salomon pulsar trail pro cover
Shoe ReviewsTrail

Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro Review: Speed Into A Slim Jim

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 8.1 oz. (270 g.) for a US M9 / US W7
  • Salomon’s road-burning Phantasm, this time for the trails
  • Double the energy with the Energy Surge and Energy Blade combo
  • More like “Step into a Slim Jim,” am I right?
  • Available now for $160

TAYLOR: If you came into this wild and wonderful sport the same way I did, you probably got hooked on watching Salomon TV and seeing incredible athletes like Rickey Gates, Anna Frost, and some dude named Kilian blitz across ridges and up and down mountains, all in these aggressive, bright red shoes.

Salomon has pushed innovation after innovation for years in the trail running world until the rest of the pack started making up ground. I’m not sure if it’s because more companies were finally putting stock into their trail divisions or if Salomon went dark for a short time, but we hadn’t seen a lot of jaw-dropping launches from them in the past few years. We did see the birth of their max cushion shoe in the Ultra Glide and, sadly, missed the chance to get into the S/Lab Pulsar. Now, we might be seeing a bit of a resurgence.

Here we have the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro. It’s the lighter and faster of the Pulsar Trail line — a cousin to both the S/Lab Pulsar and the road-ready Phantasm. The main difference between the Pulsars is that the Pulsar Trail Pro has an Energy Blade slipped between the midsole and outsole to give more spring and smooth transition to every step.

Of course, whenever I say the word “plate,” alarm bells go off. I’ve been asked time and time again by folks in the market for a trail racer if a plate matters. They usually follow it up by asking how the Pulsar Trail Pro fits into a stacked racing scene against the Speedland SL:HSV, Saucony Endorphin Edge, and Hoka Tecton X, and now it’s time to put some minds at ease.

Let’s dig into what Salomon is up to.

salomon pulsar trail pro midsole

The Good

TAYLOR: It’s hard not to stop and stare at the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro. Man, this thing is sleek. In my book, Salomon always seems to have design on lockdown. If you’re looking for something a little more wild ‘n’ out, check out the Ciele collab version.

Looks aside, this thing still screams. The big story here is the underfoot jazz that sings along the trail in a unique and very satisfying way.

Salomon’s Energy Surge foam, Energy Blade (curved TPU plate), and R-Camber technology (fancy for rockered mid/forefoot) all work in unison and give both a smooth transition and highly responsive ride. It achieves a race-ready feel similar to the Endorphin Edge, Tecton X, and even The North Face’s Flight Vectiv. However, the Pulsar Trail Pro’s recipe is a little different from the others.

As a whole package, the underfoot feel is medium/firm rather than soft, like the Endorphin Edge and Tecton X — something you would expect from a Salomon shoe. On its own, the Energy Surge foam is a nicely cushioned, resilient, and responsive foam with a medium/soft durometer, and the total stack is rather average (33mm heel, 27mm toe, 6mm drop). Salomon’s book writes it out as “max cushioned,” but it’s not really when compared to other brands’ definitions.

The Energy Blade stiffens things up a little, and I like it. I like it a lot, actually! Why? Simply put, it feels fast and in control — a combo that equates to FUN on the trails. It’s slightly lower to the ground and more nimble than other plated options. Some trail super shoes have their plates sandwiched between foams, but the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro lifts it to between the outsole and midsole. Instead of a full compression over the softer foams and bouncy feel, the placement of the Energy Blade gives a ride that is efficient, snappy, and smooth with less bounce.

One thing that the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro has over other plated options (excluding the Speedland) is that it’s quite proficient over moderate and technical terrain. There are some issues with the fit that I’ll get to in the next section, but Salomon’s slimmed-down and lower-to-the-ground profile offers a rather nimble option. A secure and highly durable engineered mesh upper combined with the soft sock-like booty and Sense-fit technology helps the upper lock down the foot to the footbed. I felt most secure through the mid/forefoot. As I ran along the trails, I rarely felt I needed to slow my roll before entering more technical sections — which can’t be said for the Endorphin Edge and Tecton X.

As always, the Contragrip MA outsole with its 3.5mm lugs is more than proficient, and it can tackle smooth or dicey terrain, whether dry or wet. I’d compare it to Vibram’s Litebase.

Also, at just 9.8 oz. for a US M10.5, this is a lot of tech in a lightweight package.

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salomon pulsar trail pro heel

The Bad

TAYLOR: Lofty claims can lead to inflated expectations. We’ve yet to see a plated trial racer get off scot-free in one of our reviews, but the Pulsar Trail Pro brings different concerns than many of its counterparts.

First of all, it’s a Slim Jim. It’ll feel pretty skinny for runners with moderate to wide feet, but that’s not unusual for a Salomon shoe. I found myself more comfortable in it than in some previous models (especially in the forefoot), but the general narrowness does limit the amount of time I’d want to spend in the shoe. It’s also one of the few modern shoes that require a little bit of a break-in period. My biggest disappointment with the overall fit is that I probably won’t be taking this shoe out for those big adventures or races lasting longer than a few hours.

My more critical complaint with the Pulsar Trail Pro was atypical for a Salomon shoe — the heel. Because of the structure around the heel and Quicklace system, I found that lockdown was hard to come by in the rear portions of the shoe. I became pretty obsessed with trying to mitigate the problem, but in the end, I couldn’t get a lockdown that I was 100% sure of. I’m pretty sure the culprit is the softer sock-like collar. It just doesn’t seem to hold the foot.

The issue is similar to what I felt in the Altra Mont Blanc, which ended up being that shoe’s kryptonite. With the Pulsar Trail Pro, it’s not so drastic. There was enough structure with the padding and relatively slim heel that there was only so much room for your heel to slip. I had to mentally set the sensation aside to give it a fair test over more technical terrain. So, the good news is that, though it felt weird initially, it didn’t affect technical performance a ton. Friction would be the more significant issue over the long haul. This heel movement was mostly felt on more technical sections and steeper downhills. I think adding a little more padding to the collar would help. There are already small “bumps” of padding, but they don’t do much for securing the load.

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outsole lugs

Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro Conclusion

TAYLOR: Even with hundreds of other options these days, Salomon maintains relevance in the trail world with additions like the Pulsar Trail Pro. It’s a slimmer, more aggressive, and technically proficient option in the plated category. It’s unique and highly versatile. Actually, the Pulsar Trail Pro is one of the few that I’d consider trying to run fast on buffed-out cruisers and technical terrain.

The firmer underfoot feel and slimmer fit will also be limiting for many. If the slipper fits, I see the Pulsar Trail Pro as a great shoe for some speedier trail work and races that will be under a handful of hours. Also, I think the shoe will keep its character longer than other racing options available — more miles for a smaller price tag.

You can pick up the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

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salomon pulsar trail pro side

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