Hydration Systems and You: A Primer
Whatcho got? Whatcho need?

Like many Runholes, I have owned practically EVERY mechanism to get fluid into my pie-hole.

Indelicate? Yes, but we're animals. (some of us are technically mammals, but I'm not one of them)

On a run I'm a sweaty wildebeest. I pick this creature for a reason. It's a wild cattle. It migrates. It's always eating and drinking. Occasionly it can reach high speeds if absolutely necessary. Like me. 

Also, wildebeests are known for their outrageous spending habits on runningwarehouse.com 

Like me.

Surprising I'm sure, but I've done extensive research and will provide detailed citations at the end of this article.*

So back to the topic: Hydration Systems.

How to you carry your fluids. (I use the word fluids because there will be a forthcoming discussion on exactly WHICH fluids are the ones you should be drinking in a run. Until then, allow the word without judging me for being snooty)

1- Nothing


No extra weight

No water shows that you are very confident of your mental ability to defy the laws of physics and chemistry


In long races you may die

Finding a bamboo vessel and making fire will kill your PR

You urine isn't so great tasting

In medium distance races you will be thirsty and have to steal someone's water

2- Non-sanctioned bottle


Access to fluid

Show's you are old skool and not a advertising sucker


Hand cramps

Easy to drop

Limited volume (unless you're carrying a gallon jug)

3- Handheld Bottle


Easy Access

No hand cramps (after a few years of getting used to it)

Great landing pillow when you fall

Place for keys or some snacks or cell phone from 2005


Limited volume

You can't use hiking poles at the same time

You're a corporate sell-out

4- Waist Pack



More volume

Room for food, snacks, ipod


Can chafe the waist

Will chafe the waist

When grabbing the bottles, you look like a fool

When putting bottles back, you look like a fool



​Ton's of volume- bottles and bladder

Room for food, gels, jacket, poles

Boots, tent, portable yurt

Small friend



You WILL over-pack

You're now part of the vest-club

Kinda Expensive (but you're worth it!)​​

   PRO TIP! (by John Munis)

The 6th edition Wilderness Medicine Textbook can fit, with effort, in the bladder compartment of many hydration vests. Some would argue that carrying water is the best defense against dehydration, but some Runholes would counter that knowledge is real power against the elements.

   Why it matters:

   Hydrating should beat easy. If you spend too much time farting around or being uncomfortable, you're adding a problem in a run that may already be a real pisser.


6- (Geography Dependent) Sherpa


The goals of a good system should be:


Volume to Support Run

Easy to Access

Easy to Fill

Physical Comfort

Ease of Cleaning

Main Hydration System Choices:



Advice, Stories, Editorials, Absurd Rants, and Utter Babbling Nonsense from our extensive Runhole team in the field. 


Yes, you need the right system. Or all of them.

1- Nothing

2- Non-sanctioned bottle

3- Handheld Bottle

4- Waist Pack

5- Vest