Simple Hydration – solving running’s oldest problem

Is it too early in the year to start calling something product of the year?I don’t think so. In fact I wasn’t even thinking that in January, when the Simple bottle kept me hydrated on burning summer trails. One of the oldest problems in our sport, since our persistence running ancestors carried gourds or tapped into baobab trees has been how to carry water. If our greatest advantage has always been our ability to sweat, then the problem of replenishing that sweat has been our achilles heel.

Appropriately named

Appropriately named

Most solutions take away the light, natural feel that most of us seek in our running, and the freedom of hitting a trail and leaving the world behind becomes a bit cumbersome if you are lugging around litres of water strapped to parts of your body. Most runners have a favourite way of supporting their H20, whether by Camelbak, waist belt or handheld, but nothing is as unobtrusive as the Simple bottle. In fact when asked by many people just what is that bottle, a number of times I have accidentally called it the Solution bottle, rather than the Simple bottle.

The Simple hydration bottle is, well, simple. This is a product that makes a minimalist salivate; actually it’s designed to thin out your saliva, but it ticks a whole load of minimalist boxes. Simple by nature, it has few bells and whistles, just a very clever plastic form that slides snugly into the nape of your back and stays there for your entire run. The only thing you need is a well-tied drawstring and 385 mL of water is yours. The design is aesthetically impressive; a well thought out mould that has been tweaked to add to its function but doesn’t take away from its simple look, feel and role. When you first place it down your back, the initial thought is ‘OK, not bad,’ but once your legs start turning over the Simple comes into own, the small lip holding it immovably in the part of your body that moves the least while running. A k or two down the road, hopping over branches and logs and it’s easy to forget the Simple bottle is still sitting there.

The other design features are, well, simple, but again highly effective. There are a series of grooves on the bottle that not only help hold the bottle to your shorts, but also make it easy to grip as you run and drink. In fact it works as well as a handheld bottle if you want to cling to it for a while as it fits and holds itself into your palm and its light weight adds to the ease of forgetting its there.More evidence of the bottle’s careful conception is the large opening on top – a wide diameter screw top lid makes it easy and fast to refill and clean, while the mouthpiece locks down tight so there is no danger of leaking or spilling.

As the perils of overhydration become clearer and clearer, the Simple bottle is the perfect accompaniment to a copy of Dr Timothy Noakes’ book Waterlogged; the Serous Problem of Overhydration in Sports. His premise, based on twenty years of research is that the information coming out of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (I kid you not!) on how much to drink has been seriously flawed. For decades. The result has been a lot of overhydration, billions in sports drink sales and numerous deaths from hyponetraemia, a kind of drowning from the inside. At 380mL the Simple holds enough water to keep me hydrated for the majority of my runs. If there is no chance of a refill on an epic long run there is no replacement for a Camelbak or heavily loaded fuel belt, but for a normal one to two hour run, or even a long one where refills are available the Simple bottle solves that ages old problem. Racing and you are required to have more than 500mL on you at all times? The good news is that two bottles (760mL) slide into your shorts just as well. Not quite as comfortable for sure, but still an unobtrusive option.

Just like running clothes and shoes, the aim of a running bottle is to do its job without reminding us that its there. As becomes clearer and clearer, a 380mL bottle holds enough to do its job, and the snug, forgettable feel of the bottle against your lower back makes it easy to ignore while your mind and body dance over the trail.

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By Garry Dagg, barefoot/minimalist editor