Salomon Sonic RA PRO Review Facts
If running is your passion, the shoes that you choose to wear and train in are very important. Factors such as responsiveness, weight, flexibility, and support can all play a critical role in your performance. There are quite a few different running shoes on the market today, and this review is going to take a closer look at one of the more popular brands available today. The Salomon Sonic RA Pro is advertised as the elite training running shoe, perfect for a marathon, triathlon, and long-distance running in general.
The outsole portion of these shoes
is somewhat unique, based on their design overall. The outsole is divided into two separate areas, centered around the toe or heel area, with the dividing line being a long, deep groove that runs the length of the shoe at a slight angle. This allows the different portions of the shoe to act independently, which in turn allows for a more natural movement.
The material used although common in most running shoes gets a bit of a different take. The wet traction Contagrip material provides great overall traction control, and the blown rubber treads located in the forefoot area allows for quicker response and a springy step that is designed to energize the foot with every step.
In truth, the midsole section of the Salomon Sonic RA Pro is where the serious performance really happens. The midsole is relatively thin overall but features two different layers that are designed to heighten the responsiveness and comfort overall of this relatively lightweight shoe
. The first portion is the molded EVA footbed made from Energycell+ material. This provides a good deal of firmness overall which helps to support and cushion the foot as it travels from heel to toe during the step. The second portion is a layer of extra cushioning that is sandwiched within the Energycell+ layer. Designated as Opal material by the manufacturer, this layer creates a section of extra springiness and cushioning at the forefront area of the shoe. This makes getting off the starting block that much more easy and comfortable.
One of the biggest complaints that a lot of runners
have about their shoes is the irritation caused by hot points due to seams and uneven wear. Well, this shoe tries to address this problem through the use of a no-seam designed upper made of a combination of mesh material and a welded framework of Sensifit. It overlays that work with the traditional lacing system to provide an overall snug fit, without the use of irritating seams or pressure points.
Not surprisingly, the overall breathability and ventilation
of this shoe are very good. The air mesh upper portion provides plenty of pore spaces to allow air to flow through to the foot, and the interior material allows for the moisture of the foot to be wicked away easily.
When it comes to overall comfort, however, these shoes from Salomon do present a few problems. First, there really is a limited amount of cushioning overall. If the men’s shoe
is considered, there is some cushioning in a few strategic locations around the heel ankle, and toes, but many users felt that there could be a bit more in the arch area of the foot for added comfort and support over the longer runs. The women’s version has a bit more padding overall, but still is certainly not a luxurious ride by any means.
The tongue is a bit thin, but wide so it provides great coverage for the instep area of the foot, helping to keep out small pebbles and sand while running. There is also little break-in time needed, with many users mentioning that the shoe felt comfortable right out of the box.
If you’re looking to get noticed on the track, these running shoes
will certainly help. They feature bright colors like neon yellow, pink, orange, and blue that offer a surprising compliment to their overall sleek design. That being said, these shoes clear focus on form and function, rather than fashion. Expect to see these shoes making their mark on the roadway, not in the company boardroom.
Given the lightweight materials used in the construction, the Salomon Sonic RA Pro is remarkably durable and can last through many seasons of roadway running or track competitions. There were only minor reports of problems with the midsole and outsole
portions of the shoe. Truthfully, about the only area that we noted significant problems was in the relatively rapid wear down of the tread, especially in the forefoot area. However, for the average runner who is training for competition, these shoes should last for at least a few seasons.
Unfortunately, the upper portion of the shoe is where many customers found some durability and longevity issues. Competitive runners are known for grueling miles on the track, and often need the upper portions to not only allow for a great fit overall but to also protect their feet from scrapes, abrasions, and even blisters without too much hassle. And while these running shoes do accomplish those tasks, for the most part, the upper portion has been known to wear through unnaturally fast, especially around the toe box area.
These shoes are clearly designed for training and for racing, so not surprisingly, the overall protection they offer is somewhat limited. The outsoles and rand area of the shoe provide some protection from debris and scrapes, but there were quite a few complaints about small pebbles or stones making their way into the shoe via the heel area. Also, the highly breathable upper mesh portion can become easily overwhelmed in inclement weather. Simply put, if you plan on running through a summer thunderstorm for whatever reason, don’t expect your feet to remain dry for very long.
The responsiveness that people experience with these shoes is some of the best, or most lauded on the market today within the shoe’s price range. The overall design of the outsole with the independent suspension, as well as the springy inner Opal layer, allows the runner to respond quickly to changes on the track or the roadway.
Another aspect that clearly helps keep things moving along well is the overall firmness of the shoe itself. It does have a limited about of flexibility, but the overall stability and firmness of the shoe can act as a bit of a springboard. This returns quite a bit of energy with every step, which can be easily used to power through the next one. This means that the runner spends less energy and effort in running, and fatigue is less likely to set in.
Not surprisingly, the overall support of these shoes are designed to be neutral when it comes to the arch and the padding in various strategic locations definitely help to keep the ankle from rolling unnecessarily. The welded framework and lacing in the upper portion of the shoe provides additional fit and stability overall, and many found the combination to be a welcome asset.
These are certainly not shoes to take into the backwoods for a nice hike. Chances are they won’t survive it. However if your jungle consists of concrete and steel, these shoes will perform quite well. The tread is designed to work well and respond precisely in both wet and dry conditions, and the relatively stable framework allows for quick adjustments when the concrete or asphalt becomes a bit too slick.
The average price for these shoes at most online and in-store retailers is around $130, which places them slightly at the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to running and training shoes. Given the overall performance and durability of the shoes, this price isn’t that unreasonable and can make a respectable investment for a season or two of hard running.
The overall traction of the Salomon Sonic RA Pro is a bit of a mixed bag. In one sense, the division between the heel and the toe area provided by the deep groove running along the length does allow for a great ability to switch gears and move the feet in a more natural way. However, the individual lugs were found to wear out faster than expected, lasting only maybe fifty or sixty running miles in some cases. In addition, the spacing between the lugs fell into that foggy area in regards to tread depth – not really enough to promote good grip, but not shallow enough to shove out rocks and debris while running. Again, these shoes work well on paved surfaces or smooth tracks, as they were designed to do, but not much else.
On the spectrum between steel-like firmness on one end and Gumby like flexibility on the other, these shoes tend to fall closer to the firm side of things. That is not to say that they don’t have a moderate amount of flexibility, because they do. However, the flexibility doesn’t come from the upper portion of the shoe, but from the outsole and midsole portions, which are somewhat hinged along the grooved axis at the sole of the shoe.
Comparison to Other Brands
If you are partial to the overall firm feel of the Mizuno or Asics brand of running shoe, this pair from Salomon will be right up your alley. There are brands out there that provide a significant more padding overall, such as the Brooks Mazama, or the Hoka One One Bondi 5, but few offer the responsiveness that is highlighted in the Salomon Sonic RA Pro.
Another area in which this shoe is different than other comparable brands is in how the midsole itself is designed. Where many other running shoes use full layers to offer the maximum amount of support and cushioning over the most area, the Salomon Sonic RA Pro takes a slightly different approach. Instead of blanketing the midsole with the interior cushioning material, this shoe targets areas that are more likely to need the support, such as the forefoot, and heel area with the extra support. This allows for a limited amount of flexibility throughout the shoe while still providing for good responsiveness and firmness overall.
Generally speaking, these shoes provide a good deal of stability and natural foot movement overall, which does contribute to a more comfortable and refreshing run in a way. However, it should be noted that if you’re looking for a shoe that offers more stability to help deal with overpronation, this shoe may be a bit lacking. If you want to use this particular running shoe and ankle rolling is a problem for you, extra inserts may be a necessary evil.
Generally speaking, though these shoes with their general design and construction provide just enough stability to keep the runner moving in the right direction without too much hassle.
The Bottom Line
There are countless shoes out on the market today that is designed to help a competitive runner maximize their training, and to excel while in competition. It seems that each season brings about another new shoe with a new innovation that is slated to take the running world by storm. While the Salomon Sonic RA Pro certainly can fall into that category with the independently divided outsole, the real star of this shoe is the fact that is truly very responsive and allows for the runner to be re-energized with every step. While some may prefer more cushioning overall, and the upper portion and tread may not be as durable as we would like, this is one running shoe that is well worth the investment.