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Salming Distance D5 Performance Review

You are in for a treat! We have two women reviewers and two men giving their opinion on the Salming Distance D5. Thanks to Salming for giving us multiple shoes for the review.

The Good

Erin: Ten plus years ago, when I was training for my first marathon, I both raced and trained in racing flats (Brooks ST Racer and an Asics flat I can’t remember the name of) because there wasn’t a ton of lightweight, neutral running shoe options (that I liked). The Salming Distance D5 has a racing flat sort of feel to it, both because it weighs 6.3 ounces (women’s size 8.5) and because it has a minimal, no-frills upper. Maybe this is true of all their shoes; the Salming tagline is “No Nonsense Running,” and I’d say the D5 indeed illustrates that well.

The D5 is a super, super light shoe. While I don’t love it (and I’ll get to that shortly, don’t you worry), I did run a 5K PR in it a few days ago, so I can’t write it off completely. Also, the D5 is very colorful (I have the “diva pink” colorway) which is sorta fun, in a “LOOK AT ME” kind of way. Can you tell that I’m struggling for good things to say about this shoe? Let’s move on.

Austin: After my first run in the D5, I likened it to the original Zealot by Saucony. Like the Zealot, the D5 has a lower drop (5 millimeters to the Zealot’s 4). The Zealot’s forefoot is softer than the D5, though the difference might be indistinguishable for some. After perusing the Salming website, I discovered that their running shoes are designed based on the “Rule of 5.” Every model is light, flexible, flat, thin, and comfortable. The “Rule of 5” approach is the extension of Salming’s emphasis on natural running guided by a Running Wheel. With the body’s pelvis serving as the hub, posture, lean, cadence, arm movement, and foot landing all contribute to lowering the risk of injury. In short, form matters greatly.

Thomas and Meghan reviewed the Distance D4 last August so that they can articulate the D5 updates. Speaking of which, I refrained from reading their review of the D4 to not skew my initial impressions of the D5. According to Salming, the D5 uses a RunLite (High Abrasion Injection EVA) midsole, which translates into a light (7.4 ounces in a men’s size nine), responsive ride. A two-layer sandwich construction, comprised of an air mesh and a net mesh, allows the D5 to breathe well. The outer layer, an ExoSkeleton, covers the first layer to enhance fit and comfort.

What’s striking (and vexing) about the D5 is pegging the distance. I’m inclined to think that it’s suited for any range. Workouts are fair game too. It’s certainly ready for race day. In short, in spite of feeling like a flat from a weight standpoint, this model is a versatile workhorse, prepared for the 5K to the marathon. A blown rubber outsole keeps the weight down and increases traction for those fast miles. For those that prefer an even lighter shoe than the Distance D5, consider the Race 5; for more cushioning, the Miles.

In summary, the ride is snappy. I like the step-in comfort and simple construction of the upper. Speaking of which, the Gecko Green colorway is excellent for runs at dawn or dusk as Daylight Saving Time has concluded for the year and darkness is descending around 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. Like running form, visibility matters significantly in the upcoming months.

Thomas: I loved the Salming Distance D4, so the good news is I can’t tell the difference between the D4 and D5. Apparently, the update is some tweaks to the upper. I didn’t really notice a change. Wearing my regular running shoe size 10.5 the upper fits my foot well. What do I mean by “well.” The upper basically fades from my mind during the run. No rubbing, no hotspots, and no heel lift. There are things on the upper I want to improve, see the bad section. Breathability is not an issue for the D5. The shoe remains relatively lightweight at 8.2 oz. If you are keeping track the Salming D4 weighed .25 oz. less. Again, not that noticeable.

The D5 midsole is identical to the D4. The low stack height, 5mm drop cushioning is flexible with enough comfort to protect your feet on long distance runs. The D5 remains a mystery to me. It doesn’t look or feel like a shoe that can provide this much comfort. There is plenty of rubber on the outsole too. You can go far in these trainers and they will also hold up for miles of wear.

I enjoy running in the Salming D5. It is one of those shoes that can disappear on my feet during the run. They are light and flexible through my gait. It is an easy shoe to pick up the pace in.

Meaghan: The Salming D5 is hard to miss. The bright “diva pink” colorway I received stands out, which I don’t hate. The D5 is a neutral trainer, but could definitely fall into the racing flat category. It’s a really light shoe. My W7.5 came in just over 6oz.

The upper is fairly minimal, made of a 2 layer mesh and exoskeleton design to lock the foot in place (more on that later). The padding on the tongue and around the collar is plush considering it’s lightweight build.

These shoes feel firm underfoot. The Runlite midsole combined with a TPU give this shoe some pop. The blown rubber outsole provides nice traction and durability. I can see these shoes lasting hundreds and hundreds of miles. I’ve put 45 miles on mine so far and they could pass for brand new.

Salming Distance D5

The Bad

Erin: This is the first shoe I’ve run in for quite some time that has required a breaking-in period. To be fair is less of an issue with the Distance D5 but likely reflective of the amount of running I do these days in shoes with a 5 mm drop (read: not much). I tend to get calf tightness and subsequent tibialis anterior tendonitis flare-ups when running in a shoe with a sub-8 mm drop (something I discovered when training for my first marathon in racing flats, natch). The soreness subsided after 25 or so miles of running in the D5, so no biggie there; undoubtedly not the shoe I’d pick for a long run.

From the first step of my first run in this shoe, though, I knew it wouldn’t be the shoe for me. I find it to be long and narrow and just don’t like the way it fits or feels on my foot. The RunLite midsole seems flat and unresponsive, though Salming touts its “great responsiveness,” so maybe it’s just me. Anyhow, the shoe felt slappy and stiff and probably the only time I didn’t notice this was during the 5K mentioned above, so I plan to take this shoe to the track this week and see if I like it better for strictly speedwork.

Austin: Since this is the first Salming running shoe I’ve owned, I can’t speak to the longevity of the D5, though it likely follows the 300-500 total miles parameter. I was surprised at the $140 price point for such a light shoe, but I will be tracking the mileage to see how far the midsole performs before flatlining.

The D5 provides a generous width in the forefoot and midfoot, but with narrow feet, I found the lacing configuration for the midfoot lacking. Including an additional eyelet or two would likely lock my feet down more. Otherwise, the design is top-notch.

Thomas: The toe-down design of the shoe needs help. When looking down on the D5 it lacks some sculpting in the midsection. The shape has a slight resemblance to an eel similar to the Nike Rival 6. I would like to see the upper contour the foot more closely. This isn’t just a cosmetic upgrade, it will help with the fit as well. If Salming would look at alternatives to the way they set up the lacing, the shoe will fit more foot shapes and create a better look and feel.

Meaghan: My first run in the D5 was not great. I’m not a fan of this lacing system. I found that all the pressure was pulled to the top of the foot and there was little to no ankle support. I ended up lacing up with the additional eyelet, which eased some of the issue.

Salming Distance D5 Conclusion

Erin: Since I have no experience with Salming shoes, I read several reviews of the D5 as well as reviews of the earlier Distance models, and it seems that Salming has tweaked this shoe quite a bit with each iteration. I’m tempted to try and find a pair of the Distance 4 because it sounds like the best parts of the D5 but with a fit that’s closer to what I’m looking for in a trainer. While overall I was disappointed in the D5, I think this is a shoe that will appeal to someone (like Thomas, probably) who has narrower feet and is looking for a lightweight, racing flat-type daily trainer.

Austin: Salming has a saying behind their running shoes. “No nonsense.” That’s a straightforward, effective philosophy from a differentiation standpoint in a crowded market. Last June, Stefan Albinsson (The Running Swede) interviewed Thomas Nord, Head of Marketing and Design for Salming Sports. In the article for Believe in the Run, Albinsson asked Nord what the biggest challenge entering the United States market is, to which Nord replied, “brand awareness.” Salming is a new brand for me, much like ON (based out of Switzerland) and Skechers Performance, but I like what I see from a design and fit standpoint.

According to a July 2015 Triangle Business Journal article, Salming has a market share of less than 1%. That’s an uphill battle, but one that the company is certainly willing to fight for in the years ahead.

Check out Austin’s new Kindle book on Amazon

Thomas: The Salming D5 remains a favorite trainer for me. It is light with enough cushion for long runs. I can use it as a daily trainer or a speed shoe. It is fun to run in. If Salming reworks the upper on the Distance it could look and feel a lot better. The Distance D5 gets a thumbs up from me. Try it for yourself.

Meaghan: The Salming D5 is a durable, lightweight neutral running shoe. I wore the D5 primarily for faster days, nothing over 12 miles. I would probably race a half in these shoes, but not the marathon distance. There’s not quite enough cushioning for my liking. If you’re looking for a racing flat style shoe that can withstand lots of daily miles, the Salming D5 is worth a try.


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November 29, 2017

2017 Best In Gear Awards