Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 Performance Review
The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 is my very first pair of Euro bois, which is pretty exciting. I’ve stayed away from Salomon for two reasons: 1) the first thing everyone says about Salomon shoes in general is that they run narrow, and 2) the image in my mind is of a clunky, cleat-looking shoe with a little too much going on (I’m thinking of the Speedcross, specifically). While these won’t replace my trusty Altras, they far surpassed my expectations.
While the S/Lab Ultra 2 definitely does run narrower than what I typically run in, I’d actually consider them to be slightly wider than, say, the HOKA Speedgoat or prior versions of the Challenger ATR. I didn’t have any problems with numbness or rubbing of the toes/forefoot.
They fit securely and were easy to lock down with the Salomon Quicklace system: a Kevlar drawstring with a cinch that prevents the shoes from loosening once you start running. If you aren’t used to this type of lacing, it may take a little trial and error to get the correct amount of tightness, but once you do, it’s nice not to have to stop and re-lace your shoes.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how these felt underfoot. I expected them to be stiff but found the Energy Cell+ midsole to fall in that sweet spot with decent cushion while still being responsive. I didn’t even hate running in them on some short road stretches.
The Contragrip outsole with 4mm lugs worked really well for five hours of steep hill repeats in the rain on technical (rocky) terrain. I was happy that I had worn them because the sticky outsole definitely felt more secure than any other trail shoe I have. The S/Lab Ultra weights in at 8.8 ounces in a women’s 8, but they feel lighter, and they have an 8mm drop.
These are really well-made, good-looking shoes. The attention to detail in the upper (a hydrophobic PU exoskeleton), the lacing, and even a lace garage (how cute!) for you to store the excess lacing all contribute to the high-quality look and feel of the S/Lab Ultra 2. I’d say they’re comparable, design-wise, to On shoes, but better suited to actual running.Shop Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2
I have one major complaint about the S/Lab Ultra 2, and it’s this: the upper may be “hydrophobic,” but once that phobia is breached, these retain water like crazy. They drain terribly. And I say this as someone who ran 50 miles through ankle-deep water and mud and never once changed shoes or socks.
But during my longest run in the S/Lab Ultra 2, which was only 16 miles, I had to change my socks, and I ended up with several (albeit small) blisters. The trail itself wasn’t particularly wet (there was no standing water), and there were no water crossings; they got wet when a few rain showers passed through and then also just from the general humidity, I’m guessing. Therefore, I would not recommend these for the rain or water-logged trails.Shop Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2
If you’ve been scared to try Salomon for fear that they’ll be too narrow, don’t worry! Unless you have truly wide feet, you’ll find that these will work for you, width-wise. These are great for long efforts and technical (non-wet!) trails, and I’d imagine they will last for many miles, which helps to offset the (IMO) steep price point at $180. If you’re cool with that, you can pick them up and help us out using the link below.Shop Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2
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Thanks so much for your review of the S/Lab Ultra 2! I’ve been considering these for a while to replace my Altra’s for both trail running and UL backpacking. The relatively narrower fit worried me a little; while I have regular-width feet, I’d gotten accustomed to the Altra’s wide toe box. It’s too bad though that these shoes don’t drain well since I tend to do a fair amount of water crossings when I backpack. Based on your review though (since you seemed to like the Ultra 2 as an Altra user), I think I’ll give these a go. I haven’t found these shoes in-store around the Bay Area so will have to order them online — did you feel that the shoe size ran smaller/normal/bigger?
Hi Michelle! Thanks for reading! I wore the Ultra 2 for a 50K after writing this review and they actually worked really well for me, and I didn’t have any issues with draining on that occasion, so I think the problem I had was due to a combination of poor sock choice and wet weather. I found that these ran true to size (took the same size I wear in Altras) and I think you’ll find the width to be fine! I have bunions and these didn’t bother me at all. Good luck!
Thanks so much, Erin! Appreciate your help.
Do these have the same midsole as the sense pro 4?
I’ve got the sense pros but find the overly flexible sole makes my feet incredible sore and fatigued- the sole flexes in the middle of the shoes instead of the toes and twists sideways. It makes them super unstable on rocky tech trails. I also have the Salomon xt-6 and they are stiff through the midsole so don’t have this problem.
Appreciate your feedback; my foot is low volume and small on the heel.