Salomon XT Wings Pack

When I started doing longer training runs I worked my way thru a couple of different hydration belts. Still use them sometimes too, but when the going keeps on coming, I find my insides seem to swell up, and a belt that’s tight enough not to bounce around or fall down can be more than uncomfortable – it can be downright nauseating.

For long unsupported runs (especially on trails, or remote country roads), nothing beats a running-specific backpack.   Just large enough for hydration, fuel and an emergency layer; cut to allow full motion; a good pack can extend your comfortable range, all by itself.

Salomon XT Wings crop

Most that I see in stores or catalogs use an internal bladder, but I love this model from Salomon because it carries two separate bottles right outside, where you can conveniently grab and replace them without breaking stride (it also accommodates a bladder, but I’ve never bothered). I prefer the bottles because I can fill one with electrolyte drink, and the other with plain water (especially necessary to wash down gooey jells and snacks, and much better for pouring over the old scalp than energy drinks…).

On trail runs, one of those bottles is a Katadyn, (see separate ‘Things That Work’ posting) that filters water from any source, another reason I prefer bottles over a bladder. And on a recent ‘minimally-supported’ event (aid stations three to seven miles apart; too far for me to go dry in between) it was a lot quicker to refill my bottles from their jugs than a bladder would have been.

My only gripes (and they’re small ones):  this pack does not quite adjust down to my torso (I’m just shy of  5’-4” on a good day) and there are supposed to be snap-in holders available to carry a gel flask on the front of each shoulder strap, but I’ve never been able to find them for purchase.  As you can see, I ended up jury-rigging two Amphipod Velcro pockets to do the job (sort of), but I’d still love to get the proper accessories (any Salomon reps. out there reading this?).

Other than that though, I’m sold on this pack which has a couple hundred miles on it  by now, and I expect will have a lot more before I bother looking at any other.

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