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.