Tim tackles balance, branded technologies and fashun in his review of the new Salomon Sense Ride 3.
Have you heard of gorpcore? The term basically means ‘wearing outdoor gear as fashion’ and comes from the American acronym for trail mix ‘Good Ol’ Raisins & Peanuts’ (does that mean we should be calling it Scroggincore?). Models strutting the runway in puffer jackets was the last thing I could have predicted but it’s a thing, and it’s lead to everything from The North Face X Supreme collabs to people leaving the GORE-TEX tags on their rain jackets (what happens when it rains champ?).
Anyway, I recently found out that French-founded (Adidas-owned) trail brand Salomon is getting a little bit trendy and honestly, it’s hard work figuring out where streetwear ends and tech gear begins nowadays. Heck, am I sounding old?
When I caught news that the updated Salomon Sense Ride 3 was hitting Aussie shores I jumped online and… there was a white one. A completely white trail runner. ‘Egads!’ I thought, oldly, ‘Will it not get muddy?’
So, has Salomon completely taken leave of their senses?
Apparently not, they’re just covering all bases so they can make it to the runway at Milan.
Unfortunately, this review ain’t no styling guide.* I’m reviewing the techy updates Salomon’s squeezed into the Sense Ride 3:
- ‘The fit and feel of a road runner in a trail running shoe’
- Optivibe dynamic cushioning and vibration reduction
- A new dual-compound Contagrip sole that allows for more natural running action through decoupling
In plain English? Salomon reckon this is your new ‘everyday’ trail runner, hitting a perfect blend between comfort, performance, durability and looks. So that’s what I’m going to look at.
*Ok one style tip. The blue Sense Ride 3’s go really well with the Le Bent Le Lucy trail running sock. It’s wack, they’re like the same colour. I wore them together for the photos so you can steal my look.
Slipping on the Salomon Sense Ride 3s for the first time felt like a big hug from Mum. The foam around the heel is increased from the Sense Ride 1 and 2 and the stitch-free welded upper worked with ‘SensFit’ and ‘EndoFit’ (Salomon’s fancy names for the internal sleeve of the shoe) to eliminate any gaps, slip and uneven pressure.
Because my foot was wrapped in memory foam, I made the mistake of not tightening the runners enough, leading to some half-way rolled ankles, but once I started cranking them down properly and broke them in, this issue disappeared.
The lacing system is a bit fiddly – it tightens naturally and even accommodates my weirdly narrow feet, but for something called ‘Quicklace’ it isn’t quicker than normal laces. The shoes feature a little pocket to tuck the laces neatly into, but when you pull the tab to tighten them the laces tighten over the opening of this pocket. My Salomon S/LAB Ultras don’t do this, and I’m surprised to find such an annoying issue in a 3rd generation shoe.
Some testers have said the shoe is a bit narrow, but I didn’t notice much difference from my other runners.
Salomon has brought over the optivibe tech from its road runners (like the Sonic 3 series) which features dual-density foam in the heel. This gives the cushioning needed, without making the shoe feel like a marshmallow.
In fact, they really spring off the mark, I reckon the Sense Ride 3s are the best shoe I’ve ever used for mixed trail. They’re comfy for long stints on concrete (especially if you strike the ground heel-first) but firm and tactile when you move into more technical terrain. At last, the perfect suburban runner.
I like how comfy the Sense Ride 3s are but I love the grip. The diamond-shaped lugs now go right to the edge and they bite hard, allowing you to use every single bit of the shoe. The sole uses a dual-density Contagrip rubber; low-density in the middle and higher density around the perimeter, which feels really natural – it’s almost like you can wrap your feet around the trail features that are thrown at you.
Instead of the feeling that there was a bulge of rubber and foam between my shoe and the ground, I simply felt protection where it was needed. I’m not sure if this is the ‘decoupling’ Salomon was talking about (there’s no obvious split through the sole of the shoe) but the transition from the outer part of my heel, through to the ball of my foot, felt completely unimpeded by the shoe.
Salomon didn’t skimp on the rubber either. The Contagrip is super sticky, even in the wet. I think I scared the crap out of some old people when I bombed down a wet, rocky trail right in front of them, but that’s the joy of good grip, you don’t question if it’ll hold.
Pretty important for a trail runner! Salomon are using a new anti-debri mesh on the Sense Ride 3s that’s finer, and the lace attachments are more neatly tucked away. This means there’s less to catch on branches and so far, after about 50km, there’s no damage.
The toe cap isn’t as bulky as on the Sense Ride 2, but seems beefed up in certain places (I assume the places that wear our quickest). The heel also now features a rubberised wrap that runs quite high. The protection around the shoe means you can splash through shallow puddles without flooding the shoe. I repeat. Go jump in puddles.
The Sense Ride 3s feature a Profeel film that protects your foot from sharps, but I’m not sure they should have worried. The sole of mine still looks weirdly fresh despite everything I’ve thrown at it. I love how the grip has square edges, ensuring even performance throughout its life as it wears down.
The upper still looks new too – mud hasn’t stuck around (creating an interesting argument for the white runner fans no doubt). The rubber outsole is also a single piece now, which is sure to help the glue stay firm.
The only thing I noticed was the rubber handle that you tug on to tighten the laces slipped off one time, revealing the glued-together ends of the laces. It squeezed back on, but it’s still kinda weird it can happen at all. Honestly the laces are the only thing losing points in this whole review, but they’re definitely not a dealbreaker.
Alright here’s where I get to eat my words. The Salomon Sense Ride 3s are a stunning trail runner. They’re a bit of a compliment factory to be honest. Gone is the large ‘Salomon’ script across the side of the shoe, or the weird ‘vibe’ text down the side, replaced with simple logos and complementary colours. You can no doubt wear these in public without looking like an insufferable running fan, and that versatility is pretty awesome.
Men get blue, white and black while women get navy and purple, there are more colours available overseas but to be honest, the importer has got the pick of the lot here.
The heel cup looks awesome and when the laces are tucked away they’re a pretty rad shoe to wear day to day. Well they will be. I haven’t left the house to do much other than run for a few months now!
Pretty much every outdoor brand sets out to make things all-purpose, but few succeed. The more one thing can do, the less specialised it can be, whether it’s a headtorch-lantern hybrid or sleeping mat with an iPad stand. The Salomon Sense Ride 3 however, is regularly my first pick.
Most of the running I do combines all kinds of surfaces, I’m not just hitting the track or tearing through muddy bogs, in fact, I’m probably doing both. They’re designed for everyday running in the real world and Salomon have nailed it.