I own a few race vests/hydration packs as well. They are useful for training when running long without support or aid, but in a fast race I just don't find that I feel swift when I am wearing a hydration pack. In a race setting, I find the aid stations are usually plentiful enough to allow me to go without the pack.
If racing seriously, I just don't want to be weighed down by a pack or even a bottle if I can avoid it. For example, at Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug, I ran my fastest 50 mile race carrying nothing. It was a 7.6 mile loop with 4 aid stations per loop. I just ran from aid to aid and it was more than enough for me to run a 7:41, finishing first female in that event (coming in 4th OA).
Right now my favorite bottle is a simple 10 oz Sprint bottle (with
|Nathan's Quick Shot|
After assessing my own fluid consumption, I find that I drink 10oz -30oz per hour depending upon many factors (i.e. how far I am running, how hot/humid it is, how fast I am running, etc.) For ex, if I am running 6 miles easy on a cool day, I often do not need to take any fluids at all, so carrying 10 oz of water for that run is more than enough. However, when I do speed work on a hot humid day, I have easily consumed up to 30 oz of fluid in one hour. I know this because I spent a lot of time paying attention, logging what I consume and even weighing in and out after each run to see whether the amount of fluid I was consuming made sense.
Quick Note on sweat test and hydration planning: Regardless of what you may read elsewhere, the body cannot always replace fluid at the same rate it can sweat it out. Making an attempt to do so can be dangerous and even life threatening. According to Noakes, on average a body can process approximately 400 ml to 800 ml of fluid per hour (13.5 oz to 27 oz per hour) and therefore Dr. Noakes warms that trying to push in substantially more than that amount of fluid can, at worst, create a situation where the brain can swell, which is a very bad thing. For the most recent resource about hydration, check out Noakes' new text, Waterlogged.
So knowing that I consume approximately 10-30 oz per hour, I really dont need to carry alot of fluid if I know I will have a chance to refill within the hour. I love the Sprint bottle for loops that are less than an hour long, for short loop races where I can swap out pre-filled bottles, for shorter runs where I can refill if I need to, etc. The bottle fits like a glove, it has a valve that simply holds fluid in until you squeeze and the pressure shoots fluid out. There is nothing to open or close. It is perfect... except in the summer 10 oz is rarely enough, even for a short run of less than an hour.
Nathan's larger bottles, the best I found was the Quick Draw Elite, do not have the valve that I love (no other bottle does that I know of) and only the Quick Draw Elite bottle by Nathans has the same glove-like hand strap but b/c the bottle is 22 oz, it is not as well-balanced as the 10 oz in my hand. Unfortunately this bottle is no longer available on the Nathan's site and instead there is now just a QuickDraw... with a less ideal hand strap, in my opinion. If you do get your hands on the Quick Draw Elite, you may also find that because the overlapping velcro closure is located on the bottom of the Quick Draw Elite bottle, this makes it hard to stand the bottle up when setting it down somewhere.
|Nathan's Vapor Draw Bottle|
In a few days I will be testing out a Nathan's Vapor Draw Bottle. At 24 oz, it is much larger than I know I would be comfortable carrying. However, I could not resist the unique shape and wonder how that little grey hook thing will help balance it. I find that pouches seem like a good idea, but when ever I put stuff in them it seems to throw off the balance of the bottle making it feel awkward in my hand after awhile. That little hook thing appears like it will help keep the balance. I believe the nozzle is a twist nozzle, which I am not sure I will like. We shall see.
|UltrAspire 16 oz handheld.|
Finally the last thing I bought was a new ultralight race vest by Nathans 1.5L Minimist Race Vest. The reviews claim that because the 1.5L bladder just sit in the pocket in the back it bounces too much, but I have some ideas to try to resolve that issue. I like that fact that this vest has two front closures. I altered my last Nathans race vest by adding a simple top closure and sliding the factory closure down as low as possible to stop the bounce of the front pockets. I find I wear that vest more than my hydration pack and I prefer to carry bottles of fluid in the back pocket and when I want to carry them up front, I put them in the front mesh drawstring pocket. The only problem I have with carrying a bottle of fluid in the lower front mesh pocket of the old Nathan's Race Vest is that the pocket bounces and eventually the incessant tapping of the the bottle against my rib-cage get obnoxious... in addition, if it is hot and I am only in a sports bra, then then mesh itself starts to take on a cheese grater effect. ouch! It always occurs to me half way into a long run that I may want to carry some moleskin and just stick a square of it where the bottle rubs and it would be perfect.
So in a few days, the experimentation begins and hopefully by the end of the summer I will have figured out a system that allows me to carry fluids in a minimally disruptive way.