It was a cloudless bluebird day with a nearly zero percent chance that even a drop of water would fall from the sky. Part of me wished it would. The unseasonable October heat made this particular morning feel the same as it had the last time I’d gone up Hope Pass — in August.
Whether it was wishful thinking or just force of habit, I went ahead and stuffed a lightweight rain shell into the back compartment of my Salomon Sense Pro 10 running vest. We were headed into the alpine, after all. Anything can happen at 12,000 feet, even on an oppressively sunny day like that one.
I didn’t spend long hemming and hawing over my decision to bring the shell along, or about any other gear choices for that matter. Space wasn’t a concern. The Sense Pro could fit more than I needed for the time I planned to be out on the trail. It had already proved that on far longer runs. I’d worn it during a 7-hour stretch of the Leadville 100 and through the majority of the Ring the Springs 100K earlier in the season.
I loaded up the vest’s pockets with fuel, slipping in an extra 2 hours’ worth of gels. That was another reason I picked up the Sense Pro 10.
This vest doesn’t give me any excuses to slack off on nutrition. My body has borne its fair share of stress in that department over the years. I’ve learned better. Now, I overpack in the calorie department, and this vest makes that easy.
In short: The Salomon Sense Pro 10 expands and contracts so effectively that it functions like a whole fleet of vests in one. It’ll stretch to accommodate big caloric loads and alpine-ready layering systems. Then, it flattens to feel like a second skin. I found the bounce was minimal, and I chafed less around my neck and shoulders — even when the vest was loaded up. Everything from easy local loops to 100-plus-mile ultras is a go for this versatile vest.
If you want to compare the Salomon Sense Pro 10 running vest to others, check out GearJunkie’s complete guide to the Best Running Hydration Vests & Packs.
- Gear capacity 10 L
- Weight 8.8 oz. (with accessories)
- Materials Nylon, elastane, polyester
- Best for Performance or comfort any day of the week
- Lightweight and breathable
- Extremely comfortable (minimal bounce and chaffe)
- Expandable pockets offer tons of storage
- Slim fit when not loaded up
- Speed soft flask bases can be uncomfortable while running
Salomon Sense Pro 10 Running Vest Review
At first glance, the Salomon Sense Pro 10 running vest honestly doesn’t show any signs of holding its claimed capacity. Side by side with other 10L vests, it appears downright puny. I almost returned this vest before the first test run because I thought the chances it could support my longest training runs, let alone the races themselves, seemed too slim to rely on.
But ever the optimist (or, more honestly, reluctant to go through an annoying exchange process), I gave the vest a shot. I tested it first on a local loop where I knew I could stash it safely if it proved too uncomfortable or unwieldy to go the distance. I didn’t go easy on the Sense Pro, either. With only a mellow 12 miles on the docket, I packed as if I were going out for 30.
Stretchy, Expansive Storage
I found during the packing process that the front pockets could transform. They were completely flat when empty, but expanded enough to fit six isotonic gels, two baggies of peanut butter pretzels, and one energy bar. And that’s not in total, either, but on each side.
That’s on top of two fully filled 16-ounce flasks in separate bottle slots. And it doesn’t even include the main back compartment. In there, I slid a rain shell, extra socks, and a pair of wind pants. Then, in the kangaroo tube pocket running along the lower back, I stored a filter flask.
I attached my poles to bungees on the bottom below the kangaroo pocket. I zipped up my blister kit in one shoulder pocket, and my emergency meds in the other. Then I put my iPhone 11 (complete with a large Otterbox case) in a front zippered compartment. And I still hadn’t fully maxed out the Sense Pro 10. So, I went and bought a donut from the gas station on my way to the trailhead — just in case.
Everything fits snugly and securely without bouncing, rubbing, or exploding out onto the trail. That’s thanks to the elastane woven into the polyamide fabric. The pockets stretch to accommodate capacities far greater than they would suggest. Silicone lining on the edges of the pockets also provides extra grip to prevent crowded gear from slipping out.
The load that I experimented with that day was more than I would have ever needed on the longest solo stretches an ultra. But from then on, I never questioned whether the Sense Pro 10 could keep up with my agenda.
Minimalist When It Needs to Be
I actually ordered the smaller version of this vest, the Sense Pro 5, immediately after returning from that first fully loaded test run. If the 10 could hold that much, I remember thinking, then maybe I needed something else for lighter days.
But before the 5 arrived, I put the 10 through another experiment in the exact opposite scenario. I took everything out of the vest except for one gel in each front pocket and my phone zipped up in the back. I wanted to see if the vest would feel like overkill on days when I didn’t need more than the bare necessities.
The spartan load sat just as well as the weighty one. Strategic seams and folds in the fabric allow it to flatten. That keeps the pockets from sagging or catching air like sails when empty. The elastane also gives the fabric a compressive quality. It holds loose items in place so they don’t bounce around in all that dead space.
Further, the handy front closure system across the sternum allows the wearer to shift between heavy and light loads with one quick pull of a bungee cord. That’s a huge perk when you camel up on a hot day and chug all your water, taking your pack from full to flat in seconds.
I returned the Sense Pro 5 when it arrived after that second day of testing. Not because it wouldn’t be a worthwhile vest in its own right, but because I’d proved that I didn’t need both. The 10 could handle each extreme equally well.
The only thing I don’t pack in the Salomon Sense Pro 10 any longer is lubrication. That was something that used to sit at the top of my trail essentials list. I’d reserve an entire pocket in previous vests for my trusty tube of Body Glide. I’d pull it out every handful of miles for a re-up along my neck and shoulders where the vest met skin. As a runner with more upper body muscle than most, I thought chafing was just my cross to bear.
It turns out that my body was never the problem, but rather my choice of vest. The Sense Pro 10 fits just as snugly as its peers, if not more so, without chafing as a side effect. The fabric feels incredibly soft to the touch. Think of it as a cross between soft-shell and yoga pants material. Taped versus sewn seams eliminate friction around the edges as well, and allow for more stretch so the vest can move better with your body.
Room for Improvement
The one place where Salomon could improve on comfort with the Sense Pro 10 concerns the flasks. The Salomon Speed Flasks feature rigid bottoms as a way to hold them in place and slide into the pockets more easily — hence the name “Speed.”
That’s a common frustration with hydration vests, especially when you’re trying to move through aid stations as quickly as possible. So, I appreciate the brand’s initiative here. However, the structured bottoms do have a habit of digging into the ribs. I’ve noticed bruises on both sides where the flasks had hit after some of my longest runs.
Runners can mitigate this issue, though. Tighten the closure bungees so that the flasks rest closer in on the chest instead of further out on the sides. That way, the bottoms of the flasks hit below the ribs. Salomon also sells regular Soft Flasks without the rigid bottom for its running vests.
Final Thoughts: Salomon Sense Pro 10 Running Vest
The Salomon Sense Pro 10 has replaced the many other running vests that I’ve experimented with over my years in long-distance trail running. Like a transformer, it functions just as well on big adventures as on casual jaunts. That’s why it was named “Best Overall Hydration Pack” in our guide to the Best Running Hydration Vests & Packs.
My favorite part of packing the Sense Pro 10 for a big day on the trails was knowing that I wouldn’t feel like I was still lugging around the entire day’s worth of supplies by the final miles. This vest flattens down as you burn through fuel and don spare layers. It becomes no more of a burden than your T-shirt. Where other vests tend to billow in the wind as the load lightens, the Salomon Sense Pro 10 acts like a vacuum instead.
That’s the kind of vest you need when convoluted training and racing schedules have you bouncing from one extreme to the other depending on the day. Why have six running vests clogging up your closet when one does the trick every time?