Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Salomon Running Review

I managed to get my hands on a Salomon Running XA15 Pro Vest Pack a few weeks ago for a demo and used it on my bigger training runs that I did last week. It was nice to have a pack for the runs I did last week with the new snow in Arthur's Pass. I was able to easily carry a shell jacket, warm hat, Buff, gloves, a little food, 1L water and even my camera. The most notable thing about this pack, as you would have noticed in the name, is the vest feature. The front of the shoulder straps have a pouch on each side for carrying water bottles and the vest feature is between these. By loading up the 2 water bottle pouches (about 1.5L) and carrying extra food bars/energy gels in the vest pockets you have more room, or don't need as much room, meaning the 15L on your back is plenty big enough to carry a spare layer, gloves, a hat - all the stuff that is required for a mountain/trail running race.
XA15 Pro Vest Pack, with Vest's circled

Back of the XA15 Pro Vest Pack, showing drinking bladder compartment and drink bottle pouch (circled).

The pack itself is fairly small and sits very snug on your back, taking up around only 2/3 - 3/4 of your back, meaning there is good breathability on your back. Its fit is very nice, the adjustment straps that are used to snug the vest tightly mean that the pack hugs nicely when running at high speeds over uneven terrain. Loading the water bottles and other goodies in the front means these heavier items are not on your back, which usually cause the pack to swing and bounce around. For me, the biggest drawback of the XA15 Pro is the Vest feature itself. I feel a little like action multi sport man as I zip up the front of the pack over my chest. At first I wasn't 100% sold on it, but I have warmed to it over the 9hrs I spent running with it. I'll definitely use a pack from the Salomon Running range while running/racing this summer, if not the XA15 Pro, then possibly the Raid Revo 15. The other Salomon Running product I have been using and am really impressed with is the XT Wings trail shoes. I'm onto my second pair of Wings and I don't think I've ever brought the same shoe twice! The Wings feature Salomon's quick lace system, which I've found work well, holding nice and snug. The heal is wide and well cushioned, as is the forefoot area, making for a smooth and well supported ride on rough, uneven trails. The Wings, like all Salomon Running shoes, are a dedicated trail running shoe, but do offer enough cushion for short amounts of road running, like running to and from a trail head from home or the car park. Running through the snow last week in APNP, I was most impressed with the "ContaGrip" sole that didn't slip once while running over snow covered rock. My biggest dilemma is what shoe in the Salomon Running range to get next! Most who I have talked to rate the XA Pro 3D higher than the Wings, while the new SpeedCross 2, the race shoe of choice for the likes of Jonathan Wyatt and Kilian Jornet, look very impressive!

Salomon's new SpeedCross 2

Your best bet for getting a hold of Salomon Running products is from your local Front Runner or R&R Sports store, or call 03 366 1122 for stockist.

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"The skier who forsakes the lifts to climb under his own power to a mountain summit is a very different person from the downhill only piste basher and is often regarded by the latter as something of a curiosity.
But he was the creator of the sport; and possibly with him lies the future"
-Robin Fedden, The book of Europen Skiing, 1966
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