Most people want to know the difference between a Camelbak and a standard hydration belt. Which product is better for running and why? It is only normal for novice runners and experienced athletes alike to try to find the best hydration solution to use during their competitions or during a casual run.
We all know how important hydration is when you run for miles in the summer heat. In fact, a good hydration system can make the difference between winning first place and coming in second in a race.
Popular Hydration Systems for Runners
Over the years, various hydration systems have been developed and improved. The basic way to hydrate yourself during a race is with a water bottle. However, running with a bottle in your hand is not comfortable or efficient at all. In addition, some people drink a lot of water during a race, so one bottle may not be enough for you.
This is why a hydration belt is so handy. You no longer have to carry one or two water bottles all the way throughout the race; you can simply place them on your belt and pull them out only when you need to hydrate.
However, you need to make sure you get a quality hydration belt that keeps the bottles firmly in place and that does not hinder you when you run.
The next hydration system is a Camelbak, which sits on your back and has a long straw that sits on your shoulder and that you can use to hydrate while you run.
You don’t even have to worry about opening a water bottle when wearing a Camelbak. You just place the straw in your mouth and start drinking. In addition, a Camelbak can hold up to two liters of water (some even more, depending on the model).
Running Camelbak vs Hydration Belt – Pros and Cons
The hydration belt is an effective solution to all your hydration problems during short to medium runs (up to 2 hours). It can carry two water bottles, so you have enough water to last you a while. In most cases, you don’t have to waste time at the aid station to refill the bottles during a short to medium run of up to two hours or up to 15 km.
If you choose a quality hydration belt, the bottles are ergonomic and stay put on the belt. Some belts also have one or two pockets where you can store your MP3 player, smartphone, and even a wallet.
Although a hydration belt is quite useful, there are also some major drawbacks to using this system. Most people will find it rather uncomfortable to run with something around their waist. If the belt bounces around while you run, you will start to hate it very quickly.
Another problem is the slushing sound made by the water in the bottles while you run, which can become annoying. Because of the constant up and down motion, the hydration belt may start to loosen itself, quickly becoming a distraction and starting to feel very uncomfortable.
Your only option is to stop and fasten the belt, losing precious time in the process. Another drawback is the fact that some hydration packs tend to place the water bottles too far apart from each other, so the runner accidentally hits them with his or her wrists while running.
The Camelbak sits on your back – as its name suggests – and holds up to two liters of water. It has a straw that sits on your shoulder, so you can drink while you run without having to stop or focus on opening a water bottle. This hydration system has both shoulder straps and a waist belt, which helps remove most of the weight from your shoulders.
Also, the combination of straps and belt make the Camelbak stable even when running at full speed. Unlike a hydration belt, the Camelbak system comes with several pockets that have ample space for storage. You can safely store your phone, keys, wallet, and even gels, food and first aid items.
Some people even use the Camelbak to store an entire change of clothes. Because this hydration system can store so much water, it is very useful on long runs of over 15 km (or over 2 hours). You do not have to stop by the aid station for a refill during the race, which gives you an advantage over the competition.
There are also a couple of drawbacks to using a Camelbak. Some people find it uncomfortable to carry something on their shoulders. In addition, because the backpack stays so close to your back during running, it tends to cause chaffing on the shoulders. The Camelbak also prevents airflow and makes you sweat more during hot summer days.
The “running Camelbak vs hydration belt” is a heated debate among novice and experienced runners alike. Some prefer the traditional hydration belt, while many other swear by the Camelbak. Of course, there are many runners who prefer the plain old water bottle – there is nothing wrong with this. After analyzing the traditional hydration belt and the Camelbak hydration system, we consider the Camelbak to be the winner.
Although some people consider it uncomfortable, the Camelbak can store much more water than the belt. This means you do not have to waste time refilling your bottles at the aid station. In addition, you can store many more items in your Camelbak, including gels and first-aid items. Some people even store a change of clothes in the backpack.
Instead of hanging around your waist – like a hydration belt does – the Camelbak distributes the weight evenly across your back thanks to its shoulder straps and waist belt. While a hydration belt will tend to loosen itself during a long run, the Camelbak stays fastened and does not require any adjustments. It will not bounce around and will not hinder your movements.
Considering all the pros and cons, we consider the Camelbak hydration system to be more efficient and more comfortable than the traditional hydration belt. It does not hinder your movements and its large capacity saves your precious time – time that can win you the race!