Salewa’s Ultra Train 2 is a trail shoe specifically designed for speed hiking, fastpacking, and high alpine mountain training. The low-profile upper has a precise fit with a durable and protective outer shell. This upper is the biggest update over the first version of the Ultra Train. The protective 8mm drop midsole and aggressive Michelin compound outsole are carryovers from the original Ultra Train, which will be welcome news to those that enjoyed the original. I’ve been wear testing the Salewa’s Ultra Train 2 since they were released a few months ago, and will share my experience in this review.
Fit and Feel
Sizing and Weight
I wear a size 12 in the Salewa Ultra Train 2 which is my standard trail shoe size. A size 12 comes in at 12.9oz, which is pretty light considering the amount of features and overlays used on this shoe’s uppers.
The toebox on the Ultra Train 2 has a wide anatomical shape, but is very low volume. When I first tried this shoe on, I could feel the fabric of the upper against the tops of my toes. The shoes have broken in nicely since then, and the upper fabrics in the toebox have a little more give. Despite the low volume in the toebox, the overall comfort while hiking is excellent and hasn’t caused any toe or skin issues.
The Ultra Train 2 has a narrow fit throughout the midfoot and is a shoe to avoid if you have wide feet. My feet are slightly wider than a standard D width, leaving them a little too snug when laced up in this shoe. The narrow profile does provide very good lateral stability and has kept my feet from moving around on some very steep and off-camber trails.
The heel on the Ultra Train has a deep seated heel cup that grips my foot like hand. There is absolutely no slipping at toe off or lateral movement in this shoe. The heel cup is high and stiff, which you can feel on your achilles at full toe extension. As these shoes have broken in, the heel has softened a bit, but the slight pressure on my achilles is still noticeable and not something I enjoy. The heel stiffness comes from a heel counter that wraps around the back of the shoe. As a test, I tried to compress the heel upper with my hand and was only able to get a little compression on the very top bit of inner fabric. I like a rigid heel counter for lateral stability, but this design is just way too stiff for my liking.
The Salewa Ultra Train has a breathable mesh upper with protective overlays in high wear areas. On the toebox, medial midfoot, and lateral midfoot, Salewa uses synthetic overlays to protect the feet from rocks and other sharp trail obstacles. The heel an “anti-rock” heel cup for even more protection. This is one of the most highly protected lightweight trail shoes I’ve ever tried. I took them through a few talus fields while intentionally dragging my feet just to see how they would handle, and was amazed at the protection. Unlike some other highly padded trail shoes, these ones provide protection while maintaining breathability and the ability to drain while wet. A very nice combination.
Salewa uses a quick tie lacing system similar to Salomon’s, but I’ve found that it doesn’t work as well. The laces tie up great at the beginning of each hike, but loosen a little as the miles add up. The laces attach to the 3F fit system, that you can see in the photo above. The 3F system ties the lacing into a support webbing that wraps around the heel and midfoot. On top of the laces, the Ultra Train 2 has a tongue that is no gusseted, but the shoe does have a debris shield stitched above the tongue. Everything on the upper has performed flawlessly for me so far. The comfort, stability, protection, and performance has been top notch. I just wish the heel was a little more malleable.
The Salewa has a low profile 8mm drop midsole with 24mm in the heel and 16mm in the forefoot. The injected EVA is stable and provides ample cushioning over dirt, rocks, sand and hard pack. There doesn’t appear to be a forefoot rock plate in this shoe, which is noticeable on rockier trails.
In the midfoot of the midsole, Salewa uses a TPU chassis to provide lateral stability and torsional rigidity. I really love the feel of the Ultra Train 2 on technical terrain, and this TPU insert is a bit reason why. My ideal shoe has a flexible forefoot, but a stiff and more rigid midfoot and heel. The Ultra Train 2 nails it on both points.
My only knock on the midsole is that the entire platform is narrow, much like the fit of the upper. The base of the shoe is quite a bit more narrow than the outline of my foot, which makes me prone to ankle rolling in this shoe. The TPU insert does a good job of counteracting that roll, but not all the time.This isn’t something I noticed with a light day pack on, but it is very noticeable with a backpack or kid carrier. If you have a narrow foot, this shoe is going to be an amazing performer. If you have wide feet like me, it will leave you wishing you were standing on a wider platform.
For the outsole of the Ultra Train 2, Salewa has partnered with world renowned tire make Michelin. Michelin has created what they call ‘Outdoor Compound X’, and Salewa has used this compound on a a very aggressive lug design. The outsole provides really nice grip and traction on hard pack, smooth rock, talus, and sand.
The outsole on the Ultra Train 2 is decoupled with a cutout between the heel and midfoot section. After 20-30 miles on the Ultra Train 2, I stated to notice a bit of delimitation on the inner corners of the midsole section. I put some glue on after noticing that, and have not seen any more deterioration.
There is a lot to like about the Salewa Ultra Train 2. This shoe provides a ton of protection in a lightweight package, the midsole is well cushioned and responsive, and the Michelin rubber outsole provides phenomenal grip on a variety of surfaces. The Ultra Train 2 just doesn’t feel like a perfect fit for my foot though, and after every hike I came away thinking about how narrow and low volume it is. For those of you with narrow feet, make sure to give this shoe a try. For those with slightly wide or super wide feet, give this shoe a pass.