I’ve written before about the importance of hydration and the various ways I’ve found to go about staying hydrated without overdoing it. During the hot summer months, even shorter runs call for a water bottle so I know I have something to sip on, as well as squirt over my head for a quick cool-down. I’ve been trying out several different smaller flask-style water bottle and thought I would offer some brief remarks.
I will say upfront that I can certainly simply carry along a regular sized water bottle (20 oz. or 24 oz.) and not deal with adding a separate category of bottles into my arsenal. However, there are definitely advantages to smaller handhelds that I think make them an excellent choice for shorter runs or even longer, supported runs. They are always going to be a) lighter, b) fit in your hand better because of their smaller size, and c) be less noticeable, and thus impact your stride (via arm movement) less. Additionally, these two categories comprise a good percentage of my runs, especially because Ames, IA has an amazing park system, so there are water fountains everywhere in the summer! I weep a bit in the fall when the temperatures drop and the city shuts the water off so the pipes don’t freeze.
So, without further ado, I bring you my thoughts on the following handhelds.
1. Nathan Thermal Quickshot 10 oz.- This was the first small flask I bought, and it has thus far been my go-to water bottle out the door. The mesh hand strap is easy to adjust, and it has a built-in pocket on the back of the strap that fits my house key perfectly. The neoprene insulation does a nice job of keeping liquids colder for longer, and it has two stretch pockets on the front that fit two gels or a pack of chews each. The extra storage is a nice complement to a waist belt for longer supported runs as well. It comes with a race cap as well, which prevents leaks, but makes it easier to get the water out as well.
2. Ultraspire Isometric 8 oz.- The beautiful epicurean actually picked this flask up so she didn’t have to use my Nathan Thermal Quickshot as often. The hand strap on this bottle isn’t quite as adjustable as the Nathan, but the bottle still fits very nicely in the hand with a quick adjustment via strap near the top. The bottle itself is flatter and more elongated, but is still comfortable to hold. It also has some insulation around the bottle, although not nearly as thick as the neoprene on the Nathan. Two elastic pockets on the sides easily fit an energy gel each as well.
3. Salomon Soft Flask 8 oz.– I had intended to order this flask at the same time as my Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 set. It fits perfectly in either of the front pockets on the pack, and provides an additional hydration option. It was designed with Sense Hydro S-Lab, which allows you to carry the flasks via an elastic band attached to the mesh gloves. The BPA-free flask is made of the same material as their hydration bladders, and compresses as you drink from it, which prevents sloshing around. The flask is very flexible and fits well in a waist pack or hydration pack front pocket, providing some extra water on the go. I didn’t enjoy carrying it in my hand nearly as much, but it arguable wasn’t designed to be used that way either. Ultimately, it worked best paired with the Nathan for a total of 18 oz. of water. Carrying both allowed me to fill one with an electrolyte drink as well.
4. Platypus Soft Bottle w/ Hyperflow Cap– I bought this water bottle prior to my RAGBRAI run, mainly because I didn’t have time to get the Salomon Soft Flask. This 17 oz. bottle is larger than the others, but still flexible enough to carry or fit in a pack. This bottle worked well on the run, and the cap made drinking really easy. It compressed nicely as I drank out of it as well. My only complaint was the rigidity of the plastic, which made it not quite as easy or comfortable to stuff into a pocket or your hand as you began to empty it out. I don’t think I’ll end up using this for future runs, but it will be a nice addition to my hiking and backpacking supplies.
So, at the end of the day, I’ll be sticking with the Nathan as my go-to quick flask, and adding the Salomon for a bit more hydration storage. Do you have a favorite go-to water bottle? I’d love to hear some other suggestions!