First Look Shoe Review: Salming EnRoute

First Look Shoe Review

In a saturated shoe market, offering a slew of features, it is a brave shoe company that decides to step into this competitive playing field. Swedish company Salming is one such shoe manufacturer, who has stepped into the arena with a full battle cry in the form of its flagship training shoe, EnRoute.

While Salming boasts an impressive resume of shoes and sportswear dedicated to hard court sports, such as European handball and squash, its running shoe pedigree is still evolving. To its credit, Salming has entered the running market with confidence and an array of running shoes to tempt many of the brand-loyal running stalwarts into their offerings. Even 6-time Hawaii Ironman World Champion, Mark Allen, now wears Salming.

No one could question Salming's desire to make an impact, as they make a full blooded attempt at capturing a portion of the 84.4 billion USD athletic footwear market. With a tradition honed on the hard courts of Europe, their shoes are built on excellent support, hard wearing soles and a market-leading grip, but it remains to be seen if the Salming brand can successfully transition to running shoes. When I first tried Salming shoes last year, I was underwhelmed. I felt the initial offerings from Salming were ill-disguised squash shoes. Subsequently, my first trial of the shoes a year ago led me to walk away a little disappointed. 

To be fair, I was also in the midst of a Hoka OneOne love affair. The maximum cushioning on my midfoot strike, was allowing me to run further and recover faster on my older running legs. I couldn't leave my go-to runners for just any ol’ shoe. However, all good things must come to an end and I found myself sorely disappointed with the fit and performance of the Hoka Clifton 3 (and the increasingly ugly design of the shoe). Upon learning that Salming had listened to the feedback on their 2016 offerings and gone in a new direction for 2017, I decided to give Salming another go… and I am so glad that I did! Enter, the Salming EnRoute.

Salming EnRoute

Released worldwide on February 15 2017, Salming tout the EnRoute as the running shoe for everyone. The development of EnRoute was based on Salming's Natural Running Support System™, which they state allows runners to find and stay in their natural running stride. The light, daily trainer has a price point of $259 AUD.

Below are the statistics of the men's and women's Salming EnRoute offerings.

Men's EnRoute

Weight: 256 g (UK 9)
Drop: 6 mm
Color: Black and Magma Red
Stack: 24.5 mm centre of heel 18.5 mm ball of foot
Midsole: Recoil™ + Recoil R™
Outsole: Durable lightweight rubber
Torsion: Torsion Efficiency Unit™
Lining: Mesh
Sizes: UK 6.5-13. EU 40 2/3-49 1/3

Womens Enroute

Weight: 192 g (UK 5.5)
Drop: 6 mm
Color: Black and Diva Pink
Stack: 24.5 mm centre of heel 18.5 mm ball of foot
Midsole: Recoil™ + Recoil R™
Outsole: Durable lightweight rubber
Torsion: Torsion Efficiency Unit™
Lining: Mesh
Sizes: UK 3.5-8.5. EU 36-42 2/3

 Men's EnRoute Black

Men's EnRoute Black

 
 Women's EnRoute  Black

Women's EnRoute  Black

 Mens EnRoute Magma Red

Mens EnRoute Magma Red

 
 Women's EnRoute  Diva Pink

Women's EnRoute  Diva Pink

According to Salming, the upper has been designed to merge with the support and stability properties, creating one solid responsive and supportive shoe. The design thinking of the upper is a Wrap Around Design concept, consisting of four different units coming together to create that snug comfortable first feel with great breathability and fit.

Salming state that the ExoSkeleton™ is a part of the lacing construction and keeps the foot in place. The tongue has a gusset design which is a part of the 3 layer upper construction that consists of the big soft air mesh next to the foot, the 2nd layer being the ExoSkeleton™ and, to seal it all off, the thin net mesh.

Unboxing

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Unboxing was the usual bland affair. I am still waiting for a shoe company to take box designs to the next level, but with the shoe generally being on display in the store and the box having a strictly utilitarian purpose, I understand that boxes are not vital in the grand scheme of things. But I digress!

I was pleasantly surprised upon opening the box to find an attractive running shoe. The colours of Salming's shoe models are quite striking. Even the basic EnRoute black model that I purchased has subtle, yet eye catching, bright yellow accents and well thought-out placement of the brand and model names. The ExoSkeleton™ design provides an understated colour accent under the thin mesh of the outer.

Overall this is one good looking shoe. Keep in mind I have been running in Hoka for some time now, so my visual taste buds have likely become deadened over that period. However, I am told by my wife and teenage children that they are attractive shoes, so I will publish their taste critique to enhance my own poor style judgement. I justify my position by saying that I am a functional runner, I certainly don't match my socks with my shirt, so please heed my advice on shoe function, not style.

Fit

The initial fit of the EnRoute was good, but it wasn't love at first wear. The shoe initially felt as if it is constructed in two parts and stuck together. However, I would learn on my first run that this is actually a positive attribute of the EnRoute, providing a flexible forefoot with a supportive heel. Regardless, the shoe had a good initial fit.

The weight of the EnRoute comes in at a svelte 256 grams, but the ExoSkeleton™ provided a feeling of security. Consequently, I automatically had a high level of trust in the shoe.

The heel cup was excellent and secured the foot well into the shoe. There was some criticism of previous Salming models having a poor fitting heel cup and it appears that they have worked hard to fix this in the EnRoute. This is another great sign that Salming is here for the long run, as they are listening to their runners and acting on the feedback. This is an excellent sign for the continued evolution of this already high level running shoe.

First Run

I put the EnRoute through its paces in the first run. Straight out of the box I took the EnRoute for a 13km run that included grass, light gravel trails, cambered bitumen roads, unforgiving concrete paths and a run up Gyndier Hill climb (for those of you familiar with the Noosa Triathlon course). 

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Gyndier gains 120m of elevation over 3km. This gradual climb enabled me to test how the EnRoute performs uphill, using a forefoot climbing technique. This technique allows me use forefoot in a short stride, high cadence style to efficiently ascend hills employing my calf muscles. This is a great test for shoes, as the lesser designed models will slip in the heel cup and cause hot spots and blisters. The EnRoute didn't budge.

The EnRoute gave excellent support when employing the mid-rear foot Torsion Efficiency Unit™. It had great flexibility as a result of the the 72 degree flex angle on the sole, which allowed me to roll up on my toes and stay in that position as I chugged up the hill. The flex grooves on the outsole offer an enhanced toe-off and a slightly wider toe box gives plenty of room for your toes to splay.

It was on the decline that I was even more impressed by the shoe, as I was expecting the stiffness and newness of the shoe to rattle my bones as I descended. However, they have nailed the Recoil™ cushioning in the rear foot and the torsion control system allowed a solid transfer of momentum from a slight heel strike into a fast toe-off. 

The slight stiffness of the EnRoute chassis, which I was originally concerned with as I took the first strides of my run, faded quickly as I hit the grass and the light gravel trails. The Torsion Efficiency Unit™ and the board last of the shoe covered the softness of the grass well and made it feel like a faster, harder surface than it was. The tread pattern is generous, fast and non-aggressive allowing speed with minimal road noise. 

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Summary

Pros

  • The design of the shoe is inventive in a market place that seems to have done everything. The 75 degree flex angle on the forefoot of the sole, Torsion Efficiency Unit™ and ExoSkeleton™ are seamlessly integrated into a light and functional chassis.
  • When I think Sweden, I think great design and intelligent construction. If Volvo made a shoe it would be like EnRoute. Five star safety, take kids to school and still have power and grace to have fun in the twists and turns of the mountain pass.
  • It is a sensible shoe. One that I will reach for to get the hard yards done. It certainly doesn't substitute form and fit for meaningless style additions.  
  • It is a very good looking shoe. There is a lot in the shoe and they make it fit together seamlessly. It doesn't try to be ostentatious and colour patterning is striking without being outlandish.

Cons

  • The slight stiffness of the board last and torsion control may unsettle some, especially if you come from a maximum cushioning background.
  • A minor gripe, but the laces are on the thin side, being more string like. This meant that I had to double tie the laces to prevent lace slip and keep the laces from coming untied. 
  • The construction is good but attention needs to be paid on the upper finishing. A few loose threads and poor machining was evident.
  • While the shoe is aimed at the top shelf of the market, it also comes with a top shelf price. Being a new player in the market, this may scare people away from the investment in the unfamiliar.
  • At the time of writing this, there are only 8 stores in Australia that stock Salming running - making availability difficult. 

 

Verdict: 9/10

Salming have created a solid offering in the EnRoute. This is an excellent running shoe. I have subtracted half a point for the higher price and half a point for the minor finishing concerns of stitching and thin laces. Very minor points, as I am saying that the EnRoute is a must buy. It is sleek, sexy, well designed, with a ton of features. I have the feeling that Salming is the next big thing in running shoes, especially if they keep listening to their runners and producing high performance products.

It is also worth noting that Salming shoes are a rarity outside of Europe, adding a certain degree of prestige to ownership of the EnRoute. The fact that you will probably be the only person sporting this exclusive high performance shoe at your next ParkRun or marathon could justify the $259 price tag.

Special offer

If you are interested in learning more about Salming or purchasing EnRoute, the full range of Salming products is available by clicking on the following logo.

 
 
 Discount Code: SALMOME17

Discount Code: SALMOME17

Mind Over Matter Endurance supporters receive a 20% discount off all Salming products in Australia! Contact us to receive your discount code. Note we do not receive any benefit from these purchases. We simply want to see our athletes in a high performance shoe and recommend Salming.

If you are located on the Sunshine Coast and want to try the shoes on to ensure a proper fit, you can contact Salming stockist InformConnection to organise a visit to their storefront in Kunda Park. They will extend the 20% discount if you tell them you are a Mind Over Matter Endurance supporter.

By Sean Riley