By Taro, Running Warehouse Shoe Tester
The all-new Salomon Sense Mantra is a shoe I’ve been excited to try since first seeing it several months back. As a regular roadie who also tends to be a frequent visitor to the dirty and muddy world of trail running, a ‘door-to-trail’ hybrid shoe seemed like my ideal cup of coffee (I’m not really a tea kind of guy).
Living a few miles from a network of trails, I had a chance to test the ‘door-to’ runability of the Mantra before getting them dirty. The results were satisfying. Though nowhere near as cushioned as my typical road trainer, the protection was adequate and the ride worked for a midfoot landing through toe-off. Door-to-trail runability aside, if you’re ever in a pinch for some decent road-only shoes, the Mantras will deliver.
Past the pavement, my local network of trails is a buffet of different terrain types, ranging from open and flowy singletrack to treacherous rock gardens, steep climbs to descents worthy of a World Cup downhill mountain bike race. Can there be a better array of trail types to test a sweet new pair of off-road kicks? I think not.
My first impressions of the Mantra in its natural trail habitat were solid. The shoe seemed to grip on a variety of less technical surfaces nicely and running in them felt great. The traction did leave a little bit to be desired over muddy portions of the trail, but then again that’s what shoes like the Salomon S-Lab Fellcross or Salomon XT 5 S-Lab Softground are for.
This Mantra Rocks
Upon reaching more technical terrain, I found myself easily picking up the pace. The Sense Mantra flies over rocky and gravelly surfaces – traction was more than adequate and the moderately low weight of the shoe made for nimble running over and around obstacles. The forefoot rock plate provided good protection from trail hazards; though rocks underfoot were still noticeable, painful surprises from stepping on a sharp edge have become a non-factor.
Summing Up the Sense Mantra
The Sense Mantra has earned itself a permanent spot in my lineup for my more trail-heavy outings. The shoe has easily carried me over a good number of runs, including several in the 10-15 mile range. With few situations the shoe can’t handle, I find myself able to focus on charging the trails rather than worrying about being outgunned against rough terrain. Hats off to Salomon for creating this versatile and reliable trail running weapon.