“Don’t forget the gear, just forget you’re carrying it. That’s where freedom begins”. That’s one of the taglines I’ve seen advertising this bit of kit. That is exactly what I want when I run, I don’t want to feel like I’m carrying stuff. I was sold.
So this is a bag, a vest, a race pack. Call it whatever you want. It carries stuff. Stuff you need and stuff you don’t need. It comes in black. I like black. I find race packs and vests often look over complicated and messy. Too much going on, too much colour in some cases, a bit like trainers – just a bit too much in your face. The Salomon offering is aesthetically appealing to the eye. It is a vest rather than a bag, has a main compartment, a sleeve to hold a bladder system and the infamous ‘kangaroo pouch’ offering at the back. Besides this, bottle holders and pockets (zipped and stretch varieties) galore on the shoulder straps. I think it looks great. And for me, it is symmetrical. I love symmetry!
You wear it. You don’t carry it. That’s how the theory goes. And that’s how it performs. It’s true you do soon forget it’s there. I went for the XS/S size and it fits very well. Nice and tight, no gaps or excess anywhere yet still room to tighten and loosen the fit as needed – this will vary depending how much you cram into the bag. Best of all though, it doesn’t move. You run and jump about and the bag and it’s content pretty much stays still. This is what you want, not a bag bouncing around all over your back rubbing and irritating the skin as it moves.
This is the only pack I’ve owned (admittedly you don’t end up owning many packs!) which hasn’t moved when I’ve run. This is the holy grail of trail running pack comfort! I quite like the front chest and sternum straps also. I’ve found them to be flexible and easy to use. I can imagine they aren’t so great for the female body though?! Size wise, its substantial. I went for the Adv Skin 12 set which means it holds 12 ltrs of stuff (the other variation is a 5 ltr). It says 12 ltrs, and you can certainly pack it full off stuff. On a recent Ultra marathon I got home and emptied the contents of my bag, I filled a whole shoebox with food I’d collected on the way. This all fit nicely into the Adv Skin without me realising just how much extra stuff I’d collected (and that was all just in the main zipped compartment!). All the pockets are easily accessible, with the exception of the kangaroo pouch at the back, when running (and obviously the main zipped compartment which is only accessible when not being worn, duh!). The compatibility with a hydration system is essential. It supports an under the arm set-up which I was new too but fell in love with. The hooks and tabs keep tubes perfectly in place and make your fluid of choice easily accessed.
What I like
- Zip side pockets are easy to access
- Front pockets are plenty and all very functional
- It holds a fair amount, the material is mostly stretch fabric and can accommodate items of different shapes etc.
- Hydration system compatible – it performs exactly the same with and without 2 ltrs in a bladder, this is pleasing!
- It comes in black (yay!)
- Simple to adjust. You can adjust it on the go easily
What I didn’t like
- It’s expensive. The best stuff always is though and this is up there with the best. Its not more expensive than competitor products but you don’t think you’ll pay in excess of £100 for a bag to run with do you!
- Its actually even more expensive because it doesn’t come with the bladder system. Fortunately I already had a Salomon bladder that was compatible.
- I did previously have two of these packs which both broke in some way, but were replaced without question. The Salomon Customer Service lives up to expectations, however I am always a little nervous and conscious that it might fail again somewhere.
- The Kangaroo pouch. It’s not usable whilst running (although I’m not sure if it was intended to be accessed on the go?). It’s for carrying. If you want to put things in it/take out you need to take the bag off. Or dislocate your arms trying!
- I don’t understand how much stuff it actually holds. It’s sold as a 12 ltr (or a 5 litre version) but I haven’t been able to clarify for sure if the 12 litres is including the 2 litres of a bladder and 2 x 500ml bottles, or if its straight up 12 ltrs of kit? I also feel like given it is made from stretch fabric you could keep piling stuff into it until it breaks.
I’m certain that every run you go on, someone will rock up wearing one of these (or a previous version)! They are universally popular and stylish (in a range of colours) and clearly are at the top end of the trail pack offerings. I’ve been using this for half a year now on multiple trail runs and ultra-marathons and intend to wear it through the CCC in August carrying all my mandatory kit. I can only see myself switching to another type of pack when space and content becomes more necessary than the rest of the functions (i.e. If I want to collect more than one shoe box full of food!).