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Gear Comparison & Review: Hydration Belts

Posted Sep 16 2009 10:34pm
I'm at the point in my training where I need my water with me while I run. Up until now, I've just been stopping by my car or my house to refuel during my long runs. But when the runs get to be over the 10 mile mark, I don't want to run in circles just so I can get to my water. Boooooring. I prefer an out and back long run.
So a couple of weeks ago, I tore my house apart looking for my trusty Fuel Belt. Never did find the damn thing so I knew I needed to take a little trip to my favorite running store, Fleet Feet. I got there with the intention of buying one just like my old one, but as I stood there in front of the hydration belts, I realized that I had many new options to chose from. So I did a quick pros and cons list of the Fuel Belt.

Fuel Belt: I looked on their website to find that they don't even make the kind that I have anymore so I couldn't get a better picture. But you can see it here, without the bottle. It has just one water bottle and one small bottle for a recovery mix. It also has a big zipper pouch behind the bottles.


Here's my breakdown:

Pros:

-Big water bottle means water doesn't get warm so quickly

-Huge zipper pouch means I can carry all my junk-key, pepper spray, Gu, chapstick, cellphone

Cons:

-One big bottle means that the weight is not evenly distributed around my waist.

-Uneven distribution equals bouncing! bouncing! bouncing! and frequent readjustments and all that friction leaves my skin skin raw and sore (that could be 3 cons)

-I don't use the small bottle for anything, so that's wasted space

On to the new belt. With the help of my new friend Eric over at Fleet Feet, I chose the Amphipod RunLite 4 Hydration Belt.

As you can see, the design is very different. It has 4 bottles and one small pouch.

Pros:

-4 bottles mean a more even weight distribution

-The belt is totally adjustable in so many ways. The bottles can move around the belt, come off the belt or lay sideways on the belt. They can even slide off and on, if you prefer fewer or more bottles

-You can also add additional or larger pouches, if more space is needed

Cons:

-The water does get warm pretty quickly

-While the idea of the snap-back-into-place bottles seems great, I could never really get the hang of it. At least half a dozen times, when I thought they had clicked into place, they wound up dropping to the ground.

And that's it. Although I've only used the Amphipod belt once, it is the clear winner. Comfort wins, hands down. It's also convenient and adjustable to meet my needs. Now I just have to remember to freeze my water bottles and practice that clicking motion!

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