Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

>> Monday, June 7, 2010

It's almost officially summer in our area. But for the entire past month, the temperatures have been more-than steamy. As a result, our runs have -- well -- suffered. We're both colder-weather runners. Stephen likes the cold-cold . . . I enjoy temps in the upper 30s to mid-50s range. No matter the temperature, hydration is key for any runs, but particularly for those coming in at over an hour. (Check out Step #6 from our How to Run Long guide, and you'll see why.)

A couple months ago, Stephen took the plunge and ordered a hydration belt. We have seen them in almost every sports store. There are ones with four little bottles, two bottles, one large bottle, etc. Bottles of all shapes, sizes, and orientations (horizontal, vertical, and even askew). He did his research. He took his time. He thought about what he needed in ounces and size. Then, he decided on the Nathan Speedbelt 2. Even saved a bit by ordering online!

My adventure, on the other hand, was much less planned. My runs, as mentioned above, have been crappy in all this heat and humidity. After an entire week of absolutely hating putting my sneakers to pavement, I dropped by Dick's Sporting Goods on my way home from work last week and checked out their Camelbak selection. I knew I didn't want a belt because I've tried on various models and they always ride up and just feel weird. I also have lower back issues, so -- simply put -- it wasn't for me. I found a small-ish, sleek 50-ouncer, swiped my debit card, and ran 6 miles that night.

Moral of both our stories: You need to do your research and try on before you buy. Hydration belts and backpacks are great if you're into endurance training. Trail running. If you live in hot climates. Or if you always find yourself thirsty during a run. They give you the flexibility to keep going and try new routes (in my case) without having to stop by your house for fuel. I even plan to use my hydroback for biking and hiking. So, check out our review of just a couple choices . . . then do your own search and let us know what you like!

Stephen's: Nathan Speedbelt 2 – Hydration Belt

PRICE: $39.99

Likes: Very pleased with the quality, price, and function of the belt!!!
  • Velcro makes for easy fit.
  • Holds 2-10oz bottles (vs. FuelBelt’s 2-8oz bottles).
  • Molded holsters allow one-handed bottle access (vs. FuelBelt’s elastic, two-handed bottle access).
  • Stash pocket can fit at least 3 gel packs, car keys, granola, etc.
  • Silicon grips inside holsters prevent flasks from popping out.
  • Limited-stretch elastic allows belt to bind to your waist without bouncing.

Dislikes: Many of these dislikes were expected before purchasing and seem to come with the territory.
  • 20 ounces of water seems to run out fast on a long run (undoubtedly solved in the Speedbelt 4).
  • Bottle tops must be carefully and precisely put on and closed to avoid leaking.
  • Air-mesh moisture-wicking backing collects a lot of sweat.

Ashley's: Camelbak 50-ounce Hydroback

PRICE: $35.00

Likes: Great price. Great function. Lightweight. Allows me to run when it's wicked-hot out.
  • 50 ounces is just enough for most runs under 2 hours.
  • Straw makes drinking on the run super easy.
  • Pocket big enough for cell phone and gels.
  • Easy to fill and no leaking.
  • For those of us with a little extra around the belt area -- aka, my posterior-- wearing it as a backpack is more comfortable.

Dislikes: Though not uncomfortable, you're definitely wearing a backpack while running.
  • Makes a sloshing noise until I've consumed a certain amount of water (which eventually takes the extra air out).
  • Makes me alter my form a tad. Takes some getting used to.
  • Backing, like with Stephen's, collections a lot of sweat.
  • Not the easiest to clean unless you buy all the extra supplies.

Oh -- and just FYI: We recently compiled our (growing) list of running-related posts. Go check out (never home)makers run wild for tips and tricks to help you train.

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