It was probably by accident that I became a Ultimate Direction (UD) fan, having seen pictures of folks running with handheld bottles in Trail Runner and UltraRunning magazine and the like they happened to be the brand that was on the shelf when I went shopping for handheld bottles and so I bought them. That was three or so years ago and although I have bought more, the originals are still going strong.
It seems best to break the review down into three sections; the bottle, the sleeve and the Kicker valve.
The Bottle, off the shelf the handheld comes with 20oz (0.6L) bottle. Made from a BPA-free plastic the bottle is made with FDA approved Polyethylene, that is “soft and squeezable, odorless and tasteless”, this I can vouch for. It’s definitely squeezable, this is important as it is fundamentally how you get the liquid in your mouth, its push rather than pull. You can also super size this and replace the 20oz bottle with a 26oz bottle, it might not a huge amount more but when you’re carrying two bottles this is another 12oz and that can make a big difference on a hot day. The downside is the extra weight, 20oz with sleeve is 24oz and the 26oz with sleeve is 30oz that’s nearly 2lbs per hand…ultimately (excuse the pun) it’s a trade off. Onto…
The Sleeve, constructed from Neoprene the sleeve focuses on it’s job; keeping you drink cold and not your hand. It wraps the bulk of the bottle and provides the base of the zipped storage pouch. The pouch is zipped and is large enough for a couple of gels or your keys or a multitude of other things. On the other side is the hand loop. Made of the same neoprene it comes with a cinchable strap that allows you to pull it tight and create the perfect fit Lastly…
The Kicker valve, unique to UD the Kicker valve is an effective delivery method, with a “X” shape opening you bite it to open it and squeeze to drink. Being made of soft rubber you avoid the rough or sharp edges you can find on your usual cycling bottle . The valve is easily closed by flicking or knocking it closed. It’s a simple as that. Made from FDA/NSF approved, medical-grade silicone the mouthpiece is like the bottle and is BPA-free. The valve lid also sports a big ‘ole hook, useful for clipping onto things.
As mentioned I am a fan of the FastDraw Extreme, it’s simple, effective and easy. The valve is easy on the mouth and it allows you to sip or slurp depending on your thirst. Personally I have carried a UD bottle from anything from a 10 to 50 miler without issue.
The are some considerations if you decide to use hand bottles:
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As mentioned under Pro’s these are a cheap a Google shopping search locates them for $18-22.00 and available in several colors, black, red, orange and pink. Replacement bottles are available in both sizes as is the actual kicker valve in case you need a spare. WRC carries them and “quad10” at the checkout will get you 10% off. Overall if you’re undecided handhelds could be a cheap and fast way to get started this summer.
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