The Salomon S-Lab Wings is clearly a shoe built for performance racing and training. Everything about this shoe is built for running hard and fast, from the responsive midsole to the unique internal sleeve fit system to the low-profile outsole lugs. This performance does come with a somewhat firm and stiff feel that can become a little harsh over longer distances.
The Salomon S-Lab Wings is clearly designed for performance racing and training. The shoe offers up all of the characteristics needed for hard and fast running: excellent turnover, a high degree of natural stability, a secure fit, and superb responsiveness. Furthermore, the shoe maintains its fast racy feel across a variety of speeds and terrains. This unique character makes the S-Lab Wings suitable for racing everything from short, technical 10km races up to medium distance ultra-marathons. The S-Lab Wings is also an outstanding choice for trail-based speedwork such as hill repeats and tempo runs.
Given the performance-oriented design, it should come as no surprise that the S-Lab Wings does not have a soft plush feel. This is simply not that type of shoe, and runners should not expect that. The S-Lab Wings does have a couple of other minor drawbacks. The first is that the Speed Lacing system can take a few runs to really figure out and dial in. The second is that the low-profile outsole lugs provide little traction on surfaces such as mud, scree, and loose gravel – but note that Salomon also makes a “Soft Ground” version of the S-Lab Wings which features taller lugs and presumably better traction in these scenarios.
The S-Lab Wings will appeal to performance-oriented runners who want an all-purpose shoe for racing and hard workouts. Heavier runners will likely want a shoe with more cushioning for runs beyond and hour or two.
Comfort The upper material of S-Lab Wings is soft, cushioned, and breathable. By virtue of being slightly padded it also adds a bit of protection to the foot. The midsole material however is clearly designed for performance rather than comfort. It does have a bit of give to it, but the overall feel is firm and stiff rather than soft and plush.
Speed The S-Lab Wings has phenomenal turnover for a shoe that weighs nearly 10oz. This is a result of the low-profile outsole lugs, the responsive midsole material, and the 10mm heel-to-toe drop. What really stands out is the ability of the shoe to maintain its fast feel on a variety of surfaces: it felt equally at home on bike paths, cruiser-grade fire roads, and technical singletrack.
Security of Fit The overall shape of the S-Lab Wings is fairly typical, and once the Speed Laces get dialed in the shoe feels secure and solid. The shoe has an internal sleeve system that does an excellent job of cradling and supporting the entire foot. The major caveat here is that the Speed Laces can take a while to dial in and really find that sweet spot between a secure fit and having over-tightened laces.
Agility The various individual strengths of the S-Lab Wings all seem to come together on technical terrain. The quick turnover, low-profile outsole, and secure fit really enable the runner to fly through, over, and around trail obstacles. The S-Lab Wings also has excellent natural stability, which helps keep the foot in place on the ground and give the runner confidence.
Responsiveness The S-Lab Wings felt very responsive on a variety of terrain and at a variety of speeds. On climbs, the shoe exhibited no excess flex whether hiking the steeps or cruising up more runnable grades. However, the S-Lab Wings really seemed to shine on moderately steep descents, with just the right amount of energy return to help keep moving forward at a high rate of speed.