Thursday, August 17, 2006

OR Summer Mkt Review- Nathan Sports Quick Draw Plus

On my list of items to check out at OR was a new hydration system for shorter runs (1-3 hours) which would enable me to carry 16- 50 oz or so of water and a few essentials. I have used a simple water bottle pack but find it bouncy with the bottle hard to put back in. I have rarely used a sport drink powder in the bottles as the process always turns out messy and fussy so I was looking for something simpler in that area.

While just about every outdoor pack company has hydration systems I found 4 companies which specialize in hydration and nutrition carriers: Nathan Sports, Ultimate Direction, Amphibod and Fuel Belt.

Cruising the floor I gravitated to Nathan for a couple reasons. First, I was very impressed with their highly evolved line covering the 3 capacity/use levels outlined in my previous post.
I recall Nathan as a manufacturer of reflective vests but in the last 2 years led by the former designers at the originator of water belts Ultimate Direction they have built a great line which even includes a series designed with the Subaru Factory Team, the top US nordic ski team.
Secondly, while over at the Power Bar booth I had the pleasure of meeting Karl Metzler, the 8 time Western States 100 winner as well as record holder of the Wasatch 100 and other races. A great guy who shared some of the secrets which enable him to run 100 miles, with tons of vertical in well under 20 hours . He is sponsored by Nathan as well as Montrail, Patagonia, and Power Bar and helped them design and refine the packs. His favorite, the Elite 2V Plus.

While I had never tried a hand held bottle for those shorter runs the folks at Nathan gave me a Quick Draw Plus to try. I have now been on two runs with this bottle and find it a fantastic way to hydrate. No reaching back or pawing for a hydration tube.

The bottle, which is the same design, as in all Nathan systems is beautifully executed and refined for the puropse, see picture left. The nipple is a hardish but not too hard, knurled plastic which is easy to pull open with your lips. The lid includes a spring "carabiner" type attachment so one can clip the bottle to a backpack harness. This all by itself is something I have been looking for as I like to carry a bike bottle close at hand when I use heavier packs. My only small criticism is that the yellow nipple could use a bit more of a positive close feel of closure or not as sometimes I find it remains a little bit open after use.

The carrier is very comfortable. I did not think I could carry a bottle and not have it interfere with my arm carriage but this is not the case. The small pocket is handy for a key or a gel pack.

I look forward to trying the Elite 2V Plus next for my longer runs (2-3 hours).

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