Feb201410

Running is among the most elemental of human activities. It requires nothing, no wheels, skis, sails, sticks, balls, ropes, helmets, tools or other extraneous hardware. Our bodies alone are the vehicles of our sport. Of course, most of us wear shoes and some clothing and, particularly for ultra runners, we tend to bring along a few basics such as fuel and water.

Everyone has a preference for the way they like to carry water on long runs. Some like packs. Some like hand-held bottles. Some like a combination of the two. In accordance with the basic principle of running itself, I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. I like to keep my hands free (without wearing a pack) while still enjoying the practicality of a water bottle. Enter the Simple Hydration bottle.

 

Full disclosure: I obottleriginally bought a Simple bottle in Spring 2013 and, after using it during a number of runs and races, I contacted Brian Hock (the owner) and offered to help spread the word about his product. I don’t have much to gain by endorsing Simple Hydration and do so only because I use it and like it.

 

Let’s face it. Water is heavy. Twenty fluid ounces weighs 1.3 pounds. One liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds. That’s a lot to swing around on the end of your arm for extended miles and hours during a race or long run. When I’m pushing my body to its limits (especially during a race), I don’t want to waste that extra energy carrying weight in my hands. I do have hand-helds and packs and I do find them to be useful in some situations. However, when I’m trying to run hard and fast, I need my arms to drive in opposition to my legs. And that just doesn’t work very well when I’m carrying hand-helds.

 

The author on his way to a third place finish at the 2013 Mt Hood 50 mile race running hands free with his Simple bottle (photo: Long Run Pictures)

The author on his way to a third place finish at the 2013 Mt Hood 50 mile race running hands free with his Simple bottle (photo: Long Run Pictures)

Before I discovered the Simple bottle I would often liberate my hands by tucking my 20 ounce hand-held bottle into my waistband. This worked OK, but the bottle had to be more than half empty or it would bounce around, and it always felt too bulky and awkward on my hip or lower back. The flatter shape of the Simple bottle makes it much less noticeable when running. And the shape and size seems to greatly minimize the slosh sound that accompanies standard water bottles. I also found that the slightly smaller capacity (13 fluid ounces) is perfect for races where I encounter aid stations every five to seven miles. As with most bottles, it has a wide mouth and can be quickly refilled. If I need extra capacity, I use two bottles. I also like the fact that two slightly smaller bottles allows me to separate plain water from electrolyte and/or supplemental fuel liquids. I like having options.

 

simple bottle hangingThe Simple bottle is designed to sit in the waistband of your running shorts and requires only a drawstring to keep it locked in place. The hook faces outward and prevents the bottle from sliding down, or anywhere else for that matter. It doesn’t bounce (even when full) and is easy to access and slide back into place. So simple. It’s the shaker furniture of the water bottle world, with its blend of simplicity, elegance and functionality. The plastic is BPA free and it’s made in the USA.

 

After many uses, I have yet to notice any plasticy aftertaste. The bottle also seems to be immune to the fish tank scum buildup common in my other bottles. The only issue I’ve ever had with the Simple bottle is a thin plastic protrusion on the center seam of one of my bottles, which irritated my skin on a long run. When I got home I rubbed it off with 320 grit sandpaper and had no further problems.

 

hal w simple bottle

Hal Koerner at the 2013 Western States 100. Photo by Brian Donnelly

The Simple bottle is a well-designed and practical solution to hydrating on the run. For me, it is the best way to carry water when I’m in race mode and need to be as efficient as possible. I’m not surprised to see it being adopted by a number of elite-level athletes.

 

For additional thoughts on this matter, here are some blogs and studies that discuss some of the negative effects of running with hand-held water bottles:

 

http://www.irunfar.com/2013/05/arm-swing-the-canary-in-the-coal-mine.html

http://www.runnersworld.com/trail-running-training/study-looks-how-ultra-runners-hydrate?page=single

http://andydubois.blogspot.com/2010/09/is-running-with-hand-held-water-bottle.html

http://www.drummondclinic.co.uk/articles/running-with-handheld-water-bottles/

Brian Donnelly Profile Pic Brian Donnelly is a runner and technical writer from Portland, Oregon.  He chronicles his adventures at  http://brianthedonnelly.blogspot.com/

 

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