First published over at FionaOutdoors
By Seth G
If you are sick of the unwieldy arm bands and heavy packs when you just want to go out for an hour’s run, the Camelbak Ultra Belt is a great option for you. This is actually my ideal choice for regular summer training for anything up to 1.5 hours out in the mountains.
• 17oz (500 ml) Quick Stow flask
• Zippered Phone Pocket
• Gear Capacity 2L/120 cu in
• Weight: 70g/2oz
• Trekking Pole Carry
• Multiple pockets for storage
• Retain price: £42.50 (Amazon)
Pros: What’s good about the Camelbak Ultra Belt?
In warm weather, an enjoyable run can be ruined by overheating. Obviously hydration is key, but so is finding a way to transport water while keeping the weight and friction from additional layers off of the upper body. Handhelds and hip packs are great options for accomplishing this.
So why would I reach for this Ultra Belt instead of my handheld?
The Ultra Belt has great storage possibilities while keeping the bounce to a minimum. I can stash my keys, large phone, and some food in the belt and take off running. The zippered phone pocket ensures that I won’t lose my phone coming down the rocks, and the dividers make sure I am not putting my sticky trash in with my keys.
The Ultra Belt also has chords for holding poles, jacket, etc. I don’t personally like running with it while I have both the poles and the water in it because the bounce is distracting, but I definitely prefer keeping my poles there than having to grab a larger pack on hot days.
I also like to keep my hands free when I am navigating more technical sections. My handheld has been used to break a few falls, but having both hands to grab rocks or branches is helpful.
The Quick Stow flask is pretty nice.The bottle opening is larger than other soft flasks making it easier to use mixes, fill it up quickly, and clean. If I am heading out on a longer run where I will need a full liter, I pack one flask in the belt and then hold the other one, stashing the empty one in the extra pocket of the belt once I am done. That allows me to stay out longer and run lighter.
One additional bonus is being able to stuff the belt in my bag while traveling, without having to pack a larger vest with me. Finding times to train while traveling is always difficult for me, but this makes it a bit easier.
Cons: What’s not so good about the Camelbak Ultra Belt?
I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who will be out all day. You will want a full pack if you won’t have aid stations, or be doing loops. While I plan on using this for my upcoming 50 mile race, some of the longer training runs, or when the weather could get ugly, I will make sure I have my pack.
While I really like the larger mouth of the flask, I did feel like I needed to suck harder than other flasks to get the same amount of water out of the nozzle. It wasn’t a big deal, but I was a bit surprised that the bite valve was like that. In the future I hope more soft flasks have the wide mouths, but also easy valves.
Keep in mind to order the right size when you purchase. It is optimal if you can try two sizes on to see what is best. While there are draw cords to tighten it up a bit, you want to be the most comfortable as possible. I was right in the middle of two sizes and would probably go a bit smaller if possible.
I found the Camelbak Ultra Belt to be a great option for training and racing, and would definitely recommend it to someone who wants to keep their hands free and their weight minimal.