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.
Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Comfortable, great fit, tons of easily reachable pockets, very versatile
Cons: Expensive, must buy hydration bladder separately
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 3.0.
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.
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.
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. We wish it had bungees like the Nathan Vapor Air.
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!
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.
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.
At $180, 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.
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.
— Andy Wellman