You’ll need a drink after reading this post on active hydration options

Guest running writer Ryan Pifer, en route from Monterrey to Charleston, SC (tough places to live, there Ryan) had some time to kill recently. So he shared some views on hydration options for distance runners. The tip he provides at the end is worth the read.

When faced with a run of more than 10 miles, hydration goes from important to critical. But mapping your route to include the occasional water fountain doesn’t exactly allow for the greatest runs. So, you should probably carry. And not many love to do that.

Well, I’ve tried out most of popular options out there and decided that different runs call for different methods. You can mix it up.

The simplest way is the hand-strapped water bottle. Most models have a small zipper pouch for energy gels or any type of non-liquid sustenance. I recommend the Ultimate Direction model, as the holsters are comfortable and they to stand up to brutal abuse, like drops and bounces down rocky paths, banging around the back seat of your rig and even what appear to be some chew marks … ?

If you’ve witnessed a marathon, you’ve probably seen one of the more popular methods involving several small, plastic bottles on a belt. This is the only method I haven’t used. And I’m okay with that. Somehow, having four or five bottles hanging and bouncing on my waist just seemed like too much. Maybe this getting a bit technical, but if you drain one bottle you can become unbalanced, leaving the alternative of rotating through all the bottles to evenly distribute your weight. Can’t I just run? I don’t want to have to do all that.

Okay, so on to Camelbaks, probably the Nike of active hydration options. Unless of course, Nike decides to focus heavily on this segment, in which case, they’ll just buy Camelbak and find a way to connect their product line to Michael Jordan.

Until then, these are a great deal more popular with hikers but do have a strong presence in the ultra running segment of the market. I’ve seen a lot of them. My favorite is the Camelbak Fairfax, a 50oz model. It holds a good amount of water and has a few pouches for storing a cell phone, keys, credit card ID and all the useful crap you’ll need on a multi-hour run. Also, I find this type of model—one that sits on your upper back—to be best for runs that will be hilly. When you lean into the hill it tends to be easier than having a tank of water hanging from your lower back.

Speaking of lower back models, I also have used a waist level Camelback, the Montra, but only sporadically. Primarily, it’s not the easiest to drink from while running, which, I would think, should be pretty important for the factory to focus on. You have to maneuver the long tube up quite a ways, rather than from your shoulder. Second, when you aren’t using that tube you have to kind of wrap it around your waist, which gets annoying. Plus, if you don’t balance the pack perfectly on your lower back, the whole pouch will bounce. Lastly, the sizing of the model isn’t great, and for anybody smaller than a men’s 32, it’s going to feel loose.

The last model—my personal favorite—is one that places two water bottles at your lower back. I sought this type of hydration for the simple reason that its really tough sometimes (especially 30 miles into a run) to remove a Camelbak bladder, open it, fill it, seal it, and wiggle it back into a pack.(Additionally, aid station workers will most likely scold you with harsh looks when you hand them a Camelbak for re-filling.)

The model I like is the Ultimate Direction Katoa. I liked this better than REI’s version because its angled compartments allowed the tops of the bottles to not dig into my back. Plus, I could use water bottle I already owned. It also has gel pockets mounted on the front.

But the coolest part? When you whip a bottle out for a drink, you feel like Emilo Estevez in Young Guns. “I’ll make ya’ famous.” Awesome.

Oh, and here is a little something for those of you who had the time to read this entire post:

Tip for filling Camelbak bladders: When it’s completely filled, and you have the lid sealed, tip it upside down and suck out any air in the bladder with the tube. This will prevent the water from sloshing around during your run.





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