We’re back from the 106 degree heat of the Sacramento trade show and man was it worth it! Leading up to the national show in Salt Lake City, Utah in early August, the Sacramento regional show acts as a great appetizer for summer 2013 items.
Of course we have to start with the most exciting topic, the 2013 Salomon trail running shoes! Over the last ten years, Salomon has been at the forefront of technical innovation, style, and complete functionality. It is always super exciting to sit down and preview the models for the upcoming summer.
While the Western States 100 Endurance run saw virtually every major record smashed this past June, we are still wondering what the race would have been like had Killian Jornet, the 2011 Champion, been able to attend. Due to the tragic and untimely death of a friend and mentor, Killian remained in Europe to do the right thing, namely spend time with friends and family while saying goodbye to a much loved adventure partner. We can only guess that his pro-model shoe, the S-LAB Sense, gets a new color way for 2013 as a tribute to Killian’s friend. The black/red color-way for 2013 is extremely beautiful, while functionally it remains the same as 2012. 7.4oz. (210 grams), 13mm-9mm drop, $180.
In addition to Killian’s race day shoe, Salomon has created an everyday trainer in the same mold. The new Sense Mantra, a door-to-trail hybrid for the pseudo-minimalist, is a great addition to the line up. With it’s 16mm-10mm drop and 9.2oz. (260 grams) weight, it looks to be a featherweight trainer without requiring the user to go to a 4mm or zero drop shoe. Salomon has been heavily delving into exactly how different heel-to-toe drops effect actual stride speed which has resulted in their “Natural Motion Construction.” Found in the S-LAB Sense and Mantra, this is characterized by a lower heel drop that supports a mid-foot or forefoot strike that in turn better enables muscles, instead of joints, to absorb shock. Ultimately, their argument is this builds greater balance and overall running efficiency.
The Sense Mantra is roughly characterized by the same minimalistic features found in the S-LAB Sense. Both models are heavily influenced by what Salomon calls “Proprioception” and “Protection.” This natural motion construction frees the foot to move, reduces the heel drop for a more rolling profile in the sole, and promotes better terrain feel. The result is greater foot strength and flexibility, better balance, reduced recovery time, and fewer injuries.
There are two major “Proprioception” design features. The first is a low heel drop that promotes mid-foot striking and enhanced agility. The second, Endofit, pertains to a sock-like fit technology that is “designed to hug the forefoot and secure the upper while providing a glove like fit.” It appears that the majority of top Salomon athletes rocking the Sense are definitely doing so without socks.
Under the “Protection” design category, Salomon focuses on two aspects: (1) Dynamic Traction Technology with their OS Tendon and (2) Profeel Film. These two aspects are driven by the fact that while minimalist/pseudo-minimalist runners want flexibility and terrain sensation, they still need underfoot protection from the trail environment.
As shown above, Dynamic Traction Technology, when paired with Salomon’s patented OS Tendon Technology, provides maximum surface grip regardless of condition. The OS Tendon gives the energy rebound we’re so used to from the Salomon mid-sole, while the lug design yields incredible grip at a fraction of the weight of normal outsoles.
Profeel Film is basically a carbon fiber-esque rock plate that provides fore-foot protection in an extremely lighweight package. Both the Dynamic Traction, OS Tendon Technology, and Profeel Film plate are shown below in the new Sense Mantra. Another design influence of the Sense is the nature of ultra-marathon distances and the effect they have on stride and foot strike. Salomon argues that such long distances splay the foot strike of any mid to fore-foot runner while fatigue and night running result in heel strike of these same racers. In their eyes, this dictates that some form of EVA padding is needed under the heel.
There are also exciting new updates to the ever-popular XR Crossmax.
For year 3 of it’s existence, the XR Crossmax gets somewhat of a major overhaul. Instead of splitting the Crossmax into “neutral” and “guidance” models, Salomon has standardized it exclusively into a neutral offering for 2013. Changes have been made to the mid and out-sole, toe box mesh, and the general cosmetic of this popular treadmill-to-trail hybrid. All in all, Salomon has made great changes to give it a sportier look while drastically increasing the runability of the model.
The mid-sole of the 2013 XR Crossmax is a segmented EVA opposed to the continual one of the present (and Fall 2012) model. The result is a springier, more flexible midsole with more of a road shoe feel. While the 2013 Crossmax still possesses the OS Tendon technology (for terrain adaptability and energy transmission), it isn’t as visible as the plastic heel of the first generation. This yields a sleeker, more athletic shoe. It also will possess a two-layer midsole for an ideal balance between cushioning and stability i.e. road and trail.
The outsole of the new Crossmax is basically the same as the current neutral offering, but with a slight change to the lugs in the interior segment of the heel and overall lug size. While more aggressive braking lugs have been added on the inside of the heel to give a slightly better grip on the loose trails, it isn’t over-the-top and will still perform well on firm surfaces. And while the overall lug size of the 2013 Crossmax has been downscaled, the actual number of lugs has increased. Perfect grip is provided by a dual-density Contagrip outsole designed to yield traction while not sacrificing support or durability. The OS Tendon Technology is now built in a continuous S-shape resulting in a smoother flex per stride while not sacrificing rock protection. The exact construction is shown below.
The toe-box mesh of the new Crossmax is more porous than its predecessor. Additionally, the SensiFlex laminate technology has been scaled down exclusively to the metatarsal area. The previous iteration, particularly the Crossmax Guidance, was characterized by a plastic reinforcement sewn under the “wings” in the SensiFit Technology. The new Crossmax loses this, resulting in a lighter, less stiff, and more natural fit. Other specs include a weight of 11.3oz (320 grams) and a drop of 20mm-9mm. Salomon positions the XR Crossmax as the ideal training hybrid. $140.
The XR Mission made it’s introduction for both men and women in the Spring of 2012. In over 10 years of selling footwear, this quickly became the single best selling model Alpenglow Sports has ever seen. The shoe remains identical for 2013, but Salomon has upped the ante by introducing some amazingly fun new colors for both genders. The specs on the XR Mission stay the same, namely a weight of 11.5oz. (325 g.), a 20mm-9mm drop, and a price tag of $110. Also new for 2013 is a de-tuned, laced, price-point version of the Mission called the XR Shift for $100.
The new color fun continues with the resoundingly-popular Speedcross 3. This beautifully designed, neutral trail runner has perhaps the best traction in the trail shoe world and actually performs remarkably well on firm terrain due to the aggressive lugs acting as additional cushion. The specs are identical to 2012: 11oz. (313 g.), 20mm-9mm, $125.
Lastly for 2013, Salomon debuts the RX Moc LAB in a sexy red and black motif similar to the S-LAB Sense. Designed and developed with world-class Salomon athletes, this moc combines SensiFlex Technology and OS Tendon construction that act to elevate recovery. 6oz. (171 g.) $90.
Stay tuned for the next preview, the amazing line-up of EXO clothing and trail running packs for 2013!