Salomon ADV Skin 8 Set Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Excellent hydration system, great storage and pockets
Cons: Itchy material, tight fit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The ADV Skin 8 is a lightweight, feature-laden vest that's great for big days in the mountains. With plenty of unique storage solutions and a decent price, this is a smart alpine piece.
During weeks of testing, we realized one very important thing: it's impossible to tell how comfortable a vest will be at mile thirty if you only judge by its performance at mile one. The good news is, we've done the research for you! Of all the categories in this review, we found that this is the one in which, unfortunately, the Skin 8 fell behind.
For this metric, we first evaluated each pack's material comfort. The interior of the ADV is made with a burly mesh, which, while breathable, has one of our least favorite next-to-skin feels. The material is rough and requires wearing a shirt (with sleeves) to be fully comfortable.
The fit on this vest is designed to be "female-specific," but we found it to also run small. We had three women who ordinarily wear a size small try out this pack, and all found it to be too tight in the shoulders and back. The arm openings felt too small as well. Our testers then realized that this is the only women's product in this review that does not adjust laterally. The only adjustment point on this pack is in the front, and we think that being able to change the sizing on the sides would really help the fit. This wouldn't fix the small arm openings, though, so we'd recommend trying on this pack before committing.
All that being said, the elastic front closure allows for more breathing room in the front and increased adjustability. And while we don't like the way the mesh feels on bare skin, we do love the small amount of padding behind the mesh that provides some really nice cushion.
A lot goes into making a great running pack; it needs to carry all the gear you might need for a big day in the wilderness, without causing any discomfort. We'll get into the world of pockets a bit later, but for this metric, we judged each product by its inclusion of features like storage for bulky items, clips, trekking pole holders, and other unique details.
One of the first things we noticed about the ADV Skin 8 is all the bungee cords! There are four small bungee cords that are girth-hitched to small loops around the pack. These are easily moveable; Salomon claims that with this system, you can choose whichever trekking pole carrying system works best for you. These are fine when in use, but they did bother us when we weren't using them. Luckily, they're easy to take on and off.
While there's no bungee on the back for storing bulky items, there are two full-length stretchy pockets, great for jackets and layers. We also really like the reflective logos on the front and back, which increase visibility during night workouts. There is an attached whistle as well.
For this category, we judged each product on the included hydration system, while also taking note of its capability to accommodate other types of systems. Almost all the packs we reviewed can be used with either a bladder or front bottles, even if the bottles or bladder are not included in your initial purchase.
The ADV truly shines in this category. We absolutely love the soft bottle flasks and found them to be our new favorite way to hydrate on the go. This pack includes two 500-ml bottles. Each has a long, stiff straw that can easily be reached without having to remove the bottles from the front pockets. The bottles are easy to fill and incredibly simple to drink from, though getting them into and out of the pockets when full can be a challenge.
This pack also easily accommodates a bladder if that's more your style. With an insulated sleeve option, you'll even be able to keep your water cool as you run despite working up some heat.
Volume to Weight Ratio
In all things running, it's crucial that your gear doesn't slow you down. While the weight of a few ounces (or fractions of ounces) might not feel noticeable at first glance, these things can really add up after dozens of miles, so you want to be choosey. With eight liters of total storage capacity, the ADV Skin 8 falls right in the middle of the range of packs we tested for overall volume. It weighs in at 12 ounces, giving it a rather mediocre ratio, though we still loved using this product in the field.
This pack uses all its eight liters in super-efficient ways. There's plenty of room for bulky storage, a wide range of pocket sizes and shapes, and plenty of hydration options. The Skin 8 is a great choice for an adventure race, a long day in the field, or just your average workout when carrying water is essential.
Running packs are unique in their ability to include pockets in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and closures. We awarded high scores to vests that had the right type of pocket for everything we typically carry, from small snacks to phones and bulky layers.
The ADV has a lot of pockets. We'll start on the front, looking top-to-bottom. Both front sides of this vest have an open mesh pocket, a stretchy pocket for a water bottle, and a second, larger stretchy pocket. We love being able to put our phone right in the front, whether we're listening to tunes or talking to a friend. These pockets don't close, but they're plenty large enough o store a large smartphone without feeling worried that you'll lose it.
Both the right and left sides of this pack have a zippered pocket along the rib cage. This is a great place for energy gels and other small snacks that you'll want to access without removing the pack. The back of this vest has a mesh pocket for bladder storage, a small pocket with a key clip, a full-length plastic pocket, and a zippered stretch pocket in front. These are great places to store layers, bulky food, and other required equipment. We could even stuff our climbing shoes and chalk bag in the large rear pockets for a day of scrambling in the mountains.
This vest is average in a field of expensive products. The only reason we'd buy this model over others in this review is for the front bottle storage, but we'd be hesitant because of the next-to-skin feel and fit. This is a good one to try before you buy (or make sure there's a solid return policy before clicking that "buy" button).
At the end of the day, the Salomon ADV Skin 8 Set gets so many of the technical parts of a running pack right, but it somewhat misses the mark on comfort. We love the hydration system, storage, and pockets, but with a less-than-comfortable material and an awkward fit that doesn't adjust easily, we just didn't love this product. That being said, if you find a size that fits your body well, we'd have no problem recommending this affordable, durable product, especially if you tend to run with long sleeves.
— Lauren DeLaunay