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Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 Review: Locked In, Way In - Too In?
By David Salas and Matthew Klein

The Salmon S/Lab Ultra 3 V2 is the ultra running trail shoe for the company that is able to tackle a little bit of everything. The shoe has moderate-sized lugs and a relatively low profile. The overall experience is a firm riding shoe with enough cushion to tackle long distances that require varying terrain.

Salomon S-Lab Ultra 3 v2
Price: $179.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.1oz, 258g (men's size 9), oz, g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 29mm heel/21mm forefoot
Drop: 8mm
Classification: Trail Running Shoe


Matt: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 is a long distance/ultramarathon trail shoe/racer for those who want a slightly snug fit, a protective but moderate stack height and excellent grip. The Matryx upper is slightly long and narrow, providing a secure fit that locks you in no matter the terrain. The Energy Save and EnergyCell+ provide light and absorbent cushioning that makes it easy to get into a rhythm over longer miles. A solid option for long distances if you don't want maximal but still want protection and speed, the S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 continues on as an option for those who want something nimble for the trails. 

David: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 continues upon the successful first model. The shoe provides a firm yet cushioned ride with a performance feel throughout. The new Matryx upper is very dialed in and snug to the foot. The Ultra 3 is a nimble option for those wanting to take the shoe moderate to long distances. 

: Brooks Catamount 2


David: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 V2 fits true to size in my men's 9.5. The fit throughout is very snug however. The first time trying this shoe I did have a little bit of a hard time getting the shoe on. The shoe upper has some slight stretch to it and this has become easier since breaking the shoe in. The fit is supposed to be sock like and in some ways it is similar. The upper certainly hugs the contours of the foot and ankle and retains a snug to normal width throughout the full length of the shoe. There is some mild reinforcement throughout the upper materials and the security is pretty good. The Quicklace system also locks down well, though the pocket to hold the adjuster is a little hard to access. Because of this I usually loop the excess lacing material through the laces. There is a really thin heel counter that helps hold the structure of the heel cup. It doesn't have much padding but is integrated pretty well with the upper and I did have any major translation or security issues.

One thing I noticed right away was that when I put these on I would get a sensation of pressure to my lateral midfoot and forefoot. This has still been present even after break in. The forefoot does not have too much room for toe splay and the fit is on the narrow side. With that said the volume is also very low and snug throughout. The hold on the foot is really good, though I do feel that there could be more room through the forefoot to avoid excess pressure to the 5th met head.

Matt: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 fits me true to size, if a tiny bit long, in my normal Men's US size 10. The fit is slightly long and narrow throughout and like David, I had a hard time getting this shoe on initially. Once I did, it stayed quite secure and I did not have to do much with the lacing system to further lock my foot down. The Quick Lace system did have a little more length than I needed, so I had to make sure to secure it so I wouldn't trip on it. The forefoot fits snug with some mild stretch to the material. As I started running, I noticed the extra length less and less as the upper conformed to my foot. With longer efforts, the little extra length was welcome and I was glad I had it particularly during steep descents. The midfoot also fits snug with a once piece upper and no separate tongue. The tongue area has additional padding, so fortunately I did not feel pressure from the quicklace system.

The heel fits normal to slightly snug with a flexible heel counter. I was surprised given this was my first experience in the S/Lab Ultra series and there wasn't a stiff heel counter. The top of the heel collar is sock-like, unlike the rest of the shoe which is supposed to be sock-like. Instead, it fits more like a snug, protective glove, which is great for trail running. I have taking these through a variety of steep Monrovia trails and despite my best efforts, the upper has remained quite intact. So while the fit is a bit narrow and long, it stays secure and tough. 


Matt: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 V2 is a slightly firmer riding and moderate stack height trail shoe. Initially, I did not see this as an ultramarathon shoe, especially with the current maximal offerings (and the seeming popularity of the S/Lab Genesis). The full-length EnergyCell+ and Energy Save is not bouncy but does provide a surprising amount of cushioning. The ride is slightly firmer but has a dampening feel. The midsole seems to dissipate forces well and while it won't bounce you along, it will keep your feet protected. The ProFeel TPU film does its job as protection from rocks is good. This added some stiffness to the midfoot while the forefoot was moderately flexible. Despite the 9.1 oz weight (men's size 9), it did not feel nimble to me. The shoe transitions well with a decent heel bevel and the forefoot rolls decently, but it didn't feel like a shoe that I could pick up the pace in or dance through rocks in. Instead, it feels like a shoe that just wanted to hold a consistent pace for a long time. I did try to pick up the pace and it felt a little clunky. Running at slower and moderate efforts felt much better, which is why I suspect that those who do NOT want a max cushion shoe but want something that can hold a pace for a long time may enjoy this shoe.

Outsole traction-wise this shoe did well on a variety of terrain. It does well climbing on dirt and can handle some mud. However, I found it did best on dry trail. Rocky terrain was fine but not the best given the difficulty with its nimbleness (apparently that is a word). On road the lugs did not get in the way, but the midsole does better on softer surfaces. Durability has been excellent, which was surprising for me given all the roads I have to run to get to trail. I have 25 miles in my pair and the lugs have maintained themselves well. For those that are okay with a more moderate stack height, traditional trail racer, this may be an excellent longer effort/race shoe.  

David:  The Salmon S/Lab Ultra 3 does not exactly scream ultra running shoe to me when I run in it, though I can see some potential appeal. Despite the firm ride the midsole actually does hold its structure well and I could see myself running a decent amount of miles on it. The outsole lugs are 4mm which is a nice moderate size to help with traction, but still not be overkill on road or fire road surfaces. There is a small heel bevel and toe spring to the shoe, though the shoe does run more like a flat than a rockered shoe. The ride is very nimble on foot and the traction holds well. There is a small TPU insert to help with rock protection that does its job pretty well.

I will say that I get a pressure on the lateral aspect of my forefoot and midfoot though. This feels like it is a combination of the upper being narrow and the integration with the midsole and TPU insert. I get pressure to the region and will have some genuine discomfort with longer miles, despite liking the ride of the shoe. The fit of the upper is very dialed in and feels like a short distance racer, so I do think this could allow for some more room for swelling accommodation and platform integration. I felt that I almost needed to dodge the lateral side of the shoe and run exclusively through the great toe to avoid the pressure. With that said the transitions are surprisingly natural and the shoe feels very nimble when running. Ironically I feel like I would consider this for a short 25k over 50k+ distances though. 


Matt: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 is a neutral trail shoe. While there are some mild sidewalls, there are no major methods of stability. There are small sidewalls at the medial and lateral midfoot. However, these are offset by a highly narrowed midfoot sole, which is surprising for a trail shoe. There is no major sole flaring except slightly in the forefoot. The TPU insert does add some stiffness to the midfoot, but it only slightly offsets the narrowed middle. Those with stability needs, especially in the midfoot, will find this shoe can only handle short distances (which it does for me). Only those with centered, stable mechanics will be able to take this shoe for longer efforts. 

David:  The Salmon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 is not a stability shoe but does some things well. The shoe has good traction underfoot and a firm, reliable platform. There are not many surprises on this shoe. The TPU inserts seem to help with keeping the shoe feel grounded and less likely to deform to uneven terrain. The upper locks down a little too well, though you do feel secure in that category. The one thing I notice with stability on this model is the shaping and integration of any sidewalls or sole flaring medially and laterally. I mentioned earlier that this feels like a shorter distance racer vs a long distance racer. There really isn't much sole flaring or usage of sidewalls throughout the length of the shoe. I think this is also at play with my discomfort to the lateral midfoot and forefoot. I have a tendency to supinate a little and I feel the shoe does not do a great job of holding stability laterally. The shoe is not undercut by any means, but does not have much reinforcement placed into to aid with torsional forces.  

Thoughts as a DPT: What Does Nimble Even Mean? 
By David Salas

This thought came to me when writing this review. What does nimble even mean? It is a word that we use a lot to describe shoes that are relatively low to the ground, lightweight, and usually not overly soft, but that does not define the word. When thinking of the DPT section I was looking for studies to define this, though there really isn't much out there. According to the Oxford dictionary nimble is defined as this: Quick and light in movement or action; agile. 

These are some adjectives that sound pretty important for trail running and make for an interesting topic point in that world. Now more than ever people are pushing for maximum stack height offerings in footwear. With these climbing stack heights and new midsole materials more research is being put into that field to see what is happening at our body. One thing that has been pretty consistent in that world is an increase in leg stiffness with maximalist shoes (Kulmala et al., 2018). This usually happens because muscle activation tends to be higher around knee and hip joints with max stack height shoes due to some anticipatory forces, stabilization, etc. Anecdotally this also makes turning and change of direction a little harder as well. There is certainly a balance to this, but I do think it is a field that should be explored more in the trail running world in research, as being nimble is very necessary when you are traversing constantly varying terrain. 


Kulmala, J-P., Kosonen, J., Nurminen, J., & Avela, J. (2018). Running in highly cushioned shoes increases leg stiffness and amplifies impact loading. Scientific Reports, 8:17496


Matt: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 surprised me as I liked it more than I expected. However, I want to echo David's thoughts on the upper and add my own to the midsole. The narrow upper will only work for certain people and it could be more accommodating not only for a variety of foot types, but for the natural increase in foot volume that happens with longer-distance racing. The Salomon last is a little different than other companies, but I would love to see more room up in the forefoot, especially with how important toe mobility is with forefoot shock absorption. My thought on the midsole is that I am disappointed. For $180, I would expect more out of a shoe in today's landscape of footwear design. The midsole does absorb shock well, but gives nothing back. In an era of shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Rift (which is $10 cheaper), I would like to see there be more bounce and energy return from the midsole, especially in a shoe meant to be efficient over long distances.

My final piece is that the midfoot needs to be addressed. This shoe does not have a stable midfoot either direction, which is disappointing for something meant for long distances where you will fatigue on unstable terrain. I would highly suggest Salomon widen that and play with different geometries and foams to keep the weight down. 

David: I enjoyed my experience in the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2. I do think there are some adjustments they can make though. The biggest would be in the forefoot and in the upper volume. I am fine with the geometry, traction, plates, etc., though they could be integrated better. The fit of the shoe, especially in the forefoot is very snug and can cause pressure on the sides of the foot. Especially for an ultra marathon shoe this would be nice to have a little more volume in this region. The second would be making for a better integration of the TPU plate. One thing that could help would be increasing the sole flare in that region and slightly shifting the TPU insert with it. That could take less pressure off of the lateral forefoot without sacrificing the design usage. 


Matt: The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 is a trail running shoe for those with narrow feet/wanting a snug ride with a moderate stack height and cushioning that is shock-absorbing but not energy-returning. The ride is quite neutral, especially in the midfoot and will work best for those who do not want or have stability needs. For most people it will be a moderate-distance trail running shoe given the more narrow fit, but those with narrow feet that want a type of shoe like this may find this works for ultra-marathon distances (as it has for many previously).  

David: The Salmon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 is a trail running shoe for those that want a very snug and connected experience to the ground. The overall ride is firm, though still maintains a decent amount of cushion. The upper is very snug and dialed in. The geometry is a little more flat, compared to many of the rockered shoes out there. This probably feels more like a short distance trail racing shoe vs. an ultra distances shoe but for those that can handle they could use it for ultras. Those that struggle with snug and low volume shoes this probably may be one to avoid.


Fit: (Great lockdown, although shoe fits narrow, slightly long and still tight in the forefoot)
B+ (Good shock-absorbing, moderate stack height shoe. Holds easy and moderate paces well on a variety of terrain)
Stability: B- [Neutral] (Narrowed midfoot less stable. Offset by good lockdown but highly neutral shoe)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Nothing new here outside of a newer but still narrow upper)
Personal: B- (While I enjoyed this more than expected, I was still disappointed. Not stable enough for me and not a ride that makes me want to race. However, that is what I am interested in the Salomon S/Lab Genesis for,.... so will hopefully get a pair)

Fit: B (Lockdown almost too good. Security solid throughout, though too tight through forefoot with pressure laterally)
Performance: B+/A- 
(Nimble, fun, decent responsiveness, though the forefoot has a lot of pressure to the lateral region by the TPU plate and upper integration. I do struggle a little seeing this as an ultra shoe for me.)
Stability: B (Grounded, good traction, good lockdown, though no sole flaring or sidewalls make for a very neutral shoe)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (An interesting sensation of nimble and grounded running with a surprising amount of cushion, though nothing revolutionary here)
Personal: B (I like the ride of the shoe but have a hard time choosing it due to the pressure I get on the lateral side of my foot)
Overall: B 


Salomon S-Lab Ultra 3 v2
Price: $179.95 at Running Warehouse

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Salomon for sending us pairs.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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