Monday, January 9, 2017

Salomon: S-LAB Sense Ultra Set Review

I’ve been doing endurance activities for so many years now and I know the importance of hydration…oh trust me, I learned it the hard way😞.  Fluids (whether it’s in purest form or with some added science to it) is the main fuel that keep our body in motion. Without it, we can only go for a certain distance before our bodies succumb to fatigue. Hydration is a must…but this leads to my next question: how do you carry or store that fluids? Well, I know everybody has their own opinion about it and it all boils down to what works best for you, it’s more of a preference, right? Sometimes finding the right hydration gear is frustrating and annoying, you really wouldn’t know how it works until you test it.

If you’ve been following my blog, you would probably notice that I’m a diehard Salomon guy. Salomon is in this business since 1947 and they are very popular to Ultra runners. I have tested a lot of their gears and apparels and I can honestly say that they’re one of the best and knows what quality means. You can read my previous review by clicking here.

They sent me one of their hydration vests to review, the S-LAB Sense Ultra Set. I was really stoked when I received this in the mail and the timing couldn’t be any better since this is the season for trail running and this is where I’m putting this baby to the test.

-       Elastic Power Mesh / 3D Mesh / Cocona 3D Mesh / 4-Way Stretch Mesh / 4-Way Stretch Woven Twill

-       Weight
·      3.88 oz. / 110g (without bottles)
-       Capacity
·       183 in3 / 3 L
-       Size
·      2XS           XS/S               M/L                 XL__
<31”          31-38”             38-43”             43-46”
         *Measure in inches around fullest part of chest

Race vests are becoming more popular this day due to their versatility in carrying fluids and other running essentials in one centralized location. They offer easy access to fluids whether it’s on the front or back by using bladders or bottles. One of the main benefits of a race vest is that it frees our hands, giving us the symmetrical balance and proper arm swing while running.

The Sense Ultra Set has a soft silky touch to the skin that can be worn over the shirt or directly over the skin without causing irritation and chafing. The inside material that touches the skin is a breathable mesh that creates an air channel helping dissipate sweat and moisture faster away from the body. One thing that you’ll surely appreciate is the stretchable material that hugs comfortably to the contour of the body. This creates a snug form fitting that helps eliminate anything inside the vest from bouncing.

To make things easy, let’s take a closer look on its features starting with the front.

The overall design is very clean and it offers a lot of storage for your running essentials.

Before we go further, Salomon utilized 2 x 500ml (17oz) collapsible Hydrapak soft flask that are BPA and PVC free. I like the idea of the soft flask since it collapses as it empties and eliminates the sloshing sound while you run compared with bottles.

There is a small zippered pouch on the right shoulder strap that could hold some electrolyte tabs and gels.

There are two soft hydration elastic pockets that is designed to fit the 500ml soft flask. The chest pockets maintain high stability, reduce bouncing and make quick access easy.

There are two decent size stretch pockets below the soft flasks that could fit gloves, hat and some sort like Buff headgear.

Located on each side of the vest are two zippered pockets that extend far enough to the back. It is stretchable and has enough room that I was able put my wallet, keys and Pixel XL phone without any problems.

On top of the left shoulder strap is a deep cargo pocket that offers additional storage for energy bars and gels.

When it comes to fitting, the soft twin link has three adjustable settings (hooks) to give you the snug fit. These are located along the sternum and below the rib cage.

Located on the left shoulder strap is safety whistle. Gotta have that whistle just in case of an emergency. Remember Titanic? Yup, you get the idea.

Going on the back side, there are two extra storage. The big pocket can hold some important stuff like map, food, light clothing, jacket and additional fluid if needed. Just below the big pocket is a “kangaroo pocket” that is smaller in size. It is made of a see thru mesh that can hold extra food that you can easily access without taking off the vest.

There is no doubt that this is a great product after testing it on my 12-mile trail run along Hidden Falls Regional Park. It performed very well and provided a highest level of comfort and enough storage room to carry my running essentials. The location of the pockets is ideal for easy access and does not interfere with my body and arm swing while running. One thing that I need to point out is the need to tighten the strap as the soft flask deflate in order to get a snug fit across the chest. You can easily adjust this while running and the lock mechanism hold it perfectly tight. This also helps to keep everything close to your body.

I heard that some runners are having some difficulties putting the soft flask back after a drink. I have to agree that it does, collapsible flask and tight fitting could be a bad combination. But after spending some time with it, I figured that it’s a lot easier to just drink from the flask without removing it from the vest. I know that it’s a little bit awkward since I have to bend my head down but the idea is to avoid those unnecessary stops.

My Verdict
I have used this vest many times and I am very pleased with it despite my initial trouble in putting the flask back but I still highly recommend this for any training and racing you would be doing. The S-LAB Sense Ultra Set is designed for fast runs (whether it be on road or trails), without needing to stop when accessing those fuels. It is the lightest vest I have tested so far, yet offers plenty of storage (10 pockets in total) to carry most of my running essentials that I normally couldn’t carry. It has a stretchable material that creates a snug fit in keeping anything inside the vest close to my body, eliminating any possible bounce.

The S-LAB Sense Ultra Set sells for $130 and it comes in two different colors, black and red. Yes, the price is a little bit on the high end but the quality is what makes this gear so great. Salomon stands behind their products and their number one priority is their customer’s satisfaction. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied, you can return the product within 30 days and get a full refund.

Thanks again for reading and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to post below.

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