|Liquid for the Long-Haul -August 2009 |
Hydration systems to suit your needs
By Allison Pattillo and Mike Benge
Copied from Trail Runner: Online Magazine from an article from August 2009
|I know better, but I often hit the trails at lunchtime sans water. Then co-workers have to endure my dry, hacking cough for the rest of the day. Thus my assignment to test and review hydration systems was either ironic or carefully calculated.|
To set the parameters, I polled runners on our website, and discovered their thirst-quenching preferences were evenly divided among handheld bottles, waistbelts and backpacks.
Testing time saw us on the trails, in races and back at the office debating the merits of the latest models. Now, I don't leave the office without water-and it's a happier place
-light and convenient
-often equipped with small pockets for a gel or keys
-protect your hands in a fall
-you have something in your hand
-need to plan for refills on longer runs
-make your hands cold or sweaty depending upon the weather
Fuel Belt Sahara Palm Holder
$15.95; 22 oz bottle; 3.7 oz empty weight
Simple carrier with zippered gel pocket, mesh trash outer compartment and Velcro key compartment. With a securely locking hand strap and bright colors, this handheld is the bargain of the bunch.
Nathan Quickdraw Elite
$25; 22 oz bottle; 4.1 oz empty weight
This unit features a mesh, moisture-wicking, adjustable hand strap with thumb slot, which allows alternative hand positions and eliminates the need to "grip" the bottle. Strap adjustments are made via a Velcro strip that wraps under the bottle and holds tight without loosening-- although some testers cut off circulation by cranking it too tight. A zippered pocket with key clip accommodates a couple gels, and an external mesh pocket holds trash.
Tried and True
Ultimate Direction Fast Draw Extreme
$22; 20 oz bottle; 4.5 oz empty weight
This proven performer features an elasticized, mesh hand band with a tension-lock strap and small zippered pocket. A neoprene sleeve covers the BPA-free bottle to keep your beverage cold and hand warm, plus provides a cush grip. The Kicker Valve, a unique soft-plastic nipple, can be a bit confusing to first-time users, but with a couple swigs and flicks (to get it into the closed position), most testers praised its merits.
And here is my addition, the Amphipod: Handheld Thermal-Lite™ 20oz.
• 20oz. ergonomically contoured insulated handheld bottle with pocket
• Great combination for hot and cold weather use
• Comfortable, fully-cushioned breathable slotted design
• Insulator is easily removable for maximum use versatility and washing
• 40% flatter Hydraform™ bottle eliminates hand cramping tension
• Expandable zipper pouch pocket for iPod, phone, nutrition, keys and more
Company website: http://www.amphipod.com/
I have this one too, but the verdict is still out. I like the neoprene sleeve over the bottle. It helps keep the liquid within cool in hot weather and keeps it from getting as cold in cold weather. It also insulates you hands from the cold liquid which absolutely freezes your hands in cold weather, even when wearing gloves. The bad thing is the bottom loop of the holder is only held in place by the tension of the hand strap. If it is not really tight, which seems too tight to me, occasionally the bottom strap just falls off the bottle. The bottom strap also falls off when refilling the bottle occasionally. I think I will try to buy another sleeve and use them on my Nathan bottles.
-offer hands-free, unencumbered running
-hold one or more bottles
-have pockets for extra storage
-will jostle if the fit isn't good
-can cause excessive shirt bunching
-not the best choice for high-waisted runners
Tried & True
Amphipod Run Lite 2+ Trail Runner
$36; 21 oz bottle; 8.6 oz empty weight
The unique, barely-know-its-there Amphipod system features a soft-mesh Velcro-closure waistbelt with a zippered pouch for gels, electrolyte tabs and energy bars, and "quickdraw" bottles that snap into modular docks. You can move, add or subtract docks, and the standard carrier accommodates both eight- and 10.5-ounce bottles, making it a great racing setup.
$40; 21 oz bottle plus 5 oz gel flask; 10.5oz empty weight
This belt features a breathable, quick-dry, mesh belt and adjusts for a comfortable, no-jostle fit. Stretch-mesh hip-pockets hold necessities and the angled, insulated bottle holster keeps water cold and handy. When the "load stabilizers" were cranked down to prevent bouncing, some testers found it difficult to reinsert the bottle. A gel flask nestles in a holster next to the bottle carrier; just be sure to shove the flask in its pocket so you don't lose it.
Inov-8 Race Elite 3
$35; 22 oz bottle; 6.4oz empty weight
Large weather-resistant and stretch-mesh wing pockets provide room for everything you need on a two- or three-hour run. The angled bottle sleeve allows easy access, and an elastic loop hooks over the bottle to make sure it stays put. The Race Elite 3 has wide straps and padding for comfort, and mesh to keep you cool. Testers liked wearing it both in the
Natha Speed 4R Hydration Belt My Addition to the list. I really like this belt and use it for most long runs and races. It has four 8oz bottles that I use to hold energy drink mixes. My belt has 10 oz bottles. It is also available in a 2 bottle configuration. It is available in small, medium and large belt sizes. I have never used this type of belt for just carrying water but I guess that would work just fine.
Lafuma Cinetik Bottle Plus
$29.95; 22 oz bottle; 5.9 oz empty weight
The wide, soft Velcro waist-band was comfortable and secure and the diagonal water-bottle positioning made for a clean swipe and return. Bonuses are a handy stash pocket on the waistbelt and a rear pocket to accommodate an extra layer.
-great for long runs where you want extra gear and food
-offer ergonomic designs for a comfortable, non-jostling fit
-can result in water sloshing, which either relaxes you or encourages frequent pit stops
-can get hot or dig into shoulders if not well designed
-can feel encumbering
Camelbak Octane XC
$60; 2.1 l bladder; 1 lb 5 oz empty weight; 90 cu
This streamlined pack features an external fill reservoir (made of super-tough plastic treated to eliminate 99.9 percent-according to Camelbak-- of the slime that typically grows in reservoirs) fitted in an insulated pocket. The back panel features raised, mesh-covered foam for enhanced ventilation. An external zip pocket, dual waist-belt stash pockets and external bungee allow space for a jacket, snacks and essentials. Mesh shoulder straps provide a cool, secure fit, and nifty Velcro strap tabs keep excess webbing from flapping.
$89; 1 lb 1 oz (bladder not included); 480 cu
With an aero-mesh back panel this pack features a hydration port and sleeve with convenient back-fill access, internal-compression system for on-the-fly adjustments and two water-bottle pockets. Dual, stretch-mesh waistbelt pockets with cargo stabilizer loops, an internal mesh organizer and pocket with Velcro closure, plus plenty of external loops ensure you can carry gear to spare.
Tried & True
Nathan HPL #020
$85; 2 L fluid capacity; 6 oz; 800 cu
This pack features a unique harness system that adjusts via side straps to give a comfortable, vest-like fit. The shoulder straps are lightweight, wide mesh, with an open pocket on one strap and a small zippered pocket on the other. A compact rear compartment features an outer zip pocket, divided for bars and other small items, while the main pocket holds the included two-liter bladder and offers room for extra layers. This is a wicked setup for ultra racing and long weekend runs.
Osprey Talon 5.5
$69; 1 lb 1 oz (bladder not included); 240 cu
Available in two sizes with a unique torso-length adjustment, this pack ensures a locked-on fit. Snap-clip load lifters allow quick access to the three-liter-bladder-capacity hydration slot. Two stretch gel pockets on the shoulder straps, a stretch-woven front pocket with bungee, and large top-access inner and tool pockets provide plenty of room for gear. For maximum ventilation, Osprey uses mesh and foam in the back panel, and an external tow strap gives you the option to attach stragglers.
Salomon XT Wings Hydration Pack
$70; 12.8 oz empty weight; 366 cu
Don't like sucking from moldy bladders, having a hip belt jostling around your lower back or holding anything in your hands? Well, complainer-voila! This pack features rigid, three-sided bottle carriers with matching bottles on each side hip "wing," allowing quick-draw access. The three-sided bottles aren't especially ergonomic but work. Unpadded, mesh shoulder straps and well-ventilated, padded back keep you surprisingly cool. The slim, main compartment, with inner-organizer mesh pocket and bladder sleeve accommodates extra layers.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Filling a bottle out of a cool mountain stream speaks to the rugged individualist in all of us, but, to stay healthy, purify that water before drinking it.
Aquamira Water Treatment Drops and Water Purification Tablets(www.aquamira.com) and Potable Aqua tablets (www.potableaqua.com), are super lightweight, proven performers which use chlorine dioxide, a broad-spectrum water purifier.
Aquamira Water Bottle & Filter
$26.95; 22 oz; 5.9 oz empty weight
Aquamira has fitted an activated carbon microbiological filter to a Nalgene sport bottle, with a pop-up spout and flip-top lid. The replaceable filter treats up to 230 refills, and, according to Aquamira, traps 99.9 percent of Giardia, Cryptosporidium, organic material and water borne pathogens. Flow is a bit slow until the filter is fully wet.
$99.99; 5 oz with batteries
Simply stick the ultraviolet lamp in your water container, push the button, watch the clock countdown on the LCD display screen and drink when the smiley face appears. This idiot-proof, hand-held, water purifier treats up to one liter of water at a time. For larger volumes of water, treat one-liter batches then transfer to your container of choice.
BLADDER CARE MADE EASY
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our water reservoirs--they keep us hydrated on the trails, but if improperly maintained get moldy and taste funny. Here's how to keep your water fresh and tasty.
- Empty your reservoir after every use.
- Then, refill the reservoir with warm water and add one of the following:
o half cup of baking soda and a little lemon juice
o one teaspoon of bleach
o a couple of denture-cleaning tablets
- Shake it to make sure mixture fills the tube as well, and let sit for at least an hour or overnight.