Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts

Myself and Jacob Dinardi, from HikeItLikeIt.Com after the 2014 GGG in Central California.
Myself and Jacob Dinardi, from HikeItLikeIt.Com, after the 2014 GGG in Central California.

The “Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts” are a pair of shorts I have spent a lot of time wearing. When folks ask me what they are I typically respond with “the stupidly expensive ‘Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts’“, because when it comes to a pair of shorts, these truly are over-the-top expensive.

The question I have had to ask myself, having now used them for a couple of seasons is, “were they worth it?

I think the answer to that question is “no“.

I do not think any pair of shorts should have a MSRP of $175 – regardless of how cutting edge they might be.

My favorite pair of shorts, the no-longer-available Golite ‘Mesa Trail 9″ Run Shorts’ cost me $45 directly from GoLite, and I thought that was expensive for a pair of shorts. Then there are the Montbell Dynamo Shorts, which will cost you $69 dollars, and the use of a scissors, and are the lightest pair of shorts I have been able to find (err: make), but still, a lot of money.

When it comes down to it, these shorts are basically compression shorts, with a typical pair of shorts attached onto them so they do not look overtly stupid – because compression shorts, I don’t care who you are, are just not cool looking – it is like wearing fishnet clothing… no matter how good they might perform, you just look dorky.

And really what you are paying for with these S-Lab shorts are that non-dorky look. We know this because there are other compression shorts on the market for 1/3rd the price of these. And hey, some people look really dang good wearing these!

So I suppose if you are wanting a pair of compression shorts and not look, well, dorky, than shelling out the extra money for these shorts might not be something you care about all that much.

Personally, I bought them because I had a bit of extra money and thought I would give them a try – and well, I didn’t want to look like an even bigger dork than I normally do wearing shorts >shrugs<

Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts (stock photo)
Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts (stock photo)

How I Have Used Them:

Ok, so moving on from price and looks… I want to talk about how I have used them, because they have turned out to be a bit more useful than initially expected.

The first, and obvious, use is while running. Street running and trail running.

As I rarely tend to push myself while street running, I have found I rarely need the compression aspects of these shorts.

I have found them to be more beneficial while trail running than while on the street. Trail running requires more muscle use, higher strain, and longer recovery.

I have also used them for hiking in areas where I know I would be doing a lot of elevation change, with more upper leg use and higher lactate/acidic/pyruvate issues, or in times when I am moving faster, such as my 400 mile, 12 day, sub 4 pound, NoBo hike(fastpacking?) of the Bigfoot Trail in early 2015, in which I wore the Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts every day.

I typically wear them with a pair of Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves (though I am likely to make the change to the Campressport Calf R2 Compression Sleeve here fairly soon) and for when I need more protection, I just slip on my Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants (of course).


The three big issues of any piece of lower garment.

Chafing: Over one thousand miles (1600+km) of running, hiking, fastpacking, and just out for walks, and zero chafing with these shorts. wooohoo!

Thermoregulation: So far I can say that there has not been a single time when I uhhh, got too hot down yonder.

Sweating: The only time I have notice sweating is when I was wearing a heavier pair of briefs, such as the ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs, my prefered next-to-skin lower wear, on a few days when it was F+100° — and I have since switched out to the adidas Men’s Sport Performance ClimaCool Boxers, recommended to me by doug i, on days when I am expecting it to be hot. The Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts can be used without a next-to-skin garment, but it is just something I prefer to not do, I have a few times, and did not like it.

What I Like:

Here are a few things that I really like about these shorts:

  1. Great feel, regardless of the activity.
  2. Upper leg compression
  3. Combined with a pair of calf compression sleeves they offer me excellent full leg compression with max flexibility
  4. They have lasted significantly longer than I expected, and without any rips, tears or even thread snags.

What I Do Not Like:

  1. Sizing can be a serious PITA. They either fit you really well or they do not fit you at all. Seems a lot of others complain about this same issue.
  2. They dry fairly good, but not as fast as I would like.
  3. I wish there was a way to tighten them, as they have to adjustment to them, a simple cord inside could fix this, obviously, and it amazes me they did not do this or add in some velcro – guess this is a follow-up to number one above.
  4. The fabric is really dark and thus provides for a lot of privacy, so one could (and I suspect most do) get away without wearing undergarments, but I just did not care for the feeling of the fabric, so I am stuck wearing two layers. Bummer.

In Closing:

I realize that the Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts are not going to be something that most of my usual readers care about, but I know there is a growing group of like-minded folks out there that have started, or have for a long time, gotten into trail running – dare I use the term fastpacking? As these shorts have proven to be exceptional for me while out trail running for the day, or for 12 days (the most I have used them) I felt it was worth writing up something about them for those that have been interested in them. I know of a least a dozen folks that have been wanting me to write up something the Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts, so, here ya go ladies and gents!!

Where To Buy:

The Salomon websiteAmazon.Com, and a whole lot of other places that sell running and cycling garments.

Thank you,
+John Abela

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that at the time this article is published that I am a sponsored hiker of Black Rock Gear, Montbell US, Suluk46, Sun Precautions.

5 thoughts on “Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin Shorts

  1. Ya, a $175 pair of shorts is pretty over the top. You didn’t mention how much they weigh, so I’m not sure on that level. I always were some cheap compression shorts with the six-inch leg to negate chaffing and then put on a pair of hiking shorts.

    As always, your candor is appreciated. Keep up the good work and helping the vendors to figure out what hikers/trail runners need.

    Was cool to see you hosted Wired. A great thing about the long-distance community.

    1. Hey Warren, thanks for the comment.

      Yes, I agree, $175 bucks is over the top expensive.

      Hmm, you are right, I did not get the weight included into the article.

      Mine, size large, are 209 grams / 7.37 ounces.

      I would tend to think that your approach is a much better approach – you could purchase two or three setups for the cost of one of these.

  2. The compression shorts I have are around 2.5 ounces and the nylon hiking shorts I have are all roughly 6.5-8.5 ounces. So fairly comparable weigh wise. And yes, three+ setups for the price. Thanks John.

  3. Hi, I’m 6′ 2″, 200lb, 36″ waist and usually wear L size in running shorts. What size would you recommend?
    L or XL ?

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