I’m 6 weeks into marathon training now and my long runs are getting longer. For my training thus far, I relied on my handy Fuel Belt (I have both two- and four-bottle versions) or the Fuelbelt handheld. These products have worked great so far, but I started looking into other options for those really long runs I have looming ahead of me. As much as I love the handheld/belt bottles, I don’t love having to plan running routes around finding a water fountain to refill when I run out! So I reached out to my runner friends on twitter to see what their go-to hydration gear is! Of course there are plenty of options out there: belts, handhelds, stopping at water fountains, planting your own water bottles along your route, etc. And runners use some, all or a combination of them. I’ve seen a few other runner/bloggers using CamelBak backpacks on long runs, and I was intrigued! I reached out to the folks at CamelBak for more information on their gear options, and they offered to send me their newest product (the CamelBak Ultra LR vest) to try out! Awesome!
The Ultra LR Vest is a run-specific hydration vest, with a 2-Liter lumbar reservoir which allows you to carry the water weight on your hips as opposed to the shoulders. It has three buckles that go across the chest, stomach and waist and a ton of other straps to adjust the fit to you. I have to admit, at first I was a little worried about how it would fit since it’s a “one-size” vest. I also had some trouble figuring out the straps once I had the vest on, and definitely needed a second pair of eyes to tell me where to adjust for the best fit. Here’s a look at the vest on me:
I tried the Ultra LR vest out last weekend on my 14-mile long run with Beth & Nicole. When I hopped on the subway to meet them, I did feel a little silly wearing a serious hydration vest when most places in NYC have so much access to water, but I quickly got over it! I met my friends in Riverside Park and headed up the West Side Highway to the Little Red Lighthouse. After stopping for a few pics, we turned around and headed back to Manhattan where Beth and I finished our last miles by running a lower loop of Central Park and over to the East side. The route we ran happened to have plenty of water fountains, but I didn’t need ’em!!! Despite starting the run feeling like I was “overdoing” it with this high-tech vest, I ended up loving it. I’ll definitely be using it again for long runs and would recommend it for other runners looking for a higher volume hydration pack.
So here’s what I especially liked:
–The Ultra LR was super comfortable, especially after I figured out how to tighten it down. The vest itself is a decent size, but it didn’t feel any heavier or bulkier than when I run wearing a hydration belt. I really liked the placement of the water reservoir on the lower back/hips and although I’ve never worn a normal CamelBak, I can only imagine this style minimizes stress on the shoulders/upper back. I made sure to wear a t-shirt underneath it, so as to avoid chafing (runners know we don’t need any extra chafing), but it didn’t really rub.
–There is so much storage room! It has a ton of little pockets and straps for you to store whatever it is you might need on a long run/hike (extra layers, keys, fuel, money, additional bottles, etc). I kept my iPhone, 2 packets of Gu Chomps, a Gu, my keys, some cash and metrocard and there was plenty of room for more! As it gets cooler, I can already see that the back mesh area will come in handy for holding spare long layers.
–It holds a lot of water. This was the whole reason I was interested in CamelBak in the first place. Having 2L (67 ounces) of water right on my back eliminates the need for multiple refills or fountain stops. And it didn’t feel too heavy when filled to capacity!
And some things I didn’t like as much…
I had to readjust and tighten the straps a few times. When I first started running, I didn’t have all of the straps secured all the way and the top part was bouncing a lot. I hadn’t noticed the side straps to tighten it down and Beth had to point them out. It felt great once I caught on, but it did loosen during the run and I had to readjust a few times.
It contained my heat and sweat. Although most of the vest is mesh and breathable, it still added an extra layer and prevented some of the heat and sweat from escaping. I’m assuming this will become less of a problem as we venture into fall running!
Since I’m fairly small and needed to tighten the straps almost to the end, I had a lot of excess strap hanging out. I just tucked them in so they weren’t swinging around, but I could see how this might become annoying.
As I already mentioned, I loved the vest and will definitely be using it again on a long run. Perhaps on my 16-miler this weekend?!? 🙂 Tell me…have you tried a CamelBak? What’s your go-to hydration system?!
*CamelBak provided me the Ultra LR Vest to try and review. As always, the opinions in this post are solely my own.