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2476 Views 13 Replies Latest reply: Jul 17, 2007 9:38 AM by Divaleh024
chmjm1980 Rookie 1 posts since
Jun 30, 2007
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Jun 30, 2007 8:49 AM

Running Packs (Waist vs. BackPack)? Which is Better?

Can anyone suggest what is better in terms of carrying fluids? Waist or back pack hydration system? I haven't tried either and would like to get some advice before purchasing any type of expensive hydration system. Which negates your runnig form more? Or is any one type more uncomfortable than the other during really long running sessions (10km or more)?

  • jansd Amateur 410 posts since
    Jun 8, 2003

    I really love my camelbak -- small, 50 oz. backpack style. Here's why:
    I can't stand to run with anything around my waist.
    I can't stand the sound of a water sloshing in a bottle.

    My camelbak is very stable. It fits close but is not binding. There is a strap that goes across the chest, so the pack doesn't bounce or anything. It doesn't have any effect on my arm swing. If you bleed the air from the bladder after you fill it, there is no sloshing at all. The pack is lightly insulated, so drinks stay cool-ish.

  • Shadow38 Rookie 43 posts since
    Dec 14, 2007

    I have both the waist pack camelbak and backpack style. I use them both depending on what I'm doing. My favorite is the backpack style. Other than the first 1/2 mile or so, I don't really notice it. The waist pack tends to bounce more and bug me more.  Of course, you sweat more with the backpack style, but to me its worth it.  Its nice to have room for my cell phone and other things too. I have this one:[/URL" target="_blank">

    [http://This message has been edited by Shadow38 (edited Jun-30-2007).|http://This message has been edited by Shadow38 (edited Jun-30-2007).]

  • gbhglacier Rookie 17 posts since
    Jul 15, 2006

    I have both a North Face hydration pack and a 4 bottle Nathan belt.  I almost never use the Nathan... it just bounces around too much.  The water sloshing around in the back pack is a pain, but you just have to keep removing air from the bladder to fix that.  Another added bonus of the back pack is that you can take the bladder out and use it to carry whatever you need (spare socks and boxers for my work commute).


  • afrotctobe Rookie 3 posts since
    Jun 29, 2007

    Not to be redundant but I firmly believe that the backpack is much better than the waistpack. I first used the backpack as a hiker while training in the Appalachian trail. Its great to but the water bladder, a nature valley bar or some kind of small food item or as someone else metioned, a pair of socks.

    The waist packs only advantage in my book is that i sometimes hunch a little with the backpack, but that stops after about a mile.

    Good Luck

  • progman2000 Rookie 28 posts since
    Jun 6, 2007

    This is good stuff - I was originally looking at waistpacks, now this thread has me looking at hydration backpacks.  My only dilemma now is choosing between 50oz or 70oz, hmmm....

  • weric Rookie 11 posts since
    Apr 10, 2006

    I just replaced my camelbak because it bounce from side to side...  I bought a Gregory Stimulus Daypack it's way better than my old camelbak.

    it was only 49$ CND from MEC

  • Harper028 Rookie 188 posts since
    Jan 20, 2007

    There are lots of discussions on the Net about this very subject. There are pros and cons to each type. Here are my thoughts:

    1. Hydration packs. I have 50, 70 and 100 oz packs (CamelBack and TNF). Convenient and hands-free. But HEAVY (esp. the 70 and 100 oz). It takes several weeks to get used to the weight, and the first week or so your legs will suffer and your feet and ankles will feel pounded as your pace slows a minute or more per mile. You sweat a lot more with a backpack b/c they block the air flow to your back; this causes sweat to run down your back, saturate your shorts, and run down your legs where it pools in your shoes. You can try getting wrist-worn sweat bands and putting them around your ankles; this works if you can find big enough ones. Because of the weight and sweat factors, I only use a pack if I absolutely have to, i.e. no water is available for a couple of hours. I've only worn mine once this year and it was not fun. Oh, and the backpacks can cause rubbing on your technical shirts which can kind of ruin the fabric.

    2. Waist packs. They don't cause as much sweat as backpacks. Usually you can only have a 40 or 50 oz max, too, so they have a more limited capacity. But the bouncing drives me crazy. I usually don't wear one unless I just feel like something different.

    3. Hand-held water bottles. I can carry 2 20oz bottles easily (or even 2 26oz bottles). And if I want to, I can carry a third without too much bother, totaling 60 to 75 oz. Your hands and arms have to get used to this (esp. the 3-bottle option). However, with 2 bottles, they provide a nice counter-weight and feel good and balanced. There is none of the bounce or sweat factors from waist or backpacks. But as with the waist packs, there is limited capacity. This summer hand-held bottles have been my first choice: I usually carry 1 20oz bottle filled with sports drink and another 20oz bottle filled with sports drink powder. Every 20 to 45 minutes, I put a scoop of powder in the empty bottle and fill it with water (free from fountains and some fast food restaurants, or I buy water in convenience stores).

    4. Carrying nothing, buying Gatorade or water along the way. By far the easiest solution, provided you're running through a city. If the convenience stores are sparse, you have to plan your route around them. The cost can add up too, at $2 for a 32oz bottle of Gatorade. If it's really hot and humid, it's a real pain having to seek out a convenience store every 20 or 30 minutes. In the winter, though, this is by far the best option and what I use almost exclusively.

    5. Convincing your boyfriend or girlfriend to meet you along your path every 30 to 60 minutes... I've never been able to do this, but I fantasize about it. Oh well.

  • Divaleh024 Rookie 69 posts since
    May 16, 2005

    Harper -

    How long did it take you to get accustomed to running with 2 bottles? I'm slowly getting acclimated to running with one, and tried ONCE to run with 2 - it was awful. Aside from the condensation/sweat issues, I start to have problems with my wrists...

    I can manage alright with one bottle, but the day I tried to run with two I was miserable.

    Does it get better?  Thx 

  • ceolmor Rookie 8 posts since
    Dec 21, 2004

    Having only ever run with a Camelbak waist pack, here is my experience.  Bouncing was only a problem until I figured out that I needed to wear the pack on my waist, and not on my hips (i.e against the small of my back).  The sloshing drove me nuts until, as others have pointed out, you remove the air.  I've got a FlashFlo, which holds 48oz of liquid, and I try to route my runs by potential refill stations.  The biggest hassle for me has been getting the drinking hose balanced in the clips so that it isn't whacking against my legs or arms.

  • Harper028 Rookie 188 posts since
    Jan 20, 2007


    It took a week or so to get used to running with 2 bottles. At first my wrists and forearms would get tired, but now they are used to it. I prefer the UltimateDirection bottles.

  • Tracy Lightfoot Rookie 94 posts since
    Oct 27, 2007

    I just got a Camelbak Catalyst and like it. I did a more comprehensive review at, if anyone is interested.

  • Hobie1070 Rookie 28 posts since
    Mar 26, 2006

    I have a Camelback Flashflo that is sitting in my dresser drawer because I got tired of screwing around with it. Also, it  makes me sweat tight up against my back.  I can't imagine wearing a backpack for a 20 mile run.  I use the  
    Amphipod Runlite 4 waist belt which does not bounce at all.

  • Divaleh024 Rookie 69 posts since
    May 16, 2005

    Harper -

    The "nipple" type top on those wigged me out a bit    I have the Nathan bottles...not easy to pop the top down again when I have both in my hands, but doable. 

    I'll keep messing around with two bottles on my longer runs with no refill options.  Good to know it gets better - thanks!

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