Nathan QuickSqueeze Lite Insulated Flask reviewed by trail runner Laura Clark. Laura is an avid mountain, trail and snowshoe runner who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she is a children’s librarian. Flask provided free of charge by Nathan.
OK, I admit it. I am a handheld junkie. I also have a size-able collection of wine bottle openers, but that has less to do with any obsession than with the fact that none of them actually work well. But it is a different story with handhelds. There are just so many possibilities. Are you going for a quick jaunt or a lengthier expedition? Do you also want to accommodate keys cards and snacks? How does your hand feel about becoming a beast of burden?
Mostly, I guess I am just lazy, knowing my propensity for the 3-second rule would lead to potentially dangerous germs left to lurk in bladder tubes. And the convenience of a handheld is hard to beat. It is literally in-your-face, reminding you to take refreshing sips before things go south with the additional advantage of not having to perform complicated aid station gyrations to refill bladders. In fact, I have been known to wear a vest stuffed with two water bottles, using them only to refill my handheld. Looks weird, but it works for me.
The choice of a handheld is a purely personal matter, depending on distance, available aid stations and comfort. Nathan’s QuickSqueeze Lite Insulated Flask is an excellent intermediate option. With a 12 oz capacity and no extraneous pockets, it is not overly heavy. At $24.99 the price is right, plus you get a choice of black, sky blue or daffodil yellow casing. I would opt for the yellow, in case you lay it down somewhere and are left searching.
I have a touch of arthritis in my right thumb, which I am not willing to admit to yet, and so for me comfort is a paramount consideration. And out of my vast collection, this ergonomically-shaped version is hands-down the most comfortable. Please do refer to the picture of the runner’s hand grasping the bottle and note the thumb position – cradled comfortably near the nozzle, wrapped in its own jiggle-proof casing. Granted, you can still support the bottle in all the various ways you are used to on other models. But that begs the question: “Why would you want to?” With grip-free running thus assured, this setup provides all of the advantages of this hydration option without leaving you with an achy hand.
The nozzle features an updated high flow Push-Pull Blast Valve™ cap, which I discovered took some getting used to. So I recommend you give it a test run first and not fearlessly do as I did and use it for the first time in a race. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have been doing this anyway. As I discovered, you really do have to pull the valve up to drink and push down to seal the flow. This is not a difficult thing to do, but be aware. I would recommend just starting out with the valve up until you complete your run. If there is any water left over, push down and rest assured that your bottle will not leak out over the rest of the stuff in your kit. Many other valves are almost leak-proof, but not quite. This one really is.
The other technique to be aware of is that while you still can get some flow just with tilting, squeezing enhances the experience. So if you are in a hurry to gulp, go for it! The bottle compresses easily and this is no big deal, despite the double-wall construction designed to keep fluids colder longer.
Unlike most other Nathan handhelds, this version features a flat bottom, making it a cinch to stand upright for refills or for traveling in a car. The bottom fabric is designed to hold a card or a key without the addition of the usual pouch. I haven’t gotten that far yet. From previous experience, I feel more comfortable with my keys securely locked in a zipper fastening. And even though it seems tight enough for a credit card, I am afraid to take a chance with fate.
The one thing I wish all the Nathan bottles had would be some way to plainly see how much water is left. Perhaps a thermometer-like gauge. Theoretically, you can tell by heft, but during a run, perception tends to dim and things feel heavier rather than lighter.
I am fortunate in that I have a 20 mile trail network accessible from my backdoor and this is definitely one handheld I would reach for to accompany my lunch break runs.
Editor’s Note: Are you interested in other trail running hydration options? Check out these articles.