Thursday, June 02, 2011

Gel-Bot - My Latest Trail Running Product Obsession

Have you guys seen the Gel-Bot? It's a water bottle that also holds a couple of gels in an internal mini-chamber. Open the valve and squeeze to get water, close the valve and squeeze to get gel. Frickin' genius if you ask me.

Apparently the Gel-Bot has been on the market for a few years now. created by the folks at Hydrapak. I'm seriously late to the game here, but have really been enjoying the simplicity of this invention over the last few weeks. It's fascinating to me how easy access to gels and water gives you a variety of ways to gulp it down - you can sip the gel and chase it with water for a continuous stream of energy, go for a big slug every 10 minutes (my usual), or match the gel packet equivalent of a super-big pull every 20-30 minutes. Best of all, you don't have to commit to any one of these delivery methods - just try them all out!

Extra bonus points for (a) not having to carry gels in your pocket, (b) no sticky gel packets to deal with, and (c) simple dissassembly for easy cleaning. I do miss out on having lots of gel flavors, but I think it's worth the trade off.

I have my Gel Bot rigged in an Ultimate Direction FastDraw bottle holder with a Salt Stick capsule dispenser to hold my S-Caps, so it's got everything I need (learned that trick from Will Gotthardt). Since the pocket of the FastDraw doesn't have to be jammed with gels, I can easily carry another snack, some toilet paper, ginger (or other semi-emergency items), and a little bit o' sunscreen. This makes the exchange with your crew easy too, since you can hand one bottle off and have them give you a second that is fully loaded. You get the NASCAR pit stop, and the crew can look at your old bottle to see how well you are doing (ginger and TP are gone...uh, oh!).

Ah, the ever-evolving trail running toys. Got other suggestions? Let me know! And thanks to Hydrapak for getting a great product to market.

- SD


  1. I also like my Gel Bot. I'd rather take a few small slurps of gel, than one big slug. I was surprised at how quickly I could take in the gels this way, versus by packet, and (maybe because I took water with each slurp) no stomach upset. Two thumbs up!

  2. Glad you mentioned crewing, too. I crewed for Brett Rivers when he was using Gel Bots and have seen other crews/runners using them, and it really does make things simple for the crew.

    - Sarah

  3. I train for triathlons and think this will be so cool to use on the race. Thanks for posting!!

  4. Have the SaltStick dispensers lasted for you? I used them for a while, but after the second one broke, I gave up on them. These days I have a couple of those old rubbery coin purses (bought from and imprinted with the Dreamchasers logo -- thanks Lisa and Jay!) that I swap with my crew. Each one holds about 8 SaltStick capsules without being too jammed. Since I run with a hydration pack that has a convenient pocket to hold that, it works great for me. The only downside is that the capsules rattle a bit inside.

    The Gel Bot might be tempting if I ate gels more often. Except for long legs I mostly just eat aid station food (just water in the pack too). Maybe that means the Vespa really is working for me (nice seeing you last night a ZR, by the way).

  5. Dude, I told you about these, when you passed me and I was laying on the side of the trail at WS100 in 2009. Though we were both walking Zombies. It was so nice to not have to move my arms in order to slurped down gel and water while I wiggled around on the ground. :)

  6. How awesome! Need to source out something similar in Australia. I usually carry a water bottle and a small liquid gel sachet in my bumbag when I run, but this is much more convinient. Thanks for sharing.

    *I am a terrible speller*

  7. I saw a video yesterday about little packets of coffee you can put in the side of your mouth. The company is selling to baseball players, instead of chewing tobacco, but thought it might be a nice pick me up on the trail. I use shot blocks for that now, but they don't sit that well, and I wind up chewing them instead.
    I ordered some to try out. Not sure if they will work.

  8. Guys I have been using a product called 'Quick Energy' over the last couple of months and it has really helped my training!

    It's an energy shot which only has 5 calories and no sugar which means there is no insulin spike and no crash later in the day after taking it. I believe the main source of energy comes from the Amino Acids and B-Vitamins found in the drink.

    I've seen them in places like Holland and Barrett, petrol stations and waistrose. Seriously they are really effective and perfect to take before training or before a race! I highly recommend it!

  9. Mweston - The SaltStick dispensers have lasted me a while, but I do have a problem with getting water in them and having the salt capsules turn into a mushy salty mess. A little tougher to get it down, but still works!

    JB - Sorry I missed the tip! I had enough trouble remembering my own name on that race. ;-) BTW, congrats again on the awesome WS100 movie trailer. It's gonna be great!

  10. Dulap- i, too, have issues with the salt stick.. a lil water (or drool!) and it turns to mush. Back to the ole crusty baggy with aleve and s-cpas! This Gel Bot looks like a nice solution

  11. Love everything about Hydrapak. Their systems are so easy to use. Sweet!

  12. Scott:

    So great to meet you yesterday at Escape from Alcatraz! Congrats on another terrific race.

    May the rest of your race season be as spectacular as our scenery and conditions yesterday!

    Shannon Warburg


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