The first thing that strikes you is the weight. At 110 grams, this is a seriously lightweight pack. It comes in well under half the weight of its two closest peers in the minimalist race category, the Salomon S-LAB Advanced Skin 5L (250 grams) or the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 4L (350 grams).
Considering the weight, the pack is surprisingly versatile with some decent storage options. There are 10 pockets in total, including a large top-feed sleeve and “kangaroo” pouch at the back, plus two roomy zipped side pockets. The stretch mesh expands well to accommodate bulkier items so, with some planning, you could probably fit your mandatory gear for a 50km or 100km ultra. There’s also a good selection of front pockets and, unlike some other Salomon packs I’ve used, I can actually reach all the pockets without taking the pack off.
I’ve always been a fan of Salomon’s Sensifit design and the Ultra Sense Set is super comfortable and snug, with no hotspots nor digging issues from the front twin link system. When empty, it feels little more than a fitted race singlet and the sizing is true – Salomon recommend the same pack size as your t-shirt.
The Cocona 3D Mesh is generally pretty soft except where it is reinforced for the bottle holders, but I’m not sure you could run topless (as advertised) for too far without a little chafing on your chest. There is minimal bounce in the front soft flasks, not enough to worry most runners, but slightly noticeable on downhills.
There are compromises though. The Ultra Sense Set is for front bottle drinkers only, with no option to use a bladder, nor to carry hiking poles comfortably. The material feels a little lighter than previous packs so durability might be an issue, and I’ve had issues with Salomon zips degrading in Hong Kong conditions previously.
Probably my largest concern is the size of the bottle holders, as the fit for the included 500ml Salomon soft flasks is very tight. This makes reinserting the bottles quite difficult, though I suspect this will get easier with practice. There is the option to use 250ml bottles, which slip in easily, but 500ml total hydration is not much, especially in summer.
Overall, this is a great racing pack which will also work well for longer training runs. It retails for HK$1,150 and you can find more details here. 9/10
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