In a perfect world, I’d be out the door every day by 6 A.M. for a cool morning run. It never happens. Instead I spend that time feeding and entertaining my kids, walking my dogs, chasing deadlines, taking meetings, and fixing stuff around the house. By the time I’m finally free, it’s usually 4 P.M. That means if I want to exercise in the summer, I have to face the burning sun and temperatures that often hover around 90 to 95 degrees here in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I know I’ll melt if I stay out too long, so I limit my runs to 30 or 45 minutes. I also take water filled with electrolytes to make sure I stay hydrated. As a gear tester, I’ve tried my fair share of packs, handheld bottles, and water-carry systems but have landed on the CamelBak Flash Hydration Belt ($40) as my absolute favorite.
I like that the Flash puts the weight of the included bottle on my lower back. I’m not a huge fan of handheld carriers, because they interfere with my running form. So while I have to reach for a drink on this belt, it’s never a problem as the bottle is angled up and easy to find. A small elastic strap keeps it in place and is a breeze to slide off and on with one hand.
I run with an Apple Watch and AirPods, because the watch stores my running playlist. But if I ever want to bring my phone, there’s a pocket on the side of the belt that’s just big enough for a regular iPhone 11. There are also reflective strips that will hopefully keep me from getting hit by cars when I head out in the dark this winter.
Insulated running bottles will never keep water as cold as vacuum-insulated metal bottles. That said, if I fill this one to the brim with ice, pop in a drink mix (Osmo packs are my go-to), then top if off with water, everything melts but stays cold until the end of my run. If I’m regularly sipping, I have just enough water to take one last chug while I stretch in the shade at the end of my session.
Those of you who want to run for more than an hour will need to look elsewhere—this belt doesn’t carry enough water to keep you hydrated any longer than that. But for runners who don’t have time to log a ton of miles, I think you’ll find the Flash Belt is nearly perfect.