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Every summer, we put out the Trail Runner Gear Guide highlighting the latest and greatest in trail-running gear and apparel. Throughout the rest of the year, our team offers in-depth reviews of great new gear, apparel, shoes and more online.
We don’t get to spotlight nearly as many of the fabulous goodies out there that we would like. From lightweight jackets to GPS watches to tasty portable snacks, there’s plenty more we think trail runners might benefit from knowing about. Up today: six ways to bring a little variety to your liquid fueling on race day.
This Boulder-based company has hit a home run with their hydration powder mix, originally developed and tested by pro cyclists, and now embraced by endurance athletes across the spectrum. Available in both one-pound bags and single-serving, hydration-pack-friendly packets, the mix is made with little more than real fruit (raspberries, oranges, pineapples, or lemons and limes), cane sugar, sodium and other electrolytes. Because it’s made with actual fruit, it doesn’t have that same saccharine taste that tends to get old after the first few hours of your run. We give it an A+.
Based in Seattle and available in over 30 countries, Nuun pioneered the low-calorie, sugar-free electrolyte tab, offering a way to balance your electrolytes without also ingesting a huge amount of carbohydrates. The portable, self-dissolving tabs tuck easily into your pack, so you don’t have to drag liters of sports drink with you from the beginning of your run. We like the slight fizziness of Nuun-infused water. Inspired by customer feedback are three new flavors this spring: lemonade, watermelon and a caffeine-enhanced cherry limeade flavor.
Made with a wasp extract amino-acid complex and blended with honey, bee propolis and antioxidant-rich royal jelly, VESPA is a unique product in that its focus is on optimizing your muscles’ ability to metabolize fat for ultra-distance endurance efforts, rather than on providing a quick glycogen boost. No sugar highs or crashes later! Not only do swarms of ultrarunners testify to the effectiveness of VESPA in warding off bonking, but also VESPA—especially the orange flavor, made with real orange juice—tastes delicious, not as in energy-gel delicious (i.e. vaguely tolerable) but as in mouth-watering, how-much-of-this-am-I-allowed-to-have delicious.
By now, most of you have probably heard about chia seeds, which everyone from the ancient Mayan warriors to the famed Tarahumara Indians of Born to Run fame have used to boost energy and endurance. Mamma Chia’s organic, bottled beverages are a great way to soak up all the omega-3, dietary fiber, protein, antioxidants and minerals that chia seeds offer. Sweetened with agave nectar and offered in a variety of exotic flavors like coconut mango, pomegranate mint and blackberry hibiscus, they make for a tasty pre- or post-workout beverage.
After suffering uncomfortable stomach cramps and vomiting while running his first Leadville 100 more than a decade ago, Tailwind founder Jeff Vierling devised his own secret weapon, burning out his KitchenAid motor blending up a mixture of gluten-free, organic ingredients that proved far gentler on his gut than most powders he’d tried. Providing potent energy and electrolytes for two-plus-hour jaunts on the trails, Tailwind rinses easily and won’t leave a sticky residue on the inside of your hydration reservoir. Lastly, Tailwind is a company that really stands behind its product: if you order the Challenge Pack (four large bags in your choice of flavor) and don’t love it, they’ll pay for your most recent race (you can mail in your entry fee receipt for a refund).
What about plain old water? On the pH scale (0—acidic to 14—basic/alkaline), most human bodies are in a chronically acidic state, thanks to factors like stress, diet and environmental pollutants; while most bottled waters have a pH factor of 7.0, Essentia has a pH factor of 9.5 to help neutralize this acidity and “restore the human body to a more balanced state.” Purified through reverse osmosis and infused with trace amounts of electrolytes, Essentia aims to offer faster hydration to athletes without giving the feeling of a heavy stomach prone to sloshing on the run.
Now tell us … what are your favorite ways to stay hydrated on long runs?