This Is What It’s Like To Run With The TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack
Runners know how important it is for them to stay hydrated. There is nothing worse than really feeling in the zone, pushing the pace just to be distracted by a dry mouth and immediate desire for a sip of water. There are plenty of ways runners carry their hydration. Many runners start with a handheld water bottle, then invest in a good running belt for those long miles when more storage is needed for items and being hands-free is a must. Eventually, we graduate to needing—or wanting—a hydration pack. But what it is really like to run with a hydration pack?
Many might think running with a hydration pack is a bit too much. They might feel silly or think the weight on their shoulder and back will be too noticeable. Then what happens in the summer heat? Talk about being sweaty.
But this just isn’t the case. Other runners might be excited to check out a new piece of running gear. They might think it makes them look official. They might prefer going hands-free and having the ability to store more water on them. And sweat and chafing isn’t a major problem when picking an option with breathable fabric.
The Hydration Pack: Meet The TrailRunner 2.0
Running with a hydration pack is a liberating experience for those who are used to handheld water bottles. This runner evolved from handheld options to a hydration belt when going for a long run. My belt is equipped with two reusable water bottles, each 6 oz each that slide into a slot on the left and right side of the belt, just off of my hip bone. The belt is comfortable and allows for this runner to hold gels, car keys and earbuds. However, there is not enough space for a larger size iPhone.
And just as half marathon training was kicked into high gear with mileage, this runner was gifted with a hydration pack: the Teton Sports TrailRunner2.0.
The first thing I noticed when putting the TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Backpack was how lightweight it was. I didn’t think it would be the weight of an eighth-grade book bag but thought I would feel a little bit on extra weight on my frame. This specific pack weights only 0.9 lbs., making it perfect for speedy racers who are looking for proper hydration without being weighted down.
The dimensions of the TrailRunner2.0 are 16” x 10” x 2.” For this runner’s 5’9” frame, it fits perfectly along the torso without being too long or wide.
It holds up to 2L of water in its bladder, which is included. Just keep in mind it means adding another 4 lbs of weight to the pack when full. The bladder has a screw cap, which makes for easy filling. Other bladder opening types include zip top or fold top. Fold tops are the best against leaks and great when filling outdoors from say a stream. Zip tops close much like a ziplock bag and is easy to clean and best for outdoor filling. Screw tops seem the best for runners, but cleaning can be awkward.
Teton Sports’ TrailRunner2.0 is made of ripstop fabric, making its shell durable. The screws cap bladder is located inside, secure with a velcro closure. The hydration port runs from the bladder and goes up along the shoulders straps where it is secured under a loop. The shoulders straps and back has mesh, which makes it very breathable. That mesh panel is also insulated to help keep the water cool.
The pack has an adjustable chest strap that has a safety whistle.
There is a deep outer mesh pocket with a compression bungee system to store items securely. Finally, the pack has a reflective safety trim for increased visibility by others in low light situations.
Running With A Hydration Pack For The First Time
Running for the first time with the TrailRunner 2.0 was an interesting experience. It felt light to wear and comfortable. It is extremely important to adjust the straps to fit the runner’s frame. If not, it is left sliding and bouncing a bit too much which is distracting. I initially thought the chest strap would be irritating or cause chafing, but this was not the case. Over the miles, the pack began to feel like part of my skin.
I ran on a mild late winter day with the pack, so excessive sweating wasn’t a problem. However, it did not stick to my back in an uncomfortable way. The material is definitely breathable.
The first problem I encountered was learning how to actually drink from the hose. This pack as a stopper that needs to be removed, much like a cap. After twisting and tugging I found this out. I enjoyed having water just a sip away and any time during my run. I didn’t need to worry about staying hydrated during the long run and could focus on other aspects of the run. The more the runner drinks, obviously the less full the bladder becomes. The downside to this is the water starts to swoosh around. This can be felt and heard when not listening to music. Not a major problem, more like something to get used to.
While items can be stored in the front mesh pocket, I worried about them falling out. Energy gels stayed in place but I was reluctant to store car keys in there. This also means taking the pack off in order to get gels or anything else needed, which means pausing the run. Having them in a belt pocket is much more convenient.
Overall, this particular hydration pack suited this runner’s needs based on its lightweight features and availability to hold more water for longer runs. It is definitely a piece of running gear now part of my routine based on that day’s mileage and location.
When And How To Buy
There are various reasons why a runner considers buying a hydration backpack. Some include the need to hold more than 8 oz. of water during their runs, as well as the desire to not have to hold bulky and heavy bottles that cramps hands. Some runners say running with a handheld water bottle makes them feel off balance and have to keep switching hands.
While some reasons are a preference, others are more practical. Those training for a half or full marathons and longer distance races like an ultra or Ironman need to be able to have adequate water at their fingertips during those long training runs. Trail runners might like having a hydration pack for their runs.
Hydration packs are also used by cyclists, hikers, and snow sports. There are various types of hydration packs sold. They vary in size, weight, storage, and most importantly, the amount of water it can hold. The needs depend on the activity and purpose of the pack.
So how does a runner go about shopping around for one?
Things To Know Before You Buy
There are a few key features to look for in a hydration pack. These include hydration capacity, bladder type, fit, size and weight, and storage.
Hydration: Capacity And Bladder Type
Runners buy a bladder because they need to keep hydrated. How much water is able to store depends on the pack. Hydration backs can water in a bladder, bottles or both.
It’s extremely important to get the right size and fit. Some hydration packs come in different sizes (based on torso length), whereas others are more “one size fits all” but has adjustable shoulder and sternum straps. There may even be side straps for an even more true to your fit. There are women-specific packs as well for a more contoured and narrower fit.
The good news is that most hydration packs have similar shapes. Some have hip belts, others don’t.
Just find the one that is the most comfortable with the ability to customize it.
The next thing to taking into consideration before you buy is the amount of water it can hold. Some options hold about 16 oz or less, like some hydration belts. Others can hold 1 to 1.5 L of water, others 2 to 2.5 L, and finally 3 L or more. Runners, cyclists, and hiker will generally fall within the 1 to 2 L category.
Check to see the amount, size and placement of pockets based on needs. Some packs have small pockets on the straps, while others have them in the front that isn’t have easily accessible.
How To Use A Hydration Pack
The first and most important thing to do when using a hydration pack is to customize the fit by adjusting the straps if need be. For the TrailRunner 2.0, the runner would unlock the cap and fill it with water. The pack has a kink-free sip tube that is equipped with a push-lock bite valve so that water doesn’t come trickling out when not needed. The good thing about this specific pack is that the hose can be stored on the left or right side, and there are loops and velcro to keep to close to the body and not in the way of the runner’s motion.
In general, wear the pack during the run and sip on the hose when thirsty. It’s as simple as that. However, it’s important to clean the bladder after each use. This should be one with warm water and mild soap. Make sure to use a cleaning brush and to also clean the hose and mouthpiece. Look up instructional videos on how to do so based on a specific product.