AUSTIN: Though the order may come at a moment’s notice, the county parks near me are open (for now). As cabin fever grows and plentiful sunshine beckons, paved trails are unsurprisingly seeing more foot traffic. I’m grateful to see this as a runner—with the hope of social distancing being faithfully practiced—and that also means that the dirt trails are sparse.
With mounting efforts to combat COVID-19, I fear that parks will be the next space to shutter. Until then, I’m grateful for lonely trails, because for me, running is the quintessential isolationist sport. The Salomon Sense Ride 3 came along for some somber excursions in the woods.
TAYLOR: You know what they say. Variety is the spice of life… until you find something you love. (Then you only branch out occasionally just to come back to what you loved in the first place.) I think that’s how it goes? If not, I want to see my changes accommodated.
Is that you at your favorite restaurants? Yeah, me too. I’ll take a Korean BBQ Bowl at Phone Thai 94% of the time and you can be sure that I’ll be plenty satisfied. The same goes for my first true love of trail shoes, the Salomon Sense Ride series.
Don’t get me wrong––there are a lot of incredible shoes that hold their own against the Sense Ride, but I just can’t stay away. With a few tweaks and a major swap, the Sense Ride 3 has me hooked once again.
AUSTIN: If we were to do some free association, you’d say Sense Ride 3 and I’d say outstanding. This shoe is superb. Every step, every mile, felt good. The Sense Ride 3 features an Optivibe midsole, which delivers a soft landing on the harshest trails. Sawnee Mountain, the first location for my run in the Ride 3, is basically a rock garden. If you visit north Georgia and have a hankering for trails that call more for dancing than running, Sawnee Mountain is the place to be. My feet felt a bit sore the next day, but I can thank the Ride 3’s ample cushioning and rock plate for keeping me going.
My next testing ground featured plenty of soft, loose mud. The Contagrip outsole delivered consistently sure footing, meaning I didn’t lower my pace much as I plowed through little dirt bogs. The speed laces make adjusting for tightness a breeze and the toe box room is sufficient (though I have narrow feet). Wider feet may feel a little cramped in the Ride 3, but thin socks could be all it takes. Salomon engineers also added a mesh pouch on the top of the tongue to stuff the excess lace. Cool, huh?
TAYLOR: Oowee! There’s a lot to love about this shoe. The Sense Ride and I go way back. I literally took the OG’s out of the box and used them for my first 100k (Never Summer 100k– a burly Rocky Mountain old-school style trail race). Call it naive on my part, but the whole experience sealed the deal. This is my go-to trail shoe.
Salomon has kept the same basic package: a slightly-wider-than average footbed (as compared to most other Salomons), a moderate level of protection, and a smooth ride. Two thumbs up from me!
The biggest change comes in the form of a midsole swap. Out with the Opal/Vibe combo and in with the Optivibe. It’s a newer midsole foam combo typically used in Salomon’s road shoes. Salomon says the design aims to minimize vibrations in each stride and retain a smooth ride, thus creating less fatigue compared to traditional midsole designs.
All shoe jargon aside––I’m sold! The ride was really smooth, protective, and my legs felt great coming out of long runs and hard efforts. It was a very different feeling ride than previous versions: It’s both more cushioned and more responsive.
The Optivibe midsole also makes this door-to-trail shoe more comfortable on the roads. With 2mm less stack (25mm heel to 17mm toe; 8mm drop) and a more secure fitting single-layer mesh upper, the updated Sense Ride is both lower and more nimble. Overall, I appreciate the swap, because it makes the Sense Ride an even more versatile shoe.
I really appreciate the dialed-in fit of the new upper. Salomon’s Sensifit overlays and inner liner are designed for added foot security and seemed to be better utilized here. In both previous versions, I had some slippage in the midfoot, but that problem has been completely taken care of. Neither technical nor fast running was a problem for me.
To round out our list of positives, I’ll just hand you a few Salomon classics that were ingredients in the previous models. Quicklace was already the best pull-cord lacing system out there, but this time around they’ve managed to rid the shoe of any discomfort.
Likewise, the all-terrain Contragrip MA outsole is back. It’s one of the more grippy and durable outsoles available and the 2mm chevron lugs were smooth on any surface, but happiest on the trails. Snow, rocks, dirt, mud, and pavement were no problem!Shop Sense Ride 3 – US Shop Sense Ride 3 – EU
AUSTIN: I don’t like to look for critiques in a shoe if there’s none to be found. The Sense Ride 3 is truly exceptional for trail beginners and veterans alike. I can’t say whether Sense Ride 2 fans will like the updates, but I hope the revisions are well received (they’re minimal). Nothing fell short run after run.
TAYLOR: Salomon made a 2020 faux pas here. It’s a little crazy to me that any new iterations of shoes are heavier than previous models. The Sense Ride 3 gains almost an ounce! That’s like when you see an old friend that has made some “life-changes.” They look and feel great but then the next time you see them they gained all of their weight back and more. But hey, as long as they’re happier? In the shoe world, it’s disappointing.
I’ll cut ‘em a little slack because the Optivibe midsole does make the shoe more versatile and comfortable. Still– I can’t help but SMH a little here.
This is more a matter of preference, but the Sense Ride 1 and Sense Ride 2 had very different uppers. I enjoyed both for different reasons, but I really liked the second version. While the Sense Ride 1 would last forever, it had average breathability and it didn’t form to your foot very well. Though numero dos was a lot more soft, flexible, and breathable, it was far less protective. The Sense Ride 3 upper aims to split the difference but leans slightly toward the OG’s mesh upper. As someone who looks for something like this in an upper, it was a positive for me. YMMV.Shop Sense Ride 3 – US Shop Sense Ride 3 – EU
AUSTIN: If you’re planning for fall trail races featuring multiple creek crossings, the Sense Ride 3 GTX ($159.99) includes a waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry. Between the Sense Ride 3 and the S-Lab Speed 2 ($179.99), you have a sick, ridiculous combination for trail training and racing. I hope that the parks will be spared from closure, but there’s a price to pay when it comes to ensuring the health and well-being of your neighbor. Until then, get lost in the woods (take a photo of the trailhead map first).
TAYLOR: Whether you find yourself among the ranks of the cult-like Sense Ride followers or someone new to the series, count on a versatile, accommodating, comfortable, and reliable package. It should come as no surprise that this will be one of the shoes I reach for on a daily basis for training and ultras. The Sense Ride 3 is one of the few shoes that would take from city street to mountain peak.
You can pick up the Salomon Sense Ride 3 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) for a reasonable $120 by using the shop link below.Shop Sense Ride 3 – US Shop Sense Ride 3 – EU