I'm no stranger to handhelds. I've tried a few over the last couple years. And I haven't really liked any of them. I've been disappointed to say the least.
The first one I tried was the black Zoot on the right. The strap pinched my hands where it tightened and it wasn't comfortable holding on runs. Then I made my own handmade one (the little black neoprene guy sitting in the front) and it works pretty good, but it's only 8oz so it doesn't come in handy for long stuff. Then I tried the pink Nathan one. I liked it at first, but the elastic is starting to stretch out and it's not holding its shape like it used to. Plus, again, it's not super comfortable where the strap tightens, and it's not comfortable to hold the round bottle with my miniscule hands and their pathetic grip-strength.
I finally broke down and bought the Amphipod 20oz. I tested it out at the store (walked around with it for about 10 minutes trying to see if it would fit my rather small hands). I really liked how it felt in my hands. The bottle isn't round, it's more oval I liked and it enough to want to give it a try.
The good: it's really pretty comfortable to run with. My hands are small and I don't have a very strong grip, but I can run with it for about 10 miles and not feel any discomfort in my hands. I haven't run with it longer than 10 so I don't know how it will hold up in a marathon or in an ultra. I also REALLY like the neoprene sleeve. I can see that being nice in the summer and winter, but more importantly, I like that I don't have to grip the slippery plastic. The neoprene gives my hand something soft and grippy to grab ahold of. It means my hand can just kinda sit on the bottle comfortably without slipping around. I also really like the shape of the bottle. It conforms to your hand, and even tho my hand doesn't come close to going all the way around, it feels like I have a good grip on it even when I'm not really trying. The strap that tightens is also very comfy. It doesn't dig into my hand and I hardly even notice that it's there.
The bad: the pocket is terrible. But to be fair, I think all handheld pockets are terrible. It can hold 2 gels. Or my car key and some pumpkin seeds (a lot of pumpkin seeds), but that's about it. It's pretty useless, but at least it can hold my key which is mostly all I need it to do. I also don't care for how big around it is, but like I said- I have tiny little hands and I don't know that there is a bottle shaped good enough to conform to my hand.
As you can see- the bad list is a lot shorter than the good list. That means I like it A LOT more than I dislike it. I haven't been able to say that about any of the other handhelds I've tried.
So far I've really enjoyed running with it. I ditched handhelds and went to just a hydration pack this summer, but now that winter is here, I don't really need to carry a giant bladder on my back. And soon the temps will (hopefully) start dropping and I really don't want a sweaty back that will freeze up on runs with the hydration pack on. I may wind up getting another Amphipod handheld for the winter for when I do really long stuff. I give this handheld 2 thumbs up.
The Amphi and I on our inagural run together. Love at first run!
Just so you know, I was not paid to do this review, nor was I given the product free to try out. I bought it, I liked it, so I reviewed it. My review is totally unbiased.