My question is: does anyone trail "race" with a hydration pack? I am getting ready to run an Xterra 8.25 mile run which will be my first. I rarely see anyone with a hydration pack and I don't want to look like a dork (even older guys want to look "cool").
I run with a Camelbak Octane Hydration Pack - because I sweat like crazy. I even carry such a pack on what many of you would consider short runs - 8 miles or less (I call these epic feats - given my 6' 195lb frame at 53 years old).
Why do I want to run with a hydration pack? I am a wuss (get thirsty due to sweating I guess) and I cramp up (add electrolytes to my water). I don't want to wait to guzzle a cup of water every two miles - I rather sip a little at a time.
I've seen ultrarunners who just carry handhelds from aid station to aid station, while others run with hydration packs, and I don't know that anyone's taking notes--they're just running their race.
More often, I've seen runners carry handhelds or wear lumbar packs on the 'shorter' trail races. Nathan, GoLite, Amphipod all make some pretty good lumbar packs. But, if bottles and a belt hydration system isn't for you (how much are you drinking in 8 miles?), just stick with what works.
You'll see all sorts of hydration systems out on the trail....
I agree that you have to do what works for you. In my trail and road races I am always worried about looking like a dope. But the more comfortable i become in my decisions the more aware I am that there are many folks with more extreme solutions. I am a 54 year old male, 6' 1" 205 lbs. Funny how even at this age we cannot "leggo the ego." I generally opt for a two bottle belt, 2x 24 oz., for my runs. But if there are frequent aid stations I try to wear less.