Water bottles conundrum

Hi Quick question. I'm fairly new to running with a vest and a backpack on and having been using a bladder for hydration. I can't say I'm a big fan of the bladder, it was giving me a headache in the recent black mountains marathon and I want to try using bottles in the front pocket. Does anyone have any preference on which ones to use? There are so many on the market I'm not sure if there is much difference other than volume. I use a mountain hardware fluid race vest and a kalenji trail bag if that helps. Also does anyone recommend a hand held water bottle with a strap? Cheers Matt


  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Are you sure it was the bladder giving you a headache? There must have been 101 other factors coming into play.

  • Ha I don't mean a literal headache. The bladder tube irritates me and fancy trying bottles instead. 101 factors more like 301.
  • shawkshawk ✭✭✭

    Nathan do a handheld, it's changed a bit since I got mine a few years back (mine is quickdraw elite) but it's probably the best bit of running kit I've ever bought. I tried the Ultimate Direction ones in a shop and they felt fine but the Nathan one easily trumped it. Added bonus is it gives your hand a bit of protection whever you fall over. I can carry that thing for 24 hours and still not really know it's there.

    I sometimes attach bottles to the straps of my rucksack and while that's ok, it's much less practical than just having the bottle in your hand ready - I always find I drink less and get dehydrated more quickly. That said, if you can eliminate the bounce then it's workable for races, but in training I'd generally put spare bottles in a pack and stop to refill the handheld. Also... unless it's really hot I'll often be able to survive on the handheld between checkpoints, so no need for the front bottles. That one depends how much water you get through though, I know I drink less than most. If you're in a race and want to use poles then the handheld is not an option, so that's something else to factor in depending on how much spare cash you have and your running goals.

  • I love their collapsible ones that said

    Oman have with their best...easy to access and fill and no slurping sound when running

  • An awful lot of this will come down to personal preference, so you are likely to get vastly different answers!

    For me, it is bottles over bladder every time as I am much more conscious of how much I am drinking and they are easier to refill at CPs. I personally use hard bottles in the side pockets of my pack and if you are going for hard bottles then I don't think there is much difference beyond size, the width of the neck and the shape of the drinking straw/cap.

    A lot of people are now using soft bottles as these reduce the sloshing as the bottle empties and are easy to fit into pockets. Salomon and Ultimate Direction are probably the market leaders.

    I personally wouldn't want to use a handheld bottle in a race, as most of my trail marathons/ultras require me to navigate, so I generally am already carrying a map, plus occasionally needing to eat/use compass/open gates/etc. so too much faff for me - you need to appraise the sort of races you are doing and see whether they would work for you...

  • GeeeMGeeeM ✭✭✭

    Love the soft bottles but you need a pack that's made for them if carrying them up front otherwise they can bounce around as they decompress and get smaller. Not a problem in the UD and Salomon packs as they have big, long pockets specifically designed for them.

    Handhelds are OK but take a bit of getting used to. I've done a 100-miler with one which was fine, the Ultimate Direction ones are very comfortable and you can hold them without gripping them. They do affect my arm swing though, which also affects my cadence. Sometimes I'll chuck a slimline one in my pack for longer runs and carry it later on in the day.

    A half-way house is to get a convertube system which turns any bottle into a hydration pack! This is a great compromise - basically, it's a tub that screws into a standard bottle, (and has adaptors for various bottle caps) You can then throw the bottle in your backpack/side pocket and use it like a bladder. I've used this really successfully at several ultras.

    You can probably get one cheaper than this if you hunt around image




  • Tried soft flasks but couldn't get on with them, I was worried I would tear them with my fingernails and they were a nightmare to squeeze back into the Salomon pack. Also found them hard to fill up and drink from. In fact I didn't rate the Salomon pack at all, and sold it on straight away.

    I use a pack with a bottle in a back pocket, also room for one up front. Find it difficult to extract the bottle from back pocket whilst running but drinking while running is never a problem. 

  • I prefer front bottles to bladder, they balance the weight in the back better, and are much easier to see how much you have left! You get used to the sloshing after a while, and to be honest I have more things to think about than a little water slosh image I use the UD SJ vest with their normal bottles. Easy to fill.

    From an aid station worker point of view, the bladders can be a real pain to fill up, all the fittings are different and some you have to half empty the pack to fill them properly. I am also not a fan of these new soft bottles, which can be fiddly to fill, care needed not to just drop them or pour water everywhere. Not what you want when tired and in a hurry image


  • I'm also a front bottle fan, although often use a mixed approach on anything over 4hrs. If your not a fan of your current pack's bladder option and are exploring bottle use I'd recommend something like the SIS 550ml wide-neck bottle. Good sturdy but light bottle, not too big, but x2 in front pockets should cater to liquid requirements of most runs where you can get a regular top-up. Wide neck also means the spout doesn't jam if like me you add something like chia charge to the water within. SIS also do bigger (taller) and narrow fitting bottles if you think your pack front pockets might not be wide enough.

    I use these with older Salomon s-lab 5 and 12 packs from before the soft flask models. In a 50 the other day I part filled the 1.5l bladder with water for occasional/emergency use (this is a good, reliable bladder system and worth using if your not going to refill on route regurlarly), but I'd never but anything other than water in bladder as I'm crap at cleaning these things and would ruin it as I have done with others in past. I then used one of the large front pockets for a bottle with water + chia charge in.

    Soft flasks on a newer and lighter bag seem to be the way pack technology is going. But I've not moved to soft flasks as I have the same concern with putting products other than undiluted water in as for the bladder. I know I probably will forget to was out after a run and they'll get all manky.

  • To throw a joker in there, I got one of these the other day. Seems expensive for its capacity, but in just one run I've got its use fairly sussed and it is very practical. I think it will come with me to a lot of future events. And you can cut the cost if you shop around (£4.50 at Rat Race before the member discount). Used it on aforementioned 50m which was an LDWA challenge event so they recommend you bring a cup and at this particular one you do need it as not all CP supplied cups. With my 5l pack there is limited up-front room and didn't want to be taking pack on and off at each CP to get cup out of back.

    In practice I just had chest strap through the loop on back of this cup and its so light I didn't notice it there (and it was a windy day so if it was going to flap around annoyingly it would have). You could also squeeze it in to a pocket as when folded could almost go in your wallet. In event I had 750ml water in bladder for use throughout and in emergency (as didn't want to be removing and topping up). 550ml bottle of water + chia charge, which I just refilled at halfway. And then at various other CP I quickly stuck some of water or cordial that was on offer in this cup to wash down the biscuit, sandwich, etc.. I picked up and could move on fairly quickly.

    Not easy to tell from picture, but basically put index finger and thumb through loops either side at top and you can hold open in a pincer. And then one side has a spout so you can drink without spillage. You can also walk, jog with it a bit easier without spilling than a standard cup because of flexible material. And the washing aspect doesn't concern me like for a bladder or soft flask as its easy to rinse or clean inside it.

    Not really a solution to hydration in itself, but can work as part of a wider strategy image

  • Hello Gurus

    Thanks for all of the advice. I've been taking it all in like a sponge.

    I've decided to to try out on the suggestion of Shawk the Nathan quickdraw elite handheld bottle. Described as the best bit of running gear he has ever bought. Looks perfect for summer training and if i feel comfortable with it running, I might try and use it in a race. Managed to find one on amazon.

    For front bottle water bottles, i liked the idea of the soft bottles and less sloshing. So i've order two saloman soft water flask 500ml for £14 off ebay which i thought was pretty good price. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2x-Salomon-Soft-Flask-500ML-16OZ-Water-Hydration-Nutrition-Bottle-2-pieces-Blue-/281508378206?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item418b34f65e . Only downside is the wait for delivery as they come from Vietnam. 

    I'm also going to take Drunken E's advice and will purchase one SIS wide neck bottle and compare with the soft flasks.

    Thanks for the help, still a bit of novice. I've got one more mountain marathon in the Brecons Beacons in May then it's my first Ultra at the Wall in June. So really want to get everything feeling comfortable and my strategy image down before then. 

    What sort of stuff do people mix in with there water for long runs? Does anyone have any recipes? Secret recipes? 

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