Awhile ago, some kind folks sent me a pair of Salomon Sense Mantras to try out. After six months of running and walking in them it's time to tell you my opinions. The shoes were provided free to me.
My first run: There was a sensation of my heels not being secure, almost like slipping, though that wasn't actually happening. It took a few runs before I forgot about it, and then I loved the feel of the Sense Mantras.
These are not "minimalist" shoes, but they have all the best qualities of them.
They are lightweight, weighing just 9.2 ounces and have a 6 mm heel to toe drop.
Running in the Salomon Sense Mantras allowed me to feel close to the ground and connected with the terrain, a must in my book.
Incredibly, despite their light weight, they also manage to feel sturdy. I felt stable and confident running on technical trails and pavement alike.
They handled trails with aplomb. They did well on hard-packed dirt and clay, sandy trails and muddy slop. With the exception of heavy leaf cover (I have yet to find a shoe that excels in these conditions) they performed admirably.*
The toe box provided plenty of room for my feet and I never had any trouble with my toenails hitting the front of these shoes.
I am less of a fan of the "Quicklace" system. Perhaps because I have somewhat narrow feet, I find it hard to get the fit exactly right every time. I also didn't love tucking the end into the little flap because I had to squeeze it under the lace I had just gotten to the desired tautness.
On the other hand, once locked in place you don't have to worry about re-tying or re-tightening these laces.
Finally, these are a good looking pair of shoes! While that's low on my list of desirable shoe qualities, I love running shoes that look good (and not too bright or flashy) with a pair of jeans.
Would I buy these again? Absolutely, I would put these in my regular running shoe rotation. They have been a pleasure to run in.
*Right about the time I received the Salmon Sense Mantras I noticed the ball of my right foot was intermittently tender. As I began testing these shoes, I continued to rotate in three other pairs of shoes regularly. The Salomon Sense Mantra can't be to blame for my foot tenderness, but for this reason I am not rating them on rocky trails, as I cannot reliably say whether they felt "protective" enough for me on that type of terrain. I kept thinking this mild pain would go away so I could rate the shoes on this aspect, thus my delay in posting this review.