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Photo Credit: Dan Stinton

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Shoe Review

04-Jan-21

Last updated: 15-Feb-21

By Dan Stinton

My running buddies glanced down at my feet and smirked at the colour trainers that adorned them.  Sparkling new without a speck of dirt, I was definitely sporting that “new trainer” look and with a rather striking purple upper the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 do stand out from the crowd.  When you’re squelching through the mud in the Peak District though, the last thing anyone will be able to see is the colour of your shoes.

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First impressions out of the box were good.  The S/Lab Ultra 3 felt lightweight, looked wide enough for my feet (a problem I encounter a lot), although I had gone half a size up from my usual shoe to give that bit of extra width.  The shoe itself is what I’d call a “slipper” type design where the tongue isn’t separate but instead is attached to a comfortable sock liner within the shoe.  The top of the tongue seamlessly continues around the ankle almost like a low gaiter which grips around the lower ankle.  I had some quite low socks on when I first put them on and found the top of the tongue was above my socks which felt like it could cause some serious rubbing, but with a quick change of socks I was good to go. The “gaiter” did feel quite tight which I thought could be a problem but after many miles of running I’ve experienced no issues at all.  The upper is predominantly mesh, advertised as anti-debris (see later) and breathable.

The midsole is a comfortable foam with a quite cool graduated colour fade from purple to red.  The lugs are around 4mm and don’t look particularly aggressive but are designed to “deliver confidence on wet, dry, hard and loose surfaces”. What were they like in action?

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Features

  • Designed for long distance performance and comfort
  • Quicklace (with lace pocket)
  • Contagrip MA outsole
  • Energy Save polyurethane foam midsole for long distance running/hiking
  • 8mm Drop
  • Weight 290g
  • RRP £165 from Salomon


Pros: What’s good about the S/Lab Ultra 3

I found the S/Lab Ultra 3 comfortable from the first run, with an airy, lightweight upper and a well-cushioned sole.  After my first ten miles I was very impressed at the immediate comfort and felt like I was cruising along the trails with no need to “wear them in”.  Many of us will be familiar with the Quicklace system which works well and stays tight for an entire run.  Whilst there is a lace pocket, I always find it a bit fiddly so generally don’t bother tucking the toggle away and haven’t experienced any adverse effects. 

The lugs gripped well on most surfaces and as an all-rounder I think they do a good job, but it’s clear these aren’t for extremely muddy situations. I felt reasonably confident on wet rock which seems to be a problematic surface with many shoes, but it is clear that these are perfect for long days out of the trails.  I’d also be happy to race shorter distances, although they’re not as light as the S/Lab Sense range.

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Cons: What’s not so good about the S/Lab Ultra 3

Longevity is always hard to assess but somewhat disappointingly I’ve managed to wear (or tear) a hole by the “knuckle” of my big toe.  I noticed this after a six-hour, very wet and boggy run, feet often submerged, completely off-trail, and scraping through deep heather. I’m not sure if I caught them on something, or if the continuous soaking and difficult underfoot terrain just wasn’t what the upper was designed for. 

I did find when cleaning them, (or more accurately, putting them on again after not cleaning them) that despite the anti-debris claims, there was an accumulation of dirt particles inside.  This didn’t become an issue whilst running, so clearly the mesh kept out any bigger particles, but it must have let some smaller dirt particles through.  It wasn’t particularly problematic but worth noting.

Due to the slipper/gaiter design I don’t think low ankle socks would work very well as they’d be below the rim of the shoe, so I always used higher socks.

 

Conclusion

I’d confidently pick the S/Lab Ultra 3 for long days out on the trails and hills, which is exactly what I’ve done during the review period, and they’re one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve run in.  They’re not ideal in extreme mud as the soles just aren’t aggressive enough, but that isn’t what they’re designed for.  Tearing them at just under 100 miles was disappointing and it does raise questions over the potential longevity, and with the top-end price there may be some concerns over the value if others experienced the similar issues with wear and tear.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 8/10
Performance 9/10
Value 7/10
Overall 8.25/10

 

Have you tried the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.

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About the writer: Dan is a Peak District based runner collecting mud and scrapes in and around Glossop, he likes nothing more than escaping into the Dark Peak and then writing about how difficult it was in his blog.

All images by Dan Stinton.

Review Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Shoe Review

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BristolRich

08:37 14-02-21

Took these out for a mixed run, bit of trail, some mud and pavement to get there. Very comfortable and would trust them for 100 mile races, although will be interested about longevity as they were expensive, have an FKT attempt soon and will be my chosen shoe assuming they last on the training runs between now and then.