Camels are well known for their ability to store water for long periods of time. This is the secret to how they are able to survive in the desert, an environment where water is scarce. Many people mistakenly believe that the camel stores water in the large humps on their backs. While science has disproved this myth, the image of a camel storing water in large humps endures in popular culture to this day. It is this very image of a camel’s hump that popular athletic apparel designer CamelBak uses as the visual basis for many of their products. All of their most popular hydration accessories incorporate this image in some way, with their most well-known product being a backpack that doubles as a water reservoir with a hose for easy access. The CamelBak Flash Flo LR Belt is a product that functions similarly to the aforementioned backpack, albeit in a more portable fashion. Instead of a pack that covers a runner’s entire back, this belt merely wraps around the waist and stores its water near the lower back. The result of this design is a highly portable, durable, and convenient method of hands-free water storage perfect for trail runners and hikers.
CamelBak FlashFlo LR Belt
Pros & Cons
As with many products by CamelBak, the primary function of the Flash Flo LR Belt is to provide a convenient and hands-free form of water storage for individuals with an active lifestyle. In a similar style to their popular backpacks, this product is a belt that wraps around a runner’s waist with a large pocket that contains a water bladder. A long hose is connected to the bladder that can extend all the way to the wearer’s mouth, functioning as a straw. Since the design of this belt is so closely related to the design of a traditional CamelBak backpack, there are many aspects these two products have in common. One is a high-quality and extremely portable water storage method. Since the bladder isn’t made of rigid plastic or steel material commonly used for water bottles, it can collapse and take up less space as water is consumed. The straw-like hose provides an additional degree of convenience, as runners don’t need to remove anything from the belt in order to take a drink. Where the Flash Flo LR belt differs from a traditional water backpack is in the reduced storage ability and different weight distribution, both due to the smaller size. While this does mean that this belt has less functionality than a larger backpack version, the benefits of portability and weight are enough to justify its use for a substantial portion of dedicated runners and hikers.
When comparing this running belt to a similarly functional backpack, it is easy to see that the breathability is objectively better. Less coverage on a runner’s body, coupled with the absence of additional straps, means that more room is available for air to flow across a runner’s body and keep them cool. However, these comparisons are less favorable when done on other running belt products. Because the form of water storage used for the CamelBak Flash Flo LR Belt is a collapsible bladder instead of a sturdier bottle or flask, durability was a major focus. In addition to making a belt that was durable on its own, CamelBak needed to design a product that could also provide durability to what is essentially a water balloon. Because of this, extra layers of protective material were used to manufacture the pouch of this belt. Even the straps that wrap around a runner’s waist were reinforced in order to better handle the extra weight that comes with a large volume of water. The consequence of these defensive measures is a lack of airflow when the Flash Flo LR Belt is worn, at least when comparing it to other running belts with water storage.
It may seem that since the majority of the Camelbak Flash Flo LR Belt’s weight is placed on the wearer’s lower back, it would feel uncomfortable and potentially lead to injuries. However, the total weight of this belt is light enough that this issue is avoided entirely. Without any water, this belt weighs less than most running shoes. However, filling up the Flash Flo’s pouch with too much water can add considerably extra weight. Aside from weight-related concerns, this water belt is reasonably comfortable. The straps used to secure this CamelBak product to the wearer’s waist are adjustable, so individuals of all waist sizes can ensure a comfortable and stable fit. The added mouthpiece prevents runners or hikers from having to uncomfortably open the rear-facing pouch and pull out their water source to drink from. While this does improve the comfort factor, some customers noted that this mouthpiece tends to dangle when it isn’t being used. Because of this, it may be a good idea for wearers to clip it to their shoulder with the aid of additional apparatus. Ultimately, the lack of serious weight and the use of a convenient delivery method helps to ensure adequate comfort while using the Flash Flo LR Belt.
The carrying capacity of the water bladder included with the CamelBak Flash Flo LR Belt is 1 ½ liters. Based on recommendations by medical professionals on how much water the average person should consume when engaging in strenuous physical activity, this means that enough water can be stored in this belt to allow a runner to receive adequate hydration for several hours of activity. This is extremely impressive for a simple water belt and will certainly come in handy for runners in warmer environments. The dimensions of the belt portion are roughly 6 inches wide for the straps, 12 inches for the pouch’s length, and 6 inches for the pouch’s depth. The belt can be adjusted to fit waistlines anywhere from 30 to 50 inches, making it viable for a wide range of body shapes. In addition to holding the water reservoir, the pouch portion contains a decently sized zippered pocket as well. Unlike some other running belts, this pocket is large enough to store a decent amount of essential items such as a trail map or GPS device.
Right off the bat, it’s important to note that the CamelBak water reservoir included with this belt is significantly less durable than most standard water bottles and flasks. As a consequence of their collapsible and ergonomic design, this water bladder is very susceptible to punctures and leaks. Many customers have complained about having to replace damaged reservoirs after a short period of time. Fortunately, CamelBak took great pains to address this design issue when making the actual belt portion of the Flash Flo LR Belt. In addition to extra sturdy straps that help to secure the water reservoir in place, multiple layers of strong synthetic material help to provide a resilient line of defense against road or trail hazards. This extra strong material may result in a diminished feeling of breathability while wearing this belt but it carries the benefit of offering a similarly impressive degree of protection for any valuables stored in its pockets. Furthermore, every belt comes with a CamelBak lifetime warranty which will replace damaged products at no cost to the customer.
The most immediately apparent and functional accessory included with the CamelBak Flash Flo LR Belt is the water reservoir and hose, which allows for runners to access their water without having to unzip the belt’s pouch or even use their hands. This is incredibly convenient and is the major selling point of this product. Aside from this major inclusion to the product’s package, there are no other accessories included with the belt. What is interesting about this belt, however, is how conveniently compatible it is with other accessories. For example, the standard valuables pocket that is included with most trail belts is significantly larger on the Flash Flo LR belt. This is a consequence of the included water bladder, which requires more protective material than a standard water storage container. For this reason, runners can easily and conveniently stow important valuables during their run or hike, such as a trail map, a compass, a smartphone, a GPS device, or snacks. It doesn’t feature as much storage space as a traditional backpack but it certainly offers more room than a standard trail belt.
To put it bluntly, this CamelBak product most closely resembles a fanny pack. This stodgy, outdated style of portable storage is reminiscent of vacationing fathers and middle-aged tourists, meaning that it won’t turn any heads. This will undoubtedly turn off many younger and more fashion-oriented runners who would most likely prefer the full backpack style of CamelBak water storage. For those who are unafraid to rock a dadcore style, there are some different color schemes available to choose from. These color options often incorporate lots of blacks and blues, with some lighter palettes showcasing bright neon yellows and oranges. It may be difficult to incorporate some of the brighter models with other aspects of a runner’s wardrobe; for these individuals, the all-black model is most likely to be their best option. Aside from mere fashion, one element of this product’s style serves a more important function. All colors of the CamelBak Flash Flo LR Belt come with reflective lettering and accents on all sides. This is incredibly handy when running in low light environments, as it enhances a runner’s visibility in such a way that they will be safe from accidental collisions.
When comparing the cost of this CamelBak belt to other products by the same manufacturer, the Flash Flo LR Belt comes with a much more reasonable price tag. When comparing it to other belts designed for use on a run, however, this product ends up on the higher end of the price spectrum. Even though this is the case, the cost is still reasonable enough that it can be justified as an impulse buy. Despite costing a bit more than many other similar running belts, this price hike is well justified. Numerous features set this CamelBak water belt leaps and bounds ahead of competing products, even ones made by the same manufacturer! For starters, the included water reservoir stores much more liquid than the average bottle or flask and is well worth the entire cost alone. In order to accommodate this larger water storage device, more room is available to store valuables, making the utility value of this product even greater. Finally, the lifetime warranty attached to the CamelBak Flash Flo LR Belt ensures that any damage sustained to any portion of the product will be covered adequately by the manufacturer at no extra cost to the customer. As a result, this initially intimidating asking price feels less like a bill and more like an investment into something of significant quality.
Depending on what kind of activity a runner regularly engages in, this belt from CamelBak is either the perfect fit for their pastime or a superfluous waste of their money. Individuals in the latter category are those who don’t run for very long stretches of time. For that reason, the Flash Flo LR Belt probably isn’t a necessary investment for individuals who just enjoy short jogging sessions or cross-training. The individuals who are best suited for this product are the hardcore runners. These are the active people who attempt the incredibly physically demanding and potentially life-threatening pastime of trail running, or the fitness freaks that put themselves through tests of endurance such as a marathon or 5K. For these fine folks, this CamelBak water belt is designed to offer features they will find extremely useful, such as a significant amount of water storage, conveniently ergonomic and aerodynamic weight distribution, and an incredibly convenient method of hands-free hydration. Anyone who sees running as less of a hobby and more of a lifestyle will probably want to pick up one of these belts.