My Favorite Hand Bottle

I was packing my gear for a New Year’s morning 50k, and I felt like something was missing. I had the hydration pack loaded with water (I’ve got hundreds of tough trail marathon miles on a pair of REI Stoke 9 packs, and I highly recommend them, but it looks like REI quit making them) all set, but I felt like I wanted a hand bottle in case I wanted to grab something sweet and gooey to drink at the aid station. My wife had bought me a nice hand bottle a few months ago, but my hand ripped the grip wide open within 3 minutes of trying it on, so that went back to the store.

I was lamenting my failure to replace the thing, and throwing away an energy-gel box, when I noticed a solution right there in the garbage. (OK, the recycling.) The Coffee Mate bottle. Perfectly contoured. Plenty big. It just lacked a hand strap.

I recalled how, years ago, for the southern Illinois River to River relay, I’d fashioned a hand strap for the aluminum team baton. (We had a strict “no butt pipe” policy, as some teams just jammed the baton down the back of their sweaty running shorts and ran their legs that way.) I went to work, and in 5 minutes, had this minor masterpiece.

I wasn’t thinking in terms of step-by-step how-to, but you get the picture. You need the hand strap first. Make it by using a couple of layers of duck tape (I mean duck, not duct, as I prefer the etymological theory that the tape is named not for ducts, on which it is proven not to work, for its ability to shed water and/or the fact that it was made from a duck-weave fabric, but I digress). Use opposing layers of duck tape, sticky side to sticky side, to make your strap. Tape the bottom half down as shown, pretty simple. The top attachment is sort of reversed. It comes up to the top lip and loops down the bottle from there, and the ringed tape that holds it is sort of inside the hand.

I kept this on my pack empty until I needed it (10 miles in) at which point I filled it half full with Coke. In 5 minutes of running, I had flat Coke (which is what I wanted anyway) and I could drink it at my leisure. I tucked it back in my pack during a walking uphill, and finished up the race.

I got a lot of admiring comments from the trail-running crowd, and I’ll probably use this again, as it’s very light weight, and if I get sick of it during a long run or a race, I can toss it in a garbage can and be out exactly 5 cents worth of tape and garbage.

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