Summer hydration - packs versus belts

I am training for the Berlin marathon in September and am very conscious of the fact that all my longest runs are going to be in the middle of summer.

I know that keeping well hydrated is going to be really important for my training but am unsure of whether a belt with bottles or hydration pack (camelback type thing) would be best. I get the idea that the belt might be more uncomfortable but the bag would be very hot against my back.

Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations - which one is most comfortable / easiest to use. I am prepared to invest in the best option but don't want to shell out for one and then wish I had the other!!



  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭
    I use a C'bak Flashflo which is a belt bladder system and not a rucsac style - and it's very comfortable. I didn't go with a bottle belt as the sloshing around of liquid would drive me nuts - with a bladder system you can get all the air out so it doesn't slosh.......for me that's a huge difference

    yes, the lower back does get warm and sweaty with a Flashflo but in reality it's no big deal - you're hot and sweaty anyway running in summer!

  • I did use a Camelbak for a while, but did find it made me even hotter.

    On the other hand, I found a bottle belt uncomfortable.  My OH tells me that you do get used to it, so I might give it another try.

    I think I'm going to try running very early this summer.

  • I use a NB bottle belt, basically is an elasticated belt with 4 little bottles and a pouch for some keys. Pretty easy to carry round and doesn't seem uncomfortable or hard to carry.


  • I use pockets in a very nice pair of Patagonia running shorts. Pity you left this choice out. I carry one pouch containing three servings in each pocket, with a screw top. Saves the weight of a carrying device and some extra packaging.
  • I'm using a small 1l camelbak that I got from JJB (of all places) and its been great. The pack is barely bigger than the bladder and its got a small pocket for the usual stuff. I like it because it doesn't juggle about and is light - my back does get warmer than it would otherwise but its not big deal (and the pack has mesh panels etc).

    I don't get on with belts as I don't have much of a waist!

  • I tried a couple of belts (Nathan and CamelBak) and hated them both.

    I found that tp stop them jumping around I had to have them done up very tight and this affected my hip/waist movement, which in turn caused knee pain.

    Switched to a small CamelBak back pack and not had any problems.

    Then again I see loads of people running around with waist packs and hardly any with back packs, so it must be down to the individual.

  • JJ I guess we are the elite ... or the odd squad!

    I must admit that I see far more belts than I do packs.

  • I use an Inov8 Race pro 4 belt. This has an internal bladder that goes around the waist and takes up to 2 litres of liquid. Plus it has a pocket on each hip and a small pouch (4 litres) at the back for kit, food, etc.

     Its an excellent bit of kit and works better for me than a backpack.  I use it for runs over 3 hours, under that I'll take a Nathan belt with bottle.

  • Hi I tried lots of belts with bottles but did not get on with them,could never get them tight enough I then tried a small camelbak which I really like,it is light and easy to use.

    Not heard of the belt with the internal bladder,that sounds a good option as well but I am happy with my camelbak.

  • I go for the high tech approach, i carry a bottle in my hand. But for less than a couple of hours running, i wouldn't bother with anything.
  • Haha Lard, to be honest i usually do that as well as often I cannot be bothered filling the tiny bottles. If its less than an hour though I tend not to bother and have an isotonic waiting in the fridge when i get home


  • JJ2JJ2 ✭✭✭
    I'm with muddy runner, Innov8 for longer runs, bottle belt for shorter
  • Haven't tried the belt camelbak equivalents, but have used a normal bottle belt and a hand held bottle 

    . TBH, if I don't need the extra carry capacity of the waist belt, then the hand bottle wins. The nice thing for me is that on most of my runs I can top this up.  A nuun tablet in cling film goes with me in a short pocket. However, if you can't then half a litre is only good for about 2 hours tops in real heat. Even then I get a bit too dehydrated.Routes can be planned to take in known watering stops! Especially asI often run on the coast where water taps are available.

    I have scars on my back from bottle belts and I have found that I have to either tape up the nipples or make sure the shirt is untucked from thebelt if I don't want a bloody sore mess on my chest!!! Not ideal.

    My camelback is too big to run with and I'm not gonna buy another.

  • Found another advantage to a Camelbak at the weekend.

    Was doing the Turbo X in Surrey and when you are up to you waist in stinking boggy water and want a drink, the last thing you want to do it pull out that bottle that is now covered in god knows.

  • i have just used the new camelbak racebak in the 20mile Duddon fell race in the Lakes and it was excellent. after the first couple of miles it was a bit unusual but soon got used to it but the main advantage is that as you use the water it gets lighter and then you do not notice it is there. once the water is used you are not stuck with a bottle or a pack on your back

    didn't get too many strange looks but i did feel like quasimodo at first but i have to say it performed better than i thought.

    just a tip though. make sure you get all the air out first otherwise the sloshing will drive you mad

  • Hoggle - I've never fancied the bottle-belts myself, they look cumbersome to me.

    I have a basic rock'n'run 4-litre bumbag and put a 1ltr platypus in it which I just get out and drink from as and when. You can fold it up as you drain it and refill it if need be. The bumbag has compression straps which means yo can tighten down the contents and it stays snug to your back.

    In a race however it can be a faff loosening the straps and twisting it round etc. Think I lost about 5 mins faffing with it during the duddon fell race that man from del monte mentions above. I did however manage to fit in 2 platypuses, 2 energy bars as well as waterproof jacket and trousers!

    So the real Mccoy should be the inov8 race pro bumbag muddy mentions above which has the inbuilt bladder, but I've not used one yet, so don't know how comfy / stable it is.

    Inov8 also do race pro backpacks but I think the smallest is 8 or maybe 12ltr so they are designed to hold other stuff, whereas the smallest camelback ones have less carrying space and are just designed really to hold the bladder.

  • Used to have a Camelbak Flashflo, but stopped using it as I couldnt judge the amount of fluid I was taking in. Much prefer a classic bottle and belt combo.
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