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Salomon Sense Pro 5 Review

Designed by and for the fastest trail runners in the world, this vest has the fit and features to race fast
Salomon Sense Pro 5
Credit: Salomon
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $160 List | $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Easy to access storage, lots of pockets including useful zippers, great fit and adjustability
Cons:  Included bottles create a pressure point against the ribs, coarse mesh against the neck
Manufacturer:   Salomon
By Jeff Colt ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 31, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Comfort - 30% 8.0
  • Features - 25% 8.0
  • Hydration System - 15% 7.0
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 8.0
  • Pockets - 15% 10.0

Our Verdict

The elastane stretch construction provides a near-perfect fit, and expansive pockets make the form-fitting Salomon Sense Pro 5 optimized for performance. Many vests are lacking in some ways that are not changeable, such as material choice, design, or zippered storage options. But the Sense Pro has most everything we want, with the included soft flasks being the only drawback. Fortunately, the bottles are swappable, and we stand by this vest being worth it for serious trail runners, even if it means upgrading to a different soft flask.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Salomon Sense Pro 5
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$139.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$159.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$100 List
$99.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Easy to access storage, lots of pockets including useful zippers, great fit and adjustabilityDurable construction, comfortable fit, versatile featuresAmazing pockets in arm's reach, carries a lot of gearComfortable, great fit, tons of easily reachable pockets, versatileAmple storage, simple and successful design, approachable price
Cons Included bottles create a pressure point against the ribs, coarse mesh against the neckRuns slightly largeSome stiff materials on the chest, pole carry is hard to execute while movingExpensive, must buy hydration bladder separatelyLower quality bladder, minor pain points over longer distances
Bottom Line Designed by and for the fastest trail runners in the world, this vest has the fit and features to race fastDurable materials and ample storage combine with a comfortable and secure fit to make this pack ready for the mountainsA comfortable and capable choice for big mileage when gear accessibility is mission-criticalA comfortable fit and exceptional pockets make this among our favorite packs on the marketAn entry-level hydration pack for trail running with ample storage at a great price
Rating Categories Salomon Sense Pro 5 Ultimate Direction... Nathan Pinnacle 12L Salomon ADV Skin 12... REI Co-op Swiftland 5
Comfort (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Features (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Hydration System (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
Pockets (15%)
10.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Salomon Sense Pro 5 Ultimate Direction... Nathan Pinnacle 12L Salomon ADV Skin 12... REI Co-op Swiftland 5
Weight (with included hydration vessels) 8.1 oz 11.7 oz 13.6 oz 13.4 oz 13.9 oz
Carrying Capacity 5L 10.3L 12L 12L 5L
Included Liquid Capacity 1L 1L 1.6L 1L 1.5L
OGL Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better!) 0.62 0.88 0.88 0.90 0.36
External Storage? Yes, kangoo pockets Yes, bungees Yes, kangaroo pockets Yes, kangaroo pockets Yes, bungees
Type of Water Storage Two 500mL soft flasks Two 500mL soft flasks 1.6L hourglass reservoir Two 500 mL soft flasks (included), plus reservoir sleeve (reservoir not included) 1.5L resevoir
Pole Holders? Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

At just over 8 ounces, the Sense Pro 5 has a highly capable feature set for being a streamlined race vest. The general critique we have seen for this vest is that the updated soft flasks with the rigid bottoms create discomfort against the ribcage, and the mesh used around the neck can cause chafing. We agree with this feedback, but we don't think these two points discredit the performance of this vest. Salomon has nailed the pockets on this version of their race vest. While we judge the pack by the hydration system that comes with it, soft flasks are easily available. If the included flasks are irritating, consider swapping them out — we think it's worth it for the quality of fit and feature-rich performance.

Performance Comparison


Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - trail running is challenging, this capable lightweight trail vest...
Trail running is challenging, this capable lightweight trail vest can make moving in the mountains a bit easier.
Credit: Jeff Colt

Comfort


Salomon uses stretchy elastane fabric in the side panels, pockets, and front of the Sense Pro 5 to create a hydration pack with a snug, shirt-like feel, even when loaded with trail supplies for a full day of running. A simple elastic cinch cord zig zags across the chest with five attachment points, all of which can be adjusted with a single clasp. The combination of stretchy materials, expandable pockets, and a simple drawstring harness make this hydration pack very comfortable, regardless of weight and gear placement.


During a 25-mile test run, while pacing at the Vermont 100, the hard bottoms of the included soft flasks noticeably rubbed against the ribcage, causing irritation and soreness. We account for this design flaw in the section on the hydration system, but as many reviewers have called out this same issue, we want to mention it here too. This vest is otherwise an exceptionally comfortable design.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - pulling on a single elastic cord can tighten the entire front of the...
Pulling on a single elastic cord can tighten the entire front of the vest adequately.
Credit: Jeff Colt

One other critique is the coarse mesh material used throughout the interior of the shoulder straps and across the neck of the vest. While this material is used strategically in these areas to provide support and manage weight load, it is more abrasive. If the fit is incorrect, this mesh can rub against exposed skin above the collar of a shirt and cause some chafing. Our tester is 5'10" and 160 pounds, and the medium was a great fit and did not have this issue. Softer fine mesh is used across the inside of the vest along the back, and stretchable mesh is used across the flanks. These materials don't have the same friction against the skin.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - while a finer mesh is used along the back panel and stretchier mesh...
While a finer mesh is used along the back panel and stretchier mesh is used along the side panels, the coarse mesh used throughout the shoulder straps and across the neck is irritating against the skin.
Credit: Jeff Colt

Features


While this hydration pack is designed for sub-ultra distances, attachment points for various trekking pole carrying options and plenty of storage make it capable of going much longer. For a sleek, refined design, the Sense Pro 5 meets all of the requirements for the biggest days out on the trail.


Reflective banding, zippered pockets, and a storm whistle offer safety elements when the weather takes a turn. The front zippered pocket is big enough to comfortably store an emergency communication device such as an inReach, while the back panel pocket can fit a first aid kit and rain layers with ease. Reflective webbing is used on the front and back of the pack, while large reflective design accents decorate the sides and a large reflective Salomon logo graces the center back of the vest.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - while we expect high end packs to have the necessary bells and...
While we expect high end packs to have the necessary bells and whistles, it's a bonus that this whistle is easy to access and rings loud and clear.
Credit: Jeff Colt

This vest does not have a waterproof pocket of any sort, so additional precaution is required when bringing a phone or dry layers into the mountains. While the Sense Pro 5 is much lighter without the addition of heavier water-resistant fabrics, this limits the versatility of environments it is equipped for. Additionally, the lightweight stretchy fabric is more delicate and can get caught up on bushwhacking trail-finding excursions. As for a trekking pole carry, elastic straps can clove hitch to webbing tabs along the shoulder straps or the back of the pack for securing poles. This vest is also compatible with Salomon's quiver system, but we did not test that feature as it is sold separately.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - reflective banding along the sides of the pack prioritize visibility...
Reflective banding along the sides of the pack prioritize visibility while strategically placed webbing tabs accommodate elastic pole-carry straps.
Credit: Jeff Colt

Hydration System


After years of testing Salomon packs, the included soft flasks for the Sense Pro 5 stand out as a mistake. The design intention is clear: soft flasks with a harder structured bottom are easier to slide into the hydration sleeve quickly while racing through aid stations. However, the included flasks rub painfully against the lower ribcage where the structured bottom of the bottles come in contact with the body. The Speed 42 soft flask in question is included in Salomon hydration packs designed for speed and shorter distances, but the pressure that the molded bottom puts on the ribcage is noticeable even at shorter distances.


Salomon soft flasks are longer and thinner than most other brands, which positions the bite valve closer to the mouth for uninterrupted access to hydration while running fast. Thin and stretchable materials on the shoulder straps allow Salomon to use the entire length of the shoulder strap for both the hydration sleeves against the body and pockets placed on the outside of the hydration sleeves. If these pockets are overfilled (which takes a lot of food or a bulky item like gloves), then the soft flasks are harder to insert. We had no issues with this, even when we tested this vest with the standard soft flask offering.

One of our favorite elements of this hydration pack is how well an additional soft flask fits in the kangaroo pocket, accessed from the side but positioned across the lower back of the vest.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - the soft flask that is included with the vest is on the right, with...
The soft flask that is included with the vest is on the right, with a rigid bottom, compared with another flask Salomon offers that is more comfortable against the ribs.
Credit: Jeff Colt

Volume to Weight Ratio


Material choices and a sleek design keep the weight of this vest at a ghostlike 8.1 ounces. While only built to carry 5 liters of gear and supplies, we had no trouble filling the Sense Pro 5 with all of the mandatory gear and food required for an event such as the 100-mile UTMB race in the Alps. We could fit as much gear in it as some other vests that advertise 8-10 liters of storage capacity. Volume is challenging for us to measure, so we typically take the brand's word; however, usable space is very easy to get a sense of in the field. For this reason, we scored the Sense Pro slightly higher than the ratio indicated.


While pacing at the VT 100, we comfortably fit two full soft flasks in the hydration sleeves, a spare soft flask and long sleeve shirt in the kangaroo pocket, a rain layer, buff, change of socks, spare headlamp, and sunglasses in the side pockets, phone in the front zippered pocket, and 600 calories in the form of gels, fruit snacks, mini snickers, and Stroop waffles in the front pouch pockets. The balance of the gear was easily managed by the snug stretch of the elastane materials, and there was still plenty more room for additional layers if needed.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - at 8.1 ounces, this vest gets robbed by the volume to weight ratio...
At 8.1 ounces, this vest gets robbed by the volume to weight ratio measurement as it can be stuffed much fuller than the advertised 5 liters.
Credit: Jeff Colt

While the driving reason that the Sense Pro 5 received an award is the design and functionality of the pockets, the volume-to-weight ratio of this vest is perfect for racing and sets it apart from the competition. This vest functions as well empty as it does filled to the brim with gear, and that is a testament to the design and material choices. It is worth noting that if you routinely overfill this hydration pack, it will likely stretch out faster — surely one of the reasons Salomon recommends a 5-liter capacity.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - stretchable fabric used throughout the vest bolsters the volume of...
Stretchable fabric used throughout the vest bolsters the volume of this pack when necessary, but frequent overfilling will likely damage the form and shape of the pack.
Credit: Jeff Colt

Pockets


We love them. This vest sets a high bar for perfect pocket placement and options. Even with long hydration sleeves that position the soft flasks conveniently close to the mouth, Salomon managed to place small pockets above the soft flasks on each shoulder strap, one with a quick access overlap flap and one with a zipper that works great for trash storage. On the outside of the hydration sleeves are stretchy expandable pockets that work great for food storage and gear storage. These pockets can be accessed from the top and from the sides, making accessibility easier for differing user preferences.


One large zippered pocket is situated on the left shoulder strap in front of the expandable gear pocket, offering a secure storage solution that works well for a phone, inReach, paper map, and other essentials. These pockets throughout the shoulder straps offer extensive storage options for readily accessible essentials.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - key gear items that need to be zippered and readily accessible? this...
Key gear items that need to be zippered and readily accessible? This zippered shoulder pocket is large enough to carry a phone, map, GPS device, sunscreen, and more.
Credit: Jeff Colt

Across each flank is a side pocket that continues all of the way through across the lower back. We refer to this pocket design as a kangaroo pocket, as it stores a lot of gear but remains accessible while on the go. Again, the secret sauce for success here is Salomon's highly stretchable fabric. Lots of gear can fit into this kangaroo pocket, expanding the carrying capacity of this sleek pack and keeping more layers and backup bottles in reach.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - a kangaroo pocket across the entire lower back makes storing an...
A kangaroo pocket across the entire lower back makes storing an additional soft flask, a layer, or a Subway footlong sub easy peasy.
Credit: Jeff Colt

There is a large rear pocket accessed from the top of the vest, and we found this most useful for storing layers and additional supplies. While it is still relatively easy to pull a rain layer out of this pocket, stuffing a layer back in is more challenging. Despite not having a waterproof pocket, the Sense Pro 5 scored a perfect 10 in our judging of the pocket design, as this hydration pack is designed for faster, shorter races. We won't dock a product for not having a feature that is in contrast to the intended use.

Should You Buy the Salomon Sense Pro 5?


This is the right pack for some runners, even if it means upgrading the soft flasks to a more comfortable version. The price point is pretty steep, and the higher stretch fabric will inevitably stretch out and change the fit, so the Sense Pro isn't for everyone. This is an excellent option for trail runners looking to race shorter distances that want a high-performing vest. If this resonates with you, trust us, the pockets and functionality are amazing.

What Other Running Hydration Packs Should You Consider?


The conforming materials and lightweight design make the Sense Pro 5 fit like a second skin — one that comes equipped with many useful pockets and features. Other vests that scream fast at the speed of sound include the Patagonia Slope Runner Endurance 3L and the Raidlight Revolutiv 3L V2. While these packs offer slightly different features, they're designed to move like a heat-seeking missile through mountainous terrain.

Salomon Sense Pro 5 hydration pack for running - for the fastest runners and the runners seeking a lightweight...
For the fastest runners and the runners seeking a lightweight packable vest, the Sense Pro 5 is the right choice.
Credit: Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt
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