First off I’ll kick this off by saying I’ve run in various pairs of Salomon trail shoes throughout the years so I’m pretty familiar with their features and design. Their quality has always been very high and their customer support and warrantee replacement program has always been top notch. So when the new S-Lab X-Series came across my desk and I was pretty pumped to see all that trail experienced packed into a road shoe. This shoe makes it clear they are prepared to make a real play in the road market and when they decided to base it off the Sense trail runner, they gave themselves a really good starting point.
How They Look and Body Composition
Visually, the S-LABs will get you noticed to say the least. They are basically that striking Salomon red throughout and as I’ve said before some of the aesthetics come down to personal preference, but there are no other color wise. Other than that its basically their trail shoe with some body modifications.
It looks visually very much like other shoes from their Trail line, but a little more polished across the whole body. There are mo strange outsole markings, no additional padding or protection on the sides and no heavy lugs on the sole.The upper has definitely been transformed for the road and there is a combination of well ventilating mesh fabric and lycra throughout the body. The collar and the heel area are composed of a nice thick nylon which protects that area from any rubbing.
They do have a nice large toe box, even bigger than their trail shoes, which is becoming more and more standard these days and I love this change in the trend. Our feet are shaped like triangles and don’t go to a point, so shoes shouldn’t do this either. So big props to them for giving us consistent with their trail shoes. There is no bumper in the toe box on the X-Series as they have removed it, probably to save some weight.
It does have the traditional Salomon lacing system which is just phenomenal for me. It isn’t great for everyone, but I’ve always kind of liked it and found it incredibly clever. I see a lot of people wearing Salomon shoes who don’t know that there is a lace pouch in the tongue and this may sound silly folks, but they made a spot for you to get them out of your way. It’s stupidly awesome and kind of ingenious.
Cushioning and Feel
First off, I would put the shoes in the aggressive category simply because of their lightweight status (7.7 oz) and when they remove the weight it typically means less cushion throughout. That being said, when they made the jump from trail to road they did add EVA cushioning to the shoe and increase the amount of overall cushioning. In face, its almost 6mm thicker than any of the similar trail shoes so its definitely designed to be at the high end of the Salomon line for comfort.
It also has Profeel throughout the mid so you get some level of protection from the ground and experience significantly less ground feel than you would in similar shoes. You could in theory then take these on the trail, but not sure I would recommend it. Given the rest of the body modifications and lack of toe protection, it feels like a recipe for disaster if you hit a rock in these.
The interior of the shoe uses the same Endofit system that all their other shoes do and the best way to describe this is the feeling of an interior sock. Tri-athletes will be used to this because many trip shoes are designed to be worn barefoot and this honestly has a very similar feel.
Running in the S-LAB X-SERIES
The first thing you notice when running in these is that they are extremely responsive. This could be due to the increased cushioning or the rebound from the shoe due to its light weight, but its more likely due to its rocker design. It basically helps with forefoot striking and should actually will help heel strikers move a little more forward on their feet when they run. Because of this you can generate quite a bit of speed easily and can maintain it. For a beginner to mid-level runners, this might be a little aggressive as you won’t get a lot of dampening and your legs will definitely feel it. That being said for more experienced runners, these definitely compete really well with other professional level road shoes in this weight class. They are extremely agile and you can generate as high a level of quickness with your legs as you require.
After running these across many distances, I can definitely say these things are killer. This is definitely a maximum cushioned shoe as far as Salomon is concerned, but I don’t think I would put them in class like any of the Hoka models or something like an Altra Paradigm. They are really well designed and very fast and the fit and feel is solid. I love the fact that they took what was working on the trail side which includes everything from the traction, fit, technology, and then removed what wasn’t necessary in order to drop the weight. The result is something very easy to wear and a shoe that feels surprising simple in design, but has a lot under the hood. You can definitely put a lot of miles on these things without too much compromise.
Wrapping it up
Overall, the X-LAB X-SERIES are a welcome addition to the Salomon line and to the road running scene. If you are a fan of their trail shoes, then it’s a no-brainer to pick these up. If you are considering a shoe that’s light, quick, and agile then I would definitely recommend checking these out.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
Weight: 7.7oz (size 9)
Available: Buy Now