Salomon was late to the high cushion shoe market, but has joined the party in a big way with the Ultra Glide. This long distance cruiser has a plush midsole, grippy outsole, and comfortable upper, making it a great choice for a variety of trail types.
Way back in 2017 I reviewed a shoe from Salomon called the Sense Pro Max, which was technically Salomon’s first max cushion shoe. The Sense Pro Max had a very firm ride though and was quickly dropped and forgotten by the brand. Since 2017, it seems like just about every trail manufacturer has been following Hoka’s lead with plush max cushion offerings with the exception of Salomon. Well, in 2021 Salomon finally released their first max cushion shoe since 2017 with the new Ultra Glide.
Salomon fans will instantly feel at home in the Ultra Glides upper, as it closely resembles that of the S-Lab Ultra 2. The outsole is also a traditional Contragrip pattern and compound Salomon fans know and love. What’s new for the Ultra Glide is the Energy Surge midsole compound that is softer and springier than anything Salomon has created to date. I’ve been hammering away on my pair of Ultra Glides for about 7 months now in mixed hiking and trail running, and will share my mostly positive impressions in this review.
Sizing and Weight
I normally wear a size 11.5 US shoe, but size up to 12 for most trail shoes. The Ultra Glide fits true to size in my size 12, but has the traditional tight toe box of a Salomon that always leaves my foot wanting more space. I’ve been wearing a lot of Altra and Topo shoes this year, which makes me notice this even more. I read a few reviews for the Ultra Glide mentioning that they feel wider than your average Salomon. I have to respectfully disagree here.
My size 12 Ultra Glides weigh in at 11.41oz (324g), and feel very light and nimble on the foot. Despite the large midsole on this shoe, Salomon has done a great job of keeping the weight down.
Fit and Build
The upper on the Ultra Glide is traditional Salomon with a breathable air mesh base that drains water and dries quickly. On top of the air mesh, Salomon uses laminate overlays for support, with their ‘wings’ attaching at the arch for improved lateral support and stability. The interior heel collar is plush and very comfortable, reminding me of the Sense Ultra Pro.
As I mentioned above, the toebox on the Ultra Glide is a little tight, narrow, and shallow. The shoe also has a laminate toe guard that wraps up and over the foot, making things feel more snug than I like. The toe guard does offer good protection, but I have experienced some unhappy toes on long downhills.
The Ultra Glide fits very well through the midfoot. I have found my foot to slide around in many other max cushion shoes, but the lockdown with the Ultra Glide is spot on. Despite the tall and soft midsole, I never felt my feet losing their sense of stability on technical terrain.
The heel on the Ultra Glide is an extension of the midsole, with a very comfortable and secure fit. I have experienced no hotspots, rubbing, or discomfort.
The tongue on the Ultra Glide has the traditional gusseted bootie system of other Salomon shoes, with a bottom loading lace garage, and just enough padding to keep my foot from feeling the kevlar quick laces. I know the quick laces don’t work for everyone, but I’m a huge fan, and love the execution on the Ultra Glide like most other Salomons I own.
The new Energy Surge midsole on the Ultra Glide is a dynamic blend of EVA and Olefin. Built on a 6mm drop, the midsole has 34mm of stack in the heel and 28mm in the forefoot. For those that are accustomed to Salomon’s traditionally firm midsoles, the Ultra Glide will feel like a different brand. The durometer of the Ultra Glide is akin to my Altra Timps, but maybe even a little softer. This makes the Ultra Glide a fantastic shoe for all day comfort, slow runs, and long hikes on groomed trails. Despite the soft nature of the midsole, the Ultra Glide maintains a nice level of balance and stability, making it a nice option for fastpacking and peak bagging. The Ultra Glide also includes Salomon’s ProFeel film stone guard to protect against sharp objects on the trail.
I have found this midsole to be absolutely incredible for just about every use over the shoe’s first 50 miles. It was at that point I noticed the shoe starting to pack down a little prematurely. As a 180lbs man, I’m used to shoes wearing out a little quicker than usual, but the Ultra Glide is packing down much faster than most. Much of the pop and energy that had me loving this shoe early on has flattened out. It’s not quite dead, but it’s definitely noticeable. I’ve read a few reviews on this shoe, and am not alone in this. I hope Salomon can dial in the durometer for better life in future iterations of this midsole.
For the outsole of the Ultra Glide, Salomon uses a new variation on their tried and true Contragrip outsole. This lug pattern is fantastic on just about every surface. The trapezoidal lugs have a lot of grip surface area which work well for granite slabs, but also have the depth to bite into sandy and loose terrain. The lugs do have a little more space when compared to other models, which helps shake loose sticky debris like mud and clay.
At $140, the Ultra Glide is going to be a fantastic buy for lighter runners that are able to get more miles out of the shoe than I’ve been able to get. This is also a great option for runners an hikers looking to add a recovery day shoe to their rotation. For my use, the miles per dollar just didn’t add up. Despite that, I really loved the Ultra Glide and I think this shoe is still worth a try based on the amazing first 50 miles it gave me.