Gear review: Nathan Triangle Hydration Pak for runners

The Nathan Triangle Hydration Pak, shown with its 22-ounce water bottle.

The Nathan Triangle Hydration Pak, shown with its 22-ounce water bottle.

I’ve been in this ongoing search for a good, light and comfortable hydration system for those longer runs, or runs when the temperatures are hot.

I’m not the type to hold a water bottle in my hands. Hands-free for me.

I’ve done the hydration backpacks. They work, but there are downsides there as well – namely, straps loosening, which causes the packs to shift during the run. That’s not a fatal flaw, just sort of annoying over time.

The one system I haven’t tried is a hydration belt. With no shoulder straps and all the weight on the hips, surely this would work, right?

So I threw down a few bucks on the Triangle Hydration Pak by Nathan, and tested it out the best way I knew how: take it out on two long runs, one going 21 miles, the second 20.

Product specs

The pack has a single-clip belt with a padded back. On the back side of the pack is a sleeve for a 22-ounce water bottle and a stretch-fabric zippered pocket for things like a cellphone or keys, or perhaps some small packages of food.

The water bottle sleeve has a good design in that it’s tilted 30 degrees, making it easier to remove and replace when you’re taking a drink on the go. A small shock cord is built in to place over the drinking nozzle, helping keep the water bottle secure. The sleeve itself is insulated to keep fluids cool for a time, depending on how long you’re running and how hot it is outside. The water bottle, by the way, is top-rack dishwasher safe and BPA free. High marks for that.

A slide-out ID card is one of the features on the Triangle Hydration Pak.

A slide-out ID card is one of the features on the Triangle Hydration Pak.

Nathan also included an identity card which slides into a small ID pocket, and there are light-reflective materials sewn in to help enhance safety for runners who start out in the dark.

The belt is adjustable to fit any waist size, and the backside padding is made with moisture-wicking fabrics. All told, the Triangle weighs 7.2 ounces.

Road test

There are a lot of things to like about the Triangle Hydration Pak. Having a hands-free place for extra fluids is nice, as is the gear pocket. The shock cord does, indeed, keep the water bottle snug in its sleeve, preventing load shift as you’re bouncing around during a run.

It’s important, however, to tighten the belt snug. Otherwise, the belt will start to shift to the right and the bottle’s top will hit your elbow. I didn’t have a problem with this, but some people might not like a belt that tight around their waist. You’ll want to consider that when choosing a hydration system.

The gear pocket is a nice feature, but it has its limitations. I found that if I wanted to bring my phone, keys and a couple small packages of food, the fit was too tight. My solution was to wear a Spi Belt for my phone and put my nutrition in the hydration pack’s pocket. One other note: the size of your phone will matter. Cellphones seem to be getting bigger with every new model (some of the newest Samsung phones are like small dinner plates), and the largest of these won’t fit in the Triangle’s gear pocket. My iPhone5, by far from being the largest phone in the market, was a tight fit when packed in there on its own.

But the real test for me was comfort. More precisely, I wanted a hydration pack that didn’t force me to stop and readjust every mile. To that effect, the Triangle is a huge success. In 41 miles of running, I think I adjusted it twice – once to make it tight enough not to shift, and once to loosen it up a smidge. Compared to the backpack hydration systems I’ve used, this is a huge improvement.

Lastly, let’s talk value. You can spend a bunch of money on hydration packs, but if you’re looking for something simple with space for a single bottle, it’s hard to beat the Triangle’s price, which ranges from $24-$30, depending on where you shop.

Nathan makes other belt-style packs with a two-bottle design for longer hauls.

Overall, I found this one to be a good buy and a good solution to long-haul training where hydration on the go becomes more important.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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