Gear Review: Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Set

So, last week my wife bought me this backpack as our anniversary present and I took it out for a 19 miler yesterday in the blazing sunshine.

So firstly, what does Salomon say about there pack?

From Salomon Website: This ultra form-fitting hydration pack for intense trail running comes in two sizes for the most precise fit possible. Sensifit construction reduces abrasion, ultra breathable stretch material to comfortably and securely hold bladder and essential items in the most demanding conditions

More often than not you read a description and think “sounds good but really?”, well this is pretty much spot on.

So what’s it like?

In this photo you can see the various pockets on the Salomon
You can see in this picture the main compartment, as well as the side (rear) pockets. In the bottom left hand side (of the photo) is the 4D pole holder strap
This is the bladder that comes with the backpack, the Hydrapak 1.5 litre replaces the Source bladder on the older versions of the S-Lab 5. Next to it is the insulated sleeve that the bladder sits in.
Also on the newer version is the wider clips for securing the back on the body, these have been made more substantial to prevent snapping, although I still take the pack off with kid gloves because they still feel like they could snap at any point
The included saftey blanket and pocket to store it in (the second velcro chest pocket was also found in here)
Detail of the empty saftey blanket pocket also showing the Hydrapak inside
The two pockets which fit to the left hand strap and can be swapped out as and when
The Hydrapak insulated hose doesn’t actually come with the pack, the older version came with an insulated Source hose but this came with a normal (all be it shorter) hose, this I purchased as an addtion.
Just an example of the size of the pocket, the packet is designed for fast and light running, so you can’t get that much in it. I managed to fit a super light first aid kit and a lightweight jacket
The Sensifit logo, and this thing does indeed fit like a glove
There aren’t a lot of photos on the various websites showing in detail what the water bottle/chest pockets can hold. I used both these for my run, 625ml Camelbak Podium Chill bottles, they fit fine and are easy to get in and out.

What’s it like to run in?

Simple really, I will never run in a normal rucksack again!! This is the future, gone are shoulder straps and waist belts, gone is having to constantly adjust  the straps, gone is not being able to breath properly due to no give, this solves all the issues.

I have tried a number of small light backpacks, the Haglofs Stamina 5, the Olmo 5, Inov8 12 litre and the OMM 15 litre. Being an average sized guy (96cm chest, 85 cm waist/38inch, 33inch) I have had trouble finding a backpack that fits comfortably, so was sceptical of the Salomon until trying it on. The thing fits like a glove and more importantly flexes with your body, so you never feel constricted when running.

From never wearing it to running 19 miles I haven’t got one sore point, at no point did I have to stop and adjust it, even as the water in the hydration bladder drained it still sat snug to the back.

I did find with the two podium bottles in the chest pockets forced me to adapt my running style, as the bottom of the pocket would hit my biceps as I ran, but I think this is partially me being on the upper limit of the M/L sizing.

What could be improved?

Not a great deal really and its more personal opinion, I would like some more pockets on the front. Maybe combine the front fastening points into one mesh clip with pockets on it. Also there doesn’t seem to be anyway to add more modular items, such as a front pack.

Should I buy one?

If you are looking for a fast and light hydration pack which fits snug, then yes, if you have ever used a hydration pack and suffered from the straps not fitting quite right, a waist strap and chest strap that put pressure on your breathing then this is the one for you.

Its fairly pricey at £120 rrp, but you can find it cheaper. One thing to be sure of is the sizing, it comes in XS/S and M/L, I have the M/L and I don’t think it would fit someone much bigger than me.

See the Salomon website for more detail (note they only have images of the older version)

On a side note, they now do a 12litre version 🙂

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