Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer Run Hydration: Salomon Park Hydro Handset, Agile Belt, Advanced Skin S-Lab 2 Belt Set

It's almost summer so it's time to think about carrying some water.

I have been a big fan of the Salomon Softflask bottles.
Salomon Softflask 500ml 16oz

The smaller sizes can be hand carried, as is without problem, but the 500ml/16oz version flops around and must be rolled up once partially empty. Last year I tried the Advanced Skin S-Lab Belt which was really designed for the smaller bottles (250 ml, 125 ml)  with not enough depth for 500ml bottles.

This year Salomon has gotten wise to methods to carry the 500ml bottles. I ordered the Park Hydro Handset ($40) , Agile Belt Set ($65). I returned the $80 Advanced Skin as it was overly fussy and complex with 6 pockets and a difficult closure and tightening system. It does have the same deeper pass through pocket as the Agile, an improvement over last year's model.
Salomon Park Hydro
The Park Hydro is a fantastic way to hand carry 500 ml of water in the softflask with a little bit of extra storage for gels, keys, and even if you want to a phone in the decent sized zip pocket. My iPhone 5S in a slim case and baggie fit but I will continue to keep my phone in a shorts pocket, too much in the hand bothers me. There is also a stretch pocket between the fingers to hold a gel or two.
As the bottle emptied I noticed some sloshing noises but given the easy to tighten elastic strap no flopping around. It is fairly easy to insert a full bottle into the strap.  A 500 ml soft flask is supplied with the Park Hydro. The drink valve is improved over last year's with  a wider opening and better quality silicone. The stretch strap is easy to adjust on the go.

I found the flask perfectly comfortable to run with, rare for me with handhelds.
Salomon Park Hydro

The Agile Belt is a compliment to the Park Hydro for those runs where more water and gear is in order. Losing the fussy belt of  S-Lab Advanced Skin, the Agile has a simple padded belt. It too comes with a 500 ml bottle.

Here a picture with two 500ml SoftFlasks, 2 gels, energy chews, and a wind jacket in the zip pocket

Salomon Agile Belt

The rear main rear pocket closest to the back is  a stretchy pass through clear to the other side.  One 500 ml bottle slips easily into this stretch compartment.  Two Softflask bottles are certainly possible particularly if once removed you carry one and the zip pocket is not to full. Conventional bike bottles could be used but the stretch pocket does not provide a real holster so more bouncing could be expected with full bike type bottles.

The zip pocket is clearly water resistant although I am not sure I would put in smartphone in it without a baggie. On either side of the stretch pocket closest to the waist are 2 more stretch pockets which hold 2 gels each. The reflective trim loops can be used to attach a bungie, not supplied.

With one bottle on board as well as a smartphone the carrying is very comfortable with minimal bounce. So if one combines the Park Hydro Handheld with 2 spare Softflasks in the Agile,  1.5 liters or 48 oz of water can be carried.

Backcountry.com and Moosejaw currently have the Agile Belt on sale. Moosejaw has Park Hydro on sale.
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