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Testing: New Salomon trail running shoes

November 30, 2011

Salomon Fellcross with low profile and long studs.

I have been in Annecy checking out Salomon’s new trail running models for 2012. As you might know Salomon is the leading trail running brand in the world, so it’s always interesting to hear what they have to say.
They showed the new Spikecross with 9 tungsten spikes and climashield upper. I will test them this winter. The new Snowcross looks like the Spikecross with an integrated gaiter and is surprisingly lightweight. It seemed to be a perfect running shoe for white winter trail running.
I also got to test the Fellcross. With 280g and 13-9 mm profile it is a somewhat more serious version of the Speedcross, more stabile, lower profile and typically fell-studded outsole. I didn’t get to test it on wet rocks though, which has been the achilles point for the Speedcross.

With XR Mission Door-to-Trail running shoe Salomon opens the door for road running. According to Jeff Dill Door-to-Trail is "easily the largest portion of trail running".

We also got to see the new Mission-model, which, like the Crossmax, is a Door-to-Trail shoe. Mission is supposed to be a little bit lighter and more dynamic than the Crossmax. The outsole is fairly wide and features different flex grooves for the womens model, and appearently the female model has sold better.

The S-LAB SENSE will be launched spring 2012. Which of the three designs do you prefer?

But the model that caught most of my attention was the S-LAB SENSE (sub 200g and a 13-9 mm profile), which is their response to the barefoot and minimalism running trend – a shoe they have developed together with Kilian Jornet. He won UTMB with this shoe earlier this year. Kilian, who is a pure forefoot runner, wanted a barefoot feel, or “a sock-like shoe” instead of a traditional chassi-built stabile shoe. Apart from a low profile with a low heel-to-toe drop, the shoe should have a dynamic traction for all kinds of surfaces: soft, hard, wet, dry. However the shoe Kilian used didn’t have any rubber in the heel part of the outsole, only EVA. There is a protective plate inbedded in the midsole and “Endofit” an inner sock-like lining wrapping the midfoot. (Kilian prefer to run without socks.) This enabled a thin and lightweight upper without additional stabilizing parts. Salomon’s brand managers didn’t beat around the bush that this a racing product with restricted lifetime, quite unlike Salomon’s typical running shoes. And they agreed that their brand’s lightweight evolution has been slow.
“Sure, we are late, but we are thorough. Our worst nightmare was launching the wrong product, of minor quality, which would harm our reputation. Anyone can build a lightweight running shoe, but can you run 100 miles in it?” said Jeff Dill, Trail running marketing manager at Salomon.

Check out this video clip with Kilian Jornet.

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