The Salomon Sense Pro Max is a max-cushion trail shoe from Salomon that comes in at 12.8oz (12.5) and has a 6mm drop. With 33mm of midsole stack height in the heel and 27mm in the forefoot, the Sense Pro Max provides a lot of underfoot protection. Unlike the softer max-cushion offerings from Hoka and Altra, the Sense Pro Max feels pretty firm and responsive on the trail. I wrote a preview of the Sense Pro Max back in February and covered the design and technical aspects of the shoe. In this full review, I’ll focus more on the performance of the Sense Pro Max during my experience over the past four months.
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. The Sense Pro Max has a good heel fit, a high volume midfoot, and a wide yet lower volume forefoot. The instep and last through the midfoot is on the narrow side, but the volume on the upper in that region is high. This provides a comfortable fit that has my foot spilling off of the base of the shoe a little. You can see what I mean in the photo below.
The Sense Pro Max fits true to size, with my standard 12.5 feeling just right on length. I’ve read reviews online saying the toebox is tight, but I did not find this to be the case. The width of the Sense Pro Max is good, but the volume is probably what they’re referring to.
Like most other Salomon trail shoes, the Sense Pro Max uses an 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, despite the volume. Salomon uses a plush and cushioned liner on the inside of this shoe, which has been great on some of the big mountain hikes I’ve done. I have not had any issues with hotspots or rubbing.
The upper on the Sense Pro Max is made of a stretch air mesh with a wide weave. The shoe is very breathable, but swallows quite a bit of dirt and dust on trail. The positive side of the wide weave mesh is that they dry very quickly and have kept my feet feeling fresh on days above 90 degrees.
The only thing I’ve had issues with on the Sense Pro Max upper was the amount of volume through the midfoot. When I pull the laces tight on my foot, the eyelets from each side are almost touching. This is a first for me, as my midfoot is on the wider side. This wasn’t a major issue though, as the Quicklaces held tight on steep downhills.
The durability of the Sense Pro Max upper has been really great thus far, with no unusual signs of wear or early degradation.
The midsole of the Sense Pro Max has a 6mm drop, with 33mm in the heel and 27mm in the forefoot. Salomon uses their new Energycell+ midsole on the Sense Pro Max. After a few months of wear, I’m really impressed with the combination of Vibe and Energycell+. I’ve used these shoes on mountain hike ascents, flat rolling hills, buffed out single track, and jagged rocky terrain. The midsoles has performed really well on just about every surface. There is only a small bit of ProFeel film rock protection underfoot, but with this much midsole it’s not really needed.
The only real negative I can mention on the Sense Pro Max is that it looses stability when moving fast downhill. This is pretty common for shoes with such a high stack height. I’ve been on a few trails that lose more that 1000ft per mile, and have had some close calls on ankle sprains. I like to hike the uphills and run the downhills in my local mountains. This instability gives me reason to pause on technical terrain.
Although the stack height on the Sense Pro Max is really high off the ground for a trail shoe, they still feel pretty responsive when hammering an uphill. I was expecting to feel a loss of energy due to the thick midsole, but these shoes handle well. They handled so well on my first few outings, that I took them up to the summit of Mt. Baden Powell with a 40lbs child carrier pack on.
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 rigidity of 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, partly due to it’s rocker geometry. 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 Wet Traction Contragrip outsole has proven to be very reliable on a number of different surfaces. The Sense Pro Max handles best on dry and rocky trails. Wet surface traction is okay, and the only thing I’ve slipped on is a smooth weathered log. The lugs are pretty shallow on this outsole, so loose gravel and mud require careful foot placement.
The durability of the Sense Pro Max outsole has been great. The rubber sections look close to new, and the exposed section of midsole only show an expected level of scuffing.
The Sense Pro Max is an impressive shoe, providing protection and high mileage comfort in a lightweight package. They’re not the most stable or responsive shoe on the market, but up there with the best in the max-cushion offerings. At $150, the Sense Pro Max is priced competitively to similar offerings from Hoka and Altra. If you’re looking for a shoe to wear on recovery days, or are looking for a max protection trail shoe, give the Sense Pro Max a try.
Things I Liked:
- Breathable upper
- Comfort on long day hikes
Things I Didn’t Like:
- Lacking stability on steep downhills