Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Footwear Reviews

Gear Preview: Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra

The Sense Ultra is a new SLAB trail shoe from Salomon that packs the cushion and protection needed to go the distance. Here is my preview.

When I was putting together a list of the most exciting trail shoes for 2017, I was torn between nominating the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra or the Salomon XA Enduro as my number one choice. I’ve since purchased both, and have my initial thoughts posted on the XA Enduro. Now that my preliminary tests have been completed, I’m realizing that the Sense Ultra should have topped my list. I really like the XA Enduro, but feel that the Sense Ultra has a much better fit and feel overall.

For those unfamiliar with the new Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra, it’s important to note that this is not the same as the SLAB Sense 6 Ultra or SLAB Sense 6 Ultra SG. I have no idea why Salomon chose to give this shoe such a similar name, as I’m sure it’s going to cause issues with product differentiation. The Sense 6 Ultra and Sense Ultra have similar uppers, but the Sense Ultra has a much thicker midsole.


Support Trail to Peak by purchasing the Sense Ultra on Amazon


Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running

Fit and Feel:

The Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra is one of the more comfortable shoes I’ve ever tried on. Right when I slipped my foot into the Ultra, I knew it was a match made in heaven. I ordered a size 12.5, just like almost all of my other shoes, and it fits true to size. My size 12.5 came in at 12.35oz/350.2g. If you’ve worn Salomon SLAB shoes in the past, the feeling of comfort and precision found in the Ultra will be like an embrace from an old friend. The combination of Sensifit, Endofit, and Quicklace hold the foot securely, with plenty of room upfront for my toes. The biggest difference in the fit and feel of the Ultra compared to the XA Enduro comes in the heel. For whatever reason, I just can’t seem to get my heel locked down in the XA Enduro. I don’t have this problem with the Ultra though, as my heel stays firmly locked into place without any friction or rubbing.

The fit of the Ultra reminds me of the fit of the SLAB Wings 8. The difference being the Ultra feels a little more plush and comfortable. The Wings 8 has a firm and almost harsh ride and fit before they break in. The Ultra, with Salomon’s new EnergyCell+ midsole is an evolution in fit and feel. I think a big part of this is that Salomon is using a much better insole. The insoles on the Wings and Wings 8 were paper thin and bunched up in wet weather. Salomon is using a thicker and much higher quality insole on the Ultra.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Medial Side Sensifit
Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Heel Has A Great Fit

Upper:

For the upper of the Sense Ultra, Salomon uses a breathable anti-debris mesh. On the mesh, Salomon uses a welded Sensifit overlay to provide lateral stability through the midfoot. Under the upper, Salomon uses it’s tried and true neoprene Endofit sock-liner as a tongue with a lace-garage up top to hold onto the kevlar Quicklaces. The comfort and fit of the Sense Ultra is second to none.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Upper

The toebox of the Sense Ultra offers plenty of room for my toes. The shape is similar to that of the SLAB Wings 8, with slightly more vertical volume. The toe guard up front offers just plenty of protection for the unexpected log jam or stone kick.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Toe Box
Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
EndoFit And QuickLace

Midsole:

The midsole of the Sense Ultra is a dual density EVA with 25mm in the heel and 16mm in the forefoot for a 9mm drop. The EVA composition is Salomon’s new EnergyCell+. To me, this is the greatest advantage the Sense Ultra has over the SLAB Wings 8. The midsole on the Wings 8 is firm and a bit harsh. The Sense Ultra midsole is still stable, but offers a much more comfortable ride. This plush midsole is also what separates the Sense Ultra from the Sense 6 Ultra in the SLAB lineup, which has a much more stripped down midsole.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Plush Midsole

Support Trail to Peak by purchasing the Sense Ultra on Amazon


Outsole:

The outsole on the Sense Ultra uses Salomon’s new Premium Wet Traction Contragrip. This is the same compound used on the SLAB Wings 8, and from personal experience, it is a phenomenal compound. This version of Contragrip sticks to everything and has proven to be highly durable. The big advantage of the Sense Ultra of the Wings 8 in the outsole department is the new outsole design. The Wings 8 had a series of shallow trapezoidal lugs clustered tightly together. The Sense Ultra uses deep trapezoid shaped lugs that are more widely spaced. This design with more leg space and depth should give the outsole a better handle on a wider range of trail surfaces. The Wings 8 (non SG) didn’t shed mud very well, and it looks like the Sense Ultra will do much better.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Outsole

The Sense Ultra uses Salomon’s Profeel Film rock protection, extending from the arch of the foot through the forefoot. Salomon has been using version of this rock protection for a few years now, and I’ve never had it fail me. Profeel Film offers the perfect amount of protection without hindering the toe off and flexibility of a shoe.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
ProFeel Film

Final Thoughts:

My initial impression of the Salomon SLAB Sense Ultra is very positive. With competition like the La Sportiva Akyra, Salomon XA Enduro, and Altra King MT in my Spring shoe rotation, miles are going to get logged by the top performers. So far, the SLAB Sense Ultra is leading the pack by a pretty wide margin. I’m looking forward to logging more miles in the months ahead and will have a full review come summer time. At $180, the Sense Ultra is not cheap, but if it’s like my other Salomon SLAB products, the per mile cost will turn out to be similar to lower priced footwear.

If you’re looking for a premium trail shoe with extreme comfort, stability, cushion, and versatile grip, give the SLAB Sense Ultra a try.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Gear Review Preview Hiking Trail Running
Highly Recommended Shoe

I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

6 comments on “Gear Preview: Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra

  1. Hello Drew i’m in doubt between this Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra and La Sportiva Akasha.

    I’m 75kg and 1,82m for TrailRunning Ultra distances up to 100km

    In your opinion, which is the best shoes?

    Tnks

    • Hello Bruno. The Sense Ultra and Akasha are both great shoes, although I think the Akasha is much more similar to the new Salomon Sense Pro Max. Your decision will come down to how much cushion you want and how you like a shoe to ride. The Akasha has more cushion in the midsole, but the Sense Ultra is a little softer. Both outsoles offer great grip and traction, but the Akasha lugs are a little deeper and more aggressive. The Sense Ultra has a more comfortable upper and feels like a sock. You can’t really go wrong with either shoe, as both will handle 100km with ease. I like my Sense Ultra a little more for most outings, but grab my Akashas when I’m looking for a little more cushion and stability.

  2. how does the width of the Sense Ultra compare to the Nike Wildhorse 3 or 4?

    • Drew Robinson

      The heel width is about the same, the midfoot width is a little less in the Ultra, and the forefoot in the Wildhorse is wider than the Ultra. The volume in the Ultra toebox is a little higher though compared to the WH3, but similar to the WH4.

  3. Hello Drew,

    I combine road and trail and use Scott Kimberley for hard trails. However would the S-Lab Sense Ultra suit or would the Salomon Sense Pro-Max be a better idea for road / pavement? I need plenty of cushioning as I am short but heavy 🙂

    Many thanks,
    OT

    • Drew Robinson

      I would try both on. I just posted a review of the Salomon Sense Ride. It’s a slightly heavier version of the Sense Ultra, but costs $60 less. I prefer the Sense Ultra and Ride to the Max, but I’m not a huge fan of the max cushioned midsole.

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