Sometimes shoe model updates are complete redesigns and other times they are a slight tweak to an already-winning design. The Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 is more of the latter. Just last year, I reviewed the original and this new model isn’t a whole lot different — and that’s not a bad thing.
Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 Features:
- Anti-debris knit collar
- Updated mesh for added breathability
- Quicklace lacing system
- Energy Foam midsole for added response
- Energy Blade construction for midsole spring
- 6mm drop (33mm heel / 27mm forefoot)
- Contagrip outsole with 3.5mm lugs
- MSRP: $160
Firm, but fast and smooth
This year, Salomon made some tweaks to the fast and responsive Pulsar Trail Pro by updating the knit material for improved breathability and revised the welded rubber rand around the uppers. It’s not an earth-shattering change, but rather an evolution. I tested and really enjoyed the Pulsar Trail Pro last year (read review), so it’s good to be able to show them side-by-side. Let’s have a look.
Well… it takes some well-tuned peepers to really notice the difference between the old and new model — in pictures and on the trail. In fact, after my first run in them, I had to reach out to Salomon to get more details on what changed because the “feel” the same to me. The response was just the mesh uppers, colors and the updated rand. So, all the things considered, if you liked the old version, you’ll continue to like the Pulsar Trail Pro 2.
As always, let’s start from the first impression. I’m a huge fan of Salomon’s Quicklace system. It makes for easy on/off and cinching them down is a breeze. Before a run, I just pull them snug, fine-tune the lower laces and then cinch them up a touch more. The snugness of the laces always feels perfect to me. A big part of that is the laces ability to ebb and flow through the eyelets. With each step, the laces can “flex” with your feet. The result is always one of the most comfortable and secure uppers of any trail running shoe on the market.
The knit uppers are also winners with the Pulsar Trail Pro 2. It feels sock-like and effectively serves as a scree guard on the trail as it wraps around my ankle. With an optimized cut, the cuff has kept debris at bay yet goes otherwise unnoticed. It’s another great win for Salomon’s shoe design.
During my around town break-in period, I didn’t experience any discomfort and appreciated the more subdued look that the “Surf The Web / Black / Safety Yellow” color provided. I’ll just call them “blue” for short though. Dog walks around the neighborhood or short road approaches are also okay with these shoes. The low-profile lugs do roll smoothly on pavement, but these are definitely trail-tuned shoes.
Salomon does say that Energy Foam gives you that “extra pop and response” on the trail. And, I can attest to that. Coming from a summer of testing squishy shoes like the Craft Nordlite Ultra and Hoka Challenger 7, the Pulsar Trail Pro 2 definitely isn’t “squishy.” No, it’s categorically responsive. What does that mean? Well, for me, they feel a little more like a go cart than a luxury vehicle. But, the structure and design still lends itself to solid comfort — just not how you might get it from the type of shoes mentioned above.
With each step, the Contagrip outsoles offer solid traction and forward motion. That forward motion is amplified by the Energy Blade and rockered outsole design. I really appreciate that each step rolls to the next with just the right traction, forward motion and rebound. There is just enough cushioning to reduce impact and plenty of spring to almost turn every step into autopilot. I really appreciate how these shoes run — at a variety of paces. And, the faster your pace, the more they respond. Did I mention that I love rockered outsoles? Just making sure.
On my first run, I just kept going — extending a 3 mile run into 6. Subsequent runs have been equally enjoyable with a desire to keep climbing or keep adding the miles. Entering technical terrain, the combination of the well-fitting uppers and responsive midsole works to your advantage. I can dance through rocky sections on the way up and down without any foot slippage to distract me. In fact, off-camber switchbacks become solid and I can confidently think about that next foot placement instead of dealing with my feet sloshing around inside.
The combination of materials that make up the mid and outsoles does have a couple of downsides. The ride can feel a little firm. If you have any tightness in your lower back, you’ll feel it. But, proper technique minimizes that. Secondly, trail feel is good, but not as intimate as I’d like. That is always a delicate balance and these do a great job, but I just wished for a little more trail sense.
Fit: I went with the size 11.5, which is my usual size with Salomon, Hoka, Craft, Arc’teryx and The North Face trail running shoes.
- Quicklace system is always a winner
- Knit uppers provide a unified feel
- Rockered outsole and construction makes that next stride automatic
- Excellent traction uphill and down
- Cuff keeps trail debris at bay
- Uppers provide excellent protection
- Do feel a touch firm
- I’d love a little more trail feel
- Uppers breathe well, but wouldn’t be my first choice on a hot day
The Bottom Line: Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2
Salomon has taken a winning recipe and refined it just a little with the Pulsar Trail Pro 2. The knit uppers provide a unified feel and Quicklace always delivers an no-brainer lacing experience. With a rockered outsole and responsive construction, I appreciate how well these roll from step-to-step on all types of terrain. Don’t expect Hoka-level squishiness, but embrace the speed these provide with every step.
Buy Now: Available from Salomon