Gear Reviews

Review: Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Set

I purchased the Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Set hydration vest for my 50k. I had been training with handheld bottles but decided I wanted to keep my hands free durning the race.

When you first pick up the S-LAB Sense Ultra Set you will be surprised at how light it is. Salomon’s website says the vests weights 110g or 3.8 oz. Once you put the vest on you will notice that it fits like a shirt. It’s very form fitting while still adjustable using the 2 front straps. Unlike other packs I’ve used the Ultra Set is simple to adjust. It can take a bit of time running to get the pack adjusted correctly but these adjustments can be made while still moving. Overall, the vest is very comfortable and fits me really well. On one run I did have some chafing near my neck where the shoulder must have been rubbing. I haven’t had any chafing since then. I’ve worn the S-LAB Sense Ultra Set for over 200 miles. I continue to be impressed at how useful the simple lightweight pack is.

The back of the Ultra Set has one large pocket across the top and a lower kangaroo pocket. The top large pocket has a smaller battery pocket near the top of it. The large pocket and battery pocket can be difficult to access while the pack is on unless you’re really flexible. The lower kangaroo pocket sits about mid back making the pocket very easy to access with either hand while moving. At first I was uncomfortable putting anything in these pockets but I’ve never had anything bounce out while running even on technical trails.

Each side of the S-LAB Sense Ultra Set has a large zipper pocket made from a stretch fabric. These pocket are large enough to stuff a jacket with a little room to spare. Directly in front of the zipper pockets and below the bottle pockets are two good sized dump pockets. These dump pockets are made of the same stretch fabric as all the other pockets.

Dump pocket and side zipper stretch pocket.

The front of the pack contains two pockets for the 500ml (17 oz) soft flasks. On the right shoulder strap above the soft flask is a zipper pocket. This zipper pocket is perfect for a cell phone.  The vest has an open ended stretch pocket on the left shoulder strap. The only problem with this pocket is that it can be hard to get to the bottom of if the soft flask is in the vest so don’t put anything small in it.

Overall, the Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Set is an excellent pack. I think its one of the best packs I’ve ever used. When you considering the storage and weight of the pack the Ultra Set is nearly in a class of it’s own. But the pack is not without faults. My vest is a size M/L when adjusted for my chest it leaves about 5 inches of extra chest strap cord on both the top and bottom adjustment points. This extra bit of fabric flaps around a lot when I run and when I try to tuck in the extra it always comes out again. Not a major complaint but it gets annoying.

The Soft Flasks can be a pain to get back in the vest. On just a training run with your only filling the bottles once it’s not a big deal. If you’re racing and trying to get in and out of aid stations quickly the extra 30 seconds to a minute to jam the bottle really sucks. I find that the seems on the bottom of bottles catch on the stretch fabric of pockets. The bottles also sometimes hang up on the lower dump pockets. Still not a deal breaker but something to be aware of when creating a race plan.

How I load the S-LAB Sense Ultra Set depends on the runs terrain and length but for the most part this is how I load it for a 15 plus mile trail run:

  • Back top pocket: Small first aid kit, light survival supplies, extra calories, and sometimes extra soft flasks
  • Kangaroo pocket: Lightweight wind breaker
  • Right shoulder zipper pocket: Cell phone
  • Left shoulder pocket: empty or some toilet paper in a plastic bag.
  • Both 500ml soft flasks filled.
  • Side zipper stretch pockets: Gels or other calories
  • Dump pockets: Used for trash.

LIKES:

  • Lightweight
  • Lots of storage
  • No mobility restrictions
  • Comfortable

DISLIKES:

  • Sizing range is too big
  • Soft Flasks are hard to get back in the vest

QUALITY: 4/5
COMFORT: 5/5
PRICE: 3/5
LOOKS: 4/5

TOTAL: 16/20

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