10 Best Hydration Backpacks Reviewed and Tested in 2021

Staying hydrated is key if you are a runner, so it is no surprise you are looking for the best hydration packs currently available in 2019. The last thing you want is to get stuck mid-run without any water—so check out the awesome hydration packs we found!

Even if you stay well-hydrated throughout the day and make sure you drink enough water before you run, you still need to make sure you have water with you to ensure you remain hydrated while you are running.

Before choosing a hydration pack to feature on our list we made sure to rate each one based on how comfortable, breathable, and durable they are. We also considered how much they weigh along with their size—so there are options out there for all of our readers!

Take a look at what we found!

Standout Picks

The Nathan Vapor Airess hydration pack is one of the best options on our list—hence why it is at the very top of our list. This hydration pack is really lightweight, comfortable, and breathable so you don’t have to worry about this pack weighing you down and holding you back. And, the best part, is that it also looks great—but keep in mind that this is a women-specific hydration pack.
Amazon Link
This CamelBak hydration pack has been a popular choice among runners for about 2 decades now. These hydration packs are an excellent option for outdoor enthusiasts in general, whether you run, bike, hike, etc.
Osprey reloads the Raptor series with a new 14-liter design and an integrated 3-liter Hydraulics™ system. The design features reflective graphics and comes in a version for women.
The next one on our hydration packs 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.
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.
Simple, straightforward, no gimmicks. The Propel 70 is not the world’s most flashy pack, but it delivers reliable performance and great functionality.
Amazon Link
This product is designed by Jenny Jurek, wife and running partner of ultra-marathon legend Scott Jurek. It's specially designed for women, which is important as many standard unisex designs may not fit the unique shape of a woman's body. This one carries plenty of water and is perfect for female runners who regularly run long distances.
Salomon is a great brand, especially if we’re talking about running hydration packs--so it is no surprise that we have one of their hydration packs on our list of top ten reviews.
These running hydration packs are designed for female runners, and the VaporHowe was designed by legendary ultra-marathoner Stephanie Howe so you know the design will fit a woman's body well and have the features you want and need.
Even though this hydration pack for running is actually designed for cyclists, we included in our list because it's a great size for running, and it has some unique features that any athlete will enjoy. Osprey is known for making high-quality outdoor gear and they stand behind that with a lifetime warranty on all their products.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

A hydration pack is something you will be wearing for the duration of your run--so make sure it is comfortable enough to keep on your back for that long!

When you are looking for good running hydration packs, one of the key features to consider is the comfort level you can operate when wearing it. Many running hydration packs are heavy and uncomfortable which makes them difficult to use and makes your runs and workouts all the harder to get through.

So, we made sure to double-check each hydration packs for comfort levels before choosing it for our guide here! When it comes to running, carrying a hydration pack during your entire trip can get quite annoying. Because of this, we determined comfort as a research parameter during our investigation of the best hydration backpacks.

To provide superior comfort, we looked for backpacks with breathable, non-irritating, and lightweight materials, as well as a unique build. The concept of hydration packs 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 design of the hydration packs should be materials that are comfortable to carry. Running hydration packs 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 perfect regular water backpacks out there, they won’t be of much help to a runner; apart from being uncomfortable; these backpacks might not be adequate for running overall. So, make sure you are taking a look at all of these features before you make your final decision.

Breathability

It's important to get hydration that is breathable and that won't get soaked and weigh you down because it holds in moisture and sweat.

When you are out for a run, anything you bring with you has to be lugged around with you, so you don’t want it to be stuck with something heavy and hot and cumbersome. Here at RunnerClick, we made sure to find the right hydration packs for you that are designed to be easy to carry and that is made with a breathable design, so you do not get too hot and sweaty during your outings or workouts or hikes.

For some hydration backpacks, breathability becomes an issue–, especially during runs on hot sunny days. To compile an active list of the best hydration backpacks, we searched through products that offer the most breathable materials and build in general. While the materials used for the backpack have an essential 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 running hydration packs. 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. Color has an impact here as well. Dark colors, primarily black, absorbs heat, while light colors reflect it, so you may want to choose a bright color if you run regularly in the heat. Lighter colors will show dirt more efficiently; however, so keep that in mind.

Durability

We all want to make sure our hydration backpacks will last us the long haul--which is why we made sure to rate each of our top picks based on how durable they are.

Active runners put their equipment through a lot. When you're going on long runs several times a week and are putting a lot of wear and tear on your hydration packs, you want to have one that is as durable as you are. We tried to find the best-running hydration packs for you, and we made sure to our own testing as well as checking the reviews from others- all of these packs are durable and are made to last!

Hydration packs are one piece of gear that isn't necessarily easy or cheap to replace frequently. Is why we’ve taken into consideration the durability of the products during our research. To determine the strength of the products, we looked for products that feature resistant and durable material, as well as a stable build to guarantee good quality and performance.

A hydration backpack shouldn't be made out of just any material. To bring you a list of the hydration packs out there, we selected only those hydration packs that include resistant, flexible, and adaptable materials that are easy to clean. We know that a slow, gentle, and easy run can quickly turn into a mess due to rain or other unexpected events that 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 may also affect any items found inside the bag if the water leaks. Lastly, we took into consideration how easy it is to wash the backpack and keep it maintained in good working condition.

Weight

When you are carrying around enough water for a long-distance run the most significant issue you will face is how heavy the pack can get. To help with this, we looked for hydration packs that are designed with comfortable straps and harness systems to help distribute the weight and make it easier to carry it around with you.

Water is essential on the run so make yourself as comfortable as you can with a lighter weight pack design. We decided on weight as one of the most important criteria to focus on during our research. No runner wants to carry more weight than they have to. Extra weight can also contribute to the overall strain and wear and tear on your joints and tendons which already receive quite an impact from running.

So. obviously, the total weight of the backpack has an impact on the quality of the product (not including anything stored in the backpack, of course). For a runner, it is utterly important to go 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 to run–especially during long runs.

For our list of the hydration packs, we looked for products that 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. Keep in mind, however, that with just about all sporting and outdoor gear and apparel there is usually a trade-off that is made between strength and lightweight.

Lightweight materials by nature aren't as durable as heavier ones, and while companies have done a fantastic job inventing materials that are both durable and lightweight, keep in mind that nothing is perfect, and choose what's most important to you. This way you end up getting something that truly works for you and your needs.

Size

Size matters--and the last thing you want is a hydration pack that is too large or too small to fit your needs.

The final piece of the puzzle that we looked at when searching for hydration packs for this list was the available sizes. Some runners need more water than others, and some runners cannot carry as much weight as others. So, the size of your pack is an important feature to consider in your search. We made sure to include a range of sizes so you can find the hydration packs that are just right for you.

When it comes to this type of products, size matters. You want something that will be able to store plenty of water during your run so that you can be sure to stay hydrated. You also want it to have room for other items such as energy gels, keys, your phone, wallet, and maybe even an extra set of clothes.

However, you don't want something so big and bulky that it weighs you down and bounces around while you run. We looked for products for our list that hit the sweet spot in terms of size. We call it the Goldilocks criteria; you don't want something too big, or too small. You want it to be just right.

Fortunately, by listening to feedback from their customer's manufacturers have figured out what the best sizes of backpacks to make are. Also, you can usually find most products in a couple of size options, so you can have a larger pack for longer runs and the opportunity to bring more with you, and a smaller run for shorter times and distances.

10 Best Hydration Packs

1. Nathan Vapor Airess

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Nathan Vapor Airess
Nathan Vapor Airess
Nathan Vapor Airess
Nathan Vapor Airess
Nathan Vapor Airess
Amazon Link

The Nathan Vapor Airess hydration pack is one of the best options on our list—hence why it is at the very top of our list. This hydration pack is really lightweight, comfortable, and breathable so you don’t have to worry about this pack weighing you down and holding you back. And, the best part, is that it also looks great—but keep in mind that this is a women-specific hydration pack.

Read more

Comfort

When it comes to comfort, this hydration pack is definitely the way to go. Not only is it incredibly lightweight, but the straps won’t dig into you as long as you get the right size. It is designed to contour to the female physique and provides you with a secure and comfortable fit that will ensure it does not slip around while you are out on your run.

Breathability

As far as breathability goes, this hydration pack offers several mesh panels to ensure you get the ventilation you need to prevent chafing and blisters from occurring. So, if you want to make sure you stay cool and dry, this is definitely one of the best options for you to consider getting.

Durability

Those of you who are worried about your hydration pack breaking down on you after a few uses won’t have to worry about that with this one. This hydration back is made of high-quality materials that are built to last—so you can depend on it in the long run. The bladder and the valve are also long-lasting and the pockets are designed to hold up for the long haul.

Weight

As we have mentioned, one of the pack’s most redeeming factors is that it is incredibly lightweight. Despite its lightness, you don’t have to worry about this pack breaking on you when you need it the most. Even when filled, your water’s weight will be evenly distributed—so you don’t have to worry about getting lopsided.

Size

This hydration pack is available in small/medium and large/XL. It specifically made for ladies and you can tell when you put it on. It is wider in the chest area and the clips attach below your breast. It is compact and minimalistic, so you don’t have to worry about dragging a bulky or clunky hydration pack with you.

Amazon Link

2. CamelBak M.U.L.E.

Where to buy
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
Amazon Link

This CamelBak hydration pack has been a popular choice among runners for about 2 decades now. These hydration packs are an excellent option for outdoor enthusiasts in general, whether you run, bike, hike, etc.

Read more

Comfort

While this hydration pack may look bulky, it is definitely comfortable. You won't have to worry about it digging into you in all of the wrong places and you definitely won't have to worry about it causing any chafing or blisters.

Breathability

It comes with additional storage pockets, keeps you cool and dry, and comes with additional external hooks to hold onto your helmet if you are a biker or participate in triathlons.

Durability

Made with high-quality and durable materials, this hydration pack is designed to be with you for the long haul. You won't have to worry about it breaking down on you or ripping when you need it most.

Weight

It has a lightweight fill port and a magnetic tube trap to properly secure your tubes and ensure they are always easily accessible.

Size

The only downside about this hydration pack is that it is large and it definitely gets heavy when you start to pack it full of stuff.

3. Osprey Raptor 14

Where to buy
Osprey Raptor 14
Osprey Raptor 14
Osprey Raptor 14
Osprey Raptor 14
Osprey Raptor 14
Amazon Link

Osprey reloads the Raptor series with a new 14-liter design and an integrated 3-liter Hydraulics™ system. The design features reflective graphics and comes in a version for women.

Read more

Comfort

This hydration pack features BioStretch technology as well as an internal hydration sleeve.

Breathability

While it may not look like it, this hydration pack is actually really breathable and well-ventilated.

Durability

A magnetic lock provides these hydration packs with a secure seal 3-litre prevent leaking of liquids.

Weight

Aside from being extremely practical, the Raptor 14 also features a lightweight design for a weight of 0.73kg.

Size

While this hydration pack is designed to look bulky and hold more, it is still a great option for anyone who needs some extra storage as well.

4. TETON Sports Trailrunner

Where to buy
TETON Sports Trailrunner
TETON Sports Trailrunner
TETON Sports Trailrunner
TETON Sports Trailrunner
TETON Sports Trailrunner
Amazon Link

The next one on our hydration packs 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.

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Comfort

The good thing is that the hydration bladder is included here, so you don’t need to buy it separately. It’s effortless to open so you can add ice there and you can clean it easily.

Breathability

The shape is great. There are also many safety features. For example, we can use an orange whistle or strap claps. There’s also reflective trim which is great because you’re more visible on the roads.

Durability

As this one is intended for trail running, this is a very durable product. It’s perfect for marathons, cycling or hiking. There’s a special chest shock absorber to reduce the bounce while running.

Weight

These hydration packs have a 2-liter capacity which is a lot. This backpack is very lightweight- it’s only 9 ounces.

Size

We adore the price of this one- this is one of the least expensive backpacks, and it’s still a high-quality product. Many reviewers appreciated the extraordinary design of this product. It’s not very bulky like the other packs.

5. Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0

Where to buy
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Amazon Link

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.

Read more

Comfort

These hydration packs are full of features. Some pouches are compatible with your smartphone.

Breathability

There’s special Hex Mesh that is extremely breathable and lightweight. Moisture-wicking material helps you to stay dry during your runs, and there are even gel pouches.

Durability

There are fully adjustable straps to provide more comfort. Is nylon with silicon and Polyurethane so the material is waterproof and it’s durable- this means that this hydration pack for running will also be great for trail running.

Weight

This hydration pack is pretty and won't weigh you down on its own--although if you pack it up too much it can get really heavy.

Size

There are two pockets so you can keep your keys inside. This backpack has a great design- it’s not very big so you can run easily, but it is a great source of hydration at the same time. Isn’t cheap, but the price reflects high quality. It comes with two bottles

6. High Sierra Propel 70

Where to buy
Amazon Link
High Sierra Propel 70
High Sierra Propel 70
High Sierra Propel 70
High Sierra Propel 70
High Sierra Propel 70
Amazon Link

Simple, straightforward, no gimmicks. The Propel 70 is not the world’s most flashy pack, but it delivers reliable performance and great functionality.

Read more

Comfort

The best thing about this hydration pack is that it is really comfortable and will prevent any blisters and chafing from occurring.

Breathability

If you are worried about this hydration pack not being breathable--don't! It is designed to keep you cool and dry, so you don't have to worry about it getting soaked and weighing you down.

Durability

It is lightweight and made of Mini-Hex Ripstop material which makes it durable.

Weight

The bladder is BPA free and can hold up to 2 liters during your runs.

Size

Everything you need from these hydration pack for running is here, and it can do a whole lot more than going for a jog.

Amazon Link

7. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta

Where to buy
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Amazon Link

This product is designed by Jenny Jurek, wife and running partner of ultra-marathon legend Scott Jurek. It's specially designed for women, which is important as many standard unisex designs may not fit the unique shape of a woman's body. This one carries plenty of water and is perfect for female runners who regularly run long distances.

Read more

Comfort

Users were pleased with how well these hydration packs fit their bodies and were happy to have some options designed just for women.

Breathability

Breathability is excellent, with mesh on the interior of both the straps and the back, so it will help keep you fresh on long runs.

Durability

As is typical of Ultimate Direction products we didn't find any glaring durability issues with this one.

Weight

When it's empty, it only weighs 9 ounces, which makes it one of the lightest packs on the market today.

Size

This one carries a lot of water, with a 2-liter bladder in the back and two front pockets that each hold a 10-ounce water bottle. Both the bladder and the bottles are included with the vest. For extra storage, there are pockets underneath the water bottle holders in the front for easy access to energy gels or a place to store money and your keys. The back also has an elastic webbing system for holding additional items such as a windbreaker or light rain jacket.

8. Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack

Where to buy
Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
Amazon Link

Salomon is a great brand, especially if we’re talking about running hydration packs--so it is no surprise that we have one of their hydration packs on our list of top ten reviews.

Read more

Comfort

These running hydration packs provide exceptional comfort while running. We can’t talk about chafing or any skin irritation here.

Breathability

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.

Durability

As far as durability goes, this hydration pack is designed to last thanks to the high-quality materials it is made of.

Weight

The design is simple - these hydration packs wrap your body, and you can carry the water whenever you are. These backpacks are available in many colors so everyone can find something.

Size

These backpacks allow your skin to breathe and there’s no unpleasant odor. They are available in many sizes so if you measure yourself correctly; we’re sure you will find the right size for you.

9. Nathan VaporHowe

Where to buy
Nathan VaporHowe
Nathan VaporHowe
Nathan VaporHowe
Nathan VaporHowe
Nathan VaporHowe
Amazon Link

These running hydration packs are designed for female runners, and the VaporHowe was designed by legendary ultra-marathoner Stephanie Howe so you know the design will fit a woman's body well and have the features you want and need.

Read more

Comfort

Reviewers loved that they had an option that was specifically designed to fit their bodies, rather than trying to shoehorn themselves into a unisex product that just wasn't for them.

Breathability

These running hydration packs have an anti-bounce strap system that holds the vest in place while you run and mesh is used throughout the interior to help keep you dry, both features designed to enhance the user's comfort.

Durability

This one is the most expensive option on our list but comes highly reviewed by both amateur and professional runners alike and is made with high-quality, durable materials.

Weight

Coming in at a scant 12.8 ounces this is one of the lightest weight vests on our list. Despite being so bright, there don't seem to be any problematic durability problems that typically come with lightweight athletic and outdoor gear.

Size

These running hydration packs hold 1.8 liters of fluids, which was a little less than some users would like but most were happy with. Overall it's reasonably small and rides mainly towards the top of the users back which leaves your lower back free to enjoy more of the fresh air.

10. Osprey Viper 9

Where to buy
Osprey Viper 9
Osprey Viper 9
Osprey Viper 9
Osprey Viper 9
Osprey Viper 9
Amazon Link

Even though this hydration pack for running is actually designed for cyclists, we included in our list because it's a great size for running, and it has some unique features that any athlete will enjoy. Osprey is known for making high-quality outdoor gear and they stand behind that with a lifetime warranty on all their products.

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Comfort

With padded shoulder straps and upper compression straps to prevent jostling this product fits snugly and comfortably to your body even on highly technical trail runs.

Breathability

This is actually one area where being designed for cycling is beneficial to a runner, because those features help increase the comfort for any athlete in any sport. Breathability is good but not the best on our list, and a couple of users noted this.

Durability

This is one of the more durable products on our list, but that durability comes at the price of being a little bit heavier than other options. One issue we noted with durability is that some users noted that while the item overall is quite durable, the bite valve isn't and needed to be replaced fairly often.

Weight

At 1.6 pounds it's definitely heavier than other products, but it also gives you a lot of options to carry more gear and also comes with great features such as a magnetic bite valve holder that keeps the water hose from bouncing as you run, as well as a place to attach a light to help keep you safe.

Size

This one holds 2.5 liters of liquid which is plenty for long runs, but does so without being too big and bulky. To round out the thoughtful features there's a fleece-lined pocket that will hold your sunglasses without scratching them.

This product comes at a pretty good price for the features and quality, and one of the best parts is that the manufacturer truly stands by their products with a 100% lifetime guarantee. If your product fails at anytime you can send it back to the company for repair or replacement, no questions asked.

Sources

  1. Editorial Team , Osprey Packs, Online Store
  2. Douglas Gantenbein, Outside Online, Article
  3. Michele Dolan, How to Choose and Use a Hydration Pack, website article
  4. Max Roman Dilthey, How to Use a Hydration Pack, Website
  5. Editorial Team , How to Choose Hydration Packs, web article

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Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.