Never ever would I turn down the opportunity to don some of the latest gear and give it a thrash around our local trails of Manly Dam.
Some of the gear we tested has been around for a season or so but it's still nice to try something new (to me). We focussed on the functionality and practicality of each of these products as opposed to the pro's and con's! Everything we tested has a place in our store's and it comes down to fit and feel on YOU as to which is the better choice.
Let me start with the tried and tested Salomon Advanced Skin 12 and 5 set. A version of this pack has been on the market for a number of years now and for good reason, it's a cracker!
Having flasks on the front is now standard on most packs and it's no different here. The flasks are up nice and high making them easy to drink from whilst remaining secure in their little pocket to minimise bouncing. Also located on the front is a bunch of little pockets perfect for your race day nutrition, mobile etc. Both the 12 and 5 set have room for a bladder in the back, we recommend the 1.5L Salomon bladder but you can get a 2L bladder in there if you want the extra water.
Moving around to the back of the pack you have two zipper pockets on each side of your ribs, these are surprisingly accessible whilst you're on the move and are big enough to store a decent amount of gear.
On the back you have 2 main pockets, on the 12set a main pocket with a zipper and the 5set has a smaller sleeve style pocket that you can get to from the top. Both of these packs have an additional elasticated pocket across the back which is the perfect spot for you waterproof jacket or bulky items that are likely to be used during your race and/or training.
Up to 50km distance the 5 set is a fantastic vest. Anything longer than that (with a decent mandatory gear list) and I would go for the 12set.
The key to getting the right vest is trying them on and chatting to someone that has used them and knows how it's meant to fit and sit on you. If getting to a store is hard work reach out to us at email@example.com and we'll help you out.
Moving on to the Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 4.0. Running in this was a new experience for me. But wow, it sure did feel good. The material is the biggest difference from what i'm used to running in previously. It's a little stiffer which means the gear inside the pack stayed secure and didn't feel like it wanted to move around at all.
On the front you have one 500ml flask on the right and a good sized zipper pocket on the left. It is nice having a bigger storage pocket on the front, perfect for phone and nutrition and very easy to get into.
You also have two very simple clips on the front which are super easy to adjust up or down until you find the perfect spot.
Moving around to the back of the pack we find two zipper pockets on each side of your ribs. These are easy to get into but are pretty small, a great little nutrition pocket for longer runs.
On the back you have bladder compatibility through a zipper (1.5L or 2L), its nice and easy to get to and very easy to fill up mid run, a huge plus! The main pocket is a good size and will fit a bunch of your mandatory gear in for longer races. If you have good quality lightweight gear than this would be suffice for the UTA100.
Outside the main compartment there is a bungy cord which is comes in handy. On this occasion it was not needed. I can imagine it would be a good spot for your waterproof jacket or something else bulky and that can also roll up to be packed away.
The best function on this pack is the ability to adjust size. In the small of your back is where all the cords can be tightened or loosened and make that pack really customisable and easy to achieve the perfect fit!
Ideally packs should be tried on and compared just as you do your shoes! Come and visit us at one of our shops.
Next up, the good old Salomon Bonatti Jacket (mens) and Lightning Jacket (womens). The range has grown somewhat over the past few seasons. We now get a Bonatti Pro for the fellas and a Lightning Race for the ladies.
All of these jackets are super lightweight and have 10K/10K rating with the exception of the Bonatti Pro which is 20K/20K (waterproof and breathability). The weight is, I think, one of the most important features as you roll them up nice and small and tuck them away in your pack.
A small chest zipper pocket on the mens and two zipper hand pockets on the women's are great little storage spots for odds and sods.
We had a pretty warm Sydney day when we tested these out so it was a bit of overkill but a great way to test how breathable they are!
I mentioned in an earlier article on mandatory gear that the waterproof jacket is one area where you should get yourself something of good quality. This is it! The chances that you will use a good jacket to train, race or commute are rather high. Get yourself a quality one and it'll make using it a lot more fun!
With the trail season in full swing we're stocked up on all the latest and greatest gear. Visit any of our store's try on and chat about the best option for you!