THOMAS: Though we had heard about the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm for awhile, we caught our first caught glimpse of the shoe on Salomon-sponsored athlete Noah Droddy’s feet during the New York City Marathon. We’re not sure if he was running through Hell’s Kitchen, but if so, the fire on his feet was loud enough to make Daredevil see again. Since then, Droddy has cut his locks (from Samson to Salomon, so it goes), we got to try the shoe, and we’re ready to give you our thoughts. While Salomon isn’t particularly known for its road segment, they are quietly making a strong push into that space, both with this shoe and some other offerings in 2022, particularly the max-cushion Glide Max.
Are they ready to be a big-time player in the race game? Let’s find out.
MEAGHAN: Because Salomon is traditionally a trail brand, and because I wouldn’t call myself a trail runner (though I’ve polished off a few ultras in my time), I’ve never really had a reason to test out their limited road line. But you had me at plate, so I was more than willing to give this shoe a go. Let’s go to the review.
THOMAS: The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm CF feels like a fast shoe. The narrow upper hugs the foot and is perforated to let the air flow. My pigglies weren’t so wiggly on colder winter runs. The Salomon Energy Surge foam compound has a soft feel that rebounds quickly. While the midsole foam isn’t an exotic Pebax blend like other high-tier racers, it gets the job done. The midsole uses a rocker geometry that Salomon calls R Camber. R Camber, paired with the composite fiber (not carbon fiber) Energy Blade, propels the Phantasm rolls through the stride smoothly. The ride resembles the feel of the Hoka Carbon X, but the foam feels more spongy.
I actually wasn’t impressed with this shoe on the first couple runs, but after the ten miles in the shoe, the character started to come out. The foam softened and the Energy Blade with the rocker made for a smooth transition. The stack height of the Phantasm CF is 35/26mm (9mm drop), which is a bit lower than those maxed-out race shoes like the RC Elite and Alphafly. Oddly enough, I was seeded a US M9 shoe, but it fits my M10.5 foot with room for a thumbnail. The listed weight for a US M9 is 7.1 oz. but this pair weighs 8.5 oz./242 grams.
Lastly, the generous outsole rubber on the forefoot and rear provides a better-than-average grip on the roads. Most race shoes skimp in this area, so that alone will provide more traction and durability over the long run.
MEAGHAN: The S/Lab Phantasm CF is a new road racing shoe from Salomon, a brand I typically associate with the trail. It’s “the fastest road running shoe that Salomon has ever created,” so I was excited to take it out for a test.
The upper is designed with their patented Matryx technology, a durable mesh-like material that’s crazy light and essentially see-through. The whole upper design feels very minimal in design and fabric. The support and structure are built inside the shoe, so the aesthetics are clean. There’s no extra padding around the heel, collar, or tongue, and it’s made with a traditional lacing system.
While I found the shoes to be slightly underwhelming on the step-in, the rocker sole geometry (Reverse Camber) and bouncy, lightweight foam (Energy Surge) come to life out on the run. My first run in this shoe was a 16-miler, and while I was a little apprehensive, they felt fine throughout. I didn’t get that trampoline-like bounce that I love in the Nike Alphafly, but the rocker geometry, softer foam, and composite fiber plate provide a nice roll-through. Overall, it’s a comfortable ride that felt good during easy running and tempo paces.Shop Salomon S/Lab – Men Shop Salomon S/Lab – Women
THOMAS: Hopefully, the sizing issue was from a mismarked sample; otherwise, these shoes will run massively long. I normally wear a US M10.5 and this was a men’s 9 and still ran a bit long. Sizing issues aside, the biggest problem I have with the Phantasm CF is the paper-thin tongue. Once the tongue was in place, I didn’t have any issues, but getting it situated to where it wasn’t folding up was a ridiculous task. It might be the worst tongue in any shoe we’ve ever reviewed, over-generous padded tongues excluded.
Obviously, they tried to cut weight in the upper and wherever else, since this is a race shoe. However, it still comes in as one of the heavier carbon/composite-plated racers out there. Is it a huge deal? Maybe not. But at mile 22 in a marathon, it very well could be.
MEAGHAN: I really struggled with the upper of this shoe. The thin material, while nice and breathable, lacks structure and support. The tongue is flimsy and constantly folds over itself, making it challenging to get the shoe on. I also found the overall fit to be off; they feel a little too long and too narrow for my liking.Shop Salomon S/Lab – Men Shop Salomon S/Lab – Women
THOMAS: While the S/Lab Phantasm CF might be Salomon’s fastest ever road shoe, it wouldn’t be the one I’d reach for on race day. The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm CF feels like a close relative to the Hoka Carbon X2. I say the Carbon X 2 and not the X 3 because the upper on the X 3 is really one of the worst uppers on any shoe right now. For sure, the rocker with the low-to-the-ground plate feels eerily similar to the Carbon X 2. However, the Phantasm’s foam may have the edge over Hoka. This shoe falls closer to the second-tier uptempo shoe category than race day weapon. Shoes I would lump it in with are the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2, Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2, Brooks Hyperion Elite 2, On Cloudboom Echo, Skechers Speed Freek, and the Craft Carbon Race Rebel.
The running experience in the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm CF is good, and the shoe will reward those runners who embrace the rocker. Overall, I enjoyed my miles in the shoe. The shoe can handle the distance, too. After my double-digit mile runs, the feet and legs weren’t beat up. The shoe does run narrow, which I like, but it definitely won’t accommodate even the slightest wide-foot crowd.
The price is in line with other plated race day shoes at $225.
MEAGHAN: I have to agree with Thomas on this one. The S/Lab Phantasm CF falls into the second tier of racers for me. It has a lot of the qualities of a great race day shoe, but they just don’t come together quite like I want. I enjoyed the rocker geometry and smooth roll through while on the roads, but it lacked that ‘race day’ bounce. That said, it is a bit more budget-friendly than those in that top tier, but not by much.
You can pick up the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm CF for $225 in April at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Salomon S/Lab – Men Shop Salomon S/Lab – Women
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