The DRX Bliss is Salomon's first stability shoe. Does it measure up to the competition?
Salomon DRX Bliss – The Overview
The DRX Bliss is Salomon’s first stability road running model and the second Salomon road shoe I tried this year. Coming back from an achilles injury, I was very interested if a stability running shoe could help me setting my feet right on the ground and running pain free. With a weight of only 222g in the sample size this stability model seems promising light.
I have to point out that I received a W US8,5 which is usually my correct size. But Salomon converts to a European 40 ⅔ and it is much too big for me. Furthermore, I would recommend going ½ a size or even a whole number down in the women’s sizes. To give the DRX Bliss a chance I had to put a second insole inside to run in the shoe.
It is also my first outright stability shoe. From the outset, I knew it was going to be an interesting experience. My usual preference for shoes are the ones that are described as highly unstable. With that said, I’m always willing to test everything with an open mind. Maybe these would make me realise that I should be a stability runner and change my running life for the better!
Sizewise, I also received mine half a size too small but, with some lace tinkering, the fit was snug but the toe box width gave me relief. But, more of that later in the review.
Weight in Salomon’s sample size: 264g (9.3oz)
Stack: Heel 34mm – Toe 26mm (8mm drop)
Snug, well built comfortable upper
Most stability running shoes are quite heavy as they are mostly designed for heavier runners who overpronate. Therefore, the shoe has to compensate for the strong impact. Due to this, there are usually plenty of stability elements worked into the upper to give you a very secure fit.
The DRX Bliss is designed in the same way. Firstly, the engineered mesh upper is not stretchy and rather dense. Moreover, those durable materials don’t make the upper of the DRX Bliss a highly breathable one.
There is enough room for my toes to wiggle around, but when tying up the laces my foot feels like a driver in a racing car. This secure feeling in the fit is achieved by a cage-like section on the medial and lateral side of the DRX Bliss. Furthermore, this midfoot stability element reaches up to a stiff and robust lace holder. To me, this seems a bit over-constructed. Next, the tongue is not gusseted and just slightly padded.
Another structural overlay element of the DRX Bliss is also a safety feature. It’s a reflective band that starts right at the toe box and reaches right above the midsole to the heel.
On one hand, the mid foot is designed to be very stable. The collar and the heel on the other hand are nicely padded and not snugly fitted. Indeed, the heel is designed lower than I would have thought. Finally, there is also a removable insole for those who need to put an extra, customised insole for even more correction of the foot strike.
I quite enjoyed the fit and the upper of the DRX Bliss. As Silke says, it is secure and well made. For me, the tongue is a good level of padding and I found that it sits well on my feet wrapping just the right parts. Due to this, I had no issue with achieving a good lockdown which was not the case in the last Salomon road shoes I tried. Overall, it feels well constructed and I am confident that my foot will stay in place.
Whilst the upper is thick, I have also found it to be not overbearing in the heat. Whilst Silke says it is not overly breathable, we have had some unseasonably warm weather here. Because of this, I have been running in 20+ degrees in almost every run in the DRX Bliss. During these, I haven’t found them making my feet overly sweaty.
Midsole and Active Chassis – Where the magic happens?
Most stability running shoes have supportive elements built on the medial side of the midsole to prevent too much over pronation. Here, Salomon has done the job with the DRX Bliss differently. They have invented the Active Chassis, a guidance on both sides of the shoe. It is a dense compound placed on top of the upper material starting at the heel. From here it makes its way forward before turning to be embedded to the midsole up to the toe box. As the Active chassis is placed on both sides of the shoe, it should not only help with over pronation but supination as well.
With the DRX Bliss, Salomon promises a smooth and cushioned ride. They advertise the foam as being very responsive. Umm, yes don’t expect a bouncy ride, the foam is designed to do its job. It absorbs the impact. Maybe I am a too lightweight runner to profit from the midsole, maybe it is because the shoe is not my right size.
In addition, I feel that the wide platform in the forefoot makes me slap my feet on the ground. The Active Chassis makes my feet move in a very specific way that doesn’t feel natural to me. I need to touch the ground with my mid foot to make my run comfortable, but the mid/outsole construction is too stiff to have a smooth transition.
Moreover, running faster felt strange to me and I found it difficult to pick up the pace while moving more towards my forefoot. This feeling was more exaggerated for me when running downhill.
The Active Chassis is definitely a very prominent feature of the shoe. In my test version, the huge orange cage bisects the midsole and is very visually apparent. As anyone who has tuned in to the Meta Endurance Instagram feed knows, I strike very much on my forefoot so I didn’t find the shoes as slappy as Silke has described. However, I did really feel the DRX Bliss’ stability features guiding my foot. Now, as someone who doesn’t use stability shoes, maybe I am the wrong person to talk about how well it corrects my foot strike.
That being said, it is not a shoe which I have found particularly enjoyable to run in. During my runs, I have found that the Active Chassis digs in to the lateral side of my foot. The hardened material has lead to a sharp pain in the foot. Thankfully, this soon dissipates after the run has finished but it has caused me to cut short a couple of runs.
On the positive side, I didn’t find the shoe as firm as I thought I would. It cushions the impact rather than returns a lot of energy in my experience. However, it does the job and has kept my legs, if not my feet, feeling fresh. I would also agree with Silke when she says that the width of the platform and the lack of rocker makes the shoe feel quite flat and trickier to pick up the pace for me.
How does it hold the road?
I can’t say any negative things about the outsole. It is grippy on dry surfaces. When I ran over slightly wet debris from trees, it felt a bit slippery. In this case, I suspect every road running model would feel similar in these conditions.
There are cut outs to save weight. Although, I wish they had cut some flex grooves into the outsole so that the whole shoe would have a little more flexibility. After about 60k there is no wear to be seen.
I concur with Silke here, the outsole does the job. It is fine in the dry and I have had a couple of wet runs in them and have not found any issues with grip on damper pavements.
What next for us and the DRX Bliss?
Starting to run again after my achilles injury, I did a lot of very easy running or faster walking with the DRX Bliss. Even after 60k, I am not sure if I like it or not. Yes, the Active chassis helps my feet to a correct foot strike. If there ever is a correct foot strike. I am not sure if the correction is right for me.
I don’t know if runners who crave stacked comfort will be really enamoured with the DRX Bliss. But then I am used to very lightweight trainers and squishy foam has never been an issue for my feet.
So it is obvious that I am not the right person to judge the stability in a stable running shoe. Maybe, nowadays, we are in an inconvenient position where there are too many really well cushioned and responsive running shoes.
Unlike Silke, who is still making up her mind on whether she enjoys the shoe or not, I have definitely made up my mind. Whilst the DRX Bliss clearly offers a very good level of guidance for the foot and is a very stable platform, it is not a shoe for me. As someone who believes that that New Balance Rebel V2 is the best shoe ever, the DRX Bliss was probably never going to be a daily favourite.
Although, I can say that the Active Chassis does keep the foot in line, the upper is well constructed, comfortable and easy to attain solid lockdown with. Furthermore, the midsole absorbs shocks and keeps you moving. Also, I am sure it will be a durable shoe based on my experience with other Salomon Energy Foam models. However, it won’t be a shoe which accompanies me on many more runs.
The negatives of the uncomfortable feeling of the cage coupled with the sensation I feel from the control elements of the shoe mean that it will probably not be making too many more outings on my feet.
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