On a weekly basis, I feel like I’m searching the internet for reviews of some running-related item. More often than not, I find a lot of really useful information from customer reviews, personal blogs and online running publications. One item that I purchased despite its lack of product reviews was my Amphipod Runlite Airstretch Hydration Belt. Most “reviews” seemed to be a verbose rephrasing of whatever was written on the package. I wrote my initial review on August 17th after only 2 uses. You can read that review HERE. Like many Amphipod Runlite reviews that I found online, mine didn’t address how the product functioned over time. After logging over 10 runs with this belt, it’s about time to write a follow-up review.
As a refresher, I bought the 4 bottle Amphipod Runlite Airstretch belt, however I have yet to use all 4 bottles at once. One of the great features of the Amphipod Runite is the ability to add and remove bottles as needed, so I usually opt for 3 bottles (2 water, 1 Gatorade) plus the storage pouch.
The storage pouch that came with the belt is an okay size, but if I continue running 15+ mile runs, I’d seriously consider buying something larger. It looks like it came with the the Rapid Access Small storage pouch. One of the pro’s to the storage pouch is that my iPhone 4 fits perfectly. I haven’t jumped on the iPhone 5 train yet, so I can’t speak to how tough it is to jam an 5 in the stock Small Rapid Access pouch. My main gripe with the pouch is that it wasn’t large enough to hold my phone and more than 2 gels. I like to take my phone with me on long runs, but also like to have a gel for every 5 miles. Obviously, 15 miles is my breaking point where either the phone or a gel has to go. It’s usually the phone. Amphipod saw this issue coming and offers a wide variety of other storage options for the belt. Should I do another marathon, I’d definitely buy a larger storage pouch for my training runs.
The belt itself is surprisingly comfortable over long distances. It has strong elastic material across the entire length of the belt, so the pressure from stretching is evenly distributed. This also means that it can sit pretty much wherever you want – above or on the hips. It usually takes me about 2 blocks to find the best placement for the belt, but once its there I barely notice it. It has about a 6”x2” velcro strip at the end of the belt, so it’s really easy to readjust at a red light or during a brief break in your run – no straps, clips, etc. I’ve never had a problem finding a comfortable position for the belt.
Belt placement is pretty important for decreasing the “bounce” of the water bottles. It’s a little bit of a game to balance the belt and bottle placement to decrease bounce.
One my biggest hesitations with the Amphipod belt was the unique clipping system that holds the bottles to the belt. Just to refresh those unfamiliar with the clipping system, see the photo below.
The clip system works really well! I’m happy to report that I haven’t lost a bottle yet and since I started using the belt in August, I’ve only dropped 2 bottles due to not fully snapping them into their clip. The first drop occurred on my second run with the belt (inexperience) and the other drop was a few weeks ago when my headphone wire got stuck between the bottle and the clip. You do have to be aware of accidentally kicking the bottle if you drop it. My first dropped bottle fell squarely on my foot and I kicked it directly at an old man running the opposite direction. The second one wasn’t as bad, but was about 6” from falling into the Potomac River.
Like most hydration belts, you can always buy additional bottles, which is a great feature. It’s probably good to swap them out every once in awhile anyway because it’s difficult to properly clean their tops. I really like how Amphipod uses clear plastic so that you can see if any mold is forming in the plastic on the top. I’m not sure if that was an intentional design feature, but it’s a really great idea since it’s nearly impossible to clean in there.
Lastly, about 6 weeks into using the Amphipod Runlite Airstretch, I noticed that the belt itself was pretty dirty with sweat/salt marks. I couldn’t find much information on how to clean the belt and clips online, so I took a gamble and put it all in my front loader washing machine. Since its a synthetic material and the clips have plastic parts, I made sure to wash with cold water and in a pretty full load (and wrapped in towels to decreasing chances of plastic breaks). After air drying all the pieces, it looked just like new! I didn’t notice any new fraying, warping, etc. I’m not sure that this what Amphipod recommends, but it worked for me.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my hydration belt. It’s comfortable, customizable and easy to clean. Generally, I won’t use it on runs less than 10 miles, but quite frankly, it’s a lot more comfortable to pack 20+ oz. of liquid on this belt than it is to carry it in my large Nathan bottle. Big thumbs up to Amphipod!