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Re: Hydration advice for long distance running.


I'm looking into hydration packs for running long distance. I currently have a Nathan belt and find that it isn’t comfortable and makes me feel weighted down when I get up there in miles. I’m training for a marathon and would love some suggestions on packs to try. Thanks so much!


5 Replies

@Elsa Thanks for reaching out!

We've had a couple good discussions on the community around hydration vests, I encourage you to check those out here and here. We also have some runners who are active members of the community, @TomIrvine or @ScottMiller5000 want to jump in?

We'll also reach out to some of our employees who are avid runners and see what input they have. Stand by!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Elsa OK, so the truth is I have an on-again/off-again affair with running. But I have completed a marathon and some halfs and I’m working toward another next year. I have also supported friends on their marathon quest and I’m currently training for a wicked 16-mile trail run called the Hyner View Trail Challenge. Here are my thoughts:

1. Road marathons have aid/water stations every three or so miles. Part of marathon training should include figuring out your energy and hydration needs at specific points in your run. This is my way of saying that a water pack might be helpful during long training runs, but perhaps a burden on race day for road races, where organizers generally do a great job of seeing to runners’ needs.


2. Trail challenges  are different monsters. Trails can get very remote very fast and it’s not so easy for organizers to drag water, cups, energy gels, garbage bags, tables and more up the side of a mountain and back down again. If you look at photos of past HVTCs, you see lots of water packs on runners. I “ran” 75 percent of the course last weekend with two friends who both brought water packs. Neither friend emptied their pack over the 12.7-mile distance. I’m in the market for one now.


Hey @Elsa!

I'd love to chat running hydration vests with you!  I'd definitely suggest trying a few on, it's almost as personal to fit as your running shoes.  But...some of my favorites from personal experience are the Salomon S-Lab vests, Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta or the Nathan Vapor Howe.  Other factors to consider are do you prefer a back bladder or soft flasks in the front pockets?  Personally, I lean towards soft flasks in front...easier to refill at aid stations and less sloshing around.  Hope that at least helps to get you started!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Yeah, I've tried small hydration packs with back-bladders and vests with soft flasks on the front and I think I like the second option best for the anti-slosh factor.  I've got a Nathan vest that I like.


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@Elsa I agree with a lot of what people have already shared, in that you'll need to try stuff on and decide what feels best and what you want for your running. I have the new Vapor Howe (2.0? the purple one) and I've read reviews saying that people don't like it as much as the old one but honestly I've been loving it for my first running vest; it doesn't chafe me and it sits pretty well with several adjustable straps to get it to feel and sit the way you want it. I'm a trail runner converted into a road runner and no matter where I run, I always want to make sure I'm prepared--maybe I will get lost or hungry or not have access to water or a bandaid, etc. Even during races I like having the vest because I prefer to drink a little bit of water more frequently, rather than just accepting water every couple miles. (I find if I drink too much at once I get sloshy in my stomach or feel burpy/gassy.) I don't mind the sloshing in the pack, I find if you get it situated property and fill it completely it's usually not as noticeable. I like having all the pockets for my snacks, phone, key, ID/credit card, sunglasses, a tissue, etc. Even though running with a full vest like that can feel a bit cumbersome or occasionally a bit sore if you're doing longer distances, I really love knowing that I'm prepared for those 3 hours training alone out wherever I am. It's really just the sore shoulders that I've had to deal with, and my other running friends tell me that that's commonplace when you run with a running vest especially if you run tense or don't stretch those muscles beforehand or if you did arm day a couple days prior or whatnot.