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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

Gear Reviews

Review: Osprey Rev 18 Hydration Pack

Osprey’s Rev series targets endurance runners who want to move quickly without having to worry about storage capacity. I purchased the Osprey Packs Rev 18 ($119.95) for my run commutes.  The Rev 18 is the second largest pack in the Rev series. All of the Rev series packs come in either Cirrus Grey, Flash Green, or Bolt Blue.

Rev Series:

  • Rev 24 – 24 liters/ ~ 1,500 cubic inches of storage
  • Rev 18 – 18 liters/ ~ 1,100 cubic inches of storage
  • Rev 12 – 12 liters/ ~ 700 cubic inches of storage
  • Rev 6 – 6 liters/ ~ 400 cubic inches of storage
  • Rev 1.5 – 2 liters/ ~ 100 cubic inches of storage
  • Rev Solo – 1 liter/ ~ 100 cubic inches of storage
Osprey Rev 18 - Back view

The Osprey Packs Rev 18.

I selected the Rev 18 because of my storage requirements for my commute. 95% of the time the Rev 12 would have more than enough space for what I need but I wanted the extra storage just incase. I’ve worn the pack for more than 50 hours over 60 different runs.

FIT

I found it easy to get the Rev 18 adjusted for a comfortable fit. With the Bodybelt (Rev 6 and Rev 1.5 don’t have a Bodybelt) and 2 sternum straps the Rev 18 stays in place fully loaded or not. With a heavier load the pack will move side to side which can impair a normal arm swing. This can sometimes be avoided by repacking and placing heavier items at the bottom surrounded by with other items to reduced movement.

Osprey Rev 18 - Hydration compartment

Hydration compartment.

HYDRATION SYSTEM

The 2.5 liter Hydraulics LT Reservoir has baffles inside the bladder that greatly reduce water sloshing while running. The pack has a plastic support in the hydration compartment and allows the water bladder to securely slide into place. The bladder’s quick release allows you to easily remove the it without removing the bite value and tube.  My only complaint is scuffing that occurs in the hydration compartment between the hydration cap and the material of the compartment. The scuffing doesn’t appear to be damaging the bag it looks bad.

STORAGE

Osprey Rev 18 -  panel bungee

Front panel bungee.

The Osprey Packs Rev 18 has tons of storage. The pack has a huge main compartment separate from the hydration compartment. In addition to the main compartment the Rev 18 features a front panel with a bungee cord to keep your jacket strapped tightly to the bag.

The Bodybelt has left and right side zippered stretch mesh pockets. The right side pocket has a key hook to keep your keys in place on your run. Above the Bodybelt on either side of the pack are large stretch pockets that are perfect for quickly stashing gear.

The top of the Rev 18 has a zippered slash pocket for smaller items you might need to access quickly. The slash pocket is great because it allows you to store items without them falling down to the bottom of the main compartment. You can’t access the slash pocket without taking off the Rev 18. Fortunately the 2 zippered stretch mesh pockets on the Bodybelt give you quick access to items without removing the pack.

Osprey Rev 18 - DigiFlip

DigiFlip™ Media Pocket (with iPhone 5s)

The left side shoulder strap has the DigiFlip™ Media Pocket. The pocket can hold an iPhone 6 without a problem. The DigiFlip™ Media Pocket works well and I would use the pocket for runs longer than a few hours. But for my normal run commute it’s faster to store my phone in one of the Bodybelt stretch pocket.

CLEANING

My Rev 18 gets used 6 times a week and it can get funky. I’ve soaked the pack in a white vinegar solution to kill the odor and it works ok. During a particularly hot week I wash my pack in the washing machine. Machine washing worked really well. The Osprey care instructions say not to use a washing machine, so use caution if you try a washing machine.

LIKES:

  • Light –1 lb. 4 oz.
  • Durable – besides discoloring from rubbing no signs of wear
  • Storage – plenty of room to hold everything for ultras, 2.5 liters bladder
  • Secure – triple body straps keep everything tight to body

DISLIKES:

  • Accessibility – Must remove to access zippered slash pocket
  • DigiFlip™ Media Pocket – My iPhone 6 fits but it’s easier to access the phone in the Bodybelt pocket.
  • Cleaning – Can be hard to get odor out of the foam padding.

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

TOTAL: 17/20

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