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2016 Running Gear Guide: Hydration

Today's hydration accessories are lighter, smarter, tougher and more customized than ever.


The PB Adventure Vest line was designed for all-day, self-sufficient efforts in remote environments. This third version is a big step up over previous editions. Changes include an overall bigger footprint on the body that improves fit when fully loaded; trekking-pole stow straps and seven pockets in front; and a separate hydration reservoir pocket on the back.


The Velocity allows you to carry food, liquids, a map, and your phone up front. The volume in the back is generous, with two zippered and two open mesh pockets as well as an independent hydration sleeve. The two 18.5-ounce UltraFlask bottles are sturdy and yet flexible when they ride against your rib cage—a superb compromise between hard-sided and collapsible water bottles. The only real drawback is that the universal sizing won’t fit smaller-framed runners.


Nike’s first attempt at a hydration vest contains pockets for reservoir storage at the back and two big front pockets for both collapsible and hard-sided water bottles up to 22 ounces. The pack does have its quirks, but Nike really nailed the fit—the pack rides smooth when fully loaded and running downhill—and pockets are useful to carry multiple items.


Osprey brings some sophistication to this 20-ounce bottle carrier. You can fully operate your phone from the tech pocket: answer it, talk on it (on speaker or hold the whole thing up to your ear), take
a photo (if you don’t mind the extra plastic layer) and send text messages. The side pocket has a key holder and room for bars, or a wind jacket and pair of gloves, with a weather-resistant smartphone pocket. It rides without bounce when fully loaded, and accessing the bottle on the go is slick and smooth.


Sometimes you don’t need—or want—to carry a huge pack out on the trails. The main feature of the Mono Belt is a stretchy sleeve with room for a 500ml collapsible bottle (sold separately), plus a couple gels or a smartphone and some keys. Two additional lashing cords can be used to carry an extra layer. Even with a 12-ounce hard-sided bottle—which this belt wasn’t necessarily designed to carry—the ride was still smooth. For such a small, innocuous belt, it can be a pack mule for your necessities.


For those who would never carry a traditional-size handheld water bottle,
this 10-ouncer is for you. With a race cap that offers water in burst mode and a dialed-down carrying case—providing gripless carrying and a zip compartment that can host four gels—this is Nathan’s nod to speed, efficiency and minimalism.


There’s a tool for every job, and the FuelBelt Wedge offers minimalistic means for carrying water. The Wedge’s only accessory is an aluminum clip that slides over the waistline of your running bottoms to hold it in place. The upgraded push-pull, silicone nozzle comfortably opens and closes with teeth or hands.


A cupless-race revolution is occurring, and its goal is to decrease waste production at races. The C2 pops perfectly into shape after being crushed or folded, and it’ll hold both hot and cold liquids without a temperature shock to your hands. Other hydration companies have previously offered reusable cups—but everything else in comparison is child’s play.