Salewa Ultra Train 3
Trail shoes are intensely personal. I’ve been known to stock up on multiple pairs of my favorite trail running shoes as insurance in case the model is discontinued or modified beyond my preferences. And my preference is to sacrifice the support of a heavier boot for the confident traction of a mountain running shoe, even with a moderately heavy pack; I figure I’m less like to injure an ankle if I can confidently and quickly interfact with the trail underfoot.
The Salewa Ultra Train 3, however, suggests that maybe you don’t have to sacrifice support for agility.
Right out of the box on a trail-less trek across talus-strewn sidehills and marmot bombholes, the shoe felt at home on my foot, with no hot spots or pressure points. That’s in part thanks to the Anti-Rock Heel Cup, which cradles the heel and minimizes heel-slip. In addition, the combination of moisture-wicking Ortholite footbed and lightweight, breathable mesh upper keep feet dry and friction-free. They also mean the shoe recovers quickly from creek crossings. The toe box does run wide, so runners with narrow feet may have a hard time getting a precise fit.
The tread design of the Pomoca outsole, developed exclusively with Salewa, is intended to maintain the foot’s center of pressure on the ground and ensure efficiently rolling heel-to-toe movement on uneven terrain. Paired with an aggressive lug pattern, the outsole is as confidence-inspiring as any I’ve used; the Spidey-like grip inspires bold lines on high-angle talus slopes and big steps when boulder hopping.
The stiff sole provides good insulation from toe impacts and sharp-edged underfoot pressure; conversely, on soft, ankle-straining sand, the shoe moves naturally enough with the foot that it’s not rubbing heels or smashing toes.
With its stiff supportive sole, the Ultra Train 3 does sacrifices some suppleness; this is not the shoe for you if your treks lean more toward pavement-pounding than peak-bagging. However, it means the shoe can credibly handle multiday backpacking trips as well as ultralight mountain running days.
- Confidence-inspiring grip on rock and wet surfaces
- 8mm drop reduces foot fatigue and encourages natural gait
- Wicking footbed and mesh upper keep the shoe ventilated and quick-drying
- Wide toe box may not work for those with narrow feet
- Round cross-section laces may come untied
The Ultra Train 3 hits the elusive trail shoe sweet spot of feeling like it’s not there, except when you need it to be. If your days in the mountains favor rough, rocky trail, or no trail at all, you’d be hard pressed to find a more capable shoe. Is the Ultra Train 3 worth a look? Let’s put it this way: I might have to stockpile an extra pair or two.