salomon sense hydro s-lab – gear review

sense hydro s-lab squirt water
bite or pinch to let the water out

Carrying your own water during longer training runs and unsupported races becomes a must. Along with the growth of ultra and trail running has followed a slew of hydration product solutions, everything from hand held bottles to hydration back packs and belt systems. There’s something for everyone out there, but personally I’ve preferred to carry a hand held bottle for my runs, sometimes two if needed. I like having the water in my hand, knowing how much I have left, and knowing it’s fast to refill. At times during falls it’s also doubled as crash protection.

Although lately I’ve been wanting something a little more streamlined, a little less bulky.

Which brings me to the Sense Hydro Lab hydration system. Kilian Jornet and the Salomon team have been field testing the item for some time. According to the promotional videos they made the system in response to Killan’s failed Western States attempt in 2010 where he ran out of water of all things. (He came back the next year to win it)

hydro s-lab bottle and glove
the squishy bottle fits snugly in the palm of your hand

What it is

The set comes with 2 breathable mesh gloves with rubber bands to hold the soft flasks. The outside of the glove is terrycloth. The bottles have a squeeze nozzle that is easy to pinch with your fingers or bite gently with your teeth. The flasks collapse down as you empty the container, are very light weight, and made of BPA and PVC free rubber.

The set comes with one 8 ounce bottle and two gloves.

hydro s-lab glove
very comfortable mesh glove that doubles as a sweat band

Immediate reactions

fit and feel

Good, very comfortable, don’t notice it’s there. Unlike the bottles, this did not make my hand sweat, the breathable mesh, well, breaths. Make sure to measure your wrist circumference, the gloves come in 3 sizes. The terry cloth on the outside of the glove is good for wiping sweat from your forehead. There’s a tab that sticks out, I don’t know it’s function, but it got in the way when I was wiping my brow. (Above photo) It might be on the chopping block before the next run.collapsing

As you drink the bottle collapses in your hand. There is no sloshing around of water, unlike with half empty water bottles.easy to refill

I’ve had problems with hydration bottles that were hard to open and/or close. (Nathan) This just takes a second to slip under the rubber bands that hold it in place. The rubber is slightly thicker near the nozzle, so there’s no give in the flask as you twist the top off.durability

The last trail run I was carrying this I tripped and fell. Right on the squishy bottle. Right on a rocky surface. No damage done. Now, I’m sure it’s not as durable as a thicker plastic water bottle, but I was impressed it didn’t just tear apart. 

hydro s-lab flask compared to ultimate direction bottle
this ultimate direction bottle can carry 3 times the volume but is bulkier

A few negatives

not enough volume
This is a deal breaker for most. If you can handle a workout holding 1/3 the water as a standard bottle, then it’s perfect. I think for runners in very good shape this is the case. I’ve noticed with myself the better in shape I get the less water I need. So it depends on the individual, and also on the heat. I’ll be using this more in the fall when the temperature and humidity drop. For standard 1-2 hour runs it’s perfect.I was originally going to test this during a recent 50k trail race. I’m glad I opted for my Ultimate Direction water bottle instead, seeing as how hot and slow I was during the race. I was going through water pretty fast and ran out several times. The limited volume of the sense lab would have made a tough run even tougher.

missing bottle in set

The set comes with two gloves and only one bottle. So what am I supposed to do with the extra glove? I don’t care for mismatched sets, they push you to match them. Which I promptly did by buying an extra bottle…a 5 oz bottle to carry a gel mix.

At $40 this set is comparable to other hand held bottles. Not too pricey, but still. If I hadn’t had to purchase an extra bottle, I’d be happier.
hydrapak for s-lab system
made with materials free of all kinds of things that may be bad for you

Bottom line

A very nice alternative to those who don’t need that much hydration, or who just don’t like carrying bottles in their hands. For shorter runs it’s perfect. People will get different mileage out of it.

This is also a good combination with my spibelt – where I carry gels, keys and my phone.happy running!