Thursday, June 5, 2014

Solomon Park Hydro Soft Flask

Just the soft flask.
For longer trail runs, I'm happy to use a backpack/vest and carry water in a bladder/tube system. I have a couple of smaller hand held water containers but really wanted something that would hold a bit more water.  Yet the traditional bottles with carrying sleeve or case are just too heavy for me.  Enter this new "soft flask" and carrier by Salomon, the Park Hydro Handset

I know, I know.  You aren't supposed to do anything new on race day.  However, I knew it would be an ok weight and it was going to be warm enough at the race this past Sunday that I'd really want to carry water.  
Strapped onto hand. 
How does it work? The soft flask is as described. It's a comfortable feeling type plastic container with an easy to use and effective bite valve. It's bpa free too.  The "park hydro handset" is the nylon mesh carrying sleeve which comes with it.  The flask slots into the sleeve and then there is a wrap around velcro band to secure the whole contraption onto your hand.  It really is pretty comfortable and you don't actually have to grip it to hold it.  

Here's the zip pocket.
I did have some issues with it on race day.  Some of it may be just because i really hadn't tried it out and I'll need a bit more practice with it.  I couldn't quite figure out the best way to slot my fingers and thumb through the various holes.  It worked the way i was carrying it but i wonder if some other arrangement would work better.  There are a lot of options.  Plus I did end up switching this from my right to my left hand a few times during the race.  This flask carries 16 ounces and while the flask and carrier doesn't weight much by itself, water is heavy!  I tended to want to flip my hand over so I had the weight balanced a bit better. This is hard to describe but could also be just a matter of figuring out a better placement of my fingers.  

There is an unsecured pouch one side which would be good for a gel. I kept it empty because i didn't want any more weight.  There is also a large, secured zip pocket.  The literature says this could be for gels, cell phone, keys etc but again, for me, that would be too heavy.  I did put some electrolyte capsules into this pocket.  

The issue then becomes maneuvering the capsules (or gel if you had one in there) out of that zip pocket. I'm fairly ambidextrous but when i had the flask on my right hand, i could not easily get the zip pocket open.  While i was doing this, the flask fell out of the carrier while i was running.  Oy! By that time, I'd used more than half the water so yes it could easily fall out. I stopped and picked it up and then just carried both balled up in my hands.  This actually worked just fine.  Next time I might put some safety pins in there to secure the pouch.

I did also find it a bit difficult to grab water or gels from volunteers along the race if I had this in my right hand.  Most of the volunteers were on the right hand side so I'd grab with my left which was a bit awkward and something to be mindful about.  
The last issue? I think this happened because of falling.  I fell and landed with both hands on the ground and rolled over to one side (right shoulder is sore where i jarred it and i have a bruise on the outside of the other arm).  I had the flask on my right hand at the time.  After a couple miles i noticed I was getting chafing between my fingers. I think i knocked a ring i wear on my right with the flask carrier and yes did end up bleeding.  Now I wonder if with warm conditions and sweaty hands I could chafe more?  Not sure. Body glide between the fingers? 
Anyway, I really liked it as an option to carry water. I think the flask will travel well too while we are on vacation. It collapses to practically nothing and weighs little. 

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