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 Advanced Skin 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 great 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 was the one in which the Salomon Advanced Skin fell behind.
For this metric, we first evaluated each pack's material comfort. The Advanced Skin's interior is made with a burly mesh which, while breathable, has one of our least favorite next-to-skin feels. The material is rough and we would definitely need to wear a shirt (with sleeves) with this product.
The fit is designed to be "female-specific," but we definitely found it to be pretty small. We had three women who ordinarily wear a size small to 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 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 definitely 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 didn't like the way the mesh felt on our skin, we did love the small amount of padding behind the mesh that provided a really comfortable fit.
A lot goes into making a great running pack; it needs to carry all the gear we might need for a big day in the wilderness, without causing us any discomfort. We'll get into the world of pockets a bit later, but in this category, 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 Advanced Skin 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 definitely bugged 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 liked the reflective logos on the front and back, which made us more visible during night workouts. There is an attached whistle as well.
For this category, we judged each product on the hydration system that was included, while also making 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, but for simplicity's sake, we'll spend the majority of our time describing the included hydration system.
The Advanced Skin 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 with the bottles in the front pockets. These bottles are easy to fill and relatively easy to get in and out of the pockets. It's incredibly simple to drink. The best news is that the straws don't poke you in the face!
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.
With eight liters of total storage capacity, the Advanced Skin falls right in the middle of the range of packs we tested, but it certainly feels like it's at the top.
This pack uses all its eight liters in super-efficient ways, and it feels like it has a similar amount of space as the twelve-liter VaporHowe. There's plenty of room for bulky storage, a wide range of pocket sizes and shapes, and plenty of hydration options. This pack would make 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 Advanced Skin 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 for us to store a large smartphone without feeling worried that we'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 loved being able to stuff our climbing shoes and chalk bag in the large rear pockets for a day of scrambling in the mountains.
In all things running, it's crucial that our gear doesn't slow us 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. We weighed each pack on our own scale in order to accurately assess their standings compared to others in their class.
At 12 ounces, the Advanced Skin is on the lighter side of all the packs we tested. We included each model's hydration system in this weight, so with that in mind, this pack's weight was just about average. Since all the vests in this review are within an ounce or two of each other, we'd recommend finding the pack with the right storage solutions for you before looking too closely at the weight.
This vest is average in a field of expensive products. The Editors' Choice Award-winning VaporHowe is significantly more, and our Best Buy Award winner, the Nathan TrailMix is significantly less, putting this Salomon product right in the middle. The only reason we'd buy this model over either of those is for the front bottle storage, but we'd be hesitant because of the next-to-skin feel and fit.
At the end of the day, the Salomon Advanced 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.
— Lauren DeLaunay