Salomon S-Lab 5ltr pack
The Salomon Skin S-Lab 5 Pack is without doubt ‘the best’ pack I have ever used. Simple as that!
It may not be the lightest but it is without doubt the most comfortable.
As the name implies with ‘skin’ on the title, this pack sits on your body like an extension of your body. At worst, like an item of clothing.
To make the wearing experience better it even comes in two sizes so that you can ensure the best fit. So, what is great about it?
You put it on and it sits on your body, instantly comfortable. It hugs the body, has no annoying waist straps and is adjusted at the front via two elasticated straps that can be moved up or down to ensure the best fit. Particularly useful for ladies… do I need to explain?
At 5 litres you will initially think, well, I can’t fit much in that. Think again… everything in the picture below fit into this pack.
It comes with a 1.5 bladder that sits in its own sleeve to help keep liquid cool. The bladder is inserted into the pack via a permanently open pocket that sits next to the skin. The bladder feed pipe runs from the bottom of the pack and attaches to the external shoulder strap and runs UP to the top of the pack. Very unusual as most pipes run up inside the pack and then come over the shoulder to provide acces to your mouth
On the front of the pack on the shoulder straps are two draw string pockets that can take bottles. These pockets are maybe a touch small for ‘conventional’ bottles but they take the new salomon ‘soft flasks’ perfectly.
On the left hand shoulder strap is a zip pocket that attaches with Velcro. This allows you to remove it in an instant giving immediate access to a phone, money or any other essentials.
On the right hand side is a small expandable mesh pocket that may take salt tabs, lip balm, keys or maybe even some loose money.
On the rear of the pack is one main zipped pocket that is accessed from the top. It is possible to insert gloves, buff, first aid, head torch and any other essentials in this pocket with some room to spare.
Salomon have cleverly created an open loop between this pocket and the pack allowing you to roll up and store a waterproof jacket on the outside of the pack
Between the top of the pack and in-front of the bladder is a small internal pocket that comes with a space blanket – nice touch!
On the left and right side are two small zipper pockets that will take gels or small energy bars.
Final features include a whistle and elastic cords to allow you to store ‘poles’ on the outside of the pack.
Fill the pack up, fill the bladder, put the pack on, adjust the front straps and off you go… this baby does not move in use. It sits perfectly on your back. No movement, no rubbing it is just perfect.
Feeding is easy either through the bladder or via the front chest pockets with bottles. Importantly, these front chest pockets do not need to hold ‘just’ bottles. I often use them to hold a camera, GPS, food or a combination of all those things.
The zip pockets on either side of the back of the pack are easy to access and they can easily hold 2-3 gels each.
The removable pocket on the chest strap is great for easy access to a phone or other immediate essentials. It really is just about perfect.
Attaching poles via the elasticated system takes a little getting used to but when you have the technique sorted it is something that could be done quickly and efficiently.
Stopping at a feed station and re-filling the bladder is super quick and super easy. You have immediate access to the bladder as it sits in an open pocket. Just slide the bar off, poor the liquid in and re-seal. Off you go!
Pros & Cons
- Fits like a glove
- Very spacious for a 5ltr pack and ideal for one day races
- Comes with a 1.5ltr bladder that is easy to use and re-fill while on the go
- Removable chest pocket
- Two external pockets on the shoulder straps that can hold bottles or other essentials
- Two small zipper pockets for gels/food
- External zip pocket for essential
- External ‘Loop’ to slide in a waterproof jacket
- Internal hidden pocket with space blanket
- Elastic straps for securing poles
- No waist straps
- Not the cheapest pack on the market. But you get what you pay for
- It is also a little heavier than some of the competition. The additional weight is worth it for the fit and features
- My biggest issue with the pack is that it can be hot! It sits so close to the body that in hot temperature heat doesn’t really escape from your body. Having said that, it is a price I am willing to pay. Lets face it, any back pack will retain some heat.
The best pack I have ever used. I now only use two other packs as an alternative to this…
For faster or shorter races when carrying ‘more’ kit is not required I use the UltrAspire Spry. If I am doing longer races that require additional mandatory kit, I use the new addition to the Salomon Skin S-Lab range – the 12 ltr pack. This has all the features of the 5ltr but with more capacity. It was introduced into the range when the UTMB increased the need for additional clothing requirements. (Review to follow).