Salomon has updated the SLAB Ultra with a refined upper while keeping the midsole and outsole unchanged. The SLAB Ultra was the shoe I wore most in 2018, and was my footwear of choice for the 150-mile Camino Portuguese. The SLAB Ultra 2 keeps everything I loved about the original, while also improving on some of the fit issues I had with it’s upper. I’ve covered more than 100 miles of hiking, trail running, and backpacking with the SLAB Ultra 2 and will share my thoughts in this review.
Size, Weight, and Fit
My size 11.5 of the SLAB Ultra 2 comes in just shy of 12 oz, and fits true to size. I had to size up a half size in the original SLAB Ultra to keep the toebox from rubbing my pinkie toes. The last of the new SLAB Ultra 2 is a little wider up front, which allows for a true to size fit. This 11.5 is the same as I wear in the Ultra Pro which has a wider toebox than the Ultra 2, and the Sense Ride 2 which is a little tighter up front.
The SLAB Ultra 2 has a standard Salomon fit in the heel, with a slightly narrow and snug fit. The only counter on the heel is provided by the external laminate overlay, making for a pliable, yet secure fit. Since my very first steps, the SLAB Ultra 2 has been a very comfortable shoe and has not caused any hot spots or blisters. Like most SLAB products, the Ultra 2 is built to be lightweight and performance oriented. Alongside the minimal counter, there is also a small and compact layer of foam in the heel. This combination provides a great lockdown for steep and off kilter terrain.
The midfoot on the Ultra 2 is a little narrow, but free from the second set of midfoot ‘wings’ found on the original SLAB Ultra. Solomon decided to ditch the extra set of wings on the Ultra 2 and replaced them with a solid yet flexible laminate overlay. I wouldn’t be surprised if Salomon ditches the wing system entirely for the Ultra 3 and goes with all laminate overlays for lateral support.
The laminate overlays provide a much better fit that expands with my foot, doesn’t create any pressure points, and does not restrict the flow of air or moisture as much as the wings on the original SLAB Ultra. I’ve worn the SLAB Ultra 2 for 10+mile trail runs, backpacking trips with a 20lbs+ pack, and speed hikes. The security, stability, and comfort on this upper are top notch, and make it my shoe of choice for any outing.
The wider toebox on the SLAB Ultra 2 is an improvement that is even more important than the removal of the Ultra’s midfoot wings. Salomon has relaxed the fit of the forefoot in the Ultra 2 with a more anatomical shape to prevent the hotspots many runners were prone to get in the original Ultra’s. The width is similar to the Ultra Pro, but the Ultra 2 has a little less volume in comparison. Still, the Ultra 2 is an all-day trail shoe that has kept my toes blister free over the past few months.
The upper on the Salomon SLAB Ultra 2 is built using a finely woven mesh that breathes very well on hot days. On top of this mesh, Salomon uses a welded overlay for lateral support, and a Sensi-Fit wing built into the lacing system for additional lock-down stability. An endofit bootie wraps the foot like a sock, and Salomon keeps the improved top loading lace garage that needs to trickle down to the rest of their trail running lineup. The toebox has an ample amount of protection in the toe guard, without making the shoe too stiff or rigid.
This upper of the Ultra 2 has proven to be very durable and has provided ample protection despite it’s lightweight build. As mentioned above, I’ve taken the Ultra 2 on many 10+ mile runs, a few speed hikes, and a couple backpacking outings. There is no premature wear, and the shoes have performed flawlessly.
The midsole on the SLAB Ultra 2 is a carryover from the original SLAB Ultra. Built on an 8mm drop, the SLAB Ultra 2 has 26mm of cushion in the heel and 18mm in the forefoot. Salomon uses a firm and stable EVA for the base of this midsole, with a visible white PU insert in the forefoot. PU is denser than EVA, making it more stable and more protective. In between the PU insert and EVA top bed, Salomon adds a Pro-feel film insert for additional underfoot protection from rocks and sharp surfaces.
Having used the SLAB Ultra on rocky trails, talus fields, dirt roads, and cobblestone streets, I can say that this is the most dynamic midsole I’ve ever used. The protection underfoot is enough for the roughest trails you’ll come across, and yet the shoe still has the cushioning for comfortable miles on asphalt and hard pack. This my favorite midsole of any trail shoe I have.
The outsole on the SLAB Ultra 2 uses the tried and true trapezoidal lug pattern found on Salomon’s XA Elevate, Sense Ride 2, Ultra Pro, and other models. This Premium Wet Traction Contragrip outsole rubber compound paired with a trapezoidal lug pattern is designed to perform on any trail your adventures demand of you. I’ve taken this shoe on steep rutted downhills, muddy sidehills, slick granite, and sandy washes. In every outing, this outsole just keeps performing.
The only downside of the Premium Wet Traction Contragrip is that it’s soft and sticky composition can cause it to wear a little prematurely. I wore down the lugs on the original SLAB Ultra at around 250 miles. At around 100 miles on the SLAB Ultra 2, I’m seeing a little lug chipping through the lateral forefoot. This hasn’t impacted the performance of the shoe, but is worth mentioning on a $180 pair of trail shoes.
At $180, the Salomon SLAB Ultra 2 is one of the most expensive piece of trail running shoes on the market. Despite the price, the cost per mile and comfort per mile of the Ultra 2 make it a ‘must try’ trail shoe option for those of you seeking a premium performer. The improved fit of the Ultra 2 make it a worthy upgrade for anyone that wore the original SLAB Ultra.
If you’re looking for a max cushion shoe that provides the polish of the SLAB Ultra 2, but has a little more underfoot, the Evo Mafate is the shoe for you. Hoka just announced the new Hoka Evo Mafate 2 this month, so make sure to keep an eye out for that review in the months ahead.
The Ultra Pro is very similar to the SLAB Ultra 2. The Ultra Pro has a better fit in the toe box, but has a stiffer upper with the two wing setup. The underfoot ride is very similar for both shoes. The Ultra Pro is $30 less expensive which helps for those that like to rotate with multiple pairs during training.
If you like the stable ride of Ultra 2, but want something a little more aggressive, the Akasha is an oldie but a goodie. This shoe by La Sportiva has a grippy outsole and a plush midsole that is perfect for long days on the trail.