Gear

3 Ways to Carry Water on Runs

Pros and cons of different hydration methods for runners during a COVID-struck summer, from handhelds to belts to backpacks.

As the summer heats up, sweaty runners need to pay more attention to replacing lost fluids, particularly on runs lasting over an hour. That’s more complicated this year because of the onslaught of park and playground closures due to the pandemic, making it tough to find working water fountains for quick on-the-run access. Even races may not be offering water stops when they begin to resume. While trail runners have long carried their own fluids, every runner will have to learn how this year.

Here are three convenient ways to bringing your own water on your runs:

HandHeld Flasks

Pros:

  • You don’t need to continual grip the bottle/flask as the strap does the work of keeping it to your hand.
  • Shrink-as-you-drink compression eliminates sloshing.
  • You can easily tuck the flask in a pocket when you’ve drained its contents.

Cons:

  • Can affect arm swing, particularly with the asymmetrical weight only in one hand
  • Flexible bottles are cumbersome to fill up, especially on the fly.
  • Smaller size may not be enough for runs over one hour.

Salomon Pulse Handheld | $40

hand-held hydration

Photo: Salomon

A convenient way to carry a half liter of fluids, this BPA- and PVC-free flask boasts a secure zippered storage pocket for gels, phone, credit card or keys. The elastic mesh covering and wrap-around strap hold the Pulse securely on your hand and compress the flask. You’ll be encouraged to hydrate because it lightens the load.

HydraPak SoftFlask 500ml Handheld | $20

water bottle with strap to carry while running

Photo: HydraPak

This super simple solution is a compressible handheld flask that shrinks as you drink and comes with a flexible hand strap. It is soft yet durable, made of BPA- and PVC-free TPU and constructed with welded seams. The cap on the wide-mouth opening is leak resistant and locks with a twist.

WaistPacks

Pros:

  • Arms are free to swing unimpeded.
  • Can carry more volume than handhelds without the heat and cumbersomeness of a pack on your shoulders and back.
  • Convenient way to also carry other items: keys, phone, gels.

Cons:

  • Can bounce and move around during the run, creating an annoying distraction.
  • Can be difficult to retrieve and replace water bottles on the run.
  • Pockets are often too small for today’s phones and limited in space for other items.

Camelbak FlashBelt 17oz | $40

waist pack to carry water on run

Photo: Camelback

A traditional mesh-lined water-bottle belt that rides on the hips, the Camelback Flashbelt comes with an insulated 17oz bottle, but will securely hold any standard sports bottle in the back pouch, which is angled for ease of drawing and re-holstering. The front clip buckle is adjustable with a pull on the nylon straps, and a zippered pocket holds smaller phones, keys or gels.

Nathan VaporHowe (women’s) and VaporKrar (unisex) | $60

VaporHowe front (top), VaporKrar rear (bottom) Photo: Nathan

These form-fitting packs come with a 20oz soft flask that has a nice anti-leak, easy-to-use bite valve. The packs are simple “step-through” designs using a stretchy all-around waistband with grippy elastic to stay put with minimal bounce without having to crank down a belt against the waist. The flask has a bite valve to keep from leaking and the pack features a zippered pocket to fit a phone and a compressed back pocket for the flask, a light jacket, nutrition, plus two smaller Velcro pockets for other small items.

Ultimate Direction Race Belt 5.0 | $55

waist belt water carrier

Photo: Ultimate Direction

This super lightweight pack conforms to your body, using a Velcro closure on front to adjust the waist tension. On the back, a large pocket has an internal zippered compartment for your phone, and a snap-closed outer compartment for the 500 ml collapsible flask with a locking valve to prevent leaks. Bungee cords on each end let you stow a jacket or shirt after you’ve warmed up.

UltrAspire Speedgoat 3.0 Waist Pack | $90

 

Speedgoat water carry belt

Photo: UltrAspire

With a nod to both cowboy holster belts and old school “fat ass”—unofficial, self-supported—ultra running, this pack carries two hard water bottles with a weight-centered zippered cargo pouch held between the angled vessels for unobstructed arm swing. The adjustable belt fastens the weight close to the body for security and the front is equipped with a 4-way stretch mesh pocket to carry a large cell phone and even folding trekking poles.

VestPacks

Pros:

  • Distributes weight across the torso and shoulders.
  • Can carry more volume than handhelds or waist-packs with less bounce and movement.
  • Multiple reservoirs and bottles allow for different fluids.
  • Convenient way to also carry other items: keys, phone, gels.

Cons:

  • Covers more of your body, reducing evaporation in the heat.
  • Can rub you the wrong way on shoulders and compression side straps.
  • Reservoirs can be cumbersome to fill and clean, and you can’t gauge how much fluid is left.

Osprey’s Duro (men’s) and Dyna (women’s) packs | $110

hydration pack

Photo: Osprey

These solid running-specific carriers come with a 1.5-liter reservoir and are soft flask compatible. The vests are highly durable, stable and comfortable. The hydration bite valve uses a sternum strap magnet that keeps it from flapping around. Front, side and rear pockets, some with zips and others with stretch mesh let you can stash almost anything you’d like to take with you in this long-run-compatible hydration vest.

Salomon ADV Skin 8 Set W | $155

Women's specific hydration vest

Photo: Salomon

A new, women’s-specific pack with a two-way stretch chest construction reduces breast pressure while carrying two 500ml soft flasks that are unique triangular-shaped to fit better with a woman’s physique and are secured in front stretch pockets designed to limit bounce. The elastic sternum strap allows for on-the-fly adjustment and ease of breathing. One main stretch compartment in the back has a side zip and holds up to five liters of fluids or gear. The vest pack even comes with a whistle.