I occasionally come across good products. It’s less common to come across truly great products. The Hydrapak Gel-Bot is one such product.
This product solves an age-old problem- how do you consume gels easily while on the run? Over the years, I developed this process:
- Keep gel in pockets. When needed, pull one out. This invariably caused my gait to change and pulled my attention from the trail. It resulted in a few falls.
- Shake packet to drive gel to the bottom of the packet.
- Tear top off with my teeth. If I couldn’t get it off, I would have to free up both hands by placing my water bottle under my armpit.
- Pick the top of the packet out of my teeth and place it in my pocket (I have an aversion to the d-bags that just leave them on the trail).
- Squeeze the gel into my mouth. If I can’t get it all in one gulp, I would have to carry the open packet for a few minutes. Invariably, I would accidentally squeeze it and get sticky Gu all over my hand.
- Once I finished the packet, I would stuff it in my pocket. This usually resulted in a very sticky, crusty pocket by the end of the run.
- Finally, I would take a drink from my water bottle to wash the Gu down.
It was a bit of a hassle. Okay, it was a pain in the ass.
I did experiment with dedicated gel bottles, but that required a separate holder, which meant more crap to strap to my waist.
Then I came across the Gel-Bot. This product gets my vote for product of the year.
It is a water bottle with a built-in gel dispenser. If you pull out the valve, it functions like a water bottle. When the valve is pushed in, you suck on the valve while squeezing the bottle. A syringe-like plunger coupled with the suction forces the gel out the valve.
There is no mess, the gel is easily dispensed without having to break stride, and the entire contraption is as easy to carry as a regular water bottle.
On long runs, this eliminates the need to carry Gu packets in my pocket or deal with the messy stickiness of used packets.
In races, it will allow me to save time and effort by avoiding the seven-part method I used to utilize. My crew will be able to easily fill the bottles between aid stations. It will also save time by limiting my stops. I don’t have to mess with replenishing the Gu supply in my pockets.
The gel dispenser holds about 2.5 packets of Gu, and the water bottle holds about 16 ounces of water with a full load of gel. They make a larger version, which I plan to use this June when running Western States.
I am a little surprised I have never heard about this product before stumbling upon it a few weeks ago. If I were Hydrapak, I would aggressively promote this product to runners… it is a perfect solution to the problem of consuming gels on the run.
This product is perfect if:
- You like using handhelds,
- You use gels for energy,
- You hate the mess and inconvenience of gel packets.
You can purchase the Gel-bot from Amazon (and help out BRU in the process):
There is one down-side… the bottle was apparently designed for bikers (or whatever we call our two-wheeled friends). As such, it does not come with any sort of hand strap. I used one from another water bottle and it worked perfectly. HOWEVER, it has been rumored that Hydrapak is making a version that is designed to be carried in the hand. I am planning to review it as soon as it is released.
In the near future, I will be posting a video of the Gel-Bot in action. Stay tuned…
This product receives my official seal of approval… this should be your first choice in handhelds if you use gels.
Disclosure- this product was provided by the manufacturer.