This piece originally appeared in the April issue of Competitor Magazine.
Written by: Jeff Banowetz
Runners know the importance of hydration, but they soon discover another universal truth—water is heavy. The joke about 16-ounce curls rings a bit truer when that weight is sloshing on your body mile after mile. But options abound to help you carry that weight. Check out these five options to help you stay hydrated on the run this summer.
Camelbak Octane LR $89
A great option for adventure racers or long-distance trail runners, the Octane holds 70 fluid ounces. Camelbak’s new Antidote reservoir wraps around the waist rather than down the back, and manages to make you feel like you’re carrying half that load. The pack itself has plenty of zippers, pouches and cinches for all manner of energy bars, headlamps, extra layers and anything else you’re willing to carry. Camelbak.com
Hydrapak Avila $47
The Avila features a more traditional hydration backpack design while getting rid of all but the essentials to create a just-the-basics pack that gets the job done. Hydrapak’s reservoir is easy to fill, and the shoulder straps (no waist belt) provide a snug and comfortable fit. The 70-ounce capacity is plenty. Your biggest problem, as with any backpack, is a sweaty back and shoulders. Plus the water is carried closer to your head, so you hear the sloshing a bit more. Hydrapak.com
Amphipod Thermal-Lite $24
We’ll be honest: Despite their popularity, we’ve never understood the appeal of the hand-helds. But the Amphipod makes it about as easy as possible to adapt to something in your hand with its quick-adjust strap that secures the ergonomic, 20-ounce bottle in your palm. A zipped storage pouch is perfect for gels, keys or money. Amphipod.com
Fuel Belt Revenge R30 $50
The Revenge is the latest from Fuel Belt, which offers almost endless customizable options for carrying cargo around your waist. The R30 features three, seven-ounce water bottles that align symmetrically along your lower back, plus an adjustable zippered pouch to carry gels and personal effects. A velcro closure makes it a snap to take on and off (great for triathletes), and once in place, it doesn’t move on the run. However, the bottles had the most plastic taste of the group. Fuelbelt.com
Nathan Sports Swift $30
For the minimalist, it’s tough to beat the Swift, which places a single eight-ounce bottle against the small of your back on a comfortable waist belt. A zippered pocket has room for two or three energy gels or other small personal items. Removable clips on front make attaching a race number a breeze. Adjusting the belt on the run was simple, and this was the most comfortable option of the group. The problem? Eight ounces of water doesn’t take you very far. But for relatively short runs—or if you can refill along the way—this is your least intrusive option. Nathansports.com