10 Best Running Hydration Packs Reviewed

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Searching for Hydration Backpacks? Take a look at the best Backpacks of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them online or in a store.

There are many aspects to staying healthy as an athlete or runner. At the absolute top of this hierarchy is water. If you get nothing else right (in terms of what you put into your body) get the water bit right. A large majority of people don’t drink enough water per day. This is a problem in and of itself, but put within the context of a strenuous activity such as running it can be downright dangerous.

You may wonder what to do when you need water. During longer runs, especially marathons, you can use different ways of hydration but let’s be honest- water is the greatest thing when it comes to thirst. However, it is very hard to store big bottles of water when you need to be fast. This is why hydration packs were invented. We’ve made a list of top 10 hydration packs in our opinion. We’ve spend a lot of hours doing the research and testing the products in order to provide the best of the best. Let us show you the results.

Last Updated: October 27, 2017
By Brian Price:

Check out our list of the hydration packs that we like the best. Our top 10 has just been updated with several new packs that we feltt needed to be shared.

High Sierra Propel
  • High Sierra Propel
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Four exterior pockets
  • Price: See Here
Osprey Raptor 14
  • Osprey Raptor 14
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 3L built-in Hydraulics™
  • Price: See Here
Salomon Agile
  • Salomon Agile
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Two exterior pockets
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Running Hydration Packs

 


1. High Sierra Propel 70

Simple, straight forward, no gimmicks the Propel 70 is not the world’s most flashy pack but it delivers solid performance and great functionality. Everything you need from a hydration pack is here and it can do a whole lot more than simply go for a jog.
Pros
  • Bounce reduction strapping system
  • Plentiful storage pockets
  • Moderately sized
  • Versatile usage
  • Lightweight Nylon/Mesh
Cons
  • Limited color choices


2. Osprey Raptor 14

Osprey reloads the Raptor series with a new 14-liter design, and an integrated 3 litre Hydraulics™. This hydration pack features BioStretch technology as well as internal hydration sleeve.
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Asides being extremely practical, the Raptor 14 also features a lightweight design for a toal of 0.73kg. A magnetic lock provides the pack with a strong seal in order to prevent leaking of liquids. The design features reflective graphics and counts with a version for women.
Pros

 

  • Includes a roll of tools with its own pocket
  • Has 8 pockets; 3 internal and 5 external
  • Prevents leakage
  • Reinforced zippers
  • Lightweight design (0.71kg)
Cons
  • Not waterproof
  • Some users found it to be small


3. SALOMON AGILE 2

This is a great crossover backpacking that can keep you well hydrated on your run, supplied at a festival, or geared up for pretty much any activity. The trick to the Agile’s versatility is that its design stays very much in the middle of the road. Not too big, but not a strap, lightweight but still having quite a bit of storage, strong but flexible. To boot this pack has insulated hydration sleeve which adds the potential for four season use.
Pros
  • Versatile, multi-use
  • Two exterior pockets, maximum functionality
  • Engineered chest and waist straps, firm fit
  • Bladder of 68 0z
  • Slick design
Cons
  • The decent storage comes at the sacrifice of water capacity

4. CamelBak Dart

4. CamelBak Dart
It’s only fitting that a brand with camel in the name has created some of the best packs when it comes to running hydration. This pack has ample compression, a good sized bladder and a slim profile and won’t weigh you down. All in all a solid choice for any runner's needs.
Pros
  • Camelbak guarantee
  • Two exterior zipper pockets
  • Minimalist design, lightweight
  • Easy to bite drinking valve
  • Securing chest strap
Cons
  • Color choices are limited
  • Not much space for storage

5. Nathan Intensity

5. Nathan Intensity
Nathan delivers the Intensity Race Vest as a model thought for women. This hydration pack is specially design to fit the female slimmer form. The Intesity Race features a 2L bladder and multiple pockets for additional storage. To provide superior breathability, the product build includes highly breathable mesh.
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The vanguardist design includes a patented 3-way strap system that prevents bouncing. The tight fight allows both the bladder and other contents to stop bouncing during runs. The multiple pockets include a frontal space for an hydration bottle and a zipped pocket compatible with smartphones.
Pros
  • Special build for women
  • 3-point harness to prevent bounce
  • Superior breathability
  • Lightweight design
Cons
  • Harness straps are messy
  • Some smartphones won't fit in the phone pocket

6. Osprey Rev

6. Osprey Rev
Beautiful design meets performance in this small but extremely efficient running pack. Take your game to the next level with features such as a reverse spacer mesh backpanel for premium breathability or the DigiFlip media pocket provides secure storage and quick access to your phone. This pack will keep you hydrated and provide 10 other uses you didn’t even know you needed.
Pros
  • Comfortable, lightweight, breathable
  • Decently sized 1.5 Liter reservoir
  • Harness pockets for gels, snacks, etc
  • Comes with bladder and mouthpiece
Cons
  • A bit small
  • Only 3 color options

7. Nathan VaporAir

7. Nathan VaporAir
If tip top performance and cutting edge technology are what you are after then look no further than the Vapor Air from Nathan. This vest-style pack has been body mapped to act as a second skin. The pack’s weight is centered over the shoulders so as to reduce your load/water bouncing up and down on your back. This is an award winning backpack that leaves no technical or performance based rock unturned.
Pros
  • Body mapped, ultra breathable
  • featherweight , no added drag
  • Award winning
  • Sophisticated hydration system, super easy access
  • High grade reflective strips on the back
  • Extremely well reviewed
Cons
  • Unnecessary functionality for some runners
  • Highly priced

Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack

Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
Salomon is a great band, especially if we’re talking about running hydration packs. The material here is great- it’s Elastic Power Mesh. This is why this one is very breathable and you don’t sweat that much during running. This one really provides big comfort while running. We can’t talk about chaffing or any skin irritation here. The design is simple- the hydration pack wraps your body and you can carry the water whenever you are. These backpacks are available in many colors so everyone can find something. These backpacks really allow your skin to breathe and there’s no unpleasant odor. They are available in many sizes so if you measure yourself properly, we’re sure you will find the right size for you.
Pros

It will be also great for camping and hiking

There’s zippered pouch

Very breathable

Durable

Cons

One of the most expensive on our list

You need to buy the Salomon Hydrapack Soft Bladder 1.5L separately

TETON Sports Trailrunner

TETON Sports Trailrunner
The next great hydration pack on our list is TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack. As the title implies, this one will be great not only for the road runners but also for those who like off-road running. This have 2 liter hydration capacity which is a lot. This backpack is very lightweight- it’s only 9 pounds. The good thing is that the hydration bladder is included here so you don’t need to buy it separately. It’s very easy to open so you can add ice there and you can clean it easily. We adore the price of this one- this is one of the least expensive backpacks and it’s still high quality product. Many reviewers really appreciated the extraordinary design of this product. It’s not very bulky like the others packs. The shape is really great. There are also many safety features. For example we can use orange whistle or strap claps. There’s also reflective trim which is great because you’re more visible on the roads. As this one is intended for trail running, this is very durable product. It’s perfect for marathons, cycling or hiking. There’s special chest shock absorber to reduce the bounce while running.
Pros

Available in many colors and sizes

This product has limited lifetime warranty

Great price for high quality product

Cons

Some reviewers said that the liquid may leak from time to time

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0

Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Here we go with the big hit amongst the runners- Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0. This brand is known from high quality hydration packs and water belts. This pack is full of features. There are pouches that are compatible with your smartphone. There are fully adjustable straps to provide more comfort. This is nylon with silicon and Polyurethane so the material is waterproof and it’s really durable- this means that this pack will be also great for trail running. There’s special Hex Mesh that is extremely breathable and really lightweight. Moisture wicking material helps you to stay dry during run and there are even gel pouches. There are two pockets so you can keep your keys inside. This backpack has great design- it’s not very big so you can run easily but it is great source of hydration at the same time. This isn’t cheap but the price reflects the high quality. It comes with two bottles.
Pros

Great for longer runs and marathons

Extremely durable

Cons

Some runners didn’t like the drinking from the rubber spout


We all know that though, right? Of course we do, but staying properly hydrated is an easy thing to let slip your mind. One way you can fight against this is to position yourself for success with a good hydration pack to have with you around or during run time. Having some good gear with you raises the odds that drinking becomes more habitual and consistent, keeping you appropriately hydrated at all times.


 

The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation of the Best Hydration Packs

In order to compile an effective list of the best hydration packs, we set multiple parameters to follow during research. These parameters helped us narrow down the list of products, while filtering low-quality items. Below, we’ll offer insight on the parameters we used for this list.

Each parameter is briefly explained. You’ll find information on why we chose it, and how it’s relevant to the quality of the products.

Temperature

Hydration backpacks is a great solution when it comes to portable hydration. However, the whole concept is lost if the product fails to keep the liquids at a decent temperature. We added the capacity of a product to maintain low temperatures as a research parameter, as we considered it to be of utter importance for runners to have access to refreshing hydration, instead of bland warm drinks. In order to keep the liquids in their original temperature (assuming they hydration drink is cold when stored), the pouch must feature special materials that contribute to the “cooling” of the hydration drinks.

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We discarded those products that fail to maintain cold temperatures over time, and gave the upper hand to those hydration backpacks that are able to keep the hydration drinks refreshing. To improve our list of the best hydration backpacks, we selected those products that can keep low temperature for long periods of time.

For this list, we looked for products which feature the latest thermic materials and technology to maintain the drinks is. This not only involves keeping the temperatures low, but it also involves the amount of time it stays cool.

Breathability

For some hydration backpacks, breathability becomes an issue–especially during sunny days.

In order to compile an effective list of the best hydration backpacks, we searched through those products that offer the most breathable materials and build in general. While the materials used for the backpack have an important impact on the breathability of the product, there are other factors to consider, such as the design.

After surfing through multiple designs that cover the whole back of the user, we determined that a bigger backpack offers more space, but reduces the breathability and enhances the heat accumulation under the backpack. At this point, it becomes a matter of personal opinion whether to opt for more space at the cost of breathability, or the other way around.

For the materials, we looked for breathable structures of mesh. Ones that are light enough to allow the pass of fresh air, yet tough enough to stop any external liquids (such as rain) from leaking into the backpack. Additionally, we gave special consideration to those products which feature materials resistant to heat. By resistance to heat, we mean the ability of the materials to avoid absorbing or accumulating heat.

Capacity

The main purpose of the water backpacks is to carry a water bladder that can be easily accessed anywhere. It pretty much comes down to this–more water, more effective.

During our search for the best hydration backpacks for runners, those products that include a bigger bladder or water pouch had an advantage. However, we still took in consideration all of the other parameters; a big pouch is useless if the product reaches low standards on the rest of the features.

The capacity of the water backpacks is not always determined by the size of the water pouch, as these products usually feature multiple other pockets and spaces that can come in very handy. We kept this in mind while searching for the best hydration backpacks. The capacity of the overall backpacks is an important factor to consider while searching for hydration backpacks, as it will allow you to store multiple other things in separated pockets.

 

Comfortability

When it comes to running, carrying hydration backpacks during your whole trip can get quite annoying. Because of this, we determined comfortability as a research parameter during our investigation of the best hydration backpacks. In order to provide superior comfort, we looked for breathable, non-irritating and lightweight materials, as well as a unique build. The concept of hydration backpacks is to assist the user by facilitating the experience thanks to its portable supply of hydration, but it stops being so convenient when it starts to become annoying–and even painful.

In order to be suitable for running, the products should feature materials that are comfortable to carry. A running water backpack can’t become an obstacle or a difficulty for the runner, as it would miss the point.

For our list, we selected backpacks with materials that can fit aerobic activities. While there are some very good normal water backpacks out there, they won’t be of much help to a runner; apart from being uncomfortable; these backpacks might simply not be adequate for running overall.


Other Important Factors to Consider While Searching for the Best Option

While some aspects of the hydration packs have priority, there are loads of little details that shouldn’t be forgotten. These “secondary” aspects is what helped us break ties and decide the positioning of two similar products. Keep in mind that these other features still have an impact in the quality of the packs.

 

Design

Besides being a helpful piece of equipment, running hydration backpacks can also get to be very fashionable equipment. We know there are a large number of runners who care about the appearance of their equipment; at the end of the day, no one wants to look ugly or weird. However, when we talk about design, it’s not limited to the visual attractiveness but also the quality of the design on the overall build.

In this parameter we included multiple approaches. Even though it’s a secondary research parameter, those hydration packs that come in a wide variety of colors and feature a fashionable design called our attentions.

During our research, we looked for bags that had an easily accessible and comfortable design. This not only involves the color options of the backpacks, but also the designs of the pockets and other features of the back. “Are the pockets big enough?”, “Is there enough space?”, “Is the bladder separated from the rest of the pockets?” These are all valid questions when evaluating the design of a hydration backpack. It feels good to look good, but keep in mind that functionality should go first!

Price

Some people are ready to spend a lot of money on hydration packs as this may be essential during their running. The other want something cheaper. We try to put on our list products that are high quality but they are also affordable. On the other side, you will find also here the product that cost more than 100 dollars because sometimes it’s better to invest, especially if you’re a professional runner. You need to decide how important hydration packs are for you. If you’re going to take part in marathons very often, it would be good to buy something good and it may be a little bit expensive. Remember however that cheaper products are also great and they can really provide comfort. Try to search also for discounts or you can find the older version of the product and perhaps it will be cheaper. Evaluate the price as it’s an important factor.

Weight

For our investigation, the weight of the hydration backpacks was evaluated as a research parameter. The total weight of the backpacks has a decisive impact in the quality of the product (not including anything stored in the backpack, of course). For a runner, it is utterly important to count with the lightest equipment possible. Not only is it much more comfortable to carry, but light materials notably reduce the effort your body needs to make in order to run–especially during long runs.

For our list of the best hydration backpacks, we looked for products which feature a lightweight design and materials. However, it’s not all about the weight; aside from being lightweight, the materials must also meet high standards of quality and durability.

Durability

Water backpacks are particular pieces of equipment that aren’t as easy to replace, or as cheap to buy them frequently. This is why we’ve taken in consideration the durability of the products during our research for the best hydration backpacks. In order to determine the durability of the products, we looked for backpacks that feature resistant and durable material, as well as a solid build to guarantee an effective quality.

A running water backpack can’t be made out of any material. In order to bring you a list of the best hydration backpacks out there, we selected only those backpacks that include resistant, flexible and adaptable materials. We know that a calm run can quickly turn into a mess due to unfortunate rain, and it can catch you completely off-guard when wearing your bag. Taking this into consideration, we gave the upper hand to water-resistant or waterproof bags. Materials that are susceptible to water damage or deterioration will not only reduce the durability of the product; but it may also affect any pertinence found inside the bag if the water leaks. Lastly, we took in consideration the easiness to wash the materials and the overall backpack.

FAQ

Here are some of the most FAQ regarding running vests or hydration packs. Please refer to this FAQ for any doubts on the products, and feel free to leave us a comment if you have any additional questions. We’ll check and get back to you as soon as possible.

Q: Are these packs suitable for long runs? Or will my hydration warm up?

A: Hydration packs are especially made to maintain the temperature of the liquid during long runs. You’ll be able to enjoy refreshing liquids.

Q: Does a bigger bladder mean more efficiency?

A: It really depends on what you’re using it for. Based on your activity, specific bladder capacity and whole size of the bag might be more optimal.

Q: Will my shoulders get tired on carrying the pack?

A: No. The products featured in this list are made of lightweight materials to provide both comfort and lightweight properties. Breathable mesh will make the carrying experience less troublesome.

Q: Should I focus on bladder capacity or overall space?

A: Once again, it depends on what you’re using it for. A larger bladder would allow you to carry more hydration, of course, but you never know when you’ll need additional space.

Q: Can the liquids leak from the bladder?

A: As long as they’re in good condition, the products listed in this guide will prevent leakage. You won’t have to worry about liquids getting into the other spaces.

 

We hope this guide helps you find the hydration pack that suits you the most. Keep in mind all of the parameters explained above while shopping. Looks are attractive; but remember to check for the quality of the products.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research

Below, we’ll provide you a list of reliable sources which we based on during our research. In these sites, you’ll be able to find additional information regarding hydration packs.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia, Hydration Pack, Free Online Encyclopedia,
  2. OspreyPacks, Hydration Packs, Hydration Vest Manufacturer,
  3. OutsideOnline, Are hydration bladders more trouble than they’re worth?, Online Sports Publication, Oct 01, 2008
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