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Salomon S/LAB Phantasm 2 Review: Magic in Every Mile

Is this all-new super-shoe a step in the right direction for the brand? We found out.

salomon slab phantasm 2
Ben Emminger

The “super shoe” movement in running is at its cruising pace. Enthusiasts looking to toe their next starting line with the latest and greatest kicks have more options than ever to help generate their fastest times yet. Sure, innovators of the footwear craze are still creating buzz with each new release, but it seems the cap’s been taken off this running shoe subcategory, with new brands offering carbon-plated footwear for the sake of on-road responsiveness each and every day.

The latest brand to throw its hat in the marathon shoe realm is Salomon. While many would first associate Salomon with the more rugged discipline of trail running and other outdoor ventures, the brand just announced its all-new S/LAB Phantasm 2 silhouette boasting a dual-density PEBA foam midsole, ultra-lightweight upper and (of course) a full-length, spoon-shaped carbon plate. With a sleek white and race car red aesthetic, this latest silhouette has already hit some of the world’s most recognizable races, including the Boston Marathon and Paris Half-Marathon, ahead of its October 1 public release.

But should athletes be clamoring for this all-new racing shoe when it launches later this fall, or is this a sneaker best left in the rearview mirror?

To find out, I was lucky enough to snag a pair of the S/LAB Phantasm 2s ahead of release. While my racing schedule is lighter than usual to close out 2023, I still put this new kick through its paces across varying routes and distances. I also pushed the carbon-plated tech through varying speeds, because while the embedded component is more suited for faster tempos, you’re likely to not have your motor firing nonstop at that level of intensity from starting line to finish.

Salomon S/LAB Phantasm 2: What We Think

For an inaugural effort, I think Salomon did exceptionally well with this S/LAB Phantasm 2 silhouette. The shoes are light and responsive but not so rigid that they’re uncomfortable at slower paces. I also like the dual-density nature of the midsole that places the harder foam closer to the foot, which eliminates any “slapping” noise you may experience throughout your paces with other marathon running shoes.

Unfortunately, though, these kicks are built on a narrower last, and the upper, while lightweight and ultra breathable, is not as flexible. This indicates to me that athletes with wider feet may need to size up to reap the underfoot benefits. At a list price of $275 upon release, it could be too big of a gamble for some.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.

Salomon S/LAB Phantasm 2


  • Carbon plate setting within the midsole complements a variety of stride styles
  • Unique foam layout delivers a responsive, comfortable and quiet ride

  • Profile is better suited for narrow-footed athletes
  • Harder top foam requires a break-in period

A flatter plate design is accommodating for a variety of foot strikes and take-offs.

salomon slab phantasm 2
Thanks to a flatter-feeling plate integration, achieving that super shoe forward propulsion is easy, no matter your stride type.
Ben Emminger

Running at a heightened pace often forces you to strike with your forefoot and take off at your toes. As such, most marathon shoes will accentuate this gait type with rolling geometries across the midsole, as well as placement of the embedded carbon plate to help put the most “spring” in your step. This can be fine and dandy for athletes that normally run in this style, but it could be a tough thing to overcome for heel strikers.

Across my first few miles with the S/LAB Phantasm 2s, however, I didn’t get the sense that they were forcing me to run with any particular form. There’s a definite note of propulsion from the spoon-shaped carbon plate, but I was able to achieve that positive sensation whether I struck at the heel, midfoot or forefoot. I attribute this to a flatter feel across the full-length plate, which gives the entire shoe that sweet spot feel.

Now, Salomon claims these all-new sneakers should benefit forefoot striders most thanks to a redesigned and relocated rocker to help lessen transition times from heel-to-toe, but I wouldn’t caution heel strikers from taking on a race in these puppies, either. The roll in both strides is forward and energetic, but not too pronounced that it would cause any concerns related to form.

The soft, resilient PEBA foam midsole is a great blend of responsiveness and cushioning.

salomon slab phantasm 2
The S/LAB Phantasm 2’s dual-density PEBA foam midsole places the softer foam underneath the hard layer for a uniquely quiet ride with a nice blend of snap and cushioning.
Ben Emminger

Dual-density midsoles are nothing new in running, but I appreciate how Salomon went about stacking this feature across the S/LAB Phantasm 2’s construction. Rather than placing the softer PEBA foam layer closer to the foot, the brand opted to reverse course and place this critical piece facing downward with the outsole. This helps eliminate any harshness you’d experience from your road conditions underfoot, and also quiets that all-too-common slapping sensation you can experience in other plated silhouettes.

On the foot-facing side of the midsole, I appreciate the harder, more dense layer being directly underfoot as it give better feedback when really engaging the carbon plate. In other plated-footwear, I’ve sometimes struggled to fight through the softer foam during landings, which sort of squanders the shoe’s ability to load and fling me forward — you know, the ultimate goal of the embedded plate?

I will say, though, that understanding how this foam construction interacts with your stride can take some time, especially if you’re hopping directly from max-cushioned running shoes. With this learning period comes a break-in period, as well, and it could be a fight to get in sync with the midsole design.

The top foam layer can be somewhat irritating on initial wears.

salomon slab phantasm 2
The foam layers joint at a small area, marked by the pen and alternating colors. This hard area of present foam can be irritating at the midfoot, at least for a few initial wears.
Ben Emminger

It’s not a bad idea to get a feel for your race day kicks a few weeks or days before the actual competition, but it’s an absolute must when it comes to these Salomon sneakers. For one, there’s the aforementioned harder foam that can be more rigid than responsive right out of the box. Additionally, this PEBA foam needs time to mold to your arch, as the initial geometry can create some irritation. I noticed a pronounced hunch toward the lateral side of my midfoot, which took a little while to compress and conform. It makes sense that this could be a potential hot spot for irritation, though, as the insole doesn’t cover the midsole foam entirely at this area, and upon further investigation, it sits directly at the starting seam between both foam layers.

This problem, may be avoided with thicker insoles to cover this joint between the dual-density foam, but adding such component could compromise the lightweight nature of the shoe and create a tighter fit across the upper. Speaking of …

The single-layer mesh upper doesn't budge much, limiting its stretch across wider feet.

salomon slab phantasm 2
There’s not a lot of wasted space or room to splay in these S/LAB Phantasm 2s, so getting your correct size from the jump is a must.
Ben Emminger

These shoes are slim and narrow, which can be excellent for cutting weight for faster split times but doesn’t bode well for comfort across all foot types. While I didn’t have an issue with my S/LAB Phantasm 2s due to my more narrow feet, I can see where wider footprints may struggle to find comfort across the frame. Additionally, the sleek single-mesh upper is plenty breathable but lacks a sense of flexibility and accommodation. If you typically rely on stretchy, sock-like materials to give your digits room to breathe, these aren’t the shoes for you.

Granted, that critique sounds harsh, but I can understand the reasoning. I don’t see these as anything but a race day shoe, and in order to create that streamlined stride and locked-in aesthetic, you want footwear that’s practically painted on. I still admire the comfort and performance of the S/LAB Phantasm 2s, but I highly recommend ensuring you order the right size to accommodate your footprint.

Salomon S/LAB Phantasm 2: Alternatives

salomon slab phantasm 2
Ben Emminger

In terms of similar silhouettes to this all-new Salomon offering, two immediately come to mind — the Hoka Rocket X 2 and Nike Vaporfly 3. Both feature a similar design and aesthetic to the S/LAB Phantasm 2s, but have unique quirks that may sway you one way or the other.

While the Rocket X 2s are some of my favorite race day kicks of the year, admittedly, there’s something to be desired when it comes to the heel counter. There’s not a ton of material at this design point, which limits how much structure and support you experience across the ankle and Achilles. The Salomon profiles, on the other hand, are rigid enough to provide that desired backend stability.

In terms of the Vaporfly 3s, they’re a fantastic racer fit for any Nike enthusiast, but don’t expect a lack of growing pains when figuring out the tongue and lacing system. The tongue isn’t gusseted, so it can be prone to sliding during your races. The S/LAB Phantasm 2 features a tongue that’s completely attached along the eyelets, creating a bootie-like sensation with no room for jostling.

Note: The S/LAB Phantasm 2 will be available for purchase on Salomon.com and at select retailers across North America on October 1.

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