For F/W 2014 -2015 Salomon introduced a new line of S Lab garments specifically for cross country skiing. They are called “Motion Fit” and incorporate design features and materials that allow for high-output training on skis in just about any weather.
I started using the jacket, tights, and pants at the beginning of the ski season in mid-November 2014 and I haven’t really used anything else (for skiing) since. With a total of about 1000 km (600 miles) of skiing with these garments, I can say without hesitation or qualification that each piece is outstanding and the performance is superior to anything I have ever used.
In the past I have used a system that consists of two sets of training clothing set-ups, one for ‘typical’ sunny days (in the -12C/+10F to -0C/+32F range) and one for cold days (<-18C/0F) and found this to be sufficient to handle the spectrum of weather conditions we see here in the central Idaho mountains.
Last year I used the Salomon Elite Jacket and found it to be quite comfortable, well ventilated, and near optimal for training in the warmer winter conditions here. I would switch from the Elite Jacket and Momentum Warm tights to a warmer, less ventilated jacket (e.g. Momentum Warm Jacket) and full-zip Momentum Warm pants over the Momentum Warm tights. This system has worked well.
I expected that the S Lab Motion Fit Jacket would replace the Elite Jacket in the set-up, that the S Lab Motion Fit tights would replace the Momentum Warm tights that I have been using for the past four years, and that I would switch to the cold weather elements as described above for the cold days. As it turns out I have not used the cold weather pieces at all as I find the S Lab Motion Fit system to be sufficiently warm with the addition of a vest. More on this later.
S Lab Motion Fit Jacket
The jacket has a few different materials in the design. First, the front is made from WindStopper fabric and this ends up being a critical part of why this garment is so useful across the temperature range that I have experienced (40F to -10F). Second, the shoulders, sides, and back are made from a stretch fabric that gives plenty of stretch for even the highest intensity training sessions. Third, Salomon have applied their laser cut ventilation technology on the back panel along the spine. This ventilation is what makes this jacket so comfortable during interval and tempo workouts as well as long skis in warmer weather. Although many manufactures (including Salomon) have used stretch mesh fabrics in this area for ventilation, there is no better vent than a hole and I can attest to the great performance of this venting in controlling body temperature in hard workouts.
As is clear in the image of the front of the jacket above, the fit is quite snug, however the articulation of the design and the stretch fabrics lead to no binding and free movement. There is a natural feeling of “just right” when wearing this jacket much like what has been achieved with the Sense line of running clothing from Salomon. Obviously there is a good bit of cross fertilization in the running and Nordic clothing lines.
The jacket has all of the other expected features such as a cinching waist, an upper torso clasp to allow opening the zipper without flopping of the jacket, and a nicely placed sizable rear pocket.
Although I expected that this jacket would not be sufficiently warm on very cold days, I have instead found that I can use this jacket right down to -10F by just adding a Momentum Warm Vest. The sleeves of the jacket are sufficiently warm as to not lead to excessive heat loss and still perform very well on warmer days. As a result I have not worn any other jacket this season, even on the coldest of days. With the laser cut ventilation the jacket is perfect right up to 32F. Salomon have found a very nice balance between performance for high output and comfort in cold.
Note: I have also used this jacket for winter running and found it to be a nice option. The ventilation is very effective for running where one tends to accumulate more sweat due to the lower speeds. As a result of a shoulder injury and reduced skiing, I have about 250 km of running in this jacket this winter.
S Lab Motion Fit Tights
The Salomon Momentum Warm Tights have been a fundamental workhorse in my Nordic clothing set-up since they were introduced four years ago. I have worn out a few pairs and still have a few more around. The only negatives that I experienced with these tights is that they eventually loose elasticity and begin to “bag” out and they are not the greatest in wind.
Enter the S Lab Motion Fit Tight and we have a refined, updated version of the Momentum Warm Tight. Salomon have added WindStopper fabric to the front, articulated the knees, and utilized a stretch fabric that, so far, holds it’s elasticity.
The knees are particularly comfortable as they do not bind or limit motion at all.
The tights perform well right down to 0F and in any sort of windy condition- no need for another or different layer. Below 0F I add the S Lab Motion Fit Pant over these and find the combination to be very comfortably warm. The tights also perform well in high intensity sessions.
Note: I also use these tights for winter running- something that I have been doing more of this year as noted above. They are just as functional in winter running as they are in skiing.
S Lab Motion Fit Pant
For the coldest days I have been using a full zip Momentum Warm over pant over the Momentum Warm Tights. Although warm, it is sometimes too warm and the combination is quite bulky and would bind from time to time. I was glad to see that Salomon offered a warmer, slimmer fit pant with all of the articulation and wind protection in the S Lab Motion Fit Tight.
I have used these pants alone on warmer days and in combination with the S Lab Motion Fit Tights on colder days. As mentioned above the combination performs very well in the cold and because of the slim fit the combination is not bulky. I have also had these out on some very windy days and they were very comfortable even when the temperature shot down to 5F. The knees, in addition to being articulated in the design also have a unique, totally separate section that eliminates binding.
The jacket is $230.00 (US), the tights are $140.00 (US) and the pants are $175.00 (US). Pricey as usual for Salomon but, if my experience holds, these pieces will wear well and can be used for numerous seasons. Competitive products are all in a similar pricing range but many do not have the fit, articulated design, and carefully chosen materials that this system offers.
Salomon have come up with a high performance clothing set-up for Nordic skiing that allows for comfortable skiing across the board from high intensity interval workouts to cold weather slogs. The articulating design and fabric choices are outstanding when compared to other offerings on the market. Highly recommended.