The half marathon distance is increasing in popularity. As runners all know the longer you go, the more you need to carry your own nutrition and hydration as you train and race. In addition, there are so many whiz bang apps available that we often run with our mobile devices. Add your car keys to the mix and you’ve got a fair bit to lug along on each run. Finding a comfortable pack can be tough. I forgot to bring my Fuel Belt out to the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in San Francisco last spring. I had planned to take photos along the race course. I wanted to be able to document the hills up, the awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and of course the run across the bridge. I was not about to carry my phone for the journey in my hand. A couple of my LUNA teammates went to the expo the day before and had picked up Fitletic packs. I headed to the booth on Saturday morning to see what they had.
The hand washable neoprene packs were all laid out to try on and test out. The sales staff was super energetic and wanted to share all the options. I was pressed for time as I also wanted to try on the Hoka One One shoes at their booth. Since I already had hydration belts I decided to go with the neoprene double pouch for $26.95. It carries my iPhone 5 (not sure how the new 6 models will fit) with an interior pocket for cash. The second pocket is a bit smaller but can hold keys, nutrition, or something else like an inhaler. I chose the black with a thin pink strip. The expo worker was talking about a race belt version or add on. I didn’t pay too much attention, but now wish I had looked at a model with the race belt as well.
I put my phone and rental car keys with some morning nutrition in the belt and off we headed to the start. We took a few early morning photos and then lined up. As soon as I got going I knew my idea of stopping to take photos was out the window. I would have to borrow other peoples or save them in my mind! Usually I feel the pack and move it around to keep it comfortable or just shift it lower if it rides up. This one never moved. I forgot I was wearing it. As I crossed the bridge I thought about pulling it out, but I was watching the first female runners coming back across the bridge and realized I did not see anyone my age. Forget the photo and stay focused! I ended up 2nd in my age group with a great award (in the slideshow). I really didn’t need my phone with me, but I was happy to have made the Fitletic purchase regardless.
The Florida based company offers many options. The website has a page which can help you decide what options will work best for your needs. You can start with a single pouch with race belt for $23.95 and add on a phone case ($18.95) or 6 oz hydration pouch ($11.95). You can add 8 oz hydration ($12.95) to the double pouch that I purchased. If you are going long you might want to try the Ultimate II ($28.95) which can carry 5 gels, has race belt attachment, phone pocket, side pocket and 2 hydration pouches. If you are just interested in the true hydration aspect they have those as well. A 16oz carrier with a race bib attachment is $43.95 and carries two 8 oz flasks and 2 energy gel flaps.
The Quench retractable goes for $48.95 and has 2 zippered holsters that hold bottles from 12-24 oz with secure cords, plus race bib, pocket and gel loops. The design is intriguing in that the water bottles sit at an angle and you do not need their water bottles. You can put any water bottle in the pack. Since I was not able to test out the Quench (although it looks like a good option for my 2015 Boston Marathon and Ironman Lake Placid training) I cannot say if your hands hit the bottles with a good arm swing or how easy it is to get the bottles in and out as you are moving. That may be a future review.
What I can say is that the double pouch is comfortable. It should be hand washed, but dries super fast. I tested it with my phone and keys is a substantial rain storm and everything stayed dry – another plus of the neoprene. My 13 year is none too happy when I wear it around town so I don’t have to carry a bag! Hey not too long ago that was cool.