Review of the Salomon Sense 4 Pro
The Sense 4’s predecessor, the Sense Pro 3, was designed off the S/Lab Sense 6 which athletes the world-over decided strayed too far from its roots as a trimmed down racing shoe a’la Killian. I was not big fan of the Sense Pro 3 as it felt stiff all around and the lugs felt overly big and tippy on trails. Thus it ended up riding the bench a lot when I was grabbing for trail shoes. A lot of friends using the shoe, myself included, had the laces snap mid-run. The Sense Pro 4 is completely redesigned and takes a hard split from the 3, firmly leaving the 3 in the Shame Chamber. That’s like adjacent to the pain chamber….. but decidedly worse.
The redesigned 4 no longer has the super stiff upper, they shrunk the lugs a touch, put some stretch into the laces, ditched the plastic tubes in the eyelets which, when filled with grit, frayed and snapped the laces, and cut the rock plate (pro-feel film) in half and the shoe just seems sleeker and more nimble with some material upgrades all around.
The shoe weighs in at 272g (9.6 oz for men) which is 17g or 0.6oz per shoe heavier than the 3. The 4 rocks a stack height of 21mm to 17mm in the forefoot for a 4mm drop. FIT: The fit seems fine but one of the biggest gripes I have as a dedicated Salomon lover is that Salomon for 2020 decided added a bit of volume to the forefoot, leaving this model feeling a bit long and wide. The shoe fit is pretty good if just a touch long in the 9.5 which is what I got when I sent the 10’s back.
My heel is locked down, my forefoot is mostly locked down (only on the steeper downhills does my foot move up a bit) and my regular arch is comfy in the mid-foot. The forefoot does allow excellent toe splay which is good as I have a slightly wider foot. I like the overall fit and if you’re familiar with Salomon S/Labs’ it is near to a Sense 6 or 7 SG/FG but now in 2020 with a Half size (1/4”) more in length. Your foot just glides into the stretchy sock-like Sensi-fit Sleeve (Best in class! IMO) which wraps your foot in a cozy, snappy cocoon. Salomon in my opinion is still designing the best of this feature, still dubbed SensiFit.
The upper is a textile synthetic which is basically a lightly laminated mesh that is hydrophobic, exactly like the newer S/Lab Sense 7 and 8 series. That’s right a non-water absorbing upper! You can see Salomon’s Sense-Fit strips under the mesh which are anchored in the sole and link into the quick lace system on top. After over 100 rough trail miles, I’m happy to report, the outers on my Sense Pro 4’s still look practically brand new. The laces were updated and made a little stretchier, and as I mentioned, ditched the plastic tubes as many runners had them snapping mid-run. The quick lace system is a polarizing piece for Salomon, you either love it or hate it. I love it, its easy and quick to synch and have never had to stop and tighten them mid-run. I like the new lace-garage which is now on top of the tongue and have not had any issues with the lacing or the garage.
It’s a slightly thicker/denser midsole the the S/Lab Sense 6 & 7, which is where some of the weight gain comes in. For me, its all about the midsole on the 4’s. My favorite tech from Salomon in the past few years has been their evolution of the Vibe and EnergyCell midsole tech (I absolutely loved it in their road shoe, the Sonic RA Pro 2’s), which in 2020 has evolved into OptiVibe. It dampens vibration to conserve foot stamina and gives a little pop in energy return. I’ll take that all day! The Sense Pro 4’s midsole is responsive, cushioned and protective. The pro-feel film, Salomon’s rock plate, is really just a thin but denser piece of foam to protect the forefoot in this case. It now only covers the forefoot to conserve weight and let’s face it a rock plate on the back half of the shoe is superfluous. I’m really psyched on this midsole and feel it sets the shoe apart from other brands that are trying to hit this niche trail shoe for training and racing. It’s felt great on a bunch of long runs in snow, mud and was always nimble across dry rocky terrain.
Contragrip MA with 5mm lugs (shrunk down from 6mm on the 3, but a few added) sticks to everything, well nearly, the only issue I had was some slipping on a particularly muddy run back in the spring but that was likely pilot error. Love the outsole on the 4’s. Lug redesign added a few lugs to increase grip (on the instep and outside toe areas).
Salomon has created a really fun and snappy shoe here. There’s not much I don’t like about this shoe aside from Salomon’s sizing change. Its like Salomon injected a bunch of the greatest qualities and tech from the S/Lab Sense line but kept it trimmed down avoiding the clunky feel of a higher stack height and 8mm drop type shoe. As someone who races a lot in the Sense 6 & 7’s the added stack height and cushion felt like exactly what I needed to train in the shoe full-time.