After a couple of years of dealing with the annoyance of waist packs, I finally broke down and ordered a backpack style hydration pack. This one is made by Ultimate Direction and it's called The Wink. I love it!
A couple of weeks ago I emailed the wonderful folks at Zombie Runner with my troubles. I have been using the Nathan 4-bottle waist pack ever since I started running really long. This looks like a space-age belt with front and back pockets and space for 4 10 oz bottles.
This belt works beautifully for the first couple hours of my runs. As long as at least two of the bottles are full, the whole thing stays down around my hips and does not bother me in the slightest. But as soon as those last two bottles begin to empty, the whole pack slides up my torso and eventually spins like a hula hoop around the narrowest part of my anatomy, which happens to be just below my boobs (evidently). I guess this is what happens when you hit your 40s. Body parts move south while extraneous items head north.
As soon as I start to feel the slippage I get just a teeny bit annoyed. Nothing terrible, just a bit distracting. But, by the time the thing starts doing its hula business, I am practically apoplectic. No amount of Zen practice can keep my from losing my cool. The waist pack is ruining my long runs.
Gillian from Zombie emailed me right back and told me exactly what I need. Enter The Wink. Granted I have only tried it once, and only for about 2 hours at that, but so far this thing is the answer to my hydration dreams.
All of the weight is on the shoulders. There is no waist strap (which for me is a big issue, given my history of stomach distress in long races). It clips in two places, just above and just below the boobs. Plenty of support right where the mid-life woman runner wants it. I don't have to wear anything else! Plenty of support, plenty of coverage.
The reservoir holds 2 litres of liquid. Having been a backpacker and child-carrier for years, I do not even notice the weight. I do not notice it in the slightest. I cannot emphasize this point enough. It's like the water is not even there. Like a miracle.
Each strap has 2 pockets, one zipper and one mesh, to hold stuff like gels, iPod, camera, etc. No problem accessing these on the run. And there is a more substantial zippered compartment in the back for a jacket, lunch, pine cones, whatever.
The water does make a bit of a sloshing sound. I know this bothers some people, but I kind of like it. Reminiscent of the womb. It's like hearing the fetal heartbeat at the monthly OB appointments of yore.
The only downside, common to all hydration packs in the Camelback style, is that there is know way to know how much water you have drunk at any given moment. The reservoir does have gradations of volume printed on the outside, but one must physically remove the pack and then the reservoir to access this information.
Downside aside, I am psyched about my Wink. I mean, who wouldn't be?