Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set Review
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Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set
|Price||$111.96 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||All-day storage, great closure system, extremely comfortable even when loaded||Durable construction, comfortable fit, versatile features||Amazing pockets in arm's reach, carries a lot of gear||Easy to access storage, lots of pockets including useful zippers, great fit and adjustability||Ample storage, simple and successful design, approachable price|
|Cons||Numerous pockets can make organization hard, less durable than others, expensive||Runs slightly large||Some stiff materials on the chest, pole carry is hard to execute while moving||Included bottles create a pressure point against the ribs, coarse mesh against the neck||Lower quality bladder, minor pain points over longer distances|
|Bottom Line||For all-day running or fastpacking overnighters, this pack blends carrying capacity and comfort better than any other||Durable materials and ample storage combine with a comfortable and secure fit to make this pack ready for the mountains||A comfortable and capable choice for big mileage when gear accessibility is mission-critical||Designed by and for the fastest trail runners in the world, this vest has the fit and features to race fast||An entry-level hydration pack for trail running with ample storage at a great price|
|Rating Categories||Salomon ADV Skin 12...||Ultimate Direction...||Nathan Pinnacle 12L||Salomon Sense Pro 5||REI Co-op Swiftland 5|
|Hydration System (15%)|
|Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)|
|Specs||Salomon ADV Skin 12...||Ultimate Direction...||Nathan Pinnacle 12L||Salomon Sense Pro 5||REI Co-op Swiftland 5|
|Weight (with included hydration vessels)||11.6 oz||11.7 oz||13.6 oz||8.1 oz||13.9 oz|
|Included Liquid Capacity||1L||1L||1.6L||1L||1.5L|
|OGL Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better!)||0.90||0.88||0.88||0.62||0.36|
|External Storage?||Yes, kangaroo pockets||Yes, bungees||Yes, kangaroo pockets||Yes, kangoo pockets||Yes, bungees|
|Type of Water Storage||Two 500 mL soft flasks (included), plus reservoir sleeve (reservoir not included)||Two 500mL soft flasks||1.6L hourglass reservoir||Two 500mL soft flasks||1.5L resevoir|
Our Analysis and Test Results
As races get harder and harder to enter, you may consider doing more self-supported events and outings. While this will mean less red tape regarding entry, you will ultimately be tasked to provide your own sources of resupply. The Salomon ADV Skin 12 can carry more than a day's worth of supplies allowing you to tackle big objectives without needing aid. Once again, this model receives our accolades for long-distance-related activities. Running with this pack is excellent and is what we've come to expect from the Skin series.
Our team loves the ADV Skin series, and while we all have our opinions, this one has remained constant. We have not found a hydration vest that surpasses the comfort of these Salomon models. This new ADV Skin 12 got subtle graphic and colorway updates, but the overall design has remained the same. The thin stretch material provides structure without bulkiness. Whereas other companies use thicker materials, Salomon implements a system that is more about surface area coverage than singular points of attachment. By putting the tensioning system in the middle, the top and bottom of the vest are tensioned evenly. Other packs we tested put the tensioning device down towards your stomach, which provides less even tightening.
This system also allows for repeatable tensioning. Other vests require continual adjustments, which is especially annoying if the bag's contents don't change. The footprint of the ADV Skin 12 feels just right, too — it doesn't feel like a backpack but also doesn't feel skimpy. We like the extended sides which wrap the sides of the lower torso. This cut allows integration with a hip belt for even easier access to poles and other items.
Salomon's hydration flasks are also our favorite, with the long slim design being the easiest to slip in and out of the pockets. These flasks are ever so slightly rotated to allow them to conform to the body's natural shape. The rear exterior and interior pocket fabric is lined with what appears to be Silnylon, which provides a waterproof layer between you and your gear if you stuff wet items into the pack.
Included with the ADV Skin 12 are two 500ml soft flasks, a hydration sleeve, and a whistle. Multiple pole-carrying options and attachment points are provided as well. Our team has different opinions on how we like to store our poles, but there is an option here for anyone. For more long-term storage, our lead tester prefers rear pole carry, which is integrated with the compression straps. For more active pole-wielding and stowing, he prefers a hip belt, which is easily accessible and comfortable. Some of our other testers prefer chest carry.
Two front zippered pockets are spacious and secure. Bottle cap ties help keep the flask snug against the chest and are easy to use and made explicitly for the Salomon flasks. The hydration port and sleeve can fit the provided insulated sleeve or additional gear. Reflective lettering and decals are found throughout, offering visibility in low-light conditions. Rear compression straps help manage bulk and provide a better center of gravity. Dense padding is found on the interior vest behind the bottle cap reducing chafing or discomfort. This set of features adds to the overall comfort and usability without including anything that is gimmicky, or that doesn't actually work. We continue to be impressed with the refinement of this system that has everything you need and nothing you don't.
In our experience, Salomon has the best flasks; their slim design allows them to slide out more easily than the competition. While there are two dedicated pockets for flasks, there are plenty of other ways to store hydration if needed. An included hydration sleeve can fit a bladder and hose, and several other pockets can also accept other hydration vessels. We personally try and carry as little water as possible and filter when needed. This system works best with flasks, so we don't often use a hydration bladder. However, if you do not plan on refilling any water throughout your day, it may make sense to use a bladder. Also gaining in popularity are water bladders without a hose — some of these accept various filters and can make filling up easy. Using flasks seems the least fussy and most accessible, so it's our method of choice.
In the external pocket or hydration sleeve, we think using a 2-liter bladder is reasonable — anything more, and things get heavy. You'll want to make sure the dimensions are right, and we'd suggest purchasing one similar to the one intended by Salomon, which can be found on their website. The soft flasks are positioned so that there is minimal interference with items in the above pockets; this is something that other vests do with less success. Often when fully removing a flask, items shift and prevent the flask from re-entering the space. However, due to the offset design and increased lateral space, Salomon has made it easier to avoid clogging up the flask entry point. This provides smooth entry even when the pockets are fully loaded.
Volume to Weight Ratio
Thanks to the spacious-yet-light design, the ADV Skin 12 receives high marks in this category and is one of our favorite packs for full days in the mountains or fastpacking overnighters. We tested this pack out with various loads, but we know you are most interested in what it can actually fit…
We see this pack's niche as a blend between running and ultralight fastpacking. The goal with the 12 liters of the ADV Skin 12 is movement. We could easily fit two synthetic puffy layers on top and bottom in the rear of the pack. The stretch zippered pocket holds these items particularly well, given the stretch compression in the fabric. We also fit full rain shells and a bivy sack, allowing for a warm, dry option if the weather turns south. The rest of the space easily fits gloves, a hat, a med kit, a headlamp, and a satellite tracking device. Once you add your soft flasks, filter, and food, we'd suspect we could get 48 hours of usage without resupply. This will be at the upper end of the limit, but we also didn't find this seam splittingly full. Trekking poles are also easily attached to the rear of the pack.
Obviously, your ideal kit may be bulkier or slimmer than ours, but we would feel confident taking the ADV Skin 12 in the mountains overnight in the summer. Keep in mind that your setup will be minimal, and you should test out your arrangements before setting off. As temperatures begin to drop, these 12 liters become more and more prohibitive. If you need to carry more gear, we'd recommend a larger pack for both more size and easier organization.
Besides the main rear zippered pocket and back compartment, everything is easy to access. Our favorite is the pass-through design which easily allows things like wind shells to be stuffed at your back. This spot has long been a favorite of ours for its ease of use while running, allowing either hand to access from either side. Salomon implements this on their other packs, and we are glad it's been kept on this update. The main rear compartment is lined with Silnylon and should offer some weather protection (though it's not waterproof) even if the rest of the vest is wet.
The front J-shaped pockets have two layers, with the back layer being a pass-through to the rear back pocket. The top is a stretchy zippered pocket that is great for a phone but can also hold plenty of other supplies. This is above the pass-through pocket. Salomon's pocket layering keeps the vest snug and compressed, preventing shifting or movement while running. It may take a few times to get used to the layered design, but once everything has its place, we know you'll love it. Our only complaint is that the uppermost rear storage spot feels a bit vulnerable for things to fall out. Salomon has clearly tried to minimize this by making the spot rounded, but care should be taken, especially when trying to remove items without taking the vest off.
The layout and usability of the pockets set this vest apart. We never felt like we had to do some shoulder or wrist contortion to fish a bar out, something that can't be said of every vest we've tested. Often it feels as if the runner is expected to conform to the vest instead of the vest conforming to the runner. The pocket layout of the ADV Skin 12 is an excellent example of the latter. Salomon nailed it.
Should You Buy the Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set?
If most of your time will be spent running, we recommend this pack. Its comfort and feature set is one of our favorites, and you can't go wrong with the volume-to-weight ratio. If you plan on doing more hiking or accessing the rear frequently, you may find other options better. This pack is lightweight, and it will surely be less durable than some of the other models we tested. For hiking or more mellow adventures, the ADV Skin 12 could potentially be overkill.
What Other Running Hydration Packs Should You Consider?
For those interested in overnight adventures, we'd recommend the slightly larger Black Diamond Distance 15. This pack has great comfort and accessible front bottles for usability while running. The main rear storage compartment provides easy organization and stuffing potential. The pole carry is also our favorite, allowing for easy retrieval while running, and the outer layer is extremely durable, given that there isn't any stretch to the rear pocket.
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