Today is technically the first day of summer, though it’s been a steamy mess outside for weeks. When it’s 90 degrees and 90% humidity, I find I need to hydrate every mile or so if I want to keep running. I’ve been limiting my runs to a 1.5 mile loop around my house so I can take regular sips of ice water (I hate carrying water bottles), but this hydration strategy is an inordinate hassle and obviously not feasible when I want to go on longer runs around the river. Enter: my first hydration backpack.
Chris and I each ordered this Teton hydration backpack online. We liked that it’s small, lightweight, BPA-free, and (relatively) inexpensive. I was extremely excited when they arrived in the mail.
Today, we decided to test them out on a 90-degree, seven-mile river run.
I filled my backpack with 16 oz. of chilled, filtered water and resisted the urge to drink any on the car ride over to the river. After stretching, I harnessed myself into the backpack with ease. It’s extremely adjustable and I was able to contour it perfectly to fit my frame. I stuck a few pieces of candy in the back pocket for good measure. The back pocket has a bungee strap, which tightens nicely and holds my iPhone in place, as well.
Next time, I will definitely throw a bunch of ice cubes in with my water because it warmed to body temperature within one mile. It also had a mild plasticky taste, which I hope eventually goes away with continued use. The taste wasn’t terrible enough to deter me from drinking all 16 oz. within 10K, though. It’s kind of incredible how awesome an energy boost you can get from sipping even warm, plasticky water on a 90-degree day.
The nozzle can be a bit difficult to drink out of (you have to suck hard and bite down with your teeth), so I may try to augment the mouthpiece a bit with a kitchen knife.
There’s a small plastic whistle attached to one of the backpack’s straps. It’s not very loud, though. If ever I should need to signal for help on a run, I would probably be better off yelling. But you never know.
Note: if you’re going to run with a hydration backpack, get ready for the sloshy sound. Fortunately, I couldn’t feel the slosh and I couldn’t hear it over my Justin Timberlake playlist either, otherwise I think I would have experienced a terrible urge to pee the entire time.
The verdict: I like this backpack, especially for the price. It’s surprisingly comfortable to run with. I barely noticed it at all and my pace (8:22) didn’t suffer a bit. In fact, I probably ran faster than I would have without it, because I felt chipper and well-hydrated the entire way. I cannot believe I ran without drinking any water on the go for the last six years. You live, you run, you learn.
Tips for Running With a Hydration Backpack:
Bring 8 oz. of water for every 5K you plan to cover.
Add ice cubes.
Adjust the straps as tightly as possible.
Listen to music to mask the sloshy sound.
Take a few sips every .5-1 mile.
Utilize the extra, hands-free storage compartments for snacks, compression socks, your phone, snacks…
Questions for the Internets:
Do you run with a hydration backpack or a handheld water bottle?
What is your fueling/hydration strategy on longer runs?