A review by the Cyborg
Salomon XT Wings 10+3 Vest
Salomon specialise in making active outdoor wear, and have designed some gear specifically for adventure racing. So, it should come as no surprise that this pack is excellent for adventure racing! It even has a built-in whistle.
First of all, unlike many other bladder packs on the market, this is a vest. Now, that may not seem like a big deal; but it makes a huge difference. You can tighten the vest down so that the bladder sucks right onto your back - eliminating the bladder bounce as you run - and you don’t feel any pressure or rubbing from straps. That alone makes this pack ideal!
It has front pockets. Big front pockets, which are easy to access. These are fantastic for throwing in gels, muesli bars, or whatever else you’ll need access to during the day. No more stopping to ask a teammate to grab some food from your pack!
And the main compartment is waterproof! That’s a rarity in any pack, and definitely handy for adventure races, where you can find yourself paddling, swimming, or just doing it all in the rain! It’s also easily expandable - there’s a zip that runs around the main compartment, just unzipping it adds capacity.
And, being a Salomon pack, they’ve added fittings for racing. There are labelled loops to hold everything down, such as trekking poles. It has so many add-ons, options and doo-hickeys, I actually wound up looking for some sort of manual. And, did I mention it has a built-in whistle?
On the down side, it only fits my two-litre bladder. Now, that should be enough for a lot of adventure races, but I’m water paranoid, and do like the reassurance of three litres (that’s half a litre a hour at the rate we do â€œsprintâ€ adventure races, so very reasonable consumption!) My Source bladder doesn’t fit into it - it has the fold-down top with the strong plastic strip to seal it; a larger, different shaped (as in, oval top) bladder may be fine.
And, now that I’ve made note of how great the front pockets are, they sit quite high. So, in a race like the AROC Paddy Pallin series, or any event you have to wear a bib, the pockets sit under the bib. This means you have to reach under the bib and fiddle around to get stuff out; of course, it’s not a big deal (not when compared to getting someone else to fish stuff out!) And you can’t really wear this pack over a race bib; it would just cover absolutely everything up!
Doc Runaway also has one, and won’t even consider trying out a standard hydration pack anymore. She uses it with a two litre Source bladder, which she has to fold over to get in, reducing the water capacity of the bladder. She’s also a smaller-built lady, and the vest pack is a bit broad across her shoulders and sometimes slips down. At the time she bought it, it was only possible to get one size in Australia, however now the Salomon site states that you can get a female version.
There’s no doubt about it, these are a fantastic pack, especially for adventure racing, or mountain biking event. Now, they’re pretty specialised pieces of equipment, which you won’t necessarily find in stores. You could try an outlet of Mountain Designs, or Paddy Pallin, or go online at the Blackhearts shops.