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<
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:
- Great feel, regardless of the activity.
- Upper leg compression
- Combined with a pair of calf compression sleeves they offer me excellent full leg compression with max flexibility
- They have lasted significantly longer than I expected, and without any rips, tears or even thread snags.
What I Do Not Like:
- 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.
- They dry fairly good, but not as fast as I would like.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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.