Thursday, April 18, 2024

Salomon INDEX-03 Review

Article by Mike Postaski

Salomon INDEX.03 ($160)


I received the INDEX.03 out of the blue recently - since I don’t test too many road shoes, I haven’t followed the iterations of the initial two versions. A quick once over (the shoe has a distinctive and striking look), and some quick internet research, and I was intrigued. 

As you may know, the running shoe market is inundated with claims about recycled materials, sustainable features, etc. Much of this is laudable, but sometimes you can get the sense that a lot of it may be just pure marketing.

Clearly, it’s up to you as the consumer - how much stock do you put into these claims? The Salomon INDEX.03 tackles sustainability from a different approach. Not only on the front-end production side, but one the back-end, end-if-life side. Salomon offers a unique process to return the shoes when you are done with them, so that they can be disassembled and recycled into other products including ski boot shells.

[Assuming the “splitting area” is for disassembly purposes]

This focus on the lifespan of a shoe and its materials is what sets the INDEX.03’s sustainability approach apart. Just knowing that your shoes won’t (with 99.9% probability) end up in a landfill clearly sets the intention. The mere fact that you scan the QR code, and Salomon sends you the shipping label, also does show that the company is putting their money where their mouth is.

I know, I know.. There are plenty of “yeah, buts…” to go around. I can even think of a few myself. But let’s just assume this process does work, and is a feasible life cycle for a running shoe.. What’s to stop that from being replicated in other models, or by other brands? I’d say that’s a positive step. YEAH BUT… the shoe does have to be a good running shoe… 

[Scan the SQ code to register the shoe and for return label]


Sustainability elements/process

Style - an eye catching casual shoe as well

Comfortable upper

Stable ride, good width under the midfoot


Upper could use a bit more lockdown up front

High ankle/Achilles collar could be irritating

Dull ride

Style - gives off a “baseball” look


Weight: men's 8.78 oz  / 249g (US9)

Samples: men’s 9.2 oz / 260g US 9.5,  oz / g US

Stack Height: men’s 27mm heel / 18mm forefoot (9mm drop spec) 

                      women’s  mm heel / mm forefoot

Platform Width: mm heel / mm midfoot / mm forefoot

$160 Available now

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

I’ll just get it out of the way and talk about the look of the shoe first - it looks like a “futuristic baseball”.  I just can’t help but think about a baseball when looking at that thick red stitching. Aside from that, the upper says “casual surf slide vibe”, while the midsole foam has a futuristic spaceship kind of feel. It’s all gray textured, smooth in certain spots, and angular in others. Ok, maybe you see something totally different, but that’s my take. 

Fit is true to size in my US 9.5. There’s probably a little bit of extra space in front of the toes, but that’s not a hindrance. Width-wise, I’d call them slim, but the recycled mesh upper is very soft and pliable, so no issues with narrowness. In fact it’s probably the opposite - the upper is so pliable that I think a little bit more foothold would be welcomed. 

Overall the fit leans toward comfort, not performance. Midfoot hold is ok, nothing special, works well enough for a road shoe. The forefoot fit does feel slightly loose - the laces don’t extend too far down, so there’s not much you can do to tighten up the lower foot area.

Moving on to the rear, this is my biggest quibble with the fit. The ankle collar seems a bit high, and the collar at the heel/Achilles is even higher. I noticed some pressure mainly on the back of my heel right away on my first run. So I started wearing socks with a thicker heel/Achilles area and I haven’t had a problem since then. But I think this collar, especially at the heel can be both softened up and lowered a bit.

Midsole & Platform

Midsole is called InfiniFOAM and stack is listed at 27/18mm for a 9mm drop. The foam is a TPU-Nitrogen infused blend. Typically when you think TPU or nitrogen-infused, it makes you think bouncy, but that is not the case here. Perhaps they are using recycled TPU here which is less energetic? But the typical TPU “bounce” is non-existent in the INDEX.03. 

[Reverse Camber geometry]

The midsole feels nice and stable underfoot - for easy runs and cruising, I’d say it’s a good feel. Sometimes for my “regular” runs when I’m just looking to get some flat road miles in, I don’t want something bouncy - merely something stable and reliable. The INDEX.03 works in this regard. The Reverse Camber geometry - a bit of uptilt under the heel and a longer gradual rocker towards the front - works well to keep the ride smooth. 

[Midsole is quite angular in places - perhaps this helps reduce material waste?]

The midsole maintains width throughout - mainly under the arch to give a stable feeling. I think this works with the rockered design. You get the sense of a smooth flow instead of a more dynamic or bouncy ride. 

A recycled Ortholite insole is used, and as usual I’m not a fan. It does its job of softening the feel directly underfoot, but adds some mush to the ride. Perhaps they could have looked into a recycled TPU insole to liven up the ride?


The outsole has a Contagrip marker on it - I’m assuming it’s some type of recycled flavor. Split into two separate pieces, it features round dot pods throughout. Not sure if there is any sustainability or performance aspect to this design, but it works well enough. There’s a split in the lateral side - seemingly to aid flexibility. The medial side outsole coverage is continuous, perhaps this aids in the stable feel I get from the shoe under the arch.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

I have to conclude that the ride of the shoe is nothing dynamic or special to write about. It’s just ok, although I do like and appreciate the stability and rocker design. Some shoes which are unsupportive or too bouncy and unstable can irritate my ankles, which is not what I want from my easy road miles.

The 9mm drop is a bit on the high side for me personally, but it’s within a somewhat standard range for a road shoe. Weight is good at 9.2 oz (260g) in my US 9.5. Running at regular training paces feels quite smooth, but not exciting. Picking up the pace is the same - the light-ish weight (for a daily trainer) feels nice, but an increase in speed doesn’t produce any increase in responsiveness or excitement from the shoe.  The INDEX.03 seems to prefer cruising along without any fuss, and perhaps that’s just the point.

You can make a solid, runnable shoe out of recycled content, and furthermore - recycle and reuse its materials afterwards. For me, the process is more the point here as opposed to the “performance” of the shoe. After all, the INDEX.03 is specifically billed as an “accessible, style-driven and performance-oriented option for runners.”  Perhaps “performance-oriented” is a bit of a stretch, but you get my drift. If sustainability is high on your list, and you can work with a solid, if unexciting running shoe, the INDEX.03 could be a good fit.

Mike P’s Score: 7.85/10

Ride: 8 - Smooth, but unexciting

Fit: 7 - Foothold could be improved throughout, ankle/heel collars too high

Value: 9 - Points here for recycled content, future re-use of materials

Style: 8 - Ummm.. maybe try a different color stitching?

Smiles: 😊😊😊

Brooks Launch  9 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): With a similar drop (10mm vs. the Salomon’s 9mm), the Launch slots in as a speedier style daily trainer. Fit is similar, with the Brooks upper being more traditional and secure than the Salomon’s looser recycled mesh. The Brooks foam is also more responsive and most will likely find the ride a bit snappier and more enjoyable. The Brooks upper also checks all the boxes in terms of comfort, with no issues around the ankle/heel collar.

Saucony Ride 16  (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Another neutral daily trainer option - the Ride (V16) comes in at the exact same weight as the INDEX.03 in my size US 9.5. The Ride cruises along easily, and also has a bit of a wider platform than the Salomon. The Salomon also rolls along with a rocker geometry, but seems held back by the midsole in comparison to the Ride. The Ride upper again has a traditional fit which is more secure than the Salomon. 

Topo Fli-Lyte 5  (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): A different option here - one of my favorite road shoes. I use it primarily on the treadmill since I don’t need as much cushion on the mill, and the low drop also works well for me. The Topo is slightly lighter and offers more ground feel, and hence a bit more quickness if your feet are up to the task. Topo fit is very secure through the midfoot and in fact throughout the shoe.

The INDEX.03 is available now


Tester Profile

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 100+ mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. From 2022-23 Mike has won the Standhope 100M, IMTUF 100M, and Scout Mountain 100M trail ultras. He also set a CR of 123.74M at the Pulse Endurance Runs 24H and completed the Boise Trails Challenge on foot in 3 days 13 hours, besting the previous record by 7 hours. 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.

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'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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