The RW Takeaway: The Sense Ride 3 performs best for daily runs and longer distance races on unkempt, rocky, or sloppy trails where protection and grip take priority over hitting top speed.
- Two layers of cushioning protect and absorb shock but still offer a firm, stiff ride
- Deep lugs handle mud and grass with excellent traction on wet, rocky terrain
- Drawcord lacing is a little long but stows away in a convenient tongue pouch
Weight: 11.3 oz (M), 9.1 oz (W)
After only three iterations of the shoe, Salomon’s Sense Ride has acquired something of a cult-like following. Why? It works extremely well for both novice trail runners as well as those who know their way around an ultra mountain marathon. Still firm underfoot, this version will feel slightly softer than the Sense Ride 2. That’s due to its new road shoe-inspired cushioning system, which pairs a propulsive midsole foam with a second shock-absorbing layer. The combination keeps the shoe accessible for long distances on the trail and shorter stretches on the pavement, while the moderate heel-toe offset still feels familiar to runners who haven’t approached zero-drop territory. Plus, you’ll also find a rap sheet of trail-specific features that steal from shoes way above its price range—we’re talking a protective rock plate, storable quick-pull lacing, and an internal fit sleeve that wraps the foot atop an OrthoLite footbed.
Not surprisingly, our testers’ favorite feature on the Sense Ride was its traction. Despite the fact that the deep diamond-shaped lugs are prone to loading wet mud, the aggressive outsole held strong on slippery leaves and still felt responsive on steep climbs. After her long runs on the Appalachian trail, one tester deemed the Sense Ride 3 “comfortable for a 50K race at least—if not longer.”
Shock Absorption That Surprised Us
A shoe is so much more than the sum of its lab data, and the Sense Ride 3 is a prime example. In other words, this is a shoe that tells a much different story on the run than mechanical tests for cushioning and flexibility alone might suggest. Strictly speaking from our RW Lab measurements, the Sense Ride could deter some runners. The forefoot is firm, the heel is even firmer, the midsole is decidedly stiff. The shoe tips the scales at nearly an ounce and a half heavier than Salomon specs on its site (for a men’s size 9 and women’s size 7), and the energy return falls into our lowest ranking category. However, take the shoe out to the trails, and the cushioning feels primed for running on softer dirt singletracks and mud, and the stiff sole is snappy and responsive on steep climbs. Despite its weight, the shoe felt surprisingly nimble to our testers—and those extra ounces afford it the protection of shock-absorbing Optivibe cushioning with a segmented rock plate.
A Refined Recipe for Grip
Salomon considers several factors when building an outsole. The Sense Ride’s tread is designed to handle the widest variety of terrains and conditions, which means pinning down the right mix of lug geometries and rubber densities that will work for most kinds of trails at the most times. The material for the job is a compound called Contagrip, a blend of higher-density rubber around the shoe’s edges for durability, and a lower-density variety on the central portion for grip and flexibility. An aggressive tread on the Sense Ride also ensures greater traction in sloppy conditions, but the drawback is that the stiff sole with deep lugs doesn’t flex quite enough to shed thick, caked-on mud quickly. However, our tester noted that—although a little weighed down with mud—the lugs still provided impressive traction.
Durable Mesh, Not-So-Quick-Pull Lacing
Inside the shoe, not much has changed since the Sense Ride 2. It still uses an internal fit sleeve that wraps the foot separately from the lacing and sits atop a cushy OrthoLite insole. On the outside, however, the single-layer, stitch-free upper feels much more rugged from new debris-resistant mesh. In testing, we found that the material still breathes well, and sheds hitch-hiking twigs, dry leaves, and brambles on untamed trails. The only gripe we had is that the quick-pull laces are excessively long; while they still fit in the handy lace garage and stay securely stowed, our tester spent extra time before each run wrapping them up and tucking them inside the tongue pocket.
Wear Tester Feedback
Anna P., tester since 2012
Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
“Compared to the Salomon Supercross, which felt a half-size too large and almost too stiff, the Ride 3 felt true-to-size and more flexible. I like the connected tongue system that is attached on the inside with a pocket to put your laces in. My foot definitely felt like it was secure, and [the upper material] was stretchier and more flexible with enough space for thicker socks. In November and early December, my foot felt warm but not overheated, and [the shoe] had just enough padding around the collar. With the great traction, I felt extremely confident running on rocky downhills, although mud gets stuck underfoot and stays for awhile, which at some point could be a problem on extremely muddy surfaces.”