If you're on the hunt for a good crossover sneaker because you like to hop from the trail (especially dirt trails) to the road, the Salomon Sense Ride 4 is our preferred shoe. 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 top trail running 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.Editor's Note: This product review was updated on March 6, 2022, with more in-depth comparisons and suggestions on which shoes to buy.
Salomon Sense Ride 4 Review
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
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Salomon Sense Ride 4
|Price||$89.96 at Backcountry|
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$100.99 at REI
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|Pros||Well cushioned, comfortable fit, sticky rubber grips rock very well, decent price||Very protective, roomier fit than other models from La Sportiva||Ultralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agile||Ultra-stable platform, stiff and supportive, deep lugs||Affordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option|
|Cons||High heel counter, not the lightest||Heavily padded tongue results in sub-par breathability||Loose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feeling||Lack of ground feel, relatively heavy||Soft upper is unstable, lacks energy, inconsistent traction|
|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 distances||This burly mountain runner is very protective and is an excellent choice for longer outings in rocky terrain||An ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever tested||A classic shoe with a stiff platform that is firmly rooted in long-distance trail running||A comfortable, consistent, and approachable shoe for those looking to crossover from roads to trail running|
|Rating Categories||Salomon Sense Ride 4||La Sportiva Karacal||HOKA Torrent 2||Brooks Cascadia 16||Brooks Divide 2|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Salomon Sense Ride 4||La Sportiva Karacal||HOKA Torrent 2||Brooks Cascadia 16||Brooks Divide 2|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||20.7 oz (size 9.5)||20.2 oz (size EU 43)||18.3 oz (size 9.5)||22.5 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||27 mm, 19 mm||29 mm, 22 mm||23 mm, 18 mm||29 mm, 21 mm||25 mm, 17 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||8 mm||7 mm||5 mm||8 mm||8 mm|
|Lug Depth||3 mm||3 mm||5 mm||5 mm||3 mm|
|Upper||Synthetic mesh||Mesh||Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU||Engineered mesh||Mesh, TPU|
|Midsole||Salomon Optivibe||Compression-molded EVA/1.5 mm dual-density EVA||HOKA ProFly: dual-density foam||2mm Brooks DNA LOFT v2 foam, Ballistic Rock Shield||Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam|
|Outsole||Salomon Contagrip MA||La Sportiva FriXion AT 2.0||Rubber||Brooks TrailTack rubber||Brooks TrailTack|
|Lacing Style||Quicklace with garage||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Sizes Available||7 - 14 US||38 - 48.5 EU||7 - 15 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 15 US|
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 a quick-lace system with a small garage for the excess located on the tongue. Some love it, and some 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 contender.
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.
The upper on these kicks is a 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 protecting the big toe. Remember that it isn't full-thickness plastic, so avoid kicking anything directly.
The traction on the Sense Ride 4 is nearly identical to 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, allowing them to stand up to harder surfaces like pavement longer. The Sense Ride uses the same Contagrip rubber found in the other popular Salomon shoes. We find it surprisingly effective on slick rock surfaces while, again, also being hard enough to take on regular urban jaunts.
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 necessary to log miles on pavement. Overall, they do an excellent job at compromising and still earn a relatively high score in this metric.
This shoe doesn't feel remarkably stable, with an 8mm drop and a 27mm stacked height under the heel. 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. It fell to the bottom half of the group in this metric.
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. We felt plenty stable on pavement, but we often needed to slow down and take it easy over scree and more scrambly territory.
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 incredible ventilation and allowing for quick drying times. However, you may want to wear gaiters if you plan to travel through thicker underbrush. 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.
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 more lightweight, 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. Compared to a minimally cushioned, zero-drop trail shoe, they might feel cumbersome but are nowhere near as clunky as heavier competitors. They are way lighter and more nimble than many road running options.
Should You Buy the Salomon Sense Ride 4?
The Sense Ride 4 is an excellent shoe 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. Despite being an excellent crossover shoe, if you can stay on the dirt and off the pavement, they will take you even further. Many 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."
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
While running shoes are never as affordable as we'd like, the Sense Ride 4 are reasonably priced and represent a solid value, especially considering that they come from a top-tier running shoe manufacturer. But if you often encounter rocky ridges or technical scrambling on your runs, you may want to look elsewhere for your trail runners. The La Sportiva Karacal is a good option for long runs on burly terrain. The similar, but stiffer Salomon Pulsar Trail is also a good choice for those who know they may be taking a couple of strides on the pavement but need a shoe to stand up to rocky trails as well.
— Matt Bento
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