The Salomon Sense Ultra 5 Set is the truly minimalist vest for the long distance runner. This lightweight, close to the chest running vest is designed to carry a lot, with access to everything, without feeling bulky or heavy.
The Sense Ultra 5 Set offers two upfront water bottles, larger pockets upfront than the previous version, two zip side pockets, a full rear pocket that runs the length of the vest, and another rear stow pocket mid-back. Salomon claims you can access every pocket on the vest without having to move it, which TAUR testers found to be true.
A disadvantage in the previous version were the bottles. Salomon has since redesigned them with a wider mouth, now capable of accepting ice cubes, and a firm/heavier bottom to keep the bottles at the bottom of the pockets. NOTE – filled bottles are meant to be used while in the pockets. Only remove them to refill them. Salomon has also redesigned the front closure system. The Twinlink system allows for greater movement and flexibility.
Fit – 3.5
Salomon has redesigned their sizing. Take that into account if you’re purchasing an upgrade from last year’s model to this one. You may find it is slightly different. While the overall fit and comfort of the new Sense Ultra 5 Set is equal or better to that of its predecessor, the Twinlink system feels more like a step back than a step forward. The elastic closures are simply too . . . . elastic, which makes the vest feel unstable when fully loaded. Salomon needs to rethink the closure system and consider coming with something stiffer.
Performance – 4.0
This vest allows every runner to move comfortably and easily all day long. One tester ran in the vest for 6+ hours at a time and reported no discomfort, chaffing, or awkward abrasions. Pockets are easy to access, carry more than the previous version, and once the vest is tightened appropriately, nothing really moves around too much.
Storage Capacity – 5.0
The Sense Ultra 5 Set is quite literally the perfect balance of lightweight, yet can still carry a lot. Assuming you have access to water wherever you’re running (as the vest does not have a reservoir holder), this vest can hold an absolute ton. One TAUR tester was able to carry the following: phone (iPhone 6), two water flasks, 6 gels, 2 chews packets, one granola bar, bag of beef jerky, salt pills, jacket, headlamp, and a light pair of gloves. There would have been room for more, if needed. If you’re looking for the perfect racing vest, this is it.
Stability – 3.5
This really goes along with the Fit category. Salomon took a step back with the new Twinlink closure system. The concept of cords as a closure system to reduce rubbing and weight is a great idea, but they really need to be tighter/stiffer. The cording they are using is simply too elastic. While it feels good breathing heavy or walking, if you’re fully loaded, with two full water bottles upfront, there is simply no way to reduce the bouncing. The whole thing just feels loose. While you can tighten the vest down a lot using the cords, to do so enough to reduce the bouncing, it all just seems to defeat the point of having it in the first place.
Durability – 4.0
We took the 5 Set up peaks all over the Wasatch Mountains. It was scraped on rocks, caught on trees, and it even took a few spills, leaving it muddy and beat up. The end result was that it held up well and continued to perform. The only negative feedback was that one of the seems starting to peel. This could have been an early run of vests and not quite up to production standards. Ultimately, it wasn’t an issue across the board and we were pleased with the results.
Appearance – 5.0
This isn’t just a great fitting vest, it is also gorgeous. The color scheme is a subtle shift from the previous red, white, and black. Our testers received the blue colorway and it was a nice change from the standard Salomon colors of the past.
Overall – 4.0
The Salomon Sense Ultra 5 Set is a great addition to any trail runners vest arsenal. Built as an ideal racing vest, it is lightweight, cool, easy to use, and still allows you to carry everything you need. At $140 it is still in a good price-point for most budgets and offers the versatility to fit the needs of just about anyone. This vest is definitely “TAUR Approved”.