Today, we're taking a look at an OCR-specific shoe: the Salming OT Comps. I'm going to go over the things I like about the shoe, some of the things I think could be improved, and I'll also compare them to previous brands and models that I've raced in to give you an idea of how they line up compared to other popular brands in OCR.
I think honesty and transparency are important, so I do have to say that I am currently an ambassador with Salming. I joined the team in 2019 and am continuing to work with them in 2020. Though I am working with them, I think you'll find my opinions honest and fair (if you've had experience with the shoes). If, at the end of this article, you decide that Salming shoes might be a good fit for you, I do have a discount code that you can use for 20% off your purchase on Salming's website. Simply shoot me a direct message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SALMING OT COMPS
The OT Comps are my favorite pair of shoes that I've ever owned. They are the main reason I started working with Salming. My first ever race in the OT Comps was a trail 50K (my first every 50K) on local trails. The race ended up being almost 35 miles. I learned that the OT Comps rock; even for longer distance!
OT Comp Pros From My Experience:
The traction is tied for the best I've had on any shoe previously. I'm not just talking about traction in mud, but also on obstacles. The way the lugs are set up on OCR shoes generally lends itself to less surface area for traction on obstacles like Spartan Race's Slip Wall, or Savage Race's Colossus. However, I have found no issues in this regard in 15+ races wearing the OT Comps.
The shoe is light. Coming in right at 9oz according to the Salming website, it's on the lighter end of the scale which makes it ideal for races anywhere from 5K to 50K.
Though light, the shoe is very durable. My first pair took over 600 miles before I ripped one of the outside lugs on the edge of a rock. I accidentally lost my second pair at a race, but they were in phenomenal shape with 300 miles on them. I'm on my third pair (thanks to losing my 2nd) right now and haven't had any issues in the first few hundred miles. The trails around me are all extremely rocky and technical, so I put more abuse on these shoes than other people might while running on nicer terrain.
The OT Comps drain water Very well. As most will know, OCR's generally involve water in some way, shape, or form. Having a lot of water in your shoe is both uncomfortable and inefficient because the shoe now weighs more. In every race I've done (both OCR and Trail) and in all my training, I've found that the OT Comps drain very well. Most of the trails I run have water crossings, so almost every trail run I do, I get my feet submerged. The water drains fast, and the shoes don't feel much heavier.
The OT Comps have a 4mm drop. The drop is the difference in height between the heel and the fore-foot. While not a ZERO DROP shoe, a 4mm drop is a pretty low drop and allows for a more "natural" running form. When I transitioned from other shoes brands with more significant drops, I was able to make greater improvement in my running form.
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OT Comp Cons From My Experience:
The OT Comps are VERY Uncomfortable to run in if you are running on Hard or Packed surfaces. Do not use them to run on paved roads. Do not use them to run on packed gravel roads. It will be very uncomfortable because of the way the lugs are set on the bottom of the shoe. Now, I don't run trail or OCR shoes on hard surfaces normally, but my 50K trail race covered several miles of paved road, and several miles of packed gravel road, and it was extremely uncomfortable. However, this will mostly be true for your average trail or OCR shoe...no matter what the brand. On trails, they are awesome!
I have a tendency to tear holes in the outside of the shoe (by the pinky toe). On my first pair of OT Comps, I did start to get holes in those places after about 500 miles. While I know this isn't something everyone deals with (running form differs), if it's something you personally have encountered, you could get it in these shoes as well at some point.
While the OT Comps have been great for long distance for me with my 35 mile trail race, and a Spartan Ultra where I took 3rd place Elite, I think that you might consider a different shoe for something over a 50K distance. With a light shoe that has a 4mm drop and a 16mm stack height, there is only so much cushion that can be built in. While the shoes are cushioned perfectly (in my experience) for longer distances, I don't know that they'd be comfortable beyond 50K. I'm not speaking from experience, since I haven't gone further than 35 miles in them, but that's my theory. I'd likely switch to the Salming Trail 6's for anything beyond 50K.
I was initially skeptical of the shoe laces when I got my first pair of OT Comps. I have had 0 issues with them to date. They don't wear down, and I haven't had any tears or fraying of any kind. They're great, strong laces.
The Rockshield on the front of the shoe seemed thin. I wasn't sure how protective it would be when I actually hit my toe on a rock. Well, I've found out on many occasions that the Rockshield is extremely good. I've smashed my toes into rocks many times now, and there hasn't been any actual pain in my toes from it yet; just the sudden scare and change in stride that happens when you trip.
When I first started running OCR's, I wore whatever shoe I had. Eventually, as I started getting into the sport, I realized I needed a shoe with good grip. I chose the Sauncony Excursion TR10's. They were an upgrade from previous shoes I'd used. However, it didn't take me long to realize that the grip simply wasn't adequate for muddier races. While I found that water drained pretty well, I think the cushioning in the shoe held a descent bit of water and made the shoe much heavier. I also wore through two pairs in maybe 700 miles of training/racing, so the durability wasn't there even if they were relatively inexpensive compared to other brands and models.
OCRWC 2017 is when I learned (the hard way) that my Saucony's simply weren't going to cut it. I looked at what some other OCR athletes were using, and ended up buying a pair of Salomon Speed Cross 3's. The grip, in comparison to the Saucony's I had, was INSANE. I was blown away by how much better the traction was. I also thought that the quick-lace system was pretty awesome (for a while). After a season of racing in the Salomon's however, I started looking for something better. While the grip was awesome, the shoe was heavy. I found more and more throughout the season just how heavy the shoes were as I built mileage. They also didn't drain water well at all in my opinion. The drop was 11mm, which meant I was heel striking a lot, and I'd feel it after runs. The real kicker though, was the toe box. I found the toe box to be very tight for my foot. When I'd do runs longer than 10 miles, my toes would just go numb. I'm not saying all of this to knock Salomon, I'm just sharing my genuine experience. I did find the shoe to be quite durable, have amazing grip, and the lacing system (though it locked up sometimes) was pretty cool!
I switched to the OT Comps because they answered all of my needs.
-Lighter (about 2.3oz lighter than the Salomon's, and 1.7oz lighter than the Saucony's)
-Lower Drop (4mm compared to 11mm on the Salomons, and 8mm on the Saucony's)
-Great Water Drainage (I didn't find the Salomon's or Saucony's to very well overall)
-Awesome Traction (On par with the Salomon's and far better than the Saucony's)
-"Rock Shield" (As tough as the one on Salomon's, far better than Saucony's)
-Toe Box (MUCH better fit than Salomon, more open and comfortable than Saucony)
I'm never the person who tells anyone that they need to go and buy this or buy that. If you find a shoe that fits what you need and works very well for you, then stick with it! I'm simply sharing my experience with what I believe is a very good shoe for OCR.
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Joel Hayes (Coach & Article Author)
Luke Hayes (Coach)