There is something about running in the same kit as the best athletes do. I know, the piece of clothing, shoes or the gear won’t make you them but it might give you a bit of motivation or/and some sort of special feeling I can’t describe. I’m always curious to see and test the latest innovation in running and sport overall. So when a box of the latest Salomon trail running shoes, S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra landed on my doorstep I was super-excited, I’ve always wanted to get my ‘feet’ on them.
The trail running superstars such as Frosty, Kilian, Emelie and many more use them to win their races which in fact, makes these shoes quite a desirable commodity in the trail running world.
Back in March, Salomon launched its 4th edition of the popular S-LAB Sense Ultra. Although I didn’t try the previous model, the S-LAB Sense 4 Ultra is bound to be the best shoe to date with improvements in in grip, durability and protection.
Similarly to last model, there are two variants of the S Lab Sense 4 Ultra – one for soft grounds (SG) and one for dry and hot conditions. I got to test the later one, which should be perfect for my key race for this year as it’s supposed to be dry and rocky course (so not muddy as long as it doesn’t rain).
I played basketball for quite some time in the past and so I used to play in very supportive shoes (not minimalist ones) and this trend continued when I took up running. My current running shoes, both road and trail have basically a bigger heel drop than these Salomon beauties with its 4mm offset.
At first I was a bit scared of the narrow fit as this was an issue with the Sense 3 Ultra which had tight toe box. When I first put them on they felt quite narrow around my arches BUT I did try them on with my chunky office socks. Back at home I put on my running socks and loosen the shoe laces a bit and they felt much better. To be honest, the toe box is actually perfect and wide enough for my feet.
A couple of first runs were short and made on the dry trails of Ally Pally and Trent Park -definitely not the terrain of famous mountains in Chamonix. They’re indeed super lightweight shoes and very breathable, I’m still getting used to the 4mm heel drop and my calves can feel it.
After clocking around 20miles in total in these shoes I decided it was time to try them on longer runs; in the end they’re designed for ultra running, hence the name Ultra. I decided to test them on the trail of North Downs Way with my friend Marina. This however wasn’t a good choice especially on the second day as it was raining and the trails were covered in the mud. With 3 hours the first day and 5 hours the second my legs got some proper muddy work done over the Easter weekend.
I believe the Soft Ground Ultra 4 Sense model would behave much better on the muddy terrain. However, the SensiFit and EndoFit obviously did a great job of helping one to maintain control in challenging conditions and they did hold my foot in the mud. Also the wide toe box was perfect for my wide feet so no blisters to be seen.
Overall, I really like these top-of-the-line Salomon trail shoes and I can see why the elites opt for them. I still want to test them on a proper rocky terrain however this will take me a while as my legs will need to adapt for the very low heel drop. If you’re already a minimalist shoes runner and therefore used to the trail shoes with such low offset you might be obsessed with the S Lab Sense 4 Ultra.
Salomon S Lab Sense 4 Ultra – Key Specifications
- Breathable and lightweight shoes designed for ultra trail running
- Weight // 240g
- Midsole height // 13mm – 9mm
- Heel drop // 4mm
- Super lightweight
- I really like Salomon’s quick lacing system
- Wide toe box
- Lace pocket
- Endofit – hugging the foot in exactly the right places and improve feedback and footwrapping
- Not for muddy conditions
- 4mm heel drop but that’s very subjective as I’m not used to such minimalist shoes
- A bit pricey but they are top-of-the-top shoes. The whole S-Lab range from t-shirts to bags is top-of-the-line and therefore pricey however you get what you pay for – superb quality, fit and durability. To be honest, I can’t love more my S-Lab advanced skin bag and running skort with compression inner shorts.
I was given the Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra free of charge but the opinions are my own.