Whenever I slip on my running shoes, I skip the pavement and hit the dirt instead. I’ve always leaned toward minimal cushioning for my trail shoes, which I believe helps me better feel the ground under my feet and stay balanced.
So when I received a max-cushion shoe to test for SELF’s 2023 Sneaker Awards, I was a bit hesitant: Too much cushion tends to feel unsteady and sloppy to me. But as soon as I took a few steps in Salomon’s Ultra Glide 2, I knew this trail shoe was different: It’s soft but responsive, supportive but not too bulky, and—most importantly—cushioned but still stable. Read on for my full experience with these trail runners.
Who it’s for
Salomon started as a mountain apparel and equipment company, originating in the French Alps. While it’s known for its streetwear-worthy Sportstyle and XT-6 sneakers, the brand has popular trail running shoes too. The Ultra Glide is a warm welcome for people looking for a bit more padding than other options, and its second edition is just as cushy, but offers greater stability. Thanks to its wider toe box, it’s designed for long distances and comfortable daily training, making it a solid pick for both pro or beginner trail runners.
Out of the box
As soon as I opened the box’s lid, I was impressed by the shoe’s earthy colors and ombré design. The red fades into yellow and beige, and reminds me of a desert sunset—a refreshing look compared to the bright colors or dull neutrals of other running shoes. When I picked them up, I noticed they had a surprising amount of padding along the ankle cuff, tongue, and upper, but still felt pretty lightweight on my hands. The moderate rocker sole also caught my eye, and I barely noticed the claw-shaped lugs (the rubber knobs that help with traction) on the outsole. Basically, the Ultra Glide 2 almost looks more like a road shoe than a trail shoe.
Fit and feel
As soon as I slipped on the Ultra Glide 2, it felt like a perfect fit—no rubbing or points of discomfort. The padded upper feels like a lot of material at first, but during my runs, it created a softness that I haven’t experienced with many other trail runners, and my ankle bone felt nicely cradled. I also loved the roomy toe box; it’s wide enough that my toes could splay out naturally, but not too much so that it felt clunky when I was running over roots and rocks.
On the run
I tried these shoes after a long running break and anticipated a rough reintroduction. Usually, no matter how slowly I ease into the miles, I get shin splints on my first few sessions. But after a four-mile run on a narrow trail, my entire body felt surprisingly fresh—no aches or pains afterward. From there, I upped the ante and took these shoes on a mix of surfaces: gravel roads, trails, and boulder-strewn paths. Each time, I nearly bounced off the ground with each step, and my toes had plenty of room to breathe in the summer heat. And thanks to the pull-tab laces, I never once had to worry about tying my shoes. What a relief.
I’ve now racked up at least 40 miles in them, including in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah and on a sandy trail near San Diego, and found that moderate paths and trails are where they really shine. The traction on the soles sticks well to loose dirt, and they’re light and agile enough to tackle some steep hills and rocks. While the cushioning creates a soft landing pad that I didn’t love on super tricky portions of the trail, it was a much needed relief everywhere else.
I’m happy to report that I’m now a cushion convert: The Ultra Glide 2 has become my go-to trail runner for all but the most technical mountain terrain where I need the extra grip and agility. So if you’re anything like me and need all the help you can get to increase comfort and enjoyment on a run, I would highly recommend this pair.
Beyond that, I’m impressed by how truly versatile this runner is: The cushioning, traction, and fit all strike the perfect balance to feel good in most scenarios, and I’m rarely left wanting more out of any one feature. Anyone from an ultra runner to someone just starting out on trails could appreciate the comfort-oriented cushion and fit. And while the Ultra Glide 2 is super fun on dirt, it’s also a rare breed that looks cool enough to dress up for a day out too.