Salomon Ultra W /Pro
Test Locations: Crested Butte, Boulder, & the Sawatch Mountain Range, Colorado
Test Duration: 100 miles
Stated Stack Height: 23 mm (heel) / 15 mm (forefoot)
Stated Heel to Toe Drop: 8 mm
- Contagrip MA Outsole
- Energy Save PU Midsole
- EndoFit Technology
- Molded OrthoLite®
- Lace Pocket
Size Tested: Women’s Size 8
Stated Weight: 260 g / 9.17 oz
Blister Measured Weight Per Shoe (US Women’s Size 8): 262 g / 9.24 oz
While plenty of Salomon’s athletes have been running long races in their shoes for years, they recently released a model for the masses that’s designed specifically for ultra-length runs: the Ultra /Pro. The Ultra /Pro is modeled after the brand’s S/Lab version, the S/Lab Ultra 2, which provides many of the same features but in a lighter, more race-oriented design at a higher price point. In short, the Ultra /Pro is designed to provide long-distance comfort and support over a wide variety of terrain, more so than many of Salomon’s other, often more minimal shoes.
I had typically looked to the Salomon Sense Ride 3 for a more cushioned, long-distance shoe from Salomon, but I was eager to try out the Ultra /Pro and see how it compared to the Sense Ride 3 and the more expensive S/Lab Ultra 2, which I have also been using (full review coming soon).
I have so far taken the Ultra /Pro on a wide variety of trails, including the Boulder Skyline Traverse, which takes you over all of the main peaks in Boulder, as well as up Mount Antero, sections of the Colorado Trail, and Crested Butte. After about 100 miles in the Ultra /Pro, I have found the shoe to be a solid choice for certain scenarios, but there are some aspects of its design and performance that will be important to consider before buying.
As with all shoes, we recommend trying on the Ultra /Pro before ordering, if possible. This seems to be especially important with the Ultra /Pro, since it fits differently than many of the other Salomon shoes I have run in. For reference, I have a low-volume foot with fairly large bunions near my big toes. In most Salmon shoes, a US Women’s size 8 fits me very well, with minimal room for my foot to slide around, without being too snug.
Compared to the many other Salomon shoes I’ve used, the Ultra /Pro is boxier, longer, and just generally higher volume overall. I’m also not the only one who thinks so — I have heard from multiple people that they would’ve preferred this shoe a half-size smaller, and I’d recommend that most people try on that smaller size in addition to their typical size.
Since the Ultra /Pro is designed for long-distance running where your feet are likely to swell, it makes sense that it’s at least slightly roomier vs. its shorter-distance-oriented counterparts. But for both my normal, everyday runs (7 to 14 miles) and longer runs (15 to 30 miles), the extra room was sometimes problematic while also not feeling all that necessary while racing an ultra-length distance. Those with higher-volume feet may get along better with the Ultra /Pro, but I would highly recommend trying them on, as you may be better off in a smaller size than you would normally wear in a Salomon shoe.
The Ultra /Pro’s heel and midfoot feel slightly wider than Salomon’s other models, particularly the generally lower-volume S/Lab shoes, though the Ultra /Pro’s lacing system and structural side reinforcements do help keep it from feeling extremely sloppy / loose (more on that below).
Overall, the Ultra /Pro is just generally less snug / higher-volume compared to the S/Lab Ultra 2. While the Ultra /Pro features a more structured upper and lacing system, I personally found that I could get a more secure fit in the S/Lab Ultra 2.
The Ultra /Pro is a pretty heavy shoe for how much cushion it offers (23 / 15 mm stack height). While I did notice that the Ultra /Pro felt slightly heavier than some other shoes I have run in, the weight never proved to be a problem for me. But if you know you want a really lightweight shoe, you’ve definitely got better options (even several with more cushioning). For reference, below are some stated weights of a few shoes in the same general category as the Ultra /Pro. (All stated weights are for a US Women’s size 8, apart from the S/Lab Ultra 2, which is our measured weight for that same size.)
215 g / 7.6 oz — Hoka Torrent 2
218 g / 7.7 oz — Hoka Challenger ATR 5
221 g / 7.8 oz — Scarpa Spin Ultra
247 g / 8.7 oz — Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 (measured weight)
247 g / 8.7oz — Altra Lone Peak 4.5
260 g / 9.17 oz — Salomon Ultra /Pro
270 g / 9.5 oz — ON Cloudventure
Ultimately, I didn’t find the Ultra /Pro’s weight to be an issue for me. Even during 20+ mile runs in the mountains with considerable elevation gain, the weight of the shoe never drew attention to itself. It is by no means the lightest shoe I have run in, but I never personally felt like the weight of the shoe was making me run much slower.
The Ultra /Pro uses Salomon’s EndoFit design, which is essentially a “sleeve” of fabric from the midsole to the lacing system, designed to lock your foot into place. The tongue of the Ultra /Pro is integrated with the rest of the upper, preventing it from shifting side to side. The Ultra /Pro also has what Salomon calls a “welded” upper, featuring almost no stitching but with two fairly large overlays on each side that Salomon calls the “SensiFit Wings,” meant to add support, foot security, and more lacing customization.
All of these features do a pretty good job of creating a smooth, comfortable, yet secure fit — if the shoe is the right size for you. If it’s too big, the fit won’t be as snug and there’s a greater chance of rubbing / blisters, so again, be sure to try them on before buying if possible.
Overall, the Ultra /Pro’s upper feels more structured than most other Salomon shoes I have run in, such as the Sense Ride 3, S/Lab Ultra 2, and S/Lab Sense 7. It did initially feel like the sides of the Ultra /Pro near my ankle were too high, but after a few more runs, the upper became more flexible and no longer caused any issues. After a few runs, the upper had begun to soften and fold around the areas of flexion on my foot, but this did not make the shoe feel any less stable or comfortable.
Compared to the S/Lab Ultra 2, the Ultra /Pro’s upper is burlier and does not fit as snug. While many of the general features are the same across these two shoes, the S/Lab Ultra 2 features a thinner upper and one less side reinforcement (the “SensiFit Wings”), to keep the shoe lighter.
The second panel of the SensiFit Wings on the Ultra /Pro’s upper is designed to allow you to adjust the tightness of the shoes’ quicklace system, particularly around the midfoot, since it provides a non-stretchy attachment point for the laces there. I have never found quicklaces to be highly customizable (they usually just provide a uniform tightness), but this tends to be okay since most Salomon shoes tend to generally fit my foot well. While I think the “wing” helped me customize and tighten the Ultra /Pro’s fit slightly better in the midfoot than I could’ve without it, since the overall fit of the Ultra /Pro was a bit too large, I didn’t find it made a big difference in how secure the shoe felt. Compared to the S/Lab Ultra 2, which lacks the extra panel but is tighter overall, I still felt the S/Lab Ultra 2 had a more secure fit. Depending on your foot shape, some of the Ultra /Pro’s upper features may be more / less effective and comfortable.
Despite it being a bit big on me, so far, the Ultra /Pro has not caused any blisters or rubbing and its upper is showing minimal signs of wear.
Midsole and Cushioning
The Ultra /Pro’s midsole uses a reportedly long-lasting polyurethane foam and features Salomon’s “TPU Energy Save Insert,” which extends from the forefoot to the front of the heel area of the shoe. This dual-density midsole construction is designed to provide additional cushion and protection for long-distance running.
Like most Salomon shoes, the Ultra /Pro is not a “plush” shoe. While it has a higher stack height (23 / 15 mm for the women’s version) than some of their other shoes, the Ultra /Pro’s midsole is still stiff, which helps make the shoe feel efficient and fast, but not like you’re running on a pair of pillows.
The Ultra /Pro does not have a rock plate, but I never experienced any issues of stepping on a rock and feeling it through the shoe. It doesn’t offer a ton of ground feel, but I still felt close and fairly connected to the ground. I’d say the roomier fit was more of a hindrance in terms of technical terrain, rather than feeling like I was too far off the ground.
Overall, the Ultra /Pro’s cushion helped to keep my feet feeling supported and comfortable, even on 7-hour mountain runs. It doesn’t feel as plush as the Hoka Challenger ATR 5, but the cushion on the Ultra /Pro still felt a bit more comfortable on long efforts compared to the pretty stiff Sense Ride 3. Compared to the S/Lab Ultra 2, the cushioning of both shoes feels pretty similar. The biggest difference with the Ultra /Pro is that its midsole felt far less energetic / poppy vs. the S/Lab Ultra 2, and even the Sense Ride 3. So the Ultra /Pro is not going to be for those who prefer a super plush and / or super energetic shoe, but despite that, I still found its firmer, efficient cushioning comfortable on long runs.
Outsole and Traction
The Ultra /Pro uses Salomon’s proprietary ContraGrip MA rubber with a variety of multi-directional, moderate-size lugs. The lugs are much smaller than those on the soft-ground-oriented Salomon Speedcross 5, but slightly larger than the firm-ground-oriented S/Lab Sense 8. The Ultra /Pro’s outsole looks pretty similar to the S/Lab Ultra 2’s. The Ultra /Pro has more densely spaced lugs and lacks the cutout in the middle vs the S/Lab Ultra 2, but overall, the traction / grip was very similar between the two models.
During my runs in the Ultra /Pro, I felt the traction was sufficient on most of the surfaces I tend to run on. While I have not yet used them in mud or slippery conditions and I doubt they’d be amazing there, I did use the Ultra /Pro on a run up Mount Antero, a 14,000-foot peak in central Colorado. While most of that route was on packed dirt, the top of the mountain is just a scree / talus field. The Ultra /Pro provided plenty of traction on the rocks, as well as on the packed dirt during the ascent and descent. Given its fairly middle-of-the-road outsole, I don’t think it’ll be great in super sloppy, loose conditions, but I imagine it’d perform pretty well for a non-mud-specific shoe.
On The Trail
I really enjoyed the feel of the Ultra /Pro on long runs, especially on more “runnable,” less technical terrain. The midsole did a good job of keeping my feet feeling protected and fresh during longer durations while still providing a stiffer, efficient ride. While the shoe is slightly heavier than the S/Lab model, I felt the Ultra /Pro provided a comfortable, fairly fast ride for the majority of my runs.
My biggest issue with the performance of the Ultra /Pro was related to the fit, particularly as the terrain got more technical. Due to its slightly larger toe box and roomier midfoot, the shoe was not particularly confidence inspiring on rocky, rooty, or otherwise off-camber terrain. This was only really problematic on very rocky terrain, but even going up a mountain like Sanitas in Boulder, some of the more technical sections made me question the overall fit of the shoe — it just feels too roomy to confidently move fast on technical trails. This is why I’d be super curious to try it a half- or full-size smaller.
The Ultra /Pro did accomplish most of what Salomon stated the shoe was designed to do: provide long-distance comfort, protection, and support to help your feet as they fatigue. I did personally find that, even during long days on the trail, my feet overall felt supported and comfortable in the Ultra /Pro. I have not experienced any blisters or rubbing from the Ultra /Pro during my time in the shoes so far, and despite not being super plush or energetic, my feet have felt relatively fresh after long runs in this shoe.
Salomon does also claim that the Ultra /Pro will provide “ample grip for any surface.” While it does great on firmer surfaces, if you spend a lot of time on trails with a lot of loose and / or wet conditions, a shoe with bigger lugs, like the Salomon SpeedCross 5, will be a better choice. But for most training runs or races on less technical or dry trails, the Ultra /Pro has provided enough grip.
Comparing the Ultra /Pro to the S/Lab Ultra 2, the S/Lab version’s more precise fit and slightly lighter design made it feel more nimble and stable on rocky terrain, which was where I felt the least confident in the Ultra /Pro.
Before running in it, I was anticipating the Ultra /Pro to feel somewhat like the Hoka Challenger ATR 5, since the Ultra /Pro is designed for longer distances and that’s where the Challenger ATR 5 excels. But then again, the Challenger ATR 5 has a far higher stack height and the two feel quite different — the Ultra /Pro is considerably stiffer than the ATR 5, with a far less plush feel.
For most of the runs I tend to do, the Ultra /Pro performed well. It’s efficient thanks to its stiffer midsole, it’s kept my feet protected and feeling pretty good after longer efforts, and it grips well on most dry surfaces. While I do enjoy the feel of the shoe, the roomy fit and consequently insecure feel on technical sections of trail have kept it from becoming my go-to shoe for all runs.
After about 100 miles in the Ultra /Pro, they’re holding up quite well, which is basically what I would expect at this distance. The upper shows no signs of tearing or significant wear. As for the outsole, the lugs look like they did when I started running in the shoe. The midsole cushioning has started to pack down a bit, but this is mostly an aesthetic thing rather than any on-trail feel — while running, the cushion does not feel overly packed out. 100 miles is still relatively early to be able to make any claims about long-term durability, so I’ll update this section if I encounter any premature issues down the line.
Who’s It For?
If you are in the market for a longer-distance trail running shoe, the Ultra /Pro may be worth a look. While many of the shoes aimed for ultra-distances are super cushioned and soft, the firm, efficient ride of the Ultra / Pro sets it apart from most other shoes designed for the same scenarios. So if you know you like plush, maximalist shoes like the Hoka Challenger ATR 5, Hoka Speedgoat, or Altra Olympus 3.5, the Ultra /Pro is not for you. But if you prefer stiffer, firmer shoes that are closer to the ground, the Ultra /Pro makes more sense.
As I have stated a few times now, I would advise trying on the Ultra /Pro before buying, due to its trickier sizing (I’d definitely recommend trying on a half- or full-size smaller than your typical size). If you have a slightly higher-volume foot or prefer a roomier fit, the Ultra /Pro may fit you better than most other Salomon shoes, which tend to have a narrow midfoot and toe box.
The Ultra /Pro has a more cushioned ride than some of Salomon’s other shoes, such as the SpeedCross 5 and Sense Ride 3, but lacks the more precise / nimble feel of some of their other models, like the S/Lab Ultra 2 and S/Lab Sense 8. For longer training runs or races on less technical terrain, this could make it a good choice for those who would rather have a bit more support and cushion underfoot, rather than a super lightweight and / or close-fitting shoe.
If you’re like me, have a fairly low-volume foot, and tend to run on some rocky, rooty, off-camber terrain, I think it is worth the additional $30 to buy the S/Lab Ultra 2 rather than the Ultra /Pro. With my lower-volume foot, the S/Lab Ultra 2 felt like it provided an overall more secure fit and its lower weight helped make it feel more agile. The level of cushioning feels similar on the two, but with it’s slightly lower weight, more precise fit, and increased rebound / energy from its midsole, I ended up preferring the S/Lab Ultra 2 over the Ultra /Pro in spite of their numerous similarities.
The Salomon Ultra /Pro is a shoe that excels during longer runs on fairly mellow, non-technical trails. While it provides a more cushioned ride than some other Salomon models like the S/Lab Sense 8 and Speedcross 5, the Ultra /Pro is not a soft, plush shoe. This makes it feel efficient compared to its more maximalist, long-distance-oriented counterparts, though it won’t be for those who have gotten along just fine with those softer, squishier shoes.
I highly recommend trying on the Ultra /Pro before buying, if possible, since the sizing for this shoe in particular tends to be different and just generally larger than most other Salomon shoes. But if you get the size right and it fits your feet, the Ultra /Pro is a good option for those who tend to prefer a bit more cushioning and a higher-volume fit vs. what Salomon shoes typically offer.
2 comments on “Salomon Ultra /Pro”
Great review! It had all the little details I like to know about, including different applications. Very thorough!
I am confused by the fact that Salomon Ultra Pro’s (this model) have been around for 2+ and in this July 2020 review you make it sound like it just came up. Other that that its a good review