Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 Review #Peak20

Packs for a multi-day race or a running multi-day adventure were once the domain of Raidlight. Of course, other brands ventured into the arena but it was only really the arrival of WAA that made everyone start to stop, look and see what else existed.

Packs are personal.

I think a pack becomes even more personal when one requires something to be comfortable for multiple days and also when carrying 6.5kg or more.

Salomon have now extended their ‘vest design’ to the S-LAB PEAK 20 and in doing so, they will turn the head of many a runner and make them question, is this THE pack for them for their next multi-day adventure or race.

Shape, gender, size, height and so many other variables dictate if a pack is comfortable or not and this depends on you, so, when looking at this pack I try to be impartial and when possible I always try to cross reference with a female perspective. The plus of this pack is it comes in S, M, L and XL so no compromising to be made. I am 38/40 chest and I have a medium which fits perfect.

If you are heading to the mountain for an overnight adventure, I am pretty sure the Peak 20 will work for you. However, would the pack work for a race like Marathon des Sables, Grand to Grand, Everest Trail Race or one of the 4 Desert races when one is completely self-sufficient for multiple days?

Let’s look at the packs highlights:

  • 1 main compartment with a full length zip (double slider) that open up allowing easy access and organisation of what is inside.
  • Fabrics that wick and are quick drying.
  • Three sizes – S, M and L.
  • Soft trims so no chafing.
  • Sensifit is a Salomon buzz word that ultimately means it should be the Rolls Royce of bags when coming to fit and comfort.
  • Front hydration pockets x2 (designed for 500ml soft flasks).
  • Adjustable front straps for customized fit.
  • Zipper pockets – It has 2 large pockets on the front, 2 expandable pockets on the shoulder straps and 2 top zipped mesh pockets.
  • Will take a bladder.
  • Ability to carry poles or ice axes.
  • Lightweight at 484g +/-.


This pack will work for an overnight adventure, mountain marathon race or an adventure when an excessive mandatory kit will be required. But, the big question for many will be, can this pack work for a 6-day self-sufficient race?

In a word – Yes!

Simple reasons why:

  • Yes, it can hold 2 x 750ml of liquid at the front
  • Yes, it has 4 pockets on the front that will allow immediate access to anything you will need whilst running a stage.
  • Yes, it can hold another liter to 1.5 liters on the rear in two external pockets.
  • Yes, it can hold everything you need for 6-days self-sufficiency.


The pack has a 20L capacity (typical for Marathon des Sables and comparable with the competition from Ultimate Direction, WAA, Raidlight, OMM and others) and has one large external zip on the rear that works two ways so that you can zip down or zip up depending on preference. Once open, it’s possible to access the pack easily and arrange contents. Internally there is a small mesh panel so that you divide the large compartment in two – a good thing for maybe an overnight jaunt but not required for a multi-day adventure.

It’s light, very light! It has a vest style that echoes and follows on from the designs from Salomon’s other models.

The front of the pack has two stretch pockets for soft-flasks or bottles. On top of these pockets sitting a little lower are two large pockets with zips that hold a surprising amount. On top of the shoulder straps are two stretch zip pockets that provide additional storage.

On the sides of the vest are adjustable cords that pull the pack closer to the body or allow the pack to be looser.

On the top of the rear of the pack above the zip, is a central cord pull. Pull this and the yellow cord that wraps around the pack pulls tighter and compresses the contents. Great when the pack is full to make everything tight and secure but especially useful as the days pass when racing and the pack contents become less.


The pack tapers and as you can see from this side-view is narrow at the bottom and then opens up wider as one gets closer to the top. On both sides is an open topped stretch pocket that will take a bottle or other items.

The pack has thin blue padding that does not sit inside the pack but on the outside and underneath the mesh back. The is ingenious as it has been designed so that it can be removed.

It is held in place by small metal buckles that attach to web loops. I removed the padding and used my sleeping mat inside the pack as my padding. Ingenious – not only do you save weight but your mat doubles up as protection when running and sleeping.

The two-way external zip is great to allow access to upper items or lower items in the pack without having to un-zip the whole pack. Importantly, when un-zipped it’s easy to access the inside and arrange items. An internal mesh panel can be used to split the pack into two halves. For some this may be useful but if like me you use the sleeping mat inside, you can only have one large compartment. It’s a great space and like any pack, you will want to play around with how you pack your contents to find the correct balance. As a tip I recommend you leave your sleeping bag out when packing. Put all the contents in and then add the sleeping bag filing in all the empty spaces – you will be amazed how a lightweight down bag will compress.

The external cord the wraps around the pack is designed to be pulled tight and compress the contents. This is adjusted on the rear of the pack just above the zip.

Simply hold the buckle and pull the cord. The cords pulls tight and compresses to make the pack smaller and tight – perfect! You can make this even tighter by pulling the cords on the side and then taking up the the slack by the top adjustment. This on days 3, 4, and 5 will be just incredible at making the pack smaller and smaller as contents are used up.
On the shoulder straps, the yellow cord is also present under the two shoulder zip pockets. Pull the cord here and take up the slack and you pull the top of the pack closer to your back.

 On the sides of the pack between the bottom rear and the front lower pockets there is a yellow cord on each side – again this allows you to pull the bottom of the pack as close to your back as you require.

In a nutshell, this level of adjustment is just perfect and is the best of all packs I have tried.

 The front of the pack is classic Salomon vest design but with some differences. Fitting to the torso comes via 3 straps. Two go right to left and one goes left to right. These attach via a black plastic hooks to a yellow cord.

They can be moved up or down and they can also be made tighter or looser. In particular, this will be useful for lady runners who need to adjust the pack to fit around their chest. It’s a method that works and the on-the-go adjustment is welcome.

There are two stretch pockets that are designed for soft-flasks. This for me caused concern as I was under the impression that they would only hold 500ml. Not so! These pockets will take the Hydrapak SF750 soft-flasks and you can drink from these without the need to remove them.

Prefer straws? The Hydrapak 600ml bottles with straws will fit.

Prefer hard bottles? This is where I needed to think outside the box… OMM make very slim 500ml bottles and they fit like a glove.

Have no fears, you can carry enough water up at the front. Also, lets not forget the two external pockets. In my tests, I had 2x 500ml OMM flasks on the rear too. So, at a minimum you could carry 1litre or 2litres with 2 bottles on the rear. At a max you could carry 3litres with 1.5 up front and 1.5 at the rear.

UPDATE on the bottle situation. I finally obtained 2x 750ml Raidlight bottles with straws and they fit like a glove to the front pockets!

The two pockets that sit below the bottles are a real welcome addition. They are easy to get at. They have great capacity, trust me, you need no more additional space up front, especially when one considers the two additional sip pockets on the shoulder straps. These pockets are less spacious but they will take a phone, snacks or other essentials.


There is an attachment system for poles that comes over the right shoulder. I personally though would probably attach to bungee cords to the front of the pack so that I can place the poles across my chest when not in use.

Fit is sweet and with all the adjusters you can really get this pack close to your torso. It fits like a piece of clothing and there are no rough edges – all the seams are soft. Salomon actually say that the pack may be worn against the skin and it will feel like apparel.

At 484g it’s light.


This pack is still under test and things such as longevity, strength, weaknesses, durability and so on have not been tested as it’s too early to say.

However, what I can say is that this is the best pack I have tested for running when the contents are heavy and I require 20L capacity.

I have long been a fan of the Ultimate Direction Fastpack as I loved its simplicity and no nonsense approach to the task of carrying many items and weight. The Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 has now become my new favourite.

It’s not without flaws – what pack is? The yellow cord compression works like a dream but it can be a little tricky to set up – it’s a small price to pay though.

The front bottle pockets almost certainly require soft-flask use or using the OMM 500ml bottles. I personally would always caution against soft-flasks for a multi-day, if they puncture, you are screwed. However, the Hydrapak soft-flasks are more durable than much of the competition and they have never let me down. The 600 or 750 versions work with the vest – perfect.

We will follow up with some action shots of the pack and an overall summary from a male and female perspective in the coming weeks, for now, this pack gets an ‘A’ for awesome.

Photo below is copyright Ricky Gates – he’s currently using a prototype Peak 20 with front pack. Interesting!

You can read Ricky’s specs and the contents of the pack on his Facebook page #transamerica 

In use at Everest Trail Race, November 2016

Some comments:

Paul Wilson Used one on the spine race. It was ace. Did most of my training with an ultimate direction fast pack then seen got the Salomon pack. Which proved to be far better.

Jana Studzinska Tested on fully self supported solo running trip across Serra de Tramuntana. Can’t recommend more.

Sito Castello perfecta para la Everest Trail Race.

Robert Kampczyk Cool bag. Like it because my complete Photo Equipment can insert.

What Salomon say:

Ideal for alpine running, superlight mountaineering or fast hiking, the streamlined S-LAB Peak 20 set uses our trail running knowledge to move fast in the mountain, with stretch fit and complete stability. With convenient access to the 20L compartment, both the pack and the load are easily compressed for maximum stability under partial load. It includes front storage solutions for two 500ml soft flasks and essentials and possibility to carry poles, ice axes…

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable fit
  • Breathability

Back systems
MotionFit Trail
Sensifit (pack)

Load Management
Soft Twin Link
Compression quick lace
Top and bottom sensi load lifter

Pockets & compartments
2 front soft hydration elastic pockets
2 front zipped large pockets
2 shoulder expandable pockets
2 top zipped mesh pocket

Carrying system
4D Pole holder

Opening & closure
Wide front opening with double sliders

Soft trims
Apparel sizing
Patent pending

PVC free
Elastic Power mesh
Fast wicking fabrics
70D Nylon Double Ripstop, Waterproof 500mm
70D Nylon Triple Ripstop – Silicone coating, Waterproof 500mm
Elastic Jersey

Pack weight (lb oz) : 17.073
Pack weight (g) : 484
Pack volume (l) : 20
Pack volume (ci) : 1220

65 thoughts on “Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 Review #Peak20

  1. Pingback: Serra de Tramuntana. Don’t Stop. Go Far. – trainersoverheels

  2. Salomon do make fine packs. The only issue that keeps cropping up is how fast the zippers corrode over time, from my experience. I’ve read a review saying the same thing happens to the S-Lab Peak 20, which is unforgivable for a premium-priced pack. I hope you could review the recently-released Nathan Journey 25 pack. It looks promising.

  3. I really struggled to get best fit without instructions. I find the side cords slip when running so I have had to knot them. Otherwise I really like the pack – wish they’d provide better instructions though!

    • Interesting Fiona. I didn’t have a problem BUT I do understand what you are saying. The pack has a great deal of features that customers may not benefit from through poor fitting or not knowing how to get the best fit.

  4. I just got this pack/vest a while back. The biggest difference for me with the UD20 or 30 is the fit. This thing fits so well, I can put way more weight in it and not feel it. No sore spots. No movement. The front/below the bottle pockets, though you photograph them well – they can hold more than you realise. Then the top shoulder pockets stretch out like crazy. I have big pockets that I sewed on my UD30 and these can hold twice as much.

    Really fit wise and pocket wise this thing is the best there is.

    What I prefer from the UD is the wider bottle pockets with a cinch cord. With soft bottles it doesn’t matter, but it is easier to get your bottle in and out of the UD vest when you use hard bottles. As for size I have put in a variety of standard vending machine PET bottles and they all fit. Also the fatter 600ml ones.

    I agree with the zipper worrying me. But, no issues so far. And I don’t think it will be as problematic as other zippers because hardly any sweat will get to it. Still, a beefier zipper would have been good I think. For poles I also added little elastic cord on the front – works like a charm.

    Great photos/review.

      • In case it was not clear, I put the cords on the same vertical area as where the front elastic clasp straps are. Just below or above where I have the original straps, I added some elastic cords and cinch the poles in there. Very easy to see and take out or put back. Even when tired or with cold hands.

  5. Hi Ian, thanks for a thorough and detailed review. I’ve been eyeing this pack but the Salomon site has got me puzzled as it positions the Agile 20 AW as the 20 ltr trail running pack, and the pack you tested as for hiking / backpacking. Any opinion on this? Keep up the good work, regards, Tony

  6. You mentioned in the beginning of this review that the pack will take a bladder, but never addressed how the bladder is held in the pack or showed it in a photo. I had the S Lab Peak 20 2016 version and was not satisfied since it did not have a bladder compartment, so I sold it and went back to my Faspack 20.

    How does the pack hold a bladder? Photos please!

  7. Got one to try but only 2 weeks to MDS. Risky? I’m using an old 2nd hand R’light Desert 20 w’out the front pack. Hadn’t had it full with the actual MDS contents but it has fitted well over all the practice, but can rub my hips if I fiddle with the adjustment from what fits me!
    Any thoughts on how to attach a z sleep mat?
    Cheers, Mark

  8. Did I get a weird pack, or is this a newer version? I love mine, but there’s no way you’re fitting anything bigger than a 500ml soft flask in the front pockets….and even those are a snug and inconvenient fit.

    • The side pockets are not super stretchy. They’re convenient because you can get to them from the outside and keep the contents separated from the main compartment. But, the volume would quickly eat into the that main compartment. In other words, if you have the main compartment crammed absolutely completely full to even the bottom corners, you probably won’t be able to fit the 750ml bottles in. Otherwise, yes it will fit. The outside pockets do have their own volume and expand of course. Just not as stretchy as say the other bottle pockets. Hope that makes sense.

  9. Unfortunately this pack has just not worked well for me. One of the zippers on the front lower pockets has already broke. I find the top two shoulder pockets to not be very useful as the contents are squeezed into my shoulders when wearing the pack making it uncomfortable. The exclusion of an ice axe loop is puzzling as well.

    I will say it swallows a lot of gear and is comfortable when loaded up.

  10. This pack looks really great, but like all Salomon products it costs quite at bit. Has anyone had experience running with the much more expensive Mountain Hardwear Summitrocket 20 Vestpack? It does not hav as many features as the Salomon pack, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

      • I decided to get the Salomon. Feel very happy with it so far. The deal breaker was the lack of of capacity on the front and on the side compared to the Salomon. The only thing i have not tried yet is to put poles on it. Will most likely put them in one of the side pockets. Don’t think the bespoke elastic strap will work for the compact poles I will get.

  11. I prefer to use the 1.5L bladder when running/hiking.
    Salomon states that it will take the 1.5L bladder but how and where does the bladder fit into the pack?
    Currently, I use the S-Labs 12Set and the bladder slides I to a pouch that goes between the mesh and main compartment.
    I don’t want to change what I know best in terms of how much water I have available, even if it does risk weighing me down a bit, so I really need to figure out if the Peak 20 will take the 1.5L bladder.
    Thank you and I look forward to your response.

    • I contacted the Swedish Salomon tech support and they do not say it supports a bladder, but rather soft flasks. There is no hanger similar to other Salomon bags. I tried the size tag, but that is too weak to support a bladder. On my five day “run” of the GR20 in Corsica I used soft flasks in the front pockets and additional flasks inside the bag, not as convenient, but a fully workable solution.
      I really love the bag, very happy with it.

  12. Hi,
    Looking for a running pack between 15 and 20 l and I’ve looked at both the Osprey Duro 15 and the Salomon S-lab Peak 20 – how do you see the differences between those two and which do you prefer?

    Thanks a lot.

      • Thanks for the swift reply! Yes, and I’ve read both reviews with great interest but I’ve found it difficult to compare the two packs based on the reviews(except for capacity as you mention:).

        I’ll be using it running to/from work which is ~10 km each way – so I’m mainly interested in your opinion on the following questions:
        1) Which pack do you believe has the better compression system when the pack is not 100% full?
        2) When fully loaded which pack did you find bounced the least?

        Once again thanks.

  13. I have the 2016-model. Nice fit but 2 zippers (including the one for the main room) destroyed after only 10 days of use. I think Salomon will replace the pack – but still this could be critical. Also the pack is not water-repellant at all (don´t think Salomon claim it to be either) so you really need a dry-bag inside. With a few improvements this pack could be great.

    • So there seems to be a demonstrable difference between the 2016 and 2017 versions of this … maybe thats why those above seem to have different abilities to hold bottles?

      Any idea if the ‘Union Blue’ version is the 2016, while the pale blue or black ones are 2017?

      Have any experience with the SKIN PRO 15 SET … besides a bit of volume, which would you recommend? (assuming that the volume of the 15 was necessary, this would be for epic long trail runs)

      • I’ve left some comments below about my Skin Pro 15. It’d be my least favorite of all the Salomon packs I’ve tried.
        In terms of volume, unless I need to carry a fleece for certain events, I can fit everything fairly comfortably into my Adv Skin 12.

      • I’ve left a few comments on the 15 below. It would be my least favorite of the Salomon packs I’ve used. And really only needed the extra capacity over the Adv Skin 12 when I’m required to carry a fleece jacket.

        The front/side pockets on the 15 aren’t great – big, but just not terribly functional for access on the move. The bladder is also a pain to get in & out, or connecting the hose.

        The Skin Pro’s don’t seem to have the same thought/R&D that the S-Lab stuff gets

  14. Congrats for your review!!!
    Im looking for a big backpack to use in dolomites for Altavia, i just read an old review of yours about the inov8 race 24, nowadays it’s much cheaper, would you raccomand it instead of peak?

  15. Great review.
    How far down can this pack compress without a full load?
    I’ve currently got the Salomon Skin Pro 15 & found it carried the load uncomfortably for a recent event with a long mandatory gear list, and made getting things out mid race a pain. I’ve also found with it, that when it’s not fully loaded, anything in the back moves around when running due to the lack of any compression to hold things in place.

  16. Great review!
    How much can the pack compress down & hold everything in place when not fully loaded up? I recently used a Skin Pro 15 for an event with a large mandatory gear list, but found it not comfortable fully loaded up & was also difficult to dig items out & repack on the trail. Also, with the 15, when not fully loaded everything seems to slosh around inside (probably due to the lack of any compression for the main compartment)

    The front pocket arrangement on the Peak looks like it might be a bit more user friendly too.

  17. Could someone please tell me what the differences are between the Hydrapak and the Raidlight flasks. Have just bought an Salomon S-Lab Peak Set pack. I have already the Salomon soft flasks but probably would prefer a flask with straw. Thank you for your help. Petsch

  18. Have used this vest on mountain marathons and ultras and find it superb. No problem clinching it down if not filled to capacity. If needed I use two 650ml soft flasks with straws. I use Mountain King carbon skyrunner poles which will slide easily into one of the soft flask pockets. I have the S/M size but need it adjusted to it’s very tightest but when this is done it hugs with no movement at all. Love that it sits high so no rubbing to the base of my back. The adjustment straps at base left and right to tend to work lose and need re-tightening. I will look to fix them in the tight position next time I use. Thanks Ian. I bought this pack on the basis of your very thorough review

  19. Very helpful and thourough review!
    I have a few questions and concerns.

    I bought this pack recently and have used it for a few 3-5 mike runs to figure out how to get the pack adjusted properly and packing my gear properly. I’m having trouble with the bag bouncing quite a bit more than I expected. I’ve only been lacking about 12 pounds because the trips I’m planning with it will require food and water which add weight.
    I’ve also had trouble keeping the straps tight down to my shoulders. After I run for about 50 feet the pack pulls those straps loose, I’m trying to describe the pull straps below the pockets at the top of the chest and on top of the shoulders. I think I’m locking the fasteners in place but still no luck with keeping them from loosening after I begin running.
    I’m also concerned with the mess back and how it has 6 or 8 small stitched sections that connect the pack to the vest. That honestly bothers me because it makes me question the longevity of the pack. Did that bother you? And how has the bag seemed to hold up in those points of contact?

    Thank you,


    • I have not had any issues either. A good friend of mine ran the Swedish mountain range at a record pace two years back with this pack, did not have any issues either. Salomon in Sweden are really good to deal with when it comes to replacing faulty products. Check with them.

  20. Hi, bought the 2017/2018 model in size M. The R-Go 800ml Hardbottles ( are fitting perfect. I also tried the bottles with size S, and the frontbottleholders were to small. Think the R-Gos 800 will work with sizes larger then M too. No option here to upload a photo. Really cool review. And yes, a manual would be fine. A lot of features and fitting options, and you have to find out everything by yourself.

    BR from Austria


  21. Hi Ian,
    I have purchased this pack for the Swiss Peaks 360km race. I agree with most of your comments. I also have purchased the the 750ml Raidlight bottles with straws which fit perfectly! Incidentally, these Raidlight bottles are brilliant. Probably the best drinking system I ever had. Quality too is A1.
    Back to the pack. I have used it only in training so far up to 50km. Once wearing it and adjusted, one tends to forget it is on your back even with 3l of fluid and the pack fully loaded. The front pockets are brilliant, are easy acessible and hold lot’s of bits and pieces.
    However, my concern is the quality, in particul;ar the stitching. I’ver already had the stitching come undone on the lower frontzipped pocket and in the process nearly lost the car keys, only by luck I noticed that they fallen out. The stitching on the padding mat at the back is also coming undone. On closer inspection all of the stitching does not appear very solid. I am now so concerned about this that I am thinking if I should use another pack for the Swisspeaks in September!
    The other issue are the 3 front straps. The hooks are not deep enough and especially the top one tends to jump out. They also can be fiddly to hook in, especially with cold hands.
    Sporting regards


      • I can confirm it is the same pack. I have both.
        Peak 20 quite worn out and using for training and new Out Peak 20 for when I do longer Alpine adventures.
        There are some small changes, mostly for the better:
        – It is bladder compatible as well.
        – The side waist compression is nicer / more cleaned up.
        – As is the bottom of the pack. The pad system is more securely set, but you can still take it out if you want.
        – The side pockets are stretchy mesh, which is more flexible and so easier to put bottles or whatever in there.
        – The vest main torso strap system is much better. It is still a bit of a thing to attach the hooks to the loops, but they only rarely come undone. With the old version they came undone all the time.
        – Bag compression system is different. Peak 20 it was one, long cord that you pulled to compress the whole bag. Now there are separate cord for side compression and top compression. More control, but the older version was simpler. I set and forget so not happy/unhappy either way.
        – zippered front pockets under the bottle pockets had a couple of gels less space, and the pockets are a bit less stretchy. No big change, probably only noticeable if you have both packs next to each other.
        – I prefer the new pack with the small changes.
        I think that’s about it?

      • Wow I really never expected such a good and exhaustive answer! Thank you for your time! I’ll buy the out peak 20. Want to fast pack first the Travessa Tramuntana Gr221, near my hone on Mallorca, and in November I want to do the Lycian way in turkey in 15 days or less. I won’t be running the whole way, but I like to run down descents and not have my backpack bounce all over the place.
        My go to pack for that for many years has been the Aarn Marathon Magic 33, but I feel that those guys just don’t want to continue to improve on their ideas. An aarn pack with the materials and lightweight construction found in Salomon, would be such a great pack…. The other contender is the Raidlight responsiv 25. I’ll maybe order the two and compare them quickly here if someone else is interested.

  22. Thanks for the detailed review, Ian. I was looking for a good solid replacement for a Raidlight Olmo for PTL and it didn’t let me down. It’s comfortable, practical, spacious, doesn’t bounce and it seems quite well built. During testing, I found two things I did not like. The three fastening hooks on the front came undone all the time, so I replaced them with three small plastic buckles. Also, I have never been a fan of the 4D pole fastening system. Instead, I fixed two elastic 3mm cord straps on either side of the bottle holders. Both changes worked like a charm. I might add some more straps to the side of the pack for various gear like a helmet, and maybe a small net to stuff used wet gear into.

    After a week non-stop usage in rough conditions it was still fine, although a bit dirty.

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