I have been testing the new Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set trail running vest pack for the past few months in the anticipation of using it for the Ultra Trail Australia 100km. Whilst I know this will be a challenge, I now believe that the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set trail running vest pack is capable of carrying the mandatory gear requirements.
Absolute credit to Salomon for creating such a lightweight pack capable of going the long haul. I have used this pack for long missions, training runs and hopefully soon a race. The absolute benefits are:
- Super stretchy back pocket just keeps expanding. On occasions I have had a thermal, raincoat, first aid kit, down jacket, beanie, gloves, spare food and more. There is always space for something more in there!
- Washable! Who doesn’t want to be able to hurl their sweat-stained friend into the washing machine for a quick cleanse!
- Soft flask design. I am not a bladder girl and never will be. If you need more fluids there is a second stretchy pocket on the back highly capable of carrying one or two more soft flasks.
- Breathable. The fabrics are definitely superb. I never get too hot in my vest pack, even with the black colour that I have chosen.
- Transportable. Because the pack is so small if packs down to nothing. I recently took it to Nepal with me and it was the first thing I packed into my suitcase.
- Super light! This has to be the lightest long-haul pack on the market. Hands down this wins it for me!
I have to admit, whilst this pack is pretty awesome, I still do not love this version of Salomon’s S-Lab vest pack series quite as much as my original Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set vest pack which I reviewed in 2016. Whilst definitely not deal breakers for me, my small negatives are:
- The new Salomon S-Lab Speed Soft Flasks have a really hard top on them that presses onto my rib cage. This is ok for shorter distances but over a long period of time it can become quiet uncomfortable. I simply solved this issue but using my normal Salomon S-Lab Soft Flasks.
- The chest straps - What I loved about my original Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set vest pack was the simple clips that tightened across my chest. They were easy to handle and quick to use, even with my frequently cold, stiff fingers. The new Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set uses small elastic cords that wrap around a small clip on the opposite side of your chest. The problem here is that they are very fiddly and are more challenging to adjust than the original clips, especially when on the move or when the pack is very full. Some runners have had issues with these clips loosening. However, Salomon admits that the clips were put on slightly wrong and a small adjustment completely solves this trouble.
- The very large and deep expandable feeding sacks on both sides of your chest. Each pocket has a narrower opening that sits right beneath the mouth of each soft flask. The problem here is that when you are running, it is very hard to get your hands under the soft flask and into the pocket. The depth of each pocket also means that what you are looking for may also be right at the very bottom and problematic to reach without dropping items. This is more of an issue when racing and you just want a gel quickly. Furthermore, when these pockets are full there is a notable swaying of the contents. This is just a symptom of the stretchy fabric combined with the size of the pocket.
- I know, I know…I shouldn't even bother mentioning this but there is nowhere to tuck the whistle into! It flaps about in the breeze. My solution has been to tape it down with strapping tape.
- The zip pocket on the front is still not big enough for a phone. It’s only a little thing but I am looking forward to the day when someone makes a zip pocket on the front of the pack for a phone. Personally, I am not a fan of underarm zip pockets.
So, in summary, I am satisfied to recommend the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set vest pack, especially to athletes who want an allrounder pack capable of going up to the longer distances. This pack will suit you if you:
- Need a versatile pack for short and longer distances
- Are looking for a bottle pack and do not wish to carry a bladder
- Need something super snug and light
- Want something small and transportable