Having trouble figuring out how many bottles/thermos to bring

allanl16allanl16 Miami, FloridaMember
edited May 2017 in Beginner Questions

First of all I'd like to thank everyone for being extremely helpful and replying to my previous posts. I've learned so much in preparation for my Key West 20k and I'm beyond grateful to have such a valuable resource. edit: forgot to thank loneswimmer's blog as well because that in combination with this forum has been a goldmine. Now for the questions!

  1. I'm sure this varies from person to person, but how many thermos/jugs/bottles/etc. should I bring? I'm mainly concerned about the sizes of each bottle as I have no idea whether I should bring gallon jugs or many little bottles such as these in a cooler.

  2. I am trying several options for nutrition but I think I'm going to go with Sportquest Carbo as it was recommended here in the forum and it seems to be identical to Maxim.

Lets say I go with that, the instructions on their website says "DURING: for each hour of activity MIX at least Two (2) scoops in 20 - 26 oz. of cold water and sip throughout activity". Should I pre-make 3-4 bottles and have my kayaker refill them with water + nutrition whenever they have a chance? Or should I bring 7-8 bottles ready to drink?

The race is Swim Around Key West 20k and its going to be very hot+salty. Thanks again!!!



  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    My personal opinion is that you really don't want your kayaker to deal with mixing things, that cannot end well.

    Ideally you'd have the feeds divided up into one feed bottles (e.g. if you were feeding every 30 minutes using your Carbo feed, you could use 12oz bottles with one scoop), this makes life really easy for the kayaker, they hand you a full bottle and then stash the empty away. Get a mesh bag for the bottles and some bungies and the kayaker should likely be able to deal with it.

    The main disadvantage with this sort of approach is having to buy a ton of small feed bottles (and transport them if you don't think you can pick them up locally). You should be able to find small kids drink bottles from Rubbermaid and others though relatively cheaply.

    If you really hate the large number of small bottles approach (or your kayaker has very limited storage space) you could use fewer multi-feed bottles, though that makes life more complicated (it is much easier to drink an entire bottle than judge drinking 1/2 or 1/3 of a bottle at a feed stop).

    Some other things:

    1. Do a long test swim using your planned feed and see how you feel about it. Straight maltodextrin has no real taste and you may want something to make it more palatable.

    2. plan for your swim to take longer than you think and have extra feeds. Maybe have one bottle feeds for the bulk of the swim and an emergency reserve large bottle in case you can't hold the pace you thought you could.


    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    @allanl16 - I've only done one attempt at a swim that warm, and I don't think I'd do that again personally, but I've been using Carbo-pro for a few years now, with great success.

    I use 32oz Rubbermaid Chug bottles for my feeds. In a 32 oz bottle, I use 4 scoops of carbo pro, and 1 packet of gu (I'm not terribly picky on brand or flavor as long as the flavor isn't chocolate or coffee related), this brings about 500 calories. Historically I have fed every 20 minutes or so, but at Chattanooga, I'm going to experiment feeding every 30 minutes. Kayaker keeps track of that time, resetting the watch when I give the bottle back to them. A 32 oz bottle lasts me roughly 2 hours, and I generally plan on averaging 2 mph (which is sometimes a bit optimistic), plus one extra bottle. (so, for a 25k, ~15.5mi, I'd plan 5 bottles, 4 bottles to get through 8 hours, + 1 bottle contingency)

    I mix the bottles before the swim. Usually I measure out the carbo-pro the night before, and add the gu and water the morning of the swim, and put the bottles in a soft sided cooler to keep on the kayak. This generally does a good enough job keeping my feeds cool. (When I did Kingdom Swim a couple years ago, the water was cool enough that I asked my wife to keep the active bottle on the deck of the kayak to warm the bottle up a little bit, for Key West, this likely won't be an issue for you).

    Especially in choppier water, I agree with David, asking your kayaker to mix anything sounds like a recipe for potential disaster.

    This feels like I rambled a bit, I hope I got at least somewhere close to a useful answer for you

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    To determine how many bottles you'll need, you need to know how much liquid you'll consume over 20K and what size bottles you'll have with you. That is different for everyone. For me, I consume 8 ounces of liquid every 30 minutes. I use 24 ounce bottles. That means I get three feeds out of every bottle. A 20k would take me roughly 6 hours. Feeding every 30 minutes means I need 12 feeds. 12 feeds / 3 feeds per bottle = 4 bottles. And I'd always take one extra, to be safe. And if it's hot, maybe some extra water.

    But, @timsroot is right- it's really hard for the kayaker to be mixing things for you during the swim, so you'll want everything ready to go for him/her. (And I do the same- put all the powder in my bottle the night before and just add water/flavor the next morning.)

    I've also had good luck with putting dry ice in a cooler to keep things really cold for the hot swims.

    But, you do need to know how much space the kayak has for storage. If it's not much, then a mesh bag with your bottles is the way to go.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I like these:
    They help keep your drink warm or cold, not like a thermos, but a bit better than a regular bottle. I prefer the squirty bike style bottles rather than chugging my drinks, if I slug down too much at once, it wants to come back up. Also, if you drop it, your stuff stays in and lake/sea water stays out.

    I mix about 16-20 oz. Gatorade, 2 scoops Carbo Pro, 1-2 nuun hydration and fill the rest of the way with water. I also get about 3 feeds (every 30 min) out of a 24 oz. bottle. Definitely premix everything. I add a Clif shot on the hour. We used these carabiners on the bottle leash: https://www.niteize.com/product/S-Biner-Stainless-Steel.asp The narrow shape makes it easy to thread a Clif Shot package onto it, because of the "litter leash".

    Practice feeding to determine how much you need, how often and how well you will tolerate your formula over time. If practicing in the pool, stop at the deep end and feed without holding onto the wall. If you can, practice feeding in rough water, it can be difficult to get your feed down while getting tossed around in the waves.

    Like Sarah says, bring extra. We lost a couple of Clif Shots in Saguaro Lake. Better to have too much than not enough.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNMember

    When I did Key West, we had a mix of different random bottles to keep me going. Test them before committing to them on the race. I found one kind that you really had to suck to get anything out of them (they were a type of baby bottle). Yes, pre-mix so you can keep moving. If your kayaker is ahead trying to mix, s/he's not navigating for you.

    Have a couple that are fridge temp, for the first few feeds, then the rest you can freeze overnight. They'll help to keep the other bottles cool and they'll melt over the course of the swim. In fact, your kayaker can bring out the next feeding as s/he puts away an empty bottle and they'll melt pretty quickly.

    I had a small, soft sided cooler that we carried on the airplane with all the empty bottles. For the bottles without something to hook a retrieval line on, I used Velcro wire bundle straps from Home Depot wrapped around the neck of the bottle, leaving a little loop to hook onto. It made the feeding process go very quickly for us both.

    Don't forget to bring plenty of sunscreen and water/drink of choice for your kayaker too. It's a long day for them as well.

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