Staying hydrated during your runs is essential. A bottle is often easy to carry in a backpack, but too laborious to take out and drink every mile or so. Made to provide quick hydration during your runs, they are easier to carry and can usually hold more water and other liquids.
Curious which are the best models? Check out our rundown to find the best trail running hydration pack around!
“10” Top Hydration Packs In 2020
If you’re looking for something light and simple for your trail running adventures, this hydration pack from Mubasel Gear might be just what you’re looking for. It comes with a 70-ounce bladder with a wide opening for easy cleaning and a leak-proof quick disconnect on the hose so it can be dried separately.
The bladder is made from thick plastic that is capable of bearing 132 lbs, which means it can be used as a convenient pillow on backpacking trips.
Aside from the bladder, the pack has a 16.5” by 10” storage pocket that is perfect for holding your wallet, keys, snacks, and phone. There’s also a stretchy mesh pocket on the back that’s great for holding excess layers. Its storage capacity is smaller than some of the other hydration packs, but large enough so long as you’re not planning on an all-day adventure.
The pack itself is made from thick nylon and can stand up to the occasional brush with branches and thorns on overgrown trails. The adjustable straps on the Mubasel are made from highly-breathable mesh, making this one of the better options for hot weather trail running. However, there’s not a lot of cushioning in them and they can be uncomfortable after a long time on the trail.
Overall, Mubasel Gear’s Hydration Pack isn’t going to win any awards for innovation, but it’s an expensive and well-built option for runners that just want the bare essentials in their pack; undeniably, one of the best hydration packs around.
One look at the USWE Ranger, and you’ll know there’s something different about this hydration pack. USWE is most well-known for its “bounce-free” designs; all of their packs come with a chest harness that crosses over in front of the body to prevent the straps from lifting off the shoulders with each stride. Given that “pack bounce” is one of the most annoying aspects of running, the Ranger could completely change your trail experience.
You might think the chest harness would be uncomfortable; it wraps around your torso after all. But it actually doesn’t inhibit your breathing in any way, thanks to the super stretchy material used in the straps.
The Ranger is built to hold a three-liter hydration bladder, which is a little more capacity than the average pack – or several water bottles. It also comes with two external front pockets, one for your phone and one for organizing smaller items. The backside of the pack has several reflective panels that make it suitable for night time excursions.
Unfortunately, this pack is rather expensive, costing three to four times what some of the cheapest hydration packs do. While it has a pretty unique design to prevent pack bounce, it’s hard to justify that kind of price tag on such a small pack.
The Nordic Winter is quite similar to the USWE Ranger, but with the added benefit of insulation overlaying the hydration bladder. If you’re running in colder temps (anywhere below 20 degrees), there’s a serious risk of your reservoir freezing, even with all the heat coming off your back. The Nordic Winter is rated to -15 degrees F (-26 C), which is about as low as it would be safe to run in anyways.
The bite valve and tube tuck inside one of the shoulder straps and are covered in insulative material. This is important as the bladder would take quite a while to freeze in an uninsulated pack, but the tube needs only a few minutes to get clogged with ice.
As with the USWE Ranger, the Nordic Winter has the company’s patented bounce-free suspension system. While that kind of technology isn’t so important with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (the primary market for winter backpacks), it’s critical for cold-weather trail runners that can’t afford to have a heavy-weight sloshing on their back while traversing an icy path.
The extra insulation doesn’t really add to its price tag either – the Nordic Winter costs about the same as the Ranger. While it’s not a cheap price, it’s nice to know you can get the same great quality in warm and cold climates. If you think you’ll do any winter running, this is probably the better of the two to purchase since it works just as well in the summer.
The Distance from Black Diamond might be one of the beefiest hydration vests on the market, eschewing the usual featherlight adjustable straps in favor of a full nylon vest that wouldn’t look out of place at an Army surplus store. None of that is to stay. It’s uncomfortable, though; it still weighs less than half a pound as much of the vest is made from stretchy mesh that is highly breathable.
One major difference between the distance and its competitors is that it has space for a hydration bladder and bottles. In addition to the bladder, it fits two of the company’s soft flasks for an extra liter of capacity. It’s a lot easier to visualize your remaining water with the flasks, so you’ll always know when it’s time to head back.
The Distance also has ample storage for snacks, keys, and essential gear. There’s a waterproof phone pocket with locking zipper to keep your precious technology safe from the elements and thieves. Another chest pocket with a leash keeps your keys handy along with any other small items you might need on the trail.
What most people are raving about with the Distance, though is its comfort. The vest’s suspension system keeps it perfectly positioned on the shoulders and the sternum strap ensures everything stays tight, even on the most brutal trails. All of these features and the quality build give the Distance a high price tag – five to six times what the budget packs cost. If you’re a serious trail runner though, it’s worth the investment.
The Rogue Reservoir from CamelBak is a sweet and simple hydration pack that will work well for most trail runners. It doesn’t have as much storage space as some of the other packs on this list, with just two smaller exterior pockets to hold your phone and keys. Its lack of capacity keeps the weight low, though, totaling just eight ounces empty.
Unsurprisingly, CamelBak makes one of the best hydration bladders, utilizing a teardrop design that enhances the flow rate and minimizes wasted space. Its bite valve keeps a tight seal, so none of your precious fluids drips out. A quick-release flap on the front of the pack gives easy access to the bladder’s fill port, so it doesn’t need to be removed for the pack to get replenished.
The pack’s straps are made from mesh, which helps to keep you cool in hotter weather but doesn’t feel very supportive. If you load the pockets with much weight, they could dig into your shoulders.
CamelBak’s pack is priced a little higher than some of the other smaller hydration packs, but its high-quality construction and brand reputation help to justify it. Sometimes simplicity is best, and if you just need a really good hydration pack without all the storage or extra features, the Rogue Reservoir might be the best one for you.
Feel like the CamelBak’s minuscule storage capacity is overkill for your needs? Teton Sports TrailRunner has even less for a more streamlined experience.
This pack actually weighs a bit more than the CamelBak at 14 ounces, due to somewhat thicker materials. However, the pack is designed to fit the 2-liter hydration bladder between your shoulder blades and has minimal bounce even on the roughest trails.
It’s not completely devoid of storage either, with a mesh pocket on the front and a set of bungees to secure unnecessary layers. Similar to the CamelBak, the TrailRunner has mesh shoulder straps to keep you cool, but with a chest strap to further secure the pack against your body.
Perhaps the biggest draw with the Teton Sports pack is its cost; it’s one of the least expensive hydration packs on the market. If you’re not hitting the trails every weekend, save some money – you probably don’t need all the features seen on the more expensive packs anyways.
The OlarHike backpack has to be one of the best values for hydration packs, especially for runners that need a little extra capacity. The OlarHike fits a 2-litter bladder inside an insulated pocket that’s capable of keeping it cool for up to four hours. The tube connecting the bladder to the bite valve is covered in an insulating sleeve, an important feature as it stops you from getting a mouth full of warm water whenever there’s a long gap between drinks.
It also has quite a few storage areas, with a large zippered pocket in front of the bladder pouch that can hold your wallet, keys, and plenty of snacks. Just above that is a smaller zippered pocket to hold your phone, which also has a headphone hole so you can plug your earbuds in while the device is safely stowed in the pack.
On the outside of the pack is a smaller mesh pouch that can hold items that you need easy access to on the trail. A set of bungees training runs down the back of the pack to hold extra clothing layers.
The pack even features a padded waist strap, helping you keep the pack’s weight off your shoulders. Even the waist straps have pockets to fit smaller items. OlarHike’s pack is an excellent choice for runners wanting a good amount of storage space at a reasonable price.
This Road Runner pack from Water Buffalo has a lot to offer at a rock bottom price. You can start with the hydration bladder, which holds 70 ounces and is insulated – something you don’t usually see on budget packs. Water Buffalo claims it can keep your water cool for up to five hours, plenty of time for most trail runners.
Then there’s the lightweight design, weighing under a pound when empty. The padded shoulder straps ensure that it will never cut into your skin, even when it’s full.
There’s a fairly large stuff-it pocket on the pack’s backside that’s great for holding extra layers when they’re not needed. A set of bungees provides even more capacity for things that didn’t fit in the pocket. The only downside to the Road Runner is that it doesn’t have any zippered storage. So if you’ve got valuables like a phone or wallet, there’s not much security.
If you’re looking for a well-made pack that doesn’t cost much, this is the perfect solution to your hydration needs. The fact that it’s insulated really puts it ahead of the competition too.
At first glance, the Camelbak Mil-Tac looks like just about any other hydration pack. It has space for a 1.5-liter bladder (smaller than most packs) and a simple shoulder strap system with a single chest strap.
Where it sets itself apart is in the materials and construction; this hydration pack is built to endure some of the most punishing environments on Earth. It uses 70-denier nylon sourced from Black Diamond (makers of some of America’s best outdoor gear) and is stitched in the United States. Wear points are coated in polyurethane for extra protection.
The CamelBak bladder is one of the best in the industry, made with thick plastic that is nearly impervious to leaks. The hose has a quick disconnect, which makes storage and filling easier. HydroGuard coating inside the bladder helps to prevent bacterial growth that would otherwise occur in such a moist environment.
What it doesn’t do well is carry a lot of gear – there’s just one zippered pocket overlaying the hydration bladder, and it’s only large enough to carry essentials like gels or your keys. The Mil-Tac is designed for light and fast operations, not all day trail runs.
CamelBak’s Mil-Tac Hydrobak is a great option for trail runners needing a more durable pack with all the same great features found on the company’s signature hydration pack.
Nathan’s VaporAir Running Vest certainly has a unique look to it; large shoulder straps come together via four over-the-chest crisscrossing straps. Putting it on and getting it adjusted can take some time, but once you’re accustomed to the process, you’ll definitely appreciate the tighter fit that it gives.
The VaporAir is built to carry a two-liter hydration bladder on your back, but also has space for two bottles on the front of the vest. These are great for reserve hydration or if you need to keep track of water intake – that can be difficult when using the bladder. There are also two mesh front pockets that are great for holding smaller snacks or a set of keys.
Some users complain that the VaporAir fits too tightly, but this is by design. Loose packs bounce with each stride and are murder on your shoulders. The pack’s load lifter straps take the strain off your back and ensure a snug fit. Keeping it tight prevents the bounce problem and, ultimately, helps to conserve energy.
The VaporAir is somewhat pricey for a hydration pack, costing two or three times as much as the budget options. However, you can’t beat the fit and anti-bounce technology. No doubt, one of the best running vests around.