While I maintain a strong belief that running unencumbered (sans GPS, music, hydration packs and other gadgets) has its place and pleasure in the running world, I am very pleased to be the owner and frequent user of a new Nathan Speed 2 hydration pack. The oppressive heat of a Texas summer necessitated some change, especially if I am to build up long runs beyond 1 hour in duration. I have used the Nathan Speed 2 on many runs since acquiring it, and I have definitely noticed that drinking water in moderation has made the experience much more pleasant. Here is my review of the product, for all this one runner's opinion is worth.
The hydration pack is relatively lightweight, even with 20oz of water and contours to the hips very comfortably. I was very impressed that there was no bouncing of the bottles. I really didn't want a handheld bottle because of the sloshing and am happy I chose a waist pack instead. It did take a few tries for me to get the belt on the right spot of my hips, but once there, it was a smooth and comfortable ride. I find that low on the hips works best and with a 28inch waist and 32inch measurement around the hips, I went for the medium. I could have gotten away with the small, but many reviewers online said the product ran small. I would disagree and say the product runs true.
The plastic bottles are easy to open with the mouth. They can also be washed in the dishwasher (top rack), which is a big plus. The cloth waistband dries quickly and has no irritating seams. The color schemes are nice, although I did chose basic grey. The pockets built into the waist band are awesome, and I intend to get a lot of use out of them on long training runs.
The bottle tops are difficult to close with the mouth and I am always afraid they are not completely closed. Reaching behind with my left hand feels a little awkward, and I did drop a bottle once, which rolled into a flood drain, leading me to stop my run and crouch in the gutter to retrieve it. I expect the reach around motion to become more comfortable with time. Also, the bottles make considerable contact with my sides. Initially, it is uncomfortable having the ice cold bottles against my skin. A short way into my run, I notice that the water is lukewarm (heat transport by conduction at work!). This is a minor problem very much outweighed by the benefits of hydration, but worth noting nonetheless.
While I would prefer to run without the added weight of a pack, I am going to be sticking with it for any runs in the hour plus range, at least until the temps drop back down. I was able to get the Nathan Speed 2 on Amazon.com for $28 and free shipping. I think it is a pretty good deal and this is one piece of gear that is going to be getting a lot of use from me! And while this purist is now a convert, I think that in cooler weather I won't be using it as often, and probably only on runs over 2 hours.