Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack Review

Non-Gear GirlI realize I usually preach the benefits of multi-functional gear, but every so often, I come across a piece so perfectly designed for its intended use, I have to step down from my soapbox. The Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack (S-Lab), which widely sold out at $140, is a perfect example. The Salomon design team worked with record breaking trail runner and Salomon athlete, Kilian Jornet, to create barely-there packs loaded with awesome features to cover all of your trail running needs.

Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration PackAt 10.5 ounces/300 grams (without bladder), this pack truly fits more like a vest than a pack, and is best suited for those with a slim to medium build. Its secure fit comes from the unique twin link fastening system that secures anywhere on the system, for multiple fastening options, with just enough give to allow easy breathing. This feature is especially nice for women as you can close one hook above your chesticles and one below. A load lifter system, to distribute pack weight, is the other key factor in the S-Lab’s comfortable fit.

The S-Lab is made of lightweight, stretchy, antimicrobial, breathable, quick-drying fabric, with edges completely trimmed in satin soft tape, which meant no chaffing, even right off the rack. Trust me on this – I got the S-Lab pack the day before the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run and wore it for a week with no hot spots.

Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack backAn isothermic water pouch helps to keep liquid cool and bacteria free, the slide top closure is easy to access and fill, while the secure closure makes sure you don’t make like Little Red Riding Hood on the trail. The pack is set up for underarm hose routing—no need to play scuba diver and reach around for your hose bit, it’s conveniently where you need it. The Source Widepac 1.5L back also features a quick connect hose with a wide opening and push-button ease to form a tight seal, even when the reservoir is filled to capacity.

The pack has LOTS of pockets for gels, food, water bottles, an extra layer, and map—if you can think of something you want to bring, there’s a specific pocket for it. Waist pockets, chest pockets, back pockets, zip pockets, cinch pockets, one pocket even has a space blanket—required gear for many trail runs in Europe. Speaking of required gear, it comes equipped with a safety whistle and a few loops for extra items. Plus, it has a holding system for your poles when you have them but don’t need them.

Don’t tell anyone I said so, but the S-Lab would also be great for road running and light hiking…..! I’m guessing you could even pedal a bike while wearing it. Just saying.

The Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack will be replaced by the forthcoming Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Hydration Pack will weigh in at 21 ounces/593 grams (without emergency blanket) and be generally available in February 2011 for $180.

Update: The Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Hydration Pack is now available on iRunFar! Please be aware that the current model as of Fall 2011 no longer has an insulated drinking tube.

Call for Comments
If you’ve tried the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack, what did you think? Got questions, ask away.

More Info from Salomon
Here’s Salomon’s Adam Chase giving a brief description of the pack:

There are 69 comments

  1. Paul

    I picked up the pack recently and have been using it on my training runs while testing it out for my first 50 mile race (as I prefer a pack vs hand bottles). The pack is pretty much like you describe. The only complaint I have is the front water bottle pouches are very snug and only seem to fit a standard 500ml water bottle from the grocer: your typical plastic water bottle. You can fit the Salomon 3D bottles with extreme effort, which means you aren't pulling them out for a sip of water. Standard Bike bottles are a no-go.

    Have you found any bottles in particular that work with it? It's a nice alternative to just carry the two front bottles and no bladder sometimes.

    The 2010 version was priced at 139 US but was very hard to source due to demand.

    The numerous pockets are pretty sweet for storing a number of essentials.

    Thanks for posting a review!

  2. Kovas Palubinskas

    Wow, Salomon products are really nice looking, and good to hear they work as well. It will be interesting to see if the XT Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Hydration will be more widely available. I tried the Nathan hydration vest but it was just WAY to small for me. This looks like it might be a decent alternative.

  3. Bruce G

    The proof will be in the fit and function, but I sure do love the concepts brought out in this pack's design. Foremost in my perspective is having the strap-mounted bottle pockets, a design feature sorely missing from the North American market (why?), but something our European peers have been onto for a long time. My personal pack preference is for strap-mounted bottles for ease of access, comfort, and I like using bottles to know how much I drink; a bladder to me is only for carrying supplemental fluids used to fill a bottle – I can't stand bladders as a primary hydration source. But that's just me….

    Add in all the accessible pockets for gels, nuun tubes, salt pills, etc, with a comfortable fit and light weight, and it appears Salomon is on to something great. In fairness, Ultimate Direction and Nathan have been pretty good with the pockets and comfort recently – but not so much the light weight, and their bottle pouches are still rear/side mounted when present. A nod to CamelBak for getting much lighter materials recently too, but still relying on hydration bladders alone.

    But about that price tag for the S-Lab pack…. $180? Seriously? That's crazy talk. Even $139 is out there, imho.

    I'm hoping the appearance of this model in the NA market might influence some of the other companies to come up with a competitive design.

    Bruce

  4. gino - chicago

    wow, $180? I had a hard time talking myself into the UD wasp when i got it for $80.

    Salomon kind of bugs me as a company. There is no way to contact them, its like they just don't care if they get any feedback from customers, or if those customers have any questions/complaints/problems, etc

  5. Graham

    Where can i buy this backpack ?

    Either online, or somewhere in Miami.

    I've checked lot's of websites but it's unavailable at the moment

    Thanks

  6. Will Cawthra

    I recently got my hands on this pack, and after using it on some training runs I'm pretty happy with it. As for bottles I've found Amphipod Hydraform Low-Profile 12 oz. bottles are a perfect fit!

    Good Luck!

    Will

  7. Andre Blumberg

    This is a great pack indeed, I bought it recently here in Hong Kong and used it on two 50K training runs thus far. Great weight distribution, wears like a vest. Using 500ml Raidlight bottles, they fit perfectly. Would have thought Salomon provide bottles with it as they do for some of their other packs. Liking this so much that I ordered a few more to be used in "drop-bag" fashion for some upcoming 50 and 100K runs.

    1. Andre Blumberg

      Hi Ravi,

      I've thought about that myself a lot. If you look at top runners you hardly ever see them wearing packs but just carrying one or two bottles, sometimes in a bottle belt and often just in their hands. To me it comes down how well you've trained your body in terms of how much water it needs. Personally I need a lot of liquids, usually a liter an hour, more in hot/humid conditions. That makes it almost impossible for me to just rely on bottles given I'm not fast enough to reach each support station on any given trail before the water runs out, plus I need to regularly sip water, I can't not drink for e.g. an hour and then drink a huge amount in one go at a support station. I suppose if you have trained your body to get by on less water that's great. The other thing to consider is time spent at the support stations, and whether to stop at every single station. Also, it depends on how many bottles you can "drop" at support stations in advance to just swap out instead of refilling. Some runners have pacers also or other support crew who are doing the swap out for them, not allowed in some races though – it depends. A pack like this S-Lab may allow you to to just cruise through every other support station given you have more liquid on board. The other advantage is that you have different liquid compartments. I usually use the bladder for plain water (1.5ltr) and the two bottles (2 x 500 – 600ml) for supplements e.g. Hammer Perpetuem or similar.

      Andre.

  8. Christian

    Hi, thanks for the review! Do I understand correctly – is the 2010 Model the Salomon XT Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack and the forthcoming Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Hydration Pack will be the updated model for 2011?

    What will the differences be?

    Regards from Berlin

    Chris

  9. toni

    I've only seen sizes small and med large. Does the pack come in larger sizes? I've got a north face pack and the chest strap is too tight. There is no sizing literature that I can find.

  10. Matt

    Does anybody know if this pack able to hold all of the things required for the CCC?

    If so, is it worth the steep price tag?

    and if not, what other recommendations do people have for good racing packs at a more reasonable price level?

  11. Anonymous

    Just received the pack last week. AWESOME!! I have only used hand bottles until I read about this pack. The fit is snug with NO movement/bouncing. The price is steep though. I'm 5-10, 150 lbs and the MD/LG fits perfect.

  12. alex m

    Question, the clips for the bag (win link fastening system) can they be purchased separately in case the red clip part breaks? are are you just done at that point?

  13. c stahl

    I just got two of these packs. I read all the feedback and was totaly psyched. I tried it on and wish they made a larger size. I'm 6' 1" and 180. The bottom strap is a little snug for my taste. But the big issue is the front bottle pockets are way to low and are in my axilla area and rub on my arms. I am going to try some smaller bottles, but I am doubtful it will work for me. I am really bummed. I am going to try the Salomon XT wing 10+3 vest I guess, but worried about ventilation.

    1. Andre Blumberg

      Hi, I had the same concern initially. Did you actually run with the pack on or you just tried it on? It will rub on your arm when you stand and walk, but when running your arm motion (well, at least mine) is away from the bottles. Worked great for me, love the pack.

  14. Jerry

    This pack would be awesome if it came in an XL. The M/L is probably perfect for a 110# person that has never even thought about doing a push up, but if you have any upper body muscle mass, it isn't going to fit right.

  15. DEREK NANCE

    My first question for you is what is your chest measurement? The reason I am asking is because I am pretty close to the measurements you are. I am a male around the 6'1"-6'2" mark and float around 178-180 pounds based on the time of day. I ALSO purchased a Small salomon exo running shirt from REI a while back and it is extremely snug. I just measured my chest because I want to avoid getting this pack and it be too small. I am right at a 38" so I was thinking about going with the med/large to play it safe which is 38"-42" so my second question is what was the size of the pack YOU purchased? If it was a med/large than I doubt I will get it then if you claim it was still too small. Please let me know. I would really appreciate it.

    1. [email protected]

      I'm 6'1" and 163 (right now). Chest is 38". The M/L fits me just fine. I just wore it for a 5 hour run and had no problems with it being too tight or too loose. It is a snug fit, but that is the design.

  16. c stahl

    The packs I bought are M/L, my chest is about 40-41", again I am 6' 1" about 180 lbs. I tried amphib 12 oz. shaped bottles and that helped. But ultimately this pack is just too small for me. I need an XL. I had one of my running partners who is much lighter than I am, but larger chested. It was too small for him too. Going to use my Nathan or the Salomon pack I mentioned above. Also I did not run in them other than around the house. It was obvious they were not going to work for me.

  17. Franzi68

    Hi, just to inform you that there is a new version coming out with a capacity of 12 liters, currently first in France, but expect it to be released everywhere next year.

    So I assume people interested in this great backpack should wait the new version as it make more sense (I own the 5l one and know what I speak of…).

    Some pics:
    http://www.altecsport.com/photo.php?zoom=z_Salomohttp://www.altecsport.com/photo.php?zoom=z_Salomo

    Byron, keep on your great job with this site ;-)

  18. DEREK NANCE

    Will,

    I've been looking at various amphipod bottles. All the hydraform bottles I viewed had handles attached. Are these the ones you are talking about? Also, how many bottles do you carry in the pack? It looks like it could hold as many as 4 on the front from the pictures.

  19. Paul

    There are only two bottle pockets on the front. The other two are smaller and good for misc items. You can purchase the bottles w/o the handles.

  20. DEREK NANCE

    Just finished running 20 miles in it! I ended up going with the M/L and it fits great. My only complaint goes back to what most people have said about many bottles not fitting in. Initially I used one of my smaller bike bottles.I ended going with the 3D Salomon bottle and Salomon Flasks. I still have to slow down to focus on pulling them because of my long torso the bottles are practically under my arms. I also have to slow down to focus on unzipping and pulling gels out of the back. I just wanted to write this so there is no confusion…I'm between 6'1" and 6'2" and 178-180 with 38 chest and the M/L fit fine. I think Salomon is the opposite of the Chaco Sandal rule…when in doubt go a size up.

  21. Geoff

    What's the bladder capacity of the 12L model? I'm a water horse and typically run with 2 – 3 liters in my current pack depending upon the distance I'm going.

  22. Anonymous

    Any other links to this newest product? It looks like the perfect step up from my small Camelbak.

    However, the hose is not insulated on that one as it is with the current one. Is this the final product? If I'm going to put down that much money, I want it to keep water from freezing in the tube during winter runs and hikes.

    Thanks!

  23. Anonymous

    What is your chest circumference? I am a woman, but a bit tall and broad-shouldered, and am wondering if the smaller would be big enough (36" chest, so the measurements say it would be.)

  24. Vassilios

    hi,

    do you guys thing that the 12 liters can hold the requird equipment for the UTMB race in Europe? or any 100mile race? i am a slow runner myself.

    Vassilis

    1. Bryon Powell

      I just put nearly all my required items (with plenty of room to fit those extra pieces like a phone and bandages) in a 5.5 liter pack. Once I get my final gear (it'll be smaller and lighter), I think I could fit everything in 5 liters or less. 12 liters is a lot of stuff. Unless it's horrible weather, try taking less … it'll make your journey easier, not harder! :-)

      1. Vassilios

        the fact is that being a slow runner and for the first time i 'll race something that long it will be taking me a lot of time from station to station! so i was thinking of having more even if finally i wont be using it.

    1. Anonymous

      i bought instead the XT 10+3 vest, in large size and it is perfect, at least for trainning. My 100KM race in on October 15th, so i will post how it was on race day.

  25. PLANK

    This vest fits like a glove and i was not using it for Running!I did long distance Mountain bike event and bought it a day before the race!!filled it up 1.5L and no movent or straps flutering or any problem only a pleasure to use or cycle with!

    All you want to carry is your tools and mabe some space for wind shell jacket wich is easily accomodated for with multiple pocket.

    I truly forgot i had something on my back in the blistering sun!

    Best Designed piece of Gear i have used for MTB events!!!!

    Get One!!You wont be Dissed!

    Peace!!

  26. Anonymous

    hi to everyone, last weekend i finished my first 100km race in Greece (into the Virgin Forest) using the XT 10+3 VEST and for shoes the SAUCONY XODUS 2. I am totally satisfied from both of them! The vest fits perfectly and you do not fell it at all, even after 19 hours & 55 min that took me to finish the race.the only negative point, that does not have to do with the vest itself – is that i used a PLATYPUS pack for hydration and it was not easy to refill since the edges take quite an effort to fit into the vest.Besides that clothing, food, etc are very easily accessible.Regarding the shoes,it is the first time that i enjoyed a shoe that much. I used to wear MIZUNO & SALOMON which i was not much satisfied (especially from SALOMON. The terrain in the Virgin Forrest had wet trails and rocky – technical trails and the shoe performed very well. One question regarding the VEST. In the caring instructions it advises not to wash it! Do we follow that or i should i was it anyway?

    Vassilios

  27. Morgan Williams

    I'm very pleased to say that the 12 litre version has now hit the shelves here in the UK and I have secured one of these today.

    The price made my eyes water, but it is the most exceptionally well thought out and constructed piece of gear I have ever seen and owned.

    So that takes care of my Xmas present!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Glad you managed to pick up a 12-liter Skin pack, Morgan. For those looking for one stateside, we'll have them in stock as soon as their available in the US, which should be the beginning of February. Contact us if you'd like us to let you know when they arrive.

      1. Morgan Williams

        Bryon, I'm due a 30 mile training run in the next 10 days, so will go the 12 a testing.

        I'll post further if I have anything to say!

        Morgan

  28. Trammy

    I bought this pack from irunfar about 2 months ago. So far I've probably gone 100-150 miles or so with it and I can say that it is as advertised…sensational. My only complaint would be the "Load Lifter" system. It is supposed to allow you to adjust the pack to fit you more securely and sit better on your shoulders but it simply doesn't work. What I mean is that the "Load Lifter" plastic snap thingys (I can't think of a better word at the moment) don't lock the lifter ropes into place so the ropes just slide back to their original position. Simply put, the "Load Lifter" system does not work. I still love it though. Anyone else have this issue?

  29. Gladys

    I bought this pack a couple of months ago and just LOVE it! after a couple of minutes I forget I have it on. My only concern is that is starting to smell! :( Have anyone washed it? I was not able to find any information on how to take care of it. I am afraid to wash it.. some times when I have done that on other packs, the odor gets worse and almost need to wash after every other use. Maybe apply some sorte of odor remover or antibacterial?

    1. Anonymous

      It does stink. I washed mine in the washing machine all of the time. I'd put it in a pillowcase and tie a knot in the pillow case to keep it closed. I'd then hang dry it. I used both warm and cold water…either way worked well.

  30. Daniel Calderon

    Same issue, and for some reason I put some GU gels in the front bottle pockets and I ended with a hole in those pockets (I guess from the corner of the gel packs??)

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