(Disclaimer: I wasn’t asked to review this product or given one to review; I bought it for my own use and decided to review it here. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of other users of this product.)
I’ve mentioned on this blog before about how I hate running in the heat, and how I can tend to get fainty sometimes. I’ve also talked about my propensity to avoid hydrating properly, especially before races. Given this winning combination, I’ve taken to carrying a water bottle with me when I know I’ll be running in intense heat. At the Shipyard Old Port 5K last year, I carried a Nathan QuickShot, which I bought on impulse the night before:
I liked that this bottle had a hand strap so I didn’t have to actively hold it while I ran, but the 10oz it held ran out very quickly on that hot, hot day, and the water got warm SO quickly from the heat of my hand. I never used it again.
For the Firefighters 6K back in June, I was so desperate to have liquid with me that I carried a giant water bottle filled with Nuun the whole way:
That wasn’t ideal either. My hand got really tired holding that bottle, and again, the liquid inside got pretty warm from my hand after a short amount of time. I started researching better handheld bottles (I’m not ready for a hydration belt yet… a belt or pack seems like overkill to me for short races, but a small bottle in hand doesn’t seem quite as bad) and came across another Nathan product, the SpeedDraw Plus Insulated:
It seemed to cover all bases – it had a hand strap so I wouldn’t have to actively clutch it while I ran; it’s insulated so the liquid inside should stay cooler longer; it’s 18oz so it wouldn’t run out quite as fast as the QuickShot; it’s dishwasher safe; and as a bonus, it features a zippered pocket that holds most cell phones, as well as keys, ID/credit cards, money, and a little bit of fuel.
It was also $35, which I wasn’t prepared to shell out on a water bottle. I left it in the back of my mind until I returned to Portland for the Old Port 5K. I spotted a few SpeedDraws on an endcap at L.L. Bean and decided to go for it after a) examining it in person and deciding it seemed legit, and b) getting worried that the race would be as hot as last year’s. The morning of the race ended up being pretty cool so I didn’t bring it (even though once I started running I really wish I had brought it!) and ended up not using it until a few weeks later.
The first time I used it, I filled it with tap water and set out on my run. My phone, ID, and a tissue fit well in the zippered pocket, and it was really nice not having to hold my phone (which I’m doing in almost every picture of me running before I bought Simon!). Drinking out of it took a little bit of getting used to; I found the best way was to hold it above my mouth, pointing down. When you squeeze the bottle, water shoots out in a little (loud, funny-sounding) burst, and before I mastered the amount of pressure I needed, I found my shirt covered in splotches of water. Eventually I got the hang of it and it worked pretty well. I was happy, and considered writing a positive review right away.
However, I’m glad I waited. Each subsequent time I’ve used it it’s been a pain in the neck. The second time I took it for a run, I popped a Nuun tab inside, filled it with water, and put the cap on right away (mistake!). The pressure from the carbonation built up so much that when I went to take a drink the first time, Nuun sprayed out violently and drenched me. It kind of hurt, too! To make matters worse, liquid kept dribbling out from under the lid, soaking the zippered pocket and making my hand all wet and sticky. I blamed myself for pressurizing it with Nuun and shrugged it off.
The next time, the bottle continued to leak from under the cap even though I let the Nuun fully dissolve and settle before putting the cap on. It continued to leak until I only had maybe 3 or 4 ounces left. I thought maybe the bottle just really didn’t like Nuun. So the next time, I put plain water in (after washing it really well). Nope, still leaked. The time after that, I only filled it about halfway with water and it finally didn’t leak! However, this was the day of my 5-mile long run and I was wishing I had been able to carry more than just 9 or 10 ounces as I was gasping for water once I finished.
Last night I used the bottle again at the weekly Shammies Fun Run. I had made a glass of Nuun and drank about half of it (8 ounces or so) before transferring it into the bottle. I figured it would be safe since it was only half full, Nuun or not, but sure enough it started leaking almost immediately after I left my house. I kept fiddling with the cap, changing the tightness and position, but nothing I did stopped the leaking. This was the worst it had ever leaked, and it soaked right through the pocket and got my phone wet. Not cool!
I really wanted this bottle to work because I loved being able to stash my phone safely in a pouch, and I liked being able to carry water without having to actively hold a bottle. This bottle did get a little heavy when it was full, making me feel a little off-balance as I ran, but I was willing to deal with that. But all this leaking? Nope. Last night was the last time I’ll use this bottle. I think I gave it enough benefit of the doubt but it just kept failing and now I’m sad that I spent so much on it.
I had read some reviews when I was researching bottles, but they seemed pretty evenly split between positive and negative. All the negative ones I’ve read report the same leaking problem, which makes me wonder… did the people who left positive reviews leave them right after using them for the first time, or are those of us with leaking bottles the victims of a batch of defects?
Anyway for me it’s back to the hydration drawing board, I guess. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recommend this particular product to anyone!
Do you use a bottle/pack/belt that you’d recommend?