Project Ultra’s Mark Rochester tries to find an alternative to his beloved Fellraisers
Since Salomon stopped production of their iconic Fellraiser trainers – suddenly and inexplicably – I’ve been at a loss. They were perfect. Despite their aggressive outsole I wore them year-round, on all terrain; most of my runs are a mix of hard-packed trails, moorland and tarmac.
In their absence, perhaps it’s time to find a shoe that is fit for purpose. Could a pair of Salomon Flows from the Sense range (designed, according to Product line manager Edouard Coyoncould, to ‘help runners in more urban areas venture off road on trails near home’) be the answer?
What stands out about these trainers, in the most literal sense, is the heel; it is extremely prominent, and actually the entire sole projects slightly outwards quite oddly. At only 257g, however, these are super-lightweight. The fabric, similar to Nike’s Flyknit, doesn’t look as though it would offer much protection. If anything, they look a little more like a fashion shoe than a serious trail contender.
The shoe is designed specifically for runners who heel strike, which explains the shape; this looks radical until you see a pair of Hoka Tennine! They feature Salomon’s Quicklace system, but instead of tucking this into a tiny pocket on the tongue as with most Salomons, these have a small strap lower down that keeps the lace in place. The welded upper is stitch-free and promises to offer a glove-like fit, whilst the outsole is designed for any surface you might encounter on your way from the office to the forest.
Super-comfortable straight out of the box. The fabric is soft, and there’s nothing obvious that would cause irritation. For Salomon these are a wide fitting shoe, though as always you need to go up at least half a size.
Straight away, you’re aware of the heel. It seems to increase ground contact time, which might be the point; for heel strikers it supports the initial point of contact, potentially aiding your natural running mechanics. It’s hard to know at this stage if this is genuinely beneficial (greater efficiency and fewer injuries) or just a gimmick, but it’s encouraging that Salomon are trying to adapt their shoes to running form rather than the other way around, particularly as a reported 95% of runners heel strike. (podiumrunner.com).
The Quicklace strap solution works ok, but if, like me, your shoes often end up clagged in mud, it’s a questionable update.
These are comfortable and a pleasure to run in on trails or over fields, but on rockier or more technical terrain the larger outsole can feel a little clumsy. However, it’s early days, and I suspect the new heel design just takes a bit of getting used to.
The mesh fabric upper provides great breathability, but unless you live in Death Valley I’d definitely recommended paying the extra £20 for the Gore-Tex waterproof version, which should make for a more versatile shoe.
This is clearly an appealing shoe, designed to cope equally with inner city pavements or woodland trails, and in this sense, they’re more than fit for purpose. I’d like to see more protection, and I think that greater stability / support would make them a real contender. Despite this, they’re perfect for predominantly urban runners looking to head for the hills.
Will they be replacing my old Fellraisers? For easier training runs I think they will, at least until it starts raining.
RRP: £100 | http://www.salomon.com