I got the Salomon XA 25 litre pack a couple of months ago. I’ve had a chance to test it out on a handful 2-3 day fastpacking trips and it has quickly become my favourite pack for my fast and light adventures.
Read on to learn what it is about this pack that I love so much, along with a complete video review.
I’d been using the Salomon S-Lab Peak 20 for the past couple of years, which is actually a 22 litre pack, and it has served me amazingly well for races like Tor Des Geants which had a lot of required gear, as well as a handful of fastpacking adventures. But I always felt like I needed just a few more litres worth of space for multi-day missions.
The Salomon XA 25 is a vest-style pack with a roll-top compartment. Flex Sensifit technology – developed from Salomon’s trail running packs – stretches around your body, holding the load stably and letting you move freely while running and scrambling.
The hybrid construction combines wide shoulder straps, and twin chest straps for an adjustable, snug fit.
The sternum straps lets you to adjust and connect the pack quickly, while allowing for easier breathing while you run. There’s also a removable belt to provide extra support and to help further eliminate rotational forces.
It features taped, weather resistant fabrics with high-density structures – no zips or extra stitching – to resist tearing.
The zipper on my old S-Lab Peak 20 was something that always worried me. While I’ve never had a problem with it even after thousands of km’s on the trails, a zippered main compartment feels like a potential point of failure, especially when you’re really pushing the volume of a pack.
With a top-loading design, I have no worries in really filling this pack up. The durable carbon lace around the perimeter is a light and fast system for compressing or expanding the pack.
I love the attention to detail like the little hooks on the end of the straps to keep the cords from flopping around.
The straps and back-pad are thermo molded and sculpted to fit the spine and shoulders. The padded back panel is made of vented EVA foam which has worked well for me in warmer conditions.
The front pockets stretch to provide enough space for a day’s worth of calories, along with two 500ml flask pockets with secure loops.
It’s also got space for a bladder, although I personally prefer to rely on flasks in almost all cases, mainly in order to keep more of the weight and volume up front instead of further loading the rear. There’s also a small waterproof pocket inside that I use for important things like keys and a credit card.
On the back of the pack, you’ll find a stretch-mesh stuff pocket which is great for anything you might want quick access to like a waterproof shell.
In addition to an ice axe holder, there are several pole holder solutions, including the side laces which hold your poles very firmly in place. The one I like best is in the front which I use to quickly secure my poles when I need my hands for maybe just a short scramble.
The pack is extremely light for its size and features, weighing just 509 grams including accessories, or 443 without the removable waist belt. It achieves this weight by relying on its vest-like suspension instead of a frame, and thanks to the thin cords in lieu of zippers and compression straps.
Since it’s designed specifically without seams close to the ground and using heavy coated fabrics, this bottom construction protects all of your gear inside.
So far, I’ve been really impressed with how well the pack has protected my gear from rain and sweat.
One thing about this pack though is that it fits quite large. While I normally wear a medium/large size pack, I had to go down to a small/medium for the XA 25 which fits me perfectly. This unfortunately makes it less than ideal for some of the women I know who found even the small/medium to be much too large.
If you need even more capacity, consider the Salomon XA 35 litre pack. But at that volume, you’re likely to find that your pack is a little too heavy to run with. So I’d recommend re-thinking your packing list if you’re finding the 25 litre to be too small for 2-3 day fastpacking adventures.