On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So What it's Hot? Product Review

A few weeks ago, I got a message from one of my friends asking if I'd seen the "So What it's Hot" water bottle holder. "I think it's like the Snuggie for runners!" she said.

Oh, yes, I'd seen it. Their ads have been doing the twitter/facebook/viral bit, and for good reason. If you haven't already seen it, watch this:



Given that my love of the Snuggie is well known, as is my love of water, I knew immediately that I needed to try the SWIH. Therefore, I did something I've never done before and I shot the company an email asking if they would be willing to send me one to review. A few hours later I had a very nice email saying yes, and less than a week later I had two SWIH, size medium and large, one in pink and one in black. (Customer service: A+.) For reference, the pink is L and the black is M. We didn't really notice a significant difference between the sizes, although the medium was slightly too large to fit comfortably around my neck but fit perfectlyover my head. The velcro may have been aligned slightly differently between the two, as Tara's size L fit around her neck easily. That, or maybe I have a dainty little giraffe neck (<--not true).



I recruited Tara to try the SWIH with me on a weeknight run in Central Park.

The product is simple: it's a stretchy band with a velcro fastening that wraps around your head. An elasticized pouch in the middle of the band holds a water bottle, enabling you to wear it a variety of ways:

Behind your head

Rear shot, behind the head

Over your ears behind your head
Around your neck


Around your waist. NB: we deemed this completely pointless.

Pros:
  • It's surprisingly easy to get the water in and out. I expected it to be hard and that I would have to remove the SWIH, but I didn't.
  • Inadvertently encourages good posture. Having the SWIH behind my head meant that I kept my head and torso up straight.
  • Did not bounce. It actually kept the bottle fairly flush against my head and it didn't really bounce. Now, that said, the water does slosh (see below).
  • NO ONE GAVE US ANY WEIRD LOOKS. I'm not sure if this is because we live in New York, where doing odd things is de rigueur, or if it's because people expect runners to be different, or if it's because it was dark. But only two people said anything to us, and both comments were curious and encouraging.

Cons:

  • The sound of the water slushing. For the first two miles, Tara and I were pleasantly surprised by how stable the bottle was. Then we both stopped to drink some water, and when we started up again, it was as though we were running on the beach. Not in a pleasant way, but as though we were carrying the sounds of the ocean right behind our ears. Even talking to each other meant having to speak up over the waves crashing through our heads. Tara tried putting in her headphones. Not only did that not deaden the sound, but she lost an earpiece cover.
  • Very difficult to drink and run. Although the bottle was easy to remove, we did have to stop to walk to do it.
  • Definitely puts a weight on your neck. I would not have been able to use this for speedwork/tempo runs, nor long runs. I end up with tired shoulders (ahem, no core strength) after long runs anyway, and adding the weight of a water bottle would be brutal.
  • No pockets for money, etc. I'm asking too much here, but my handheld bottle gets a plus for also having a small pocket.
Given that it was only about 40 degrees when we ran, I didn't have a chance to test the SWIH with frozen water. I could see that being very pleasant in the summertime, and I will definitely do that for my easy runs next summer.

Overall, I'm mixed on the SWIH. To be entirely honest, I kind of expected the worst and was pleasantly surprised. I'm always looking for an alternative to a handheld bottle, but I'm not sure this will become my go-to. I will use it again; however, I might suggest it for something lower-impact than running. I would use this in a second over a camelbak on a short hike, for instance.

Barely pictured: the surprisingly effective front-of-the-neck approach to wearing it (aka "the St. Bernard")
 
But you know what? We had fun trying it. Loads of fun. If you're looking for a nice, cheap stocking stuffer or grab bag gift for the runner in your life, why not?

5 comments:

  1. Good gracious, that video. I love it.

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  2. This would be PERFECT for a day hike. So much better than the sweaty-back-causing CamelBaks.

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  3. The people in that video look like they hate their lives. I feel like the neck position would feel like I'm being choked, but I also hate turtlenecks because they feel like an angry midget is strangling me.

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  4. It is important to note that in that "around the waist" photo I am sucking in my gut as skinny as humanly possible. There is no way I could have run even one step.

    Also, thank you for withholding the photo where I'm making the face and my hair is dynamically rejecting the SWIH water bottle holder. You're swell.

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  5. I tried the SWIH with a frozen water bottle in the desert while hiking this past summer and it was fantastic. I could not have enjoyed the hike without it!

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