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Hands-on Gear Review
Salming Elements Review
Cons: Lacks foot protection, expensive, slow to dry, poor lacing design
Bottom line: The lightest and most intimate trail experience you'll ever have.
Even though it doesn't feature much in the way of foot protection, this shoe guarantees a uniquely intimate trail experience. The Salming Elements stands out for its bomber traction and flexible midsole. The tread is similar to the Salomon Speedcross 4 - Womens (Top Pick for Sloppy Surfaces) but with a wider foot box, while the low profile is reminiscent of the Saucony Peregrine 7 - Women's. The flexibility of the sole is unlike any other shoe tested. Its light weight makes it a great racing option, while its streamlined fit is perfect for those with narrow feet. If you're in the market for a pair of trail running shoes that isn't quite a minimalist or barefoot shoe, but you don't want the uber amounts of foot protection found in most trail shoes - then this may be what you've been looking for. Take it with you on any backcountry trail or just around town.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Trail Running Shoes for 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Salming Elements features a less protective and super flexible design. Lacking a rock plate in the midsole, this shoe offers a stable and uniquely sensitive experience on the trail. The light weight construct makes it a perfect race option, while the breathable mesh is perfect for warmer days. Take it with you most places, but don't expect it perform well on pavement.
Earning a low low score of three out of ten in this metric, the Elements have little to no protective features. As opposed to having a super protective construct, like the Brooks Cascadia 12 - Women's or inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX - Women's (Our Editors' Choice winner), this shoe is quite the opposite. It does not have a rock plate nor a burly toe cap like most shoes tested. The lack of rock plate makes the foot bed far more flexible while the RocShield surrounding the outsole prevents scuffing.
Even though foot protection is minimal, the multi-layered mesh does a decent job at keeping sand and fine particulate matter out of the shoe. Overall, it is not the most protective shoe. Some of our testers liked the flexibility of the shoe (as a result of a lack of rock plate), but most wished for a little more protection on the trail.
Similar to the Salomon Speedcross 4 and the Salming Elements feature trail biting traction. The 8 mm lugs crush surfaces that are both soft and technical. In addition, the lug lengths provide an advantage while descending quickly on steep slopes.
We liked that the rubber is a little more durable than the La Sportiva Bushido, but we wished the lug itself was a little thicker and durable, like the Salomon Speedcross 4. This is why it didn't score a solid ten in this category. That said, this shoe stands out for its amazing traction and flexible sole. Don't take it on the roads though - the rubber will wear down in no time flat.
Earning a perfect ten in this category (which is super hard to do), we were definitely not worried about turning ankles. The low profile (4 mm drop) construct maintains the natural position of the foot while the flexible midsole conforms to the trail. Even though it doesn't offer stability in the form of a wide and rigid midsole, it offers stability in its super low stack height (~18 mm). The only shoe that has a lower stack height is the La Sportiva Bushido. Though, it didn't earn a ten in this category because of its more rigid design that makes it feel a little tippier than the Elements. In addition, this shoe features several stability elements in the framework of the shoe that locks in the heel and arch. This in combination with its flexibility makes it the most stable shoe tested in this review.
If you're in search of an ultra stable shoe - this is it! The low ride coupled with the flexibility of the mid foot makes this a perfect shoe for all the ankle rollers out there.
Comfort & Fit
Where it earns a ten in one category, there is a hard trade-off in another. In terms of comfort, the Salmings did not score well. In fact it sits at a solid four out of ten because it lacks any and all comfort elements. Every rock, root, and undulation - you will feel. Some of testers complained of sore feet after just a measly five miles. That said, it does take getting used to. You may need to give it a few weeks to a month to build up calluses and foot strength before running longer distances.
Even though there aren't many comfort features - there are a few. The heel collar and shoe tongue is well padded which prevents hot spots. We also liked that the break-in time is short. Additionally, the mesh is incredibly breathable on hot days.
Overall, the Salming Element is not the best option for those looking for a cushioned ride. If you're in the market for super comfortable shoe, check out our Top Pick for Comfort, the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 - Women's instead. However, if you're looking for an intimate trail experience, but you're not ready to jump into minimalist shoes, this is a great option.
Fitting a narrow fit best, the toe box is a little small. We'd actually recommend sizing up a half size especially if you plan on running long distances - simply because the fit is a little tight. It also has a low profile design with a 4 mm drop.
Switch out the round slippery laces for a pair of flat, longer laces for better performance on the trail.
Looking for a light ride? Weighing in at just 8.65 oz per shoe, this is one of the lightest options, second to the Nike Terra Kiger 4 - Women's. That said, we were surprised by the absorbency of the shoe during our dunk tests. Of all shoes tested, this is the second most absorbent next to the Brooks Cascadia 12, holding 4.9 oz of water. In addition, it took days to air dry! On the trail we noticed that it didn't wick water well, but it dried out after about an hour after becoming drenched (in warm weather). That said, we wouldn't recommend this as a wet weather option unless its really warm outside. As a result, this shoe earned an eight in this category for its lightweight nature.
As our Top Pick for Flexibility, this shoe is also the most sensitive shoe tested. Scoring a solid ten in this category, this shoe truly does feel everything! No other shoe compares, except for those found in our Best Minimalist and Barefoot Shoe Review. The midsole is flexible, which allows for fantastic sensitivity and stability. Look no further if you're in search of a unique and intimate trail experience.
With a combination of fantastic traction, stability, and sensitivity, the Salming Elements is perfect for almost any terrain. Even though it doesn't feature a whole lot of foot protection it fills a specific niche for runners looking for a super minimalistic shoe that isn't quite as barebones as a barefoot shoe. Some of our testers loved it, while others hated it. That said, we were able to navigate nimbly over rocky, rooted trails and nicely groomed single track. We also took it over rockier mountain terrain. many of our testers use this shoe for both short distances and ultra-lengths up too 100 miles! It just takes a little getting used to. That said, we'd avoid using it during cold weather (unless you have a nice thick pair of Running Socks) and you're on pavement.
Even though the Elements has a lot of great perks, we weren't too happy about the $135 price. We think this a little too much for what this shoe has to offer and would argue that the value isn't as great as other options like the our Best Buy award winner - the Saucony Peregrine 7. That said, this is a shoe that fills a specific niche, so if this is what you're looking for, its probably worth shelling out a few extra bucks.
The Salming Elements is a great choice if you're looking for a low profile that is minimalistic in design. It features an extremely flexible and stable construct perfect for picking your way through some of the most technical terrain.
— Amber King
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