Salomon Sense Ride 5: Tested Review

What does the Salomon Sense Ride 5 trail-running shoe have in common with a childhood friend? More than you’d think.

Courtney Holden|Published May 17, 2023

3 reviews with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars
Co-op Member Natasha Guyton leaping in the Salmon Sense Ride 5

Most mornings, my alarm goes off around 5am. That means that for eight months of the year, I don running apparel by the light of my phone while the sun is still tucked into bed like the two sane people in my household. Once dressed, I tiptoe down the steps of our split-level, tug on my running shoes and ease quietly out the front door.

Often, the first, slow mile to my running buddy's house feels like a necessary evil—especially when it's cold and dark outside. My quads and hamstrings are always grumpy about their abrupt rousting, and they aren't afraid to loudly express their frustration. Sometimes my feet complain too, griping about having to pound the pavement and support the weight they're now forced to carry. Usually the kinks get worked out by the time I get to Raegan's house, so when we set out for our 4-mile loop, I'm able to focus on the beauty of the rising sun and our rich conversation.

For the past four months, however, my feet have been far less vocal. And I don't think it's a coincidence that this time period aligns with how long I've been reaching for a pair of Sense Ride 5 trail-running shoes from Salomon. These shoes are designed to be what the brand dubs an "ultra-versatile trail runner," ready to slay shorter outings and double-digit mileage days alike. As the name indicates, they're the brand's fifth iteration in its Sense Ride line, though nearly every aspect of the shoes has been updated from the Sense Ride 4, including a softer midsole, which my whiny feet appreciate.

After putting the shoe through the paces, both REI Co-op senior sales manager Alan Ortega—an experienced trail runner—and I agree that the Salomon design team is doing a lot right with the Sense Ride 5.

RunnerCourtney Holden
Years running20, not including a childhood spent playing competitive soccer
Average miles-per-week30
Preferred race distance10K, though I've been talked into longer
Preferred terrainFlowy trails and gravel paths

A Nostalgia-Inducing Upper

Slipping my foot into the Salomon Sense Ride 5 for the first time feels a lot like a hug from an old friend—natural and familiar. I admit, I was surprised. In hindsight, I shouldn't have been.

For the past few years, my go-to trail and road runners have been renditions from other brands. I love the adidas Terrex Agravic Flow 2 for its reliability on a range of terrain and the Clifton line from HOKA for its practically unparalleled cushion on the road. But when I went out to the garage to find the shoes I'd put out to pasture (blown-out soles don't matter for painting projects and yard work), I picked up multiple pairs of Salomons. I still have my first pair, XR Missions, which I bought more than a decade ago on a discount website with my precious-few postcollege dollars. I found the well-loved magenta XA Elevates that I ran and hiked in and generally beat up on a monthlong trip to England's Lake District (the only pair of athletic shoes to earn a spot in my suitcase). And there too were the Ultra Pros I decided on last-minute for last fall's 25K trail race.

A pair of Salomon Sense Ride 5s in a bright teal and pink color way
Salomon Sense Ride 5 Martina Limited Edition, REI member exclusive.

Given my history with Salomon, perhaps it makes sense that tugging on the Sense Ride 5 Quicklace® system and tightening the uppers feels a little like coming home—assuming, of course, that "home" can be a colorful, synthetic envelope for my feet.

But it's not just my familiarity with the brand that makes the fit feel so good. The engineering behind the Sense Ride 5 has a lot to do with it too, thanks to two proprietary technologies found in the upper. The first innovation, EndoFit, is a sleeve that connects the shoe's tongue to the midlayer to create an almost socklike hold on the foot. The second, dubbed SensiFit™, involves the part of the shoe around the laces, known as the overlay. In the Sense Ride 5, the overlay works in conjunction with the Salomon Quicklace system (more on that below) to effectively cradle the foot securely within the shoe. The result is that unique, hugging sensation that goes beyond the standard hold laces alone provide.

Squishy Midsoles Don't Compromise Responsiveness

Now it's time to get to know the shoe on its first outing. As I jog along at a comfortable pace, my midfoot is secure and my toes have plenty of room to splay out. I feel stable and confident transitioning from asphalt to gravel to trail, even when I hit a section where deep bike ruts mar the now-dry dirt path.

Upon initially unboxing the Sense Ride 5, I'd given the midsole—a combination of EVA foam and another foam product called olefin—a firm thumbing. It felt squishy, almost bouncy. Wearing the shoes now, I realize the similarities between that admittedly unscientific first impression and what the actual running experience is like. My toe-off feels plush and responsive, but not overly so thanks to Salomon's proprietary Contragrip® All Terrain outsole, which tempers the marshmallowy midlayer with a firmer rubber compound.

Alan's assessment of the Sense Ride 5 is similar. "Cushioning underfoot is squishier than you'd expect, giving you a comfy feeling throughout your run," he says, but the shoe "is a little stiffer than a max-cushion shoe or a shoe with a … knit upper."

Ready for Anything

A few months later, my love-at-first-run tingles have subsided, but there's no question I'm still smitten with the Sense Ride 5. The rubber of the outsole, paired with robust (though not overly aggressive) lugs, effectively grips all of the surfaces (pavement, gravel and buttery-smooth dirt trails) I throw at it. It's a small detail, but I really appreciate that the bottom of the shoe is designed in such a way that it doesn't collect rocks between the lugs or in any indentations in the outsole. Likewise, the outsole's rubber is firm enough to fend off goatheads—wretched, prickly burrs that get stuck in the softer outsoles of my other running shoes (and that I inadvertently bring inside and step on later with bare feet).

Alan notes that after testing the Sense Ride 5 on muddy trails, beach runs and rock scrambles, "I definitely trust this shoe to stick to anything." He adds, "When I know I'm getting into some techy terrain, or I don't know what the trail might throw at me, I reach for my Sense Ride 5s."

A person is sitting down and stretching their calf in the Salomon Sense Ride 5s, with the sole of the shoe facing the camera.

On the flipside, even after years of wearing Salomons, I'm still not sold on the brand's Quicklace system. Other people, Alan among them, are big fans. "The outside and the lace system combination really are what make this shoe stand out to me as they are both key factors in the stability and the traction the shoes offer me on my mountain runs," he says.

As Alan notes, the Quicklace system is integral to that SensiFit hug; I just wish there were a different way. Quicklace lives up to its name—it's fast to secure—but the process of storing the excess lace into its little garage on the tongue feels cumbersome to me. On the upside, it doesn't come untied like standard laces can. Also, because Quicklace is made of kevlar, they're uber durable—four times more than standard laces, Salomon claims.

The Rundown

The Salomon Sense Ride 5 is another winning member of the brand's Sense Ride lineup. The upper is breathable, though it's the dreamy fit that really makes the top part of the shoe stand out. Underfoot, "they are squishy, comfy, and stable," Alan says, "which can be a rare combination in the trail-running world." I agree wholeheartedly. Both of us are confident the shoe will withstand the 300 miles it's expected to, though perhaps not much more given the soft midsole. Ultimately, the Sense Ride 5 is great for everyday runs on varied terrain; it's a workhorse, though one that gives a great, comforting embrace.

The Tech Specs

Sense Ride 5 Trail-Running Shoes - Women's
Sense Ride 5 Trail-Running Shoes - Men's

Salomon Sense Ride 5 Trail-Running Shoes

Trail-Running Shoe Type Rugged-Trail

Heel-to-toe Drop (mm) 8.3

Heel Stack Height (mm) 29.6

Forefoot Stack Height (mm) 21.3

Midsole Energy Surge foam

Outsole Contragrip rubber

Rock Plate No

Weight (Pair) 1 lb. 1.4 oz. (women's), 1 lb. 4.2 oz. (men's)