Salomon S-Lab X-Series – The first 100 miles

Salomon S-Lab X-Series
Salomon S-Lab X-Series

Salomon don’t do road shoes. It just wouldn’t be ‘on brand’ to run on tarmac for mile after mile.

For Salomon, running is for mountains, for finding your freedom running along countryside trails miles from civilisation, for loose footpaths and for mud.

In theory, I couldn’t agree more.

In practice, I like to do my running fresh out of my front door … and my front door is in Manchester. Even the trails I run on are firm, even surfaces. A lot of them – such as the canal towpath I run on most days – are even carefully laid tarmac, just like roads. In fact, the trails I run are mostly better surfaces than the roads!

And it’s for people like me, I think, that they have developed the S-Lab X-Series.

Looking at the website, it’s not a road shoe. No, no. Off brand, find your freedom, run the trails, etc.

No, the X-Series is designed for “an urban trail racecourse,” giving “precise foothold, assured traction, and a dynamic ride” and allowing runners to “race across a diverse urban landscape”.

Urban trails. Sounds a lot like footpath to me.

Of course, I’m poking fun at Salomon calling this a road shoe. But if I’m being fair, the joking stopped as soon as I put these shoes on.

Like my Salomon Sense Mantra, these fit like slippers. The tongue is stitched into the sole of the inner so wraps around your foot. The fast lacing system means that pressure is applied more equally around your foot than with traditional laces. While the toe box is quite wide, the back of the shoe is firm and structured like a trail shoe, meaning there’s no risk that foot will move around if you do come across some uneven urban trail (like kerbs).

And the weight! At 237g, these are super light compared with what I’m used to. They’ve also got an 8mm drop – higher than a trail shoe, but flatter than I’m used to for my main road shoes.

Even before I started running, they just feel fast. I love them.

Clicking the Salomon S Lab X-Series
Clicking the Salomon S Lab X-Series

In my first 100 miles, I’ve used them on the (tarmac and gravel) canal towpaths, on the Trans Pennine Trail, but mainly on road. I’ve used them for Parkruns and for the Wings for Life World Run, where I managed 17 miles in them (right).

On the longer distances, I did find that my toes did move around a little more than I’d have liked, but the cushioning (which I thought I’d find a little bit lightweight over longer, tarmac runs) was more than good enough.

As a result, I still reach for my New Balance 1080s for my usual long runs, but if I’m planning anything fast, these are my first choice.

I’ve not yet had chance to take these onto any proper trails – and while there’s still life in my Sense Mantras (currently approaching 600 miles), I’m not sure I will.

Based on how they feel on trail here, though, I’d be confident using them on the well-used stone footpaths in the Lakes (when dry), where the ability to run comfortably on tarmac for a few miles to and from the real trails will be a major benefit over full-on mud busters.

A Northern SoleAnything more muddy than that, and I wouldn’t expect the road soles (see left) to cope.

Overall, first impressions couldn’t be better. I really do love these shoes. My only concern is that, at £140 a pair (RRP), they’d need to survive an awful lot of tarmac miles for me to consider them good value alongside my usual shoes. Given that I’m using them for shorter distances, however, maybe it will be fairer for me to measure them on a cost-per-run, rather than a cost-per-mile basis.

Either way, time will tell. I’ll post again once I get above 500 miles or so.

The kind folk at Salomon gave me this pair to try as part of their #SalomonInsiders project

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