Hydration Review: Camelbak

I really wanted to find a solution for my hot water drinks during my long runs, and decided it was time to give the Camelbak a try.  I used a Camelbak for ages while biking to work, and I love it, but the one I use for biking definitely does not stay put for a run.

I had a 20% off coupon at City Sports about to expire, so I caved and bought the Camelbak Annadel, which is a women-specific design (the “Fairfax” model is the male version of the Annadel).

I took it out for my first run last week, when I had the 3 miles to run home.  It bounced a bit at first, but after a couple of adjustments on the straps (and the so-not-flattering chest strap), it stopped bouncing.

On Saturday, it was the “real” test, since I was out for 9 miles.  Again, it didn’t bother me at all, except one of the straps had to be further adjusted as it was touching my neck and started irritating me.  My friend had warned me of chaffing with it, but I had no issues at all, even with the strap that kept hitting my neck (I was able to fix it once I got home).

The Camelbak Annadel is slim, doesn’t weigh much, and it still has two generous pockets for storing gear.  The bottom pocket fits plenty of Gu, and it’s somewhat accessible while running.  The vertical zipper pocket has two smaller mesh pockets inside (it fit my phone, keys, wallet in it fine), as well as a key holder hook.  I wish the bottom pocket had two zippers, as it would be easier to get things in and out that way.  But no such luck.

It also fits 10 extra ounces of water compared to the Nathan water belt (or 20 more compared to the FuelBelt).

The good?  I thought something on my back would bug the hell out of me, but the weight of it bothered me less than the weight of the water belt on my hips.  It’s not like I couldn’t tell it was there, I could, but it wasn’t enough for it to bug me.  At first I didn’t know what to do with the straw that kept swinging all over the place, my other Camelbak has a little hook for it and this one doesn’t.  I ended up just looping next to the chest buckle and it was fine and still easily accessible.

Also, remember how I said that with the water belts I’m drinking hot water midway through my run?  I had no issue with the Camelbak.  Sure, the water wasn’t cold after a while, but it wasn’t hot either.  Definitely drinkable.

The bad?  I have another camelbak for biking and it takes me two seconds to fill up the water reservoir, I lift up the cover, and the cap is right there.  This one I actually have to take the reservoir mostly OUT of the backpack, fill it up then stuff it back in, which takes longer, and it’s a hassle.

Also, like all the Camelbaks out there, you have to bite on the straw to suck the water out.  The water comes out easily once you suck it in, but you know how hard it is to run, breathe and suck?  Yep, I got no such multitasking talent.  It messed up my breathing big time.  I think I’ll be forced to slow down a couple of steps every time I want to take a sip of water.

The other bad thing that I had never considered?  The bottles from the water belt are see-through, you know exactly how much water you have, and you can drink accordingly.  Imagine my surprise that an hour into my run I had run out of water!  With the Camelbak there is no warning.  I drank 50 oz of water in an hour, was still thirsty, but there was nothing I could do.  If I knew, I would have drank my water slowly, but there’s no way for you to know how much water you have left, so you can ration your water as needed.

The verdict?  To keep my water cooler, I really think the Camelbak is worth it.  I’ll have to learn to pace how often I drink my water, so that I’m not stuck without for half of my run again.

My issue now is that 50 oz work great for a half-marathon distance run, I have no clue what I’ll do once we start marathon training (in two weeks, ack!).  There are NO water fountains to be found on the trails here (no bathrooms either, how fun).  I might have to go for an exaggerated look and run with my water belt AND my Camelbak.  Yep, that will be fun.

Have you tried running with a Camelbak?  How do you like it?

And if you have trained for a marathon during the summer before, how did you deal with the water situation?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Hydration Review: Camelbak

  1. Thanks for the review!

  2. One of my friends runs with a camelback and she loves it. Her only complaint is it ruins her shirts from where the front straps rub against them.

    You should try seeing if there are any detours you can make from the trail – most of my trails, if I go about a half a mile off-trail, I can get to a convenience store with a bathroom/drinking fountain. You could also maybe try stashing water bottles (frozen) along the route to refill with – that is pretty common, I think.

    • Good to know about the camelbak ruining my nice running shirts! I’m going to keep an eye out for that — or at least make sure to rotate my shirts enough times.

      There’s no way to stash water bottle on the trails (I usually run by the Mt Vernon or the Capital Crescent, starting from the DC side), they’re not by the road… If only they had a water fountain every 5 miles or so, it’d be enough! There’s one bathroom at Fletcher’s Boathouse on CCT, and when I ran through there on Saturday, the bathroom was taken down, replaced by two disgusting porta-potties!

  3. I really want to try a camelbak, also for marathon training. Right now, I just have a belt that carries four bottles, and the trails I run also don’t have fountains 😦

    • I’m liking the camelbak so far, but it doesn’t fit that much more than the water belt, the ones with high capacity, are meant for long hikes, and carrying stuff, they’re not really slim. It’s nice not being forced to drink hot water though!

  4. Great blog!
    I love my Camelbak packs. They are lightweight and always helped me stay hydrated on my long bikes rides. They are easy to refill with water and easy to drink from! NO HASSLE!

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