Salomon S-Lab Fellcross – $170, www.salomon.com
The Good: Undeniably the best tread for all around trail runners.
The Bad: Poor drainage results in soggy feet.
The Ugly: Every other shoe but these pretty numbers.
Salomon’s S-Lab Fellcross trail running shoe masterfully combines the speed and look of a Lamborghini with the unstoppable tread of a rock-crawling Jeep. The quick lacing design and the low profile contributes to the sleek look of these shoes. They will definitely get some envious comments from fellow gear-minded trail running folks, as you would expect when driving a Lamborghini to a car show. But the Contragrip technology really sets this shoe apart.
When these shoes first arrived at Trek Tech headquarters, I lost the wrestling match over who got to test them. Luckily, even though Billy Brown beat me like I owed him money, the shoes ended up fitting me better, so I got to test them.
I took some time before taking these on a test drive, to inspect the engineering. The walls of the shoes are rigid but protect your feet with a soft lining and the tongue allows you to synch down the quick laces without discomfort. The really intriguing part of these shoes though is the tread. I used to own a Jeep that was tricked out for rock crawling and I noticed similar technology that you see in off-road tires on display in this shoe. The tread is beefy but very spaced out leaving lots of room between each tough rubber nub. As with aggressive off-road tires, this design, along with the softer outsole material than the similar Speedcross shoe, is built to allow unmatched traction on rocky or uneven terrain but also allows you to mob through muddy areas without fear of the mud gooping up your tread.
So I’ve tested these shoes on a variety of trails over the past couple of weeks and here is what I have found…
On short technical runs, these shoes get an A+ since they handle the terrain without faltering. On hilly sections of trail, I really appreciated their lightweight nature and great tread in the toe area for uphill running as well as their trustworthy gripping on the steep downhills.
On somewhat longer trail runs (10 miles +/-) the strong composition of the shoe held up well although those “minimalist” fans would feel over protected; A+ in my book. I also tested these shoes on a section of sketchy side-slopping rock face and, although I slowed down to be cautious, they smeared like a good rock climbing shoe; definite A+.
The only thing that doesn’t rank high with these shoes is the fact that they retain water. Where I run, there are lots of creek crossings and keeping your feet from getting submerged isn’t possible. This could be problematic for longer runs where you may have submerged feet early on and suffer the effects of soggy feet for several hours. This was my only criticism of these shoes and I hope that Salomon can come up with a good solution for this without compromising all of the other impressive factors.
So, all in all, this shoe is a home run. Despite the poor drainage, I prefer these shoes to any other that I’ve tested due to their lightweight yet protective and grippy nature. So, if you like the style of a Lamborghini and the bad ass rock crawling capabilities of a Jeep, you’ll love these shoes.
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Author: Matt Moseley