I have no shortage of shoes to test. With constant advancements in materials and minute updates to design, the river of performance footwear runs strong and shows no signs of drying up.
But “super shoes” are another matter. After all, you’re going to sell more Fords than Ferraris — so that’s where most of the marketing hype goes. But then, Salomon reached out and sent a pair of its S/Lab Phantasm 2, a self-proclaimed “supersonic shoe” designed for topping podiums and personal records alike.
I’ve been running — and gawking — at the Phantasm 2 for a few weeks ahead of its launch. Here are some early impressions of the latest S/Lab release, who it’s for, and where you can find it.
In short: Salomon’s S/Lab Phantasm 2 is, as the sticker price demands, a premium shoe. The parallels to a super car abound: Its design cues are sleek, including transparent upper and marshmallowy midsole. When you’re in it, you want to go fast, and using it in captivity — though fun — is a terrible waste of money. If you are serious about speed, the Phantasm 2 needs to be on your shortlist of options.
- Drop 9mm (37.5-28.5mm heel-toe
- Weight 8.5 oz. (men's 9)
- Best for Road race
- Price $275
- Extremely lightweight
- Perfect cushion
- Ultra breathable
- Sock-like fit
- Long-term durability unclear
Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 Review
Let’s be candid up front: This is a nearly $300 shoe. It’s designed for speed and serious running. The shoe looks and feels unlike almost any other shoes out there.
I’m not pretending I’ll make the Olympic marathon trials, but I receive more than 30 pairs of shoes a year — the vast majority targeted at high-performance running. So, I can easily attest to the unique DNA and capabilities of Salomon’s first super shoe — a claim the brand itself makes.
This review is as much for the folks committed to dominating marquee running events as it is for those who might be new to world of ultrafast shoes. After all, you might not be lucky enough to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari, but it’s still fun to see what it can do.
Two things jumped out when I first unboxed the Phantasm 2: The scant ounces sprinkled throughout each shoe, and the fact that they’re partially see-through.
Starting at the toebox and wrapping around both sides, a single-layer synthetic mesh surrounds the forefoot, shaving grams of material and allowing increased breathability (and visibility!).
Once you get over the aesthetics and first impressions, though, the real star of the show becomes the midsole. Or, I should say, the plush, pillowy midsole. Made of PEBA foam, the midsole feels equal parts soft and compliant. Standing still, you’ll feel your heels and forefoot begin to sink in as the foam conforms around your footprint.
But in action, this foam absorbs impact and energy with each foot strike, compressing against the thin carbon plate buried within. An extra 3mm of foam resides under the carbon plate, bringing the full stack height to 37.5 mm — a shade under the World Athletics Organization’s 40mm limit for running shoes.
As for rubber, there’s really not much to speak of. The only real outsole or tread resides at the forefoot — along with the forward-shifted rocker. It’s a final testament to the shoe’s speed focus. It’s not for loping; the shoe really only works when you’re running fast, vaulting off your forefoot.
There’s a lot of similarity between these shoes and a high-performance sports car. However, comfort is probably where that comparison falls short. Where most sport cars are notoriously cramped and sacrifice creature comfort for technical performance, the Phantasm 2 is an absolute dream to wear.
Were they not $275 a pair, I’d buy them for my parents to walk around in. The PEBA feels like well-tuned suspension — absorbing the bad and giving back the good. And the thin-membrane upper wraps nicely around the foot, very compliant without being sloppy.
The Phantasm 2 has just enough material — foam, mesh, and laces — to feel like a shoe. I’m a sample size 13 and each shoe weighed under 9 ounces. Any less and you get close to barefoot-running feel. These are extremely lightweight, but still feel like a shoe, which I like.
Of course, if there’s a drawback here, it is (again) that these are not meant for walking or standing still. They don’t feel right when you do — the heels sink deep into the foam and throws off the shoe’s balance.
S/Lab Phantasm 2 Test Run
Over the course of about 20-30 miles of testing, the Phantasm 2 has become a favorite. I’ve used them for punchy runs under 5 miles and longer runs up to 8-9 miles. That happens to be my sweet spot and preferred running regimen. But Salomon also tested these shoes on pro athletes for full- and half-marathon distances.
As noted above, the Phantasm won’t quite feel right unless you hit a pace that propels you fast off your forefoot. It doesn’t have to be a full sprint, but the shoe will compel you to launch with your strides. It will not cater to flat-footed trots — if you do, you’ll feel sloppy and off-balance.
However, at a gallop, the Phantasm 2 shines. I have average to slightly wide feet, but the glove-like upper did not spill over the midsole, and each footfall felt precise. The PEBA foam is not the most energy-responsive I’ve tried, but it is very nimble and the extra cushion prevented foot fatigue over my longer miles.
I did have some concerns the stretchy, paper-thin tongue might bunch or migrate during my runs, perhaps creating some slop or extra play within the shoe. But I’m happy to report that while it’s not exactly glamorous, it stayed put.
While I haven’t taken the Phantasm 2 on a proper track, the micro tread along the forefoot sole looks like it would bite in nicely and create some extra speed for runners.
If there’s any chink in the armor here, it would have to reside in the long-term viability of these shoes. I’ve had no issues in the month or so of testing, but the high-performance PEBA foam has to have only so many miles before it starts to lose buoyancy and energy return.
The Phantasm 2 is a dream right out of the box, but you have to sacrifice something somewhere. S/Lab dialed up the speed and the comfort; so, what’s left to dial down?
For now, the Phantasm 2 is my favorite — but I’m hesitant to use them for every run, lest I use up all the magic. And that certainly means minding the weather. If it’s not raining on race day, I’d recommend keeping these shoes in a fair-weather rotation to enhance their longevity.
For $275, you would hope a shoe does something special. The Phantasm 2 from S/Lab most certainly does: It maximizes your speed and comfort, and thus helps make your runs more enjoyable.
But, this is a Bugatti, not a beater — don’t make it your daily driver. Salomon says this shoe is “built for elite and sub-elite athletes,” and that’s exactly right. Whether or not you fall into either of those categories is for you to decide. But if you do, the performance is unparalleled and price is of no concern.