Max cushion shoes have been steadily eating up market share since Hoka One One debuted just a few years ago. Hoka is still the king of cushion, but many other shoe manufacturers have been adding max cushion offerings to their lineups in an effort to compete. Salomon has been noticeably absent from the max cushion world, with the exception of the underwhelming Sense Propulse. I was excited to see the announcement of Sense Pro Max a few months ago and have recently been able to get my hands on a pair. In the last year or so, I’ve worn the Hoka Challenger 2 and Altra Olympus, and have tried on many other max cushion shoes. Although I loved the idea of extra cushion for protection and fatigue reduction, the squishy midsoles lacked the stability I needed to hike or backpack in. The Sense Pro Max seems to fit my needs nicely, with a slightly firm max cushion midsole. I’m looking forward to putting these through the paces on my recovery days and fire road hikes.
Fit and Feel:
The Sense Pro Max shares it’s name with Salomon Sense Pro 2, but the similarities pretty much end with the name. The Sense Pro Max sits alone in the Salomon lineup with a unique fit that is more relaxed than it’s SLAB cousins like the Wings 8 or Sense Ultra. The Sense Pro Max fits true to size, with my standard 12.5 feeling just right. I’ve read a review online from one person saying the toebox was tight, but I did not find this to be the case. For me, the toebox felt very relaxed. Just like just about every Salomon trail shoe, the Sense Pro Max uses and Endofit neoprene sleeve for a sock-like fit, with welded Sensifit overlays on the upper, and kevlar Quicklaces. This combination provides a great deal of stability and precision through the midfoot. Salomon uses a plush and cushioned liner on the inside of this shoe, which feels pretty good after my initial tests. The heel is secure and keeps my foot locked down on toeoff.
The upper on the Sense Pro Max is a stretch air mesh with a wide weave. The shoe is very breathable, but I’m interested to see how these handle trails with lots of fine dirt and sand. As a mentioned above, the combination of Sensifit, Endofit, and Quicklace is top notch as always.
The toebox for the Sense Pro Max offers plenty of space for toe splay and has just enough protection upfront to keep my nails in tact.
The midsole of the Sense Pro Max has a 5mm stack height, with 33mm in the heel and 27mm in the forefoot. The Energycell+ midsole uses Salomon’s new Vibe technology that mixes opal inserts to dampen vibration. According to Salomon “Opal is a cushioning compound that is inserted into the midsole that provides a soft and comfortable underfoot ride with the benefit of high-rebound. Cushioned and bouncy, the best of both worlds. In addition, Opal is extremely lightweight, durable and maintains its performance in extreme temperatures.” After a few initial wears, I really love the combination of Vibe and Energycell+, so much so that I’m looking to try the Sense Pro Max on more than just recovery days. If you’re coming from a Hoka, these are going to feel quite a bit more firm and responsive, so keep that in mind in regards to how they’ll map to your preferences.
The Sense Pro Max has a decoupled outsole with Wet Traction Contragrip combined with exposed midsole. A lot of max cushion shoes use decoupled outsoles to help with the stiffness and rigidness of having such a thick midsole. A full coverage outsole on a high stack height shoe would make for a constricting ride. Salomon uses cutouts on the lateral midfoot with wide sipes across the forefoot. The flexibility and toeoff of the Sense Pro Max is excellent. Like many of the new trail shoes in Salomon’s 2017 lineup, the Sense Pro max uses a series of widely spaced trapezoid lugs, and unique to this shoe, a series of diamond lugs on the lateral heel.
With a high stack height and Opal inserts in the Vibe midsole, not much additional rock protection is needed in the Sense Pro Max. For this reason, Salomon only has a small section of Profeel film to protect the foot just in front of the arch.
The Sense Pro Max is a sensible evolution to the Sense Propulse in Salomon’s line up, and fills a missing whole in the Salomon line up with a max cushion option. At $150, the Sense Pro Max carries the going rate for similar shoes in this range. I’m looking forward to testing this shoe on longer and more challenging hikes as the weather heats up. I’ve never used a shoe with this much cushion on mountain trails, and I’m excited to see how my legs feel in comparison to some of my more responsive trail runners.
25 thoughts on “Gear Preview: Salomon Sense Pro Max”
Thanks for sharing! I tried the Hoka Challenger, but in my opinion the top of the shoe is very unstable and not suitable for mountains and rocky underground.
That was my reason for not wearing them as well. The Sense Pro Max has a much more secure upper.
Is the yellow portion of the sole the wet traction Contragrip? I’m assuming the blue portion is?
For the demanding technical trails in New England my 1st prerequisite is a super sticky sole material. These look like a possibility to check out with the new max cushion and sticky sole. Wish the upper was a tad more burly.
Also looking forward to the upcoming Hoka Speedgoat 2 model to compare to this Salomon.
Jeff, it all feels like the same compound to me. Although it might be a little more dense in the heel. I’ve had my eye on the Speedgoat 2 as well. It looks like Hoka made some serious changes. I just saw a post on iRunFar with input from Karl Metzger in the comments section. There is also some input from Golden Harper (founder of Altra) on the new Lone Peak 3.5. Still now Vibram on the Lone Peak 3.5 though. I just ordered the new Altra King MT with a Vibram Megagrip sole. They look pretty awesome online, so I’m hoping for good things. Here is the article on iRunFar: https://www.irunfar.com/2017/01/best-new-trail-running-shoes-from-the-2017-winter-outdoor-retailer-show.html
Have you got the kingMT yet? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that.
Not yet. I might try a pair though. They have less cushion than I tend to enjoy, but the Vibram sole looks tempting.
not sure about the velcro strap. and altra styling needs some help! But that foot shaped toe box, zero drop and (some) midsole comfort ticks a lot of boxes
I agree about the strap and style 🙂 It’s hard to beat the foot shaped toebox though. Very few shoes give my feet that kind of comfort on the long hauls.
I’ve just been cutting the big toe out the uppers of some old Hoka Speedgoats – not a bad result!
Not a bad idea! I’ve seen some early reviews on the Speedgoat 2, and it looks like toebox surgery will no longer be required! 🙂
“I’ve just been cutting the big toe out the uppers of some old Hoka Speedgoats – not a bad result!”
I have heard of this but to risky in New England….at least for me.
Looks like Speedgoat 2 will solve that issue for the most part. There is now a live full review of the SG2 on Road Trail Run and it does indeed sound amazing.
I’ve got a pair of the New Salomon Ultras arriving any day but when the new SG2 becomes available I’m all over it. June ETA now not July so I’m pumped.
Jeff in MA
Me too, Jeff. I can’t wait for the SG2. They look very promising!
Any feedback to report on these yet? Can they handle rough technical terrain?
Really want that Speedgoat 2 but I need something before its June/July release.
Jeff in MA
So far so good, but no technical terrain. The one con is that the upper has a little too much volume. I find I have to pull the quicklace pretty tight for a good fit, with only a cm of space between laces. The midsole is great, and my favorite part of the shoe. The outsole has performed well on the smooth trails I’ve used these for. The snow is starting to melt above 7000ft here, so I may be able to give more feedback soon.
any feeback on the tightness of the mesh? what are your thoughts on how it will handle fine sand encountered on many desert races out there? thanks
Jean-francois, the Sense Pro Max has an open mesh for sure. I haven’t taken them out on any sandy or dusty trails yet, as we’ve had quite a bit of rain that is matting everything down. I should have a better feel for this in a few months when things start to warm up.
I’ve been running in the Altra Lone Peak 3.0’s this past season. What did you think of the Altra Olympus? Sorry to get a little off subject…
The Lone Peak 3.0 is a great shoe. The Olympus would be a great addition if you’re looking for more cushion. The Olympus midsole is a great deal softer than the Sense Pro Max. The Olympus has a Vibram Megagrip outsole which I find to be much better than the Altra outsole on the Lone Peak and Superior. If you liked the Lone Peak as is, I’d say stick with it. If you’re looking for something similar to the Lone Peak with more cushion, the Olympus is a nice option. You could also check out the Brooks Caldera, Hoka Challenger, and La Sportiva Akasha if you’re not tied to the foot shaped toe box and zero drop of Altra.
Thanks for the advice! I’m a little bit tied to the foot-shaped toe box 🙂
Easy to see why. Once you get used to that toebox every other shoe feels cramped!
Reading quite a few of your reviews lately (thanks!). I was reading another review on this Sense Ride, and I commented on that site, how I’ve felt I needed to avoid salomon because (not unlike hoka) they get a wrap for being narrow. A reply said to check into Sense Pro Max and the Sense Ride a chance. I’m coming off for a multi year affair with Altra. Need to move away from zero drop because of a rehabing torn PF. So I want a drop, and I still love wider toebox. But TOPO isnt working for me. Checking into Challenger ATR3 (Clifton 4 or bondi 5 in a wide for street shoe). and Possibly a Salomon for a trail option. Considering the NewBalance leadville for trail also. Views on Salomon. Their width/toe box for trails?
It’s hard to tell what people mean by wide, as most online usage of the word is very imprecise. Wide heel, wide midfoot, wide toebox…or sometimes people use the word for high volume. The Altra Lone Peak 3.5 has a wide toe box, but the rest of the shoe isn’t wide. The Sense Ultra has a standard width midfoot and a standard toebox, which is wider than the old Solomon’s with narrow toeboxes. I found the shoe to have a higher than average volume in the midfoot, but normal in the forefoot.
@drew thanks for reply. I’ve decided to see how the sense ride and the sense pro max work. None of the local running stores sell trail shoes. REI has the sense ride. so I can get a gauge on the fit and feel of that shoe (unless I need 12.5 since REI rarely carries the 1/2 sizes). what I hope you can share is how to compare the sense ride for to gauge size to ordered online the Pro Max. would u start with same size, or already know to size up/down? thanks
I’ve been wearing the Sense Ride for the last 3 weeks, and it was the only shoe I wore for my 2 weeks in Iceland. It’s an amazing shoe! It’s just like the the SLAB Sense Ultra, but $60 cheaper. I actually sized down to a 12 for the Ride, as my standard size of 12.5 was too long. The 12.5 fits me perfectly for the Sense Pro Max.