Elite marathon runners and those who finish the race in under three hours do not use hydration vests. However, these vests can be a lifesaver for many runners who will take over 5 hours to complete a marathon and stay hydrated and fueled during a marathon or half-marathon. While top runners can carry gels in their shorts pockets or utilise water stations along the route, a well-fitted hydration vest is essential for those who will be out for more than five hours. This guide will present our top picks for the best hydration vests for marathons and half-marathons.
Table of Contents: Hydration Vests For Marathons
Hydration Vests For Marathons
In the following sections, you’ll find our top 3 picks, along with the key features and benefits of each one. I own and use the first two options and am very happy with how they work and feel. The third option is popular amongst casual runners and first-time marathon runners. I have seen many pictures on Instagram of people wearing them and fellow runners I cross paths with.
Salomon Agile 2 Hydration Vest
This vest is lightweight and features a minimalist design with enough storage options. It can fit 2 X 500ml of water in its two front pockets and store gels and snacks. There is also a pocket in the back for extra storage, but you probably won’t need it. It’s perfect for marathons; it is comfortable and won’t interfere with your running form. Lightweight at only 170g (vest only) and comes with 2 X Salomon 500ml soft flasks.
Salomon Active Skin 4 Hydration Vest
I use these for trail ultra-marathon events, but they are equally suited to road marathons. This lightweight hydration vest fits like a glove thanks to the Sensifit unisex design, so it doesn’t bounce around when I’m running. It has plenty of pockets for storing my gels, phone, and other essentials, which is a huge plus. The hydration system is also top-notch, with easy-to-use flasks and a quick refill system. The Salomon Active Skin 4 has made my long runs more comfortable and efficient. I highly recommend it to any marathon runner looking for a top-quality hydration vest.
Triwonder Aonijie 2.5L Running Hydration Vest
This hydration vest has a 2.5L capacity and is priced reasonably. It’s designed for comfort and convenience, with adjustable straps to ensure a snug fit. The vest is lightweight and breathable, maximising your running comfort. With this vest, you can say goodbye to carrying water bottles and focus on your performance. It weighs 204g and has pockets with elastic cords to hold 2 water bottles and a waist pocket for energy gels and snacks.
Hydration Vests For Marathons Pros & Cons
- An easy and convenient way to carry nutrition and hydration needs.
- Carry your energy drinks and fuel in the soft flasks of the vest.
- Reduce fatigue by keeping weight off your arms compared to water bottles or flasks.
- It comfortably fits around your body and allows for freedom of movement.
- It can allow you to carry items you need on race day.
- Easy for you to manage hydration en route and not be 100% reliant on the race organiser.
- Excellent for runners who know they might be out on the course for a long time.
- Extra weight to carry, albeit minimal.
- More expensive than using water bottles.
Key Features In Hydration Vests For Marathons
When searching for hydration vests to use during marathons, it’s essential to consider the following key features of any brand;
- Lightweight and small in terms of capacity because you don’t want to carry more than what is necessary.
- Space to hold soft flasks on the front of the hydration vest so you can quickly grab water without stopping.
- Adjustable straps – The idea is to have the vest fit snugly and comfortably.
- Some pockets – You’ll want to be able to store plenty of nutrition, such as energy gels, bars and electrolytes.
More Info On Hydration Vests and Marathon Running
Still want more information, get the scoop on hydration vests and marathon running! Keep reading to discover want you need to know about this essential gear for staying hydrated during a marathon.
Most Marathon Runners Will Take 4+ Hours To Finish
If we look at the data from the London Marathon 2023, with 40000 starters finishing within four hours will place you among the top 9,667 men or the top 3,220 women. This means that 27000 runners will be on the course over 4 hours, which is a long time to be on your feet without properly managed hydration.
The Importance Of Hydration When Running A Marathon
Staying hydrated is crucial when running a marathon, especially in hot weather. Dehydration can cause exhaustion, cramps, and even heatstroke, so it’s essential to maintain your hydration throughout the race. You can do this by carrying a hydration vest or a bottle or using the water stations provided by the race organisers. Remember to be prepared and well-hydrated for the marathon.
How Much Water Will My Body Lose Per Hour Of Running?
Determining an exact answer to this question can be challenging as it varies based on several factors, including temperature, weight, and physical activity. Generally, a person running at a decent intensity will lose approximately 1 or 1.5L of water every hour. Staying hydrated during your runs is crucial, which is why hydration vests can be a real help.
Will I Look Stupid?
No, and who cares anyway! That’s a common misconception. Hydration vests are an efficient way to manage your hydration and nutrition needs on race day, and they look no different than a regular running vest. You’ll also be very surprised by how many other runners will tow the start line wearing one! It’s a sign that you are taking your race seriously and looking after yourself on the course. Furthermore, if wearing one allows you to carry the items you need to get to the finish line, then it’s a no-brainer!
Should I Use A Hydration Bladder Or Reseviour
No, I suggest you don’t for running. While the hydration bladders work fine for walking and hiking, they are unsuitable for running, especially road marathon distances. This is because all the weight is on your back, and the liquid can shift around, making you uncomfortable. On the other hand, a hydration vest with front flasks is perfect, and because they are generally stowed in stretch pockets, as you drink from the flask, the pockets compress down and don’t hinder your movement or bounce around.
Hydration Vests For Road Marathons Vs Ultra Marathons
For road marathons, you’ll want something lightweight and streamlined. Less storage capacity is okay here because, for road marathons, you won’t have to carry mandatory kit items. Most ultrarunning vests with a 6L+ capacity will be too big for road marathons, and you’ll likely find a smaller vest works better.
For ultra marathons, you will need more storage capacity and support. Going the extra distance requires you to carry more than just nutrition. You’ll likely need first aid kits, waterproofs, mobile phones, headlamps, and nutrition, so you should look for a hydration vest with 6L+ capacity. If that is what you need, go to our guide to the best hydration vests for ultramarathons and see what options are available.
Can I Run A Marathons Without A Hydration Vest?
Yes, you certainly can, and hydration vests might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, because you’ve landed on this page, you are considering it! If you run using a minimalist approach, you must make other plans to manage hydration. This could mean carrying a water bottle or using race-organised water stations. Make sure you research and find out where each water station is on the course, and plan your training accordingly. There is no point in doing your long runs during marathon training with a water bottle and sipping it every mile if that can’t be replicated during the race.
If you decide to run wearing a hydration vest, you must train with one – especially on your longer runs. This way, you can ensure the fit is comfortable and that you have practised using it. The worst thing you can do is train without one and expect to rock the vest on race day. Training with it will also help you understand how it feels when you are running and whether or not you need to adjust the straps for a snug fit.
Final Thoughts On Hydration Vests For Marathons
Hydration vests are an essential piece of kit, whether you’re running a road marathon or ultra. They can help you keep your nutrition and hydration needs in check, reduce fatigue, and make sure you have the items you need to get to the finish line.
If you decide a hydration vest is the way to go, research and find one that fits your needs. You’ll likely want something lightweight and streamlined for road marathons, whereas you’ll need more storage capacity for ultra marathons. For more information take a look at our guide to the best ultra running hydration vests.
Of course, you can always try running without a hydration vest and manage your hydration by carrying water bottles or using race-organised water stations. This is all about finding what works best for you, so research and make the right decision! Good luck with your marathon training and race day.
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