however, having set my sights on tackling my first ultra this year i decided that perhaps it would be wise to invest in some kind of hydration system ... whether it be a packstyle bladder and tube or a belt and multiple bottles or a handheld container. after some consultation with seasoned ultra and trail running competitors, i decided to give the Nathan quickdraw elite a go.
on the one hand:
the nathan quickdraw plus (QDE) is a well thought-through product. from the multiple front pockets - including a zippered one large enough for most smartphones should you choose to carry one along - to the adjustable velcro sizing strap and the standard-ish sized 22oz sport water bottle, this piece of gear is designed with the runner's comfort and accessibility in mind.
some of the best features of the QDE are:
- easy-to-open and close rubber nozzle - use your teeth to yank it open and slam it against one of your glutes to shut it again! durable and leakproof.
- quick-fill - no fiddling with bladders or trying to pour juice jugs into itty bitty bottle openings. the wide mouth on the QDE makes aid station stops a snap.
- open-hand fit - the webbing on the handhold has a thumbhole to secure the bottle to your hand and allows you to have a loose grasp on the QDE, meaning that you carry less tension in your upper body while running.
- washability - the bottle can endure the dishwasher and the harness can go through the laundry cycle.
- protective equipment!! - i'd read elsewhere that one of the upsides to using handheld hydration is that in the event of a trip and fall the bottles can help cushion the landing and save some abrasion. and yes, i did unwittingly put my QDE to the test - and yes, it helped the tumble look a little more graceful!
really, what's not to love?
ok, i guess that there are a couple of (minor) points that i could make here:
- arm swing - whether using a single handheld or a pair in tandem, carrying bottles will affect your otherwise unencumbered arm swing. it just takes a bit of getting used to - but i certainly didn't find it distracting or detrimental.
- temperature - the few times that i've ventured out in cooler weather with the QDE i found that my hands were colder than normal if i'd filled the bottle with cold water. i know that it stands to reason, but after a while the temperature of the water rose a couple of degrees (probably more from body heat than air temperature) and it wound up being comfortable enough. there were just a few early kilometres of stinging palms.
the bottom line? this is a great piece of equipment for any runner, but in particular those who enjoy trail/ultra running. thumbs up (through the webbing)!