Review: Hydrapak Gel-Bot and Softflask
Until recently I have never been a big fan of gels. Many used to come with strict instructions to drink water to enhance absorption or suffer the consequences of gastrointestinal discomfort or dehydration so I usually preferred to keep hydration/electrolytes and food/carbs/protein as separate issues.
I also see gel packets thrown away or accidentally dropped and from observing in particular road cyclists feeding during, for instance, the Tour de France I find it hard to believe that they can extract the full contents with one squeeze. I find it necessary to roll the packet up from the base in order to extract most of the contents and this would be very difficult and dangerous to do if you were riding ‘no hands’ in the middle of a bunch or running down mountain tracks in a trail race. It also means that you rarely get the full Kcal ‘dose’ listed on the packet.
Recently, due to many hours spent running trails in preparation for Al Andalus Ultra Trail stage race, I decided to experiment with gels again and when I saw a feature in a USA Trailrunner Magazine about the Hydrapak Softflask I thought this product may be the answer to my original thoughts. I am happy to say that the Hydrapak Softflask and also their Gel-Bot were even better than expected.
The Gel-Bot: I used the 24oz which in European sizes means 711ml. The wide-necked bottle includes a very effective inner chamber which takes 3oz of gel, about 89grams which is 2 to 3 gels. For the test I used 3 x InfiSport gels total 60grams/174Kcal. The bottle was filled with water and Eletewater electrolyte added, something I always do and especially important during the summer months when temperatures are always around the 35-40 centigrade mark.
The patent-pending design worked extremely well, as the design lets you fuel or hydrate with just one hand. When the dual mode nozzle is pulled open you just get water, with the nozzle pushed down you squeeze the gel out from centre valve and the chambers internal plunger moves up inside like a syringe ‘injecting’ the gel and cleaning the chamber surface in one action.
The bottle didn’t leak and can be disassembled easily for cleaning. The bottles are also BPA chemical free. I also liked the ‘electric green’ colour of the bottle which physiologically made the water look more appetizing.
The Gel-Bot comes in 2 sizes, 24 fl oz/711ml and 20 fl oz/592ml, inner chamber same size in both but for races like Al Andalus I would recommend two of the larger bottle as water is issued in 1.5litre bottles at check points. Here the bottles can easily be filled and more gels added without losing precious time.
Softflask: As well as the Gel-Bot I also tried the Hydrapak Softflask and this item also works extremely well. The Softflask is made from a very tough BPA free material and comes in 2 sizes 5oz/148ml and 8oz/237ml, orange or blue and with choice of either a bite valve or a fliptop.
For my test I used the 8oz/bite valve option. The Softflask was easy to fill and although I added 3 x 75ml gels it wasn’t totally full. The bite valve was excellent, no gel leaked into my rear pocket and once empty the flask collapses in on itself to make a very small package.
Both these products are excellent, solve the problem of litter, avoid you being ‘short changed’ as regards gel dosage, they work and best of all they are inexpensive.
For further information on these and other Hydrapak products check out www.hydrapak.com or email me at email@example.com as I will soon have these available in my Team Axarsport shop.