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7.4 oz. (210 g) for a US M9 (unisex)
37 mm in heel, 28 mm in forefoot (9 mm drop)
Full Pebax midsole, carbon energy plate, Contagrip rubber outsole
$275, October 1
ROBBE: Salomon is legendary in outdoor circles, especially in Europe, and especially in the trail running scene. Known for its high performance, aggressive outsole grip, and superior construction, they’ve managed to maintain high standing in the outdoor world. They’ve even managed to make a splash in the urban trailcore scene with their can’t-miss collabs and placements on high-profile celebrities, peaking when Rihanna wore the Salomon Cross Low during her Super Bowl LVII halftime performance.
But we’re not here to talk about collabs and trail shoes, we’re here to talk about Salomon’s first true push into the super shoe road racing scene with the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2. I say “first true push” because last year’s S/Lab Phantasm CF was a mediocre racer at best, using the same good-but-not-great Energy Surge foam found in Salomon’s daily trainers. It still cost almost as much as elite race day options ($225), but you were getting tempo shoe performance out of it.
My, how things can change in a year’s time.
The new S/Lab Phantasm is a different beast altogether, featuring a full, dual-layer Pebax midsole (almost a necessity to be taken seriously these days), carbon energy plate, and generous layer of Contagrip outsole rubber. It also features a rocker geometry that’s moved towards the forefoot in this version. All in a lighter package, which puts it in the same realm as the Nike Vaporfly, Asics Metaspeed Sky, and Adidas Adios Pro 3.
I’m not lying if I said I didn’t have high hopes for this shoe. While Salomon has made a valiant effort to put its mark on the road scene, it’s experienced some fits and starts when it comes to actual performance. If the S/Lab Phantasm 2 is a sign of things to come, then things are looking much better going forward. Let’s see why.
RYAN: It’s happened a few times so far this year — I work my way onto a shoe review simply by having a foot size close to Robbe’s. Sometimes, a brand will send out a shoe that won’t fit him, and then he’ll offer it to me. At least, that’s usually how it goes. Not this time. This time, I stole the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 off Robbe’s desk without realizing what it was; all I knew was it had been sitting there for a very, very long time with zero miles on it. Let me tell you that sometimes theft pays off*.
I laced up the S/Lab Phantasm 2 in its unreleased all-white colorway for one of our Thursday night Believe Run Club runs, and suddenly all eyes were on me — or at least on my feet. Everyone wanted to know what this ghost-white shoe was, and I didn’t have a ton of answers for them. Heck, the pre-release version didn’t even have the name of the shoe emblazoned on the side, so all I could really say was, “Oh, this is an upcoming racer from Salomon,” which everyone already kind of figured out due to the massive stack and aggressive styling.
Anyway, that’s pretty much what the S/Lab Phantasm 2 is — a much-improved race day pick from the vaunted trail brand. It has a reworked midsole with heaps of soft, bouncy foam, a barely there upper with a nice little window to see your socks, and an outsole pattern dotted with little claw-like triangles.
Now, all that’s left to do is see how the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 stacks up against an increasingly crowded field of racing rivals.
*I’m not actually condoning theft. Don’t steal.
ROBBE: Usually I’ll end with this, but I’ll start with it this time: the shoe looks so damn good. It’s simple and sleek, with the red splash on a white upper making a true statement at the start line. Stopping to take a gel on my last long run, a woman walking past actually called them out, said they looked real good on me, and asked what they were. As any runner who obsesses over shoes knows– a random person on the street saying your shoes look good is the highest compliment you can get.
Now that we know you’ll look good, let’s get into the actual performance. My first run in the shoe was a 12-mile long, slow run on crushed gravel rail trails. Not even close to the use-case scenario for this shoe, but it served to break them in and my legs felt fresh the next day. Moving on.
When I actually took these out for faster paces on hills and a 14-mile road run, I felt like I was actually getting to this spirit’s soul.
The upper is extremely well done and I feel confident in saying it’s probably my favorite fit of any race day shoe. The lacing structure itself provides excellent lockdown over the top of the foot and goes just high enough to secure the collar area. The tongue is the real highlight here– it’s seamlessly stitched in to the lateral and medial sides of the shoe, providing a sock-like fit. It’s also made from a sheer, thin, stretchy material that allows it to flex, but also features a perfect layer of padding on top to keep pressure off the foot.
I love this because almost every race shoe goes cheap on the tongue and lace design, presumably in an effort to save weight. For me, that’s a mistake because the tongue and lockdown comfort is such a critical part of a race day shoe. A prime example of this is the Adidas Adios Pro 3, a great marathon shoe in most regards, but an absolute train wreck when it comes to lacing and tongue management. If you don’t have that lace structure and fit perfectly figured out before race day, you could be in for a world of hurt mid-race (which is exactly what happened to me in my first long run in that shoe).
The S/Lab Phantasm is the opposite of high-maintenance– how you fit is what you get, with only very minor adjustments necessary. And it’s a very nice fit– snug without a stranglehold, locking in the foot mile after mile. Generous pillows inside the heel collar help with this as well.
Let’s move onto the Pebax midsole. As I stated above, any true race day shoe just has to have full Pebax at this point. Until something new is invented, Pebax remains the gold standard for energy return and comfort in a lightweight foam. Its found in pretty much every elite racing shoe at this point, and it’s almost always a 40 mm stack in the heel (the allowable limit as mandated by World Athletics, the governing body for elite marathoners).
Interestingly, Salomon actually goes low with its stack height at 37 mm, which is 3 mm less than most of its counterparts. This of course saves a bit of weight, but does it sacrifice comfort and performance? Yes and no.
For sure, it’s a bit “firmer” than its direct competitors (I’m putting ‘firmer’ in quotes because it’s certainly not firm). At first, I thought it was a dual density midsole with two layers of Pebax around the EnergyBlade, the top layer being a bit firmer than the bottom layer. We asked Salomon about this and apparently both layers are the same durometer.
However, as a Euro brand, Salomon has always landed on the firmer side of things, even in their max cushion shoes. I want to reiterate that it’s not harsh in any way, it’s just not as soft as shoes like the New Balance SC Elite v3 or Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. To me, the Pebax feel falls somewhere between the Asics Metaspeed Edge+ and the Nike Vaporfly Next% 3.
Personally, I really enjoyed the feel of the midsole because I prefer more of a road feel if I can get it. If you like that real soft squish, then you may want to look elsewhere. This definitely has more of a performance feel. Again, that’s something I really loved about it, but I’d also be kind of interested to see what the shoe would feel like if you switched the layers around, similar to what Hoka did with the Mach 5. Either way, picking up the pace and keeping it there feels effortless in the shoe. It can go the distance, certainly up to a half marathon and– depending what you like in a race day shoe– to the marathon distance as well.
When you combine the superb upper fit with a wider, flared out midsole and wider forefoot platform, as well as a lower stack of Pebax than most racers, you get a surprisingly stable race day shoe. In fact, this is one of the most stable marathon shoes out there. Which gives you more confidence at fast speeds and on corners.
Speaking of corners, the Contagrip outsole is pretty superb, living up to its name with extra stickiness on pavement. It feels like you can really dig in when you want to, something I always appreciate in a fast-day shoe.
RYAN: Now this is a fun shoe. I don’t have a ton of experience with Salomon’s road shoes, but the S/Lab Phantasm 2 has me open to trying more. It’s the brand’s first real marathon racer (despite the “2” in its name), and it checks all the boxes you’d expect. You get a PEBA midsole, a spoon-shaped carbon fiber plate, and a thin, lightweight upper that screams aggression. The whole package comes together nicely with a smoothness to it that’s hard to describe. There are no sharp angles like you’ll find on the Vaporfly 3 or Adios Pro 3, just smooth, spaceship-like curves.
Maybe the styling isn’t for you, but the S/Lab Phantasm 2 is also a remarkably stable shoe. We knock super shoes all the time for feeling like they want to bust our ankles when going around turns or on uneven terrain, but Salomon’s racer had none of that — at least while running. The forefoot platform is wide enough that you can land on the left or right side of your foot without issues, just so long as you’re landing on your forefoot.
On top of the stability, the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 has some pretty great traction. A grooved slab of textured rubber covers the entire forefoot, once again rewarding great running form. It’s made from the same ContaGrip rubber that Salomon trusts for its trail lineup, meaning that it’s more than comfortable on your average sidewalks and roads.
By the way, this is a shoe that works best with your brightest socks. The forefoot window runs up both sides of the tongue, meaning that anyone and everyone can see what you’re rocking. It’s inspired me to pick up a few pairs of colorful running socks just so I’m not repping bland old black ones.Shop Salomon S/Lab - Men Shop Salomon S/Lab - Women
ROBBE: I don’t know if it’s the European sizing or what, but Salomon shoes always, always, run long on me. At least a half size, many times a whole size. As Ryan noted, I gave my standard size to him and went a half size down. It was still too long, with over a thumb-width in space between my toes and the front of the shoe.
It’s actually a testament to the fit and performance of the shoe that I was still able to get good miles out of it, despite the lack of a race day fit. Because of this, I didn’t feel like I could get a good toe-off in the shoe, which was disappointing. So keep that in mind when ordering the shoe.
Because the spoon-style carbon plate (i.e. the EnergyBlade) is situated lower in the forefoot, I really didn’t feel like the shoe was harnessing the propulsion you get from some other models. Granted, I love (and look for) the aggressive toe-offs you get in shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2, Asics Metaspeed Edge+, or Hoka Rocket X 2. It’s my favorite feel, but it’s not really in this shoe. So if you like that aggressive feel then this shoe may not be for you.
I want to reiterate that the shoe is not harsh; however, it is a bit firmer than many/most of the race day models out there. Do I think it can go the marathon distance? For sure, you just may be a bit more sore the next day. The Asics Metaspeed Edge+ was this kind of a shoe for me, but I love the way it feels during the race so I stuck with it. In the same way, the S/Lab Phantasm 2 does give you more of a road feel (which I love), so it does feel like more of a true modern racer. It just may leave you a little beat up come Medal Monday.
While I do love the fit and look of the upper, I felt like it was just a bit warm on the run. The structural elements and ripstop-style mesh uppers aren’t the most breathable.
I personally didn’t feel the transition effect of the rocker in this shoe, at least in the way that I feel it in the Hoka Rocket X 2 or in the Asics Metaspeed Edge+ and the first two versions of the Saucony Endorphin Pro. I land more in the midfoot area, so maybe it benefits forefoot runners more. Could just be my stride.
Lastly, $275 is a statement. It’s putting yourself out there and saying “we’re the most expensive race day shoe for a reason– we’re better than the rest.” That’s bold, and I’m not sure that the S/Lab Phantasm 2 is 10% better than any of the other $250 shoes on the market with proven track records. I think it easily stands shoulder to shoulder with those shoes and will work just as well depending on a runner’s preference. But $275 is a lot, no matter who you are.
I lie, one more thing: if you are looking to buy this shoe, do not buy the Phantasm 2. That is an entirely different shoe altogether. S/Lab is the performance division of Salomon so make sure you’re picking up the “S/Lab” Phantasm 2. I’m putting this in the bad because it’s dumb to name a trainer and a racer with almost identical names. “But what about Adidas?” It works with Adidas Adios because a) the Adios is the training partner to the Adios Pro, 2) it has “Pro” in the title, and 3) they’re on different numbers for the model versions.
RYAN: It’s probably not a fair complaint to level against a running shoe, but, man, I can’t recommend walking casually in the S/Lab Phantasm 2. The mountain of soft, squishy foam in the heel is wildly unstable while walking, leaving me feeling a bit like a baby giraffe while making my way to meet up with the Faster Bastards for a Saturday Classic. Granted, much of that instability goes away once you start running and begin striking closer to your mid- or forefoot; just be careful around gravel or uneven surfaces.
Outside of that, the S/Lab Phantasm 2 tends to run long — as is evidenced by my inheriting Robbe’s pair. He normally wears a US M7.5, but the shoe fits my US M8 foot with probably enough room for someone with a US M8.5 foot, too. Salomon’s lacing helps to make up for the length a little bit, offering plenty of eyelets to tighten comfortably along the top of my foot. However, there’s no good way to tighten the toe box.
Also, Salomon should totally release the all-white version of the S/Lab Phantasm 2 because it’s so much sleeker than the red and white version that Robbe received. Hopefully Salomon also finds a way to lower the price a bit in the future, as $275 is rare air, especially for a first marathon shoe.Shop Salomon S/Lab - Men Shop Salomon S/Lab - Women
ROBBE: This review came out almost a week after the shoe was announced because I wanted to make sure I gave it the proper testing it deserved. It’s clear Salomon put a lot of effort into this one (which wasn’t clear with the first Phantasm), and after a couple long runs and some efforts at faster paces, I can confidently say that this shoe is a winner.
While it is a touch firmer than some of its competitors, it does offer that true race day fit and feel thanks to its well-designed upper and excellent execution of a bouncy-yet-stable Pebax midsole. And while the $275 price tag may be a tough pill to swallow, the candy cane colorway looks good enough that it should help the medicine go down.
RYAN: I think it’s safe to say that Salomon has arrived on the marathon running scene. In many ways, its S/Lab Phantasm 2 captures what we liked about previous generations of super shoes, before Nike and Adidas started trying to one-up themselves to justify an annual upgrade. Salomon has the right mix of foam, style, and forefoot stability to reward runners with comfort even in the latter stages of their marathons.
However, there are other reasonably stable race day shoes that you can pick up for less. Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 3 is $50 more affordable at $225, and New Balance’s SC Elite v3 is right on its heels at $229. I’m just not sure I’d spend Alphafly money on a first-generation racer.
You can pick up the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 for $275 on October 1, 2023 at salomon.com by using the shop link below.Shop Salomon S/Lab - Men Shop Salomon S/Lab - Women
Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.More from Robbe
Ryan is kind of like Robbe’s Igor behind the scenes. He helps to compile and clean up everyone’s reviews, and finds time to get in a few miles of his own. When he’s not running or editing, Ryan writes and reviews for Android Authority, spending time with the latest tech and complaining when things don’t work quite right. If he’s not doing any of that, maybe you’ll find him nose-deep in a crossword puzzle or trying to catch up on an endless backlog of shows to stream.
All-time favorite shoes: New Balance Rebel v2, Adidas Takumi Sen 8 (or 9), Saucony Endorphin Speed 3More from Ryan