So, I did a little research and opted for a hydration belt. The first one I purchased was a total fail. It had a single bottle that was positioned horizontally on my back. The bottle leaked and randomly fell out when I ran. Eventually, I ditched it and moved onto another belt, this time with four small bottles and a Velcro closure. Again, I was disappointed. The belt chafed me CONSTANTLY. I could never get it to sit correctly and I often finished a run feeling abused.
In the past year, I have moved to handheld hydration methods. This has been my favorite method by far, but it too has it's drawbacks. To begin with, the amount of water I can carry is limited. The vessel is small in comparison to that of the belts I had utilized in the past. Also, on occasion, I ended runs with cramped biceps from holding my arm in a rather fixed position. But, aside from that, the handheld seemed to be the best option for me, especially for shorter (under 10 mile) training runs.
And although I was content with my current hydration system, I had always been interested in using a hydration pack. So, when Scott at Outside PR, gave me the opportunity to test out the Hydrapak Soquel, I jumped at the chance.
The Soquel, which retails for $54.99, is ultra-lightweight with just enough storage space to make it perfect for a race or a training run. Here are the specs (from Hydrapak):
- Speed Harness Ultimate Mobility Straps (SHUMS)
- Ultra-Light Weight Materials
- 360 Degree Reservoir Insulation
- Applied Mesh Pocket with Elastic Pump Loop
- Silky Slider Sternum Strap
- Key Clip
- Reflective Light Loop
- Weight: 9 oz
- Gear Storage: 90 Cubic inches (1.5L)
- 70 oz (2L) Reversible Reservoir II with Classic Connector (Upgrade to Plug-N-Play optional)
- Measures 13.5" x 6.25" x 2.75"
- Silicone Impregnated 100D Trilobal Ripstop and 210D Nylon Construction
Despite carrying two liters of water with me, I barely noticed that I was even wearing the pack (I did notice the sound of the shaking of the ice cubes that I put in the reservoir though). It wasn't bulky or restrictive and perhaps most importantly, it didn't chafe.
In addition to the comfort of the Soquel, I also appreciated the large reservior size (2L), ample storage space (pictured below) and easy to use bite valve.The only drawback I could find to this pack was that I was not able to access the storage compartments while I was running. This was not due to the design of the pack, but rather it's placement on my back. I was unable to reach around and undo the zippers and/or latches. This is a minor drawback that I expect would be seen with any hydration pack.
All in all, I would highly recommend the Hydrapak Soquel.
Note: While I received this product for free, the opinions are all my own.