Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 ReviewSeptember 30, 2014
- Excellent traction and precision
- Aggressive grip
- Narrow fit
- Small ground contact area limits stability
The Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 is a 10-ounce shoe designed for aggressive running on loose, sloppy terrain. The large outsole lugs live up to expectations, but the narrow forefoot and small ground contact area limit stability on technical and off-camber trail. Although the Fellcross is described as a specialty shoe, it is actually tantalizingly close to being one of the premier technical trail shoes on the market.
The Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 is marketed as a shoe for short distance racing on cross-country terrain i.e. Fell running. The distinguishing features of the shoe are its large outsole lugs and flexible feel. These two features combine to provide amazing traction on soft surfaces. The sticky outsole material also gripped well on firmer surfaces. Ground feel was better than one might expect given the size of the lugs. This is the result of both the overall flexibility of the shoe and the softness of the lugs.
Although the Fellcross is described as a specialty shoe, it is actually tantalizingly close to being one of the premier technical trail shoes on the market. It falls short of this designation in two areas. First, the flexibility of the shoe limits both energy return and underfoot protection. The result is that when the trail firms up, the shoe struggles to maintain a faster pace. Second, the small ground contact area and narrow forefoot limit overall stability on demanding terrain. This is exacerbated when the trail is firm and the lugs don’t sink in as deeply.
The Fellcross will appeal to runners who spend a lot of time on mud, sand, or even soft snow. It also may work well as a more general-purpose shoe for runners with narrow feet.
Comfort & Protection
Although the Fellcross definitely has a soft, comfortable feel, it features less cushioning and protection than other shoes in this weight class. The outsole lugs compensate for this somewhat by providing a bit of shock absorption. Nonetheless, the lack of underfoot protection means that this is probably not a shoe for rocky trails. The upper provided adequate protection against trail hazards and impacts.
Security of Fit
Despite the Fellcross having only three eyelets, security of fit was generally excellent. The entire upper seems to mold to the foot very well without excessive lace pressure, but is not so compliant that it lacks structure or support. This really helps to lock the foot down. The small number of eyelets also makes the laces easy to adjust.
Speed & Energy Efficiency
The Fellcross is overall a very flexible shoe and hence does not provide much at all in the way of energy return. This was most notable during hard running on steep climbs. The shoe was practically begging for a faster pace, but ultimately just became too labored to sustain a high effort level for any significant duration. Turnover was also a little awkward due to the lug height, particularly on firmer surfaces where the lugs did not bite as deeply.
Agility and Traction
While the traction provided outstanding grip on a range of surfaces, the agility was somewhat disappointing. The main issue is that the ground contact area and in fact the whole forefoot is narrower than average. This limits roll stability and makes for tentative running on mixed-camber surfaces and fast twisty downhill.
At an MSRP of $170, the Fellcross is significantly more expensive than similar shoes from other manufacturers. This could be a hard shoe to justify unless the fit happens to be spot on.