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10 Best Running Hydration Vests Reviewed of 2019

last updated Aug 09, 2019
If you’re an endurance runner on the hunt for the best running vests, then you’ve come to the right place! The right running vest can help you improve your performance and focus on your runs, so choosing the right one for you is of utmost importance.

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

icon
Nathan VaporAiress
99/100 our score
Comfort
99
Protection
99
Flexibility
99
Use
99
Durability
99
Nathan VaporAiress
Why is it better?

Holds 2 Liters of water

Made for women

Won’t bounce or move around

Really breathable

Contour and comfortable fit

Quick-release valve

Several storage pockets

Several colors to choose from

Offers reflective features

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Nathan VaporAiress
Test Winner: Nathan VaporAiress
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
4
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
2k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
13
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
18
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By Giselle Killebrew:

Our most recent addition brings a ton of new information to our page. First and foremost we have added two new products, the Nathan VaporAiress and the CamelBak Nano running hydration best. We have also streamlined all of our product reviews to ensure that they are easy to sift through and compare. Make sure to take a look at our buying guide as well, to check out all of the information we have added.

Sorting Options
Comfort Protection Flexibility Use Durability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99
Comfort
99 %
Protection
99 %
Flexibility
99 %
Use
99 %
Durability
99 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$144.48
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.4
Comfort
97 %
Protection
97 %
Flexibility
98 %
Use
97 %
Durability
98 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Comfort
96 %
Protection
96 %
Flexibility
96 %
Use
96 %
Durability
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$79.94
Road Runner Sports Link
$124.99
See Deal
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Comfort
95 %
Protection
94 %
Flexibility
95 %
Use
94 %
Durability
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$54.60
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Comfort
94 %
Protection
94 %
Flexibility
94 %
Use
94 %
Durability
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Comfort
92 %
Protection
92 %
Flexibility
93 %
Use
92 %
Durability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$136.95
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Comfort
91 %
Protection
91 %
Flexibility
91 %
Use
91 %
Durability
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$45.88
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.6
Comfort
90 %
Protection
89 %
Flexibility
89 %
Use
90 %
Durability
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$42.99
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Comfort
88 %
Protection
88 %
Flexibility
88 %
Use
88 %
Durability
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$27.97
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.6
Comfort
86 %
Protection
85 %
Flexibility
86 %
Use
85 %
Durability
86 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (17.10.19)
Amazon Link
$69.99

Our Favorite Running Hydration Vests

1. Nathan VaporAiress

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99
Nathan VaporAiress
Amazon Link
Comfort
99
Protection
99
Flexibility
99
Use
99
Durability
99
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$144.48
Pros:

Holds 2 Liters of water

Made for women

Won’t bounce or move around

Really breathable

Contour and comfortable fit

Quick-release valve

Several storage pockets

Several colors to choose from

Offers reflective features

Cons:

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?!

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Comfort

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.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

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!

Use

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.

Durability

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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.4
 Arc'teryx Norvan 7
Amazon Link
Comfort
97
Protection
97
Flexibility
98
Use
97
Durability
98
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Many additional features for intensive trail training

2L water storage

Lightweight

Adjustable straps and zippers for a customized fit

Safety whistle included

Cons:

Expensive

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.

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Comfort

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.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

This pack weighs about 2 lbs, plus the weight of the water. This vest has the capacity to store 2L of water

Use

This vest tends to be on the more expensive end of the product list, but definitely a good investment for intensive trail runners.

Durability

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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Ultimate Direction AK 3.0
Amazon Link
Comfort
96
Protection
96
Flexibility
96
Use
96
Durability
96
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$79.94
Road Runner Sports Link
$124.99
See Deal
Pros:

Minimalist design

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

Cons:

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

Comfort

The Ultimate Direction vest is the only vest on our list designed to comfortably carry climbing gear while trail running.

Protection

At 330 grams (11.6 oz) without bottles, this vest is a bit bigger than the previous versions. but still very lightweight.

Flexibility

While not as cheap as some of its rivals on our list, the Ultimate Direction 3.0 is still good value given its versatility.

Use

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.

Durability

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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
CamelBak Nano
Amazon Link
Comfort
95
Protection
94
Flexibility
95
Use
94
Durability
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$54.60
Pros:

Lightweight

Breathable

Well-cushioned

Secure fit

Lots of storage space

Cons:

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

Comfort

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.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

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.

Use

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.

Durability

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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Nathan Vapor Air
Amazon Link
Comfort
94
Protection
94
Flexibility
94
Use
94
Durability
94
best offer for today
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Pros:

Pockets

No Chafe binding

Reflective Accents

Breathable Materials

Cons:

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

Comfort

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.

Protection

This pack is extremely light at only 397 grams (14 oz) - and that includes the bladder.

Flexibility

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.

Use

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.

Durability

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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Inov-8 Race Ultra 10
Amazon Link
Comfort
92
Protection
92
Flexibility
93
Use
92
Durability
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$136.95
Pros:

weather resistant pocket on rear

Large mesh pockets

large tube

Cons:

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

Comfort

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.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

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.

Use

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.

Durability

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.

7. SLS3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
SLS3
Amazon Link
Comfort
91
Protection
91
Flexibility
91
Use
91
Durability
91
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$45.88
Pros:

It distributes the weight very well

Perfect for longer distances

Cons:

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

Comfort

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.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

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.

Use

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.

Durability

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.

8. TRIWONDER

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.6
TRIWONDER
Amazon Link
Comfort
90
Protection
89
Flexibility
89
Use
90
Durability
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$42.99
Pros:

Soft and thin design

Comfortable mesh padding

Ultra-lightweight

Hugs your body like a glove

Waterproof

Suits a variety of pursuits and distances

Cons:

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 runners

Read more

Comfort

The wide shoulder pads distribute your weight as you run, and there is little or no bouncing.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

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.

Use

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.

Durability

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.

9. SERG

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
SERG
Amazon Link
Comfort
88
Protection
88
Flexibility
88
Use
88
Durability
88
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$27.97
Pros:

Easy to wear

Comfortable Fit

Decent water capacity

Cons:

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

Comfort

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.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

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.

Use

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.

Durability

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

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.6
Ultraspire Spry 2.0
Amazon Link
Comfort
86
Protection
85
Flexibility
86
Use
85
Durability
86
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$69.99
Pros:

Affordable

Extremely visible, lots of reflectivity

3 pockets, plenty of storage space

Lightweight, decent fluid capacity

Ergonomically designed

Cons:

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 Spry

Read more

Comfort

The vest is equipped with a patent-pending Max O2 Sternum - essentially a hook which allows you to fasten the vest at the front.

Protection

At just 127 grams the Spry 2.0 is as lightweight as it gets.

Flexibility

The Sternum is designed with enhanced flexibility so it won't snap when you make an extreme or unusual movement.

Use

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.

Durability

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

Comfort

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.

Protection

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.

Flexibility

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.

Use

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).

Durability

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

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
Sort criterias acording to:
Experts Opinion Editors Opinion Users Opinion By Default
Click on a to rate the most important criteria:
#1
Comfort
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#2
Protection
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#3
Flexibility
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#4
Use
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#5
Durability
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Ultra Runners

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 are going to invest in a running vest, remember this:

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

Value

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.

Bottom Line

Individual Needs

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.

Function

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?

a:

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?

a:

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?

a:

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?

a:

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.

Sources

  1. Darrin Eisman, Matt Carpenter reaches new peaks in high-altitude running, Running Publication
  2. Jenny Hadfield, 5 Ways to Stay Hydrated During a Long Run, Running Website
  3. Editorial Team , Hydration Pack Hygiene, Running Website
  4. Jenny Hadfield, How to Choose an Ultrarunning Hydration Pack, Running Website