Running water bottles – which one works best?

Camelbak Delaney Race

Camelbak Delaney Race

I’ve previously rambled on about water bottles for use while running, without much to speak of in terms of experiences with them. Today, I’m going to ramble on again about them, because I’ve now come to the conclusion that the Camelbak Delaney Race that I use, which although no longer available is deemed a “fitness running” hydration pack, is the one to get, rather than the Camelbak Octane XCT (also no longer available, but deemed a “distance running” hydration pack).

Camelbak Octane XCT

Camelbak Octane XCT

Why? Well, two main reasons. First, the Race pack fits on my body in such a way that, if properly tightened (more on that later), I basically don’t know it’s there, and doesn’t make me feel like a sweaty ball of mingingness. Secondly, I can tell how much water I have left. Two pretty important factors for me.

So let’s take these two reasons and see what the difference is between the two packs.

SkeletonFirst, the Race fits round your waist. On me, it sits very low, and deliberately so; it is basically round the top of my running shorts. Any higher up and I can feel it bouncing around. So I have it tight around the sacrum area of my body.

The Octane, on the other hand, you carry on your back. It carries a lot more water, so is therefore heavier, although that can clearly be resolved by not filling it all the way up, but even when it is empty, it’s another layer on your back. My back gets pretty sweaty when I’m running, and is an area that my body wants to keep cool, so adding a layer (many layers, in reality) of stuff to my back is not pleasant.

Now, I live in Scotland, so it rarely gets hot here, but even on days when it is, say, 18°C, running with the Octane is not nice. So, the Race wins in this, erm, race.

The second point is pretty obvious – with the Race, you have a bottle, you can see the bottle when you’re drinking from it, and you can therefore see when it’s running out. With the Octane, I was constantly wondering how much I had left, and was paranoid that I was going to run out. Yes, I could stop and look, but that’s not what I want to have to do when I am out running. And I couldn’t really figure out how much water was in it from how it felt, because the thing isn’t weightless even without water, so I could never tell.

Now, in the past few long runs, probably the last 3, I’ve been getting more pissed off with the Race, because it was bouncing around on my waist. It was getting slightly worse each time, but I didn’t realise it was getting worse each time – I just thought I was getting more pissed off with it each time. Turns out that it was managing to loosen itself, and today, I stopped 2 miles into my 14 mile run, tightened it up, and OMG, what a difference – solid as a rock on my hips/waist the entire way round. Marvellous.

Which brings me to the last point – how to get the Camelbak Race to not bounce around like crazy. I probably have a body shape that is tricky when it comes to preventing such a type of hydration pack from bouncing around – think standard triathlete body shape, such as Alistair Brownlee. If I was fatter, maybe the gut would prevent it from attempting to ride upwards when I’m running. So, what I need to do is to have the straps tightened so much that it’s close to painful to get the thing round my waist. Why make it painful? Well, when I then start running, my body seems to do something such that it is no longer painful. It must contract or something, I’m not really sure, tbh, but whatever it is, the goal is to make the straps so tight that you can barely get the thing on. If I do that, then it’s solid while I’m running.

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