By athlete ambassador, Peter Glassford
As athletes we often get routinized, and even superstitious, about the equipment and practices we use in our training and racing. The use of a carbohydrate mix (HEED) in bottles or Hammer gel packs is one common area that athletes have trouble adjusting to their personal needs and to address different race and training situations. The Gel Flask is an often forgotten solution that I believe holds a performance advantages for many athletes.
Beyond cost and environmental benefits the Hammer gel flask holds 5+ servings and provides measurement lines so you know how much you have put in. I see the flask as a way to eliminate several annoyances and tripping points.
- Gel separates fueling from hydration so you can customize your consumption based on heat and duration. Using drink mix holds you to drinking whole bottles to get your desired calorie intake even if you do not need/want to drink more water.
- The flask is easy to grab compared to having multiple gels or fueling pockets in your pockets. Instead of trying to grab a single gel you need only grab the flask from your pocket.
- Once you have flask in hand the consumption is identical to a water bottle in terms of opening the flask-nipple, this is much easier than tearing gel-packs open and does not require you to try and save the little gel-pack-tops or gel-packs to avoid littering.
- Knowing the measured amount of gel in the flask helps you fuel precisely and track how different fueling affects your performance. No more wondering how much fuel was left in a bottle or disposable gel pack.
- Did I mention that the gel flask/bottle is a cheaper option?
Finally, a secret usage tip I use eliminates the most common barrier to using a flask. Athletes often find the gel, especially towards the bottom of the flask, is hard to get out. Hammer Gel is made to be thinner than other gels so it does flow relatively quickly but I am pretty picky with my fueling efficiency. I have found that since I use 4-5 servings in a normal XC race (~90min) I can speed my fueling by topping my flask off with warm water and giving it a good shake to dilute the gel slightly more. This extra bit of warmth and water makes the gel very easy to get out of the flask and I don’t spend any extra time fueling but get the fuel I need over the course of the race by consuming ~1/4 every 15-20min.