I am very happy with my new Nathan Trail Mix 4 Water Belt for Running! I needed a belt that would let me carry more than a half liter of water for the longer runs I had started doing this summer. Other systems I tried didn’t work because they bounced too much when the weight of the water got too high.
Nathan’s solved that problem by designing their water belt with an elastic material that stretches to give a secure fit to the body, and by distributing the water to four, well-designed water bottles and their fitted holsters. The belt is adjustable, and I found that I had to adjust it tighter than I initially, because the elastic waist band stretched more than I thought it would.
A writer of one of the reviews I read suggested that it be worn up by one’s natural waist rather than closer to the hips. I generally think that idea is a good one, though I discovered that when I tried to wear it that high, it slipped downward a little bit from my waist over the course of a run. Nonetheless, it remained comfortable. If it didn’t remain comfortable, I could always tighten the belt a little tighter so it would be less likely to slip.
I tried wearing the belt with the buckle forward, which is what I would consider the normal way to wear such a device. I discovered that the front two water bottles are not spaced very far apart, and it felt uncomfortable the way the water bottles hit my body both above and below the belt. Fortunately, you don’t have to wear it the “normal” way. I tried it with the buckle at the back and the storage compartment in the front, which worked just fine. But in the end, I preferred to wear it side-ways, with the storage compartment on the side (my right side, since I’m right-handed).
Even with it turned in the most preferable way, it felt unnatural to have water bottles on the front when they were completely full. I don’t mean that they distracted me from enjoying my run, but I was more consciously aware they were there. The back ones I didn’t even notice. I did note that if the front ones were only partially full (like around 6 ounces each instead of 10), they felt more natural, so unless I need them filled to their capacity (like I might if I decide to run a marathon in hot weather), I will likely only ever have them partially full, and that solves my problem.
I was happy to discover that the water bottles have wide mouths, and so I found it easy to place ice cubes in them, to get and keep the water cold. The diameter of the opening is around 1.25 inches (32 mm). Some online comments suggested that the bottles leak, but I haven’t experienced that to be true. I have always had a good seal on all four bottles. Other commentators suggest that leakage problems were due to threading the tops onto the bottles improperly, so if yours leak, that would be a good thing to check.
The storage compartment on the bag seems small to me. You can fit keys, id, gel, toilet paper, and the like, to be sure. Some commentators say they have been able to get a small cellphone in it. But I have a big cellphone — a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 — and there is no way it will fit in there. If I were Nathan’s, I would recognize that people take stuff with them for safety: water, so they don’t suffer dehydration or heat-related issues; and cellphones, to call for help when something goes wrong on a run. And since cellphones keep getting larger, I’d do my best to make a bigger storage compartment.
Having a big cellphone and knowing that it wouldn’t fit into the storage compartment is one of the main reasons I got the 4-bottle waist belt instead of the 2-bottle waist belt. I had this idea that I could somehow make my cellphone fit in one of the water bottle slots, so I would have to run with one less bottle. It turns out that my gamble on being able to get my cellphone to fit paid off! I got a quart-sized Ziploc bag, put in my cellphone, then put in an old sock (missing its partner), folded up to create enough filler that my phone and the sock together could be wedged snugly into that water bottle holster. It wasn’t hard to do, and it stayed snug during the run.
I am so pleased with my water belt! Looking forward to many happy, long runs, knowing I have the ability to carry what I need in a way that doesn’t detract from enjoying the experience.