Thursday, September 12, 2013

In Pursuit of My Perfect Handheld... Part Two

Back in July, I started testing out a variety of bottles/hydration systems to try to find one I really love.

All the products were bought by me and I have no financial interest in any of this. I just want to not hate my run while carrying fluids when I have to carry my own.  Here is the original post:

My results.

Quick Shot
First my Nathan's Quick Shot is still, by far, my favorite handheld bottle. NOTE:  NOT the one with the pocket. I dislike the way bottles feel in my hand when they have pockets.  But this pocket free version is the best. It feels like nothing in my hand... because at 10 oz it actually is barely nothing.  However, at my smaller size and the fact that I do well on less food/drink than most people either actually need or believe they need, I find a 10 oz bottle very effective for the training runs I do on loop courses or in race where aid is a few miles apart. By drinking up and then carrying 10 more ounces with me, I am usually covered by the time I have the opportunity to refill.

On longer loops, I may use hydration pack in training (or not and figure out how not to die of dehydration), but don't wear my pack in races so I wanted to try a larger bottle or a smaller pack.

In consideration of how much I liked the smaller Nathan's bottle, I tried the Nathan's Vapor Draw Bottle.  Ugh. The shape of the bottle looks, um, interesting.  It looks like it has some well-thought out ergonomic design that might make holding a larger bottle in my smaller hands actually work for me.  Uh, No. No. No. It. Did. Not.  In fact, I have no clue what the heck the designers of that bottle were thinking because the bizarre shape actually renders the hand-strap effective, at least for me.

That weird hook shaped thingy, that I imagined would rest in the space above my thumb did not rest there but rather simply holds the strap out in space in the place exactly where you would want it to be snug... and do to the odd shape of the bottle you can't twist the hand-strap material into any position that makes sense and still stays on the bottle. I have never wanted throw a bottle during a run just to get it away from me before, but this one was on the verge at being pelted just to get its annoying-ness off my person. It has since been sitting on my
kitchen counter taunting me with its fanciness, but I know better than to take it back out with me.  I may find some purple flowers to plant in there. They would look nice against that crazy yellow.  Honestly, maybe a person with much larger hands can make this work, but I have little tiny child-sized hands so this is clearly not for me.

Next, I tried the UltrApire 16 oz.  I had high hopes for this one.  The fact is most bottles are over 20 oz and often I like them best when filled 3/4 or under. This suggested a 16 oz bottle may be perfect for me. But the bottle was shaped like a rectangle?!  This was pretty much the complete opposite of the fancy, ergonomically shaped fancy-pants Vapor Draw.

Why would anyone want to run around with a rectangle in their hand?  Why because it feels awesome! That is why!  However, I am sure this bottle only feels great because I have finagled the hand strap to mirror the Nathan's Quick Shot, so that it has a glove-like fit. You see, the Nathan's quick shot has an opening to slip your thumb through and the bottle rests in the palm of your hand, whether or not your hand is opened or closed.  If I keep the hand strap very loose on the UltrAspire, I can slip my thumb up through the space between the neck and the hand strap, mimicking the glove fit.  However, anyone with regular adult-sized hands can not replicate this magical feat and therefore the bottle does not seem to be so awesome to them.  I know this because I make everyone I run with try it and no one else can do this.

One negative about this bottle is the mouth piece.  It is obnoxious.  It is a twist top with a rubber cover over plastic. The twist is not easy to grip to twist when it gets wet or with sweaty hand.  I end up needing to grab it with my teeth. Somehow, on the first run, I put a hole into the rubber. I apparently have a super sharp canine tooth. That is scary.  All I want to know is where is that tooth when trying to open a freakin gel at mile 18!  The bottle is still functional with the tiny hole, but I am not a fan of the constant open, close, open, close action that I need to use my teeth to accomplish. In some cases the red rubber cover twists, but the actual spout does not open... ugh.

In comparison, the Quick shot has the perfect valve system on the mouthpiece which keeps fluid in when running, but with gentle pressure on the bottle, it shoots a stream of liquid wherever you aim it... sometimes (often) I aim it at John P. when he is being a smartass... or I just punch him in the arm.

UltrAspire 16oz
The only problem with the Quick Shot is when you attempt to fill it with anything carbonated... yes sometimes, I have a brilliant craving for Mountain Dew in the middle of race and try to fill my handheld with it AND then I start running creating a Mountain Dew volcano that erupts relentlessly and excessively out the hopeless valve.  Sometimes I futilely attempt to stop it by plugging the hole with my finger.  That just really makes everything worse!  Regardless of the Quick Shots failure to install a Mountain Dew Saftey Lock, I still attempted to cannibalize one quick shot bottle and tried to cram the mouth piece onto my UltrAspire bottle, hoping to create one Frankenstein-esque perfect bottle... It was quiet close but no luck. It is almost like these companies do this crap on purpose and make it impossible to swap parts! :)

Finally, I tried my Minimist Vest.  It is a really nice product.  The fit was great. The weight was lighter than my Intensity. However the design is a bit odd. The large pocket to hold gear is against our back while the bladder sits in a pouch outside that pocket.  It seems that the bladder should be closest to the body while the gear pocket be outside for easy access, but on second thought if you plan to refill that bladder quick assess may be better.  However, at 1.5 liters, I can go quite far on one filling.

In addition to the external pocket that does not actually seal shut to hold the bladder, the bladder seems to be missing any hook to hang it.  As a result, it just awkwardly slouches into the pouch it gets dropped in.  There IS an odd shaped plastic rectangular piece that could be used like a hook, but it is not an effective hook, on top of the bladder.  There is only a loop of fabric on the pack which would be the exact place to hang something from.  I discover that if I twist the loop, then stick the fabric loop around that plastic psuedo-hook thingy, it will stay put.  But really, WTF?  Just put an hook on it!

Next, if you dont really snug down the entire pack, the bladder will bounce incessantly.  But, with just some attention to snugging up the adjustable straps helps to resolve this. What is great about this pack it the two front closures not one.  It makes it stay in place much better than the older race vest (which I doctored up by adding laces to an additional front closure).

There is not a lot of storage in this pack on the front.  The other Nathans race vest or hydration pack have ample room to store a lot of things.  This pack has one stretchy zip pocket up front, that could hold gels, or a phone, etc...Then it has a small pouch that does not close where you can put stuff you would like to fling haphazardly about the trail, and possibly lose completely when falling down like I do often.  I like to put my keys in there when I am feeling dangerous. Just Kidding. Actually I do stink my inhaler in there and so far it have never fallen out. There are some other teeny tiny pockets for things like magic fairy dust or microscopic but yet important enough things that will save the day hours into a trail run while lost in the woods... I am not sure what I will put in them, but I am sure those who rely a lot on pills will like them.

Out of all the systems I like the Minimist vest the best for training.  I could possibly wear it in a race if really needed, but I would rather not.  I dont like racing with a ton of stuff on me.  It makes me feel heavy and hot.  At the present, I would choose the UltrAspire for racing if aid stations are too far apart for my Nathan's Quick Shot to handle. How far apart is that?  I am not sure.  Depends on the weather.

I am just going to hold my breath and hope Nathans makes the Quick Shot in a 12 -16 oz version.  I dont understand why they can't use the exact same simple design but add a bottle just a few oz larger.


  1. I also like the Nathan Quick Shot - comfortable, lightweight and easy to drink from. Good for short runs or where there are tons of aid stations.

    I think I have finally perfected the combination that I will use going forward - the bottle is a Camelbak Podium Chill bottle - it has a similar valve to the Quick Shot, but one that you can close off - so it will work for Mountain Dew.

    As for the hand strap, I go with the Nathan Quick Draw Plus - simple style, and I can stick my thumb through it. I have grown tired of the Nathan Quick Draw Elite, which never seems to fit properly on even Nathan bottles, and comes undone at the most inopportune moments.

    Here is the bottle: (I see they have a 25 oz too. Hmmmm

    Here is the hand strap:

    1. I meant to tell you that I cant open these links. Can you send them over to my email? Thank you!

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