Bottles Vs Bladders

When it comes to hydration while out running, you basically have the option of bottles or a bladder. I used a bladder for a long time before converting to bottles. Now I run with handhelds and/or backpacks that are capable of carrying water bottles. The North Face Enduro 13, Salomon XT Wings 5 & UltrAspire Kinetic are all examples of this kind of pack, holding two easily accessible bottles.

The Salomon XT and North Face Enduro packs are also capable of holding a bladder but this is something I would only do for long, unsupported ventures where there was a possibility of running out of fluids.

Why do I prefer bottles?

Mixing your drinks

Nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with your ability to carry something different in each of your bottles. For a while I would just carry blue Powerade but, after a while, I found myself hankering for plain water. I then started using High 5 tablets which were easily carried and let me mix up my flavours so that I did not get tired of the same flavour. Of late I have tended to opt for 1 bottle of plain water and 1 flavoured with a High 5 tablet. The options are endless and all down to personal preference, as a quick google search will back up. Popular drinks included:

  • Water
  • Electrolyte drinks (High 5, Nuun, etc)
  • Powerade
  • Lucozade
  • Ginger Ale
  • Coke

I know that some runners like their Coke and Ginger Ale flat but I can’t say that I am a fan of this. There is nothing, however, to beat the lift that a small can of full on fizzy Coke or Ginger Ale provides at a checkpoint (or at the end of a race!).

Easier to fill

There’s no faffing at all when it comes to filling bottles. They can be easily passed to support crew and, if you have enough bottles, can be rotated to make the checkpoint process even smoother, handing over the empties in favour of pre-prepared bottles. You don’t even need to remove your pack – something you generally need to do if refilling a bladder.

Easier to see

When using handhelds, you can see exactly how much (or how little) fluids you have left and can determine how much fluid you should consume based on this. This is the main drawback of bladders as far as I am concerned and I have seen me come home from a run in the past when I have been using a bladder with 3/4s of my fluids left in the bladder, all because I was ‘being cautious’ with my fluid consumption!

Easier to tip over your head!

It may sound like a waste of fluid but sometimes there are days when you just need to give your head a good soaking. Have you ever seen anyone do this with a bladder? Nope, neither have I. Enough said!

Less to carry

Depending on your kit requirements, you could even ditch the backpack altogether and run solely with one or more handheld bottles. I tend to sweat a lot and running without a pack is one way to reduce this. Handhelds are especially useful for shorter runs or runs where there is not a great distance between checkpoints. Running with handhelds can actually give the arms a bit of a workout as well! Finally, have you ever heard of chaffing from hand helds? If you don’t need to run with a pack then you certainly don’t have to worry about the pack causing any chaffing!

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Possibly now out of season for this tip but, if you are likely to be running any distance on a hot day, partially or completely filling a bottle with ice should guarantee you a refreshing cool drink miles down the trail.

Salomon Sense Hydro S-LAB Set

New from Salomon, a different approach to handheld hydration, as demonstrated on the Castleberg Outdoors website. The combination of a glove like holder and soft flask offers all the benefits of handheld hydration but without the need to carry bottles. The Hydro S-LAB has been used by Salomon athletes over the past year and looks like it could be far more comfortable than traditional handhelds. The Hydro S-Lab set should be available from early February 2013.

Winter Hydration

Remember to stay hydrated when out training and/or racing. You may not feel thirsty or be sweating as much as usual but staying hydrated in the cold is important as your hydration needs are similar to any other time of the year.