The Salomon Adv Skin 12 ($160) is a frequently-seen hydration pack at any trail race and ultramarathon, and after putting it to the test over many miles and many years, we agree that its reputation is well earned. In fact, we love this pack so much that we named it the best large-capacity hydration pack in our Best Hydration Packs guide.
This pack is a bit of a Swiss Army knife when it comes to its features. It has a low enough profile that it sits comfortably when empty but expands to hold enough gear for all-day adventures. This flexibility makes it a great choice for trail runners and ultrarunners who want to invest in one pack that will go the distance and work just as well during a shorter or well-supported race as it does on a day-long jaunt into the mountains.
Salomon’s sensifit construction creates a snug fit that hugs the body without feeling too constrictive by using materials that are breathable and stretchy. The 12-liter capacity consists of 11 different pockets. The pack can hold three liters of fluids with two 500-milliliter soft flasks in front and a bladder in the back. We recommend using the Salomon bladder if you want to go in that direction or experimenting with the bladders you already have on hand.
The pack comes in both unisex and women’s-specific sizing, fitting chest sizes from 23 to 45 inches.
With a listed weight of 367 grams with the included soft flasks, the pack is impressively light, given its capacity. From a supported 50-kilometer race to a 12-hour solo mountain run, this pack will have you covered without weighing you down.
Salomon Adv Skin 12 Construction and Fit
The Sensifit construction of the Salomon Adv Skin 12 puts stretch materials in key locations to allow for a very secure fit without the pack feeling overly tight or constrictive. The combination of the stretch material panels and the adjustable elastic cord chest closure allows for full chest expansion when breathing and makes it easy to tighten and loosen the vest on the fly to accommodate changes in gear and fluid loads, keeping everything secure with no bounce.
The pack wraps around the body in a true vest-like fashion, and the only adjustment point is the elastic chest cords. This M-shaped cord has quick-link clips with one pull-through bungee adjustment to tighten and loosen everything quickly and easily. I have found this system to be extremely comfortable and allows for full chest expansion without feeling overly tight. The one adjustment point makes it simple to make small adjustments as you add or subtract gear, food, and water. I really appreciated this in the later stages of long events when my brain and fingers were tired and clumsy. The cord attachment clips are easy to use with cold fingers.
The pocket material is a stretchy mesh that lays flat against the body when empty but expands to fit an impressive amount of gear. The listed capacity of this pack is 12 liters, but I’d venture to guess that the true capacity is a few liters more. It feels like it can carry much more than some of the other similarly-sized packs we’ve tested over the years. The mesh lining is comfortable and wicks sweat well, though I find it a little scratchy directly against the skin and prefer to have a shirt on beneath it. There is a nylon inner panel between the hydration bladder sleeve and the main pocket designed to protect against moisture. Unfortunately, it also tends to trap heat and increase sweating quite a bit. This was one of the only gripes we had about the pack.
The pack comes in unisex and women’s-specific fits and offers sizing from XXS to XL. The women’s version has distinct design differences and a much different fit. The women’s-specific version features shorter, wider flasks that sit lower on the chest and uses drinking straws. The straws are quite long but can be trimmed down to your ideal length. The pack sizing is based on the measurement around the largest point of the chest, with the women’s-specific fit ranging from 23 to 40 inches and the unisex fit ranging from 32 to 45 inches. There is a good amount of sizing overlap between the versions, so it is really up to personal preference which one you choose. I personally prefer the unisex fit as I like the soft flasks riding a little higher up, and I don’t really like using flasks with straws.
Salomon Adv Skin 12 Storage and Hydration Options
This pack has 11 pockets spread between the front and the back for a nice balance of secure storage and easy-to-access areas. The Salomon Adv Skin 12 pocket setup is considered best-in-class by the team at iRunFar, largely because of the many stretchy compartments that expand impressively to stash gear on the fly.
The front of the pack features two stretch mesh sleeves designed to hold the included 500-milliliter soft flasks. On the unisex version, these pockets are longer and thinner, and it can be a little tricky to get the flask back into them while wearing the pack, especially with items in the overlying stuff pockets. The women’s fit has shorter, wider flask pockets to accommodate the straw flasks that sit below the chest.
Overlying the flask pockets are two large stretchy stuff pockets that can fit an impressive volume of small items. I usually use them to hold gels or chews or a pair of gloves or buff in cooler weather. There are also two zipper pockets on the stuff pockets that are big enough to fit a standard-sized iPhone, as well as other small items you might want to keep secure and easily accessible. Rounding out the front storage are two small stretch mesh pockets on the top of the shoulder straps, one of which includes a key clip. There is an attached whistle that tucks away into the top mesh pockets.
The rear of the pack has a hydration bladder sleeve that sits against your back. A hydration bladder is not included with the pack, but it does come with a removable thermal insulated sleeve that can fit a 1.5-liter bladder. If you aren’t using a hydration bladder, we recommend removing this sleeve both to save weight and to increase the pack’s breathability on your back.
There is a large zippered pocket on the back of the pack that stretches impressively to fit gear. It has two compression cords that lock it down to improve stability when loaded up. To be honest, we’ve almost never used these compression cords unless we were carrying some sort of odd-shaped heavy item that bounced while running. The stretchy softshell compartment material alone held almost everything we’ve placed in this pocket in place over hundreds of uses of this pack.
Behind the main compartment are two more compartments near the top of the pack that dexterous folks can access while wearing the pack. These are ideal for stuffing extra clothing items like a hat or jacket when not in use. One of these compartments holds a hydration bladder if you choose to carry one. There is a stretchy pass-through pocket across the low back that is easy to reach with the vest on that is a great place to store a light jacket or some bigger snacks.
The pack comes with two 500-milliliter soft flasks that sit in the front pockets on either side of the chest straps. For the unisex version, Salomon’s flasks are longer and thinner than some others, which can make them a little harder to get back in their pockets once taken out. Having items in the front stuff pockets that overlay the flask sleeves makes this even trickier, but it does seem to get a little easier with repeated use. A common complaint among users of the women’s version was that the openings on the flasks are much smaller than the ones on the unisex ones, which makes it difficult to get electrolyte powders into them and clean them after use.
The rear of the pack can accommodate up to a 2-liter bladder, though a 1.5-liter bladder seems to fit best. One tester found a 2-liter bladder she already owned worked fine if it wasn’t entirely full, so we suggest experimenting with whatever bladders you have at home in this pack before rushing out and buying one. A hydration bladder isn’t included, so this will be an extra cost on top of an already fairly pricey pack. This is something to keep in mind when shopping for any pack, as most include soft flasks or a bladder, but not usually both. This pack comes with a nice insulated sleeve that holds a hydration bladder, which is great in both hot and cold weather to help maintain water temperature.
Salomon Adv Skin 12 Overall Impressions
The Salomon Adv Skin 12 is a popular pack, and for very good reason. At $160, it is not a cheap piece of gear, but its versatility and fit make it a solid investment that can be used for many types of races, training, and adventure runs.
Members of the iRunFar team have had this pack for several years and used it on hundreds of runs. It has also been through at least two dozen washes, and the pack is maintaining itself very well. We’ve had one soft-flask sleeve seam tear, but it was easy to repair with a quick, five-minute sew.
We love the stretchy materials, easy-to-reach pockets, and snug-yet-comfortable fit of Salomon’s Adv Skin line and have no qualms about using this pack for everything from a two-hour run from home to a mountainous 100 miler. If you are looking for one pack to invest in for all of your adventures or want a comfortable and expandable large pack for long days on the trail, look no further than this one, which we named the best large-capacity hydration pack in our Best Hydration Packs guide.
Call for Comments
- Have you used this pack? What is your favorite feature?
- What distances do you use a hydration pack for?
- What pocket configuration is your favorite for running hydration packs?
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