Thursday, April 20, 2023

Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 Review: 9 Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaski and Jeff Valliere

Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 ($160)


Mike P: Aside from the original Pulsar, I haven’t really run in Salomon trail shoes for some time. I received the Sense Ride 5, Ultra Glide 2, and the Pulsar Trail Pro 2 at the same time for testing. Slipping each of them on for the first time, I could immediately tell that the Pulsar Trail Pro 2 was the most interesting to me. The fit and feel was quite different from the others - noticeably roomy in the forefoot, more streamlined, and race-ready elsewhere. It’s positioned as the “fast” shoe in Salomon’s non S/Lab trail lineup and is designed for faster runners. 

I really liked the original S/Lab Pulsar, but that’s such a unique shoe that it’s hard to really draw comparisons to other trail shoes, from Salomon or even other brands so I was curious to find out how the “Pulsar” lineage manifests itself in the Pulsar Trail Pro 2. 


Great, wide, yet secure forefoot Mike P/Jeff V

Impeccable fit through out Mike P/Jeff V

Bootie style upper with integrated gaiter fits and works well Mike P/Jeff V

Fast feeling, stiff and efficient ride Mike P/Jeff V


Some rigidness at the midfoot from the Energy Blade plate Mike P/Jeff V

Not much lateral flex to the shoe - can be unstable Mike P/Jeff V

Firm midsole/narrow rear platform can feel unforgiving on hard surfaces, particularly if you heel strike Jeff V


Approx. weight: men's 9.07 oz  / 256g (US9)

  Samples: men’s 9.07 oz  / 256g (US9), 9.6 oz  / 272 g (US 9.5), 9.9 oz  / 280 g (US 10)

Stack Height: men’s 33 mm heel / 27 mm forefoot (6 drop spec) 

$160 Available now.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Mike P: Of the 3 Salomon trail shoes I received for testing (Sense Ride 5, Ultra Glide 2)- I’ll say right off the bat, the Pulsar Trail Pro 2 is my favorite. The first immediately noticeable difference between the PTP2 and most other Salomon trail shoes is the shape of the toe box. Strikingly wide across the forefoot, with a rounded toe box up front, it’s perhaps Salomon’s most naturally shaped toe box.

The shoe retains Salomon’s signature slim and secure foothold from the midfoot back through the heel. For me personally, it’s essentially the ideal shoe shape. For many runners who feel that Salomons shoes tend to run too narrow - I’d encourage you to take a look at this one. It just might change your mind. 

The upper material itself is a tightly-woven, non-stretch mesh which looks to be quite durable. A quick tug of the Quicklace and foothold and security is impeccable. Again, one of the best-fitting Salomon shoes.

Notice the widely-spaced eyelets - the laces cover more area across the top of the foot. This allows the upper to really wrap and hold the foot well without relying on squeezing the right and left sides together.

Also notable - the Quicklace garage is one of the best and easiest to use. Interestingly, it’s also the smallest. Due to the bootie-style upper, the Quicklace garage can sit just a bit higher - out of the way of the top row of laces.

Speaking of the bootie-style upper, Salomon again does a great job here. A lot of other brands try to do a bootie upper, but if it's not well done  - if it’s too loose, or if it bunches too much, it’s effectively useless. 

The PTP2 bootie is similar in design and effectiveness as the regular Pulsar. It wraps snugly without any irritation and keeps out most, if not all trail debris.

Jeff V:  I also received the same 3 Salomon shoes as Mike at the same time and found the PTP2 to be a stand out among the 3.  My experience with the Pulsar line is limited to the S/Lab Pulsar Soft Ground, which is incredibly light, fast, agile and with an incredible sock like fit.  While the S/Lab SG is a special shoe , I found them to be a bit too minimal for the rocky, technical trails that I run, so I reserve them primarily for special uphill efforts.  The PTP2 is reminiscent in that the lineage is obvious in the shape and overall build of the shoe, but it has1 more mm of stack and overall more structure and protection, though at 78 grams / 2.8 oz. more in weight.  Despite just having 1 more mm of stack, the PTP2 feels much more protective and substantial under foot.

Mike nails the description of the upper perfectly on all points.  I find the fit to be true to size in regard to length and is very race-like, secure and has a surprisingly roomy toe box, while retaining excellent security.  The booty design is incredibly effective, perfectly snugging up around my ankle and comfortably conforming, keeping out any trail debris.  The quicklace snugs up quite well and as Mike mentions, the lace garage is quite easy.  I have not run in hot temperatures, only in the 70’s at most, but have found breathability to be good.


Mike P: Stack, listed at 33/27mm, places the PTP2 in mid-stack territory for a trail shoe. The dual density Energy Foam leans firm with the thin lower layer below the red TPU Energy Blade plate very firm, yet the deeper softer density foam above keeps it from feeling too harsh. Given the fact that the shoe feels so quick - and turnover feels so fast - that also makes the firmness less noticeable.

In that sense it feels similar to another shoe I recently tested - the Craft CTM Ultra 3. Both shoes utilize firmer, more responsive midsole foams, with geometries encouraging quick turnover and lower ground contact time. Don’t get those two shoes confused though - the PTP2 is much more “trail” ready.

If you check the comparative Salomon numbers above, you can see the midfoot/rear platform is quite narrow at  75mm heel and 60mm at midfoot so  in line with the regular Pulsar, as opposed to the more traditional, wider bases of the Sense Ride 5 and the Ultra Glide 2.

Based on my testing, the PTP2 really does ride like a beefed up regular Pulsar. You really need to be forward leaning and up on your “toes”. Midfoot/forefoot landing is favored over heel striking . Steep descents can be a bit hairy with the narrow heel. 

Similar to the regular Pulsar, you cannot just indiscriminately mash the heels on long descents.

Jeff V:  Mike again nails the midsole perfectly.  The midsole here is all business, performance oriented and certainly leans towards the firm end of the spectrum.  

On my first run, I just went out for a daily cruise on one of our more rocky, technical, steep trails and I was not very impressed, as they felt somewhat hard underfoot (I am a heel striker) and somewhat tippy due to the heel and energy blade.  My next run however, I chose them for a more spirited effort on a 90% buffed out, 6 mile climb up 2,500 vertical and back again.  I pushed pretty hard on this run, both up and down and was very impressed at how well they performed.  

They feel very quick, light and responsive on the uphill with great agility.  On the downhill, they also performed very well pushing the pace, with good protection, agility, upper security and traction.  

I noticed some instability through the technical sections and felt myself being pretty careful after a few wobbly foot plants, but with care they are manageable for short sections.  For any extended technical terrain, especially when rocky, I would not pick this shoe.


Mike P: The outsole features Salomon’s standard chevron-shaped Contagrip design with 3.5mm lugs. It’s similar in general to the Sense Ride 5, Ultra Glide 2, and many other Salomon trail shoes in having 3.5mm lugs with 1mm more lug height than the S/Lab Pulsar. Traction is solid in most conditions. As I will describe in the Ride section, the shoe is somewhat stiff, with not much lateral flex across the broad forefoot landing area. As shown below the red Energy Blade extends from near the heel to the front on the lateral side plus we have the firmer layer of foam above,

This hinders grip a bit in uneven terrain, but is not an issue on any even surface landings. I’d say that stiffness as opposed to the outsole itself is the main hindrance as far as traction.

Jeff V:  I do not have much to add to Mike's spot on description of the outsole.  I find traction to be overall very good for the less technical terrain where the PTP2 shines, but agree that the stiffness of the shoe inhibits the outsole’s ability to contour over undulations in the trail (rocks and roots specifically), but I also found this to be the case on late season hardened patches of snow, where I know the similarly treaded Sense Ride 5 and UltraGlide 2 would hook up a bit better.


Mike P: Some shoes just encourage you to go fast - the PTP2 is one of those shoes. The ride gives a rather “nondescript” feeling of speed. Not quite a dynamic, plated ride. No distinctively active or noticeable flex point although there is some flex way up front. No super bouncy, energetic super foam. Yet despite the lack of those distinctive sensations, the TPU Energy Blade plate provides a subtle stiffness and an easy free-flowing ride - when going straight ahead.

I do intentionally note the “straight ahead” nature of the ride. That subtle stiffness is not-so-subtle in terms of lateral flex and stability. There is very little lateral flex across the forefoot, as well as through the midfoot. So while I do like the nice and broad forefoot landing platform - it’s only stable if you can find solid & even landing areas underfoot.

Any unevenness underfoot will certainly throw the PTP2 - making them a risky proposition the more technical the terrain gets. For me, I’d limit them to moderate, dry & fast terrain. Sections of technical terrain are doable - with caution. But I wouldn’t recommend them for extended durations or races over technical terrain unless you are very confident in your agility.

Jeff V:  I sound like a broken record, but once again, I could not sum up the ride better than Mike has.  The PTP2 is fast and performs very well under a very specific set of conditions, namely less technical, buffed out dry trails and at faster speeds.  For slower runs and/or anything over 2 hours, especially if anything technical in the mix, you are doing yourself a bit of a disservice and should pick a shoe that is more stable and forgiving, like the Sense Ride 5 or Ultraglide 2, as the PTP2 really requires you to be on top of your game and at full attention.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Mike P: The PTP2 is my favorite recent Salomon trail shoe. Of the three I received for testing (Senser Ride 5, Ultra Glide 2), it’s far and away my top pick, and works best for my running style. Generally speaking, the upper is one of Salomon’s best, and in fact one of the best uppers of any running shoe for me.

I would love to be able to transplant this upper and foot shape onto many other shoes. There are some subtleties to the shoe though - as speed and quickness is favored over stability. So choose your target terrain carefully. It’s clearly a race-ready shoe, and in that regard, a more accessible option for most runners than the featherweight regular Pulsar.

Mike P’s Score:  9.55 / 10

Ride: 9.5 - Unstable in technical stuff, but so fast everywhere else

Fit: 10 - One of the most secure and best fitting upper out there

Value: 9.5 - A go-to for fast trail running

Style: 10 - I love the white color, but midnight blue is pretty slick too

Traction: 9 - Very good in most conditions

Rock Protection: 9 - Plenty, considering rocky terrain should be avoided or taken with caution

Smiles 😊😊😊😊😊

Jeff V:  The PTP2 is a good race shoe or good for pushing PR efforts on less technical terrain, with unbelievably great fit, security, agility. It has alot of protection and cushion (though firm) for the weight.  Getting the most out of the PTP2 requires being on top of your game and using them under the right circumstances, which I have found to be smoother, dry trails.  I would not consider this shoe as a daily training shoe or for anything much over 2 hours, where I would instead opt for the Sense Ride 5 or Ultraglide 2.

Jeff V’s Score: 9.4/10

Ride: 9 - A bit firm and unstable in technical terrain

Fit: 10 - Fits like a glove, almost custom with great foothold and room in the toebox for comfort

Value: 9 - As much or more performance as any S/Lab, but at a lower price (though limited in use scenarios).

Style: 10 - The blue is really stylish and classy

Traction: 9 - good traction for intended use

Rock Protection: 9 - no jabs get through really, but I am pretty careful on the rocks because of stability, so am backing off a bit there anyways

Smiles 😊😊😊😊😊

8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Salomon Sense Ride 5 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): I had to go up ½ size in the Sense Ride 5 due to the pointy toe box. No such issues with the PTP2 - the toe box is much better, and overall more secure for my foot. The SR5 has a flatter ride, that is not as fast and dynamic feeling as the PTP2, but it is more agile in technical terrain. Overall it just felt a bit dull, but if you favor more ground feel - the SR5 is the way to go. Ultimately I feel there are other better options than the SR5 in its caregory, while the PTP2 provides a fast and fun ride in the right conditions.

Jeff V:  The SR5 is much more versatile for a wider range of trails and conditions, with better traction, better stability in technical terrain, softer more forgiving cushion and overall more protection.  There is of course a weight penalty and they are not as performance oriented, at least for running fast on less technical terrain.

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG (RTR Review)

Jeff V: (9.5): The Pulsar SG has a tighter, more precise (almost hard to get into) slipper like upper.  I share many of the observations Mike has above about the Pulsar 1 (non SG).  The PTP2 has more substance and protection underfoot, where I find myself dancing more in the Pulsar SG if it is rocky and being careful of foot placement due to the narrow heel and iffy stability.  Both shoes are for racing and have a slim scope of use.

Salomon Ultra Glide 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The UG2 also has a nice secure fit as the PTP2 has, yet it’s a bit narrower at the very front, and tapers slightly more. A wide version is offered though. The UG2 has a much softer, cushy feel underfoot and is more flexible - especially so  at the midfoot in comparison to the PTP2. The PTP2 is of course stiffer and also faster. Neither shoe offers much ground feel. The UG2 seems to favor heel striking, while the PTP2 favors faster running off the forefoot/midfoot.

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 1 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Take the PTP2, strip everything down throughout, and you get the original/V2 Pulsar. Both shoes favor faster running off the forefoot/midfoot. The Pulsar has a narrower platform throughout, especially under the midfoot/rear. It still packs in a decent amount of foam underfoot for its very light weight, but can feel somewhat unstable as well, but due to its platform narrowness as opposed to the PTP2 which is limited by stiffness. The PTP2 has a more accommodating fit which will feel less constrictive for longer. I really like both shoes.

Saucony Endorphin Edge (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): This is a close comp in terms of both shoes feeling very fast, yet also somewhat unstable. The PTP2 uses a less stiff (in comparison to the Edge) PTU plate, while the Edge uses a stiffer Carbitex plate. The Edge feels much softer with its PWRRUN PB foam - necessary to offset the stiffness and feel of the plate. I’d say it’s overall a slightly faster package than the PTP2, but also a slightly more unstable one. The PTP2 has a better fitting and more secure upper. The Edge’s is slightly loose and relies on lacing them up pretty tight. I’d reserve the Edge for pure racing, but the PTP2 is a better pick for all around fast running, including races.

Jeff V:  I agree with Mike on most points above, though I personally found the Edge to be more stable, most likely due to the wider platform and to have better cushion for longer effort or extended downhills.  I would however prefer the PTP2 for uphill running.

VJ Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.5): The VJ added a rock plate in V2 - which did improve the ride a bit, yet sacrificed some stability. It’s still much more capable in technical terrain than the Salomon  as there’s more flexibility through the midfoot. The PTP2’s Energy Blade provides a smoother and faster ride. VJ’s outsole is best in class, but its upper is far behind the Salomon in quality of construction, fit, and security. Save the VJ for the mountain stuff, PTP2 wins everywhere else. 

Jeff V:  I just ran in the VJ Ultra 2 the morning of this writing and was reminded that they might be one of my favorite shoes of all time for running fast in technical terrain, as they are very secure fitting, well cushioned (though for sure not an ultra shoe), well protected, stable, responsive, light and have about the best traction out there.  The PTP2 might me a little lighter and quicker on smooth uphills, but I think the Ultra 2 reigns supreme on any type of downhill and for sure if anything tech is in the mix.

Craft CTM Ultra 3 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): The CTM Ultra 3 was a surprise shoe for me - very fast feeling, and my top pick for gravel-type surfaces and very light trails. It has a similarly firm midsole feel as the Salomon has, yet no plate, and uses a bit more rocker up front. Both shoes feel fast. Where the CTM Ultra 3 is sorely lacking is the upper. Too much material, too loose, not much structure - it surely saves some weight, but severely limits the shoe in terms of terrain.  I like the CTM Ultra 3 in very specific, almost road-type terrain, but the Salomon is a better shoe everywhere else. Even in the easy stuff, the Salomon’s better fit would likely make it a better pick as well.

Brooks Catamount 2 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): The Catamount 2 is another shoe that just feels fast. The Brooks does it differently though - its SkyVault Plate is more flexible - not as propulsive as the Salomon, but it has a big edge in stability. The Brooks plate is noticeably flexible around the ball of the foot, making it climb a bit easier as well. Keeping with the stability advantage, the Brooks has a wider underfoot platform from the midfoot through the heel. It’s a solid option for all footstrike patterns. Both uppers are great - enough space at the forefoot and non-tapered at the toes - I did have to go ½ size up in the Brooks though, but I use them for all distances including very long ultras. 

Hoka Tecton X (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): For me, both shoes have a similar stiff feel in the forward plane, both delivering smooth and efficient rides. The Salomon does feel faster, but the Tecton X’s split plate design does make them much more stable laterally - and therefore more suitable in a wider range of terrain. The Tecton X also uses a dual density foam setup, but feels much more cushioned underfoot than the Salomon. I’ve done two 100 milers so far in them with no issue. I’d be reluctant to take the PTP2 that far, mainly due to their stiffer feel underfoot. The PTP2 upper has a more secure fit than Tecton X 1, but the newly released Tecton X 2 (RTR Review soon) has an improved and more secure upper - rivaling the Salomon’s

Tester Profiles

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

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Anonymous said...

How's it compare to the S/Lab Sense Ultra or Ultra 3?

Anonymous said...

Yes ultra 3 anyone? I know Mike said he hadn’t that one…

Mike P said...

Yes, I did have the Ultra 2, but not 3. Both versions are distinctly different from the Pulsar Trail Pro 2. The main difference is the Ultras use a thinner flexible protection plate, as opposed to the PTP2's Energy Blade - which is more focused on propulsion rather than protection. Of course the Energy Blade is also protective, but it makes the shoe much more unstable than the Ultra.

The Ultra is a known quantity for very long ultras in technical terrain. Courtney runs them almost exclusively in Hard Rock, UTMB etc. They're designed for that type of rocky, technical terrain and work well as long as firm cushioning works for you.

No way the PTP2 could handle those types of events - they're just too rigid and unstable. It's absolutely a faster shoe than the Ultra, but for different terrain.

Anonymous said...

I am on the fence which shoe to buy, Catamount 2 (beloved not only by Mike P, quite some other reports speak highly of it as well) or Pulsar Trail Pro 2. I have the old Pulsar Trail, which just looks a bit dated, but is a very propulsive shoe. Brooks could make things easier for me by releasing some more Catamount 2 colorways, then I would probably pick it over the Pulsar Pro 2. I will wait some more, I still have too many shoes to run with. :)

Mike P said...

No surprise here, but I'd pick the Catamount 2. It's just a much more versatile trail shoe, terrain-wise. It still feels fast too, you're not losing much in that department to the PTP2. The benefits of stability are far more important in a trail shoe.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!