Sunday, May 6, 2012

Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Lite

It's not particularly bright, nor is it remotely sharp, and not the least bit tactical when you really get down to brass tax. It's really nothing new in the world of gear, as far as a conglomeration of ideas, but offers something I think many of us often take for granted: hydration. And as such, I frigging love Amphipod's Hydraform Handheld Lite.

I'm honestly not much of a runner. I just ran my first 5K at about 35 minutes, which works out to about an 11 ½ minute mile. I haven't been at it very long, though, and I deal with nagging daily symptoms of relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis, which to some extent slows me down, or forces to me to walk for short spurts. I'm also a heavy sweater. Feet hitting the pavement for a mere 10 minutes, and I'll be host to a multitude of sweat rivers cascading down my face.

When I hit the road, or the trail... or whatever matter of navigable ground it is I happen to be running, I'm a minimalist. The clothes on my back, shoes, socks, celly and earbuds and I'm good to go. Unless I'm running the treadmill in which case I cart around a 20 oz stainless Thermos that's empty within 45 minutes as well as the aforementioned bits. Mark my words, I am certainly not carrying a heavy ass stainless Thermos on the road with me on those days it's not raining.

So what's special about the Amphipod? It's a high vis recyclable 12 ounce BPA-free bottle with a moisture wicking handstrap that doubles as a pocket. Now I know, some of you might say, "gimme some 550 paracord and a 12 oz bike bottle and I'll make you the same thing..." Not so. The Amphipod is contoured so that it allows your gripping hand to close as it naturally would when jogging. What that amounts to is 12 precious ounces of water that I barely notice I'm holding onto during the duration of my runs. The perfect amount for 3-4 miles, though I imagine it'd hold up just as well for runs between 5-10 miles assuming one was properly hydrated before embarking.

The other thing that is awesome about the Amphipod is the pocket built into the handstrap. While I wear an armband that holds my cellphone, there's not a lot of leftover room for other items, and I'm not super keen on leaving the house with only a doorkey and some tunes. The pocket of the Hydraform Handheld easily houses a packet of Gu (hikers, runners, and survivalists should stockpile this stuff, especially the peanut butter flavor), driver's license, Visa card, house and car keys and my CRKT Pazoda. The latter item less about self-defense (if I was intent on that I'd get a CWP for my Taurus .38 snubby ultra-lite) and more about simply having access to a sharp and reliable knife should the need arise. As well, this really isn't much of a worry on the suburban streets I usually run, but definitely nice to have for running any sort of trail system.

The third aspect adding to what I consider the perfection of the Amphipod, is the simple fact that it gives you water right there in your hand. Not too much (the next size up is 20 oz, and it's ungainly in my opinion), and not too little. It forces you to ration the water, and really think about your next drink rather than obliging you to drown yourself in excessive fluids. And for those of you that say there's no such thing, go ahead and Google hyponatremia, a rare but potentially lethal case of over-hydration that manages to kill 1-2 marathon runners every few years.

Amphipod has really nailed down this market, and they've spawned a host of imitators. Camelbak makes a larger and less wieldy rendition of the same concept, as does Nathan. I've read some good things about the Nathan version, especially their handstrap but my tests with it in-store proved it to be far less comfortable than Amphipod's Hydraform Handheld, refusing to conform to how may hands want to close while I run. The Amphipod, however, grants you the ability to come as close to a fist as you need for comfortable running.

All that said, yes, clearly I love this gadget. Or gimmick. Or what-have-you. Anyone that thought to put any time into such a development could have come up with it, as it's honestly not that revolutionary a concept. While at the same time, I could and probably should have written far less on it that I did here. I would hazard the statement that this is an essential bit of kit for any road runner or trail runner, as well as minimalist hiker that has no desire to pack in a huge unwieldy canteen or wear a pack with a water bladder. I can guarantee I won't be running without it, and I'll also likely not get tired of telling people about how awesome I think it really is.