Salomon, in close collaboration with ultra-running legend and longtime Salomon athlete Francois D’Haene, has launched a new ULTRA range of ultra-running footwear, apparel and gear.
The Salomon ULTRA range will be available at select retailers and on Salomon.com in August of 2023. The goal of the range was to equip ultra-runners with the best products for racing and everyday training, all with direct input from one of the best ultra-runners of all time. The products—designed with more neutral colours and a slightly more generous fit than traditional ultra-running apparel—are intended to be trustworthy and built for the long haul, not necessarily for speed alone.
“Creating this range means a lot to me because I’ve worked with Salomon for more than 10 years on products and I’m very passionate about having a range dedicated to ultra-running,” D’Haene said. “Of course, it’s a big commitment of time and energy, but I don’t think of it as work; it’s pulling our ideas together and making a range we are proud of. For me, it was very important to create a range that is not just for athletes, but for all people participating in ultras so that they can use the same products that I use while working with the Service-2-Athletes team at Salomon.”
For the 2023, release, the ULTRA range consists of a full race kit—shoes, running vest, shirt, shorts, socks, calf sleeves, and a Quiver to hold trekking poles. More pieces will be added in Fall/Winter of 2024, including a jacket/pant combo and long sleeve seamless T-shirt.
Make no mistake: the ULTRA range is not simply a case of Francois D’Haene attaching his name to some footwear, apparel and gear. The four-time UTMB champion spent countless hours poring over materials, testing products on trails near his home, and researching with Salomon designers who he has worked with for more than a decade, specifically product developers Félix Dejey (footwear) and Serge Chapuis (apparel).
Each product is somehow connected on a personal level to Francois himself. The S/LAB Ultra shoe, for example, is the model that carried D’Haene to victory at the 2021 Hardrock 100 and 2021 UTMB when it was merely a prototype. This version has a small logo with space to write your goal or the number of hours you’ve run in the shoe. Like each product in the range, the shoe is adorned with the words: “Born from a decade of shared vision. Francois x Salomon.”
“The right equipment is so important in an ultra, no matter how fast you’re going,” said the four-time UTMB winner. “If the products work for me, they must also work for other runners participating in an ultra. We want those people to be able to have the same shoes and bag as me, with the same quality, durability and protection.”
Inspiration for the range was drawn from Ultra Spirit, an ultra-running event with an environmental mindset that was started last year by Francois and his wife Carline near their home in the Beaufortain region of the French Alps. D’Haene was adamant that those values be incorporated into the collaborative creation process of the new FDH ULTRA range.
To that end, the inaugural FDH range will be used to create a carbon footprint benchmark for the next edition, with careful measurements taken of each product. For this first release, the team eliminated extra printing on the shoeboxes and hangtags (using only raw materials) and also replaced plastic on hangtags with strings. The apparel is made from materials sourced in Europe and assembled in Portugal, and products using the Cameo Blue colour have been mineral dyed to reduce water usage and eliminate chemicals.
THE FDH ULTRA RANGE INCLUDES:
Designed in collaboration with four-time UTMB® champion and Salomon athlete Francois D’Haene, the S/LAB ULTRA shoe features a unique combination of foam and plate, which takes long-distance trail comfort to new levels—even after running for 10-15 hours. The unique configuration of double-layered, ultra-soft Energy Foam in the midsole provides optimal and stable ultra-distance cushioning over tricky, changing trail conditions. For long-distance protection, the Profeel fiberglass plate sandwiched in the midsole acts as an effective filter between your feet and the ground. The shoe also has rigidity on the back of the upper to enhance control, and greater padding secures and protects the ankles. An All-Terrain Contagrip outsole offers secure footing in slick conditions. The shoe also incorporates a comfortable, padded tongue, so the newly configured Quicklace system won’t irritate the foot over long distances. Running a technical ultra with river crossings and a chance of wet weather? Not to worry. The S/LAB ULTRA features a comfortable, breathable upper built from durable, Kevlar-enhanced MATRYX fibres that are light, quick-drying and abrasion-resistant.
“Designing this ultra-running shoe with Salomon was a very long and detailed process, and the project was to develop an ultra-shoe that is less about my specific needs, but designed to deliver everything ultra-runners need in an ultra-running shoe—stability, filtration, protection, durability and a comfortable fit,” D’Haene said. “You need cushioning, but it needs to be dynamic, too. So that in the race, you cannot feel the rock…but you still feel the rock, if that makes sense. And with the help of all the expert people in Salomon Footwear, we created a shoe that we are very proud of. It’s not in the first hour, but after many hours and kilometres on the trail when you notice the benefit of these shoes. We can’t wait to see it on other people and have their feedback.”
Offering long-distance comfort and easy access to hydration, the S/LAB ULTRA 10 vest ticks all the ultra-running boxes. It features a friction reducing design, a snug and stable fit, and storage solutions for every ultra-running essential. The overall shape of the bag has been refined, so there’s more interior volume even with that more precise fit. The front pockets are now easier to access, and there are two new pockets above the flask placement. They’re zippered, too—so there’s no stress about critical items getting left behind on the trail. As comfortable as a second skin, the S/LAB ULTRA 10 is structured to sit close to your body and limit unwanted movement and friction. SensiFit construction and soft stretch fabric on the sides ensure an enveloping, stable fit. It also boasts Quick link technology for on-the-go fit adjustment. The bag also is compatible with Salomon’s custom quiver, which snaps quickly and easily into place, so there’s no stopping or fancy finger-work required when your digits are cold and clumsy. The vest is sold with two 500ml S/LAB soft flasks and is not compatible with a reservoir.
“A good ultra-running vest for me is something you actually forget, because it’s so light and efficient,” said D’Haene. “It needs to be one with your body and easy to use. That was the goal here.”
Born from a decade of shared vision and collaboration between Francois D’Haene and Salomon, the S/LAB ULTRA apparel range has been designed with cutting-edge materials and engineered to deliver comfort, durability, breathability and support over the long miles of an ultra. D’Haene says that the specific nature of ultra-running—in terms of the time a race takes, the activity itself, and the location of most ultras—makes having the right apparel absolutely crucial.
“The apparel we developed for this range is the result of years of collaboration, because you can say this material is perfect or this is interesting or waterproof, but then you have to use it on terrain and during the race where you prove it works,” D’Haene said. “With Salomon, we always have people on the development team with me at a race or on an ultra-running project, and we have learned so much over 10 years. Now we know what product and what materials are needed, and this made a huge difference in the development. It’s not like we decided to create this range two years ago and it’s not just two years of collaboration; it’s the result of 12 years of collaboration.”
The men’s S/LAB ULTRA t-shirt combines smart design with cutting edge materials for chafe-free, lightweight, long-distance comfort. The lightweight and highly breathable fabric delivers optimum moisture management and 3D fabric with a micro-ridged pattern embedded in the weave that keeps a thin film of air between skin and shirt. The channels allow for more air circulation and moisture management. The improvements go beyond the fabric. The shirt sleeves are gusseted, meaning there’s an extra panel under the arm that’s made from a stretchy, breathable fabric. There’s also a unique feature atop the shoulders that adds to long-term durability. Here, the design team selected a highly durable, woven fabric where the ULTRA 10 vest meets your body. It’s a design touch that’s another example of how the ULTRA is an integrated collection designed to work together over the long haul. A lengthened sleeve allows greater protection from the sun on bright mountain days from the Sierras to Chamonix.
The design team created the S/LAB ULTRA 2IN1 shorts to be the best shorts ever made for trail running, delivering breathable comfort and optimized muscle support during long-distance efforts. First, they worked with a custom pattern maker to design shorts with a “pre-shape,” so that rather than just falling vertically from the waist, the ULTRA shorts drop at an angle, reflecting the way the human body really works. That means less fabric movement, which means less chafing. Both the inner short and outer short are made from new, Italian-designed fabrics. The comfortable inner short hugs the skin to deliver muscle support and help reduce fatigue. Like the new ULTRA T-shirt, the inner short has a 3D effect, so a film of air quickly wicks sweat away to keep you dryer and reduce chafing for improved comfort over long distances. The outer short is made from a stretchy material that offers durability and lightness. The 2IN1 Shorts are also highly practical, with an accommodating waistband that has 360° pockets to comfortably carry essentials, so you don’t have to choose what stays home and what you carry on your run.
“The built-in 360° belt allows you to keep items close to your center of gravity,”said D’Haene. “It’s the best place to store items, and it’s all easily accessible.”
The women’s S/LAB ULTRA t-shirt pairs smart design and cutting-edge materials in a chafe-free, women’s-specific fit for long-lasting comfort on the trail. Engineered using a unique knit 3D crepe fabric for optimized air flow and moisture management, the shirt features reinforced zones for added durability in areas that rub up against your vest. The winning combination of extremely lightweight and breathable fabric delivers optimal moisture management and comfortable performance over hours and hours of running.
The women’s S/LAB ULTRA 2IN1 shorts provide breathable comfort and optimized muscle support during long-distance efforts in a women’s- specific fit. The technical inner short has been engineered with a unique integrated technology for muscle support and comfort over long distances to help reduce fatigue. Its internal 3D fabric also facilitates air flow and faster drying times. The 2IN1 Shorts are also highly practical, with an accommodating waistband that has 360° pockets to comfortably carries your essentials, so you don’t have to choose what stays home and what you carry on your run. The chafe-free construction offers unhindered freedom of movement and just the right amount of comfortable hold over a long-distance journey.
The racing-specific S/LAB ULTRA socks are engineered with a host of features to withstand long distance running and changing conditions. Designed to be a perfect match with the S/LAB ULTRA shoes, these unisex ultra-breathable socks fit close to the foot and conform to the shape of the foot for minimal creasing. Silicone bands in the forefoot area are designed to reduce slipping and friction, helping to keep blisters at bay. Developed from yarns with exceptional breathability and fast-drying properties, the S/LAB ULTRA socks won’t need to be switched out for another pair mid-race; these socks go the distance.
Designed for easy attachment to the S/LAB ULTRA 10 vest, the Custom Quiver LTD has large and structured openings to ensure hassle-free access when you need your poles and quick, safe stowing when you don’t. The lightweight quiver is also designed with a compression lace to hold the poles firmly in place.
Designed to help you run longer and recover better, the S/LAB ULTRA CALF sleeves deliver muscle support and reduce fatigue without exerting too much compression. An engineered 3D fabric optimizes air flow for better breathability and faster drying times, and the anatomically contoured fit and chafe-free seams deliver freedom of movement and just the right amount of supportive hold while you run.