Our verdict

The Pulsar Trail from Salomon represents an exceptional approach to an affordable, do-it-all trail running shoe. In our tests, we found it great at handling a variety of paces and distances, offering a remarkably stable ride. It also provides excellent foot lockdown with its QuickLace system and a cleverly integrated Energy Blade plate in its midsole. Although the outsole's grip on wet terrain isn't its strongest suit, we believe the shoe's overall performance is impressive for its reasonable price.

Pros

  • Stable and protective ride
  • Versatile for occasional road use
  • Enhanced heel lockdown
  • Robust durability
  • Suitable for all footstrikes
  • Good breathability in the toebox
  • Fairly priced at £140

Cons

  • Not suitable for wet terrain
  • Slightly on the heavier side

Audience verdict

85
Good!

Who should buy

We believe the Pulsar Trail is an excellent choice for those seeking:

  • A versatile, jack-of-all-trails shoe that excels at both fast and slow paces, perfect for short jogs or long-distance adventures.
  • A reliable trail shoe with solid grip in dry conditions, featuring a comfortable and durable upper.
  • A stable trail running shoe that can double as a walking or hiking shoe if needed.

Salomon Pulsar Trail

Who should NOT buy

The Salomon Pulsar Trail excels in many areas, yet we found it falls short on technical terrain. If your runs involve mud, roots, or wet conditions, the Salomon Speedcross 6 or its Gore-Tex variant, the Speedcross 6 GTX, would be a better fit.

Also, it may not be the ideal choice for fans of maximalist trail running shoes due to its relatively thin midsole by today's standards. If you're looking for a shoe with a more substantial midsole, we suggest the Merrell Agility Peak 5 or the Hoka Mafate Speed 4 instead.

Salomon Pulsar Trail

Breathability

We kicked off with one of our favorite tests in the lab—the smoke test. It's our ultimate way to check a shoe's breathability. The Pulsar Trail really impressed us here, showing off jaw-dropping airflow for a trail shoe that scored a solid 4 out of 5.

To pinpoint the most and least breathable parts of the upper, we shone a powerful light on it. We noticed Salomon's smart design in the toebox, enhancing airflow in that area. Meanwhile, they beefed up the midfoot for more durability and less ventilation.

As we observed the good airflow, we decided to take an up-close look. We found that Salomon crafted tiny ventilation holes in the toebox.

Salomon Pulsar Trail microscope

These weren't as big as those typically seen in road running shoes, but they were definitely effective.

Salomon Pulsar Trail micro

This clever design not only boosts breathability but also adds a nice stretchy feel to the upper, as you can see in this video.

Test results
Pulsar Trail 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 76 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

The challenge with a breathable upper is often its durability. Because of that, Salomon added several TPU overlays to reinforce the upper.

This was their strategy to maintain decent durability and secure an average score of 3 out of 5 in our Dremel test on the toebox.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Toebox durability
Test results
Pulsar Trail 3
Average 3.1
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

We then turned our attention to the heel padding area, a common trouble spot for early wear in many shoes.

However, the Pulsar Trail stood out from the crowd here in the lab, acing one of our most challenging tests with a score of 5 out of 5.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Heel padding durability
Test results
Pulsar Trail 5
Average 2.9
Compared to 54 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

After seeing such great results, we eagerly moved on to the outsole to see if this Salomon continues to deliver outstanding durability.

Salomon Pulsar Trail outsole

The heel area of the shoe includes a central channel that's likely to collect mud, leading us to believe this shoe is more suited for dry conditions.

The first aspect we tested on the outsole was its hardness (89.1 HC). Salomon chose to use its hard Contagrip rubber. This choice seems to aim for decent durability, possibly at the expense of some grip, especially in wet conditions.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Outsole hardness
Test results
Pulsar Trail 89.1 HC
Average 85.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

Given the outsole formulation leans towards the harder side of the spectrum, will it perform well in our final Dremel test?

Not exactly. We'd rate it as just average. Our measurements showed a 0.9-mm indentation, which is fine, but not exceptional.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Outsole durability
Test results
Pulsar Trail 0.9 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 49 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

However, the Pulsar Trail comes with a substantial amount of rubber—2.4 mm—to ensure long-lasting durability.

This thickness—plus the Energy Blade plate—also makes the ride a bit muted, as the midsole is quite far from the ground. Therefore, we see it as better suited for soft surfaces.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Outsole thickness
Test results
Pulsar Trail 2.4 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

Weighing in at 9.9 oz (281g), Salomon made a serious effort to keep the shoe under the 10-oz benchmark, and they did achieve that.

Yet, considering its stack height and dimensions, we think this shoe could be lighter. There's definitely room for improvement in the next version.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Weight
Test results
Pulsar Trail 9.91 oz (281g)
Average 10.34 oz (293g)
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

When we used a caliper to measure the shoe's heel stack, it came out to 31.0 mm, just a bit below average.

Salomon Pulsar Trail

Salomon incorporated some cool TPU overlays around the heel to enhance stability. More details on this coming up...

Honestly, we thought it would be taller, considering the shoe's weight.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Heel stack
Test results
Pulsar Trail 31.0 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The Pulsar Trail's stack height in the forefoot drops to 23.8 mm.

This is slightly thinner than the average, steering the shoe towards a more agile design and away from the bulkier, maximalist trends of other trail running shoes.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Forefoot stack
Test results
Pulsar Trail 23.8 mm
Average 24.4 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

The difference between our previous two measurements gives the shoe a 7.2-mm drop.

This design suits almost every type of footstrike, except for those seeking a minimalist, zero-drop shoe. For that, an Altra might be a better fit.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Drop
Test results
Pulsar Trail 7.2 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

The insole is on the thinner side, measuring 3.7 mm, but we found it to be both sufficient and comfortable.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Insole thickness
Test results
Pulsar Trail 3.7 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
2.7 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

There's a lot to talk about with the midsole.

First off, we looked into the softness of the Energy Surge foam. This is a blend similar to ASICS' FFBlast+ and consists of EVA and OBC, offering a comfortable ride. It's not super soft, scoring 18.7 HA on our durometer, but it does lean towards the softer side.

However, the shoe might feel a bit firmer than expected from this measurement. That's because it includes an Energy Blade plate. It's not a carbon-fiber plate but a TPU one, which is less stiff. Still, it does make the ride slightly firmer but it adds some protection and propulsion.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Midsole softness
Test results
Pulsar Trail 18.7 HA
Average 23.2 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 75 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Many trail runners like you might be wearing this Salomon trail shoe in chilly climates. To simulate these conditions, we placed the shoe in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Afterward, we redid the durometer test and were pleasantly surprised to find that the shoe's midsole had only slightly firmed up, reaching just 19.6 HA.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Pulsar Trail 19.6 HA
Average 29.0 HA
Compared to 75 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.8 HA
Midsole softness in cold (soft to firm)
48.4 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

That's a minimal increase of just 4.9%, a remarkable result that outshines most shoes on the market. It appears to us that mixing EVA foam with Olefin (OBC) was truly a worthwhile choice!

Test results
Pulsar Trail 4.9%
Average 26.7%
Compared to 75 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Let's be clear—the shoe is incredibly stable for neutral runners.

This stability comes from a generously wide platform, combined with a TPU plate and a relatively low-stacked midsole that doesn't compress too much. The combination of these features creates a supportive ride we absolutely loved.

Torsional rigidity

One of the key benefits of a TPU-based plate over a carbon-fiber plate is that it doesn't make the shoe excessively rigid. This is crucial for a training shoe, as too much rigidity can lead to discomfort.

Fortunately, the Pulsar Trail earns 4 out of 5 in this test, balancing flexibility and support effectively.

Test results
Pulsar Trail 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 93 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel is even more flexible, scoring 3 out of 5. This flexibility is great for a shoe designed for a variety of activities, including hiking or even walking in a park.

In simple terms, this shoe could be your go-to travel companion, perfect for a city tour in the morning and a jog in the forest in the evening.

Test results
Pulsar Trail 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 91 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

When we measured the widest part of the sole in the forefoot, we found it to be 111.3 mm, which is pretty average and seems sufficient for this shoe.

Going any wider could have resulted in a bulky shoe, potentially weighing over 11 or 12 ounces. That wouldn't be worth it, especially since the shoe is already stable.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Pulsar Trail 111.3 mm
Average 111.9 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel is quite narrow, measuring at 86.0 mm. This suggests that the shoe might feel a bit unstable for heel strikers.

Salomon Pulsar Trail

However, this is something you'd typically expect with Salomon, as they have a history of crafting narrow, performance-oriented shoes.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Pulsar Trail 86.0 mm
Average 89.6 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We were eager to conduct our 90-degree bend test, as the shoe felt remarkably flexible despite having a TPU plate and a thick outsole—this really caught our attention.

The test showed that we only needed to produce 25.3N of force to bend the shoe to 90 degrees, which is less than the average shoe, despite having a plate.

Test results
Pulsar Trail 25.3N
Average 28.6N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Stiffness in cold

We conducted the same test again, but this time in cold temperatures, to check if the shoe's underfoot stiffness changed after 20 minutes in the freezer. In these conditions, the shoe was a bit stiffer, needing 31.7N to bend, but the difference was hardly noticeable.

Test results
Pulsar Trail 31.7N
Average 38.8N
Compared to 96 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.9N
Stiffness in cold
92.1N

Difference in stiffness in cold

That's a 25.2% difference, once again surpassing the average shoe. The Energy Surge foam really delivered in this aspect, all wrapped up in an affordable £140 package.

Test results
Pulsar Trail 25.2%
Average 35.7%
Compared to 96 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Returning to the outsole, we noticed it has short, 2.5-mm lugs, clearly designed for easy trails. This shoe excels on surfaces like grass, gravel or even coastal trails. However, based on our experience, we advise against using this shoe on technical terrain.

The lugs are longitudinal, and the outsole features cutouts that enhance flexibility and reduce weight.

Salomon Pulsar Trail lugs

But this comes at the cost of lower performance on uphills and downhills, where chevron-shaped lugs generally perform better.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Lug depth
Test results
Pulsar Trail 2.5 mm
Average 3.5 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

We can picture Salomon's designers aiming for "an average upper" in their discussions, and they really nailed it!

Salomon Pulsar Trail

The upper sits right in the middle of the spectrum for trail shoes, measuring 98.6 mm at its widest part.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Pulsar Trail 98.6 mm
Average 98.7 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The toe cap doesn't taper aggressively—again, it's just average. Measuring 77.4 mm around the big toe area, it should accommodate most runners, from those with slightly narrow feet to moderately wide feet.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Pulsar Trail 77.4 mm
Average 78.9 mm
Compared to 61 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue is fully gusseted, which is a fantastic feature in any trail shoe, and a real treat in a shoe that's fairly priced at £140.

Many budget-friendly shoes come with non-gusseted tongues that allow debris to enter, but happily, that's not this Salomon.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Pulsar Trail Both sides (full)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue is heavily padded at 8.3 mm, offering amazing comfort for long distances, and it's perfect for those who love that extra cozy feeling.

Salomon Pulsar Trail QuickLace

However, with Salomon shoes, we usually prefer thinner tongues since they mean less weight. Plus, the QuickLace system reduces the likelihood of lace bite or similar issues on the instep.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Tongue padding
Test results
Pulsar Trail 8.3 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 99 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

There's no heel tab in the rear of the shoe, but we didn't miss it thanks to the shoe's design and how easy it is to put on.

Besides, the shoe is already on the heavier side, so adding more weight seems unnecessary.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Heel tab
Test results
Pulsar Trail None

Removable insole

The insole of the Salomon Pulsar Trail is removable and pretty standard.

This is interesting because Salomon sometimes uses custom-made, flared insoles by Ortholite, like in the Speedcross 6 GTX. However, this isn't the case here, so you can confidently swap it for any other insole that fits inside the shoe.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Removable insole
Test results
Pulsar Trail Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

At just £140, we don't expect Salomon to include details like reflective elements, as these extras are typically found only in their higher-end shoes.

Salomon Pulsar Trail Reflective elements
Test results
Pulsar Trail No