You can never complain when receiving a Tweet from such a renowned brand such as Salomon asking if I was up for reviewing some of their excellent product is the sort of unexpected message you want!
I’ve used Salomon products before for races such as The OMM, needing hardcore trail shoes with fat cleats and excellent grip to tackle tough terrain and they’ve performed admirably. So given the choice, as I was on their roadshow, I took a pair of their Sense Mantra trail shoes away for a thorough pasting.
The Sense Mantra are what they describe as ‘road to trail’ shoes. I guess that means they are built for both which gave me a bit of initial concern for potentially being a ‘jack of all trades’. And master of none? Road shoes should be road shoes: they should be light and responsive and offer good feedback when running. Trail shoes should be trail shoes: they should be robust and ‘grippy’ and feel strong under foot.
But I think I’ve found a pair that does both! It’s taken a wee while to review these shoes, partly because I wanted to give them a full work out and see how they performed. I took them to the excellent weekend 100km Race to The Stones jaunt and both days of 50km were ticked off with relative comfort. The race was over gentle trail with the Sense Mantra feeling light and nimble over the off-road track and occasional loose stone. They have an excellent toe protector on each shoe which guards against rocks and tree roots, etc.
I then took them to the Pyrenees in for the Championnat du Canigou. A race I’ve done before which is 21 miles up and back the Canigou mountain; the highest in the French Pyrenees. The race took 6 hours and is littered with boulders, tree roots, muddy puddles and the like. It’s tricky! But the Sense Mantra gripped well, offered excellent foot protection, held my foot firmly in place and were light enough not to feel like I was clomping around in old rugby boots after a handful of hours. I was impressed, seriously impressed.
I’ve taken them on about a dozen British Military Fitness classes. For those that don’t know BMF is an hour long ‘bootcamp’ style workout involving twisting and turnings and dynamic sprinting exercises. The Sense Mantra were nimble and agile for these, also offering good grip on wet grass and holding my feet firmly in place with the ‘sheath’ within the shoe.
They’ve also been my #runcommute shoe of choice over the last few months as well, taking me across south west London into the centre of town over mainly tarmac paths and city roads. I don’t think this is what the Sense Mantra is designed for, but they do a great job. Their relative lightness for a trail shoe and firm grip cope well with the concrete and the grip shows little sign off wear and tear – something which trail shoes usually suffer from on harder surfaces.
So, full marks! A genuine all round shoe that goes on and on. I like the shoe’s lightness which means that very long trail runs don’t feel a major slog, and combined with that the Sense Mantra is exceptionally well put together and feels it can go on like the Duracell Bunny but with all the armour of Robocop to protect those toes on tricky down hills!
Thanks to the excellent team at Salomon Sports for giving me the chance to test these awesome new wheels out