How to Carry Water While Running

Text by: Kelsey Begg

Arc’teryx, Camelbak, Fitletic, FuelBelt, Gregory, Osprey, Running, Salomon. How to Carry Water While Running

It’s a natural fact that we get thirsty while exercising because our bodies need that H2O to survive and function properly. Whether we are running, cycling or hiking, it is essential to stay hydrated but sometimes it’s not all that easy. 

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Carrying Water While Exercising

Bikes are generally equipped with water bottle holders that are conveniently located so you can hydrate throughout your ride. There are also backpacks which can hold water bladders and have a hose so you can hydrate on the go. While hiking, you generally have a day pack which can easily hold multiple water bottles or a bladder, but how do you carry water while running?

Running with a water bottle in your hand is convenient but it isn’t so practical. It can be hard to have a good grip if the water bottle is too big or your hands begin to perspire. Carrying a big water bottle in your hand can also be fairly distracting and may even throw off your technique slightly. 

Some runs are short enough that you can hydrate before and after, but this is not the case for others. Whether you’re running a marathon or your trail running in the mountains, you need to hydrate continuously which means carrying water with you.

Convenient Water Carrying Options

Innovations and new technologies bring many benefits to runners as new products arise that make carrying water while running much more convenient and appealing. There are multiple options that are convenient for everyone whether you are a marathon runner, an adventure trail runner or simply just starting out.

You have running belts equipped with water bottle holders, lightweight hydration backpacks and even a collection of hydration vests and packs such as the Salomon Unisex Skin Pro 10 Set. These options allow you convenient access to water throughout your run while also keeping your hands free so you can focus on your technique. 

trail running
Photo by Vanessa Andrieux

Running with a Waist Belt

Running with a waist belt can take some getting used to if you have never tried it before. There is definitely a sweet spot where the belt will sit comfortably and not interfere with your running technique. Once you find this sweet spot, you’ll never look back. 

Some people can feel irritated or overheat faster while running with a hydration pack or a hydration vest. This is where a waist belt is a great alternative. If you think a waist belt is an optimal choice for you, here are a few tips to get fitted correctly:

  1. First and foremost, you’ll want to tuck your shirt into your shorts pants, or tights. This eliminates any excess material flapping around that may obstruct your access to the water bottles.
  2. When wrapping the belt around your waist, you want to be sure to place it on your true waist and not your hips. If the belt is too low, it may feel uncomfortable and can easily interfere with your hip movements altering your technique. 
  3. Ensure the belt is a snug fit. If the belt is slightly loose, it may bounce and jiggle around excessively causing discomfort or creating a distraction.
  4. Last but not least, fill up your water bottles and pop them into their appropriate spots in the belt, and get running!
  • A few small tips aside, it may be more convenient to do your stretching before putting on your waist belt to avoid any restrictions or discomfort. 
  • If you want to increase your calorie expenditure, simply add some weights to the belt. These can easily be found in the fishing section at a sporting goods store.
running in a field
Photo By Christoffer Sjostrom

Running With a Hydration Backpack

The three main things to look out for when shopping for a hydration pack to wear while running is the capacity the design and the features.

Capacity

In general, you will want to look for a pack that holds around two to three litres. If you feel that’s too much water, you can always choose to fill it less for a shorter run. You may find you consume a lot less water in the colder months than in the warmer months, so having that extra bit of volume to accommodate warm-weather-running is ideal.

Design

When it comes to the design, you want to find something that will be comfortable and fit correctly – Can you reach and operate the hose easily? Are there any pressure or chafing points? Does the backpack fit flush to your back or does it feel like you’ve got a monkey hanging off your back? In the summer months, chafing can become a problem so while trying on the backpack, make sure you move around a bit and see how the bag feels and moves on your back. 

Features

Hydration packs are most common with trail runners who go running in more remote locations where water refilling may be an issue and the lack of snack stations and corner shops. Most hydration packs have a sleeve that will hold a water bladder as well as a few pockets here and there to hold energy gels, Clif Bars and other goodies. If you have particular running essentials that come with you on every run, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve got a safe and convenient compartment to keep them.

A small security pocket is also handy on a hydration pack and a great place to store your house or car key as well as some cash or a few cards.

trail running
Photo by Christoffer Sjostrom

Running With a Hydration Vest

Hydration vests are very similar to hydration backpacks although slight features or adjustments will differentiate the two. Hydration vests are generally tighter and body shaping than a backpack and will offer a more stable and balanced option. Although running hydration backpacks are designed to be worn while running, they will often have a looser fit than a vest and the majority of the weight is focused in one area, one your back.

With hydration vests, they are designed in a way that the weight is evenly distributed throughout so that you can carry water, snack and other running essentials without feeling an immense weight centralized on your back.

Most hydration vests are equipped with water bottles and conveniently located pockets designed to hold them although some may be equipped with a water bladder.

Water Bottle VS Water Bladder

Like anything, when you have choices, you have advantages and disadvantages. Some runners may prefer water bottles for hydration on the go, while others may prefer water bladders, at the end of the day, pick what works best for you. Avoid basing your decision on what looks cooler or what your neighbour does because he says you should. 

If you’re just starting out and are really not sure what’s best for you, these few advantages and disadvantages may be the little ray of light you need to make your decision.

Water Bladder

Advantages of drinking from a hose attached to the water bladder includes hands-free hydration and more focus on your technique and the path ahead of you. Disadvantages include having to take off your vest or pack in order to refill each time and most likely needing to remove the water bladder as well.

Water Bottle

Advantages of drinking from a water bottle include not needing to remove your vest or pack each time to get a refill as well as having access to two different beverages. Most waist belts and vests are designed to accommodate two bottles so you can fill one with water and the other with an isotonic beverage or a Nuun mix.

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*Cover Photo By Vanessa Andrieux

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