By Paul Freary
The Phantasm started life for Salomon as part of its S/Lab line of high-performance running shoes. The first S/Lab Phantasm was chosen by Kilian Journet as the shoe in which he would attempt the World 24-hour track record. At the time I personally questioned whether this shoe would offer enough protection for such an endeavour and in fact, he pulled out of the attempt after 10 hours of running.
That shoe was an ultra-lightweight model with a gossamer-thin upper offering very little in terms of cushioning and protection.
The new S/Lab changes things totally and provides a much more familiar degree of cushioning and of course, a carbon plate.
This Phantasm 2 model drops the S/Lab from the name and is designed as a training shoe to complement the S/Lab competition model.
Efficient runners wanting a faster-paced training shoe
36 mm heel / 25 mm forefoot
Plated Performance Trainer
Men’s 9.0 oz, 255 g
Women’s 7.6 oz, 217g
Suggested Retail Price
True to Size
(low volume toe box)
The Salomon Phantasm 2 is a fibre-glass plated performance trainer for those wanting a specific shoe for interval sessions, tempo runs and faster-paced running. Salomon themselves say it’s for use a couple of times a week for those faster workouts.
I find it refreshing that the brand points out specifically the purpose of the shoe and its intended use. Too many people pick a race day model and run in it every day leading to the shoe to breakdown very quickly and of course, run the risk of potential injury.
The fit is true to size in terms of length and width, with one quite major caveat; the volume in the forefoot of the shoe is very low. This wouldn’t be an issue with many shoes, but here the mesh upper has very little stretch and the shoe also has a thin reinforced ‘bumper’ around the toes. This bumper means there’s no room for any stretch.
All this means is that although the shoe fits true to size, many runners may want to try a half size up just to give themselves a little ‘wiggle-room’.
Around the ankle and heel area, the padding is great, it’s very well designed with specific ‘pads’ of cushioning to provide a neat fit that holds the foot very well with no feeling of slippage.
The Salomon Phantasm 2 is a rather niche model. If using Salomon shoes exclusively it fits into their range very well. You would use the Aero Glide as an everyday trainer and the S/Lab Phantasm 2 as a race day shoe, with this model fitting neatly in the middle as a tempo trainer.
Most runners don’t tend to remain exclusive to brands for all their running shoe needs and, in this respect, the shoe comes up against some very strong competition, but we’ll come to that later.
The shoe feels soft on heel impact and the 9mm drop feels lower due to the fact that the heel foam compresses relatively easily and the bevelled shape of the rearfoot (which looks a little like the new Nike Alphafly 3 to me) means some heel strikers will land part on the sole of the shoe and part on the exposed foam.
This said, the shoe is designed as a faster-paced model and as such many runners will be landing more towards the midfoot. It is when you do increase the pace a little that you feel the effect of the combination of the midsole foam (no specific name for the foam used here from Salomon) and the Energy Blade.
The Energy Blade is a fibreglass plate that sits in the midfoot and runs through to the forefoot. It is placed in the bottom third of the midsole depth and being closer to the ground enhances its propulsive nature a little. Compared to a carbon fibre plate there’s little to tell between the two and most people should find the performance aspect of its use the same as that in many other plated shoes.
The overall footprint of the shoe is relatively slim in the heel area and gets broader as you move further towards the midfoot and into the forefoot. Again, being geared towards a more mid-to-forefoot strike, this works well.
Those with stability concerns may find the shoe a little unstable, but again, I think it’s probably only heel strikes that may not find the shoe suitable.
The upper adds to some general stability and that’s due to the tightly woven mesh used in the upper and the overlays used in the lacing system and around the base of the foot. These are strong, non-stretch materials so retain their shape very well.
The Phantasm 2 is definitely a shoe that feels better at a faster pace. At an easy jogging pace, it just feels very normal with no features that make it stand out from the crowd. As the pace increase so does the performance and the feedback from the midsole and plate become more apparent.
The Salomon Phantasm 2 does remind me of a few other shoes. From Saucony you may think that the Endorphin Speed would be an obvious comparison and on paper, it is, but I’d say the Endorphin Shift feels closer to the Phantasm 2.
While the Speed has a plate like the Phantasm, the Phantasm doesn’t have a ‘super-foam’ like that in the Speed. The Shift favours a more ‘traditional’ foam and its geometry and rocker shape are what create the faster ride, much the same as the Phantasm. The softness of the two shoes feels very similar to me too.
Another relatively similar shoe I’ve worn would be the Mizuno Rebellion (not the Pro), the lightweight tempo version. The Rebellion also features a glass-fibre plate and feels pretty similar when running at tempo pace speeds.
From Brooks, the Hyperion Elite 2 also has a similar feel. The Hyperion is a racing shoe, but let's be honest, it didn’t quite hit the spot in that category when competing against other brands' premium race-day offerings. But, as a faster-paced tempo shoe, it performs well and I think feels similar to the ride of the Phantasm 2. (Watch out for the updated Hyperion Elite in early 2024)
The Salomon Phantasm 2 is a good, high-performance running shoe that works perfectly well for those days during the week when you are feeling good and want to hit a good, high-tempo pace in comfort.
The fit is close and feels more like a focused racing shoe than a very comfortable daily trainer and with that, it focuses the mind a little into speed mode.
It’s a niche shoe, so I think it has to be a very considered purchase as there are better daily trainers around and there are also better race-specific shoes available. In this respect, it’s not the most versatile of shoes and there are better options that may present better value for money.
It's good that the brand has the shoe and it shows they are serious about being considered in the road running space having previously been a very much ‘trail-specific’ brand. But it’s also a very brave move given the high level of the competition.
It’s a very well-made shoe and the tough-feeling materials feel very durable, as does the outsole wear.
For those fans of the brand who want a tempo pace trainer, it’s a good option, but I feel there are better, more versatile shoes around for those who aren’t brand-loyal to Salomon.
I’ve enjoyed the shoe and I’ll probably continue to wear it for longer interval sessions, particularly on the treadmill, where for that straight-line up-tempo running it feels energized and very composed.