Nathan SpeedMax Plus Handheld Flask Review

Review of the Nathan SpeedMax Plus Handheld Flask

I recently purchased the Nathan SpeedMax Plus Handheld Flask (after searching the internet to see what handheld ultra running stud Jim Walmsley uses like a total fanboy). I needed a way to carry a significant amount of water without adding significant heft like a vest or backpack would, and this handheld system sounded like it would be up to the task.

22oz of water is proving to be an ideal amount for my 10-20 mile runs. Nathan makes a smaller but similar model, the SpeedDraw Plus Flask, but that has 4oz less capacity. The SpeedMax is the highest capacity handheld they make, which makes it their best option as an alternative to bigger, heftier hydration solutions. For shorter distances I like to go hands free with the Running Buddy H20 Magnetic Water Bottle Pouch (which I reviewed here), but for anything more than 10 or so miles, the Nathan SpeedMax has been doing the job.

Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of the SpeedMax Plus.


  • 22oz capacity, enough for medium to long runs (depending on the individual).
  • The mouth of the bottle is large enough to easily add ice.
  • The shape of the bottle conforms to the hand comfortably.
  • It’s easy to put on and take off, with a small strap you can tighten for extra snugness and security.
  • It has a slot for your thumb for a comfortable, natural grip.
  • The design of the nozzle is clever. You can have it closed (pushed in) to prevent water from escaping, but even if you have it open it does a pretty good job of keeping water in due to its special “push-pull blast valve cap”.


  • Main pocket with zipper is just barely big enough to fit an iPhone 7 without a case. I have to take my case off before runs, a minor inconvenience but an inconvenience nonetheless. Would have loved for that pocket to be just a tad bigger.
  • The small tightening strap seems pretty flimsy. It’s held up so far but I can see it easily snapping in the future.
  • COLD HANDS. This is probably an issue for all non-insulated handhelds, but when I pack this thing with ice and water and head out for a run, my hand freezes and basically goes numb until it gets used to the cold surface of the bottle.
  • Slippery when wet. On extra hot, steamy days, sweaty palms makes squeezing the bottle a bit of a problem.


  • There is one main zipper pocket, but another smaller kangaroo-like pouch which is just big enough to fit a car key, but not really substantial enough for much fuel. A GU might fit in it, but nothing bigger than that.
  • While I do like the fancy nozzle / valve, it makes getting a heavy flow of water more difficult than normal. As long as you drink with your mouth on the bottle and suck the water out it’s not much of an issue, but trying to squirt water into your mouth or onto yourself isn’t as easy as other water bottles.

So there you have it, a solid option for a handheld especially for someone who wants a lot of water but doesn’t want to wear something on their back, chest, or waist.



How To Prevent Side Stitches While Running

2 step method for preventing a side stitch during a run.

Here’s a tip I discovered somewhat accidentally when trying to cure a recurring case of side stitches (or stomach cramps, side cramps, whatever you want to call them). It’s a two step process:

Step 1- On a normal run when you don’t get them, take note of your breathing pattern. Track how many steps you inhale vs how many steps you exhale. A common pattern is 2×2, meaning you inhale for 2 steps, and exhale for 2 steps. My pattern is 3×1. I found that I’m most comfortable inhaling for 3 steps, and exhaling hard for one. Your rate can change depending on your speed, but find out what your comfortable breathing pattern is and stick to it!

Step 2- If you feel a stitch coming on, adjust your breathing pattern to do the majority of your exhaling on your foot on the opposite side of the stitch. Not sure why this works, but it does. You might feel constantly on the brink of getting one, but sticking to your comfortable breathing pattern and exhaling on the correct step should stop it from becoming a full on stitch.

That should hopefully be enough to help you fend off a side stitch, but if you can’t seem to get rid of it you may need to take an extended break from the run you’re on, or even cut it short. Running through that pain is a grueling experience and stumbling along in agony is not going to make you a better runner.

I have a theory that getting a bad case of side stitches one day leaves you more susceptible to getting them again the next day, which is all the more reason why if you feel it coming on, stopping and choosing to live to run another day might be wise.

So there you have it, my two steps to preventing side stitches. If you have any tips drop me a comment and I’ll test them out next time the need arises (which hopefully won’t be for a long, long time).