoride 2 to the mushier Asics Noosa Tri 14 with less pronounced rolling effect)