Gear of the TSEpic: Salomon’s Agile 7 Hydration Pack review

Salomon Agile 7 pack action 1

Photo courtesy Trans-Sylvania Epic and A.E. Landes Photography

Having had the chance to try one of Salomon’s running-oriented hydration packs during a recent trip, packing one along for last month’s Trans-Sylvania Epic stage race was an easy choice.  As the minimal Agile series is actually designed for trail running use, Salomon prioritize stability and light weight over bells and whistles.  To hit its impressive 449g dry weight (290g without bladder), the Agile 7 limits niceties to a 2L Hydrapak bladder, a pair of capacious wing pockets, and 5L of gear storage.  How has the lightweight pack fared on the trail?  Hit the jump to find out!

SONY DSCOut of the box, it’s clear that Salomon’s focus here is on light weight.  The ripstop fabric is thin enough to be translucent but surprisingly substantial feeling.  Though built only of perforated foam covered by lightweight mesh, the Lite Shoulder Straps are breathable and surprisingly comfortable.  The same perforated foam is found in strips on either side of the back panel- but for the most part the bladder is separated from the wearer by a thin layer of three-dimensional mesh fabric.

Inside, a clever 2-way zipper combines with a diagonal divider to allow access to either the bladder or storage compartment, depending on which way the zipper is opened.  In order to keep the bag simple and weight low, the main compartment goes without any dividers, key tethers, or the like.  SONY DSCCompulsive organizers will feel left out, but the long zipper allows for easy access to the bag’s contents when slung under the left arm.

The mesh wing pockets are surprisingly good-sized: an intermittently rainy third day saw rain layers stuffed into one without issue and despite their size the adjustable elastic opening means that snacks have stayed put while remaining easily accessible.  The 4D (trekking) Pole Holder came in surprisingly handy, providing a secure elastic mount for the Enduro sections’ timing card.

So it’s light and simple, then.  In addition, Salomon have spent a fair amount of time and energy making the Agile 7 one of the more stable packs we’ve ridden lately.  The well-shaped shoulder straps help, as does the pack’s ability to conform to the rider’s back.  SONY DSCWhile riders in truly hot areas will want a more structured ventilation system, the bag’s small footprint means that this model isn’t as warm as larger packs of the same design would likely be.

In lieu of a more common sternum strap, Salomon’s Twin Link elasticated strap clips on to one of four rings on either shoulder strap.  Though the elastic does a good job at balancing pack stability with rider breathing, the clips can be a bit fiddly to operate while riding- a buckle like that used on the (non-removable) waist belt would be easier to release for a bit of air flow or when accessing the main compartment.

Because the Agile 7 has little structure of its own, it does require the rider to actively manage the shoulder and sternum straps as the bladder is depleted or contents are moved in to and out of the main compartment.  Salomon Agile 7 stockThe bag can be remarkably stable and comfortable at any given time- but drink 50oz of fluid and things can get a bit floppy.  This is par for the course, however- everything in the same weight class behaves more or less the same.

In sharp contrast to Osprey’s apocalypse-ready packs, the Agile 7 is a light and fast pack: ideal for riders who… want to travel light and ride fast.  Over the course of the Trans-Sylvania Epic, we managed to pack everything (and more) needed for 4 hours on the bike into the little pack- and it remained comfortable throughout.  For those not comfortable with our pack’s magenta zipper and interior, three other colors are available at the same $110 MSRP.  While it’s short on bells (but does include a whistle), the Agile 7 is a great long-race option.

marc

www.salomon.com

Comments

patrik - 06/17/13 - 12:31pm

Is it just me, or has the hydration pack market become saturated? Other than the fact CamelBak fails to take into account a FULL bladder when designing their bags*, everything else is pretty much the same, save fancy graphics.

*I have the H.A.W.G, which is HUGE. But try putting a full bladder into the bag without the need to use your foot. My Osprey, OTOH, has a system that allows the bag to slide right in without effort. Go figure.

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