When Salomon released the SLAB Wings last year, many wondered if they had done away with the SLAB Wings sequential numbering nomenclature or hit the reset button to move it back to zero. Well, it looks like we have the answer with the new release of the SLAB Wings 8, picking up from the Wings 7 from two years ago. The new SLAB Wings 8 looks virtually indistinguishable from the SLAB Wings, barring a slight update to the colorway. Despite the near exact appearance to it’s predecessor, the new Wings 8 does come with some real upgrades. First, the new Wings 8 is a few ounces lighter this year. It appears that Salomon did this by reducing the amount of underfoot protection in the TPU Profeel film in the midfoot and forefoot. The shoe still looks like it will offer a lot of protection, but it will also be a more flexible shoe this way. The midsole of the Wings 8 is the same combination of molded and injected EVA. The outsole has Salomon’s new and improved wet traction Contragrip, which was probably my favorite outsole compound from shoes I’ve worn this year. The new Contragrip on SLAB shoes is very grippy on just about any surface you can manage. It’s also highly durable. The black Softground version (not pictured) looks to have a big change to the upper materials, with a protective, but more breathable mesh used. I have the red hard ground version, and will be referring to them for the rest of this preview. I haven’t been able to put too many miles on this shoe yet, but got a few answers in regards to how they differ from last year’s SLAB Wings. I hope this short write up helped illustrate the subtle differences in this update. Below you’ll find an overview of the upper, midsole, and outsole, with a full review coming in a few months.
Fit and Feel:
My size 12.5 SLAB Wings 8 comes in at 11.8oz (335g), a very nice and lightweight shoe for trail running and fastpacking. If you’ve read my review on last years Salomon SLAB Wings, you’ll know that I started with a size 12.5, my normal size, and switched to a 13. In the end, this was a mistake. Although the 12.5 initially fit a bit tight upfront, these shoes broke in after about 50 miles. This left the 13 feeling a little too roomy. I made sure not to make the same mistake this time around and stuck with the 12.5. The length of the 12.5 feels great, but again, my big toe rubs the welded overlay of the toebox a little. Now I know that as these break in, I don’t have to worry about it. The rest of the shoe fits and feels the same as the SLAB Wings from last year, and this is a great thing. The combination of a precise fit from the Endo-Fit internal sleeve and Sensi-Fit midfoot support, really give a feeling of security.
My heel feels securely looked in place with no horizontal wiggle or slippage, and there are no hot spots or pressure points on the top of my foot in the Wings 8. There is a really nice feeling of stability in this shoe. As a practice, I simulate rolling my ankle in all shoes I try on to get a feel for the angles of stability. It’s not a perfect test, but it’s been a pretty good indicator for me for on-trail performance. This shoe and the SLAB Wings from last year are about as good as I’ve tried. The lateral roll stability is especially impressive. The Wings 8 is able to do all of this without an overly pronounced arch or by adding any posts.
The SLAB Wings 8 has the same stretch air mesh as last years model. I’m a big fan of this mesh, as it’s very breathable without being overly permeable to grit and sand. This shoe also has a welded overlay rubber toe cap to keep your foot protected from front impact collisions.
Once complaint that I, and others, had about last years SLAB Wings was due to the thin insoles. Much like the thin and flimsy insoles used on older Hokas, Salomon did away with the plush Ortholite insoles found on older models in lieu of a new thinner insert. The comfort and feel of the new insert was great, but it bunched up and shifted around when wet. I had a similar problem with the old plush insole while hiking Tour du Mont Blanc in 2014. That was on the XA Pro 3d model. It looks like the same thin insert is being used on this new model with similar glue pattern. The insert is very comfortable, but I’ll keep an eye on how they hold flat when wet.
As I mentioned in the fit and feel section of this review, the amazing Salomon Endo-fit and Sensi-fit are nearly identical to last years SLAB Wings shoe, and this makes for a very precise and comfortable fit. Combine this with quicklace tucked into a nice lace garage, and you have a race car for downhill mountain jaunts. The level of security and confidence found in this upper is like few other shoes.
The SLAB Wings 8 uses a combination of molded and injected EVA for the midsole. This shoe has a 9mm drop with 28mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot. The molded EVA is the thin layer that sits under the foot, shown as the white line on the lateral side of this shoe in the pictures below. This is a softer layer of cushion, similar to what Altra uses with the A-bound technology. Under the layer of molded EVA is a full length injected EVA midsole. Injected EVA is very stable and durable, and does a great job of retaining it’s shape and cushioning properties after many abusing miles on the trail. This combination of molded and injected EVA is a near perfect duo for those looking for cushioned protection without the mushiness and stack height found in an ultra-cushioned trail shoe like a Hoka or Altra Olympus.
There isn’t much built in arch support like that found in the Wings Pro 2, but the shoe is incredibly stable, both on the lateral and medial sides. I think this has a lot to do with the shape and last of the midsole. The heel flares out wide at the base and the midfoot gets full coverage outside of the medial pad of my foot. Much like the SLAB Wings last year, it will be near impossible to roll your ankle in this shoe. I wish it came in at 6mm of drop, as that feels a bit more stable for me, but even at 9mm this shoe feels really great.
The Wings 8 uses Salomons new SLAB wet traction Contragrip which offers impressive grip on all kinds of surfaces. Last year’s SLAB Wings was the one of the first Salomon shoe to debut the new trapezoidal lug pattern now found on most of their trail runners. It’s a great design that offers lots of surface area for traction and grip on smooth surfaces, yet still has deep enough lugs to grip on softer and shiftier trails. The durability is also top notch. I have nothing to complain about from last years SLAB Wings, and it looks like this new SLAB Wings 8 will be much of the same. I think the same can be said for the Profeel Film used as a flexible rockplate in the midfoot. I’ve had numerous shoes now with this Profeel Film and I’ve loved having it on each and every pair. If you’ll be wearing this shoe on muddy or sloppy trails, make sure to go for the SG (soft ground) version, which will offer deeper lugs and less permeable upper.
The Salomon SLAB Wings 8 looks to be a subtle, but well thought out update to last years Salomon SLAB Wings. The minor details that have received upgrades will be welcome to those that really liked last years model. I love that Salomon was able to make refinements to this shoe without changing any of what made last year’s Wings so popular. I look forward to putting these shoes through their paces over the next few months and seeing how they hold up. As always, feel free to share and/or comment on this article. Happy trail and enjoy each journey as you venture from trail to peak!