Fuel Belt Helium Wearable Hydration
In 1997, Fuelbelt introduced the world’s first wearable hydration for endurance runners, propelling the brand to the forefront of the sport. 20 years later, hydration belts are must-have training and racing tools for serious athletes, but Fuelbelt is no longer the only choice runners have. With major sporting goods brands like Nike and Nathan Sports entering the market, Fuelbelt needed innovation to re-establish their leadership position. They needed a partner that specialized in human centered design, with proven success developing products for athletes. They chose BOLTGROUP.
In order to uncover opportunities to improve hydration products for runners, we went outside: designers and researchers attended triathlons, endurance trail runs, and marathon running events across the country to observe runner’s behavior and interview participants. One particular group of runners provided some of the most illuminating insights: runners who refused to wear hydration belts in the first place. They complained that the belts were too bulky and bouncy, interfering with their stride, and even worse: they made them look silly.
BOLTGROUP designers set out to rethink wearable hydration from the ground up. To reduce bounce and perceived weight, we developed an ergonomically curved water bottle and belt that hugs the body’s natural shape, positioned across the lumbar area of the back. We tested various bottle shapes, sizes, profiles, and orientations on the body to find the most comfortable, least bouncy design. The resulting Ergo Belt feels lighter and bounces less, with a more streamlined and aerodynamic look.
Our designers and engineers also developed a flexible new hydration belt platform that allows runners to scale up (or scale down) based on the hydration needs of the day. The Ultralight bottle’s innovative new clip system allows runners to leave the belt behind and carry just one bottle clipped over the waistband of their shorts, for quick training runs or minimalist excursions. For longer runs and races, two bottles can be clipped into the Ultralight Belt, with ultra low-profile clip receivers.
At the heart of the Ultralight's flexibility is a simple and intuitive hook + clip system. The bottle features a molded hook captured between the bottle and cap. This hook fits snugly over the waistband of a runner's shorts, allowing them to run with a single bottle, belt-free and hands-free. The same hook can also be clipped into the Helium Belt clip receivers for use as a 2-bottle hydration belt. The clip receivers on the Helium belt are slim and minimal, far less obtrusive and bulky than traditional bottle holsters.