Since I’ve been marathon training I’ve had to adjust to increased mileage and all the preparation that goes with it. I am not a huge gadget person in general but with the miles getting longer my needs are vastly different for 2-3 hour runs versus a quick neighborhood jaunt. I’ve been trying out gear, fuel, hydration and think I know which shoes are “the one”. Who said running was a “free” sport?
Over the next few weeks I’m going to bring you some reviews (and other fun surprises – think giveaway!) on various products I’ve tried. Up first is the Zelos Hydration Race Vest by Nathan Sports. *affiliate linkAfter running out of hydration using my handheld a couple long runs in a row I realized I was not making it through my planned 16 miler without a better hydration plan! I knew I didn’t want a fuel belt so set out to find a hydration pack that would fit my tiny frame, be comfortable and lightweight.
I found myself in City Sports and checked out their Camel Bak selection which I wasn’t impressed by (I like Camel Bak as a brand just not the options there). I was set to go elsewhere until I saw a few Nathan products on another wall. When I picked up the Zelos I loved that it was really, really light! I chatted with the sales guy who was pretty helpful and actually recommended Nathan over Camel Bak. I do have a Nathan handheld I like a lot so I tried the vest and walked around a bit adjusting the straps as I went along. I was pretty sold on it in the store so away I went.
The features: a sizeable bladder and a handheld bottle/pocket in the front for additional hydration or fuel (I used honey stinger chews in the pocket); lightweight and mesh; a top side zipped pocket for cash, ID, keys, etc; plenty of storage in the pack; reflective material.
The experiment: I filled the bladder with Gatorade and decided to leave the water bottle at home. There are plenty of water fountains on the route I chose for Sunday’s run so figured I’d use those water stops in between. When I first put it on, it felt a little heavier than it was in the store – but duh, I was carrying a liter and a half of fluid! I loosened the straps a bit to make it more comfortable and off I went.
I was not annoyed by the straps or the sloshing (which was minimal and actually Nathan has videos if you Google search on how to limit that!). Once I got into a comfortable rhythm it was really all good. Then as I started to hydrate (around Mile 3) the weight began to shift and it was even more comfortable. Obviously I was aware I was wearing it and perhaps because I was so focused on the test it got me through the miles!! I loved having the flask handy and not having to fully stop for hydration.
I did stop about Mile 7 when I lost my shoe in the mud (it rained heavily the evening before and I was avoiding a puddle, then surprise!!) I easily flipped the pack off to get my hand towel and tightened the straps. All in all I was really happy with this hydration vest! It will definitely come in handy for future long runs so I’m glad I tried it! The amount of storage space is a HUGE plus.
A couple of notes: the Zelos retails for about $125. I purchased mine on sale at City Sports and as a member of their Insider Rewards program used earned rewards dollars so paid even less. Also, the Zelos is considered the men’s version and the women’s version is called the Zeal. The big difference is an additional front zipper on the women’s vest and brighter colors but I preferred this color and size and it fit the way I wanted. So every body is different and I’m sharing my personal experience!
Have you ever run with a hydration pack? Do you have a preferred method of hydration on a long run?