Short story: probably the most versatile shoe I’ve put on my feet.
Longer story:I live in Iowa … not the rocky mountains, not the Pyrenees. Although I’m not able to get to any “real” trails by others’ standards, I do have 7+ miles of crushed limestone out of my neighborhood and some winding single track packed dirt throughout town. Combine this with the hundreds of miles of sidewalks and bike-paths that are becoming more and more icy / snowy as winter rears its head and you start to get an idea of the surface(s) I am constantly running on … all of them. I was given a chance to review these shoes straight from Salomon themselves and am even happier and more grateful at the opportunity now that I’ve put hundreds of miles on the shoes. Directly out of the mouth (website) of Salomon describes the new Sense Mantra trail running shoe as…
“A lightweight training shoe for forefoot and midfoot strikers who want natural motion, protection and neutral cushioning for high mileage training.”
Some shoes need to be broken in for upwards of 100+ miles. Not these. From the first time I tightened up the quick lock laces, the simple flexible uppers held snug to my feet. The upper section of the Mantra is a single integrated piece that “connects” further down the sides of the “tongue” with no seams that will rub and/or irritate the top of your feet. What I’m most impressed with is simply the flexibility in fit around different socks as I’ve tested the Mantras in all different conditions. Slim “race-like” socks to do some fast tempo running on the roads as well as some of my thicker trail socks in a sloppy icy wet trail run.
Talk about versatile, the Mantra’s tread is great for roads or trail. An effective lug pattern to grip but not get in the way, my foot planting is very confident in everything from wet asphalt, ice, snow, mud, dirt, and everything in between. Being a forefoot striker, this is a shoe I can get up and go on tempo, progression, fartlek runs but also have enough support to run easy and slow down on a recovery day. I remember about to travel out of town trying to decide which running shoe(s) to put in my duffel bag – I was going to be gone for a full week including on-the-run intervals, easy running, and a long trail run. I was honestly about to shove three different shoes in my bag before looking across the closet and realizing all I needed was my Mantras … best of all worlds.
I’ve always loved trail shoes in the winter as their durability and traction serve me well in the ice, sleet, and snow. Starting this winter with the Mantras has already proven successful with full coverage uppers, dynamic fit around different (thicker) socks, and excellent grip. No more choosing between trail vs. road, heavy lugs vs. light flats, or thickened cushioning vs. pancake minimalism. The Salomon Sense Mantra is by far the most versatile running shoe I’ve (literally) slipped my foot.
*note of disclaimer: Salomon did send me a free pair of Sense Mantras and encouraged the above review to be fair, true, and accurate to my own experience as long as I donate an old pair of running shoes to charity.