10 Best Running Hydration Packs Reviewed
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Additional storage options
Easy to refill
Additional hooks for your helmet
Magnetic tube trap to keep everything secure and easily accessible
- CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
- Nathan Intensity
- Osprey Raptor 14
- TETON Sports Trailrunner
- Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
- High Sierra Propel 70
- Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
- Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
- Nathan VaporHowe
- Osprey Viper 9
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Hydration Packs
1. CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
Additional storage options
Easy to refill
Additional hooks for your helmet
Magnetic tube trap to keep everything secure and easily accessible
Designed more for bikers
Can get heavy if you pack a lot of stuff into it
This CamelBak hydration pack has been a popular choice among runners for about 2 decades now. It has a lightweight fill port and a magnetic tube trap to properly secure your tubes and ensure they are always easily accessible.Read more
This pack is an excellent option for outdoor enthusiasts in general, whether you run, bike, hike, etc. 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.
2. Nathan Intensity
Special build for women
3-point harness to prevent bounce
Harness straps are messy
Some smartphones won't fit in the phone pocket
Nathan delivers the Intensity Race Vest as a model for women. This hydration pack is specially design to fit the female 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.Read more
The 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.
3. Osprey Raptor 14
Includes a roll of tools with its own pocket
Has 8 pockets; 3 internal and 5 external
Lightweight design (0.71kg)
Some users found it to be small
Osprey reloads the Raptor series with a new 14-liter design and an integrated 3-liter Hydraulics™ system. This hydration pack features BioStretch technology as well as an internal hydration sleeve.Read more
Aside from being extremely practical, the Raptor 14 also features a lightweight design for a weight of 0.73kg. A magnetic lock provides the pack with a strong seal 3-litre prevent leaking of liquids. The design features reflective graphics and comes in a version for women.
4. TETON Sports Trailrunner
Available in many colors and sizes
This product has a limited lifetime warranty
Great price for a high-quality product
Some reviewers said that the liquid may leak from time to time
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.Read more
This one has a 2-liter hydration capacity which is a lot. This backpack is very lightweight- it’s only 9 ounces. 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.
5. Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Great for longer runs and marathons
Designed by a world-class runner
Some runners didn’t like drinking from the rubber spout
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
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 your runs and there are even gel pouches. 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. This isn’t cheap but the price reflects the high quality. It comes with two bottles.
6. High Sierra Propel 70
Bounce reduction strapping system
Plentiful storage pockets
Limited color choices
Simple, straightforward, 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.Read more
This pack comes in lots of different colors and is pretty affordable. It is lightweight and made of Mini-Hex Ripstop material which making it really durable. The bladder is BPA free and can hold up to 2 liters during your runs.
7. Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
Holds lots of water
Comes with hydration bladder and two water bottles
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 and Breathability
Users were pleased with how well this product fit to their body and were happy to have some options designed just for women. Breathability is good, with mesh on the interior of both the straps and the back, so it will help keep you cool on long runs.
Durability and Weight
As is typical of Ultimate Direction products we didn't find any glaring durability issues with this one. When it's empty it only weighs 9 ounces, which makes it one of the lightest packs on the market today.
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
Also great for camping and hiking
One of the most expensive on our list
You need to buy the Salomon Hydrapack Soft Bladder 1.5L separately
Salomon is a great brand, 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.Read more
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.
9. Nathan VaporHowe
Designed by a woman for women
Another product designed for female runners, 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. 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.Read more
Comfort and Breathability
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. The pack has 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 users comfort.
Durability and Weight
Coming in at a scant 12.8 ounces this is one of the lightest weight vests on our list. Despite being so light, there don't seem to be any problematic durability problems that typically come with lightweight athletic and outdoor gear.
This one holds 1.8 liters of fluids, which was a little less than some users would like but most were happy with. Overall it's fairly small and actually 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
Holds 2.5 liters
Light attachment for safety
Some users had durability issues with bite valves
May be too small for some users, refer to sizing guide
Even though this product 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.Read more
Comfort and Breathability
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. 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 and Weight
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. 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. 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.
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.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to running, carrying a hydration backpack 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. In order 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 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 design of the hydration pack should be 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.
For some hydration backpacks breathability becomes an issue–, especially during runs on hot 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. Color has an impact here as well. Dark colors, especially black, absorbs heat, while light colors reflect it, so you may want to choose a light color if you run regularly in the heat. Lighter colors will show dirt more easily however, so keep that in mind.
Hydration backpacks are one piece of gear that isn't necessarily easy or cheap to replace frequently. This is why we’ve taken into consideration the durability of the products during our research. In order to determine the durability of the products, we looked for products that feature resistant and durable material, as well as a solid build to guarantee good quality and performance.
A hydration backpack shouldn't be made out of just 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 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.
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, and 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 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. 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 durability and light weight. Lightweight materials by nature aren't as durable as heavier ones, and while companies have done an amazing job inventing materials that are both durable and lightweight, keep in ming that nothing is perfect, and choose what's most important to you.
When it comes to this type of product size definitely 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, as well as 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 customers manufacturers have figured out what the best sizes of backpacks to make are. In addition you can usually find most products in a couple of size options, so you can have a larger pack for longer runs and/or the option to bring more with you, and a smaller run for shorter times and distances.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
You won't know you're dehydrated until it's too late. The best way to ensure you don't have to struggle with the ill effects of dehydration during your running sessions is to regularly drink water even if you aren't thirsty. Medical professionals advise around 8 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of strenuous physical activity.
If your hydration pack is starting to leak, this doesn't necessarily mean you have to throw it away and get a new one. If the issue isn't covered by an extended warranty through the manufacturer, you may want to try replacing the water reservoir instead to see if that is the source of your problems. It's generally a good idea to regularly replace these anyway since they can start to develop and off taste over time.
Other Factors to Consider
Hydration backpacks are a great solution when it comes to portable hydration. However, if the product fails to keep the liquids at a decent temperature all is lost. Nobody wants to drink warm or hot water during their run, or have their water freeze in cold temperatures. In order to keep the liquid at close to its original temperature the product must feature special materials that contribute to the insulation of the drink.
We discarded those products that failed to maintain cold temperatures over time and gave the upper hand to those 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 the low temperature for long periods of time.
For this list, we looked for products which feature the latest thermal materials and technology to maintain the drink's temperature. This not only involves keeping the temperatures low, but it also involves the amount of time it stays cool.
If you're running in particularly hot or cold weather another thing to look for is a product that has an insulated drinking sleeve. Even if the rest of the pack is made of insulating materials, if the sleeve isn't insulated you could be met with a mouth full of hot water when you go to drink, or in cold weather an exposed hose can freeze, dangerously cutting off your access to hydration.
The main purpose of this product is to carry a water bladder that can be easily accessed anywhere. It pretty much comes down to this, and the more water a pack holds the more effective it will be when it comes to its main purpose.
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 into consideration all of the other parameters as a big pouch is useless if the product reaches low standards on the rest of the features.
The capacity of the pack is not always determined by the size of the water bladder, 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 products for our list. The capacity of the overall backpack is an important factor to consider while searching for hydration backpacks, as it will allow you to store multiple other things in separated pockets so you can stay organized and be ready for anything.
Besides being a helpful piece of equipment, running hydration backpacks can also be a very fashionable piece of equipment. We know there are a large number of runners who care about the appearance of their equipment because at the end of the day, no one wants to look ugly or weird. In fact, studies have shown that people who like the way they look in their running gear ran more often and for longer distances than those who didn't like how they looked. So while style may seem like a throw-away thing to consider, it can actually help you stay on track and reach your fitness goals. Keep in mind however, that when we talk about design, it’s not limited to the visual attractiveness of a product but also the quality of the design and the overall build.
In this parameter, we took 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 got our attention.
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.
Some people are ready to spend a lot of money on hydration packs as this may be an essential piece of running equipment for them. After all, staying hydrated is incredibly important to not just your performance but to your overall health. For some other runners this type of product isn't as crucial, and so they aren't generally willing to spend as much money on a pack. We try to put products on our list that are high quality but also affordable. On the other hand, you will also find products on our list that cost more than 100 dollars because sometimes it’s better to invest in good gear such as this, 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, 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 good value for the right user. Try to search for sales and discounts, or you can find the older version of the product and perhaps it will be cheaper.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hydration packs are specially made to maintain the temperature of the liquid during long runs. You’ll be able to enjoy refreshing liquids during your first mile and your thirtieth.
It really depends on what you’re using it for. Based on your activity, specific bladder capacity and the overall size of the bag might be a better way to look at things, especially if you want to carry more things during your run so you can be ready for anything.
No. The products featured in this list are made of lightweight materials to provide both comfort and lightweight properties. A product with breathable mesh will make the whole experience less sweaty and uncomfortable. And the more you drink to stay hydrated the lighter your pack will be, so the longer you go and the more tired you get, and more water you will drink making the pack get lighter and easier to carry.
Once again, it depends on what you’re using the product for. A larger bladder will allow you to carry more liquid for hydration, of course, but you never know when you’ll need additional space for a spare set of clothes, your phone, wallet, keys etc.
These bladders have been developed and engineered over time to prevent leaks since a company isn't going to get much repeat business if their water bladders consistently leak all over the place. As long as they’re in good condition, the products listed in this guide shouldn't leak. You won’t have to worry about liquids getting into the other parts of your pack and ruining your things.