I’ve just got back from a hot and hilly 10 mile run in which I tested out a new bit of kit called the “FitSip”. It’s basically a hydration system that you strap to your forearm, which can hold around 200ml of water or any other cold non-carbonated drink (note to manufacturers: the instructions didn’t specifically mention it, but will it work okay with absinthe?)
Originally intended as a wrist-borne sprinkler system for combatting tiny fires, it was invented in 1908 by Nigel Fitsip, and I just made that bit up. Sorry, I’ll be serious now, honest.
Hydration is big business, and we already have Camelbaks, hydration belts and a plethora of bottles, but the FitSip seeks to offer a hands-free solution to carrying fluid on shorter runs. It’s certainly an innovative idea, the sort of thing you could imagine being touted on Dragon’s Den, but is it any good? Let’s have a closer look…
The FitSip consists of a neoprene cover secured to a forearm (or possibly a slim calf, if you’re very bendy and a bit weird) by velcro. A BPA/phthalate-free bladder zips into the cover so that it sits on top of the forearm with the nozzle protruding out from the wrist. It’s a snug fit and feels a bit strange at first (when full, it’s a bit like a having a blood-pressure cuff on your forearm) but you soon get used to it. More importantly, it doesn’t slip or move around, even when sweaty.
Setting off on the run, I did feel a bit conscious of the extra weight on my right arm, but not to the extent that I had to run round in tiny little clockwise circles. The FitSip’s most obvious Achilles heel is the relatively small 220ml capacity. It might not seem a lot (because it isn’t) but I don’t normally bother carrying water unless it’s a particularly long training run, and even then I only tend to drink enough to replace what I’ve lost in sweat or to wash down a gel, so it suited me just fine. There’s a bit of a knack to using the FitSip, and at first I was only getting a faint trickle of water for what seemed like a lifetime of furious sucking. However, I soon worked out that the trick is to use a kind of bite-and-pull motion on the valve rather than chewing it like I had been doing. It also helps to lift the elbow high (preferably the arm that’s got the FitSip strapped to it). With minimal practice, I was getting a refreshing mouthful of Gatorade with one smooth economical motion, like a little juice ninja.
Quality build and design
Very easy to clean
Bite valve performs well
Holds plenty of fluid for a short-to-medium run
Looks a bit like an Omintrix.
Contents can get a bit warm
Would leave an odd tan line on a sunny day
I felt that the FitSip’s usefulness didn’t quite justify its relative size and conspicuousness. It’d be great if they could include some more features without adding too much bulk; maybe a small key/coin pocket and an absorbent strip to wipe your sweaty-but-hydrated brow with.
Less cumbersome than a hydration pack, and less hassle than carrying a bottle*. This piece of kit won’t appeal to everyone, but I can see it being a popular solution for a lot of people. Don’t be surprised to see FitSip’s popping up more and more at your local Parkrun over the summer.
* I read somewhere that the tightness caused by maintaining a grip while running can affect form and potentially result in long-term shoulder/neck/back problems. I wish I’d known this before I spent the entire duration of that half-marathon trying to open a pickle jar.
DISCLAIMER: Many thanks to Belinda Goldsmith and everyone else at Team FitSip for letting me try their product. I was sent a FitSip for the purpose of testing, but didn’t receive any payment or other incentive.