To all my new readers, and old, let me make this as clear as I can. I LOVE NEW STUFF. I not only love getting it, I love testing it, I love bearing it up and my favorite thing is to see how it compares to the other similar products.
So when I recieved my brand spankin' new Fuel Belt Helium belt last week, I was very excited. Ever since I began competing in endurance sports about 5 years ago, I have used a Fuel Belt and have always been impressed with the fit and durability of the products.
When I first heard about the Helium in December from Patrick McCrann of Performance Training Systems and Fuel Belt Training, I was excited and couldn't wait to get one of these new belts. Unfortunately I would have to wait several months until their release in May.
My first Fuel Belt dates back to the winter of 2002 with a product that was little more than a nylon strap with velcro up front. The bottles held 6 oz. of fluid and had flat backs. Although archaic by 2007's standards, it was a cutting edge product that made running long distance by oneself possible without a support crew or stopping to buy drinks at a store.
In January of this year, I was in desperate need of a new belt. My original belt was on the fritz due to countless miles on the road after 4 years. I really wanted to wait to get a Helium, but I knew the release was still a long way off. I travelled to my local running store and picked up the Endurance 4-bottle belt. Immediately I noticed the ergonomic design and the extra padding. Another great feature was the velcro pocket in the back that was the perfect fit for my iPod Mini, an energy gel and my keys. I immediately wondered how the new Helium belt's would be a step up...
Front View: Rear View:
Enter the Helium Collection. The belt is very similar to the Endurance design, but with some noticeable differences. First, the padding on the back and on the front part of the hips is greatly enhanced with small holes to allow better air flow. The bottles (like the Endurance) hold 8 oz. of fluid and are contoured to sit better around the waist. The pocket is removable and has a very smooth zipper and it holds 4-5 energy gels. Fuel Belt really paid attention to details.
Front View:Rear View:Inside View:
I tested it out on Saturday on a 5.5 mile run around the town I grew up in. I felt this was the ideal place because of the short steep uphills and bad road conditions. I found that it sat on the hips and around the waist without moving at all, even during the sprints up the hills at the end of the run. It also felt significantly more comfortable than even the Endurance belt, due to the increased padding. They removed the elastic bands that held the bottles in on previous belts which made it easier to return the bottles to the belt after having a drink.
The one thing I didn't love compared to the Endurance belt was the zipper pocket. I found the velcro one easier to get stuff out of and also the pocket in the rear was a better location than on the side. I do like the option the Helium has to remove the pocket altogether or add a second one to the other side (not included with belt purchase).
With a cost of $39.95 for a 2-bottle belt or $44.95 for a 4-bottle belt, the cost is incredibly reasonable, especially when you factor in the drinks you would purchase at a convenience store on a long, hot day. Comparing to previous Fuel Belts, this is a large step in the right direction.
T-Shirt Guy recommendation: If you don't have a Fuel Belt GET ONE. Of all my running and tri gear, this is right up there with my sneakers or my bike. If you already have an original one, REPLACE IT. You will be shocked by the difference. If you have a newer model (Endurance Belt or one similar), put this on your holiday gift list. You will love the new model even more than you old one.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 T-Shirts
For more reviews by the T-Shirt Guys click HERE.