I was lucky to get my hands on the Element’s before general release earlier this year and they offer something different from the Trail T1 we previously reviewed. An aggressive outsole. The Trail T1 were comfortable, but were like ice skates when the going got sloppy, full of mud. However it comes down to having the right tool for the job. The Elements fill this void, providing grip when you run off trail.
What Salming says
“Elements enables you to run anywhere or swim for that matter and get the best out of you. The outsole provides exceptional traction on both wet and dry surfaces.
Elements has a more roomy toe box compared to its trail sibling, the Salming Trail, in order to provide a possibility for the fore foot to expand properly in the landing phase, making it more effective in a biomechanic perspective.”
Straight out the box and onto my feet, the first thing that became apparent was the volume. There is a lot of it. Whereas the fit of the Trail T1 was secure, with room for adjustment, I found I had to tighten the laces fully on the Elements to get the correct fit. This worked for me, however, if your feet are slightly less volumous, you may find some heel slip. I don’t know if the designer purposely made them wider/deeper but for me this is a set back. Previously I opted for a size 10 and likewise chose the same here.
When I was in the Lake District in late March, running on the fells in high winds and rain, had I need to adjust my shoes on the trail I would have had issues. To emphasize the problem, the laces are thin, rounded and coarse, which would bite into my digits in such a situation.
However, once the outer is wrapped around your foot and you’re in contact with the insole, they are comfortable for a minimal shoe. The midsole is thinner than the one found on the T1, although underneath instead of a hybrid outsole, ready for most conditions, you will find an aggressive lugged outsole, draped in a black cloak, ready to take on harsher terrain.
Now, I mentioned laces were thin, and they are. Though this may form irritation in the cold winter months, when nature is doing all it can to convince you to head back to the safety of a roaring log fire, they don’t slip. Despite taking the Element’s literally into grim a variety of grim elements, the laces remained secure, with no loss of tension. So, they may not be the easiest on cold extremities, but they do a bloody good job keeping things in check.
Moving down, the Exo Skeleton does a good job of giving structure to the upper, wrapping the foot in a comfortable embrace. Given the volume of the shoe, without this, I feel there could be difficulties. The heel cup is well designed, providing heel security, while the rear loop aids adjustments mid run or on multi days after a soaking.
The Elements is an evolution, designed to take of gnarly trails and that off trail slop that makes fell running an often muddy affair. Well, the Rock Shield rand on the toe and heel wrap does a great job. I never found anything sharp or sizeable breaching and leaving me hoping around clutching my toes.
On the topic of toes, the toe box is relatively roomy, allowing you to wake your toes up on those frigid morning runs when the cold seems to strike at random.
Given the intended use, the Runlite™ midsole is a welcome feature, adding a layer of comfort and endurance to the shoe. With a 4mm heel/toe drop, it welcomes a mid to forefoot strike, and the cushion takes some of the shock out when on hard pack or tarmac, for those occasions when you aren’t in the mud.
The all important element. The outsole. It’s big, aggressive and means business. The long black lugs stick out, with ample shoe to clear mud and debris. In practice, they gripped well to Borrowdale’s loose and wet surfaces, digging into the fell side and clearing before the next step. The compound is hardwearing and I can’t see an issue of it prematurely wearing away. Yet, there is a compromise. I feel this hard compound has given away grip on rock as a trade off. On wet rock, I found my foot repeatedly slipping and the predictability of the T1 and other options was not found. I feel if the compound were slightly softer and adapted it could offer traction and for me, other than the large volume, this would turn it from a good shoe into a great shoe.
Off trail shoes are a special bread, needing to take on the worst punishment, as well as delivering when things get less rowdy and the trail mellows out. Yes, I have highlighted two potential flash points, but this wasn’t enough to stop me in my tracks and prevent me from running hard in the fells and on local trails.
Can it take on mud caked, sloppy terrain and deliver you unscathed, with a sense of achievement? Yes. I would certainly try before you buy due to the fit, but have confidence taking on steep runs when outright grip on softer terrain is a necessity.
SRP – £110
For more information check out – https://www.salming.com/en/running/men/shoes/elements/