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Nick Harris-Fry

Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 Review

Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2.

The best carbon plate running shoes have been the go-to option for many runners tackling road events for several years, but it’s taken until 2023 for several major brands to get into the game with a top-class carbon racer.

This year has seen the launch of the Hoka Rocket X2 and On Cloudboom Echo 3, huge upgrades on what we’ve seen from Hoka and On in the past, and now Salomon has launched its best racing shoe yet. The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 is an outstanding carbon shoe, even rivaling the performance of the all-conquering Nike Vaporfly in my testing.

Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2: Price And Availability

The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 launched in August 2023 and costs $275 in the US and £240 in the UK. It’s one of the more expensive carbon plate running shoes, and the price is a significant rise on the cost of the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm CF ($225/£200), the brand’s previous top carbon shoe.

How I Tested This Shoe

Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2, left, and Phantasm CF (Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

I’ve run 48 miles in the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2, doing a range of fast training runs in the shoe along with racing a 5K. I have also tested the Phantasm CF, as well as most of the best carbon plate running shoes available.

Design And Fit

There are several shoes in Salomon’s range that have the word Phantasm in them, which makes things confusing, especially because the S/Lab Phantasm 2 is different from previous S/Lab Phantasm shoes, and also the Salomon Phantasm 2, which is a fast trainer, not a racer. 

The original S/Lab Phantasm was a low-stack racing flat without a plate, while the S/Lab Phantasm CF upped the stack height and added a carbon plate. The S/Lab Phantasm 2 further increases the stack, but the main change is the new Peba-based midsole foam. 

Most of the best super-shoes use Peba-based foams, and for good reason. It’s a lighter, bouncier foam than others like EVA and TPU, and perfect for high-stack speed shoes as a result. The Energy Foam+ is a big upgrade on the Energy Surge foam from the Phantasm CF, which is made from a combination of EVA and OBC and is firmer and less springy.

With a stack height of 37.5mm at the heel and 28.5mm at the forefoot, the S/Lab Phantasm 2 doesn’t hit the 40mm limit set by World Athletics for racing shoes but it’s still Salomon’s highest-stack road racer. The shoe has a 9mm drop and a rocker profile, though I found this less noticeable than on the Phantasm CF, perhaps because of the softer foam on the S/Lab Phantasm 2.

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Weighing 8oz/226g in a UK 9.5, the S/Lab Phantasm 2 is around the middle of the pack for racing shoe weights. I tested a half size up on my normal UK size because that was the review sample that was available. This indicated sticking to your normal shoe size would be the way to go, because I had too much room around the toes.

The mesh upper on the shoe is thin and lightweight, with padding around the heel that helps ensure there is no slippage there. For a minimal upper I found it held my foot securely when taking corners at speed.

I was less impressed by the outsole. Given Salomon is mainly known as a trail-running brand, I expected reliable grip from the Contragrip rubber used but found the S/Lab Phantasm 2 slipped on a greasy road on my first run in the shoe, which was in pouring rain. The smoother the paved surface, the better the grip from the shoe—on slightly bumpy or broken roads it can slip in the wet.

Running Performance

Aside from those grip concerns, the S/Lab Phantasm 2 impressed me on my first run in the shoe, which was a progressive 10K done in 35 minutes. Since then I’ve used it for all my fast training sessions in recent weeks, doing a range of rep lengths, from 200m and 400m intervals on the track to 3K and 5K tempo reps on the road.

It’s been excellent throughout. The ride is bouncy but a little firmer than other super-shoes, and you’re tipped forward quickly onto your toes—it feels natural. While it’s not as explosively bouncy as shoes like the Nike Alphafly 2, it is lighter, and it’s easy to turn your feet over and run with a high cadence.

This was noticeable for me at the end of hard reps and the 5K race I did in the shoe, in which I ran 16min 35sec. As I tired it was possible to keep picking my feet up quickly and maintain an OK pace because of the fast transition and lightness of the S/Lab Phantasm 2. 

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

In that way it reminds me of the Nike Vaporfly—probably more the Vaporfly 2 than the Vaporfly 3, since it has the firmer feel of the Vaporfly 2. I used the S/Lab Phantasm and the Nike Vaporfly 3 in the same track session to compare them and for the shorter reps I slightly preferred the feel of the Salomon shoe, though the Vaporfly 3 has more spring that will come into play during long races.

The Salomon will still be a great long-distance racing option, though. It’s not as comfortable as more cushioned racers like the Alphafly or Adidas Adios Pro 3, but there’s still a lot of foam underfoot, and the ride is speedy and protective during long hard runs while giving you more feel for the ground than the Alphafly and Adios Pro 3.

Is The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 Worth It?

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

The S/Lab Phantasm 2 is an excellent shoe that puts Salomon right in the mix with the best carbon racers. The ride is fast and efficient without feeling too unnatural, which can be the case with some super-shoes. It should work well for most runners.

The best carbon racers still pack more of a propulsive punch, though. This is where the high price of the Salomon shoe is a problem because as much as I like it, I can’t say that it’s better than shoes like the Nike Vaporfly 3, Asics Metaspeed Sky+, Hoka Rocket X 2, Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 and others that all cost less than the S/Lab Phantasm 2. 

It’s a terrific shoe, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you pick it up as your racer for any distance. But there’s better value available, and I’d give some shoes a slight edge on performance too, though the latter may depend on personal preference regarding ride feel.

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