Sometimes the simplest accessory is right before our eyes. Not being corporate sorts living in a world of ID badges, when we were shown this retractable tube clip by Ultimate Direction sometime last year, we thought, "Dang, what a great idea." A number of months later, while testing the UD clip, our eyes landed on a retractable badge holder being used by an executive at a company we were visiting. Wait, isn't that exactly the same thing?
Yes, it was. But that's not to diminish the use and practicality of the retractable clip as a way to stop fumbling with your hydration hose, especially when trying to move fast (e.g. running), when in a precarious position (climbing or scrambling), or when you need your hands elsewhere (biking). It's always accessible and it goes right back where you stow it after use without any extra effort.
Basically, this is a small spool with a clip on the end that has a plastic holder with a snap that fastens to your hose. Clip it to the waist belt of a fanny-style hydration pack or a strap of a backpack-style one, and then attach your hose. When you want to drink, pull the hose out, take a swig, then just let go and it snaps back into place. No fumbling around. Our testers used it trail running, mountain biking, road cycling and road running, and every single one said they would continue to use it.
One noted that the cord â€“ extendable to 21 inches -- could be short-lived since it's a thick thread and may get gummed up with mud or dirt, or tear, but all clips in the field had still held up after a few months. Another noted that after a half-dozen uses on trail runs there was already a hint of rust on the clip, but function still hadn't been impaired.
One tricky aspect is finding the right place for you to hook it. One tester found that if too high, it would start jostling and bouncing annoyingly since it was of course on a retractable cord. But a different position or simply grabbing it to stop the bounce settled things quickly.
One possible use we didn't try was actually attaching a reservoir with the retractable clip to a piece of fitness equipment so you can take a drink from the hose while working out, then just let go rather than have to try to return a bottle to its holder. Another possible use could also be while paddling to get a quick drink that won't occupy your hands for long periods.
But do you want to pay $10 for a clip like this? A couple of our testers said, "No." Bought in traditional office supply stores, one retractable ID holder can run about $10 to $14, but bought in bulk, for example in 5-10 packs, they can drop as low as $2 to $3 each. "Borrow" one from your company and the cost boils down to your guilt, we guess.
SNEWSÂ® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $10
For more information:www.ultimatedirection.com (accessories) or 1-800-426-7229