Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra SG (Soft Ground) – Review

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C’mon, GET A GRIP!

Oooooh grip! I love grip…. before you read anymore, I strongly suggest that you read my very recent review of the new Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra HERE

I loved the Sense 4 Ultra but I did say that due to the precision fit, 4mm drop and relatively tight toe box, it would not be a shoe for everyone! I suppose the same should apply here… it does BUT I do think that other factors come into play for the ‘SG’ version.

First and foremost, when running off road and when running in muddy, sloppy or technical terrain you most definitely need a shoe that is going to hold your foot, allow little or preferably no movement and of course be precise. That is the Sense 4 Ultra SG. So you see, although normally I wouldn’t say squeezing your foot into a shoe is a good idea, with a SG version it is acceptable based on two key principles:

  1. The shoe is not ‘too’ tight and in anyway causes discomfort, pain or unnecessary stress.
  2. You are not running for hours and hours.

If you fall into the above two options and you are thinking that the SG maybe or maybe not for you; it may well be worth a risk for the supreme fit, comfort and grip.

As with the Sense 4 Ultra (non SG) the new shoe has had thorough reworking taking into consideration much of the feedback not only from everyday runners like you and I but also the elite Salomon runners such as Kilian Jornet.

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SG stands for Soft Ground and as such, this shoe is all about grip when it’s needed. So, for many, the Sense 4 Ultra and Sense 4 Ultra SG go hand-in-hand and I think it’s fair to say that many will have (or at least wish for) both pairs of shoes.

©iancorless.com_Sense4SG-9072 The new shoe has been left alone in certain areas and tweaked and improved in other areas. Lets be clear, although it’s called SG it does make a perfect trail shoe for all conditions in my opinion. Admittedly, I wouldn’t want to run a pure hard trail in them but if I was mixing up dry trail, rocks, gravel, water, mud and a whole multitude of other surfaces, this is and would be my shoe of choice.

The Salomon S-Lab range very much follows the ethos of FAST and LIGHT but as the ‘Ultra’ name suggests, the shoe has a little more added to increase longevity and comfort. As with the Sense 4 Ultra, cushioning is 9mm and 13mm with a 4mm drop. I keep saying it but 4mm drop is not for everyone so don’t be tempted to use this shoe just because Kilian and the rest of the team use it… be sensible with shoe drop! The Fellraiser or Speedcross may be better options for you?
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The SG upper, like the Sense 4 Ultra has been revised. The fit has been tweaked with additional support added to the mid foot. Additional room has been added to the toe box but it’s marginal in my opinion. Sensifit has also been tweaked and the mapping on the upper is now different and holds the foot more secure.

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Sense 4 ULTRA on the left and the Sense 4 ULTRA SG on the right

Materials on the upper vary between the Sense 4 Ultra and the SG, the SG is more durable and arguably less breathable. The Sense 4 Ultra had additional toe box protection and the SG has even more added wich makes complete sense considering the shoe will be used in tougher terrain. If you read my Sense 4 Ultra review you will know how much I love Sensfit, Endofit and all the usual Salomon buzzwords. In a nutshell, for me, no shoe on the market fits as well as a Salomon Sense and I am inclusive in that statement; the Sense Pro, Sense Mantra 3 and so on all have that wonderful precise and secure hold. It’s the best! (If the shoe fits you)

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The SG is obviously a shoe for the rough and tough and the tongue has been changed to provide added protection and security. The fit between the upper and the tongue has been re-designed to reduce any possibility of debris entering. The lacing system and lace pocket again make the Salomon Sense stand head and shoulders above other shoes. It’s reliable, logical, provides great overall tension and of course, what you don’t need is stored away. The obvious downside is that adjusting tension is very difficult. So you’d have to make a call if that works for you! Many have said to me, ‘what if the lace breaks?’ In all honesty, I have never had a lace break and I don’t know anyone else who has.

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As with the Sense 4 Ultra, the SG has a complete overhaul of the outsole. The Contragrip lug pattern has been changed and the lugs are deeper to provide additional grip when the ground is soft and muddy but not so much grip that you cannot run on dry, hard or rocky trail. The compound has been revised and I noticed a difference on wet rock. The shoes have better bite. I said in my Sense 3 Ultra SG review (HERE) that although the shoe is called SG I wouldn’t necessarily say it would be my out-and-out soft ground shoe. The same applies here! I think the Sense 4 Ultra SG is an improvement on the previous model but if I just wanted a shoe for mud, I would potentially look at another option. Don’t get me wrong; this is not a negative comment. For example, Salomon make the S-Lab Fellcross and that would be ideal… the Sense 4 Ultra SG is designed for multiple surfaces, including soft ground and in those uses, they excel!

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In Use

What can I say, the SG runs as well if not better than the Sense 4 Ultra. They do feel a little different and this is primarily down to the lugs on the bottom of the shoe. With the extra lug height, it does make the SG feel a little more cushioned, it may be placebo but I don’t think so.

Fit between the Sense 4 Ultra and SG is almost the same. No, it is the same. The only difference comes in the material used on the uppers. The ‘Ultra’ has a more breathable and lighter upper in comparison to the SG which is a great call by Salomon. One could almost say that the shoes are Summer (Sense 4 Ultra) and Winter (SG). Of course it’s not that simple, particularly if you run in the UK! We don’t have summers, so, they are both winter shoes ;-).

The toe box of the SG feels the same as the Sense 4 Ultra in use but does have more protection..

Running in the shoe is a dream. Foothold and protection is awesome. The shoe has plenty of flex and suppleness (especially after 3-4 runs) and the Endofit, Sensifit and Quicklace make the precision feel of the shoe shine. I really struggle to find any negatives. Grip in the heal area is brilliant and once on and laced up, you have no foot movement. Just whaT I want from a shoe that would tackle technical terrain.

The grip is definitely improved over the Sense 3. On my local trails I noticed improved grip on softer ground and transitioning between surfaces is seamless. Ironically, the SG does feel nice on the road but I don’t recommend too much, particularly if you want the sole to last! On wet rocks, pavement and tarmac the outsole noticeably provided a more secure and reassuring contact with the ground. Is it the best out there? No, probably not. But this outsole is designed for ultra and mixed terrain, soft ground just being one aspect. I’d have no problems with the SG being my ‘go to’ trail shoe for any race or training run.

On that note, is it really an ultra shoe, by that I mean could I run for hours and hours in it? No I couldn’t. I love the 4mm drop but for me, I think I’d need something a little more relaxed for real long stuff, a 6mm or 8mm drop version would be sweet. Lets be clear though, that is me being greedy. The Sense 4 is an S-Lab shoe and as such, it’s all about speed and efficiency. On the right feet, these shoes will fly!

PROS:

  • Light
  • Responsive
  • Grip
  • Fit
  • Black and red (my fave colours)

CONS:

  • Too tight for some
  • Expensive
  • I struggle for cons!

It’s always difficult reviewing a Salomon S-Lab shoe as to be honest; I find it very hard to find negatives. The negatives are more often than not based around the shoe not being suitable for some people because of width, drop and so on.

The same applies here! The Sense 3 Ultra and Sense 3 Ultra SG were both brilliant shoes and the Sense 4 incarnations of both shoes are better! It’s hard to believe but they are.

Weighing in at 260g for a UK 8.5 (true to size fit), the Sense 4 Ultra SG is without doubt one of the best ‘grip’ trail shoes I have used. I do wish that Salomon would make this ‘exact’ shoe with a 6mm or maybe even a 8mm drop.

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As with the Sense 4 Ultra: the Sense 4 Ultra SG has OS Tendon, Profeet Film, dual density EVA, racing last, Quicklace, Sensifit, Endofit and a series of other notable technologies making this shoe the best 4mm drop shoe on the market… should the precise fit work for you!

Recent changes in the Salomon Sense range now make the Sense 4 Ultra (dry fast trail), Sense 4 Ultra SG (mixed trail) and the Sense Mantra 3 (road and trail) my shoes of choice. I keep going on about the Sense Mantra 3 (Here) but I think this is a great everyday shoe.

My final question is, will we see a new Sense Pro?

 

Specs for the Sense 4 Ultra SG

  • Sensifit
  • Quicklace
  • Racing Last
  • EndoFit
  • Lace Pocket
  • Quick Dry Mesh
  • OS Tendon
  • Profeet Film
  • Dynamic Traction
  • Contragrip Aggressive Outsole
  • Midsole Dual Density EVA
  • Cushioning Front – 9mm
  • Cushioning Rear – 13mm
  • Drop 4mm
  • Weight 260g / UK8.5

Check out the Salomon S-Lab range HERE

Salomon Logo

 

 

25 thoughts on “Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra SG (Soft Ground) – Review

    • Can’t compare. You wouldn’t run dry trail, any road or mountain courses in a 212. However you would run a muddy, soft ground fell race. As I said, If I wanted an out and out mud shoe, it wouldn’t be the SG. But on rocks I’d go the new SG

      • Mountain courses is what I have in mind. Erik Haugsness had 212s in Tromsø last year (little mud but rock and some grass) and it worked well for him 😉 Looking for a shoe that holds well on wet rock (Kima under the rain?), don’t care much about mud. Salomons don’t have much of a reputation on wet rock, roots…

  1. Nice review. Just to let you know, Salomon is coming out with the S-Lab Wings and Wings SG, exactly what you asked for, with an 8mm drop and slightly beefier (more like a S-Lab version of the speedcross) it’s supposed to be a shoe that your average joe can go for hours in. It will be available this July.

  2. I just bought the Sense 4 Ultra but i am not satisfied by the grip on scree and loose rock. Do you think that the SG would be a better option for this type of terrain? Also, compared to non SG, does it provide more cushioning because of the deeper lugs?

  3. Nice review (as usual), very detailed and fine pix. I’m still using my first pair of the original Sense Ultra for some runs up to 30kilometers. The outsole is still ok but the midsole now shows a little wear (it looks “compressed”). Looking for a replacement I ordered many shoes (not only Salomon) but not a single pair compares to the old Sense. Not even the 4th generation. Maybe its because mine are worn in well but the new ones don’t feel as comfy and flexible as them. Maybe the Sense Pro would be an option for me. But as long as Salomon don’t offer a Sense Pro SG I’d choose the Sense 4 Ultra SG because its more veratile than the non SG versions.

  4. The insole is very thin, maybe too thin. I think that even if the midsole and outsole will be ok, the insole will come apart very soon.

  5. I tried today the SG. The traction is much better than the non SG version. I think the non SG is only for fireroads. For more aggresive terrain you need the softground. The word softground is misleading, this shoe is a very good option for scree and loose rock. Now the dislikes for both the SG and non SG: 1)The toebox is very narrow. The outer part of my big toe hits the toecap causing severe discomfort. If i go half a size up the shoe feels too long. 2) They are too hot. The internal “gaiter” is more than enough to keep the debris out, the outer layer should have been more breathable(like the La Sportiva Helios SR). Also, the SG has a much more dense outer fabric and feels hotter. I think that the fabric of the insole makes the soles of my feet to sweat. It has some kind of fleece fabric on top. I hope Salomon makes the toebox wider in the next version.

  6. Hi Ian, Thanks for this great review!
    I am considering buying SG, but since I can do it only on-line I wanted to ask you about sizing. Can you please let me know if you use the same size for Sense Pro? Sense Pro is the shoe I have got, so I would have some comparison on sizing then.
    Thanks in advance!

  7. Pingback: Tips for the TRAIL – Shoe Choice | Ian Corless host of Talk Ultra podcast

  8. Pingback: What is the best shoe for Road, Trail, Off-Road or Mountain? | Ian Corless host of Talk Ultra podcast

  9. i wear Salomon XA PRO 3D in size UK 10 and it fits me perfect. should i go with same size in Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra SG?

      • Thanks mate, just curious….
        For the light mixture of daily runs, rocky trail combined with hard ground surfaces (road) do you recommend Sense Ultra 5 SG or S-Lab Wings SG?

        Thnx

  10. greetings Ian, past year i have done approx 700mi with multiple pieces of s-lab sense 5, its SG, the speed and a little sense pro too. Wish to point out a unique thing about them (never seen this in my life) is that the s-lab range engages nearly every muscle fibre in my feet (unlike any other shoe), which i can see improves my leg strength in an organic sort of way. This i say based on how i feel post long trail days; no injuries; 5 to 8 %faster pace; and confidence that comes with a good choice. Kinda cool its been each time i step out.
    cheers!

  11. Mohit, how do you like the Speed compared to the Ultra SG? What uses did you find it best for? I have the Sense Ultra and Ultra SG. I love the Ultra SG but am not as excited about the Ultra for life in the Utah mountains. The Ultra just doesn’t have aggressive enough tread for most trails I’m on. It’s time for new shoes and I was considering trying the Speed.

    Ian, thanks for the review and the website! Have you had any experience with the Speed. They seem to get associated with obstacle course racing in a lot of other reviews I can find.

    Thanks!

    • I string up speeds when faced with marshiest of patches alongside deep grass; conditions I have to train in frequently. They are ‘best for, and only for’ such boggy scenarios is my honest opinion.

  12. Hi Ian I struggled with speed cross, fine if its cold and wet but if its hot they seem to crush to much. Fellraisers were like running in wet pillows with no grip at all on rock when it’s Lakeland wet! So my 3rd GL3D is approaching would you wear Ultra SG I’d considered them a bit lightweight for that environment ? I love running in these shoes will they cope?

    Manta Thanks
    Daniel

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