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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Natthan Mercury 3 Hydration Belt

Sometime ago I was in the market for a hydration belt. I used to have one many years ago. It serves for well initially but when I stopped doing long road runs, it went into cold storage. Last year I took it out again when the sidekick was training for the Sundown Marathon and I was accompanying her in the long runs. But I had lost too much weight between the last time I used it and it was too loose. The Velcro belt could not be tighten further and as a result, the bottles were bouncing all over. In a fit of frustration, I dumped the belt into the nearest dustbin I came across after trying to adjust it for a proper fit.

When I found out I was going to do Tokyo, I decided I need a new belt. The hunt for the belt was fairly interesting. My main consideration was it must be a proper fit, do not bounce and cost as cheap as possible. A good friend asked me why I needed one? He knew I had a hydration bag so theoretically I could use that for my long runs. I said I don't like to carry a hydration bag especially in the hot sun on the road. He said there isn't even a need for a hydration bag  if I was doing road run. There are always convenience stores, toilets and drinking fountains available all over Singapore and especially in the East where I intend to do most of my long runs. So no need. But I beg to differ.

A belt is more versatile compared to a bag. Depending on the number of bottles, I can fill the with different sort of drinks. Beside it is much lighter than a bag and in a road run, I don't need all the extra weight since I need to carry much lesser items. In my trail runs, 2 very essential items that are in the bag are my phone and a simple set of first aid kits. Beside that, I also carry gels and of course 1.5ltr of water. For road runs, I only carry gels and water and some cash and a transit link card. So why would I want to burden myself with a heavy back pack?

In the local market, there are basically only 2 big players in the hydration belt market - Nathan and Fuelbelt. There wasn't much to choose from between this 2 since they are more or less similar so it boil own to cost. After looking at various models, I finally settled on the Nathan Mercury 3. Why? Because it was on sale at the SCMS Race Expo.


The Mercury 3 comes with 3 300ml water bottle and a stretch mesh pocket which it claims can fit an iphone. According to the product material, it is also suppose to be bounce-free with ultra soft binding that prevents chafing. 

My previous belt was a 4 bottle belt but I think 3 bottles is more than enough. Beside, I can always replenish along the way thus reducing the weight I have to carry. In my runs, I usually fill 1 bottle with plain water and 2 bottles with a mixture of electrolyte, juice with chia seed and when that run out, with isotonic drinks from the stalls. The bottles does not bounce initially but interestingly, after it is empty and I replenish them, they starts to bounce. I am not too sure why that is so though. 

One of the main reason I choose this model other than the price was the belt clip. The previous belt I had was Velcro and after some time, the belt tends to slip and become loose and one had to keep readjusting it to keep it tight. This belt is the clip on type and the extra length of belting are held securely at the side in a tight loop. Once I had adjusted the belt to the correct fit, the belt sits very snugly on my waist and does not move. The only problem I noticed was that I still had to tighten the belt after some time. I am not sure whether it is the result of water loss during the run or the belt getting lose. But there was no need to loosen the roll up belt. Just a quick pull on the loose part of the belt was sufficient to tighten it.

The pocket is supposed to be stretchable and can take in an iphone but I was not able to fit in my Samsung S3 with its cover. I managed to squeeze in keys, 2 packet of gels, some money and a transit link ezy card though. 

My habit when running is to wear the front of the belt below my top and only the 3 bottles at the back is showing. That means that the belt is in direct contact with my body and happily it lives up to the manufacturer's claim of no chafing. 

Overall I am fairly happy with this belt and I think it is a good gear for those who wants to do long road runs Because of its limited carrying ability, it is not suitable for trail runs and long runs where water supply cannot be replenish easily.

Pro:
Lightweight
Versatile
No chafing

Cons:
Limited capacity
Tends to bounce after replenishing
Become loose after a while

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