Salomon Sense Ride 3
Test Locations: Crested Butte, Boulder, Buena Vista, & Front Range mountains, Colorado
Test Duration: ~100 miles
Stated Stack Height: 25 mm (heel) to 17 mm (forefoot)
Stated Heel to Toe Drop: 8 mm
- Contragrip MA Outsole – balances both the geometry and the rubber compound to deliver confidence on wet, dry, hard or loose surfaces, and offer long-term durability.
- Optivibe Midsole – A combination of foams, one to dampen, one to propel. This was developed to reduce vibration upon foot strike aimed to decrease muscle fatigue without affecting the overall ride
- Profeel Film Chassis – helps filter out rocks and sharp surfaces, for more comfort and stability.
- EndoFit™ – An internal fit sleeve designed to hug the foot in exactly the right places and provide a precise fit
- SensiFit™ – cradles the foot from the midsole to the lacing system, providing a secure, snug, and virtually customized fit all around the foot.
- Quicklace™ with lace pocket
MSRP: $120 (on sale for $72-$90 as of publishing)
Size Tested: Women’s Size 8
Stated Weight (US Women’s Size 8): 235 g / 8.3 oz
Blister’s Measured Weight (US Women’s size 8): 281 g / 9.9 oz
Reviewer (Runner Profile): 5’10”, 115 lbs
The Sense Ride has been one of my favorite Salomon shoes since I first started running in it several years ago. Salomon says they took “inspiration from their road running shoes” to make the Sense Ride, combining a slightly softer midsole and slightly wider platform similar to their road shoes with a grippier outsole, rock protection, and a fine mesh upper to make a shoe designed to be “ideal for all your trail adventures.”
I ran in the Sense Ride 2 for several years during training, racing, and even during part of my 100-mile race last year, the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. This year Salomon released the newest update of the Sense Ride, the Sense Ride 3, which features a few different updates throughout the shoe.
I hadn’t run in Sense Ride 2 for several months, so I was eager to see how the new model of the shoe would feel. I tested the Sense Ride 3 on a variety of terrain, including local trails around Boulder, Colorado, singletrack in Crested Butte, some sections of the Colorado Trail near Leadville, and in the Front Range Rockies. After about 100 miles in the Sense Ride 3, I think they offer a slightly different feel than the previous model, but still maintain much of the versatility that made me a fan of the past iterations.
As always, we highly recommend trying on any shoe before buying when possible. With that said, I can add some thoughts on how the Salomon Sense Ride 3 fits my feet, which are fairly low volume but have large bunions.
Overall, and particularly after a few runs in it, the Sense Ride 3 has fit my feet pretty well. Its toe box does feel wider than previous iterations of the shoe, though the Sense Ride 3’s fit is still fairly narrow through the midfoot, like many Salomon shoes. Initially, I was spending a good deal of time messing with the laces in order to get the shoe to fit as snugly as I’d like. But after I wore the shoes a handful of times, I was able to simply tighten the quick laces and go. This is something I’ve noticed with past versions of the Sense Ride, which I think comes down to the laces and fabric needing to soften up a bit.
The Sense Ride 3 has a similar fit through the midfoot to the S/Lab Ultra 2 and the Salomon Speedcross, but the Sense Ride 3’s toe box felt a bit roomier than those shoes, reminding me of the Hoka Challenger ATR 5 in that regard. That said, its toe box is still not as voluminous as most of Altra and Topo Athletic’s shoes.
The only fit-related issue I had with the Sense Ride 3 was that I seemed to experience more rubbing on the bunion near my big toe than I have in other shoes. I’ve gotten plenty of blisters in that spot in the past, but many of the other shoes I have been running in haven’t caused this issue. After a few runs in the Sense Ride 3 I started wearing thicker socks, which helped get rid of the rubbing.
Weight (and Comparisons)
Our pair of the US Women’s size 8 Sense Ride 3 came in at 281 g per shoe, which is significantly heavier than Salomon’s stated weight of 235 g. That said, I was pretty surprised when I saw the measured weight since the shoe never felt particularly heavy or cumbersome to me, potentially due to its pretty secure fit and efficient cushioning. If low weight is a priority, you’ve definitely got better options, but I personally never felt like its weight was a limiting factor or otherwise really noticeable, whether on smooth or very technical trails. For reference, here’s how the stated weights of a few shoes in roughly the same category compare to our measured weight of the Sense Ride 3 (all weights are based on a US Women’s size 8):
225 g / 7.9 oz — La Sportiva Kaptiva
233 g / 8.2 oz — Scarpa Spin RS
235 g / 8.28 oz — Nike Pegasus Trail 36
247 g / 8.7oz — Altra Lone Peak 4.5
249 g / 8.78 oz — Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2
281 g / 9.9 oz — Salomon Sense Ride 3 (measured weight)
The Sense Ride 3’s upper has a new look and design, and equates to one of the bigger differences between it and the previous version. The Sense Ride 3’s upper mostly consists of a finely knit mesh, but it still features Salomon’s “SensiFit” midfoot reinforcements and their “EndoFit” internal sleeve. The various pieces of the upper are mostly laminated rather than stitched together, eliminating seams for a more sock-like fit. Like all of the previous versions of the Sense Ride, the 3rd iteration uses a quick lace system.
The new upper is primarily designed to do a better job of keeping debris out of the shoe, without seriously compromising breathability — and I think they pretty much accomplished that. The mesh is finer than previous versions, and it has an almost glossy-looking finish. During long runs like the Pawnee-Buchanan Loop near Nederland, Colorado, the Sense Ride 3 kept my feet free of dust and dirt, something that often occurs during long days on the trail. Even so, I still found the Sense Ride 3 to be plenty breathable on hot days. When I got my feet wet during river crossings, it did take the shoes a bit to dry, but it still wasn’t noticeably longer than the Sense Ride 2. All the models of the Sense Ride have felt pretty average to me in terms of drainage / dry time; they are not the slowest drying shoes I have run in, but not the quickest, either.
As I have found with most quick lace systems, the laces seem to loosen up a bit over the course of a long day on the trail. This is never a huge issue, since I can just stop and tighten them, but it is still worth noting. Due to the Sense Ride 3’s fairly secure fit, it was less problematic when the laces loosened than in some higher-volume Salomon shoes like the Ultra /Pro.
Midsole and Cushioning
Salomon says that the Sense Ride 3 draws inspiration from their road running shoes, with added cushion and their dual-compound “Optivibe” foam to provide a comfortable ride. Salomon’s Optivibe midsole compound is a combination of different-density foams, with the goal of both absorbing impacts without reducing energy return. The Sense Ride 3 also has a “Profeel Film” rock protection layer located in the forefoot.
Overall, the Sense Ride 3’s midsole cushioning felt comfortable without feeling sluggish / inefficient. The shoe provided plenty of energy return to power uphill or at pretty fast paces, but also offered enough cushioning to keep my feet comfortable for all-day outings. It’s still on the more cushioned end of the spectrum so the Sense Ride 3 wouldn’t be my top pick for a short, fast trail race, but for longer races and everyday training, I found the Sense Ride 3 to be a good option. The rock plate / film in the front is also nice to have — I felt confident while jumping from rock to rock without experiencing any foot pain.
My longest run in the Sense Ride 3 was about 27 miles, but I could easily imagine wearing the shoe for longer runs without issues (in the past, I’ve run at least part of many ultra races in some version of the Sense Ride). It’s far from the most plush shoe, but if you’ve gotten along well with other Salomon shoes with similar stack heights, the Sense Ride 3 should feel pretty similar. In terms of rebound and energy return, the Sense Ride 3 doesn’t feel quite as springy as the La Sportiva Kaptiva or the Scarpa Spin RS, but provided a more lively and efficient ride compared to the Salomon Ultra /Pro and Scarpa Spin Ultra. For the cushioning that the Sense Ride 3 provides, it’s still overall an energetic and pretty efficient shoe.
Outsole and Traction
Overall, the outsole of the Sense Ride hasn’t changed much from version 2 to version 3. The Sense Ride 3’s outsole still uses Salomon’s Contragrip MA rubber, which is their middle-of-the-road compound in terms of grip vs. durability. I’ve used many other Salomon shoes with the same compound, including the Ultra /Pro, Sense 4 /Pro, and the S/Lab Ultra 3, and have generally come away pretty happy with its combo of grip and durability.
The lugs / tread pattern on the Sense Ride 3 looks basically identical to the previous model, and combined with the versatile Contagrip MA rubber, it allows for solid traction on most conditions without feeling slow or excessively grippy on smoother, packed trails. The tread pattern on the Sense Ride 3 is pretty standard for a do-it-all trail shoe, seeming pretty similar to the outsoles on the Nike Pegasus Trail, La Sportiva Kaptiva, and Scarpa Spin RS. All those shoes feel pretty comfortable and smooth on packed trails while also providing the grip needed for more rocky terrain.
The Sense Ride 3 provided enough traction for all the terrain I took the shoe on, though I haven’t used it in really wet conditions and I’m sure it won’t be amazing there, due to its fairly short, compact tread pattern. I never experienced any issues with slipping on loose gravel or smooth rocks when wearing the shoes, yet it still left me feeling like I could move quickly and efficiently on smoother trails, dirt roads, or even the occasional stretch of pavement.
On The Trail
I have taken the Sense Ride 3 on a wide variety of runs around Boulder, Crested Butte, the Sawatch Mountain Range, and the Front Range Rockies, including both my everyday training runs (~10 miles) as well as some longer runs ranging from 15-27 miles.
Having run in the previous models of the Sense Ride, I had an idea / expectation of what this shoe would feel like on the trails. Like the Sense Ride 2, version 3 provides a softer, more comfortable feel than some of Salomon’s other shoes like the Speedcross or the Scarpa Spin RS, but it’s also not as soft (or inefficient) as more cushioned shoes like the Hoka Challenger ATR 5 or Altra Timp 2.0. I have never thought of Salomon’s shoes as being particularly “plush,” even when Salomon emphasizes a shoe’s added cushion, and the Sense Ride 3 followed this trend — it felt slightly more cushioned than the previous model, but it’s still not nearly as plush as many of Hoka and Altra’s more maximal shoes (e.g., Hoka Speedgoat & Altra Timp). Overall, I think the Sense Ride 3 felt most similar to the Salomon Ultra /Pro in terms of overall cushioning, but with a far more secure fit and an overall more agile feel thanks to the lower volume fit, lower weight, and slightly more energetic midsole.
Compared to some of the La Sportiva and Nike Trail shoes I’ve recently been using, the Sense Ride 3’s fit does still feel a little sloppy (even after the initial break-in period), which is most noticeable on more technical terrain and / or at faster paces. I think this mostly came down to the fact that there was just a bit too much room in the toe box for my feet, even though I was wearing the size I always wear and had no other issues with fit.
The Sense Ride 3 felt far more nimble and precise on the trail compared to the Ultra /Pro, but the Sense Ride 3 did not remind me of more race-oriented shoes like the Salomon S/Lab Sense 8 or even the La Sportiva Kaptiva. Compared to more minimal shoes like those two, the Sense Ride 3’s slightly higher-volume fit, heavier weight, and thicker midsole made it feel slightly less precise, efficient, and stable. It’s still a pretty lightweight shoe and how secure and nimble it feels will depend a bit on your feet and personal preferences. The Sense Ride 3 feels great on most smooth trails and is still pretty confidence inspiring on technical terrain at moderate paces, but for example, when I ran the Pawnee-Buchannan loop, the shoe felt great until the last rocky, technical, fairly steep descent.
Aside from this slight downfall, I really enjoy running in the Sense Ride 3 overall. I think it is a super versatile shoe, since I can run on smoother packed trails without feeling bogged down by the shoe or more technical trails (at a more cautious pace) without worrying too much about slipping or rolling an ankle. And as I mentioned previously, I think this shoe would be a solid option for longer training runs and races — it feels pretty efficient at the paces you’d be running in a long-race setting, but it’s much more comfortable on everyday training runs compared to most of the more minimal, faster, race-oriented options out there.
Since I’ve only put about 100 miles on the Sense Ride 3, I can only speak to how they are holding up so far. As always, I will update this section as I continue to put more miles on the shoe.
After about 300 miles in the previous Sense Ride 2, its outsole ended up pretty worn down and its upper had begun to develop some small holes / tears. So far, the Sense Ride 3 is holding up well with almost no noticeable deterioration. While its outsole lugs aren’t showing any signs of wear so far, it uses the same rubber compound as the last iteration, so I doubt it’d be notably better when it comes to the long-term durability of the outsole. The new upper does seem to be holding up better than the previous version of the shoe did at a similar mileage mark, showing no signs of tearing or fraying so far. The midsole has packed out slightly, but not so much that it impacts overall performance — the shoe now just feels more molded to my foot.
Who’s It For?
If you have run in any of the previous models of the Sense Ride and enjoyed the overall performance and feel of them, I think that the newest model is worth purchasing whenever you need a replacement since it still offers much of what people have come to like about the series.
The Sense Ride 3 fit my low-volume foot well, especially once I got the laces adjusted to my foot. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the Sense Ride 3’s slightly wider toe box, it may be a perk for runners who like a more spacious fit in that area.
If you haven’t run in the older Sense Rides, I think the Sense Ride 3 is still worth a look if you run on a wide variety of trails, don’t want a super minimal, harsh shoe, also don’t want some super maximal, slow one, and aren’t frequently trying to run fast through really rocky, off-camber terrain. It feels at home running on roads to trailheads, smoother trails, and moderately technical sections all in the span of one run, and it does that while feeling both pretty efficient and pretty comfortable during longer outings.
As someone who has been a fan of the Salomon Sense Ride since the first model came out, I was not let down by the latest iteration. Similar to the older versions, the Sense Ride 3 provided plenty of cushion for my preferences on longer days without feeling overly soft and inefficient at fairly fast paces.
The Sense Ride 3 works quite well for both shorter and longer-distance runs, as well as the majority of trail conditions, apart from super wet or very technical, fast-paced sections. Whether I was running the smooth singletrack on Deer Creek in Crested Butte, up Green Mountain in Boulder, or doing the Pawnee Buchanan loop in the Front Range Rockies, the Sense Ride 3 felt consistent and reliable. While it’s not a shoe that has a single standout characteristic, it’s the Sense Ride 3’s ability to rarely feel like the clearly wrong shoe for most scenarios that makes it appealing.