10 Best Running Hydration Vests Reviewed of 2019
With the increasing popularity of running vests, it can be difficult to narrow down the best of the best—which is why we’ve taken the time to research and review the top 10 best options out there as well as provide you with a detailed review of each of our picks.
The best running vests should be comfortable, fit securely, and ensure that you stay well hydrated no matter where or when you decide to run. If you’re tired of holding onto your water bottle and desperate to be hands-free, then you’re definitely in the right place.
Check out our top picks!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research
Holds 2 Liters of water
Made for women
Won’t bounce or move around
Contour and comfortable fit
Several storage pockets
Several colors to choose from
Offers reflective features
Our Favorite Running Hydration Vests
1. Nathan VaporAiress
Holds 2 Liters of water
Made for women
Won’t bounce or move around
Contour and comfortable fit
Several storage pockets
Several colors to choose from
Offers reflective features
A little pricey for some budgets
The Nathan VaporAiress is my personal favorite and one of the highest recommended running hydration vests currently available on the market. Lightweight and comfortable, this vest offers a ton of features, looks great, and is really comfortable—what’s not to love?!Read more
As far as comfort goes, this is one is incredibly comfortable, lightweight, and is incredibly breathable. It is specifically made for the ladies, so if you want a running hydration vest that offers a secure and comfortable fit, this may be the perfect fit for you. The breathable mesh ensures you stay cool and dry and the vests itself contours to your body for optimal comfort.
When we took a look at protection we considered how secure the storage pockets on the vests are and how spill-resistant the running vest is. This vest offers lifters on the shoulders to ensure your vest doesn’t bounce or move around while you run, which prevents any discomfort and protects you from chafing and blisters. The valve is secure and spill-proof, so you don’t have to worry about it spilling all over you while you run.
If you want a running vest that contours to your body and allow a full range of motion while you run, then this is it. Seriously though, this vest is so flexible and comfortable that you won’t even remember you are wearing it!
This Nathan running vest has a bladder that can hold 2 liters of water, so it will keep you well hydrated while you run. It is perfect for long-distance and you can even use on your favorite hikes or trails. The weight is distributed evenly as well, so you don’t have to worry about the vest weighing you down when it is full. The quick-release valve is also really convenient and dispels the water smoothly and easily, so you never have to stop to get a drink.
Made of high quality and durable material, this vest features a really durable construction that will ensure it holds up. The bladder and valve are incredibly durable and the pockets are well constructed and securely hold your belongings.
2. Arc'teryx Norvan 7
Many additional features for intensive trail training
2L water storage
Adjustable straps and zippers for a customized fit
Safety whistle included
Not necessary for beginners
This synthetic hydration vest is designed to keep you cool and hydrated on long trail runs. It is 3" high and 16" wide. This vest is ideal for trail runners to focus on full ranges of motion and managing moisture.Read more
This vest is designed to maximize comfort during a wide range of movements on the trail. It has a precision fit to increase stability during movement and fits very close to the body and chest. The support comes from dual sternum straps and side tension straps to provide a personalized fit.
This product also features an emergency whistle on the shoulder, 3 back mesh pockets, 2 pole carrying pockets, a weather-resistant storage bag, 3 adjustable zippers, and 4 front mesh pockets for storage.
This pack weighs about 2 lbs, plus the weight of the water. This vest has the capacity to store 2L of water
This vest tends to be on the more expensive end of the product list, but definitely a good investment for intensive trail runners.
If you want a hydration vest that is built to last, then you will love this one. It is made of high-quality and durable materials that make this vest one that you can depend on for the long haul.
3. Ultimate Direction AK 3.0
Weight is only 330 grams
Comes with two 20 oz water bottles
Storage system designed for climbing and rappeling gear.
Two pockets for electrolytes or valuables
Only one color available
This pack was designed and is fully endorsed by Anton Krupicka, an American ultra-runner with quite a few notable achievements to his name, so you can be sure this vest has been battle-tested and every detail has been thought out.Read more
The Ultimate Direction vest is the only vest on our list designed to comfortably carry climbing gear while trail running.
At 330 grams (11.6 oz) without bottles, this vest is a bit bigger than the previous versions. but still very lightweight.
While not as cheap as some of its rivals on our list, the Ultimate Direction 3.0 is still good value given its versatility.
The pack offers a storage capacity of 702 cubic inches, or 11.5 liters, and comes with a relatively spacious compartment specifically intended for climbing rope.
Highly durable and personalized, it’s hard to go wrong with the AK 3.0. Now with added design features for carrying climbing gear on your most intense adventures.
4. CamelBak Nano
Lots of storage space
Sizing runs small
Here we have another great lightweight, breathable, and comfortable running hydration vest for you to choose from. If you want a versatile option for you to use on your runs, hikes, and all of your outdoor adventures, then this is the way to go.Read more
When we took a look at the overall comfort offered by this vest, you will love how breathable it is thanks to the 3D vented breathable mesh. It offers excellent airflow and ventilation and offers additional cushioning for more comfort. This vest also features an adjustable fit that you can secure with the 2 straps in the front, It offers a secure fit that will ensure it doesn’t bounce around.
If you are an ultra runner or trail runner, you will love the protection this running vest has to offer without sacrificing any minimalistic features. The material it is made of will help prevent chafing, blisters, and hotspots from forming—so you don’t have to worry about any discomfort.
As far as flexibility goes, this running vest will allow for a full range of motion so you can comfortably run as far as you want. The vest comes with 2 flexible water flasks that are also really flexible and easy to drink from even while you run. They won’t leak either, so you won’t have to worry about your vest getting all wet.
If you want to make sure you stay hydrated without getting weighed down, you will love the two 500ml flasks this vest comes with. It also has a spot for you to store your trekking pole if you decide to hike with this vest. It has several storage pockets as well, so you can bring all of your belongings with you and store them securely while you run.
This is one of the most durable options out there. It is constructed to last you the long haul and is perfect for anyone looking for a hydration vest that is built to last.
5. Nathan Vapor Air
No Chafe binding
Some consumer claim of leaky valve
This is one of Nathan’s key products when it comes to running vests. Everything you need from a vest comes in spades with the Vapor Air. Give it a try today and see the difference!Read more
The Nathan Vapor fits great once you have it set up properly. There are plenty of straps involved so there may be a bit more trial and error, but it's a great option if you like to tailor the fit of your vest and you prefer a bladder to water bottles.
This pack is extremely light at only 397 grams (14 oz) - and that includes the bladder.
The Nathan Vapor Air can be a touch expensive, depending on the version you choose. But the bag's many features and advantages mean it is worth every cent.
Including the 2-liter bladder, the vest has a total volume of 7 liters, meaning it has a serious capacity for such a lightweight item.
They’ve engineered a high-performance vest and reduced the weight as much as possible without compromising functionality or durability.
6. Inov-8 Race Ultra 10
weather resistant pocket on rear
Large mesh pockets
Black color will absorb heat
This award-winning vest was made for speed, so be careful before you strap it on! This vest hugs your back comfortably and is extremely stable, designed to provide zero bounce. When you're several miles into your run, this lack of bouncing could be crucial.Read more
The Inov8's strap design is not well suited for female runners. Despite the number of straps, however, it is relatively simple to set up and much less likely to tangle than other vests.
The Inov8 Ultra 10 sits in the middle of the pack for weight on our list. At 260 grams (9 oz) it is still quite light for its size.
The Inov8 sits at the upper end of the mid-priced running vests currently available. But its award-winning design and specialized features more than compensate.
The Inov8 is designed to carry 10 liters of kit and includes two 500ml soft flasks with additional capacity for a 2-liter bladder as well. It also includes loops for holding lightweight poles and external bungees.
Really durable and built to last, this Inov-8 running hydration vest has been favorite for quite some time and is perfect for those of you who are looking for something that is built to last.
It distributes the weight very well
Perfect for longer distances
Some buyers said that the vest was too big for them
SLS3 may be a less well-known brand but they're rapidly forging a reputation with their dynamic, low-weight vests. This model offers different options and can be customized to suit runners of different disciplines. Smaller, thinner runners have reported difficulty getting the straps to fit, but if you're on the bigger side it's a brilliant option.Read more
There’s breathable and lightweight mesh to provide more airflow. The straps are fully adjustable so you can adjust them to your needs. SLS offers the option to include bottles and those bottles come in different weights, meaning you have myriad options to suit your personal needs and running strategy.
The vest is made from high-quality, firm materials so you don’t need to worry about skin irritation. This vest is extremely lightweight, even when your bottles are full.
This one is extremely cost-effective against its market rivals, one of the cheapest on our list. Many runners appreciated that there are additional storage pockets. You can store your keys or phone there.
You can choose from a number of different options regarding water storage. If you prefer to carry your own bottles with you, you can choose an option with no bottles at all. Alternatively, you can include two 9.5 oz bottles or two 24 oz flasks. The weight of the vest will depend on the option you choose but the product is specifically designed to be as light as possible.
This is a great running vest for anyone looking for something that will last the long haul. it is constructed to be durable and is a great investment for most runners.
Soft and thin design
Comfortable mesh padding
Hugs your body like a glove
Suits a variety of pursuits and distances
Limited color choices
Water bottle pockets don't stretch
Widely regarded as one of the best vests on the market, the TRIWONDER Hydration Pack has carved a popular niche among trail runnersRead more
The wide shoulder pads distribute your weight as you run, and there is little or no bouncing.
This hydration pack has the sort of storage capacity as a traditional backpack, meaning it can be used in a variety of terrains and circumstances.
At 250 grams this product is seriously lightweight, and it's seriously aerodynamic. You won't notice it as you fly around on your run.
The name kinda gives it away here - the pack carries 5.5 liters, which should be more than enough water storage to sustain you on your run. And the bottles are stored at the front of the bag so you can easily take them out to refill.
Made from waterproof nylon and polyester mesh, it's designed to withstand all weathers, ensuring your phone and energy foods won't get damaged even if you're slogging around in torrential rain. Yet the design is also soft and thin, absorbing sweat and keeping you moving.
Easy to wear
Decent water capacity
Some buckle and strap issues reported
Hydration packs are a literal lifesaver for runners and the SERG Hydration Pack is a perfect example of optimal potable hydration. It is easy to use, holds a good bit of water, and is comfortable to wear in a range of running, biking, and hiking situations.Read more
SERG Black hydration includes a 70-ounce/2 liter bladder so you stay hydrated and also has convenient, deep pocket that is perfect for stashing your snack and wallet. It’s specially designed low-profile athletic cut rides above jersey pockets, below bike helmets so anyone can use it easily.
This pack is made to be BPA free and is FDA approved and utilizes safe and non-toxic TPU material. It is extremely light and weighs only 0.7 pounds. The SERG Hydration Pack Made of high-quality Jacquard fabric material for a strong resistant design.
The bag multiples chest straps keep the pack in place so it doesn't bounce when you move. In addition, there's a mesh bag allows you to carry essential supplies with you without having to add another pack to your load.
The FREEMOVE Hydration Pack is easy to use and with its backpack design, it is easy to carry on long runs without adding too much weight or pressure on your back and shoulders.
This hydration backpack is designed to be completely pressure-tolerant and leak-proof which makes it ideal for higher intensity activities like cycling, running, hiking, hunting, and other outdoor adventures!
10. Ultraspire Spry 2.0
Extremely visible, lots of reflectivity
3 pockets, plenty of storage space
Lightweight, decent fluid capacity
Tends to bounce a bit
You don’t need to be a top-level ultra-runner to rock this vest. Durable, comfortable, and extremely visible, there are many things to like about the SpryRead more
The vest is equipped with a patent-pending Max O2 Sternum - essentially a hook which allows you to fasten the vest at the front.
At just 127 grams the Spry 2.0 is as lightweight as it gets.
The Sternum is designed with enhanced flexibility so it won't snap when you make an extreme or unusual movement.
This vest has 1 Liter of space that can be used for a bladder or a running jacket. This makes it an excellent option for runners who don't want to carry water in their vest but still want added storage for personal items or food while increasing low light safety.
Made largely from mesh this vest does extremely well in hot weather, and if all this isn’t enough it comes with a reasonably priced tag.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Make sure your hydration running vest is comfortable enough for you to wear on all of your runs and that holds enough water for you to stay hydrated.
There are a lot of moving parts when you are running and one poorly placed buckle or poor choice of material could result in painful chafing or tight spots. It is a difficult balance – finding a vest that will not bounce around but will also not be so constrictive that you can’t get a full breath in while going at full pace. Bear in mind that your chest will be expanding and compressing as you run.
The best vests have a stretch fabric on their strap that will “breathe” with you while remaining in place. Weight distribution is also important to consider. It may seem strange to have water bottles hanging off your chest, but if you are properly packed then the weight of the gear on your back will counteract the water bottles and ensure they can’t pull you forward.
At the end of the day, we rated all of the running vests we chose for our list based on how comfortable they are. However, there is no single running hydration vest that will work for everyone, and comfort plays a major role in that. Make sure to consider your own personal preferences and needs into consideration to ensure you are getting the best option for you.
Getting the right protection and storage options from your running vest is really important!
When you are 8 miles from civilization during your next trail run the last thing you want to worry about is losing your credit card or keys in the middle of the woods. An essential function of any running vest is that it will hang onto your personal belongings regardless of how much strain you put it under.
Some packs have many loose straps and buckles that seem to be attracted to every branch along the trail. Simple and slick vests without any frivolous straps or buckles are the way to go, particularly for trail runners. If you primarily run in the city then you may be able to get away with an option with a few extra straps for stability.
But if you are using a running vest on city streets then you may want to reconsider if you want those straps flapping around and potentially catching passers-by. All in all, you need to make sure that you get the protection you need from the hydration running vest that you decide to get--so make sure to get the option that offers all o the features that you need.
Before you get your hydration running vest, make sure that you get the one that offers the right range of motion for you while you are running in it.
If a running vest forces you to change your form or cramps your range of motion in any way, then find a new pack. With the extremely lightweight options that now exist it’s completely possible to find a vest that doesn’t change the way, you run at all--which is why you need to make sure that you get the option that will move with you, not against you!
Matt Carpenter, famous for winning the Pikes Peak Marathon and for having the highest recorded VO2 max of any runner, experimented with many different ways of carrying water during his long training runs and discovered that for some reason carrying water just in front of the armpits at the shoulder is the most efficient method while running.
These features allow you to get the full range of motion that you need to ensure that you can move freely while you're out running in your hydration vest. The last thing you want is to be restricted by your vest or to develop any chafing or blisters while you are out on your runs. If you can try on your vest before you buy it, that will be a better way to ensure you get the perfect fit.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to get the hydration running vest that will best work for the distances and terrain you need it for.
Is there enough room in your pack for everything you need to carry? Consider what you may need to carry before buying a hydration pack. If you buy a vest with more storage space then you need then you are likely to fill it with superfluous items that you don’t really need. Remember it’s a running vest; you use it to go running, not hiking.
A couple of bottles and a few gels and a place to keep your key is what you’re looking for. That should be enough to get you through your longest runs. Another great feature to look for are those straps on the outside of the hydration pack that will allow you to attach a jacket to the outside of your bag.
These bungees will increase the carrying options available to you without increasing weight very much or getting in the way. Vests such as the TRIWONDER 5.5L weigh little more than a small bag of sugar, but they are designed to maximize their capacity to distribute space, enabling them to carry far greater weight than their own (we’ll leave you to work out how many liters the TRIWONDER can carry).
Having running gear that lasts is important to all of us, and running hydration vests are no exception!
Running vests are primarily used by and created with trail runners in mind. This makes durability very important, because if the right fabric isn’t used then it will be easily torn by the conditions that trail runners find themselves in. Abrasion and tear-resistant materials are essential if you’re picking your way through forests and up craggy rock-faces.
Running vests must endure constant bounce and friction for mile after mile, yet remain lightweight and breathable. This is a difficult balance to achieve. Look for a running vest with a track record of durability and avoid lower-end vests that may look like their more durable counterparts, but tear and disintegrate under the slightest pressure.
Before you buy your hydration running vests, you need to make sure that you take into consideration the terrain you will be running in, how far you want to run and the material that it is made of. Last but not least, make sure you take care of your hydration best and clean it out regularly--as suggested by the manufacturer--to ensure you get the most out of your vest.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
For 99% of runners out there it’ll be too much, an unnecessary accessory that will be a hindrance rather than a help. Like the high-end GPS running watches which have come to dominate the market, it’s a product many people will never need.
If you’re concerned about hydration, you might be better just taking on more water before and after your runs. Consider buying a new water bottle to stay hydrated before your run even starts.
If you forget you’re wearing it while you’re running, that means it’s a good product. It can be hard enough to stay cool with a lightweight running shirt on hot summer runs, you don’t need an awkward, irritating gilet weighing you down.
The Ultimate Direction Marathon vest is well-designed for this, its flexible design ensures that it will soon mirror your shape, and your running style, becoming almost an extension of your body.
Other Factors to Consider
Make sure it fits your budget!
When buying a vest, we really encourage you to look for good models without checking the price first. If you focus only on the price tag, you may miss out on the model that’s perfect for you. Of course, the price is important and sometimes it may be a decisive factor, but try to focus on quality and comfort.
Our top 10 vests include a range of options, covering all points on the price chart. You should decide what features you need and eliminate vests with too many useless features.
Check to see if the size is right!
Running vests are typically available in two or three generic sizes, depending on the manufacturer. A small/medium or medium/large is what you will usually find available. It can also be very hard to find a running vest for larger runners. Most of them are designed to fit the physique of a svelte seasoned runner.
There are still options available but you may be a bit more limited on your options. Setting up a running vest can honestly be a bit of a headache, especially the ones with multiple straps that need adjusting. This is one reason we like vests such as the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 8L; they’re designed to be minimalist, so you won’t have bits flapping around everywhere as you’re going along.
If you often find that it is difficult to find shirts that fit you just right and you are often in between sizes, then aim for a vest with many adjustment options. The more generically sized vests are great if they fit you but if it is too loose or tight then you’ll have rather uncomfortable running experience.
Also, don’t be dissuaded by negative reviews about the comfort of the running vests you search for; even the most comfortable running vest can be a bit uncomfortable at times and a bit cumbersome. But if comfort is your number one priority then perhaps running isn’t the best choice of hobby for you anyway.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t find a product that makes the experience as pain-free as possible, but don’t expect your new running vest to hug you like a new Christmas sweater.
Unless you’re from Boulder, Colorado, running vests are hardly a trendy or fashionable item. They are a purely functional product, designed to keep you hydrated and alive on your next adventure. That being said there is something about the Ultimate Direction vest (and several other hydration packs on our list) that makes us wanna get out of the office and spend the afternoon running up a mountain.
You also need to consider the safety features of the hydration vest you are looking at. If you are ever running in low-light conditions then you should add visibility features to your must-have list – the UltrAspire vest is great in this regard. If you want something a bit more conservative to consider the Inov-8 Ultra and its more reserved design.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Do I really need a running hydration vest?
If you have to ask that question then the answer is probably no. Running vests are designed for runners who already spend hours in the mountains and need a more efficient way to carry their gear.
q: Is a water bottle carrier or a bladder design better?
It depends! Do you like cleaning water bladders and replacing broken bite valves? Do you like carrying water on your back or your front like Matt Carpenter? Water bottles allow you to pour water in your mouth instead of using precious energy to suck water out of a tube while simultaneously trying to breathe. However, water bottles are probably the better choice for most people.
q: Are there any other uses for my new running vest?
Not really. Running vests are a highly specialized product with one purpose in mind. Their limited carrying space and function-oriented design make them ideal packs for running and hiking but not much else. Don’t expect to be able to carry your textbooks around campus or anything else beyond the basics.
q: Is there any alternative to using a running vest?
If you can’t swallow the idea of wearing one of the best running vests but still want to carry more water on your next run, then consider a handheld alternative. They strap to your hand and can still hold your car keys, wallet an a gel or two.
- Matt Carpenter reaches new peaks in high-altitude running, Running Publication ,
- 5 Ways to Stay Hydrated During a Long Run, Running Website ,
- Hydration Pack Hygiene, Running Website ,
- How to Choose an Ultrarunning Hydration Pack, Running Website ,