I’ve never owned a dedicated pair of trail running shoes. Maybe that makes me ill-equipped to write a review on Salomon’s latest Ultra Glide Trail shoe? Or, maybe it makes me the perfect person…
Salomon’s latest trail shoe, the Ultra Glide, is their softest trail shoe yet, and that makes it the perfect shoe into which to dip your proverbial toes and get a taste for the trail.
With lockdown in full effect and tiring of the same local road loop that passes five bus stops, eight traffic lights, a shopping mall, two magnolias, a cherry blossom and two tennis courts, the folks at Salomon were kind enough to share their latest creation.
With these shoes strapped to my feet, I’ve rediscovered a love for running and parts of my LGA that I didn’t know existed, and which are significantly more interesting and might I say, difficult to run around, than the pavement. I even saw an echidna, which is a pretty damn good reason to get into trail running if you ask me!
If you want to run more — short of getting a job as a gear editor — the Salomon Ultra Glides are a sure good place to start. Finding a shoe that you’re excited to wear does wonders. I think my road shoes are jealous.
I’ve heard from Salomon runners like Courtney Atkinson, and Editor Tim, that these are perhaps most similar to Salomon’s Sense Ride 4’s. Tim reviewed the Sense Ride 3’s here – and might have become romantically involved with them; ‘a stunning trail runner.’
But, where many of our previous trail shoe reviews have started with the performance attributes of the footwear, here I want to start with comfort.
Salomon considers comfort to be this shoes’ number one selling point after all.
‘Developed to deliver incredibly comfortable cushioning and all-day comfort even over long distances, the ULTRA GLIDE combines extra-lightweight feel with exceptional grip and a secure, comfy fit.’
Indeed, you can’t have performance without comfort and this shoe marks Salomon’s first real foray into the world of max-cushion.
Brands are experimenting with all kinds of midsole materials at the moment. The North Face have even thrown some carbon fibre into their Flight Vectiv Trail shoes which Tim reviewed. However, if it’s a super soft ride you’re after, Salomon’s ultra responsive midsole materials are considerably more forgiving.
It’s called an ‘energy surge’ midsole which describes the lightweight, cushy foam they’ve created by combining EVA and Olefin [OBC] — some techy polymers — that basically equate to a long-lasting cushion and bouncy return after every footfall. It’s the softest cushion in their range, also found in the Phantasm and Pulsar shoes for comparison.
However, such comfort can come at the cost of stability. To combat the disconnect sometimes felt by adding extra foam between the foot and trail, Salomon have made the Ultra Glide with a wider overall footprint for increased contact and stability.
So, the long and short of it is, this is a shoe that can cover the greatest variety of terrain without sacrifice. The soft, reverse camber and 32mm stack height meant it felt comfortable running the few kilometres along the road and footpath from my house to the nearest technical trail. And it still performed as you would expect a top of the line Salomon shoe to perform on the trail once I got there, and started to scramble over soft sandstone, roots and dirt.
I actually got carried away the first time I ran in them and logged 15km off the bat with around 50% of that spent jumping between the road, footpath and nature strip. Something that Tim tells me you definitely wouldn’t get away with in another less forgiving trail shoe.
It’s even hard to distinguish where the comfort ends and the performance begins with these shoes as they’re so inextricably linked.
The ‘Ultra Ride’ midsole and outsole has an aggressive rocker for a trail shoe which is why they feel so smooth on the road and seem built more for milder trails than really technically difficult and demanding terrain.
I’ve enjoyed the shoes the most on this less technical terrain, where they – or is it me – can get into a roll. They’ve excelled on anything from fire trails, gravel and sealed roads to somewhat technical and hilly single track. I even did a few kilometres on metal grates which I usually find pretty grim to run on yet these took them in their stride — or rather, their glide.
The shoes remain incredibly light at 260 grams (lighter than the TNF Flight Vectivs at 280 grams) and are more than capable at handling the rocky stuff when asked of them. They’re a top of the line salomon shoe after all.
To illustrate just how light and cushy these things are compared to the rest of the range, they actually weigh 3 grams less than the S/Lab Ultra 3’s but have a 4mm higher stack height (cushioning).
These shoes were also my first introduction to Salomon’s Quicklace lacing system. After some initial skepticism, I’m a complete convert and love how inconspicuous the laces become once tucked into the little pouch on the tongue. Unfortunately, this feature means I do lose an excuse to stop running — to tie my laces — as the Quicklace system hasn’t come undone once.
Since these are Salomon’s longer distance/comfort model, it stands to reason that they should also be super durable. After all, they’re literally built to run 100 kilometres at a time — in comfort, or whatever relative comfort is possible after running for that long — so the more realistic 5 – 20km jaunts should be a breeze. I’ve now totalled around 70km in my pair and they don’t look a day over 1km.
We also know that the Contagrip is one of the most tried and tested trail shoe soles, so you shouldn’t have any concerns that these will wear away unreasonably.
Salomon has some of the nicest looking shoes in the game (in my, and probably many others opinions) and I don’t think these are any exception. I rate the block colours and don’t feel like a weirdo gliding down supermarket aisles in them either.
We’ve been consistently coveting the women’s colours here at WAE and the Ultra-Glides are again delighting.
In fact, you’re actually spoilt for choice as far as colours go with these, which you can’t often say about a trail shoe — sometimes you’re just stuck with the one option and have to love it or leave it.
In the case of the Ultra Glides, women have a choice of Mecca Orange/Red Orange and Crystal Blue in one shoe or Bluestone/Pearl Blue and Ebony in the other.
Now, if that’s as clear as the mud you’d expect to run through in these shoes, you’re not alone, so here are the photo comparisons.
What outlandish colours are the mens shoes also available in, you ask?
Well, I was kitted out with the grey pair, or as Salomon prefers to call them, the Monument/Pearl Blue and Evening Primrose coloured shoes.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s the more understated Black/Alloy and Goji Berry or the most poppy Crystal Teal/Barrier Reef and Goji Berry colour which we documented in our first look at the shoes.
These shoes tick two critical boxes for me, and dare I say, anyone else thinking of getting into the trail game — comfort and terrain.
As someone not always inclined to drive somewhere to go for a run, I relished the fact I could slip these on and easily run 3-4 kilometres along sealed roads to the start of the actual trail and back again, after the real fun, without any worries. Also something I suspect will get even easier as they continue to break-in.
While admittedly not the cheapest trail shoe option out there, with a recommended retail of $270AUD ($245 from Wild Earth), I do think the ‘jack of all trails’ nature of the shoel make it a worthwhile investment. If you only want to buy one trail shoe, and let’s not kid ourselves, that’s most of us, this is the shoe for you.
Matt was sent the Ultra Glide trail runners by Salomon (to keep him sane during lockdown) and was allowed to keep them afterward, the views are his own.
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