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Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set Review

Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $175 List | $174.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, great fit, tons of easily reachable pockets, very versatile
Cons:  Expensive, must buy hydration bladder separately
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Salomon
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Thursday

Our Verdict

To put it simply, the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set is the best hydration pack for running of all products we reviewed. This one tops all the dozens of other models our lead tester and author has used before. We love this pack and are totally confident that you will too! The Sensifit mesh construction provides the best fit of any pack we tested and is easily the most comfortable - the most important quality to a good pack. We love the soft flask hydration system as well as the incredible amount of easily reachable pockets. Since it is the highest rated product in our review, and by far our favorite hydration pack to wear while out on a run, we are happy to give it our Editors' Choice Award.

New Version - April 2017
The ADV Skin 12 Set is the latest product evolution in this line of hydration packs from Salomon. The new version is no longer a product from S/LAB, weighs less, has a few new features, and costs $10 less! Find the full summary of details below.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Running Hydration Packs of 2017

Our Analysis and Test Results

New Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set vs. the Older Version


Salomon newly released the ADV Skin 12 Set. This latest rendition is no longer a product of the S/LAB division at Salomon. It has a few design changes, including two additional pockets. This new model also shed some weight, tipping Salomon's scales at 395 grams (13.93 ounces). A lower price accompanies the redesign and it now costs $175 ($10 cheaper than the previous version). It still comes with two soft flasks (which shrink as you drink) and an emergency blanket. The ADV Skin 12 Set is available in red, black, and blue.

Check out the side-by-side comparison below of the last models in this line of hydration packs from Salomon. The latest ADV Skin 12 Set is pictured on the left, the S-LAB Skin 12Set is in the middle, and the original S-LAB Skin3 12Set model shown on the right.
Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set
S-LAB ADV SKIN 12SET


Here's a summary of the key differences between the (new) ADV Skin 12 Set and the previous version:
  • Name Change — Salomon dropped the "S-LAB" from the name, as this division of Salomon no longer makes this product line.
  • More Pockets — Two pockets were added to the outside of the flask pockets for more storage possibilities.
  • Lower Weight — Salomon claims their latest model weighs 395 grams (13.93 ounces), which would be their lightest version of this great product yet.
  • Price Drop — This product is $10 cheaper than its predecessor, costing $175.
  • Color Change — This model is available in red, black, and a purplish blue.

As we have yet to test out this latest development on our backs, the following analysis reflects the original SKIN3 version we tested for a full three months.

Hands-On Review


This was the top scorer in four of our six metrics: Comfort, Features, Hydration System, and Pockets. It uses stretchy mesh paneling to conform to your body without necessary adjustments, making it the least bouncy and most comfortable pack in the review. We loved that it included pole holders, a thermal shielded sleeve for the optional bladder to slide into, and an emergency blanket, all things that make it a great choice for ultra distance races.

The dual soft flask hydration system was comfortable and very practical, converting us by the end of the test period to be our favorite hydration system. And we can't say enough about the pockets, especially the kangaroo pocket. Located on the back of the pack, this giant, stretchy pocket is easily accessible from both sides and provides quick stuff space for clothes, snacks, and other gear. Overall this was by far the most well thought out pack in the review, and it comes highly recommended from our team of testers.

Performance Comparison



Comfort


Instead of using side tightening straps, this pack has stretchy form-fitting breathable mesh. This ingenious design creates a better fit and offers more comfort than any of the other hydration packs we tested. Additionally, the soft flask hydration system made our testers feel well balanced, and the soft flasks themselves created no pressure points, like with the hard bottles of the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0.


Features & Design


The Salomon had amongst the most versatile feature sets of any of the packs we reviewed. Key features included a heat shielded bladder sleeve (although you must buy a bladder separately), the option for either top or bottom threaded bladder hose, a whistle, an included emergency blanket, pole holsters, a headlamp battery pouch, and breathable mesh construction everywhere. We love all these things, however, we have to admit that even after watching multiple videos online, we still can't figure out how the pole holsters work. We just stuff the bottoms into the kangaroo pouches.


Hydration System


The included hydration system is dual chest mounted soft flasks. We liked this because the flasks are pliable and conform to the body, meaning no pressure points. They also balance the weight out nicely while the pack is loaded with gear, and with two of them we can have different drinks. The drinking system is interesting. The tops of the flasks have bite valves, and it is possible to just crane your neck down, bite the valve, and suck liquid straight from the flask without needing to pull them out of their pouches. This is good because getting the flasks in and out of the pouches can be awkward. For a male this both looks and feels weird, and many jokes were cracked in the company of others, but hey, it's easy and works well. The flasks have a 500mL capacity for each (total capacity for two is only 1 liter). We didn't like that they had the lowest liquid storage capacity of any pack we tested by about half, and that the mouths of the flasks are very small, making it hard to add drink mix.


Storage Capacity


To store extra clothing and gear there is one main back pouch that is zippered, and another pouch open at the top that sits against the back. This pouch is meant to hold the bladder if you are using one, but we mostly used it for a spare jacket. We aren't exactly sure what combo of storage measurement Salomon used to come up with 12L of storage space, and we found it harder to store bigger clothing items in this pack than others. [Nathan Vapor Air 2L | We wish it had bungees like the Nathan Vapor Air]].

Pockets


This was easily the winner when it came to awesome pockets. We especially loved the kangaroo pouch, which is essentially one giant elastic pocket that resides on the back but stretches to the sides and can be stuffed with just about anything from either side. So versatile and handy! Besides that, the pack has two elastic soft flask pouches, 2 gel pockets on front, 2 front accessory pockets, 2 side food pockets, 2 medium side zipper pockets. Overall, it has a ton of usable options!

Weight


With all of the included accessories and flasks this pack weighed 13.9 ounces out of the box. It feels really light on the back - in part due to its excellent comfort and fit.

Best Applications


Any running application would be great, however, this pack is specifically designed for long and tough mountain ultras in Europe where they make you carry all sorts of required gear and clothing. Its versatility is amazing and we can't think of a long run where it wouldn't be appropriate.

Value


At $175, and not including a bladder, this is one expensive product. However, in this case, you get what you pay for. Although our Editors' Choice winner is expensive, we think you'll love it so much that you'll be happy you spent the money.

Conclusion


If you are in the market for a hydration pack for running, we can't possibly recommend one more than the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set. We can go so far as to say that in a couple years of product testing of all sorts, we think this in one of the most innovative and refined pieces of gear we have tested - of any sort! Pick one up and you won't be disappointed.


Other Versions & Accessories


Soft Reservoir 1.5L
Salomon Soft Reservoir 1.5L
  • Optional bladder and hose that fits the pack
  • 1.5 L capacity
  • $40

Soft Flask
Salomon Soft Flask
  • Replacement or additional soft flask
  • 500 mL capacity
  • $16

Andy Wellman
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