Tested: Nuun Active Hydration

A 50¢ item that'll greatly improve your post-ride experience

I know, it doesn't look impressive, does it? But looks are deceptive--this Nuun stuff is a life saver.
I know, it doesn’t look impressive, does it? But looks are deceptive–this Nuun stuff is a life saver.

Nuun Active Hydration Tabs | $6 per 12-serving pack | NUUN.COM

I can practically see the eye rolls from here: Electrolyte tablets? Lame!

I hear you. A couple years ago I'd have been singing the same tune. Electrolytes were just some foreign thing skinnier riders on even skinnier hardtails worried about. Like VO2 max, lactate thresholds and peak training—I really couldn't be arsed with crap like that. I ride bikes to have fun. Squashing my enemies beneath a 1.9-inch semi-slick tire has never been my driving motivation for hopping on a bike. I figured electrolytes were just something else lame to talk about for guys who got bored of bragging about their Microsoft Excel skills.

Yeah, so I was wrong.

I also used to feel like a sack of crap after long rides—just absolutely knackered, despite drinking and eating enough out on the trail. Then I started taking Nuun's electrolyte replacement tabs. At the risk of sounding like some kind of cheesy, infomercial pitch-man, it's hard to believe what a few extra milligrams of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium can make, but, dang, the stuff is nigh magical. I get home from a ride, drop a tablet in a tallboy and an hour later, I feel remarkably…human again.

No mixing, no powder to spill and mank up your hydration pack. Simple to use. Effective. And, to my surprise, pretty tasty--even when you've hit the wall and your stomach normally wouldn't be real happy about partying down with some kind of drink mix.
No mixing, no powder to spill and mank up your hydration pack. Simple to use. Effective. And, to my surprise, pretty tasty–even when you’ve hit the wall and your stomach normally wouldn’t be real happy about partying down with some kind of drink mix.

This stuff is also a big asset on long rides—anytime I'm going to be out for more than two hours, I drop a tab in my hydration pack's bladder. There's no powder to stir or get lumpy and disgusting. The Nuun tablets take care of themselves.

If you do start spiking your on-the-bike water source, you're definitely going to want to flush that bladder when you're done with your ride. I neglected to do that once and, after leaving my hydration pack in the back of hot car for a week, discovered that I'd somehow brewed a strawberry Lambic in my CamelBak…which was both disgusting and oddly intriguing. So, as with all additives, you'll want to clean out that bladder at ride's end.

How does this Nuun stuff actually taste? While artificial sweeteners normally make me feel like yakking up my lunch, the scary-sounding acesulfame potassium in Nuun tablets is surprisingly mild and easy on the stomach—even during long, hot rides. I've been guzzling this stuff constantly for a couple years now and haven't grown a fifth testicle (a fear of mine with anything that contains ingredients with names like "acesulfame"), so there's that too.

Finally, at about fifty cents for a 16-ounce serving, Nuun is easy on my pocketbook. Bonus.