Best Hydration Pack for Runners in 2020 [Special Buyer’s Guide for Runners]

Why wear a backpack during runs when you can wear a hydration pack instead?

With a hydration pack, you will have easy access to drink water while running without even taking a break. Most hydrations packs and vests come with a built-in hydration bladder system and/or water bottles, with extra space for snacks, electronics and even a change of clothing.  You will be getting a lighter pack but still, have room for keeping your necessary items.

There are already so many different types and styles of hydration packs available on the market. Do you want a pack with a bladder or a pack with bottles? Is the pack for the short-run or for a marathon? Are you looking for a pack specific to women’s fit? Or do you want something for your smaller frame?

All these questions may seem overwhelming at first. But if you know what to look for then it’s just a matter of time till you find the one. Which pack to choose actually depends on your personal preference.

To save you from the dilemma, we have prepared the list of best hydration packs and vests. The reviews can help you narrow down the search and show in-depth descriptions of the models.  Also, the buying guide can provide insight into the requirements of the best hydration pack for running.

Top 8 Best Hydration Packs for Running

Nathan Sports VaporAiress & VaporAir 7L 2.0 Hydration Pack

Nathan Sports VaporAir Hydration Pack

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Efficient, versatile and highly durable, the Nathan Sports VaporAir 2.0 is quickly becoming the most sought after model currently on the market. The Nathan VaporAiress 2.0 is the women’s counterpart of the same model.

The pack comes equipped with a 2L bladder that is BPA free, easy to fill and access with a quick-release valve. The 7L storage space is lightweight enough for a run but still got enough capacity for plenty of pockets. The material is water-resistant with reflective hits for 360-degree visibility. The breathable mesh fabric wicks away sweat and provides airflow increasing comfort for your body.

The Nathan VaporAiress shares similar features to this model as well. However, if you are looking for another model for women’s hydration pack then look no further. The Vaporhowe Hydration Pack comes from Nathan Sports and specially customized for precise fit and endurance run. This women’s-specific, body-mapped runners’ vest is designed by ultrarunner Stephanie Howe.

Another high-quality model is Nathan QuickStart 4L Hydration Vest. If you are looking for a minimalist, low profile pack with high performance then this is a great option for you.

Do you want to know more about these packs? Then check Nathan Hydration Pack review.

Pros

  • Bounce Free and Balanced Weight
  • Easily Accessible Hydration Tube
  • Extra Storage Capacity
  • Contoured and Secure Fit
  • Lightweight and Breathable Material
  • Safety Features Available

Cons

  • Elastic Cords Too Long
  • Limited Color Options

Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set

Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set

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The Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set offers more personalization in both fit and function. The pack is capable of staying stable and form-fitting whether it is at full capacity or nearly empty.

True to its name, the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 keeps close and snug to your body like a second skin. The 3D Air Mesh fabric is breathable and fast-drying and the Sensifit technology eliminates any chafing or irritation. Because of the lightweight and comfortable nature of the pack, you will not even remember you are wearing it!

Along with comfort, function and capacity are also there. The pack is hydration bladder compatible and comes with two 500ml soft flasks. The multiple zippered stretch mesh pockets can take up to 12L of storage space. The extensive amounts of pockets are designed for easy access and safekeeping. Accessories like safety whistle, safety blankets, and reflective trims also included with the pack. To learn about more features, check out our full review of Salomon Advanced Skin 12 Set here.

If you are looking for another version, then why not check Salomon Advanced Skin 5 Set? You will get similar features in a smaller-capacity but much more. Read on the full review here.

Pros

  • Large Capacity and Durable Design
  • Unique Chest Strap System
  • Easy and Fast to Use
  • Multiple Colors and Sizes
  • Mobility with Comfort
  • Trekking Pole Carrying System

Cons

  • No Bladder Included
  • Soft Bottles

TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack

TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack

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As you can see in its name, the Teton Sports TrailRunner 2.0 is specially designed for off-road running. However, it is also lightweight and comfortable enough for cycling, hiking or any outdoor adventures.

One of the best budget options on our list, this pack comes with a BPA-free, 2L hydration bladder, kink-free sip tube and push-lock cushioned bite valve. The mouth is wide enough for putting ice inside and you can also clean it easily.

The comfortable mesh covered shoulder straps provide airflow and stability. You can adjust the straps to make it suitable for all frames whether for men, women or youth. The front deep pocket can store your small, valuable items. Moreover, you can even store a bike helmet or jacket with the bungee cord.

The Teton Sports Hydration Pack offers great built-in safety features. The integrated orange whistle, reflective trim for night safety and strap clips to secure extra straps – all are there to help lessen the security risk.

Pros

  • Durable and Functional Design
  • Safety Features Included
  • Breathable Mesh Back panel
  • Adjustable Size Fits All
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Great Value For Money

Cons

  • Limited Extra Storage
  • Plastic Taste from the Bladder Initially

Inov-8 Race Ultra Pro 2in1 Vest

Inov-8 Race Ultra Pro 2in1 Vest

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The Inov-8 Race Ultra Pro 2in1 Vest is suitable for short training runs, ultra marathons and multi-day adventure races – any trail or terrain. If you are looking for the best hydration pack for ultra running, then look no further.

The 2 in 1 vest can be used as a hydration pack with increased storage capacity. And by removing the detachable 10L pocket, you can use it as a minimal vest. It also comes with two 500mL Inov-8 Ultraflasks, a removable 2L hydration bladder and a Speedcup for cup-free races.

There are extra 8 pockets in the front and 2 large mesh pockets on the side. You can easily access and store valuable items on the water-resistant zipped pocket. The pocket for smartphones is spacious enough to stash bigger sized phones. The pack comes in two sizes, S/M and M/L.

The adjustable straps will give you comfort and keep the pack bounce free. The lightweight durable material and the 4-way stretch fabric help even weight distribution. The breathable mesh back panel will regulate your body temperature and improve airflow.

Pros

  • Versatile and Functional Design
  • Optimum Mobility and Comfort
  • Moisture Management
  • Easy Access Storage
  • Access on Move Pole Mounts
  • Fully Adaptable to the Wearer

Cons

  • Has Sizing Issue
  • Extra Accessories Not Included

Osprey Dyna 6

Osprey Dyna 6

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Among all the hydration packs Osprey has to offer, the Dyna 6 is definitely one of the best women’s hydration packs for trail running.

With its multiple pockets for food, water and extra layers of clothes, the pack is suitable for long-distance running. However, the pack is lightweight enough and can be stuffed without limiting the capacity of other pockets. This feature makes it great for short runs as well!

The Dyna series offers two sizes, XS/SM and SM/MD. This pack also comes with a built-in whistle, a Hydraulics LT 1.5L Reservoir with QuickConnect, and soft flask compatibility. The pockets have a stretch mesh with zippers and prevent irritation and rubbing. The adjustable sternum straps evenly distribute the weight and the magnet makes it easier to find the hydration nozzle.

Overall, the Osprey Dyna 6 is comfortable, durable and flexible enough as a great running companion. If you are looking for the men’s version of this model, check out the Osprey Duro 6 here.

Pros

  • Durable Material and Design
  • Versatile Multiple Pockets
  • Easy Gear Access
  • Stable Harness System
  • Trekking Pole Storage
  • Great Fit and Sizing

Cons

  • Slightly Heavier
  • Difficult to Clip Buckles

CamelBak Mil-Tac HydroBak Hydration Pack

CamelBak Mil-Tac HydroBak Hydration Pack

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One of the best CamelBak hydration pack, The CamelBak Mil-Tac HydroBak is popular for being ergonomic and versatile.

Even though specially designed for bikers, the pack is also ideal for runners and hikers as well. The 1.5-liter Crux reservoir offers quick and easy access to water without taking a break. The HydroGuard technology ensures BPA, BPS, and BPF free hydration bladder. The wide mouth opening of the reservoir is easy to clean, fill and add ice.

The external pockets keep your small essential items safe and close. And the reflective accents on the pack make you visible, making it suitable for outdoor activities. Because of the diamond mesh back panel and lightweight mesh harness, the HydroBak Pack provides excellent ventilation and comfort.

There are 2 more different models of camelback running packs, which are CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack and CamelBak Octane Dart Hydration Pack.

Among the features of CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack, it lets you increase your water consumption with the 2L Antidote reservoir. The Magnetic Tube Trap keeps the hose secure and delivers 20% more water per sip. The CamelBak Octane Dart Hydration Pack is unique for its minimalist design yet offering maximum comfort. Its ultralight material and functional use helped it dominate the industry alongside CamelBak Mil-Tac HydroBak Hydration Pack.

Pros

  • Highly Reflective for Visibility
  • External Fill Reservoir
  • Lightweight and Low Profile
  • Reflecting Heat to Keep Water Cool
  • Rear Reservoir Access Flap
  • Ideal for Light and Fast Jobs

Cons

  • Not Much Space
  • Rough Material

Mubasel Gear Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA Free Bladder

Mubasel Gear Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA Free Bladder

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Another budget-friendly option on our list, the Mubasel Gear Hydration Backpack has a lightweight and multipurpose design.

The padded shoulder straps make it very comfortable to wear and the padded mesh back offers extreme ventilation. You can easily adjust the chest straps the way you like and prevent bouncing.

This pack is the ultimate lightweight model. The whole pack including the bladder weighs only 0.7lb! Because of the petite size and weight of the pack, you will not even realize you are wearing any pack. The 2L hydration bladder is FDA approved and BPA free.

Not only small size, but you can also use the pack as a pillow for it can bear about 132lb of weight. With two zippered pockets, you can quickly access the large mesh pocket. The moth of the bladder is wide enough to put even ice cubes.

The high-quality SBS zippers, waterproof nylon, reflective straps, and pipe add even more value to the pack.

Pros

  • 100% Leakage Proof
  • Cool and Compact Aesthetics
  • Functional Storage Compartments
  • Lightweight and Affordable
  • Padded and Breathable Straps
  • Ideal for Outdoor Activity

Cons

  • Strap Too Tight for Large People
  • Small Storage Size

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Running Hydration Vest

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Running Hydration Vest

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If you want a pack for longer runs and need to bring more items than usual, then the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra is the answer for you. Designed by the world-renowned ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek, the SJ Ultra Vest is the ultimate pack for any occasion.

This vest boasts of the best volume-to-weight ratio of any hydration pack on the market, with its 11 oz. weight and 7L of storing space. It comes with two 20 oz. water bottles that can be easily accessed. You can also use the bottle holders as smartphone pouches. There is a zippered main compartment along with multiple pockets for valuable items. The additional accessories include two trekking pole loops, one ice axe loop, and an emergency whistle.

The pack is constructed with Cuben Fiber and Stretch Mesh making it stronger and durable while Silnylon adding seam strength. The hidden side adjustment straps and two sternum straps prevent bouncing. Moreover, you can get a customized fit perfect suited to your body.

The other models in this series are Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 and Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest 4.0.

Sharing some common features, these models are a more updated version of the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Running Hydration Vest.

Pros

  • 100% Leakage Proof
  • Cool and Compact Aesthetics
  • Functional Storage Compartments
  • Lightweight and Affordable
  • Padded and Breathable Straps
  • Ideal for Outdoor Activity

Cons

  • Strap Too Tight for Large People
  • Small Storage Size

Buying Guide

So, you have learned about the best packs currently available on the market. Now let’s look at the elements which actually make these the best hydration pack for running. You need to consider these factors before buying the pack if you want to make a smart purchase.

Capacity

Capacity is the most essential factor to consider while buying a hydration pack. As it depends on the amount and the way you can carry your load while running. Typically packs have two ways to carry water: in water bottles in the front of the vest or in a hydration bladder that is inside a pocket in the back. Which style you choose depends on your personal preference.

To help you decide which is best for you, you need to consider fluid and gear capacity both.

Fluid capacity

Generally, it refers to the amount of water or hydration beverage a pack can carry. The hydration capacity means the total amount of liquid a pack can hold including its carrying containers. It usually ranges from 20 ounces to 2 liters and is carried in bottles, flasks, or reservoirs.

How much water you need to carry depends on your intended use of the pack. If you are planning on a shorter run around the neighborhood, then a smaller size is enough as you’ll have access to water and refill. However, if you need one for trail running on the wilderness or practicing for marathon running, then opt for the larger fluid capacity.

Make sure the design of the hydration pack is well built and leak proof. Moreover, if the pack is also designed to keep water cool, then it’s an added perk. If you can’t make up your mind, go with the larger size. It’s always better to have extra water handy. When you don’t need the extra water, just don’t fill it all the way.

Gear capacity

Most packs offer plenty of space to keep commonly used items. It could be anything from food, electric gadgets, toiletries, accessories, an extra set of clothes, etc. It actually depends on you, the gear you prefer to bring on a run. The more you need to carry with you, the more space you’ll need in your hydration pack.

Normally capacity is described on the pack in liters. For one to two hours run, you’ll need about two liters of space. For runs lasting three to six hours, you’ll need a capacity between four to twelve liters. 5 liters is the average medium-sized pack. If the run lasts six hours or longer, then you’ll have to look for the largest capacity available there.

Just like with water capacity, determine the gear capacity according to your requirements. Sometimes, small capacity doesn’t mean worse quality. If the pack is efficiently and well designed and fulfills your needs, then it’ll be a way better option than larger packs. So, look for the one that specifically meets your choice and preference.

Pockets

The best solution is to have a pack with different pockets for multiple uses, at least one zippered smart space for storing small and valuable items and an easy to reach and access design.

However, for a running pack, if you get a heavy pack with multiple pockets with accessories, it’ll be more of a burden. Too much weight on your pack will definitely slow you down. Better to leave unnecessary supplies at home and just bring the basics.

Additional pockets come handy as the deciding factor when you are confused between two models. It is not an absolute requirement, but more of an added bonus of a great hydration pack.

Comfort

One of the key factors to consider is to check for comfort.

Running with a hydration pack for hours is already exhausting enough. And if your pack causes chafing, rubbing, or discomfort on top that, it’ll become a run from hell. It won’t be a surprise if you take a break from running after that. Bad experience with an uncomfortable pack can make you drop running altogether.

So, look for a pack that is comfortable to wear and fits properly. The pack should be tight enough to avoid awkward bouncing but not so much that you can’t breathe well. Look for stretchy, elastic, breathable, and fully-adjustable straps and materials. That way you can be sure of breathability along with even weight distribution on your body.

Also, packs hold heat closer to the body and cause overheating or extra sweating. In that case, you need a pack with good airflow circulation. So, consider a well-constructed pack with see-through mesh material for the shoulder straps and padded back panel.

Sizing & Fit

Along with comfort, the fit is also another important factor to consider. Fit is personal for everyone and will vary according to different preferences. The ideal fit will snugly hug your body without hindering arm movement or breathability.

Usually different sizes like small, medium, large, etc. are available with most hydration packs. You can also find models with one-size fit all. These different styles come with adjustable straps for the best fit. The one-size fit all packs tend to have more strap and adjustments to suit a wide range of body types.

You need to consider the pack which is not too big or not too small for your body. A bigger pack may bounce and sit ill-fitted while running, whereas a smaller pack may restrict your breathing and cause rubbing and chafing.

So, how to decide which size should you get? For that, it’s best to try on the hydration pack yourself. That way you’ll be able to determine how well the pack adjusts or contours to your body. In case you are unable to do that and actually shopping online, measure your body and follow the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines to get the right fit. It’s better to compare different choices before finally deciding on a model.

Our advice? Try on different models and feel the fit. Your body will let you know which one you should get.

Women’s Fit

Women’s fit usually refers to the hydration packs specially designed for women’s bodies. It’s certainly true that there are fewer women-specific models out there. However, you can still find many, with tons of variety in size and shape.

The women’s fit is mostly different from men’s models in the shoulder and chest straps. These are designed for a more petite build. Women’s hydration packs for running have more room in the bust and narrower shoulders while also being cut shorter overall.

Still, everyone has different body types and different comfort zones. So, it’s better to choose one accommodating your body.

Weight

When running with a hydration pack, you need to consider the factor of weight. As you will be carrying additional water, your pack needs to have a lightweight design. Along with comfort, you should be able to run freely for hours, without the weight of the pack slowing you down.

Moreover, the lighter the pack, the less strain you’ll be putting on your body.

The trick is to choose a lightweight hydration pack without sacrificing durability or functionality. People tend to have a misconception that lightweight = less durability. That used to be true to some extent. However, many companies nowadays make lightweight models without compromising quality.

Additional Features

Nowadays modern hydration packs offer more advanced and different models that come with smart features. However, all these extra features have the same goal – to provide more storage, ensure safety and comfort.

Packs made with reflective and high-visibility materials or having a reflective trim are easier to spot from far or on the night. Adjustable and compression straps will help you secure your pack. Built-in safety whistle will reduce security risk, whereas water-resistant material will make the pack durable and waterproof.

Different users want diverse features specialized to their needs. So decide what is more important for you to have in your hydration pack. Try to look for what are the additional features the pack is offering and whether it’ll be useful to you.

Final Verdict

So, are you ready to get your own hydration pack now? Rest assured you will not regret buying it. These packs can provide you the mobility and comfort while running as no other generic backpacks can. After reading on surely you have got a clear idea about what you need and prefer in a hydration pack. Even if you are still undecided, don’t worry. Keep looking and you will find the best hydration pack for running perfectly suited for you.

Have a happy run!

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