Find out why you should avoid the Karrimor ‘X Duo Bottle Belt 00’ water bottle running belt/waistbag – and probably avoid Sports Direct in general – in this review.
One of my goals this year is to run a marathon. But instead of taking part in an organised one, I’ve decided to run the length of the River Itchen – about 30 miles.
Like my walk along the same route, this won’t be an organised event. So, with miles of rural running, one of the challenges of running this distance is how I can carry enough liquid to see me through.
Clearly, a hydration sack with a bladder is essential. But I’d also like to carry some sports drinks with me for the extra calories and hydration they provide.
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Karrimor “X Duo Bt Belt 00
There are some nifty running belts with water bottles you can buy from specialist running shops. First up though, I thought I’d see what the Karrimor “X Duo Bt Belt 00” (£12.99) from Sports Direct had to offer.
Sports Direct has been useful to me in the past for running basics like water bottles, running socks, high-vis vests and the like. That said, I’ve always felt a bit guilty about shopping there with its questionable working practices.
The good news then is I won’t be shopping there again.
Before I get onto that though, let’s start at the beginning.
On a whim
I decided to buy the Karrimor X Duo Bottle Belt 00 on a whim really.
I was at my parents’ for the weekend and had forgotten my running water bottle. So when I popped into the store to buy another to use for my weekend run I also took a chance on the X Duo Bottle Belt 00. As something I could wear around my waist, I thought it could work well with a hydration sack if I wanted to carry water and sport drinks on my runs.
If all went well, I might even be able to use it on my big run of the Itchen Way.
Well designed and comfortable
On first impressions, the X Duo Bottle Belt 00 ticked all the boxes.
It looks well designed and feels comfortable when you put it on.
There are two water bottles that hold 300ml of liquid each as well as a good-sized zipped pocket that’s useful for your phone, keys and even gloves, a hat, a small banana or a snack bar. There’s a pouch in the pocket to keep things out of each other’s way.
There’s also a pouch on the outside, although anything you put in there could fall out.
The bottles are shaped so they fit nicely on your hips and there’s a little string hook to keep them in place as you run. That said, the bottles felt secure in their pockets. So there’s probably no need for the hooks, which might get in the way when you reach for a drink if you do use them.
The caps on the bottles worried me though. On close inspection, they didn’t seem to be sealed meaning there was a chance some liquid could escape before you take a swig. However, I assumed the design would stop this happening. But you know what they say about assumptions…
All was well with the belt when I headed out on a 10-mile cross-country run. The belt was easy to tighten while running, which resulted in a good fit.
There was a bit of movement, but I got used to the sensation of the pouch and belt on the small of my back quickly.
However, as per my earlier inkling, the bouncing as I ran meant the bottles started leaking just a few minutes into my run.
This probably won’t have been too much of an issue if I had water in the bottles. But, like most people who go running for more than an hour or so, I had taken a sport drinks with me. This led to the unpleasant sensation of sticky legs for the duration of my run – uncomfortable on this winter’s day and possibly a bigger problem in the summer when there are flies and wasps about.
The issue wasn’t so bad when I’d emptied about half of each bottle. But, whether it’s a design fault or problem with this batch, the water bottles on the X Duo Bottle Belt are clearly not cut out for the job.
A pity because the belt performs well otherwise. It’s comfortable and I needed to tighten it only a few times over my 10-mile run. The pouch on the pocket also meant that it protected my phone from the elements while keeping in secure so it didn’t bounce around as I ran.
The only other downside is that the plastic on the bottles stained easily, which made me question how hygienic they are. My previously clear bottles were bright orange after just one use with a sports drink. Ugh.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – buy cheap and get cheap.
Fair point. But as I said, Sports Direct has served me well for running gear in the past. This time, I’d just have to return a product. No big deal.
A lesson in bad customer service
Unfortunately, this was a big deal for the manager in Sports Direct in Whiteley.
First she “tested” the product, which in this case meant dismissing my account of the true test of a 10-mile run with the product in favour of filling a bottle with water and giving it a good shake.
And despite it failing the test (there was now water all over the counter), she concluded the product wasn’t faulty because she’d squeezed the water out.
However, I don’t think she really believed in what she was saying. She seemed more worried about explaining the paltry refund to her superiors than retaining an up-until-now happy customer – a customer who has just given some great feedback about one of the company’s products that doesn’t do its job.
Fortunately, I’ve needed an excuse to stop shopping at Sports Direct for ages. And while they’ll hardly notice the loss of one customer, I’ll definitely be feeling better about myself for shopping at a retailer that doesn’t have a record of penalising its staff for taking long toilet breaks.
Info: If you’d like a water bottle that leaks down your legs when you go running, you can buy the Karrimor X Duo Bt Belt 00 on the Sports Direct website. Or you can just have mine, complete with orange staining on the bottles – I’ve no use for it.