Thursday, September 21, 2017

Salomon Adv Skin 5 Set Review

While I really like Salomon gear in general, I was really impressed with the S-Lab Sense Set Vest more than any other product I have tested from them so far.  It was lightweight, minimal, and just fit my body well.  I have tested hydration packs, waist belts, vests, and handhelds from all of the major companies that produce hydration gear and the S-Lab Sense Set Vest was one of my favorites.  I have been testing the Adv Skin 5 Set for a while now, I apologize to Salomon for taking so long, but I’ve been out enjoying the pack and putting it to the test.

Most of Salomon’s running gear is centered around trail running and ultras, but would be great for all running.  I have been focusing more on trail running in the last year (with a little road running sprinkled in there) so it is nice to test out gear made for the trails.

The vest is extremely light weight at only 451 grams (just under 1 pound) with the bottles and 225 grams without the bottles (just under 8 ounces).  Like the S-Lab Sense Set Vest, the Adv Skin 5 Set is specifically designed for stability and it truly becomes an extension of your upper body.  There is definitely more storage with this pack too.

There are two bottles that come with the pack, which is honestly my biggest issue with this pack, and all Salomon packs for that matter.  The water bottles are thin, flexible, and collapsible, which I actually like.  They are made by Hydrapak (which makes bottles for several major hydration companies) with the Salomon branding on them.  They hold 500ml or 17 ounces of fluids each.  The valves make it easy to get a decent amount of water. 

I have a few issues with the bottles though.  The opening for filling them up are rather small, so adding ice is not really possible and putting electrolyte powders can be messy.  There is no shut off option on the valve, which I tend to like and the bottles are difficult to get in the pockets, which I have read they fixed with the new S/Lab Sense Ultra 8 Vest bottles.  With that being said, I got used to the bottles and for most training runs, they won’t be an issue, but in ultras or other long races where you will need to refill the bottles, you might lose a little bit of time (there is always the option of buying extra bottles and have them in your drop bags, which is where a lockable valve would be great). 

The straps in the front are elastic based, which I didn’t like at first because I was trying to figure out the fit.  Now that I have tested it out for a while, I like this attachment system better than any other pack.  The reason is that it can truly be fit to your body unlike some straps out there that are rigid and don’t flex.  I really like how the elastic allows for a tight fit while still allowing your chest to expand and contract while you breathe.  It’s adjustable so you can move the straps up and down with ease, finding the right point across your body for the straps to cross.  Two thumbs up there.

Let’s talk storage…  There are the two bottle pockets in the front (one per side).  There is a pocket on either side in front (and slightly lower) of the bottle pockets and on one side, there is a small pocket above the bottle pocket.  On the other side is a zippered pocket above the bottle pocket.  That makes for four usable pockets not including the bottle pockets.  The smaller pocket (non-zippered) is perfect for trash or salt pills.  The zippered pocket is great for your car key or ID.  The two pockets in the front are great for gels, gloves, and other gear and the pocket material is really stretchy so you can stuff a lot into the pockets.  The pockets wrap around your side, which made it perfect for storing my Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, which is not the easiest to store in most vest pockets, but wasn’t a problem here.  I really tested it out on some technical climbs and descents where I expected my phone to be ejected at least once, but it stayed put.  I like to keep my phone close by to check where I am at on trails (if it is a new trail that I haven’t been on before) or want to take a few pictures.

On the back of the pack, there is a large pocket that can be used for storage or for a hydration bladder, which is not included.  You do get a bladder insulation sleeve and an emergency blanket (Mylar like the ones at races).   There is a smaller pocket that is inside of the larger pocket that is the perfect size for the emergency blanket.  I actually use that pocket for storing my hat and headlamp when not in use because I can access it without taking my pack off.  It is also great for storing an additional soft flask. 

On the lower back area is another pocket that opens on either side and is great for storing extra layers.  There are also two smaller zippered pockets, one on either side of your lower back.  These are perfect for more energy or clothing, batteries and more.

Other great features include the straps for your trekking poles (which you can store without taking the pack off), the ability to drink without taking the flasks out of the pockets.  The thing that really sets Salomon packs apart from the competition is that the vests are the perfect combination of plenty of storage and an awesome fit. 

Awesome fit
Excellent breathe-ability with mesh back and moisture wicking
Lightweight (8 ounces w/o bottles)
Great price ($155)
Can store more than you will need
Can hold bottles and a hydration bladder if needed
Excellent elastic strapping provides a superior fit

The bottles could have a larger opening and valve lockout

Salomon’s Social Media Links

The really cool thing about this vest is that it is so light weight and breathable that it almost feels like it isn’t even there.  I love all of the pockets and that the back will not trap heat in.  There is a whistle inside one of the front pockets and the chest straps are easy adjust for a great fit.  Out of the 15 or so packs that I‘ve tested over the years, this is one of favorites.  You can get the Adv Skin 5 Set for $155 on the Salomon website.  I have even seen them under $115 online if you shop around.  They also have a slightly larger version (Adv Skin 12 Set) for about $175 that has more storage if that is what you are looking for. 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

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