Whether you’re trail-racing, running a marathon, a casual runner or training for your next event, after your shoes a hydration pack for running should be the most essential piece of equipment on your list. We’ve compiled reviews, a guide and answered some FAQs to help you find the best hydration packs for running.
Since aid stations are spaced far apart, a hydration pack ensures runners have enough hydration to make it to the next station. Some hydration packs in our review have bladders or reservoirs, which are soft, flexible plastic bags that sit on your back. Others have pockets for soft flasks of water that rest in the front pockets. We’ll go over the differences in our buying guide towards the end. For now, let’s get started with our review of the best hydration packs for running.
Best Affordable Hydration Pack for Running
If you’re looking for an excellent entry-level pack with a few bells and whistles, the Osprey Duro is for you. Our customers liked the pro-look of the bag and found it easy to adjust. The zippered pockets also provide plenty of storage potential.
The mesh material is breathable and ideal for hot summer runs. Lastly, the magnetic hose clip eliminates the question of where exactly to attach the hydration hose. Overall, this is a practical and affordable hydration pack.
- Pleasing aesthetic look
- A bit heavy
Best Hydration Pack for Female Runners
Need a superb hydration system for longer training runs? The Osprey Dyna is a great choice, with soft and stretchy materials in a super lightweight construction.
Though it may not have as much storage as the Osprey Duro, it still packs the essentials like water and a snack. Our customers found it best for moderate to longer runs when they didn’t need to carry much gear.
- Flexible materials
- Tuckaway safety whistle
- Lightweight design for women
- Minimal storage capacity
Best Running Hydration Pack for Trail Running
Anyone spending hours on the trail will get proper hydration with the Black Diamond Distance 4 Hydration Vest. There are many storage options while still being lightweight—7.05 ounces without water, to be precise.
Instead of a reservoir, it comes with two 500 millilitre soft flasks. There’s stretch mesh seemingly everywhere, giving you a cool, comfortable run. I also appreciated the dry, protected device pocket that expanded to store my phone and other valuable items.
- Stretch mesh
- Stitchless edge taping
- Plenty of storage
- Bladder not included
- On-the-fly refills tricky
Best Waist Hydration Pack for Running
Belt bags are once again a fashion ‘in’, and you’ll love the Osprey Seral Lumbar Pack for hydrating your runs. The 1.5-litre Hydrapack system sits in the main compartment. It’s easily opened with a slide-open top closure, so you can change the water and add ice without reaching behind your back.
There are also zippered hip belt pockets for storing the essentials. Because of the air mesh materials, the pack remains breathable and lightweight.
- Great for long distances
- Large removable bite valve
- Easy-to-remove Hydrapack
- The bladder hose is quite long
Best Hydration Packs for Marathon Runners
If you need a hydration pack with ample storage to last hours, consider the Nathan Vapor Air 7-litre 2.0 hydration pack. It comes with a sizable storage component in the back to store gear like a jacket in case the weather changes.
Chafe-free material keeps you comfortable—essential on long hauls. The 2.0 comes with expandable hydration capacity, a bungee jacket trap, and can even carry collapsible poles.
- Expandable hydration system up to 7-litres
- Convenient magnetic hose clamp
- Leak-free hydration system
- A sizable investment
Best Hydration Packs for Ultra Runners
Designed by champion ultra-runner Rob Knar, the Nathan VaporKrar 12-litre 2.0 race vest is top of its class. The bladder’s hourglass design prevents sloshing while running. Insulation keeps the water cooler for 38% longer than uninsulated reservoirs.
Overall, users found this pack easy to secure, comfortable and breathable. They also found the storage plentiful for all-day adventures.
- Innovative hourglass bladder design
- Zippered water-resistant chest pocket
- Plenty of storage in the back with kangaroo pocket
- Some bouncing when full
CamelBak Ultra Pro Vest 34oz for Women
For anyone seeking a minimalist, bright hydration pack, check out the CamelBack Ultra Pro Vest. Users raved about it’s four Quickstow flask pockets. The large water capacity makes this pack great for medium to long runs and races.
It’s specifically engineered for a women’s frame and comes in four sizes for a truly accurate fit. The reflective material ensures you’ll stay safe, and the breathable mesh keeps you fresh.
- Silicone bite valve
- Light and bright
- No shortage of storage
- Soft flasks bounce without weight in the back
What to Look for in Hydration Packs for Running
Like all products, not all hydration packs are created equal. The main difference is how the bag stores water, either with soft water bottles or a flexible plastic bladder. Other things to consider are the overall fit, ease of access to the water supply, and the gear storage capacity.
Hydration backpacks are a lot like day-hike backpacks but with running features. They have a simple hip belt, low profile, and an abundance of pockets. Often, hydration packs will offer the user more storage than vests.
Hydration vests fit snug to the body. They secure around your body like to a backpack, but the profile is lower. They also usually have more pockets on the front of the shoulder straps and a secure hip belt. There is often storage for water bottles on the front pockets.
As the name suggests, hydration belts encircle the hips, as a belt would. The cargo space is often smaller than you’d have in a pack or vest. For this reason, they’re a fantastic option for light and fast adventures like a trail run or hike. If you don’t want the hindrance of a pack or vest, a belt is a perfect substitute for staying hydrated.
As we’ve suggested, hydration packs usually have two different types of water storage: flasks in the front pockets or a reservoir pack in the back. Most bags that are designed for storing containers in the front have less storage space behind.
Take a mental inventory of the essential gear you’ll need on runs. Now, ask yourself how much space you need to fit a jacket, food, and anything else for your comfort. Then, choose an accommodating pack, whether that’s 2 litres or 7 litres of storage.
The volume of water the hydration pack holds is arguably the most crucial factor when deciding on a product. Most packs accommodate both types of hydration flasks (bottle or bladder), but they will only come with one of the two. You’ll have to purchase the one not included separately.
All in all, it’s essential to think about the types of runs you’ll be doing. Are you going to go on all-day trail runs with few refilling stations? Are you going to be on the road where water is widely available? Water is heavy (1 litre weighs 32 ounces), so think carefully about how much you need.
Again, it’s wise to mull over the types of running you’ll be doing. If you don’t want to be weighed down by a chunkier pack, choose a lightweight model. If you have a lot of gear to carry and don’t mind the weight, you’ll be safe with a heavier one that secures against bouncing too much.
FAQs for Best Hydration Packs for Running
Are hydration packs really worth it?
A hydration pack eliminates the need for bulky water bottles and costly (financially and environmentally) plastic ones every time you run. Though hydration packs require an initial investment, you’ll save considerable plastic and cash in the long-run.
After experiencing the incredible convenience of a water pack, you may feel that you’ve needed one for a long time.
How much water should I bring?
For lightweight activities like running or walking, 0.5 to 1 litres should suffice. For short-distance bikers, hikers or runners, go for 1 to 1.5 litres. If you’ll be doing moderate to long runs and want minimal refilling, 2 to 2.5 litres is ideal. Lastly, for ultra-runners and explorers, go for 3 litres or more so no refilling is required.
How to clean the hydration pack tube
It’s best to detach the tube from the reservoir before cleaning it. I have one and can recommend cleaning it after each use, or mould will start to build up. Combine hot water and two tablespoons of baking powder or bleach. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes. Then, run it through the tube, releasing it at the bite valve.
After reading this extensive guide on best hydration packs for running, we hope that you have a better idea of their features and differences. A hydration pack adds convenience and safety to your runs for years to come.
Due to the different nature of running and the wide array of personal preferences, we’ll refrain from recommending just one pack—there is a pack to suit everyone’s needs. Please browse the broad range of water packs on Altitude Sports to find the best fit for you!