Hoka Zinal vs. Salomon S/Lab Pulsar (2021)

The Zinal is Hoka One One’s answer to the Pulsar, an ultralightweight trail running shoe crafted specifically for Kilian Jornet.

As a nod to Salomon, Hoka has chosen to name its shoe after the village of Sierre-Zinal where each year takes place a race whose record is held by… Kilian Jornet.

Even if on paper these two trail shoes seem very similar (low stack and drop), the cushioning of the Zinal is more comfortable overall.

Testers also noted that the Zinal’s upper is more protective, as is the overall platform.

Also, while the Pulsar’s fit is rather narrow, the Zinal’s is more accommodating and should even suit runners with wider feet.

Finally, in both cases, the outsole offers an effective grip but can fall short on the most challenging technical terrains like mud.

Zinal or Pulsar: which one to choose?

As the testers noted, the Pulsar is a much more streamlined and cutting-edge racing shoe with reduced comfort and protection as a downside.

Thus, the Zinal is a bit heavier but has the merit of being more versatile, which makes it more accessible to the average runner.

Therefore, we recommend the Zinal, although the Pulsar may be suitable for experienced racers willing to sacrifice a little comfort for performance.

Side-by-side comparison

Bottom Line
A lightweight trail shoe that combines comfort, protection, and responsiveness for your fast sessions
Light and fast shoe
Great comfort
Effective cushioning
Good foot protection
Good balance between weight, responsiveness, stability, and versatility
Some concerns about the sturdiness of the upper
Not suitable for very technical terrains (e.g. snow, mud)
Not the best option for ultramarathon races
Specially created for Kilian Jornet, the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar is an ultralightweight competition trail running shoe
Very lightweight shoe (174g/6.1 oz!)
Very comfortable
Good grip overall
Excellent responsive cushioning
Effective lockdown despite the lack of structure of the upper
Difficult to put on, especially for runners with wide feet
The grip can be limited on very technical terrain (mud, snow)
Limited protection: no side guards, minimal toe cap
Some doubts about the durability of the midsole

Hoka Zinal

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar

Technical Specs

Pronation typeNeutralNeutral
Drop5 mm6 mm
Heel stack height32 mm21 mm
Forefoot stack height27 mm15 mm
Weight (men)244 g/8.6 oz174 g/6.1 oz
Weight (women)218 g/7.7 oz156 g/5.5 oz
Release year20212021
AthleteKílian Jornet Burgada


OutsoleVibram MegaGripContagrip MA
MidsoleEarly Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry, PROFLYEnergy Surge, Profeel Film, EVA sockliner
UpperEngineered meshAnti-debris mesh, Matryx, seamless design, Quicklace


Softness (1-5)3 – Moderate2 – Firm
Bounce (1-5)3 – Moderate4 – Bouncy


SpeedModerate, fastFast
DistanceShort, midShort, mid
WorkoutCompetition, daily runsCompetition