Friday, December 30, 2016

Salomon S-Lab Wings 8 Review

   We have another review today from the great Dr. Nathaniel S Kollias DVM, MPH.  He has access to some beautiful trails over in the New York area.  Dr. Kollias was kind enough to provide a review on one of his many trail shoes, the Salomon S-Lab Wings 8.  Read on to find out his thoughts.
History:
It all started in the year 1947, where a gentleman by the name of Francois Salomon and his son Georges began a saw blade and ski etch fabrication in Annecy, France.  The company continued to evolve and grow eventually becoming the number one ski and snow sport company in the world.  The year that interests runners is the year of 2006.  This marked the year that the company took its first steps into the world of competitive trail and sky running.  One athlete who has been paramount to the development and success of the running shoe line is Killian Jornet Burgada – who is one hell of an athlete!  Honestly, just YouTube his name and there is some great video footage of his running feats.  But I digress, as the focus of this review is that of a shoe from Salomon’s top of the line performance training shoes (with input from Killian, Emelie Forsberg (Sky Running World Champion 2013 – check out her bio, she gives Kilian a run for his money) and other greats). Ok, time for a shoe review of some Salomon trail runners!
Introduction:
Yes, I know what you are all thinking.  “Why in the world would I spend $180 for a pair of running shoes?”  Well my answer is simple, you are paying for the technology, craftsmanship, versatility, and durability.  I’ll be honest, I was hesitant at first and was leery of such a high-priced shoe as I have been disappointed in the past.  I promise you, after you read this review at the very least I will have opened your mind to trying out Salomon’s S-Lab shoes (or maybe one of their Pro line shoes).   Think of it this way, if these were a car, they would be a Ferrari versus the Toyota Corollas (your go to daily trainers).  Well enough rambling, on to the review of the Salomon S-Lab Wings 8!
Looks:
Ok so I may be biased (Cornell boy right here), but I LOVE the red, black, and white.  This shoe grabs people’s attention!  Honestly, Salomon does not miss a single detail on their shoes.  I like to call these my Lamborghini trail shoes.  These shoes are just beautifully designed and kind of makes you not want to get them dirty. There is function to this streamlined design, with the quick lace system, the Sensifit® upper, and partially molded EVA midsole, all contribute to this work of art.  Who says you can’t have style and function?
Stats:
(thanks to Running Warehouse®)
Heel to Toe Drop – mm heel mm forefoot
Weight – 9.8oz size 9.0 (MEN)
Price – $180
Colorways – Racing Red/Black UNISEX
Photo via runningwarehouse.com
Fit and Feel:
Remember how I described this shoe like a sports car?  Well the interior of this shoe also matches that of a high-end luxury car.  Your feet will never feel more comfortable slipping into a pair of trail shoes. At first I felt as if these would-be pushovers on the trail due to how plush the interior is (but as you will see below, NOT TRUE!).  This comfort is attributed to the Endofit® and Sensifit® system that Salomon has developed in their trail and road running shoes.  (Note: These technologies are only fully utilized in the S-Lab series; the sense and pro series has similar technologies but not to the level of the S-Lab.  I have tried on some of the Sense and Pro Line shoes and there is an appreciable difference in the fit and feel of the shoes.  The fit and feel of these other two lines from Salomon are good as well, just not great).  These two “systems” of the upper result in a shoe that fits like a second pair of socks (no I haven’t tried sockless, but for those who like that sort of thing could likely pull it off in these shoes).  The quick lace system locks down the exoskeleton of the upper with no seams, pressure points, or hot spots appreciated anywhere.  The midfoot is held in place within the saddle of the Sensifit® upper (see picture below and you can appreciate the zig zag pattern that holds the midfoot in place).  The heel counter is minimal, but still does a fantastic job of giving just enough support in the heel region to prevent fatigue or irritation on longer outings. Also, no heel slippage! Another company that has realized that the heel is the narrowest part of the foot.  There is a full rubber toe cap and a thick TPU film like material running along the lateral and medial edge of the shoe (see white region between the upper “red” and midsole “black”) that does an excellent job providing protection from sticks, rocks, etc. on the trail.  There are also reflective details on the upper, which is appreciated in low light running.  One other cool aspect of this shoe has Kevlar quick laces and there even is a lace garage located on the tongue of the shoe.  If you manage to get it to work, it works great…but for me it is more of a nuisance and could use a little tweaking (more on this later).  Overall, breathability of the shoe is great, with mesh integrated into the upper and there appears to be some sort of thin plastic like material over the upper. This thin upper overlay surprisingly provides a level of weather protection – repels water well and does not hold moisture during my trail runs in my neck of the woods here in the North East U.S.
Note the irritation I have with the lace garage.  I can’t ever seem to get it to work!  But I have no qualms with the uppers though!  Feel like silk!
Midsole/Outsole and Ride:
The midsole of this shoe comes in two varieties: molded and injected EVA.  I can think of a couple reasons for the use of these type of compounds.  For one, the injected EVA in theory gives more responsiveness and is method were the midsole rubber is injected into a mold and allowed to expand.  This is contrary to the molded EVA, which is where the rubber material is mashed into a specific predefined shape. The downside of the molded EVA is that it tends to be less responsive, but the positives are that durability is greatly improved and you can make some cool designs out of the rubber. On the other hand, injected EVA is that it tends to have a less “refined” look and wears down more quickly, but you get responsiveness in return. Thus, the use of these two rubbers gives you durability, a refined appearing midsole and responsiveness.  You will also be happy to know that there is a thin piece of plastic that is wedged between the midsole and outsole.  This piece of plastic material acts as both a lever arm for the foot during landing and propulsion as well as a flexible rock plate.  Overall, flexibility is moderate, with the cushioning on the firmer side (attributed to the EVA types), which is very noticeable on solid surfaces…but these shoes are not made for running on smooth pavement/concrete….it is on the trails where the midsole shines!  You get adequate protection and ground feel bestowing an excellent level or proprioception over anything mother nature may throw at you on the trails.  
You can appreciate the superb attention to detail with the design of this shoe.  The midsole in this picture is after 200 miles, which as you can see shows little to no wear and the upper is holding up nicely.
The last (and best aspect) of this shoe is the outsole that is covered with Contragrip® Rubber.  Here is a link with some great info on this material HERE which I will let you peruse at your leisure.  On inspection of the shoe, it seems that the Contragrip® is of a higher density along the lateral and medial edges of the outsole and between the nubs (grip on softer surfaces, torsional stability, and durability).  Conversely, the lower durometer or softer Contragrip® appears to exist on the tread and gives amazing traction on slick and wet surfaces.  I know this from running along wet, muddy, and slippery rooted trails, where one can easily lose their footing if not careful.  Yet, I have never once appreciated any slippage or instability running in these conditions.  A+ from me on grip and makes my other trails shoes seem sub-par in similar environmental conditions.

Image via runningwarehouse.com
If you look carefully, you can see some silver material poking out behind the outsole.  This material is that thin plastic plate I mentioned that acts as a rock plate.  The nice thing about the plate is it does indeed prevent stone bruising, but more importantly doesn’t decrease the flexibility.  Also, notice the arrange of the tread, which provides excellent grip on a variety of trail conditions.  
Durability:
After logging 200+ miles I am amazed at how little outsole (if any) and midsole wear has occurred.  Granted this is running on the dirt trails of Upstate New York, where the trails are littered with roots, rocks, and other debris.  You may experience a different level of lifespan depending on the conditions you run.  Nevertheless, compared to my Nike Terra Kiger 3’s, these seem to be wearing at a drastically slower rate.  I have only managed to get about 400miles out of the Kiger 3’s, but these S-lab Wings 8 I can see easily getting twice that amount of mileage.   
Rooms for Improvement:
The lace garage needs adjustment.  I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t work as easily as it should.  Good idea, just needs some refinement with the location or arrangement.  Also, I know that the price tag is justified by the technology, but it wouldn’t hurt to lower their price a little.  This will get more customers and I think it is achievable without damaging the quality.
Overall Impressions:
If you are looking for a versatile, every day, lightweight, trainer for the trails and one that could double as a great racer for ultra races?  Look no further!  I highly recommend these shoes and these shoes could very well become your go to trainers for the trail.  The utility of these shoes allows them to be used from well groomed trails to muddy trails littered with rocks and roots.  This is the pinnacle of what an all-around trail running shoe should be.  Happy running!
As always to quote my friend Matt, “Tack On!”
These opinions are my own, these were a personal purchase, and I received no monetary compensation for this review.  -Dr. Kolias, DVM, MPH

Editors Note:  As always, the views presented on this blog belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts).  My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking professional medical care.  If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist or medical professional.


Currently Dr. Kollias has well over 200 miles on his current pair of Salomon S-Lab Wings 8.  We put at least 75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them.  

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on (as Dr. Kollias already mentioned)!

-Dr. Klein, PT, DPT and Dr. Kollias, DVM, MPH

1 comment:

  1. Good thing you reviewed the S Lab version of the shoes! For whatever reason, Salomon thinks only their top-end shoes should fit properly, which is to say with a narrow heel. This hasn't been the case with non-S Lab shoes I've owned, such as the Sense Pro 2 and the X-Scream 3D. The heels of the two shoes always felt sloppy and difficult to tighten down, unless you strangled your feet with the quicklace... which always loosens up anyway. It has been different with the S Lab Sense 6 SG--an incredible shoe for running in sloppy conditions.

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