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Salomon Sense Ride 4 Review

A very well cushioned shoe that is optimal for heel strikers and makes for a great option for everyday training as well as ultra distances
Salomon Sense Ride 4
Photo: Salomon
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $120 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Well cushioned, comfortable fit, sticky rubber grips rock very well, decent price
Cons:  High heel counter, not the lightest
Manufacturer:   Salomon
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 16
  • Foot Protection - 30% 7
  • Traction - 20% 8
  • Stability - 15% 6
  • Comfort - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 4
  • Sensitivity - 10% 8

Our Verdict

If you're on the hunt for a good crossover shoe because you like to hop from the trail (especially dirt trails) to the road, the Salomon Sense Ride 4 is our preferred option. The flexible mesh upper is wider and more comfortable than we usually expect from Salomon — and more breathable too. The dual-layered Optivibe EVA foam underfoot cushions from impact nicely while still allowing for a decent amount of trail feel. Altogether, this plush and comfortable shoe can take on a whole lot of miles. An excellent everyday trainer on all manner of terrain, this shoe is also more than capable of taking on long distances thanks to the generous amount of cushioning.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Salomon Sense Ride 4
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price Check Price at REI
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$179.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
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Check Price at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Well cushioned, comfortable fit, sticky rubber grips rock very well, decent priceUnbeatable fit, very comfortable, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, ankle collar keeps out debris, very stableExcellent traction, protective and sensitive, light, comfortable, durableGood protection and sensitivity, stablePrecise fit, very grippy on rock, comfortable upper effectively keeps out debris
Cons High heel counter, not the lightestExpensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garageExpensive, tongue comfort affects someNot particularly breathable, fit is smallNarrower than average, a bit pricey, not the lightest
Bottom Line A very well cushioned shoe that is optimal for heel strikers and makes for a great option for everyday training as well as ultra distancesThe cream of the crop for trail running shoes delivers fine-tuned long run performanceThe perfect definition of a do-everything trail running shoe, which also happens to be zero-dropThese protective tanks will keep going over rocky ridges and scree fields but aren't great for hotter environmentsA well-rounded shoe offering high performance for short or long distances
Rating Categories Salomon Sense Ride 4 Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 La Sportiva Bushido II La Sportiva Kaptiva
Foot Protection (30%)
7
9
7
8
8
Traction (20%)
8
7
9
8
8
Stability (15%)
6
9
9
8
8
Comfort (15%)
8
9
7
6
8
Weight (10%)
4
6
7
7
6
Sensitivity (10%)
8
6
7
8
5
Specs Salomon Sense Ride 4 Salomon S/Lab... Inov-8 Terraultra... La Sportiva... La Sportiva Kaptiva
Weight (per pair) 20.7 oz (size 9.5) 22.4 oz (size 11) 20.9 oz (size 11) 21.9 oz (size 9.5) 22.3 oz (size 11)
Heel-to-Toe Drop 8 mm 8 mm 0 mm 6 mm 6 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 27 mm, 19 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 22 mm, 22 mm 19 mm, 13 mm 17 mm, 11 mm
Upper Synthetic mesh Anti-Debris Mesh with sockliner Breathable Mesh Air mesh/thermal adhesive microfiber/high-frequency welded ripstop overlays/TPU toe cap Sock-Like knit
Midsole Optivibe Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection Powerflow Max 4mm LaSpEVA/compression-molded MEMlex/1.5 mm dual-density compressed EVA Duel-density EV
Outsole Contagrip MA rubber Contagrip MA Rubber Graphene Grip FriXion XT V-Groove2 rubber with Impact Brake System FriXion XF 2.0
Lacing style Quicklace with garage Quicklace with garage Traditional Traditional Traditional
Wide version available? No No No No No
Sizes Available 7 - 14 4 - 13 7 - 15 38 - 48.5 38 - 47.5

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Salomon Sense Ride 4 continues the tradition of the previous versions, offering an excellent mix of sensitivity for uneven trail terrain with enough cushion to get out and pound the pavement without grinding your knees into a fine powder. To our delight, little has changed from the Sense Ride 3 in terms of the Optivibe EVA foam, while the uppers have a thin mesh covering that allows for maximum breathability and helps the shoe dry out quickly. Like most Salomon shoes, these feature the quick-lace system with a little garage for the excess slack located on the tongue. Love it or hate it, we find this lacing system comfortable and convenient, and we always appreciate that the laces never come untied. If you're looking for a shoe that can get you through a pavement approach and some hard-pack dirt roads on your way to the rolling singletrack, the Sense Ride 4 is a formidable option.

Performance Comparison


The Sense Ride 4 features plenty of cushion for time spent on...
The Sense Ride 4 features plenty of cushion for time spent on pavement and hardpacked double track, but still has enough traction and sensitivity for rocky ridges.
Photo: Matt Bento

Foot Protection


This shoe offers plenty of protection from below and goes light on protection up top. Salomon employs a blend of EVA foam densities to protect the foot (and the whole body, really) from repetitive strikes on rock, dirt, and pavement.


The Sense Ride 4 has a higher stack than most of the competition (other than shoes from Hoka One One), giving you plenty of cushioning for trails and just enough for pavement. Just keep in mind that softer foams with lower densities compress and lose their bounce quicker than firmer, denser foam.

While these shoes have adequate support for pavement runs, they'll...
While these shoes have adequate support for pavement runs, they'll last a lot longer if you spend most of your time on trails.
Photo: Matt Bento

The upper on these kicks is a very breathable mesh that's awesome for ventilating the feet but not so great at protecting them from side impacts from rocks and sticks. If you have a wider foot like one of our testers, your smallest toe will visibly bulge the mesh, making it very vulnerable to painful side impacts. Fortunately, a TPU overlay toe cap does a decent job of protecting the big toe. Just remember that it isn't full thickness plastic, so avoid kicking anything directly.

Those breathable uppers provide very little structure or protection...
Those breathable uppers provide very little structure or protection. Impacts from the side of the top can definitely be a problem for inexperienced trail runners (or very tired ones).
Photo: Matt Bento

Traction


The traction on the Sense Ride 4 is nearly identical to that of its predecessor. Featuring 4mm deep diamond-shaped lugs, these shoes do surprisingly well in both mud and gravel, as the lugs are spaced optimally to provide traction when things are loose while still shedding mud admirably.


The lugs aren't especially deep, but this allows them to stand up to harder surfaces like pavement longer. The Contagrip rubber is surprisingly effective on slick rock surfaces while, again, also being hard enough to take on regular urban jaunts. It feels as sticky as the rubber found on La Sportiva models while far exceeding the stickiness of Nike's rubber.

We thought the 4mm lugs wouldn't provide much traction, but they...
We thought the 4mm lugs wouldn't provide much traction, but they actually performed well in loose dirt, and the rubber is sticky enough for rock hopping.
Photo: Matt Bento

Stability


With 8mm of drop and 27mm of stacked height under the heel, this shoe doesn't feel particularly stable. The thick foam that absorbs impact for miles on flat terrain felt a bit unruly when we encountered uneven rocks, roots, and scree on runs in the mountains.


We found that we tended to roll on uneven terrain in these shoes, especially at the end of longer runs when we were tired and more likely to drag our feet. Our testers are used to a more neutral shoe with less drop, and the Sense Ride 4 took some adjusting to. We felt plenty stable on pavement, but we often needed to slow down and take it easy over scree and more scrambly territory.
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On flat pavement, these shoes feel stable enough, but they are not...
On flat pavement, these shoes feel stable enough, but they are not very stable on uneven terrain, requiring some adjustment from seasoned trail runners.
Photo: Jason Peters

Comfort


Overall, these are very comfortable shoes. The thin, breathable mesh uppers are about as close to "riding with the top down" as we want to be in a pair of trail runners, offering awesome ventilation and allowing for very quick drying times. Salomon is known for making narrow shoes, and while we weren't swimming in these, they provide a workable amount of space for your feet to swell. At the same time, the quick-adjust laces keep your foot anchored in place. The low collar and padded tongue feel very comfortable, even for one tester who forgot his socks.


We found these shoes comfortable as soon as we unboxed them. The tongue is somehow both light and nicely padded. High volume, high arched feet are particularly suited to the Sense Ride 4. The quick lace system provides an added level of convenience, and despite being made of a very thin cord, they tensioned the tongue evenly across the top of the foot without any pressure points.

The airy mesh breathes quite well, and we love the ease of the quick...
The airy mesh breathes quite well, and we love the ease of the quick lace system. We are surprised that this shoe fits a bit wide for a Salomon, giving our feet room to swell during longer runs.
Photo: Matt Bento

Weight


At 20.7 oz on our scale for a size 9.5, you could certainly pick a lighter option. Many of Salomon's elite-level trail shoes are lighter, less cushioned, and more sensitive, while these are tooled more towards the "everyman" runner.


However, these are by no means heavy shoes, as the weight from the thicker midsole is offset by the super light uppers. They might feel cumbersome compared to a minimally cushioned, zero-drop trail shoe but are nowhere near as clunky as heavier competitors, and they are way lighter and more nimble than many road running options.

The most weight-conscious runners out there may pass on these for...
The most weight-conscious runners out there may pass on these for something lighter, but if you have other priorities like comfort or breathability, don't let the weight steer you away from the Sense Ride 4.
Photo: Matt Bento

Sensitivity


While the EVA cushioning adds to the clunk factor of this shoe, the 8mm of drop keeps runners who strike with the forefoot feeling pretty connected to the terrain. There's a ton of padding in the heel, so heel strikers will be in their element when charging downhill.


If you need more sensitivity, you'll likely need to go with a shoe designed exclusively for trail running. Remember, the Sense Ride 4 balances sensitivity with the padding needed to log miles on pavement, and overall, they do a good job at compromising.

Flatter dirt trails like this one are fine for these shoes, but we...
Flatter dirt trails like this one are fine for these shoes, but we don't feel they have much sensitivity, so you'll need to take extra care while running on rocky, uneven terrain.
Photo: Matt Bento

Value


While running shoes are never as inexpensive as we'd like, the Sense Ride 4 are priced affordably and represent a solid value, especially considering that they come from a top-tier running shoe manufacturer. Despite being a great crossover shoe, if you can stay on the dirt and off the pavement, they will take you even further.

This model has a lot of cushioning compared to other trail runner...
This model has a lot of cushioning compared to other trail runner offerings from Salomon.
Photo: Jason Peters

Conclusion


The Sense Ride 4 is an excellent choice for the casual trail runner who needs some extra cushion for quick, out-the-front-door runs on the pavement and wants to use the same shoe for putting in big miles out on the trail. If you often encounter rocky ridges or technical scrambling on your runs, you may want to look elsewhere. Most of us have a closet full of running shoes for every application under the sun, but we certainly understand the need for simplicity, and these shoes are a decent option for a "quiver of one."

If you need well-performing trail runners but still want bottom-up...
If you need well-performing trail runners but still want bottom-up protection for putting in miles on pavement, these shoes are a great option.
Photo: Jason Peters

Matt Bento