Keeping your water cool on your run can help you run longer by allowing you to stay better hydrated. With handheld bottles there are two insulated options: an insulated bottle and a regular bottle with an insulated sleeve around it. To find out which is better, we compared two different brands and models, the Nathan SpeedShot Plus Insulated Handheld 12oz and the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Thermal-Lite 12oz. We were looking specifically for comfort, drinkability, and most importantly, insulation.
Both bottles held 12oz of water, yet the Nathan bottle felt lighter in hand. The weight distribution was excellent, and the strap never came loose during a two hour run. The downside to this bottle was that when I began to sweat the bottle felt clammy, whereas the insulated sleeve of the Amphipod bottle kept my palm more comfortable. For me, the ease of holding the Nathan outweighed the clamminess issue; however, for those who sweat a bit more this may not be the case.
Both Nathan and Amphipod offer different nozzle/cap configurations on their handheld bottles. Amphipod uses a traditional push/pull cap for the Hydraform Thermal-Lite. Nathan uses their Blast Valve technology, which offers a push/pull style, but also has a built-in one-way valve so you can leave the cap open and the valve won’t leak. Personally, I don’t have a problem with opening the cap when I need to drink, but I still preferred the softer bite valve of the Nathan cap (note: Amphipod does offer replacement caps with a similar Jett Cap design and they also have a Jett-Lite version that comes with the Jett Cap).
And finally, the ultimate test was to compare the insulation capabilities of the bottles themselves. For this test, I filled both bottles with ice water and hit the trail for a 2 hour run. During the run I didn’t drink from the bottles, but at the end I tested the water to see which was kept cooler. After a 2 hour run in 82°F, neither water was particularly cold, but the insulation had kept the water from heating up too much. Though, the Nathan bottle kept the water slightly cooler than the Amphipod bottle.
Our conclusion: if you want a bottle that will keep your hand dry as you run in the heat, you will likely prefer the Amphipod Thermal-Lite bottle with its neoprene sleeve. Based on weight, overall comfort, and insulation, however, we preferred the Nathan Speedshot Plus Insulated bottle.