Salomon Advanced Skin S Lab Belt Set – Review

I mentioned in a previous post that Salomon were planning on introducing an S Lab hydration/fueling/apparel belt system in 2013. Well, it is now available and I received a couple of them about 2 weeks ago and I have now used the system on a few runs for a total of about 50 km (31 miles) and on a bunch of Nordic skiing sessions for a total of about 350 km (210 miles).


Salomon have offered hydration/fueling belts of many types for years but they have never applied the talents of the leading edge S Lab design team to this product sector. The Advanced Skin S Lab Belt Set is the first in what will likely be a line of belts intended for competition and light weight characteristics. Hydration/fueling belts have received polarized reviews from users as it is apparent that individual preferences either outweigh the advantages of a waist-level system or convince the user that there is no better solution. Although there are reviews that hit a middle ground, my research indicates that there are, in general, two camps on the suitability/unsuitability of a waist-level hydration/fueling system. The Salomon Advanced Skin S Lab Belt Set may persuade some of the nay sayers for reasons that I will outline below.


The very light weight (130 gms) design is somewhat evolutionary in that Salomon have used similar materials and design features that can be found on the S Lab Advanced Skin hydration back packs that have been available for a couple of years. The same 3D honeycomb mesh material is used in areas of direct contact with the body, the same fine thread highly expandable stretch-mesh material is utilized in pockets, and similar pocket placement and zipper use are all apparent. Also, a similar plastic hook-on-plastic D-ring quick release fastening mechanism is used. Here are some images showing the outward and body sides of the system.


The outward parts of the Advanced Skin S Lab Belt Set, showing the two halves of the system: “front” section, right, and rear section, left. The front section has two stretch-mesh zippered pockets (for valuables, phone, music player etc.) and easy access stretch-mesh pockets overlaying both zippered pockets. The rear pockets are set up to accept one 237 ml (8 oz) soft flask each, with an integrated elastic band for security. The rear pockets also nicely accept 4 of the 148 ml (5 oz) soft flasks (two in each pocket) as well as compact apparel items (e.g. wind jacket, gloves, etc.).


Body-side of the Advanced Skin S Lab Belt Set, showing the two halves of the system (“front” section, left, and rear section, right) and the 3D mesh material used in areas with direct contact with the body.

The pockets are well placed and include four stretch mesh front pockets layered on top of each other with the base pockets being zippered for valuables, phone, music player, etc. and the overlaying pockets being quick access.  The rear has two large stretch mesh pockets with elastic bands to secure soft flasks and plenty of room for other packables (fuel, apparel, etc.) as well as two red elastic bands between the pockets for additional, non-pocket stowage. The 237 ml (8 oz) size soft flasks fit nicely in the rear pockets and are well secured with the elastic bands. The rear pockets also nicely accept 4 of the 148 ml (5 oz) soft flasks (two in each pocket) and are secured by the pocket without the use of the elastic bands. The set is supplied with just one 237 ml soft flask (as is the case with Salomon’s hydration glove product) but I think that Salomon would do well to offer the set with two as 500 ml (16 oz) is pretty much a minimum water volume that a typical trail runner would carry for a medium length (15-20 km) run. But perhaps they are trying to hit a price point to encourage sales. I have yet to decide whether the elastic bands are required as the flasks seem quite secure without them because when you put the belt on the pockets cinch down and hold the flasks, seemingly sufficiently. More runs/skis will determine if this initial impression holds up.


Two 237 ml (8 oz) soft flasks fit nicely into the rear pockets. Four of the 148 ml (5 oz) flasks also fit well and are readily secured by the pocket without the use of the elastic bands. The red horizontal bands are elastic as well and can hold a wind jacket or gloves, etc. A jacket or gloves would also fit into the mesh pockets with the soft flasks as the stretch mesh is quite expandable.


Close-up view of the front pockets showing the two zippered stretch mesh and two, layered, easy access stretch mesh pockets on top. Lots of room for hydration/fuel/electrolytes, etc. The 148 ml soft flasks fit well into these outer pockets and I have used this size flask for a fuel mixture (concentrated Perpetuem) and found it to be quite convenient and nicely controllable.

The fastening system is a variant of the plastic hook-on-plastic D-ring quick release seen in other Salomon S Lab packs. It does take a bit of getting used to but once mastered the fastener system is very good.


Close up of the fastening design- the hooks in the lower right clip over the plastic D-rings in the upper center. Takes a bit to get used to but provides a quick and secure connection.

I have set the belt system up for Nordic skiing (with waxes, a cork, a 237 ml hydration flask, a 148 ml fuel flask, an energy bar, and a camera) and running (with the two 237 ml hydration flasks, a 148 ml fuel flask, an energy bar, some gels, and a camera). In both set-ups there was still room for a wind jacket and a pair of light gloves- both of which I have taken on runs. Here is the Nordic skiing set up for example:


A Nordic skiing set-up for the Advanced Skin S Lab Belt Set including hydration, energy bar, waxes and cork, a camera, and a 148 ml fuel flask in front outer pocket (not shown).

And here is a running set-up:



A running set-up using the Advanced Skin S Lab Belt System showing the packed belt (top) and the packed items taken out (bottom) including two 237 ml soft flasks, one 148 ml soft fuel flask, a wind jacket (S Lab Light Jacket- review forthcoming), a light pair of gloves, and a camera.

There is a surprising amount of room to pack items in the belt system and this is partly due to the highly expandable stretch mesh fabric that Salomon uses for the pockets. Based on my experience with hydration and fuel needs, this system allows for self-sufficient runs and skis of times in excess of 3 hours, at least for me. In the case of trail runs, one can even extend this further by using the Salomon S Lab Sense Hydro Set for more water/energy drink capacity (another 500 ml for the pair). Between the belt set and the hydro set one could have about 1 l of water/energy drink, 0.3 l of fuel in flasks, as well as room for numerous (4-6) gels.

Fit and Comfort

As can be seen in images above Salomon have utilized their “Sensifit” approach that essentially envelopes and form fits to your body. The two independent side adjustments allow for precise positioning and balancing of the belt system, depending upon load geometry and distribution. The end result is that once the belt is on and adjusted you actually forget that it is there, unlike many other belt systems that I have used or tried out. I found the fit to be without compromise and the comfort to be very high, even fully loaded. A remarkable achievement.

A big part of the comfort is derived from the use of the 3D honeycomb mesh material where contact with the body takes place. This material breathes and ventilates very well and is also form fitting so no hot spots develop. The material is key to the comfort of the Advanced Skin back packs and is also important to the comfort of the belt as well. Time will tell as to how well the material works at waist level at higher temperatures. I should get a read on that when I go for an extended running trip to the desert in March.


Honeycomb 3D mesh material used at all points where the belt touches the body is key to comfort for the belt system.

The belt system can be worn according to ones preference for waist position. I wear it relatively high, but have tried lower positions which are also comfortable but not right for me. Here are some images of the belt being worn with a full running set up (rear: two 237 ml soft flasks, a wind jacket, a pair of gloves, and two gel packs; front: one 148 ml fuel soft flask, two gel packs, and a camera).


Front view of belt system as worn by author. This and the following views exemplify a running set-up, in this case in the rear pockets: two 237 ml soft flasks, a wind jacket, a pair of gloves, and two gel packs; front: one 148 ml fuel soft flask, two gel packs, and a camera. Note the waist band fabric pulled through on the left; my 27″ waist almost runs out of adjustment for the position I prefer to wear the belt at. The extra fabric can be stuffed inside the “belt” and, in my experience, stays there.


Rear view of belt system in running configuration, including a wind jacket and a pair of light gloves. Additional stowage is accommodated under the horizontal red elastic bands in the middle.


Left side view of belt system with running configuration showing quick release fastener and excess belt fabric stuffed into belt. The diagonal elastic band in the center left can hold the excess fabric and/or a gel pack.


Right side view of belt system with running configuration showing quick release fastener and excess belt fabric stuffed into belt.

Although Salomon refer to a “front” and  “back” there really is no issue with wearing it any way you would like. I have used it in a reverse configuration as well as with the pockets oriented on my hips. This is possible because of the “Sensifit” approach with the enveloping, form fitting characteristic and the two adjustment points.


The system is designed for use with the Hydrapak soft flask technology so one would have to be convinced that the soft flask approach is workable. After using the soft flask system for about 9 months and thousands of kms of trail running and Nordic skiing, I am a convert and explain the reasons why in detail here and here. One of the primary reasons that I like the soft flask technology is that one has very good control over flow rate out of the flasks and therefore it is straight forward to meter out water, energy drinks, and fuel. I also find that during Nordic ski racing it is possible to grab the flask, put it in your mouth, hold it with your teeth, continue to pole, and then suck down the contents- all without slowing down, something that is important if you are in a pack. Once consumed, the now collapsed flask can easily be stuffed into a pocket on the belt, again without slowing down.


$70. In comparison with other belt products currently offered this is a fair price for the flexibility, excellent fit, and high comfort of the Advanced Skin Belt Set.

Bottom Line

A very light weight, comfortable, and flexible hydration/fueling/apparel belt system well suited to medium to long trail runs (and Nordic skiing) in all weather.

Update 11 October 2013: I have posted up an update after using the belts system for the 2013 running season.


21 thoughts on “Salomon Advanced Skin S Lab Belt Set – Review

  1. Pingback: Daily News, Thurs, Feb 21

    • I do not know as I have not tried the belt without a shirt. I do not run shirtless but would be interested to hear whether you think the belt can be used shirtless.

      Good luck!

  2. Hey there,

    Have you yet had a chance to try this belt system in heat? I’ve been using the SLAB 5L pack for a long time, but I’ve realized that my back would benefit from more ventilation – it’s a major heat/sweat area for me. So, i’m thinking about alternatives for this race season. I find that running with a handheld disrupts my form (though, I supposed I should give it more time to adapt). I’m not sure that the Salomon hand-held system is right for me either, though I may try it. That leaves waist-level. Lower back area also tends to get very hot.

    Now that you’ve had both the belt and handheld systems for a while, do you have a preference?


    • Hi Matt,

      I have not used the belt (or the Hydro hand Set) in real heat yet. The belt is quite comfortable as the weight is well distributed around the waistline and I often forget that I am wearing it. It also holds a lot of stuff if you wish to do so. Aside from the limited water capacity, it is just as functional for a long run as the 5l S Lab vest. Combined with the Hydro Set handhelds, I am good for at least 35 km of hilly trail (3+ hours) and probably more.

      As far as racing, this year I will again be using the S Lab short tight which has nice pockets for electrolyte tabs, gels, and other stuff (I usually take a small laminated card of the course profile with the aid stations marked on it- this fits nicely in the front pocket on the shorts) and the Hydro Set hand helds. I just refill the flasks at the aid stations (and, if need be, grab a couple of gels) and pick up any special items from my bag at a drop bag aid. I have yet to find a need to wear a vest. I will not likely be wearing the belt for racing- at least for the races that I am currently signed-up for. I would consider wearing it if I thought I would need another layer at some point in the race- so, depending on the weather, in one of the races which is quite remote and very high I might opt to use the belt. I tend to be minimalistic- to a fault some would say, so take my thoughts as appropriate.

      You should try the Hydro Set hand held, I think it is a very well engineered system and find it very comfortable. Having used hand helds in the past, it is a pleasure to not have to deal with the sloshing- soft is the new hard.

      Hope this helps.

    • Matt,

      I took a look at the pictures from the LS50 where a bunch of Salomon team runners were competing. You will see the 2nd place finisher, Clayton, and Vollet with the belt on. Looks like Vollet has some prototype, but Clayton has the regular model and he is wearing it “backwards”- as I noted in the review there is no front or back really, and you can wear it “sideways” as well. Worth a look:

      • L.M., appreciate all the input. I spent a lot of time evaluating preferences. Went out last week on a few runs with the soft flasks in-hand and it really confirmed that I don’t like to use handhelds of any form. I also use the Salomon shorts with the pockets, but there’s not quite enough space for me to only use the short pockets, so needed supplementary storage.

        I picked-up the belt tonight and took it for a test-run. I found it incredibly comfortable and balanced. Little bounce. It does need to be worn a little higher than I’d like to prevent bouncing. The higher, the more lower-back coverage, which for me means more sweat. But that’s much less surface area covered than when wearing the pack, so that’s a win.

        I also use the soft flasks for concentrated Perpetuem. How do you manage the mix? I have several soft flasks and depending on the length of a course loop, I’ll usually switch flasks halfway through. I find that I can’t get more than 3 scoops into the 237ml flask without getting chunks that get clogged in the bite valve. Given that Perpetuem shouldn’t be used after about 3.5-4 hours, that means it’s best to add the water when switching flasks – costing time. I’ve found that leaving some space for air in the flask helps with the mixing. Have you found any tricks to improve mixing?

      • Hi Matt,

        Yes, the Perp powder management in heat is a bit of a logistical issue. I have, in the past, done as you and pre-filled the flasks with the powder and at a drop bag aid station taken a minute to partially fill a couple of the pre-filled flasks with water, shake, and then top off and move on. Depending on the aid station spacing, this works well. You do loose a little efficiency in the aid station.

        I moved to the following protocol for ultras where I make a high concentration ‘paste’ (actually more like a slurry) version- which is essentially a gel with protein and fat. I do the mixing and proportioning by experiment each time, although 2 scoops w/ 1/4 cup of water is typical. I decant this ‘slurry’ into a 148 ml soft flask and it provides a concentrated source. The slurry must be consumed with an appropriate amount of water (just like a gel) but keeping the two things separate (fuel and water) gives flexibility depending on how you feel, i.e. you may just want water due to a stomach issue so having the Perp in a less concentrated form in a large flask can limit being able to do this. I also like the taste of the more concentrated version of Perp. The concentrated mix gives about 300 cals, good for 1.5-2 hours (for me). I make up whatever number I think I need for the race and distribute accordingly. I have not had an issue with “spoilage” yet as the pre-mixed flasks in the drop bag are not exposed, typically, to very high heat here in the Rockies where I race. This is not necessarily the case elsewhere, but Hammer indicates the mix should be fine for 3-5 hours min and up to 8 hours, if the temps are cooperative ( I have seen others on loop courses using coolers which should work well for temp control of the pre-mixed flasks. I also add to this fueling with gels as needed, although I have difficulty choking them down and therefore avoid it until needed.

        I have yet to try the Perp solids but plan to in the next couple of weeks- I have seen mixed reviews.

        As far as mixing, I have not had issues with lumps and clogging of the bite valve when I mix-and-go on training runs. Leaving a bit of space, putting the top on the flask, shaking, and then topping off has worked so far for me. With the concentration you describe, if you put the powder in the flask and then massage the flask it might help to break up any lumps- I do this even at lower concentrations.

        Glad to hear the belt is comfortable for you- I expect you will find it a nice option, particularly if it replaces a vest.

  3. Yes, the massaging of the flask is a good trick. For this next race, I’m going to go with pre-mixing and pouring into the flasks. The weather’s cold enough that I don’t think a cooler will be necessary. If this approach works for me, I’ll use a cooler for races later in the season when it gets warmer. I’m trying my best to lose as little time as possible at aid stations.

    Sounds like we have very similar nutrition regimens. I can’t do all gel – tried it last year and it was a fail.

    Best of luck with your training. Look forward to hearing how your race season goes!

    • Matt,

      I am with you on the gel- I’ve called it ‘phlegm’ since it’s first appearance in the late 1990’s as it had the mouth feel of ‘phlegm’. And then there is the ‘gag response’ that some of us get…. uggh. But it is a nice, low maintenance, concentrated source of cals.

      I have a 50 miler coming up in late May. I really enjoy reading race reports but I have yet to bring myself to writing one as I feel so narcissistic about it. This is certainly not to discourage others from writing them, as I truly enjoy them, I just need to get over the ‘me, myself, and I’ thing and realize that others can take some valuable lessons away. Perhaps I will give it a try. Last year was all about getting some bearings with these events, this year I hope to be in a position to actually race. We shall see.

      Best of luck to you as well!

      • After the race last year where I only did gels, I couldn’t look at them for months. When I cleaned the soft flask a few days later (I was lazy and just left it) I did gag at the smell. Just thinking about it as I write this I almost gag. I’m still trying to finish the Hammer Vanilla bottle I bought (Vanilla Bean Gu’s were pretty tasty, but the Hammer is terrible).

        I started using Cliff Bloks for this reason. It’s also nice to have something to chew. The one issue I have with the Cliff Bloks is that the main ingredient is organic brown rice syrup, which I’ve read contains high levels of “inorganic arsenic”, which is a contributor to a number of diseases. I don’t use them very often, so I’m not very concerned, but after this race, I think I’ll try Gu Chomps, as they are maltodextrin I believe (which I’m sure has it’s own issues).

        I have a 50K race next weekend, so I’m going to stick with the familiar, but for my 50M at the end of May, I plan to incorporate homemade energy bars more to complement the Perpetuem, and use gels or chews very sparingly.

      • Also, I hear you on the race reports.

        I did one for each of my ultras last year for a few reasons. First, it forced me to think about details of the race and document them for the purpose of going back to them to identify learnings. Second, in 30 years when I’m remembering the days when I was able to run ultras, I think they’ll be an enjoyable read.

    • Hi Matt,

      Just to let you know I ran my first ultra distance in the belt today- 50km time trail w/ 1300 m of climbing. The belt worked out great for this unsupported run. I used 900 cals of Perp with 300 cals in each of three 148ml soft flasks- I carried one in the left hand hydro glove, and one each in the front mesh pockets. I used 1.5 l water with one 237 ml soft flask in the right hydro glove and two more in the rear mesh pockets. It was cool today (actually perfect running conditions- sunny with a start temp of 3C (38F) and end temp of 18C (65F)) and I had the S Lab Light jacket on initially, which I stuffed into one of the rear mesh pockets at about 1 hour into the run. If it was any hotter I would have needed more water, but in a race I could have filled at the aid stations and picked up more fuel flasks at drop bag aid. I also could have put the third fuel flask into one of the front zippered pockets as it did fit (even with another fuel flask in the mesh pocket) so I could have had a fourth 237 ml flask for water if need be (total of about 2l of water). I could also have put another fuel flask in the other front zip pocket thereby allowing for carrying 1200 cals. I consumed the 900 cals as follows: 300@ 1:30, 300@2:30 and 300@ 3:30. I could have used another 300 at about 4:15 or 4:30. I finished the run in 5:15. The belt was comfortable for the entire run and I often forgot that it was on- even when fully loaded.

      • That’s a heck of a training run! Nice. I’m treating the 50K race next weekend as a training run for a 50M in May, though I’m still doing some self-imposed tapering (feeling a little flat and overtrained since last weekend) and will give ‘er next weekend to see what happens.

        If I’m reading your post right, you had three 237ml flasks, totalling roughly 750ml. Did you refill during the run to get to 1.5L?

        I have four 237ml flasks but no 147ml’s. I’ve tested filling the 237’s about 3/4 and they will collapse and fit in the front pockets, so that’s my short-term solution. Will fill the belt today and do an easy trail run to see how it feels. Two 237 ml flasks in back for water and one 3/4 filled 237ml in front for Perp, along with salt caps and Cliff Bloks. Will have one additional 237 flask filled 3/4 for a second Perp supply that I’ll pick-up after the second or four laps.

        Glad to hear your training is still steaming along!

  4. Matt,
    Yes, you are right- I was totaling incorrectly. I keep thinking that I actually need liters of water. After reading ‘Waterlogged’ I drink about half of what I used to. So yes, 750 ml (24 oz) for the 50km in cool conditions. That’s about 150 ml /hour (5 oz/hour)….. pretty low consumption rate. I lost about 2% body weight during the run- well within acceptable. But that’s me – everyone is different.

    I suggest that you get a half dozen of the 148 ml soft flasks as they are the perfect size for the Perp mix (2 scoops w/ a 1/4 cup of water mixed in a bowl and decanted into the flask then topped of with water and shaken). Sounds like you have plan to work with what you have, it’s just easier both logistically and mentally to be refilling water at the aid stations and having everything pre-mixed when you get to drop bag aids- just drop off the used and pick up the new and off you go.

    Using a 50km race as training is a great way to get ready for the 50 miler- I would have done the same but the available 50km races out here are a bit far away and not worth the travel when we have such perfect trails here for the same distance right out the door. Doing a race pace/race length TT is good practice mentally as you have to push yourself alone w/o the added benefit of other competitors around. Great practice.

    I am sure you know this but recovery is actually more important than the training so be sure to let that recovery come. I monitor this with diligent measurement of resting HR in the morning before I get up- I can tell if I am not recovering well as the RHR starts to drift up a few beats. Sometimes it is hard to know that you are not recovering and often by the time you feel it you are way behind. When I see the RHR up about 3 beats I reassess the training volume/intensity and get more rest. So I will suggest that if you are feeling overtrained you are and that you get the needed rest so you can get the most out of the 50km effort. Good luck in the race!

  5. I’ve been looking for a minimal belt that can hold my essentials, as a viable option for the warmer months- where a normal hydration pack is impractical since your back needs to be well ventilated. The only thing that’s stopping me from getting this is the seemingly poor quality of the fabric/stitching from other reviews. I’ve read horror stories of the belt strap ripping right from the first pull, simply from trying to dial in the fit. I was wondering if you’ve come across similar issues.

    • Hi Kirk,

      I have not had any problems at all. In fact I just completed a 50 mile trail race this weekend and had no issues and was very satisfied with the belt system. In the race the belt was fully loaded with two 148 ml soft flasks in the front mesh pockets each loaded with a slurry of 300 calories of Perpetuem, the zip pockets each with one gel with salt tabs, race map, and lip balm distributed between the two. The rear pockets had 237 ml soft flasks with water in each and the left rear had an S Lab light jacket. Even in this fully loaded state the belt was comfortable and did not bounce.

      I have used the belt for all of my long training runs (35-50 km) this spring and there appear to be no material durability or construction issues- yet.

      Hope this helps!

    • Hi Kirk,

      I have experienced some of the poor stitching issues. It happened just after I bought it while testing it at a Salomon Store run and they were amazing enough to replace it on the spot. That being said, as long as you are aware of it, if you don’t yank on it you should be fine. I haven’t had a rip since that first night. The upshot is that you get a very functional piece of gear. I bought it for the exact same reason as you. I wore it for a 50K trail race with some good ascent and descent and didn’t experience much-to-any bounce. I was very pleased with the performance. I plan to use it for 50 milers as well.

      The above doesn’t change the fact that I think they should beef-up their stitching, like they do with their Exo wear.

      Hope that helps,

      • Just an update. I’ve finally received mine in the mail after a long wait and took them out for a test run (out on road) this morning loaded with 2 237ml and 2 148ml soft flasks. While the belt strap wasn’t as flimsy as I feared, it wasn’t as robust as I’d have liked. I found that it needs to ride fairly high up to be effective, like how you wear it. It does hug your body unlike any other belt I’ve tried. My only concern is that it tends to loosen over time due to how easy the belt fabric tends to slide over the fasteners. Is this an isolated occurrence? I’m still trying to work out how to devise a fix for this. Any ideas?

        For now, I’d still reach for my dependable S-Lab 12L Skin for hydration needs.

  6. Hey Kirk, yeah, I had the same loosening issue. Before my next long outing with the belt, I’m going to devise some way to keep it tight. Shouldn’t have to work that out ourselves, but it is necessary. While I would also prefer to wear it lower, as you said, wearing it high is where it sits the best. I found that wearing it high also reduced the loosening as there was less pulling on the straps.

    • Hi Matt and Kirk,

      I have had the same issue with slipping of the belt straps but only when I fully load the belt (two 237 ml flasks, two 148 ml flasks, 2 gels, an s lab light jacket, and a small camera). The belt is entirely comfortable on my 27″ waist when it is fully taught (i.e. there is no more strap length left) and I have sewn the belt straps to the frictioners in this fully taught position. This has worked fine on all long runs and in one 50km race when I fully loaded the belt. I will keep you updated as to how things progress- I am a bit concerned that the belt fabric will stretch and the belt will become forever loose.

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