Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Hydration Pack Review

I 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.

At 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.

An 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:

Allison Pattillo: a contributing author to iRunFar.com.

View Comments (67)

  • Hi all; You can see my test with pictures and "ENGLISH VIDEO" in this adress as well pictures.. I love S-Lab PAck and i used in UTMB 2010.. It was perfect...
    http://www.geziyorum.net/salomon-advanced-skin-sl...

    Regards;

    EMRE TOK

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • By the way Brian i guess it is 300 grams in wight? It says in the web Specs ?

    cheers

    EMRE
    http://www.geziyorum.net

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  • 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

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  • 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

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    • Graham, Best of luck finding this pack. They sold out nearly instantaneously. Try picking some up next March.

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • What are your thoughts on using a pack vs carrying water bottles for 50k-50M races? I notice that a lot of the faster runners just carry bottles.

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    • 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.

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      • Thanks, this pack looks awesome...too bad it seems to be sold out everywhere online! If you know of anyplace that has it in stock, let me know.

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  • 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

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    • Chris, as far as I could tell having seen both packs, there weren't many major differences. I'll see what I can find out when I meet with Salomon in a few weeks.

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      • Thanks Bryon!

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  • 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.

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    • I don't have the data for the current model, but I know the next model will also only come in extra small/small and medium/large.

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  • Great review Allison, think I am sold on getting this pack.

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  • 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?

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  • Just to let everyone know, the pack is now in stock and available in the MD/LG size at Running Warehouse. The delivery date of the XS/SM size is yet to be determined.

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • Prohibitive pricing IMO. Looked at it but $180 is crazy expensive for running pack.

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