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Salomon Sonic 4 Balance Review | Good for Road Runs and Easy Trails?

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Salomon’s Sonic 4 Balance Road Running Shoe is a shoe designed to deliver a strong performance both on the road and for all-day comfort. As someone who’s constantly pushing their running performance both on the treadmill, at the tack, and on trails, I was super excited to put the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance to the test.

Across the board, this shoe has exceeded my expectations and has been a really consistent performer. The Salomon Sonic 4 Balance has also become one of my go-to shoes for daily wear and for light trail runs. However, there are a couple of areas where this shoe falls short which I’ll discuss below.

Who Should Invest In the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance?

Roadrunners, casual hikers, and easy terrain trail runners will all enjoy the comfort of the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance. These shoes surprised me with how well they handled easy terrain trail running. In the class of road running shoes, I believe this to be a top performer when crossing over into easy terrain trail runs.

This model has great cushioning for longer runs and solid stability to roll over smaller features on the trail. I did encounter some sections of more aggressive and steeper terrain on a few runs using the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance where it fell short. But to reiterate, this shoe is a road running shoe, not a trail running shoe. Overall, I was highly impressed with its crossover abilities into trail running.

My primary training focus at the moment isn’t fully on road running and I’ve been tackling my long runs in the gym. This has been my go-to shoe for treadmill running and cross-training in the weight room. Comfort and stability in this shoe lend some assistance when performing weighted movements in the gym and I loved the feel of the shoe when lifting.

With my loaded sessions, I wasn’t going super heavy, but this model did do well for lighter loading. The closest I get to road running is an outdoor track and the occasional strip of pavement I may encounter on a trail run. With the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance, harder surfaces such as these were a breeze to run over.

Salomon Sonic 4 Balance

salomon sonic 4 balance

Best For

  • Road Running
  • Gym Training
  • Casual Hiking

Falls Short

  • For Trail Running

Salomon Sonic 4 Balance Pros

Over the course of my Salomon Sonic 4 Balance testing, I’ve found multiple aspects to like about this shoe for both running and general training.

  • Performance of the Optivibe Cushioning System
  • Inner Shoe Comfort
  • Versatility of Use

The first pro for the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance is the performance of the Optivibe cushioning system. As discussed in earlier articles, shoes with plush cushioning can sometimes dampen return. Return of energy is important for running, as you do not want all of the force placed into the ground to dissipate. A force that is directed into the ground and back through the runner’s joints is what helps to propel a movement forward.

salomon sonic 4 balance versatility

For additional context, if all forces were dissipated into the ground and there was zero return to the runner, then each run would likely be a slow and awkward ride. Note, there is a diminishing return on the return of energy and most runners do not want the full intensity of force returned on the body’s systems. Most shoes aim to find a sweet spot of cushioning impact force, which can be upwards of three times bodyweight, and energy return.

I think the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance does a good job at finding this sweet spot of cushioning and energy return. Where I think this feature excelled at its greatest was on my long runs. As stated earlier, I did not do any road running with this shoe, however, I did complete a few 10-mile trail runs on easy terrain. Running for over an hour in the Sonic 4 Balance I never found myself uncomfortable in the shoe. I always felt like there was a solid return of energy helping to propel me forward.

salomon sonic 4 balance comfort for daily wear

On the topic of comfort, along with the Optivibe midsole, the Sonic 4 Balance had a fairly cozy inner shoe. I found myself wearing this shoe all day with comfort lasting until taking the shoe off when arriving home. Up until using this shoe, my Nike Zoom Vomeros was number one on my list for a step-in feel. But the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance delivered soft step-in feel that is superior to all of my other road running shoes.

Other than comfort when walking around, there was a cradling-like feel when running. My foot felt stable across the terrain I used them for and never felt like I was spilling over the shoe’s sole. I hate when I am making forceful contact into the ground and my foot feels like it has just rolled over the sole. With my tendency to run on the outside of my foot, this rolling effect from some shoes causes my foot to over supinate. The Sonic 4 Balance gave me a stable platform to strike the ground with my foot and a cradled secure fit.

Lastly, I was really impressed with how versatile this shoe was. Of course, its design limits the shoe on more technical terrain but that is not its designed purpose. With a clear road running sole, this shoe did not do great on any terrain far outside its capabilities. However, the Sonic 4 Balance impressed me on easy terrain trail running.

salomon sonic 4 balance outsole

Dirt, rock, light snow, and rolling terrain were not an issue when encountered. There were only a few moments I felt unstable on some downhill sections where I had to slow down and choose foot placement carefully. Across the board though, on all my east terrain trail runs with the Sonic 4 Balance, I felt like it performed extremely well.

In the gym, the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance is an awesome treadmill runner and light cross-trainer. I no longer push the limits of strength in the weight room but I do lift weights a few times per week. Normally I find myself removing my running shoe to slip on my Nike Metcons when in the weight room.

The reason for this is stability and I like a flatter shoe for performing lower body exercises. Even with an 8mm drop, I never took this shoe off to perform my lighter lifts. It was very convenient to run outside or inside and roll right into my weight room training without changing shoes.

Salomon Sonic 4 Balance Cons

  • Price

To be honest, with this shoe I found myself somewhat searching for a con, I do think the price for what you are getting is a bit steep. With retail for $130.00 USD, you would think the shoe comes with a litany of features like most running shoes around this price point. That is just not the case with the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance.

salomon sonic 4 balance price

Do not get me wrong, for all of the reasons listed above, I enjoy this shoe. But given the choice to buy a cheaper road running shoe, I would likely do so. If I use this shoe to its fullest and it lasts me a year, then I will be thoroughly impressed and possibly put my foot in my mouth while also coming back to edit this con.

For additional context, this shoe reminds me a lot of Nike Road running shoes and I believe those to be very overpriced for what you get. Most of my Nike Road running shoes start to tear quicker than I would like. I do hope this shoe continues to perform well and hold its shape, and I’ll be sure to come back and update this article in a few months.


Below, I’m going to discuss the performance of Salomon Sonic 4 Balance and contextualize its performance into a few different categories including its versatility of use, traction, stability, and comfort.

salomon sonic 4 balance (1)

Versatility for Short, Mid-Range, and Long Runs

The Salomon Sonic 4 Balance was surprisingly versatile with a range of uses from road running to cross-training. Performing at its best outside on longer road runs or easy terrain trail running. But also having a place inside on the treadmill or in the weight room. When training inside, it becomes a bit annoying having to switch shoes moving from treadmill to weight room.

That is why I loved this shoe as an inside trainer, it was able to handle everything. I even did a few “speed” sessions on an outdoor track with this shoe and I thought it provided a great response. Running my intervals is likely at a slower speed than most pro road runners, so it may not be the best shoe for the weathered pro tackling speed work but it suits the average joe well.

salomon sonic 4 balance running performance

This is not my go-to for trail running but I loved that it could be used for off-pavement running. Before the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance, my Nike Vomeros were my go-to shoe to use at work then for trail running if I forgot my regular trail runners at home. The trails I have access to at work are easy to moderate terrain and a roadrunner can accomplish the task.

Now, these specific Salomon’s are my go-to easy terrain backup trail runners. They perform great and have superior comfort. For context, I work in Colorado Springs as a strength coach at the Air Force Academy, so I have ample trails around me.

Traction On Road, Treadmills, and Trails

The rubber Contragrip technology that makes up the sole of the shoe performs well for what it is intended to handle. Designed as a road running shoe, you will not have any issues with traction on pavement. With the Sonic 4 Balance, even easy terrain trail running will be no problem.

salomon sonic 4 balance durability

The only time I found myself having to slow down was on steeper uphill and downhill sections with less packed surfaces. But on packed dirt surfaces, I was able to cruise over rolling terrain without having to even think about my speed. I was impressed with how this sole performed overall and did not expect it to handle trail running the way that it did.

Overall Stability, Durability, and Comfort

Stability can be an issue with plush road runners. I would not classify the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance as an extremely plush shoe, but it did have a moderate to high degree of cushioning. I never felt like my foot was unstable running on any terrain. There was never an issue with my foot rolling around when moving laterally or striking a rock.

As well, running downhill I did not experience any excessive forward or lateral shifting in the shoe. My foot, on all my runs, felt secure and cradled. Comfort was a clear priority in the design of the Sonic 4 Balance. Providing ample cushion with a great energy return, this shoe delivers a smooth ride.

salomon sonic 4 balance traction versatility

In my experience, road running shoes do not last for as long as I would like them to. I also use road running shoes beyond their intended purpose and usually find the outer shoe failing before anything else. Where I imagine most road runners would start to wear out the sole of the shoe before its outer, due to the sheer volume of road usage.

I did read a few reviews online complaining about the durability related to its expensive price. Paying $130.00 USD, I would hope this shoe to last you at least a year. Only time will tell and maybe a future long-term review to come.

Salomon Sonic 4 Balance Sizing

The Salomon Sonic 4 Balance fits true to size. I did see a few reviews saying that it ran a touch large, but I don’t think will be an issue for folks with neutral or wider feet.

The only area of the shoe I found to be large was the toe box. Personally, I didn’t find it to be too large by any means. If you have a narrow foot and you know you generally swim in your shoes, then sizing down a .5 size may be a safe call.

salomon sonic 4 balance sizing

Overall, I did find it to be nice and comfortable for my toes when running. As always, it is a good idea to head into your local running shop to talk with an expert and get the appropriate fit. But if you are going to purchase this shoe online, in my opinion, I feel that the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance fits true to size.

Construction Details

Below, I have provided what I think are some of the most important construction features regarding how this shoe performs on the trail. Overall, this shoe’s construction has been fairly solid for tackling both my runs and hikes.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 9.06 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Rock Plate: No
  • Textile/Synthetic Upper
  • Textile Lining
  • Optivibe Midsole
  • Rubber Contragrip Sole
  • Regular Lacing
  • Optivibe Cushioning

If you have additional questions about Salomon Sonic 4 Balance’s construction, drop a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you walk in the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance?

The Salomon Sonic 4 Balance provides a comfortable ride for longer walks. This shoe's midsole provides enough cushion to increase overall comfort and it has adequate stability for a variety of foot anatomies.

Can I use the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance for trail running?

You can use the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance for light trail runs where you're navigating easy terrain. These shoes will not work for technical terrain, but it's important to note, that they're not designed for that so the fact they have even a little crossover for trail running at all is a positive with this model.

Takeaway Thoughts

The Salomon Sonic 4 Balance has performed well across the board for all of my performance tests. This shoe is designed for road running, however, its functionality can be extended past this to the gym, on the treadmill, and for light trail runs.

I’m curious to see how this shoe’s long-term durability holds up, but so far, they’ve performed exceptionally well.

If you have any questions about the Salomon Sonic 4 Balance road running shoe, drop a comment below and I’ll help you out accordingly.

Will Quillman

Will Quillman

Will Quillman is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at The United States Air Force Academy. He works with the NCAA Division I FCS football program and teaches physical education courses, including basic cadet physical development and rock climbing. He holds a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine with an Emphasis in Strength and Conditioning from The University of Colorado Springs (UCCS). He loves outdoor gear and apparel. Training outdoors is one of Will's many passions and devotes hours every single day training for the activities he loves. Will knows that in the backcountry, gear and apparel can make or break a great experience.

2 thoughts on “Salomon Sonic 4 Balance Review | Good for Road Runs and Easy Trails?”

  1. Hey, great text. In addition to all the details, which are incredibly useful, can you tell about the Salomon Sonic 4 GTX and flat-footed runners?

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