I’ve always appreciated reviews on products that other athletes have used, as it gives you (generally) an objective and unbiased (well, in the case of sponsored athletes, maybe slightly biased,) idea of what to expect from said product. So, I thought other athletes (from elites to weekend warriors) might appreciate a review here and there, just an outline of my thoughts on some of the training tools I’ve been using lately. Bare with me here, this is my first review, so let’s get the ball rolling; today’s review is on the ‘Speed 2’ hydration belt, from Nathan Human Propulsion Laboratories (and no, I’m not biased because we just so HAPPEN to share the same name….)
|The old Fuel Belt|
Three years back, I was informed by my coach that it would be a good idea to purchase a hydration belt for training, and more importantly, for racing. Back then, with a tight budget, I opted for a two-bottle system by ‘Fuel Belt.’ It seemed to be everything I would need (two bottles was more than sufficient for me; as I live in a rather temperamental rainforest climate, for a run of less than 2hrs I usually do not even need water.) It was adjustable by two means (a velcro closure and adjustable buckle-straps,) also had a small gel/key pouch, and was fairly lightweight. I never really liked it, and rarely used it. I raced with it once, but the chafing it produced prevented me from ever wearing it again in a race.
|Nathan Human Propulsion Laboratories ‘Speed 2’|
Fast forward to today. About two months ago I purchased a Nathan ‘Speed 2’ hydration belt, as my training was ramping up for some 70.3 racing, and the temperature was increasing too. I was primarily using the belt for long runs, and longer brick running. I don’t intend to use the belt for racing, unless I visit somewhere with extreme temperatures; I’ve learned to utilize as much on-course hydration as possible. That being said, it is an extremely useful training aid, as I have experimented with different mixes and variations in the bottles to see their effect on my training, as well as on hotter days (I seem to have a knack for doing a lot of my running during the hottest parts of the day.) The ‘Speed 2’ is by far more comfortable than my previous belt; with just the one adjustment (by way of a velcro closure on the front,) it NEVER loosens off, so where I set it at the start of my run, by 30km’s in it hasn’t moved at all. I find the inner portion of the belt has a somewhat soft material, and without any vertical seams, it has yet to give me any chafing issues.
Now for the part that I like the most, what really used to bug me about my Fuel Belt: easy accessibility, both for removing the bottles, and replacing them back in to the belt. My old belt’s bottles came out decently easy enough, but it was a huge struggle trying to get them back in; you would see me dancing around while running, using both hands behind my back trying to get the bottle back in. What a pain, especially if you’re running tempo or intervals. The ‘Speed 2’ bottle holsters (I would almost refer to them as ‘cages,’) are a solid plastic design, and the bottles go in-and-out with ease, single handed (meaning NO MORE RUN DANCING!!) As much as I like dancing about, there’s no place for it while slogging out a long run (well, maybe a small victory dance at the end…..) The bottles stay very firmly in the holsters (I have had the bottles on my old belt fly out before,) and I haven’t noticed any bounce, no matter how full or empty the bottles are. Another small inconvenience some people may have noticed with their hydration bottles, is that annoyingly small amount of leakage that you get up and down your back; I didn’t have even a SINGLE drop come out of the bottles during any of my running with the belt. The human body excretes enough of a mess during a long run, you don’t need sticky electrolyte drink all over everything too!!
The rear pouch: the last small convenient part of the belt. I easily put my car keys, a few gel packets, and a small pack of tissues (those of you who run LONG know what the latter is for,) into the pouch, and it all stays nice and dry.
I’m sure there’s many places to grab one of these belts around the lower mainland, but I know you can get them at any of the three New Balance Vancouver stores (downtown Van, North Delta, or Langley.) I’m pretty sure there are also a ton of online options available too.
I hope some find this review helpful. Everything here is my own opinion, and I am sure there are other products out there that are similar to this one, but I haven’t used them. Enjoy, and Happy Training everyone!!!!