There's a million things that can go wrong during a nice, long run (the need for a bathroom break, extreme fatigue, the list goes on), however that dry scratching feeling at the back of your throat when you're a million miles away from water might be the worst. But who the heck wants to ruin their stride by carrying a big ol' water bottle?
Thankfully, there are other options for hauling your hydration. Unfortunately, science has yet to come up with the perfect contraption, so it's all about weighing the pros and cons of what we have to work with. Let's check these out.
1. The handheld bottle
Carrying a water bottle (in your hand, not your shorts) is the obvious solution, but everyone knows if you're running long enough to bring water, you're not going to want to carry it in your hand for that long.
Pros: This product not only has a simple strap to keep the bottle securely in your hand, but the curved design makes it more comfortable, giving your fingers a rest — so you can focus on running instead of gripping the bottle. Bonus: There is a dual elastic pocket to hold a phone, gels, keys and cash. (Orange Mud, $30)
Cons: You're still carrying your water bottle in your hand. Ever run with hand weights? Yeah.
2. The fanny pack
OK, so no one will outright call the R-Gear Full Throttle Bottle Pack a "fanny pack," but if you remember going to Disneyland with your parents in the '80s, you'll immediately recognize it for the gloriously functional fashion accessory it is.
Pros: This pack belts around your waist with an ergonomic pocket to keep your water bottle close — no painful flopping around. It also has roomier pockets and more options for storage like a key clip. The positioning of the bottle against your lower back allows you to carry a larger-capacity bottle. (Road Runner Sports, $31)
Cons: Feeling water slosh against your back is annoying, and while I wouldn't say it's difficult, reaching around your back isn't quite as convenient as just lifting your hand.
3. The backpack
Even though a camel's hump is filled with fat, not water, the desert-dwelling mammal still knows a thing or two about staying hydrated on long runs (or ambles). And carrying your water on your hump — er, back — is probably the most comfortable and convenient way to keep your water handy.
Pros: CamelBak's Circuit Hydration Vest distributes the weight of the water across your back, which allows you to carry more water with less discomfort, sloshing and annoyance. The backpack can carry lots of additional stuff like a light jacket, headlamp and spare socks. Plus, the "straw" is situated right next to your parched lips. (Backcountry, $90)
Cons: Have you ever tried washing one of these things? It can (and should!) be done, but it's not as easy as throwing a bottle in the dishwasher.
4. The hydration belt
Hips are super handy things to have. They help birth babies, they rock a body-con dress and ballroom dancers would be lost without them. Plus, they're great for carrying water! (Awkward segue? You're welcome.)
Pros: You can customize your belt to hold anywhere from one to four little bottles. The smaller-sized containers allow you to ration your water better and distribute the weight more comfortably while still keeping them handy. (Walmart, $40)
Cons: Maybe I run funny, but I always knock the side bottles with my arms.
5. The water bottle bra
You have to wear a bra when you run anyhow (yes, you do), so why not make it do double duty by carrying a water bottle on your back?
Pros: The low-profile mesh pocket means this bra looks good with or without a bottle stashed in it, perfect for women who like to run with just a bra as their top. No extra layers, straps or packs required. Plus, it's one of the most affordable items on this list. (Hydropocket/Etsy, $20)
Cons: I have no idea how this would work with a shirt.
6. The thigh holster
Runners are famous for their strong, powerful legs, so take advantage of that muscle by using it to tote your water.
Pros: This product is a novel idea and for people who can't or just dislike carrying things on their backs, waists or hands, it's nice to have other options. Plus, who doesn't want to feel like a super-stealthy spy on their run? (Orange Mud, $70)
Cons: I... dunno about this one, guys. If you're going to have a waist belt, why not just strap the water bottle to it and skip the thigh? Plus, chafing looks like a real problem here. But, I haven't tried this one, so maybe it's amazingly comfy.
7. The bra with pockets
Boobs are also super handy things to have and most girls know the convenience of stashing a few necessities in their bra.
Pros: North Faces' Stow-N-Go bra features an internal double-layer center chest pocket for stowing essentials. (Neiman Marcus, $22)
Cons: The pockets are small-ish, so when it comes to hydration, you're probably stuck with just an energy shot in your cleavage.
8. The vest
Keeping your water close to your center of gravity is both convenient and comfortable and the harness keeps everything in place.
Pros: Water bottles are strapped to your back for maximum convenience along with plenty of storage. You also have the comfort of a pack, but bottles are easier to wash and replace. (Orange Mud, $135)
Cons: Not sure how comfortable this would be for anyone with larger breasts — or breasts at all, for that matter.
9. The water bra
A bra filled with liquid isn't exactly a new invention, but adding a flexible straw takes this from simple boob-booster to hydration helper. And, while this sports bra is marketed for sneaking booze around, it can handle any liquid including water or your favorite sports drink.
Pros: Your water literally couldn't be any closer to your mouth than when it's in the cleverly named WineRack, unless, that is, you strapped a trough around your neck. (Amazon, $30)
Cons: Who wants to carry more weight on their chest?
Originally published November 2013. Updated July 2017.