Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 Review: Look Bonita, Feel Bonita
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9.5 oz. (269 g) for a US M9 / 8.1 oz. (229 g) for a US W8
33 mm in the heel, 27 mm in the forefoot (6 mm drop)
Speedy trail days
Energy Surge midsole with a TPU Energy Blade plate, reworked sock-like upper, Quicklace system
🟢 Slightly softer Energy Surge cushion
🟢 Just enough stability for peace of mind
🔴 Not great grip on sloppy terrain
TAYLOR: I’ve been in this sport long enough that thinking back to “the beginning” is starting to feel distant. Why did I jump into this amazing yet semi-ridiculous sport of trail running? For most of us, running through the trees and getting a spider web facial on a cool morning feels natural. We’re at home and alive when moving through these wild spaces.
Like many folks who got into trail running when I did, Youtube and Salomon TV played a significant role in my digging deeper into the performance side of trail running. Watching Kilian Jornet, Emilie Forsberg, Ricky Gates, and Anna Frost rip around mountain playgrounds made me feel like a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. I would immediately get my shoes on and head out the door with the vision of these trail role models flashing in my head as I skipped over a rock or through a stream.
Those were the days when Salomon reigned supreme in running content and gear. Kind of like Nike’s super shoe era, the industry had a lot of catching up to do to reach the same levels of performance that Salomon was producing. Eventually, it did. And for a few years, it was like Salomon had hung up its attempts at being the most innovative and influential brand in the industry.
Thankfully, there was still a pulse. With a bit of rebranding and revitalization, Salomon is back, baby. I don’t want to give too much away yet, but the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 is a great example.
Last year’s version of the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro brought a high-performance package characterized by a responsive Energy Surge foam, Energy Blade plate, and a rockered geometry that gave a smooth and snappy ride. There were some things to be nit-picky about, but those points were all in the upper. Salomon responded with this year’s gorgeous update that aimed all of its energy at subtle but worthwhile changes within the upper. They’re so subtle that they are almost impossible to notice. On foot, they’re anything but subtle. Let’s quit beating around the bush and get to it.
ALEX: I’m with Taylor when it comes to the nostalgia attached to Salomon. When I started trail running, the best in the sport were Salomon athletes, and they were the ones putting out mountain running content that inspired me in so many ways. Emilie Forsberg and Anna Frost are legends in the sport, and I had the opportunity to join in on the fun when they were doing amazing things for women in sports.
Many of my early adventures were spent logging miles in the Salomon Sense Ride and Sense Ultra. And then I got distracted by all of the flashy new technology and updates that brands like Hoka and — ok, mostly Hoka — were putting into their shoes. Salomon seemed committed to its design, and nothing that came out for several years really intrigued me. Once I experienced a bouncier, more responsive ride, the Salomon midsole started feeling dead to me. Dead. To. Me. And I thought I was gone for good.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t excited to review this one because I assumed it would be a minor update to the same thing I have seen over and over again. I was wrong. The Pulsar Trail Pro 2 has a new look and feel that has launched back on the top of my list.
MATT: I don’t know if it’s been a perceived underwhelming trail line-up, an abundance of other brands releasing more exciting shoes, or some combination of the two, but despite Salomon’s history on the trail scene, it’s been a bit of an afterthought in my mind. It has produced some really solid models in the past year, but when I saw a pair at the start line of a race, I assumed it would be attached to a Senior Citizen runner that would also be decked out head to toe in Montrail kit circa 1996.
My tune swiftly changed upon unboxing a couple of Salomon’s latest models, which included the Pulsar Trail Pro 2 and the Ultra Glide 2. They were some of the best-looking shoes I have seen lately. The attention to detail in the design was evident, and the colorways were fire.
I was super excited to hit the trails, but I was still a bit cautious as the cut of the shoe seemed to still have that long and narrow Salomon footbed, which could make all the excellent design a moot point.
TAYLOR: When you’re looking to be like Kilian, one thing you notice is how he only has one mode, and that is flow. In this sport, smoothness is a good indicator of fast. Salomon picked up on that in the Pulsar series.
First, as a coach, I know that if you look good, you perform good. But what about if you look straight-up sexy? You’re thinking it; I said it. I cannot recall another shoe I have described this way, but the off-white creaminess is straight-up Ferrari sexy… back to our regular programming.
The Pulsar Trail Pro 2 is Salomon’s most extreme example of a rockered midsole. The whole aim of this type of shaping is to be smooth when striking and smooth through the toe-off. Adding some true energy return makes that experience go from silk to cashmere. 33/27mm worth of stack gives this ride even more character. Energy Surge foam (also used in Phantasm CF and S/Lab Pulsar series) is the real deal. It offers both proper responsiveness and softer cushioning. Even though this is penciled in as the same foam as the original model, the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 feels slightly softer and more performance tuned. Win-win!
Energy Surge is also proving to be as long-lasting as other similarly blended foams. Similar midsole feels include the Altra Mont Blanc, Merrell MTL Long Sky 2, and even the Hoka Tecton X when it comes to performance.
The Energy Blade has a few notable roles in overall performance too. One of those roles is adding a little bit more snappiness to an already energized ride. It’s easy to roll directly off of the front of the toe, and the blade forces that energy in a particular direction, much like you would find in the Hoka Tecton X or The North Face Vectiv Pro. The Pulsar Trail Pro 2 isn’t quite as reactive as its carbon-plated competition, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. It feels very controlled in this package.
A little extra stability is noticeable too. It’s the type of stability that feels natural and really hones in the overall performance of the Pulsar Trail Pro 2. All elements of the underfoot experience are kept in check by the Energy Blade. I’m only 30, but the older I get, the more I appreciate a little underfoot support like this over the long haul and technical segments.
Protection is an obvious perk of the Energy Blade as well. It is sandwiched between the outsole and midsole. So, much of the smaller rocks, roots, etc., are filtered out of your foot’s sensory experience.
A subtle adjustment in upper materials and attention to the heel collar raise the market value of the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 immensely. A slightly different engineered mesh gives a more fitted feel to the package. There is still some bunching over the top of the foot, but it is less than in the previous model. As for the heel, the collar has more of a rim, and the cup is firm. The combo gives the necessary attention to hold the heel in place. This directly addresses the shortcomings of the first model that makes all the difference over moderate to technical terrain.
Improved fit extends from the heel through the midfoot and forefoot. The midfoot is appropriately secure and somewhat accommodating. You’ll never believe what I’m about to say next, though. The forefoot (remember, this is a Salomon shoe) is moderately accommodating too! It has a similar feel to the original Salomon Ultra Glide. “Roomy” isn’t exactly what I’d call it, but it is comfortable and secure. I think any folk who wanted the S/Lab or Salomon experience in the past could pick this one up and get that.
The Quicklace system was the Boa of the past. Even though foot security isn’t quite the same standard as Boa, it is still the next best option to achieve a secure fit that holds over any terrain.
The Contagrip MA outsole with 3.5 mm chevron-style lugs makes for a wonderfully versatile platform. Paved roads, drier singletrack, and even wet rocky fire roads were all within range of the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2.
ALEX: At first glance, fitting my foot into this shoe didn’t look possible. Fear not; that heel collar is stretchier than it looks and does a great job of keeping your foot in and the debris out.
My favorite part of this shoe is the 33 mm stack height and 6 mm drop. For long training runs, races, and recovery runs, higher stack heights with a little heel drop have helped me prevent injury. I felt right at home in this one. The midsole combines EVA and Olefin (OBC) foams that come together for a soft feel and bouncy ride.
Instead of a carbon plate, the Pulsar Trail Pro 2 has a highly responsive TPU energy blade that delivers great energy return. I have been more thoughtful recently about rotating carbon shoes in and out of my rotation through big training blocks. With more research suggesting carbon plates could increase injury risk, I am excited to see some carbon-adjacent options. I am always looking out for that ever-temperamental Achilles. Another perk of forgoing the carbon plate is a price point under $200. The midsole also has a rocker that supports a fast, smooth feel and is super fun to run fast in.
I achieved a secure fit through the midfoot, and the toebox feels nice and roomy. The minimal Quicklace system isn’t quite up to BOA standards, but it saves time and makes mid-run adjustments easy.
The grippy Contragrip MA outsole is equipped with 3.5 mm lugs. This outsole is tried and tested, and I have no complaints. It performs well on a wide variety of terrain and also has your back for your road-to-trail adventures.
I like the neutral subtlety of the Rainy Day/Hot Sauce/Freesia colorway. I liked it more once I found out what it was called.
MATT: My initial concern was the same as Alex’s. I took one look at the upper and said no way my foot would be comfortable in this shoe, let alone fit into the shoe. Well, I was very wrong. The upper stretches just the right amount for a smooth entry, and the toe box and midfoot have ample room. My other fear was dismissed as my heel locked in snug and secure.
I already mentioned that Salomon nailed the look and colorway choices for the Pulsar Trail Pro 2, but if we are talking about all the positives, it’s worth mentioning again just how sharp the shoe looks.
I love a good rocker design, and the rocker in this shoe is probably one of the most pronounced and effective I have experienced on a trail shoe. It feels similar to what North Face has done across its Vectiv line, but when combined with the other midsole components, the propulsion through your stride feels smooth and rolling — exactly the feel you want when cruising windy single track.
Speaking of that midsole construction, I’m a huge fan of what Salomon has dialed in with the Energy Surge foam and Energy blade insert. I found myself drawing similar comparisons as Taylor, most notably the Hoka Tecton X, which is a good shoe to be compared to. While there is no carbon plate like in the Tecton X, the Energy Blade insert between the midsole and outsole, combined with the rocker, gives the shoe a propulsion that rivals the energy return from a carbon plate but without the added cost from those materials.
No complaints with the outsole from any of the test runs I took the shoes on. I loved that the 3.5 mm lug pattern gave enough grip to give me stability and confidence on the trails but felt minimum enough to still feel strong and nimble on patches of blacktop.Shop Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 - Men Shop Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 - Women
TAYLOR: I’m so jazzed about the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 that I will make this section short and sweet for you.
Overall, this shoe is excellent for anything from 30 minutes to half a day’s worth of running. I think it can go farther if needed, but you might be playing with fire on the back nine. Even though the adjustments in the heel have drastically improved the fit, there are still concerns about friction. In the first version, I picked up some nasty blisters in the heel from the combo of a firm heel cup and movement. The Pulsar Trail Pro 2 has less friction, but I still felt a hot spot after a couple of hours in the shoe.
Salomon usually has a soft ground version of shoes that can tackle softer and gushy terrain. The outsole construction here just won’t cut it if you find yourself in boggy, slushy, or loose rock terrain. Last year’s release came alongside the toothier cousin, the Salomon Pulsar Trail. There has not been a counterpart released in 2023, at least not yet. So, if you consistently run on softer terrain, I’m sorry, this shoe might not be able to serve up the same magic it does in drier conditions.
ALEX: More often than not, this section of my reviews is characterized by heel and tongue complaints. Unfortunately, I do have heel and tongue complaints about this one. I have a relatively narrow foot, and while I appreciate the knit, sock-like upper, it feels like there is too much material once I get the shoe secured. The material under the quick lace system bunches up for me. The pocket to tuck the laces into is also frustratingly small.
The heel is relatively unstructured without much padding or protection. Combined with the somewhat pliable upper mesh material, it felt like some stability opportunities were lost. Not a dealbreaker, but I appreciate some added structure when done right back there.
Finally, a loop on the back of the shoe to help get the shoe on would be much appreciated and would help to avoid having to crush the heel as part of getting this one on.
MATT: While I was pleasantly surprised with how secure and locked in the fit was with the sock-like upper, it is still a very minimal construction, so keep that in mind if hitting some really technical or sloppy terrain, as there isn’t much material between you and mother nature.
I also don’t think this is the shoe to take out after heavy rain. As Taylor noted, soft conditions, sloppy mud, and lots of puddle hopping don’t play to the strengths of the shoe’s design.Shop Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 - Men Shop Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 - Women
TAYLOR: Enlightened is my current mood, thanks to the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2. Incremental changes have led to huge improvements.
I think it can go toe-to-toe with most race day options out there and is a great day-to-day runner. If the trail turns more technical, I would say the Pulsar Trail Pro 2 will be able to hold its edges even better than many carbon-plated trail racing options. At only $159, it’s between 40 and 215 bones less than similarly performing shoes. It’s simply a great combination of high-speed technology and a secure fit that equals FUN. That’s math.
The Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 is my current favorite that Salomon has to offer — even over the S/Lab Pulsar Soft Ground 2.
ALEX: I am super excited to continue to log miles in the Pulsar Pro 2. The 33 mm stack height is protective, supportive, and durable for the long haul, and the midsole foam and TPU Energy Blade come together for a responsive ride. Add the no-fuss upper, quick-lace system, and sweet new colorway, and Salomon is very much back in the game for me.
MATT: Salomon has delivered a big win with the latest version of the Pulsar Trail Pro 2. This light, nimble, and fast shoe should be considered for anyone looking for a race day shoe… or just a shoe that makes it easy to go fast on your training runs.
The landscape of running shoes is changing, and finding a suitable race day option for well under the $200 price point is becoming harder and harder, so that is another big plus. The shoe looks great, performs great, and you won’t need to finance a payment plan to get them on your feet.
You can pick up the Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 for $159 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) at the buttons below.
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Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.
All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Tecton X, Speedland SL:PDX, Merrell MTL Long Sky 2.More from Taylor
Alex is a trail and ultra runner from the upper midwest who loves Minnesota’s long winters and logging miles on the rooty, rocky, steep trails of Lake Superior’s North Shore. She was the first female to set a supported FKT on the 310 mile Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) and enjoys multi-day events and races, especially if they involve snow and -20 degree temps.
All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Speedgoat Evo, Hoka Tecton X, Altra Timp.More from Alex
Matt is a recovering triathlete who fell in love with running and left the dark side behind. Trail and ultra running are where he is most in his element, but he can still be found routinely running the streets in and around Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. Aside from running, he is a lover of coffee, mezcal, beer, and 90s country music.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Atreyu The Artist, Speedland SL:PDXMore from Matt