Having lost one half of my (admittedly battered and holey) trail running shoes on a trip to Skye earlier this year, I was in desperate need of a new pair. In particular, I was after a pair of lightweight shoes that could cope with a variety of surfaces, including compacted trails and road running.
My previous experience with Salomon trail shoes has been good – I still have a pair of XA Pros that I bought ten years ago – so when I noticed the Women’s version of the Salomon Sense Mantra 3 on sale, I figured I’d found a perfect replacement. Salomon categorise it as a ‘light trail shoe’, suitable for a mix of trails and urban environment.
Over the past month I’ve tried the Sense Mantras out on runs from five to seventeen miles on a variety of terrain. Here’s my verdict on Salomon’s hybrid trail/road offering.
What the manufacturer says
“Carefully combining protection and feel, the Sense Mantra 3W is a natural motion choice for running on light trails or urban environments.”
What we say
A stylish shoe you won’t want to get muddy.
Midsole height: 15mm/9mm
Lacing system: QuicklaceTM one-pull lacing
Sole: High Abrasion Contagrip
Sizing and fit
I ordered a size 5 – the same as my ten-year old XA Pros. I have a fairly narrow foot, so was pleased to find they weren’t too wide. They did feel a touch on the small side and my toes were a little too close to the end for comfort.
Instead of a traditional tongue, Salomon have built in a ‘sleeve’, which is supposed to better ‘hug’ the foot. I had no problems with this, but I also didn’t feel like it added much for me. However, my foot is quite low-volume, so perhaps those with larger feet will feel the shoe’s embrace a bit more.
The one-pull lacing system was effective in tightening the laces evenly and snugly around even my thin foot.
Technical featuresThe Sense Mantras are one of Salomon’s lighter shoes, but compared to my super-light fell shoes, they felt a bit weighty. However, the difference was noticeable in the cushioning and heel lift. The drop and thickness of the midsole is much less than more rugged trail shoes, such as the XA Pro 3D, but felt adequate for both short and longer runs.
Like many of the Salmon shoes, the Sense Mantras have a small ‘pocket’ at the top of the laces, ostensibly to tuck the laces up in. And yes, they do look nice and neat tucked away, but boy is it a faff. For the majority of you, who aren’t grumpy traditionalists like me, you’ll probably love it.
What were they like to run in?
The one concern when I tried the Salomon Sense Mantras on before hitting the road was the stiffness of the shoes. All our runs from home have an uphill start, and I felt this immediately on starting out. The forefront flexibility was definitely less than I’m used to which encouraged a flat-footed running style. After a few runs they are starting to break in, so I think this is something that will improve with time.
Apart from that, the shoes were pretty comfortable. The lacing system was snug, but not too tight and generally held my foot in place coming down steep hills. When I tried them out on a longer run (3 hours+) I did find that the laces loosened slightly, but this may just be my preference for traditional lacing systems! I also found that my toes were pretty sore towards the end – if I’m getting another pair of Salomons in the near future I’ll definitely look at getting a half size bigger.
The tread coped well with the variety of surfaces, including road, rough tracks, wet grass and rock. There wasn’t mnuch grip in mud, due to the small lugs, but that’s only be be expected given the shoe is designed for roads and hard trails. If you’re out on the muddy fells, you should probably pick a different bit of kit!.
If you run mainly on hard trails, or a mix of trail and roads, the Salomon Sense Mantras are the shoe for you. Just be aware of the slightly small sizing – it may be worth trying before you buy.
Disclaimer: This is an honest, unbiased review based on my personal experience. I bought these shoes using my own pennies, and have not been asked by Salomon to review or otherwise promote their product. Though if you’re an outdoor retailer looking for an unbiased test and review of your kit, get in touch.