Thursday, August 31, 2023

Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 Review: 7 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 ($275/ €249,95)


The S/Lab Phantasm 2 is Salomon’s first true road racing super shoe. It has a dual density PEBA foam midsole, full length rigid spoon shaped carbon plate and a single layer mono mesh upper. At 7.4 oz / 210g with a 37.5mm heel and 28.5 mm its weight is competitive with others in its class.

It differs considerably from the original S/Lab Phantasm CF (RTR Review) which had 3mm less stack height, a somewhat flexible carbon plate, more conventional Energy Surge foam and an assistive R-Camber geometry. It weighed about 0.7 oz more than the new Phantasm here. Despite not having supercritical foam or super light weight,  it is a shoe that I liked a lot for its easy to find rocker and snappy if firmer than many super shoes.

I was for sure curious to see how the state of the art S/Lab Phantasm 2 compared to its predecessor and of course other super marathon shoes.


Friendliest carbon plated race shoe I have ever run: beyond off the heels and a decent pace (9:00 miles or faster) 

Geometry and flatter plating does not force or over prescribe any particular landing or take off.

Very stable and consistent feeling for a super shoe from midfoot forward, its preferred strike point 

Very well cushioned: dual density foam is dynamic and also forgiving

Extremely quiet on the road: 3mm soft foam between bottom loaded plate and outsole

Comfortable, secure, roomy true to size upper: among the best of any super shoe

Tenacious front grip


Runs lower than its 9mm drop would point to due to soft heel foam and geometry

Could use more dramatic assisted roll from the rear and through midfoot for heel strikers and slower paces.

Pricing towards the upper end of super shoes.


Official Weight: men's 7.4 oz  / 210g (US9)

  Samples: men’s 7.34 oz / 208g US8.5

Stack Height: men’s 37.5mm heel / 28.5 mm forefoot (9mm drop spec) 

$275. Available now in Europe including at our partner Top4 Running SHOP HERE

S/Lab Phantasm 2 Video Review HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Salomon has crafted a beautiful looking and fitting race upper here, for me one of the best super shoe uppers to date. Made of a single layer ripstop grid mono mesh translucent material the upper is pliable yet at the same time very foot conforming. 

Salomon concentrates the upper support in a long red overlay running from the front of the shoe all the way to the rear where it meets a semi rigid heel cup which has a single piece white overlay that also extends forward becoming the eyestays (lace holders). 

The upper support is assisted by midsole side walls that unusually focus their rise at the front of the shoe. 

Learning from the notoriously folding thin tongue of the CF Salomon, doubles down on thin with an incredibly thin stretchy main mesh with a central padded strip. The tongue is neither “free floating” or gusseted to the midsole and instead is attached to the eyestay. Lace up of this comparatively high volume upper is secure and easy and fit will favor higher volume feet.

The eyestay is quite broad and contributes to the midfoot support. The eyestay’s material actually extends as a single piece around the entire heel area so the hold is linked midfoot to heel and this works very very well to secure the rear of the shoe. 

The semi rigid heel counter has substantial bolsters and is lined with a suede like material that extends a bit above the main upper, I think to prevent irritations along the top edges of the quite substantial white strap extending rear wards from the lace up. 

The rear hold is flawless for me and while the semi rigid heel counter and wrapping overlays may contribute to weight I will take it!  The laces are long and soft. I noticed a few times that a double knot came untied.

The toe box is relatively broad and high volume with structure provided by the very pliable and extensive toe bumper, the front raised midsole sidewalls, the red overlays and the wings at the front of the eyestays. What is neat about this toe box is how light it feels on the foot, roomy and pleasant yet very well held. 

And the upper is see through even if dense in weave as it has a multitude of tiny holes for breathability.

My sample is true to size and fits nearly perfectly for a marathon shoe with plenty of toe splay room and volume yet is well held. 

One of my feet is narrow and the other somewhat wider. For my wider foot the hold is just right while for my narrower I have to cinch the laces a bit tighter. I do note the long laces even double knotted did come untied a couple times in humid weather. 


The midsole consists of 2 densities of supercritical PEBA foam and a spoon shaped full length carbon plate. With a heel stack of 37.5mm, under the World Athletics 40mm limit, and with a 9mm drop, for me the ideal drop in a super shoe with a carbon plate, we have what now is on the surface a fairly “conventional” design for a super marathon shoe. Yet there are some twists here.

The PEBA foam is very resilient with a notably soft heel feel right at the ground where we have softer foam below the plate (at the seam)  and firmer above. The top layer foam feels alot like the PEBA in the Hoka Rocket X and Cielo Road while the lower foam is for sure softer.

I am not sure I have yet seen a dual density super shoe where the lower foam layer is softer than the top other than the SC Elite 3 from New Balance. Generally, super shoes put the softer foam closer to the foot to allow the foot to plunge down to the plate with firmer foam below for a touch of stability.  

The advantage in Salomon’s approach here is that the plate is completely masked in terms of noise or harshness from the road as the 3mm of soft foam sits below the plate and above the outsole. 

The lower foam is very soft, softer than even NB FuelCell with the upper layer resembling the feel of the foam in the Hoka Rocket X2, a touch firmer than Puma’s bouncier Nitro in the Elite. It is softer than ASICS FlightFoam Turbo, adidas Lightstrike Pro, and Saucony new Hg foam in the Endorphin Elite. The upper foam layer is softer and less springy than Nike Zoom X foam and not quite as bouncy as PWRRUN Pb at Saucony. 

The soft foam is thicker at the heel (at the seam)  and leads to a most pleasant initial landing but.. if you tend to be more of a heel striker and as I found at slower paces, the soft foam compresses and lowers the heel making the drop lower than 9mm and the platform less assistive with a flatter feel and less of a roll through midfoot towards toe off than my preferences.  Yet, unlike some super shoes with softer foams such as New Balance Fuel Cell and Saucony PWRRUN Pb run back more at the heel there is no plate hump felt at the midfoot. 

The balance between softness and a relatively flat feeling plate ends up just right for me, not overly prescriptive or aggressive yet clearly propulsive.  If one has a more rolling type stride, as I do, it works just fine but not as dramatically as say the original baby blue Vaporfly and to a lesser extent the Next % versions. If you have a more vertical high knee lift take off, the stable front platform and foams will propel you upwards with in both stride types a nice final roll at toe off but not a particularly pronounced one.

In terms of platform width,  the Phantasm has a middle of the road 70mm heel with a narrow 50mm midfoot and fairly typical broad 105mm forefoot width, exactly the same as the Vaporfly 3. No matter the pace, the sensation is of a long stable flatter feeling platform with a forward rocker point. I wonder why the effective R Camber rocker of the prior Phantasm and most other Salomon shoes was not used here to give the shoe a more rolling ride. Salomon calls out that the rocker “was moved further forward to reduce the transition time from heel to toe, effectively benefiting runners with a forefoot stride.” It is pretty clear from my testing that the Phantasm favors a more forward strike and faster paces rather than lingering at the heel. 

Unlike many supershoes, the Phantasm’s raised midsole sidewalls into which the foot sits and is supported start ahead of the semi rigid heel counter and extend all the way forward. 

This contributes to the very stable front of the shoe but I wonder if lowering them towards the front would improve flexibility and also better allow the medial side of the foot to plunge a bit easier to toe off. The foot plunging after midfoot on the medial side to easily roll to toe off was the secret sauce of the very first 2017 baby blue Vaporfly for me and every RTR tester and which made it such a long lasting favorite for all of us at RTR and for runners of all paces from 2:20’s to 3:40’s..


Salomon, given its trail shoe heritage, knows its rubber and how to deliver outstanding traction and here we have their customary Contagrip rubber.

The front traction pattern is made up of many small squares. The traction is fabulous and very noticeable without ever getting in the way.  

The nubs in the toe off area have worn down a bit on the lateral side. This may indicate that more flexibility way up front is in order, at least for my run style as I like to have a bit more flex to toe off to the medial side given my more rolling as opposed to vertical lift stride.

There are 2 white patches at the heel. They are thin as often found on supershoes and so far show zero wear. 

I see almost no foam wear so far of the rear foam beyond a touch along the central groove and a bit at the heel due to some slow miles in them and, as said above, the rear is soft and best not lingered on.  I must be striking squarely and stable due to great upper hold and overall geometry. I often see wear of the foam towards the front of the area where the patches end down the center as foam compresses and meets road. (for example in my Vaporfy 3). 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

The S/Lab Phantasm 2 is Salomon’s first true super race shoe and they have done a lot right. Salomon delivers a classy looking state of the art marathon racing shoe in the S/Lab Phantasm 2 that is weight competitive, fast, comfortable and spectacular looking. 

The upper is nearly perfect in fit and performance for me and in combination with the rest of the shoe looks great!

The PEBA midsole foams provide very friendly cushioning  and lively energy return in a design that doesn’t quite tap out at the 40mm height limit. As discussed, the foams are dual density and I wonder what keeping the lower heel foam the same firmness as the upper foam at the heel and retaining the soft foam below the plate would do to better accommodate heel striking and a more decisive roll type carbon plated ride.  

I would say the ideal strike point is squarely at the midfoot where one can take advantage of the stability and rebound rather than further back but at race paces off the heel any rear over softness really disappears, even for me. 

The ride for me is flatter in feel compared to many competitors. I think bringing back a bit more of Salomon’s longer R-Camber rocker and making what would remain a mostly “rigid” rocker more flexible by reducing the front midsole sidewalls somewhat and increasing outsole segmentation might give the shoe a more rolling dynamic ride. 

That said, and as designed, if you strike midfoot to forefoot or are more of a heel striker at slower paces and midfoot at faster paces as I am, you will have a stable consistent launching pad from midfoot to front for your next stride.The consistent stable flatter feel makes the Phantasm a strong choice for racers who mid to forefoot strikers and are seeking a touch of front stability in their race shoe. I tend to heel strike more at slower paces yet once I got them below 8:15 miles into the 7’s any heel over softness went away as I too was striking and launching more off the midfoot. I raced them for a very curvy somewhat rolling 5K and found them consistent if not as agile to pace changes pointing to their long distance racing strengths over short and quick. Basically they felt best at half marathon pace to me rather than quicker.

It is also a good choice for those who do better with a plate located lower in the shoe as it is here (and for example in the Vaporlfy)  vs. say the higher up in the shoe approaches such as in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky. And bonus,  even with its low plate location it has no plate harshness feel and is almost completely silent unlike many of its closest competitors. It is for sure the quietest super shoe I have ever run. 

Salomon says it is intended for marathoners 6:50 per mile or faster. Compared to many others I think that “limit” is overly restrictive, while of course, runners much faster than that should absolutely consider the S/Lab Phantasm 2.  I think if the ride focus factors described above align for you, those running 8 minutes per mile or faster will also easily be able to race this shoe at all distances and potentially more effectively and comfortably than shoes designed more solely for elites. 

Sam’s Score: 9.45/10 😊😊😊😊1/2

Ride (50%):  9.4  Friendly, accessible. fast, non prescriptive, less aggressive than most others

Fit (30%):      9.5 A superb upper, long laces tend to come untied my only knock

Value (15%): 9.2 Upper end of super shoes pricing,

Style (5%):   10 Simply spectacular in its simplicity and bright and classy presence

7 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

S/Lab Phantasm 2 Specs

Official Weight: men's 7.4 oz  / 210gg (US9)

Stack Height: men’s 37.5mm heel / 28.5 mm forefoot (9mm drop spec) 

Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2 (RTR Review soon)

A very similar shoe, the Puma only really differs from the Salomon in having a somewhat more aggressive plate and a somewhat bouncier and denser feeling single density foam that is still softer than say Lightstrike Pro or ASICS FF Turbo.  It is a few tenths of an ounce heavier and is slightly lower heel stack height (-1.5mm)  at a 36mm heel and higher (+1.5mm)  30mm forefoot. My sense is the Puma would be a faster 10K shoe for me with the Salomon a better half and up shoe. Both have superb true to size uppers.  The Puma is significantly lower priced at $200 and is a better value.

Nike Vaporfly 3 (RTR Review)

The latest Vaporfly is 1 oz / 28g lighter and has a 39 mm heel / 31 mm forefoot stack so it is slightly more cushioned. It sits on exactly the same heel/midfoot/forefoot platform widths as the Phantasm 2. The Zoom X foam is springier and airer in feel. I would say the Nike is actually easier to run “slower” than the Phantasm 2 but the Phantasm is a bit more friendly, less abrupt in toe off at moderately to fast fast paces . Both have superb uppers and real heel counters with the Nike’s a bit more open and breathable and the Salomon’s more consistent fitting front to back. Both are true to size. The considerably lighter weight and also more dynamic foam of the Vaporfly along with its easier roll,even now with its more abrupt toe off than before, still has it barely ahead of the more pleasant and easy riding Salomon for me at all distances taken fast for me.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 (RTR Review)

Weighing ever so slightly less at 7.25 oz  / 206g (US9) with a slightly higher stack height of  39.5 mm heel / 31.5 mm forefoot and  8 mm drop, the Pro also has a softer overall single density foam midsole. Its plate is more aggressive in feel and for my tastes not as smoothly integrated as in the Salomon  Both have a soft heel feel that is best touched momentarily or it compresses overly deeply,if pleasantly so. The Salomon gets you past the midfoot more seamlessly and smoothly with the Saucony’s plate always a more noticed presence. Both fit true to size with the Saucony upper yet more breathable and the Salomon with better heel and forefoot hold ( the raised midsole sidewalls up front clearly assisting).  Both are great choices for more moderate pace marathoners in the 3-4 hour range.

adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 (RTR Review)

The Adios has Pro in its name and indeed it is an elite designed and focused shoe. Angular, abrupt and fast it does not have the elegant smooth ride of the more mellow Salomon. Somewhat heavier at 7.88 oz  / 223g (US9) It is also higher stacked and has a lower 6.5mm drop  at 39.5 mm heel /: 33 mm forefoot. Its Lightstrike Pro foam is denser and quicker reacting but not as pleasant or forgiving in feel. There is plenty of it so if you can handle the shoe’s angular geometry to the finish it ends up more cushioned. 

Owner of many world records, the Pro favors yet more than the Salomon, a consistent midfoot to forefoot strike and requires a powerful toe off to shine while the Phantasm has an easier to find less rigid in feel in front of the shoe at a greater range of paces.  I have not raced beyond 10K  (at mid 7 minute mile paces) in the Pro as when my form collapses I am less able to strike the front whereas I would take the Salomon to at least a half.

New Balance SC Elite 3 (RTR Review)

A bit heavier at 7.7 oz / 218g (US9) with a 35mm heel (measured) / 31 mm forefoot stack of soft Fuel Cell foam, the SC Elite is softer overall than the Salomon, lower drop and on top of that has a lower heel height by 2.5mm. It too has a dual density foam with the softer foam below the carbon plate. As with the Salomon, it is a super friendly super shoe but for my tastes overly soft and at 4mm drop with the soft foam more of a chore to get to the plate and toe off than the Salomon at anything but fast paces. Once you are there, the softness makes it  less stable and less dynamic than the Salomon. Again the Phantasm’s midsole sidewalls upfront play a key role in keeping the Phantasm tracking straight and letting the foot drive the toe off nicely and squarely into its soft foam. 

The SC Elite upper continues the comfort friendly theme of the shoe with not nearly as precise a fit and some excess stretch when wet. In the friendly fast super shoe race the Salomon wins this match up with the SC Elite 3 a better training option. 

Hoka Rocket X 2 (RTR Review)

These two have a very similar PEBA foam feel with the Hoka having a single density akin to the top layer in the Salomon in feel. The Hoka carbon plate is more aggressive with a more pronounced “hump” before its front spring which is also somewhat more pronounced. Stack heights are similar with the Hoka 1.5mm lower at the heel and 1.5 higher at the forefoot as it is a 5mm drop shoe to the Salomon 9mm, although due to the soft heel foam, the Salomon runs lower drop at slower paces. The Hoka is more heel stable due to its firmer single foam layer (although its heel security is not as good as it has no real heel counter) while the Salomon is more forefoot stable,  Weight is similar with the Rocket X 0.2 oz lighter.  The Hoka’s true to size upper does not quite have the polish and marathon distance comfort of the Salomon at the same true to size.

Saucony Endorphin Elite (RTR Review)

Considerably firmer than the Salomon the Saucony is slightly lighter and also higher stacked at 31.5mm forefoot, 39.5mm heel. Its new Hg foam is for sure firmer and quicker reacting but not as pleasant and bouncy as the Salomon’s PEBA. As with the Adios Pro 3, it is an elite focused shoe. It is rigid with a short pronounced front rocker. It requires a consistent powerful landing and push off the front and is definitely not a shoe you want to slow down in the later stages of a marathon, whereas the Salomon will get you through.

The S/Lab Phantasm 2 is available our partners 

SALOMON US SHOP HERE  (Available soon)

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Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2  Video Review (11:08)

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 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 gets very very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. 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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Anonymous said...

"Could use more dramatic assisted roll from the rear and through midfoot for heel strikers and slower paces". I usually stop reading your reviews when you continue to wax on about heel striking or slow paces on fast shoes, or heel striking of any kind, this is a $300 shoe for fast paces! I wish we had serious reviews here as the content and writing style continues to deteriorate, I really want to cone back and support the site.

Anonymous said...

Your comment is nonsense. I run 635 pace marathons and heel strike hard so it's totally valid. Go back to letsrun for toxic comments

Anonymous said...

Your comment is nonsense, stop heel striking and learn to run correctly

Anonymous said...

I believe Sam heel striked his way to a 2:28 marathon. Abdi Abdirahman heel striked his way to many US Olympic teams, including 2021 at age 44.