The Sense Pro Max is a new model from Salomon in 2017. The shoe is an entry into the popular max cushion category. This is Salomons most cushioned shoe with a design that includes a variety of technologies used in the midsole and upper.
In addition the shoe features a wet traction contra grip outsole. The Sense Max Pro was designed for maximum cushioning and comfort on the trails.
The first thing I noticed about the Sense Pro Max is the build quality. The shoe has a mesh upper with a layer of film covering up some of the more vulnerable areas for your foot along the side and across the toes.
This model has a higher stack height than the other Salomon models (33mm heel 27mm forefoot) but the shoe looks like a normal trail shoe and is aesthetically like many other Salomon trail shoes depending on your preferences.
It looks and feels like it was built to last. The mesh feels slightly stiffer out of the box than I am used to. This had me curious to see if that stiffness would cause any issues.
When I put the Sense Pro Max on for the first time I was impressed by the comfort of the upper. It provides a sock like fit due to an internal sleeve made out of a thin and stretchy mesh material.
I tightened the speed laces and walked around to get a feel for the shoe. It does not feel like any other maximum cushioning shoe that I have tested. There is no pillowy soft cushioning and it actually feels firm. I was eager to begin testing.
Salomon Sense Pro Max Sole Unit
Salomon uses an endless amount of jargon just as other companies do to describe the types of materials/technologies used in the design of the midsole and outsole. These technologies include EnergyCell+, VIBE, and OPAL.
EnergyCell+ is a material designed to provide high rebound capabilities while maintaining cushioning and durability.
OPAL inserts are included in the midsole as well. This is another type of foam that is designed to be softer. As far as I can tell, VIBE technology is a word used to describe the use of EnergyCell+ and OPAL in combination.
It is clear that Salomon has taken just about every midsole technology they have and packed it into the midsole as opposed to just increasing the overall “amount” of eva foam.
The shoe also boasts a wet traction contra grip outsole. Now that we’ve gotten the tech talk out of the way, lets get to what it felt like to run in the shoe.
I am somewhat of a maximum cushioning enthusiast although I do run in some standard and minimal cushioning shoes. The Sense Pro Max has a unique ride that doesn’t quite feel like maximum cushioning but does have its positives and negatives.
Maximum cushioning seems to have translated to density when it comes to the midsole. There is plenty of cushioning material underfoot, but the combination of materials used actually gives the shoe a ride that is unexpectedly on the firmer side.
Despite being firm, it rebounds well and the cushioning is there when its needed. An example of this is when running on a rocky downhill.
You can really let your feet fly without having to worry about beating them up to bad on sharper rocks or roots. The cushioning absorbs the impact. Part of this can also be attributed to the ProFeelFilm rock plate.
I was very happy with the performance of the outsole in all conditions. It does a great job of maintaining grip. The wet traction contra grip outsole performed very well in wet conditions on rocky terrain.
Overall I found the ride of the Sense Pro Max to provide an acceptable amount of comfort about 75% of the time. I like that is rebounds well, and I like the feel of the dense cushioning when running downhills on the trail.
I found that for most runs the cushioning was sufficient but I would have appreciated a little more softness. I have seen this shoe marketed as a road/trail shoe but I would suggest sticking to the trails.
I did not like the ride and feel of the midsole when running roads. I also found myself desiring a softer feel when running on flatter terrain. I had a consistent knee pain in both legs after running in the shoe for a few hours.
Somewhere around the 3 hour mark I would get a pretty sharp knee pain in both legs that I’ve never felt before and that I couldn’t replicate with any other pair of shoes.
It could be that this shoes design and my running form just did not mesh. This did not deter me from running in the shoe and was only showed up after extended periods of time.
Salomon Sense Pro Max Upper Info
The upper of the Sense Pro Max is designed with comfort in mind using technologies that include Endofit, Quicklaces and stretch air mesh. Endofit design is what gives the upper a sock like fit.
There is an internal mesh material that extends the length of the upper that helps accomplish this. This internal mesh also includes a thin gusseted tongue with a small pouch to tuck the Quicklaces into.
For those not familiar with Quicklaces they are essentially laces that you don’t tie. The laces go through specially designed non friction eyelets and are all one piece.
The way that you tighten the shoe is by pulling on the lace and synching down a plastic fastener until they are at the desired level of tightness. You can then roll up the extra lace material and stash it in the pocket on the tongue.
This upper fits like a dream. The attention to detail in the design and the fit it provides are impressive. The upper hugs your foot exactly where you want it to and then gives you a little bit of room where you need it. It is truly a sock like fit.
The air mesh material breathes well and the added overlays have proven to be durable thus far. Some of the overlays also run across the toes and sides of the shoe where more protection is desire.
It does a great job of balancing breathability with durability and protection. I would venture to say that this is not an upper that will be appreciated by someone with a high volume foot requiring a lot of room.
I consider my foot pretty average in terms of volume and I personally wish every upper felt like this. I did run into a problem eventually regarding the quicklaces.
My first few runs in the shoe I was absolutely in love with the upper. The sock like fit combined with the tightening capabilities of the quick laces made for a really comfortable upper.
As I continued to put miles on the shoe I started to feel some rubbing on the top of my foot from the quicklaces.
The rubbing was at first just an observation, it eventually became irritating and at its worst I was starting to feel a little bit of tendonitis on the top of my foot (something I’ve felt with before from tying my shoes too tight).
The laces are a very thin material and almost feel like a wire, and the material that the tongue/internal mesh are made of is very thin. Unfortunately this means that you can feel the laces rubbing the top of your foot.
My solution was to but the shoes on and barely tighten the laces. This left my foot feeling more comfortable but caused my foot to slip around in the shoe more than I would prefer on trails.
I love the concept of the quick laces but I think that a flatter lace design or softer material might help with this issue.
Salomon Sense Pro Max Conclusions
This shoe is unique in the maximum cushioning category because it is a firmer riding maximum cushioning shoe. It’s important for those looking for a soft ride to look elsewhere.
I found this shoe to be decent to run in but I have a hard time pinpointing who I would suggest it for. Salomon has both softer and firmer riding options. It’s hard to say where this shoe fits into that spectrum.
I think that it could be a good option for heavier runners given the dense feeling of the midsole. At the end of the day I enjoyed running in it, but I would have trouble suggesting it to a friend to purchase.
There are too many other trail shoes that provide the same general feel of a firm ride but are more responsive than the Sense Pro Max.
We purchased a pair of Salomon Sense Pro Max from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.