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Review: HDX Hydration mix is a solid contender in the sports drink market

Posted Aug 02 2012 4:16pm

IMG-20120706-00154 It was early last Sunday.  It was way too early for anyone with a shred of sanity to be up ready to ride 100 miles.  But, when a friend training for Ironman Louisville begs and pleads on the BT forums for people to suffer with him on his last century ride, how can you say no?  Besides, there was a sweet pint glass up for grabs.
 
It was the Cider Mill Century ride last Sunday and Jon was out for 100 miles on the bike, followed by an hour run.  Forecasters for the Kansas City area were calling for the hottest day of the summer so far, around 108 degrees.  No problem.  Set off at 6:45 in the morning and wrapped up around 2:30 in the afternoon.  It was a leisurely jaunt through the Kansas countryside baking in the afternoon sun in a way only comparable to how an ant my feel subjected to being fried under a magnifying glass.  You’ve seen that mean kid in your neighborhood frying insects on the driveway with a magnifying glass, or you were that kid.  Shame on you.  Everyone riding the Cider Mill Century has a new found respect for that ant.

It was no joke.  The heat was expected.  The distance was grueling for those not trained up to handle 100 miles in the saddle.  What was also expected was a lot of drinking.  Not beer.  Water and sports drinks.  Thanks goodness it was a supported ride with aid stations 8 to 15 miles apart.  Had this been a self-supported training ride, there would have been one big loop going by someone’s house repeatedly for water refills, or someone wasn’t going to make it.
 
This provided a perfect opportunity to put HDX Hydration Mix to the test.  Would it provide the proper supplementation triathletes have come to look for from their sports drinks?  Would it taste watered down?  Would it taste like hot ass after being in the heat and sun for hours at a time?  These were the questions that HAD to be answered.  Here are the answers in no particular order.
 
HDX_Hydration_Mix_12pack How does it stack up to brands like Gatorade? Glad you asked. If you look at standard Gatorade and not G2 (the diet soda of sports drinks), they can vary pretty widely on some ingredients.  Gatorade has more sodium that could help you in the heat than HDX, but it also 9 more grams of sugar in 8 ounces.  That’s more sugar for your gut to churn through in 100 degrees climbing hills and maintaining proper power output.  HDX offers 8 more grams of potassium as well to help ward off cramps.  HDX has a little more substance whereas Gatorade adds a little more flare for taste.
 
Do you get it in a tub, or what?  Nope.  HDX comes already measured out in pre-packaged foil tubes.  All you do is rip open and pour into your water.  You save on plastic bottles, but you’re still adding a little trash with the foil tube and box they come in.  At least there’s no scoop or using a measuring cup to dump half the powder on your counter when mixing.  The tube is convenient to dip into your bottle opening and empty out.  No mess.  It was also nice to have the individual servings to stuff in jersey pockets to add to aid station water to keep the HDX party going.
 
What’s it taste like?  Yes, any drink aside from Starbucks will taste like swass (check out urban dictionary for that nugget of grammar) at 90 degrees.  After sitting in a water bottle for 45 minutes in the heat, aid station water mixed with HDX is not thirst quenching.  Neither is plain hot water or any other hot sports drinks.  The one issue with drinks you mix from powder is that water-down effect.  There’s no drink that has been the exception.  Don’t tell anyone, but mix in some other same-flavored sports drinks or MIO or another taste enhancer, and you’re back in business.  Mind you, it’s for flavor and not additional performance enhancing additives.  You could probably also throw in another tube of HDX to thicken the flavor up.
 
Is it cool?  Yes.  Packaging is hip and has flare.  There is definitely a focus on presentation with HDX and their products and web site are no exception.  You’ll feel that little bit of cool factor when you pull out your HDX.
 
HDX-Supplement-Label That was one ride.  How’s it work over time across multiple disciplines?  Running, riding or swimming, HDX works just the same.  It’s easily digestible causing no GI issues or gas (either up or down).  It’s great to throw in your speedplay on the tri bike or your simple hydration water bottle for your run.
 
Does it provide more energy?  That’s a hard quantifiable measurement.  At the Falkenrath house, there are no scientific labs or high end performance measuring devices.  A Garmin 310XT is all we have.  Let’s just put it this way, there was no drop off going from previous sports drinks to HDX.  It didn’t produce training PR’s and an abundance of extra energy never experienced before, but it did provide enough nutrition to maintain the same level of stress and strain of a regimented training plan.
 
What’s this week’s flavor? Being that HDX is fairly new on the scene, they only offer one flavor that could be found.  Hopefully you enjoy Grape / Berry, because that’s all that’s out there right now.  Some people prefer the grape flavor, and some people don’t really care.  In this day and age of popcorn flavored jelly beans, sometimes the narrow approach is more appreciated.  You don’t always need the exotic flavors.
 
Sounds awesome, where can I get it?  You can hit their site for buying online, and if you live in California, you can find an abundance of stores in person.  The problem arises when you move east.  For instance, Omaha is the only place that sells HDX in person for a 500 mile radius around Kansas City.  You can’t grope the box before you buy it in the Midwest, but nowadays everyone buys online.  No big deal.
 
What am I going to have to pay to drink HDX?  If you want to “drink the cool aid”, you’re looking around $1.33 per serving if you buy in small supplies.  With a lot of retail items, the more you buy, the less it will cost per serving.  HDX has varying amounts of servings that you can order and monthly subscriptions that automatically send you new servings once a month.  The highest priced package goes down to $1.00 per serving, but that’s $96 a month.  That’s pretty comparable to most sports drinks at your local grocery or multisport store for a system that utilizes the serving pouch system instead of a tub-o-powder formula.
 
Overall HDX Hydration mix is a solid contender in the sports drink market.  It appears to have more substance than your mass marketed Gatorade or off the shelf sports drinks.  As they develop and become more successful, and enter the real world store market in more areas, they should show up on your shelf alongside Hammer, GU and your other drink mixes.  Don’t be afraid to give them a try.  HDX is a strong addition or replacement to your hydration arsenal.
 
Writer’s note, HDX provided samples for this review and in no way influenced the writer for a good or bad review.  Honestly, who would pressure someone for a bad review, anyway?

Runfinish Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog  falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com , married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans.  Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts  HERE  and he collects race reviews at  www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com .  Contact Ryan at: falkeetriathlon@hotmail.com or follow him on  @TriJayhawkRyan .

Follow on twitter @ everymantri  or view latest videos on YouTube .


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